Golden Guardians Sign Damonte, Goldenglue Moves to Academy
The fact that Tanner “Damonte” Damonte had to play in Academy LCS for the first half of 2020 was an egregious oversight, further highlighted by the fact that he was able to lead Clutch Gaming to the World Championship mere months prior. That kind of perplexing alternate timeline has come to a close as the Golden Guardians have just decided to sign Damonte as their starting mid laner for the remainder of the season.
Now, make no mistake, Damonte is not the second coming of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. What he is, however, is a promising native talent, and in a region that’s not known for producing top-tier mid laners, having such a strong player is like a small miracle in and of itself. He needs guidance and room to grow. Many organizations often claim how they’re willing to foster the LCS superstars of tomorrow and yet they’re not doing anything to back those claims up. The fact that Damonte had a fantastic 2019 and yet couldn’t find a team to start for in 2020 is just a baffling twist no one expected — primarily because it made no sense whatsoever.
Fortunately, after dominating in Academy throughout the last couple of months, he was able to once again find a home at the highest level of competition in North America. Does he deserve such a “promotion?” Absolutely. Will Damonte make the Golden Guardians a top-tier team? Not exactly, but more on that below.
What About Goldenglue?
Greyson Gregory “Goldenglue” Gilmer is pretty much a veteran in every sense of the word, but even though he’s a familiar face, he could never fully breakthrough for a wide variety of reasons. He was supposedly a scrim god but could never translate that kind of performance to the LCS stage. His most recent split (the first time he was a full-time starter) wasn’t exactly a stellar showing.
He ranks lowest in KDA (2.4), has mediocre laning stats, and vastly unimpressive damage output. At best, you could argue that he’s a painfully mediocre mid laner which isn’t all that great. And no, it’s not all about the statistics or any number but rather the overall effect a player has on the map and his team. Goldenglue, while certainly great at times, wasn’t able to consistently push his team over the finish line. Whether that’s because of his limitations as a player or a much bigger problem at GGS remains to be seen.
He will now be slotted into Academy and will compete with GGS’ Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Abbott for the starting spot in the “little leagues.” Not exactly a prestigious position to be in, but it’s not an unexpected twist either, given his performance. The Golden Guardians want to improve their ranking; reaching any higher will require quite a noticeable overhaul of their starting line-up.
A Stronger Support Staff
To further bolster their team and chances of leaving a mark in 2020, GGS has also promoted Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung as their positional coach. It wasn’t that long ago that Olleh was at the top of North America, being touted as one of the best NA imports of all time. He’s a former champion and was once one of the most impactful support players in the West.
Then came a fall of grace for the ages. Olleh was never able to reach his former level of play and was consistently struggling to keep up. It’s nice to see him start a new chapter of his career, and we can only hope that he’ll find more success as a part of GGS’ coaching staff. Olleh is certainly no stranger to the organization as he already played as their starter back during the LCS’ first year of franchising.
What the Golden Guardians need now, perhaps above all else, is a good support player. If they keep Yuri “Keith” Jew they can’t expect to contest for the playoffs, but it seems as though they’re giving Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun another chance — this time from the very start of the split. The former LCS mid laner (and champion) certainly looked much better than the man he replaced (who also happened to role swap to support, albeit with much less success).
Will It Be Enough?
You can never be too sure when it’s the Golden Guardians in question. To their credit, they looked rather abysmal on paper split after split. Yet they consistently managed to find more success than people thought was possible — if we ignore those first two tenth-place finishes. The organization doesn’t have a lot to work with, but they’re fighting valiantly and deserve a ton of praise. Had someone told you that GGS would end up in the playoffs last split, you would’ve laughed them out of the room — and with good reason.
It just wasn’t a playoff-worthy line-up. But despite their inherent flaws and what the community felt was possible, they fought through thick and thin and finished in the Top 6. The story of GGS is one of overcoming adversity, and they’re not getting enough recognition for what they’ve accomplished with such meager means.
Damonte, in that regard, should be a huge improvement to Golden Guardians. He’s the kind of player who’ll go for the game-winning play regardless of the odds — an invaluable trait that’ll boost GGS far more than people expect. Give him a playmaking champion and he’ll do the rest. Still, despite his ability to pop off, he’s at times incredibly inconsistent and it’s not tied to whom he’s playing against either.
If anything, the fact that he’ll have former TCL MVP Can “Closer” Çelik by his side almost guarantees a beastly jungle-mid duo for GGS. Both players are known for their mechanical talent and unrelenting aggression and if they manage to build synergy in time, they could give the best teams in North America a run for their money. By the same token, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell is equally solid (give or take) and could seriously blossom with a mid laner who’s prone to roaming right from the very get-go. He had an imperfect split but a lot of progress was made. For the first time in a long while, he looked like the TSM champion of old.
Now when you combine that level of play with a Top 3 jungler and a playmaking mid laner who can pop off on some of the most dominant champions in the game, you get a very dangerous top side of the map. GGS’ bottom lane is also fairly formidable, although one could argue that it’s inherently limited in both power and potential.
Still, at their best, they’re far better than most people give them credit. They’re not good enough to challenge the long-established LCS status quo (and the few stacked behemoths who stand on top), but they should make things a lot more competitive once the 2020 Summer Split comes along.