Golden Guardians hosted a media day this past week, showing off their recent re-brand and new LCS roster. Only two players remain from the 2019 Summer Split, and only one from last Spring, Kevin "Hauntzer" Yarnell. The top laner spoke with Inven Global about his role in the new roster, as well as his off-season, 2020 season goals, and criticism from LCS fans.
The last time we spoke was during the 2019 LCS Summer Split. How have you been since the conclusion of last season?
We had an unfortunately early end to our split, and since we’ve had a lot of time off, I have stayed as productive as possible. I’ve been reading books, working out, and trying not to be too much of a degenerate. Obviously I have to relax here and there, but I’ve still been playing quite a bit. I’ve also been doing kickboxing, archery, and a lot of different stuff to keep my mind sharp.
How long has the Golden Guardians 2020 roster been practicing as a team?
As an entire team, we pretty much just met. Can "Closer" Çelik got to meet Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer at the All-Star Event last month, but didn’t get to meet the rest of us until our end of the year event in San Francisco. Our team didn’t boot camp in South Korea this off-season, but our Bot Lane duo went because they wanted to get some practice in, and I think it was as helpful for them. There are about 3 weeks until the start of LCS, so we’re starting practice and we’ll see how much we gel with another and learn as a team before then.
Golden Guardians failed to qualify for the Summer Playoffs, but individually, your performance was considered amongst the best of all top laners in North America. How would you evaluate your play in the Summer Split?
I had good laning, but my game impact wasn’t always as high as I wanted it to be. You can take a look at the stats, but I wasn’t always able to translate my lane advantage into a team advantage, so that’s something I’m looking to improve upon in the upcoming split.
I want to make sure we have the right team environment and culture. No one should have an ego that gets in the way of the team as a whole. I want to make sure we all have the right mindset to play as one, and try to win through that.
Of the 5 players who were named Golden Guardians starters at the beginning of that split, you are the sole returning starter. Did you have any influence on roster construction during this off-season?
I feel like every player is allowed to have the same amount of input. I was given some names, and I gave my input, but ultimately, it’s up to the organization.
Do you have an idea of what style GG will play as a team.
We have a lot of motivation to prove ourselves, not just as a team, but also as individuals. Everyone wants to focus on play making and proactivity; not necessarily just sitting back and farming. We all want to be more aggressive and make things happen, and I think that’s a good place to start as a new team.
Do you have any new goals for the 2020 season?
Since I am the oldest on my team and have been playing the longest, I’m going to try to be a role model to my teammates by setting a good examples. Individually, I want to work on my weaknesses. In lane, I’m fine, but need to improve on translating individual leads and I think the best way to do that is to work and grow with your teammates.
Does being the eldest put an extra burden of responsibility on you in regards to helping your teammates?
It depends. Honestly, I have to take care of myself before my teammates, because if I can’t perform well myself, I’m in no position to help anyone else. Still, I definitely want to help my teammates as much as possible and receive help from them as well.
A majority of the community is skeptical of Yuri "Keith" Jew's roleswap from AD Carry to Support. What was your initial reaction upon learning about his intentions?
I was surprised at first because hes been an AD carry for the longest time, and while both roles share a lane, the mindsets are very different. AD carries want to farm up and get gold so they can do damage, whereas supports want to focus on the map and make plays. I’m glad Keith is motivated to try it out; we’ll see how it goes.
Do you think Golden Guardians is being underestimated?
Yeah, but that’s kind of how it is in these situations. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what people think of us. What matters is what we think of ourselves, how we play to one another as teammates, and how we play on stage. We’re not f******g 10th place, obviously, so all we can do is prove that through action.
From now until the start of LCS, it’s practice, practice, practice. Like I said before, we didn’t bootcamp like other teams and we are only now just starting practice, so there’s no time for anything else. These next few weeks are all about how we are going to work on our problems and find our identity.
Thank you so much for the interview Hauntzer, is there anything you want to say to the Golden Guardians fan base?
I hope you like the re-brand. I think the new logo is pretty cool, and I’m excited for this upcoming season.