GGS Hauntzer: "We're improving every week, and by the end of the split, we'll be in playoffs for sure."

Golden Guardians' Week 6, Day 2 matchup against 100 Thieves in the 2019 LCS Spring Split featured a marquee matchup in the top lane. Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell's signature Ryze was answered by Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho's Riven. The matchup proved to be as explosive as expected, and not in a good way for Hauntzer. The GGS Top Laner found himself severely behind coming out of the laning phase.

Fortunately for Hauntzer , Matthew "deftly Chen and Kim "Olleh" Joo-sung managed to gain their own advantage across the rift, and after another rumble at La Casa de Fiesta, Golden Guardians managed to crack the 100 Thieves nexus. Hauntzer did his best Dyrus cosplay, finishing 0/6/3 while his team carried him to victory.

Hauntzer sat down with Inven Global after the match to discuss his bizarre victory, changes to the meta, and Golden Guardians' season thus far. 


Congratulations on your win, Hauntzer. How do you feel about your play today?

My play today was...not very good! It was really hard to play the game out for me because we had three magic damage dealing champions on the top side of the map. There was no scenario where we could gank Top Lane or do anything around that area. If 100 Thieves sends Zac top and I don't have Flash up, I'm going to die. I couldn't really get an early lead, but we got a lot of leads on bot side and subsequently, a lot of dragons. Overall, our team did pretty well.

You guys pulled out the win, but your Ryze was not up to its usual standards. What circumstances made it so you had so few options, and did you expect the way the draft played out?

Going into the game, we weren't planning on drafting 3 AP champions on the top side of the map. However, since 100 drafted Zac, we had to pick a champion to counter it, so we drafted Gragas.

I don't think we planned the second phase of our draft too well, so we ended up with triple-AP, and it turned out it was really bad in that situation. We couldn't really do anything, and they could pick any bruiser champion who builds Maw of Malmortius or Black Cleaver. If they get a little bit tanky, then they would never die in a side lane. I'm still really confident in my Ryze, but today's game was a bit unlucky.

When those types of games happen, are you able to be aware of the overall state of the game being even despite your individual deficit?

Yeah, I was talking to my team about what they could do on the other side of the map, because it was pretty much impossible to make any plays on my side of the map. We were trying to be creative, and ended up swapping our duo to match Riven, and I think that worked out pretty well. After that, the game kind of became a fiesta *laughs* I got caught again, and some other people got caught too. In the end, we ended up sneaking two objectives and won the game off of that.

The dragons ended up making the difference for GGS, especially once you got the Elder Dragon. Was it your plan to focus bot side once you saw the draft play out? 

It was part of our game plan. We picked Lucian, who is a really strong lane bully and always has push advantage in the Bot Lane, so we were able to get all the objectives on bot side really easily. Luckily, the first two dragons were Infernal Drakes, and that helped us push our lead, especially for Lucian and Zoe.

100 Thieves didn't have Zac play around bot side at all, so we kind of snowballed it from there since they let them farm and do whatever they want. They played to their win condition, which was to snowball Riven, but we played to ours better.

Golden Guardians is sitting at 5-7 and in the playoff race. How are you feeling about the season overall?

Our season had a really rough start. It really put us behind, but we're 5-3 in our past 8 games and our only losses are against the top teams. I feel like we've been coming back pretty strong. We're improving every week, and by the end of the split, we'll be in playoffs for sure.

Was there something from your perspective that clicked for the team after the 0-4 start? 

The biggest thing was that we started playing like a team. Before, it was like solo queue. No one was really playing as a team, and we weren't communicating enough. After going 0-4, we realized we needed to focus and actually play for real. Everyone's mindset was turned towards more team play, and everyone's gears revved up. Everyone is trying a lot harder and wants to make sure we win every game. 

How would you describe your team's style of play relative to other teams in the LCS?

Our team's style is to play off of individual strengths. We're not the best macro team or the best team fighting team yet, but our laners are all very capable. We just play off of that and try to get a lead through the laning phase and snowball throughout the early game.

In our last interview, you talked about wanting to step into a leadership role in GGS due to your experience. Is that still a focus for you?

Everyone's trying to step up in their own regard. I want to help our younger players come into their own, especially deftly. He's finished 10th place twice, and hasn't had too many achievements.  If he's not confident enough as an AD Carry, he's not going to be able to perform well on stage and carry games. I'm trying to help him out there.

Everyone else has been playing for a while, so it's just depends on their personalities. Most people are pretty shy and don't really want to voice what they want to do, but helping each other come out of their respective shells is going to make us a great team.

As a decorated veteran with multiple international appearances, do you think you might come across as intimidating to less experienced teammates?

I don't really do anyting differently. I just tell them to speak up more and to not play too scared. You have to trust in yourself and trust in your teammates.

Mostly, I lead by example. When we go into practice, there's not a lot of goofing around. We don't play any other games at all, we only play League of Legends and put in a lot of hours. We're pretty diligent.

In our last interview, you mentioned you thought the ceiling for your team was top 3 in LCS. What does your team have to improve on to become top 3 by the end of the split?

There's a lot of things. It depends on the patch, really. Figuring out the patch is really important right now because a lot of the overpowered champions got nerfed. Right now, things are in a weird state where no one really knows what to pick. It's not as easy as before. If we figure out the patch by the end of the split really well, that will make us a top team.

Other things would be sharpening our fundamentals, which is really important. Every top team has great fundamentals, so that's always something we're working on and trying to build up.

In terms of our team style, we have to play with confidence and play to ourselves to be a top team. We have to trust in each other and everyone's individual style. We're really good in laning phase, so we try to snowball through that. In addition, I feel like we are pretty strong skirmishing-wise as well.

This meta still needs to be figured out. Are there any fun picks you've been experimenting with that we could see in the next couple weeks?

*Laughs* picks. I think Quinn could be good depending on the situation. It might be sporadic because her kit is very situational, but if I see a situation to pick her, I would definitely pick her. I also think Riven is pretty strong right now. I saw a lot of Korean top laners playing it, so I tried to pick her up and she feels really good.

Thanks again for the interview, Hauntzer. Is there anyone you want to shout out?

My parents came to LCS this past weekend to watch my games...I didn't perform too well, but at least we got a win. It's always good to see them, because I only see them a few times per year. Also, we have a new sponsor called Madrinas Coffee, and they're really nice, so shout out to them.

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