Golden Guardians locked Playoffs after their win over Cloud9 in Week 8 of the League Championship Series Summer Split, and later locked top six after their win over CLG the following day. They've had an incredibly strong performance in the second round-robin, going 5-2 since that midway point in the Split.
We spoke with Damonte about his playstyle and how Golden Guardians leveled up to get to this point and what it might mean for them in the Playoff format. Additionally, he gives C9 a pass, qualifying them as one of the best teams despite their recent slump. Check out the full interview on our YouTube here, or read the transcript below.
Damonte is the newest Mid Laner to lock in the Playoffs this Split. You took down C9 who was in first the majority of the split, how are you doing after that win?
It feels pretty good. Cloud9 has been the team to beat for the entire year in 2020, so it's super insane, this is the best victory of the year by far for me.
Yeah and you guys actually had probably the best game against them in the first round-robin, maybe along with TL, and now this time around, you took C9 down. What changed in the last few weeks since the first game?
Honestly, you mention the first C9 game we played, and we improved a lot off of that game. We won the early game against them pretty hard, but then we went into this panic mode, like "oh s***, we're beating C9." And then we threw the game. And after that, we kind of thought to ourselves that there's no need to panic. If we're getting these leads, then we're probably as good as all these teams. And after that, we just calmed down more and focused to learn macro and learn how to play the game better.
And since the second round robin, Cloud9 has gone 2-4 and you have gone 4-2. So what does that say about Golden Guardians' strength compared to C9, TL, and the rest of the teams sitting above you right now?
It's kind of like a re-run of clutch gaming last year, where at the end of the Summer Split we just became super good. Maybe that's just my buff that I bring to teams, but it feels similar. We're kind of hitting a stride at the perfect time, and if we can keep this rolling for three or four more weeks, we can easily just go to Worlds.
Given that C9 is 2-4 now, are they still a top team in your opinion?
Oh for sure, they're definitely a top team. Cloud9 and Team Liquid are still a step above the rest, I don't think a slump is what you should define Cloud9 by. Once Playoffs is here - and they locked Playoffs a long time ago - I think you'll really see their true form. And it's really cool this year that Playoffs is double elimination because we will see C9 play in a best of five, and even if they lose, it's not like they're just out. And that team is not a team that if they lose a best of five, they tilt. They'd probably just get a lot better.
Good point. It's double elim this split, like last Spring - but, this time last split, you weren't even in LCS, where were you!? Where was Damonte?
Chillin. Just chillin in Academy, you know. Just hanging out.
We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, because there's still the rest of the Split, Playoffs, and Worlds. But what does this resurgence do for your career?
If anything, I feel like this game should just make all the other teams worry that I'm more than just a supportive style Mid Laner. I don't think I've played a really hard carry champion in mid on Golden Guardians yet. I think I played Zoe twice, but that's a bit different than playing a control mage who's doing consistent damage through a teamfight. So if anything, this is going to help our draft phase a lot because now teams realize I can actually play DPS champions.
And I know throughout this year, you've often talked about Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer, that's who you looking at. You've been trying to adapt to the Doinb style that Nisqy is leading in NA. So what's the overall goal then, to just have that Nisqy style with a broader champ pool, or to also compound it with the Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg/Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen style?
Well, what you're seeing worldwide right now is that the Doinb style isn't happening as much. Sometimes it happens, like with Sett mid, but it's getting banned a lot, or it's getting put into other roles. A lot of teams are defaulting to more carry Mid Laners right now, it just seems like they're just stronger, unfortunately. But who knows by the time the Playoffs patch comes around. There's going to be a new champion too, so the meta could shake up a lot. But right now we're not really seeing those champions be meta. And that's not entirely true, because Galio is really strong, and some others, but you're not seeing the weird pics, you aren't seeing the rumble, you're not seeing Nautilus mid or anything, not even Doinb is playing that stuff.
What about Malphite? He's so strong right now.
I haven't tried it, but yeah I know Doinb played it at Worlds. But he played it against some like Kled mid player or something. So that's really unfair. Like if you pick Malphite against Kled mid you should probably win the game no matter what.
In the Playoffs, you'll be playing in a best of five format. What is Golden Guardians going to have in that format to give you an edge over the competition?
I would say Golden Guardians have so many different styles we can play right now. All five of our players can carry super, super hard. Even Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun is carrying 1v5 on Sett and stuff like that. And Can "Closer" Çelik can play both the tank junglers and carry junglers. I've shown Jayce, I've shown Syndra. We have all these different champions and styles we've shown we can play, so going into best of fives, I don't think any team can beat us in draft. The only way they can beat us in in the actual game.
What do you think about the narrative around Mid Laners right now? We've been talking about Nisqy a lot, and last split Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage and Daniele "Jiizuke" di Mauro joined him in the All Pro team, but Bjergsen and Jensen are still here, you're popping off too, how do you measure yourself with so many names that seem top tier?
I feel like Mid in NA right now is going back to how it was in the past, Jensen and Bjergsen are once again becoming the best Mid Laners in NA. It's kind of crazy. Outside of that, I still think Nisqy is an insane player, a smart player too. I think those three and PowerOfEvil are a step above everyone else, both in consistency and the way they play the game. Even though Cloud9 is in a slump, I can't really say Nisqy is bad or something, because he's shown so much this year. But I think I'm one step away from being on their level, that's how I feel, but then I feel like every other Mid Laner after that is really overrated.
Interesting, what's the one step then? Consistency?
It's mainly consistency. I know how to get myself strong, and I know how to play the supportive style too. I can do both, either play selfless and get my team ahead or get myself ahead. But I need to make sure I can do that consistently and show what I did in the C9 game every game.
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After a slow start to the season, Damonte has found fantasy success as he has settled into a new role with Golden Guardians. Now playing more of a roaming Support role, Damonte has averaged 7.5 Assists per game over his last 8 games, scoring double digits in every one of those games. He won’t lead the position in scoring but has a nice fantasy floor to help you find value at a good price.
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