Golden Guardians is currently tied for fifth place with FlyQuest and Cloud9 at a record of 3-3, but their most recent win featured something that hadn't happened yet in the 2022 LCS Summer Split: playing on stage. On the first day of the Summer Split, GG had to rush home to play their match after members tested positive for COVID-19 at the check-in for the LCS arena, and they've played remotely since, but in Week 3, the golden gamers were healthy enough to return to the stage.
After a convincing win against Immortals, Golden Guardians top laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie spoke to Inven Global about returning to the stage for the first time in the LCS Summer Split, his growth as a player and person throughout his career, and the bittersweet nature of his first career victory against Cloud9 a few weeks prior.
This is your first game back at the LCS arena this split. What was it like to be back and how do you think you and your teammates adjusted to the stage?
It's good to be back. I was honestly a little nervous about it because I don't always do the best with a ton of change. On the first day of the split, we showed up and got told we had to go home. We were trying to figure out how to get everyone to the office and what the setups we were going to play on were. All of our staff was running around trying to meet requirements for Riot regarding the tech side of things. That was awful. [laughs]
I was definitely feeling a little bit nervous about coming back, but it actually felt really good. This was the most relaxed I've been at the LCS in a long time. It was nice.
That's great to hear, was there anything specific that catalyzed that?
I don't know the best way to explain it, but I think I've just grown up a little bit. That's the short version of it. When I was a new player, I wanted every day to be super special. I wanted to have the pop-off performance every single day and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted every day to be the day where everything would feel amazing.
Now, I've been here a while, so I'm like, 'Okay, let's go play on stage.' It's still cool and really fun to play on stage, but now it's like 'I don't need it to be anything more than what it is.' I don't need to stomp my opponent or win the game really hard, I just need to show up and do my best.
That's a great perspective. However, I did expect you to lock in the Irelia that your team was hovering against Gnar today. Instead, you opted into Sejuani and won lane anyway. Can you talk a bit about the methodology behind this pick today against Immortals?
I really liked our draft. I thought we had the stronger front-to-back composition. I could have picked Irelia and try to get a bunch of solo kills, which would have been really fun. However, if I pick Sejuani, it's really good for our team composition. Also, I ended up winning the lane anyway. [laughs]
How has Stixxay returning to the starting AD carry position changed Golden Guardians' competitive approach?
I really think Lost and Olleh weren't a good pairing together. The way they wanted to play was kind of contradictory, so they weren't a good fit together. Having Trevor come back is a much better fit for the team and I think it helps us feel a lot more cohesive.
Do you think Stixxay's experience as a positional coach this spring has made him a better player or helped him improve the team?
I'm sure he learned a lot during his stint as a coach because he was looking at the game from a different perspective. When you get into a game, there's a thing that happens where everything that seems simple out of game becomes immediately super difficult. I'm sure spending a lot of time watching gameplay helped him, but I don't know. You'd have to ask him.
You got your first career win against Cloud9 earlier this split, which you mentioned to me before as something you wanted to accomplish. Was the moment as sweet as you had hoped?
I don't know. It didn't really feel like much. I think my gameplay was good that day, but I felt pretty anxious the whole game. It was really hard to actually enjoy it while it was happening, so I don't think I got the amount of enjoyment that I wished I had gotten out of it. I'm definitely excited to play against them next time.
What are your thoughts on the current top lane meta?
You can play a lot of things, but it feels like the game is dictated a lot more by bot lane. It's a lot more of a bot-centric style globally, so you can pick a lot of things, but at the end of the day, you're just a top laner. [laughs]
I don't know — I do appreciate the variety, and I definitely think there is some impact you can have, especially when you start scaling into the late game with carry picks like Fiora and Gangplank. You can make really nice plays with champions like that, and on champions like Sejuani, you can provide something for your team. However, it does feel like the game kind of revolves around bot lane right now, so it doesn't feel as good as it might otherwise.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything you want to say to the Golden Guardians fans?
Thanks for the support. It was great to be back and hear people cheering for us. That actually felt really nice. I hope you guys keep cheering for us.