For the first time in his LoL esports career, Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes is not wearing a Counter Logic Gaming Jersey. The North American AD Carry was looking for a change of scenery in the off-season and found himself as the sole League of Legends Championship Series veteran on a young, rebuilt Golden Guardians squad.
Stixxay sat down with Inven Global to talk about his 2020 season on Counter Logic Gaming, his reasons for joining Golden Guardians, and the various nuances of the team and its performance throughout the 2021 LCS Lock In.
Now that your first tournament with Golden Guardians has concluded, what are your initial thoughts on your play as an individual and the team's play as a whole?
Overall, I think it went pretty poorly. Obviously, we had some close games and some not-so-close games, but we went 1-5 in the LCS Lock In. Based on our practice results, I was expecting a bit more, so it wasn't super good. That being said, we've had medical issues affecting our team, so we haven't had the best practice as of late. Overall, our performance was pretty poor, but it's okay. I think we are learning a lot.
It was unfortunate seeing your mid laner Nick "Ablazeolive" Abbott temporarily hamstrung by health issues, but it was admirable to see him recover enough to be able to make the start today. Can you give more detail regarding how health issues have affected the team's practice lately?
I think Ablazeolive is one of our biggest 'dream players' — he adds a lot to our team, but when scrimming with him in the past week, he was on a lot of medication so it was hard for him to focus and play well. That affects the team as a whole because Ablazeolive is a big part of our communication. The day before our series against Evil Geniuses, he was in so much pain we had to scrim with a different mid laner.
We were going to start Golden Guardians Academy mid laner Choi "Yunbee" Jong-yun against EG, but I guess the stone passed an hour before our match, so Ablazeolive was able to play.
*Laughs* Yeah, it was kind of a weird situation, but I'm glad he is feeling better and that he was able to play.
While GG's play was below your personal expectations, the form showed by the team throughout this event exceeded the majority of public expectations. What do you think people are underestimating most about Golden Guardians this season?
In general, when a team signs a bunch of new players, people expect that team to just get smashed. I think we're different in that we have players who are pretty good at laning, and as a team, we aren't afraid.
For example, our top laner Aiden "Niles" Tidwell doesn't get intimidated by laning against the likes of Evil Geniuses' top laner Jeong "Impact" Eon-young He's just trying to utilize his champion the best way he can in the 1v1 matchup. Alternatively, I think some people would be really nervous to play against someone like Impact.
I think people expect us to just get rolled over in the laning phase, but that's definitely not the case. That being said, I think we have a lot to work on in terms of our mid-to-late game. It's really sketchy right now, so we're trying to work on that.
This is the first team you've played on that isn't Counter Logic Gaming. How did you find your way to Golden Guardians?
I think it was pretty clear by the end of the last season that I needed a change of scenery, and CLG probably wanted a change, too. I think it was kind of a mutual decision. I was talking to other teams in the off-season, but I liked the vision of Golden Guardians the most. I felt like GG matches what I want, and I really like our coaching staff. That's why I wanted to play on this team.
On CLG, you debuted as one rookie within a team full of veterans. What is it like to now be in the reverse dynamic of your CLG debut as the sole veteran on a team with the four other players making their LCS debuts this season?
In terms of leadership as a veteran, I think it depends on the game. If I'm strong enough to make things happen, I will definitely try to make those things happen through me. However, if I'm not strong individually and/or playing weak side, it's hard for me to tell the team what to do or what's going on in the game from my perspective.
Overall, I just try to keep everyone on the same page in our games if possible. In addition, I try to offer myself as a problem solver in our review sessions. I've been in so many different situations that I kind of try to tackle figuring out the problems because when you've played this game thousands of times, you learn how to do certain things in certain situations from experience. Helping my team with those things is probably what I'm best at.
Last year, I felt that both you and CLG support Andy "Smoothie" Ta were individually good players, but never seemed to get on the same page as a duo. How has that experience contrasted with currently building synergy with your new support Leandro "Newbie" Marcos?
I have nothing against Smoothie or anything, but I think CLG was very dysfunctional as a team. We very often had poor drafts for our bot lane duo, so we were playing really hard matchups and not getting any help, so it made us look really bad. We were just down 20-30 CS every game.
On Golden Guardians, my coach helps me make sure my matchups are good and that my team isn't screwing me in a way. Because of this, I'm able to keep even or get leads in a lot of our games. I think the main thing is just that CLG was really dysfunctional, but I have nothing against the players on the team. In terms of working with Newbie, we just talk about 2v2 stuff after games and often, champion picks. We want to make sure our matchups are good so we can perform.
Visa issues aside, do you think CLG has addressed and amended the dysfunction you mentioned since the conclusion of last season?
I would hope so, you know? They wanted to go in a different direction by splitting my time as a starter with Oh "Wind" Myeong-jin. I think CLG definitely wanted a different bot laner, and the organization wanted to see a different perspective on the team with a different starting AD carry.
Maybe I was too stubborn with certain ideologies about the game, and other people are going to be more willing to make sacrifices. I'm not really sure, but hopefully, CLG has figured that stuff out. That being said, we won't really be able to see until the start of the 2021 LCS Spring Split. Hopefully, CLG will be better than last year, it's hard not to be.
Now that GG has had a chance to play against some LCS teams, do you think there's a particular fix the team can make to improve significantly in the short time before the start of Spring Split?
When it comes down to playing League of Legends, especially in a pressured environment like the LCS, I think it's really just keeping your fundamentals strong and playing mechanically well. I think our team has the mechanical parts down. Everyone on our team has proven they can win their respective lanes or 1v1s, but I think what we really lack right now is our macro fundamentals, especially around objectives. That's the main thing our team needs to improve upon.
Do you think joining a team that fully rebuilt this off-season puts more pressure on you as an individual or does it allow more freedom to define your identity within the team?
I actually think that being on Golden Guardians has really helped me a lot. First of all, it's amazing to have a change of scenery. It's like a breath of fresh air for me to play on this team and get everyone else's perspectives on the game. Also, everyone here is so new so no one is super stuck in their ways in terms of how they want to play the game. They're always willing to change their way of thinking.
I don't think there is a lot of pressure on us because I don't think very many people expect us to do well. I still struggle with accepting losses because of my desire to win, so it can be frustrating to lose, but I understand that we still have a lot to learn. There's a lot less pressure on Golden Guardians than my last team.
Thanks so much for the interview, Stixxay. I'm glad to hear your new environment is a good fit for you personally and professionally. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Thanks for supporting me. Hopefully, we will improve and be a better team than what we showed in the LCS Lock In.
All images by: Golden Guardians
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