Clutch Gaming has escaped the first round of the 2019 LCS Regional Final. In triumphing over FlyQuest 3-1, CG's next obstacle on the road to the 2019 League of Legends World Championship is in the form of rematch against Counter Logic Gaming, who reverse swept Clutch for in the LCS Summer Playoffs 3rd Place Match nearly two full weeks ago. If CG is able to exact revenge on CLG, it will face off against TSM for North America's 3rd and final World Championship seed.
Clutch Gaming Mid Laner Tanner "Damonte" Damonte joined Inven Global's Nick Geracie after the match to discuss defeating FlyQuest, his solo lane synergy with Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon, and look ahead at tomorrow's rematch against CLG.
Damonte, Clutch Gaming into today's series favored to win, and you did just that. What was the game plan heading into this series, and compared to your expectations, how do you think it went?
I think it went about as planned. Obviously, none of us wanted to drop a game, but we came in playing different strategies and different styles that we've learned in the past week and a half. Some of it worked; some of it didn't, but I think we can actually learn a lot fro this series. For the most part, though, it went how we expected.
Was there anything specific in Game 2 that you felt your team did wrong that led to your only loss of the series?
Some of it was for sure about the draft, but some of it was our play, as well. We were in the driver's seat for all of the early game until the dragon fight where Eugene "Pobelter" Park had The Package on Corki, and the Package carried the fight. Because of this, playing around Corki's passive timer better is something we can definitely take away from this series.
Speaking of the draft, FlyQuest made sure that Clutch Gaming did not get Huni's signature Rumble pick, and they left Qiyana and Gangplank up one game each, respectively. Did you expect those bans to deviate after your team showed it could win without those signature picks?
In game one of every best of five we play, we're probably going to have Rumble and Qiyana banned against to us to test what we can do without them. If we're able to win one game without Rumble/Qiyana, I feel like every best-of-five is instantly in our favor. If we can win without those champions, it can really get in the opponents' heads and force them to drop the bans on some of our signature champions.
Tomorrow, Counter Logic Gaming will do the exact same thing as FlyQuest in game 1, and TSM will too if we play against them: they will ban Rumble and Qiyana, and potentially Gangplank. However, we didn't pick Qiyana for the entirety of today's match. When it wasn't banned, we let it go all the way through the draft phase.
If anything, how the drafts went today highlights an advantage for us in the next two bo5s, because teams are starting to realize that Qiyana isn't a crutch for our team, and it never was
There's an expectation that if CG didn't get Rumble and/or Qiyana in draft, then the game wasn't winnable, but your team has done a great job at leveling up without those two champions as well. Is there anything from your big wins on those champions that you think has helped your team improve overall?
Huni and I are the best players in the LCS on Rumble and Qiyana, respectively. No one else can matchup with us. As those champions, we both know how to teamfight really ******* well; the zone control you create when you pick two champions that have huge ultimate abilities and a lot of damage is pretty insane.
Also, Huni and I have played together for so long that we've developed a teamfight synergy like no other. I've played with this guy for a year and a half now, so I think it's both how we coordinate with each other, as well as our individual level on these specific champions.
Your series against FlyQuest today featured both of our LCS mid laners that were born in the US. With your team's recent rise and your victory today, do you think you've solidified yourself as the best domestic Mid Laner in the LCS?
I think I need to go to Worlds or win an LCS title before I can say I'm better than Pobelter. I know people say things like Pobelter has been carried by Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng to all of his titles, but there's a reason POB won those championships. If he was not a good player, he probably would not win those titles.
Right now, it's a bit too cocky to say I'm the best NA-born Mid Laner. On an individual level, I am mo
st definitely not worse than Pobelter, but I have to get some accolades to my name before I can state something like that.
That's a well-measured approach; you're not worse than him but you need to do more to prove yourself to be considered better than him.
Yeah. I mean, of course, the cocky impulse inside of me is trying to tell me things like, 'This guy can't ******* lane against me.' FlyQuest also has one of the highest Mid-Jungle proximities in the LCS, and I don't know what ours is, but I don't get as much help as Pobelter.
You play against CLG tomorrow in the next gauntlet round of the LCS Regional Final after playing them just two weeks ago for 3rd Place in the LCS Summer Playoffs. Is there anything you learned in your last series against CLG, and how do you feel about the matchup overall?
In regards to gameplay, we didn't learn too much more than we already knew before our series in Detroit against CLG. What that series really did for us was improve our approach a best-of-five series against strong teams, and how we handle our mentality as the series progresses.
In that series, we went up 2-0 against CLG, we got so hype. We thought we were the **** and that we were going to 3-0 the series. When we got reverse swept, everyone was stunned. It was the first time myself and our Support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme had played in front of a big crowd like that, and we were pumped that we were crushing CLG.
Getting reverse swept in the fashion we did made us all take a step back. Just because we took Team Liquid to five games does not mean we're going to Worlds for sure. Going forward, we're approaching our best fives far more humble than before, and focusing more on ourselves now.
Was the magnitude of the stadium and surrounding context a factor in the series against CLG?
I think it was more of a factor in our wins than in our losses. It was a lot more exciting to win with that type of crowd behind you. It was like we used too much energy on the first two games, if that makes sense. After the first two games, we were too excited that we were winning single games.
We should not be hyped over winning individual games against CLG if we think we are the better team. If we're winning individual games vs. TL, we SHOULD be pretty hype. We were heavy underdogs in that series, but if we're winning games against a team we think we're better than, and we think we deserve to go to Worlds more than them, then we should not be as excited. We need to come into the day, our job, and then do what we can after that.
TSM is the final boss of this year's LCS Regional Final, but due to their poor performance in the Summer Playoffs, they're being considered an afterthought to your matchup against CLG tomorrow. Do you think that's a fair representation of TSM's current power level, and from a team perspective, do you feel that CLG is the better of the two teams?
We're just focusing on the team that's right in front of us. I'm not going to lie, though; I actually think TSM is pretty scary. TSM has had about a month to hone their skills and practice with their new roster, and players like Bjergsen are not going to let their teams mess around during this time.
Bjergsen is going to make sure that the team is practicing hard because he wants to go to Worlds. He's not a player who is okay with staying home during Worlds, and everyone counting TSM out now as underdogs gives them a boost, in my opinion. For example, we were playing better when we were the underdogs, because there was no pressure on us. Now that no one thinks TSM can win, they will play better.
Thank you for the interview, Damonte. Any last words to the fans before you play CLG tomorrow?
Expect another banger of a series. I would not be surprised if we go to game 5 again.