The first weekend of the LCS 2021 Summer Split went better than expected for Golden Guardians, with an upset against Cloud9 and some promising games against TSM and Immortals. To conclude the week for them, we spoke with Nicholas Antonio “Ablazeolive” Abbott, mid-laner for the Golden Guardians shortly after their close game against TSM.
Ablazeolive talks about how the Golden Guardians roster stays calm during intense situations, where things went wrong in some games and his thoughts on the new LCS format. Below the video is a full transcript of the Ablazeolive interview. Our questions are written in a bold font, where Ablazeolive’s response is in a standard font.
I’m definitely got some mixed feelings. Starting off with a win against Cloud9 feels really good, but not following up with the other wins aren’t ideal obviously. I think we definitely could’ve played better. We made some pretty bad mistakes, especially myself. I think we’re still working through some of these things, just getting some more experience will help with those mistakes we made. So yeah, I’m kind of just, you know… sad, because we lost.
Let’s talk about the first game against Cloud9 a little more, it must especially feel amazing for Chime, taking down C9 on his first LCS match right. How does the team, mostly consisting of rookies stay calm and in focus during those sort of situations?
I think we weren’t necessarily staying calm. I think Solo and Stixayy were calmer than the rest. I was getting pretty hyped and Chime, I think he was also getting a bit excited. I think just even though we’re getting pretty excited, just knowing what it is that we can do from our previous experiences and trying to use that from scrims to make the best decisions possible.
At the end of the game [against Cloud9], we had the option to go baron or try and end. There was definitely some comms like “what should we do?”. but we decided to just go for it because it was a 4v5 and we had ocean soul. So, I think obviously it was the best decision, we won pretty easily, but I think it’s going to be a lot going back to scrims and finding a situation that’s similar and just going on basically instinct and past experiences.
Loss against Immortals
During the game against Immortals, you picked Syndra. At the moment people think at the moment that Syndra is a very weak champion, could you tell me the thought process of picking her?
I definitely agree, I think mages right now are generally pretty weak, definitely a lot worse than they were the last split. Syndra specifically has a really good matchup against Tristana, which is the main reason we picked the champion in that situation. I think in hindsight we made some mistakes in the draft that kind of meant that no matter what I picked our comp wouldn’t be that good. But, I don’t think necessarily Syndra is just unplayable right now, but definitely, the main reason was that it’s a solid matchup against Tristana. I mean I had a good lane, I think just the other issues with the draft made the game hard to play out.
A close game against TSM
Right now the power rankings are all over the place, people like to call it the circle of suck. It looks like you struggled more against Immortals than you did with TSM. Would you say you played better against TSM? Or is Immortals better than TSM?
I think TSM is just a lot more stable of a team, so they’re not going to make the game extremely volatile and try to make random plays. In contrast, I think Immortals thrives a lot more in those situations. Also, Immortals comp functioned in essence, kind of like a snowball comp. They have Thresh, Rumble, Tristana and Jinx as their four core.
That core is really squishy so they’re not ahead and they don’t have the first setup on an objective. It’s kind of hard for them to play out fights because they’re so squishy. They do have a Sett in the top-lane, but they kind of have a snowball comp, so if they’re going to win that game, most of the time it’s going to be from steamrolling, which is what ended up happening.
I think we also played a little better against TSM, so it’s not just the team comps. I’m not sure which team is better. I think TSM is probably the better team, but I think just the way we played against them was easier for us. I also think our draft was a lot easier to play out as well. So, I personally think TSM is better, but Immortals is looking impressive for sure.
In the game against TSM, we started to see a little bit of a comeback towards the end. Where did things start to go wrong?
I think what went wrong was that we weren’t playing aggressive enough. Our composition that game, similar to Immortals comp, we need to keep pressing our advantage. We could’ve definitely gotten a bigger advantage in the early game, but after we got the mid-tier 1 [turret] I think our advantage was enough to continue snowballing. I think when I got picked off in the top lane, that was pretty big for the game, giving a big shut down to Udyr.
We just got picked a lot in the mid-game. They kinda got to free scale. I think if we could use our advantages to get control of one side of the river and take towers, that would’ve been the way to continue snowballing and maybe the game would’ve looked different. It definitely went wrong when we were getting picked in the downtime between dragons.
Moving on from the games
Now this year it’s a bit different, your spring standings carry over to the summer split which no longer allows teams to use spring split as a playground. What’s your opinion on the new change? Do you think the change may hurt the Golden Guardians miracle run to worlds?
Well, I have more insight into why the system is working well. We have the people that brought the idea forward to Riot to introduce it, so I have a better understanding of why it’s good. At least for me since I understand it really well, I know that the change is good. The way that made me realise that it’s a good system is that hypothetically if you go from being a low placed team, like us [Golden Guardians] for example and then play at first place or second place level, you’re still going to get basically the same record because there are more games and the standings aren’t so drastically different to where it won’t matter that much.
For example, last year Team Liquid was 9th in spring and then was first in summer, and if you applied the same system last year, they would’ve placed second instead of first in summer, like it’s not first, but it’s basically the same standing. At least for me, I think it’s good. It’s good that spring at least has some impact, but summer is definitely more important still. The most important thing is your form going into the end of the year. All that really matters is that you make the playoffs.
It’s obviously nice to have a higher seeding, but the team that is performing the best is going to be going the farthest. There are eight spots in playoffs, so I don’t think the carryover is-… I think it’s a good thing.
Your top-laner Colin “Solo” Earnest has been in both coaching and playing positions for many years now. Does his and sort of your veteran experience really help the rookies of the team?
I’m kind of the middle experienced member of the team. Solo and Stixxay are definitely more experienced than I am. But, it’s definitely helping Iconic and Chime a lot I feel. There are a lot of responsibilities that fall onto the most consistent, knowledgeable members of the game, and it allows them to be more focused on the individual decisions they have to make as well as not being uncomfortable in the position in the first place.
Their experience is extremely valuable. I wouldn’t consider myself anything more than a rookie. I’ve been playing competitive League of Legends for a while, but never at LCS level. I still feel like I’m learning a lot, especially from Solo because he’s coming in new from the team this split. Stixxay has been playing with us the whole year, so I’ve built up an understanding of the way he thinks and plays the game.
But yeah, I’m learning a lot and hope to show the improvements that we’ve been making and put some good results in.
How do you think Chime performed during his first week in the LCS?
I think Chime he’s made some pretty common rookie mistakes, which happens to a lot of people when they move up for their first few games where you die at weird times. You’re maybe assuming people are going to do certain things, but they don’t and you end up dying. I think he hasn’t been scared, which I think is very common also, I think that’s a really good sign because you can get really nervous and play really scared on stage because you don’t want to make mistakes and look dumb. But, I think he’s not afraid to go for things, even if they end up being bad.
It’s a lot easier to teach somebody to make the correct plays than teach someone to make any plays at all. So, I think with more experience he’s going to look better and better and I think this week, especially in the Cloud9 game, he was looking and being proactive with his calls, which is also practically a reason we won that game. So, I don’t think he can be super happy, because we only went 1-2, but I don’t think it was all bad. There were some good parts, especially that confidence to get a win is really hard to teach, so that’s a good sign.
Stixxay and Solo have said the main goals for this split is to just improve. What are you going to takeaway from this week and hope to improve by next week?
I think the most noticeable thing for us was that we were getting picked pretty often in the mid-game. That’s something pretty important that we need to fix up if we want to have a more consistent chance at winning games. We don’t want every game to be a 9k gold deficit comeback, so that’s a really big thing as well as just being more aggressive when we should be and playing to the other side of the map when we don’t want to be confrontational.
I think our decisions behind what we’re trying to do aren’t necessarily wrong, but we’re just getting picked off and it’s kind of a basic mistake, but these are just things you have to go through. So those are the biggest things we need to improve on for now.
Going 3-15 in Spring must’ve been rough. I think Cloud9 and TSM definitely underestimated the potential of the Golden Guardians. I hope we call this the start of the redemption arc for the Golden Guardians. Ablazeolive, You’ve made me and many others a fan this week, so best of luck on the remainder of the summer split, I’ll definitely be rooting for you.
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Gamezo. I sometimes write, but mainly get others to do it for me. I'm mainly interested in the world of esports business, but sometimes you'll catch me covering VALORANT or League of Legends.