Golden Guardians defeated Counter Logic Gaming on Sunday afternoon. The Golden State Warriors affiliate is now 3-1 in its past four games, which is a marked improvement from the 0-4 start to the 2019 LCS Spring Split the team had suffered through in earlier weeks.
GGS Jungler Juan "Contractz" Garcia joined Inven Global after week 4 of the LCS to discuss the team's improvements, bonding with his new teammates, and organizational improvements in year two of the Golden Guardians franchise.
I'm here with Contractz. Golden Guardians is 3-1 in its last four games, which is certainly better than your first four games. What's changed within the team?
My team and I don't count the first two weeks of the split. We're 3-1 right now. At least, that's what we're saying to ourselves. *laughs* We realized we were lacking in team play and coordination, so since then, we've been trying to link Kim "Olleh" Joo-sung and myself together better. We've had trouble getting vision control together in the past, and even now, it's not that good.
Olleh and I haven't really played with each other for a long time so we are still trying to get a feel for each other's timings. We're definitely working on it, and once we are on the same page and are able to properly control vision, we'll be able to dominate the 2v2 and do really well.
Golden Guardians has a lot of talent on its roster, but the cohesion is only now starting to form. Was there a specific turning point for the team?
Yeah, we were playing as solo queue players before. We were getting lane leads, but we weren't really converting them and making any team plays together to try and advance the lead into securing an objective. We weren't on the same page and we were just playing for ourselves, but now we're trying to be more selfless with one another. We're trying to focus more on synergy and team play in general.
This roster is a large improvement over Golden Guardians' roster last year. Was it surprising to get off to a rough start this split, or did you expect it to take some time with new teammates?
It definitely took some time for me to gel with my new teammates, but I've learned a lot. Henrik "Froggen" Hansen is really smart about the game. He knows what he needs around Mid Lane, and his macro knowledge is pretty extensive. I've learned a lot from him in regards to vision control around Mid Lane or what kind of timings he needs to keep track of in certain matchups.
In addition, I've improved my communication a lot compared to last year. I'm really confident in my calls, and I think it's a combination of me playing better and improving, but also, playing with better players. I'm not trying to trash talk any of my teammates from last year, because they are all really good players and doing well for themselves now, but I think with this new team, we can go really far.
All five players on Golden Guardians are very strong individually, and I'm always confident in my teammates to never lose lane or mechanically mess up. If we all put our trust in each other, we can go far.
Do you think you had a down year last year individually, or was it mostly because of the team's poor performance?
No, I was much worse than I was on the previous year. It was a combination of both factors, but I definitely regressed as a player. I don't know what happened, but maybe I got too confident from the year prior when I did really well at Worlds and took it too easy. Coming into this year, I'm trying to do really well with my teammates. No slacking allowed.
Compared to your coaching staff last year, how has Golden Guardians changed things around? Did the organization ask you and Matthew "deftly" Chen for feedback as the returning roster members?
Yeah, they took feedback from all of the players before we got new management. We weren't sure what was happening with the roster yet, so they were taking feedback from everyone.
Everything is upgraded from last year. Players, management, and coaching staff have all been upgraded, and Golden Guardians is a solid organization now. Everything is clean and smooth; there aren't any hiccups in the process.
The organization itself needed a year to find its footing to adjust. How have you been adjusting to fix your flaws from last year?
Last season, I didn't really go to the gym too much. I started going to the gym in August of last year after the season, and I've been going consistently since then. It really helps my mentality.
Also, I had some wrist issues and going to the gym and strengthening myself has helped in that regard as well. I don't have any pain in my wrists anymore. It's a lifestyle thing. I feel good; I'm confident in game; it correlates with everything.
Do you work out with Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell? Deftly mentioned going kickboxing with him in our recent interview.
The whole team goes to the gym together except Olleh. We're trying to get him to go, but he's slacking a bit. Overall, we're in pretty good shape.
Did your team have the same out-of-game dynamic last year?
In the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split, everyone on the team was really close. In the summer, things were rough. I can't say we had a good bond with Mickey after what happened, but the other four of us, and even Bobqin from Golden Guardians Academy, had a good bond.
Bobqin revealed what happened with Mickey on his stream last week. What was your reaction to the situation when it happened initially?
Honestly, I didn't really care. I'm surprised Mickey got on another team in Korea. Good luck to him.
It's difficult to continue to progress individually when things don't go as planned for your team, right?
Yeah, and when your environment is that down in the dumps, it's really difficult for the players to actually play the game and focus properly.
How did you approach giving feedback to your teammates after GGS' rough start to the split this year?
We knew something was wrong after starting out 0-4...that's pretty unacceptable. No one was down, we were all still focused on improving together and really tryed to find the issue was. We had a talk, and we all felt that we weren't playing around the jungle as a team properly.
If you take a look at Griffin, the whole team plays off of Tarzan and groups up to help him. Our team wasn't really connecting with each other, so we wanted to focus on being one cohesive unit and doing everyhting together. Regardless of whether it turns out good or bad, we do it together and then we talk about it after and see what we could have done better because we are on the same page.
3-1 in the last four games is a pretty good start to playing better. Where do you think Golden Guardians will end up in the standings at the end of the split?
We want to make playoffs. That's the goal for now, but we want to go even further than that.
Congratulations on a much better start to this year than last, Contractz, and thank you for your time. Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Thank you to the GGS and Contractz fans that I have. Last year was a really rough year for both GGS and myself, but I think 2019 will be a lot better.