Golden Guardians exited the off-season with high hopes, making several upgrades around young talent Juan "Contractz" Garcia and Matthew "deftly" Chen. Armed with a new roster and new coaching staff, Golden Guardians looked ready to compete for playoffs after back to back 10th place finishes, but have gone 0-4 through two weeks of play.
Henrik "Froggen" Hansen sat down with Inven Global after Golden Guardian's fourth consecutive loss to 100 Thieves to discuss joining his new squad, early split struggles, and his abscence from competitive play in 2018.
It's been a while, Froggen. How was your off-season?
I've just been playing League. I'd be doing the exact same thing regardless of when I joined a team, really. It's been a whole lot of streaming.
Your love for the game has not faded, so it's good to see you back on a team. How did you end up joining Golden Guardians?
I was searching for a team for the 2019 season, so I talked to a bunch of teams in both Europe and North America. I talked a lot with Danan Flander, the General Manager of Golden Guardians, and I knew Nick "Inero" Smith a bit from when he was my Head Coach on Echo Fox. Both parties liked each other, so we ended up signing.
You were absent from the LCS in 2018. Was there anything else you were focusing on during your break?
I did have more time, but I spent it playing League. During the 2018 season, I would spend all day playing League in case someone wanted to sign me before playoffs. By no means did I want to retire or not play professionally again. In the off-season, whenever teams weren't playing, it wasn't much different for me. I was a bit more relaxed, but I still spent most of the time playing League.
Were you originally planning on taking off the spring of 2018?
I wasn't really looking for another team because I was pretty happy at Echo Fox. They ended up signing somebody else in the end, and other teams had already picked up Mid Laners at that time, so there wasn't much of a possibility for me to look for other teams at that point. I though Echo Fox signing another Mid Laner was a pretty low possibility, but in the event they did, I had streaming as a backup plan until finding another team.
Was it difficult to maintain your skill throughout the year without playing competitively in a team environment?
It's different, for sure. In Golden Guardians, I can feed off of what other players are telling me. In a team environment, you can learn a lot more about the other roles and lanes. On my own, I was mostly focused on figuring out how Mid Lane works, and figuring out things by myself is mostly how I've been doing things.
Overall knowledge of the game definitely goes down from not being in a team, but as far as Mid Lane champions played and the way to play the lane itself, it's pretty easy to figure out how it's played.
Did your break from competitive play change the way that you view the game in a competitive setting?
League gets updated every year, multiple times throughout the season, so there's always going to be changes to the game that force you to view it in a different way depending on what is strong. If you stay stuck with one mindset throughout the years, you will never succeed. Every single year is a new challenge on how to view the game and how to play it out.
Golden Guardians has not gotten the LCS start that the team wanted. What is the main factor between your planning and your execution right now as a team?
It's hard to say what the main thing is...I think it's a ton of small things. I don't think we fully trust each other yet about what we're doing in the game and the plans that we have beforehand, so we aren't really trying to rely on each other right now.
I think it's very hard to play out the game if you don't trust each other, because it is mostly a team game nowadays. If you're able to execute what you want to execute, you will probably succeed. A lot of the compositions just kind of push buttons and go in, and it works out more often than not. There needs to be more trust in our team.
When it comes to stage play, I think we are much more afraid than we are in scrims. I suppose that's pretty natural, but those are a few things that are easy to see. We are still trying to figure out what is working in scrims, and why it's not working on stage, so we'll see how it goes.
New teams often need more time to synergize. Did you have individually have trouble re-adjusting to the stage?
Back when I played on stage before, I would be able to rely on myself to execute. Nowadays, it is a lot more about the team aspect of execution, so developing that teamwork is going to take a while.
Do you feel that you've had to change your own style to fit Golden Guardians?
Yeah, I mean, I think throughout every single season, I'm going to do whatever is best for my team. If my team wants me to do something, I'm going to do that for them, and vice-versa. It's a two-way street, but your playstyle is going to change naturally based on the meta and how your team wants to play the game within the meta.
Mid/Jungle synergy is very important right now. How has it been going developing synergy with Contractz?
It's been fine. He's a really calm guy; there's not really any weird stuff about how he plays. It's just about talking more together and figuring out how we want to play and help each other depending on what champions we are playing.
I don't think it's super difficult to build synergy when it comes to 2v2 skirmishes and ganks because it's very straightforward a lot of the time. The harder part is when everyone starts to get involved in the fights. Everyone needs to know what they have to do in each fight, so that's the hard part about relying on each other. In scrims, we're able to do it, so something isn't clicking on stage and it's up to us to figure out what that is.
Has the team been able to establish a heirarchy in communication yet?
I think because of how are games have been so far, things haven't been very crazy for us. We haven't had a close game, so communication hasn't gotten very hectic. We've slowly lost our games outside of the last one. After we have more experience we have in those situations, we'll see if we have a leading voice or not.
I don't think it's much about listening to one person all of the time, because a lot of playing the game is executing on stuff that we already know as a group. If I had to select a leading voice for the team right now, it would be me or Hauntzer, but it's hard to say right now.
Thanks for the interview, Froggen. Would you like to say anything to your fans?
Thank you so much for following me. I know it's been a long time, and I hope there will be many more years to come.