It’s a near impossible task. Tanner ‘Damonte’ Damonte has three weeks to lift a “depressed” CLG from last in the LCS standings to playoffs. Although expectations are low, he’s got a job to do — and he’ll “feel a burden” if he doesn’t achieve.
CLG have found themselves in an unenviable situation. They now sit dead last in the LCS. As far as Summer records go, they have the worst with only 5 wins and 13 losses. Take out their 3-0 week, and that plummets to 2-13.
It didn’t help that a controversial video released after last week — one of their better ones if you look at the statistics — saw management telling a visibly demoralized squad “there’s very likely going to be changes.”
Indeed, there was. Veteran mid laner Eugene ‘Pobelter’ Park got “Bud Light Ace’d” off the roster, and exiled 100 Thieves member Damonte was signed in his place.
He was given an impossible job — turn the CLG ship around in three weeks, and qualify for playoffs. They hardly got off to a good start against Liquid too, getting trounced in 29 minutes after Finn ‘Finn’ Wiestal got piled on in the top lane.
It didn’t help that FlyQuest, the team they have to overtake, beat TSM.
With three games to make up and only eight in hand, it’s hard to get motivated. But that’s exactly what Damonte says he’s good at, and he’s ready to turn this “depressed” CLG around.
We are making a change in the mid lane. @Damonte will be starting for CLG this weekend. Thank you to our fans for continuing to support the team. We're committed to finishing this season strong. #CLGFIGHTING pic.twitter.com/56XQpL1WZa
— CLG (@clgaming) July 13, 2021
“The CLG general manager Tafo hit me up two weeks ago. He called me and…told me things had been going south on the team, and he was looking for a change-up, and that there was a chance they might want to use me,” he explained to Dexerto in the post-game press conference after their Liquid loss.
“I just waited a week, I saw what happened on LCS that weekend. They hit me up on Sunday night after LCS and I got the contract signed that day.”
The star took a competitive break after being dumped from 100 Thieves, now finding himself on his fourth LCS team in just two years. It’s not the legacy he wanted to create; “All I’ve ever wanted is to play on one team the whole time, just like how Bjergsen did with TSM, and it’s just really unfortunate that I haven’t been able to find that,” he admitted.
However, the “little reset” brought the stress levels down.
- Read More: Finn on CLG’s Summer woes: “It’s disgusting”
“There’s no easy way to tell someone they’re getting benched,” he laughed.
“When I got benched on 100 Thieves, we were 8-4. Yeah, we were having a rough week or two, but it’s just stressful getting moved down, getting moved around like that.
“On top of that, player contracts nowadays have different salaries between LCS and Academy and I just thought we were maybe on a bit of a slump but I thought we were going to try and stick it through with the team that we had.
“Everything that happened, it happened really fast, and that was really stressful.”
Despite the fact he was brought into CLG with playoffs almost out of reach and without the stability of a guaranteed 2022 contract, Damonte still “feels a burden” to try and live up to the promise of getting the faithful back to where they once were.
The natural-born leader, as he put it, is lifting the spirits of an organization that has only faced setback after setback in 2021. Playoffs or not, Damonte himself is fighting for not only his future but his teammates’ future.
“Look at us in the standings, me coming in here is already a pretty tough position to be in. We’re three games behind FlyQuest, and that’s the whole point of me coming in — they’re hoping to get playoffs with me.
“You know, I don’t see the point in really stressing myself out because this is a really tough situation to be in, and I’m just really trying hard to motivate the guys to give it our all for the rest of the year.
“I really feel for everyone on the team, and I can’t imagine how it’s been this year. This year’s LCS schedule is one of the most draining schedules it’s ever been for players. You don’t get that many days of scrim for practice, and then you’re playing games three times a week. I’ve been trying to boost the guys’ mentalities up a bit, try to make them feel better.”
That doesn’t exactly equate to pressure, though. Damonte ultimately wants to bring the four other players back together after a “depressing” 2021, whether that shows in the standings or not.
He’s taking the new battle one step at a time. First, it’s getting used to being back on stage. Then it’s translating practice into gameday performance. Only after all the boxes are ticked will CLG surmount the insurmountable and claw their way into playoffs.
“As an individual, I’m getting slotted into the team on really short notice, so I’m just going to find my way around this meta and the LCS the best I can right now. I got called in as a ringer, and I don’t think I’m at the top state of my play right now whatsoever.
“A lot of the stuff I’m going to bring to this team is about my teamplay rather than my individual play. I wasn’t playing LCS for the last nine weeks, twelve weeks — it’s been a long, long time. On an individual level, I’m just going to be really happy with myself if I’m able to play all the meta picks.
“For the team, the goal is playoffs, right. If we don’t make playoffs, it’s going to be really sad. I will feel a burden if we don’t make playoffs because I feel like I’m the guy they’re calling in to get us there.”