Golden Guardians pulled the upset in the LCS summer split so far as they defeated Cloud9 after a tension-filled match that comprised 44 total kills and lasted for nearly 38 minutes.
Finishing last spring with a last-place 3-15 record, few expected Golden Guardians to make much noise for this summer. Add to that with the team’s signing of top laner Colin “Solo” Earnest to the starting lineup and substitution of Newbie for Chime in the support role, it seemed that their focus was more tilted towards developing the rookies for the future instead of competing for the playoffs.
In their opening game of the summer split against the defending LCS champions, they overcame the latter’s challenges like an underdog who’s poised to rally back from a poor start in their journey.
Carried by their mid laner Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Abbott and his 11/2/8 KDA with Zoe, GG trampled over the latter’s Viego pick and attempts for a backdoor play to jumpstart their rally for a playoff spot.
Minutes after the surprise win, their top laner Colin” Solo” Earnest attended a scrum interview session to discuss his standing with the team as one of two members with considerable experience in NA’s main stage.
Below is the full transcript of the interview.
How has it been meshing with the new team around you?
Solo: It’s been great so far. It’s kind of a new experience because I’ve never been in a team that has this many rookies and young players. In contrast with FlyQuest of last year where it was basically all veterans, it’s been kind of a really good experience as in trying to be a leader, trying to teach people a little more of the game, and seeing new players grow has kind of been a lot more rewarding.
You served in both coaching and playing positions for many years now. Do you think the years of experience on top of having this coaching mentality and view to the game gives you an advantage over other top laners?
Solo: I think it’s an advantage not necessary over top laners but just in general. When you take a step back from actually playing, at times you kind of get a little better idea of what’s important in the game and what actually decides which teams are going to win and what their winning positions look like. I do think having a different perspective than just being in the thick of it has been beneficial for me so I would say in that regard. Not specifically in top lane, but as a player, just being behind the scenes for a little bit, you get to see what’s important
How do you think Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio performed in his first LCS match?
Solo: It seemed like he did great. They (him and Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson) were picking up some early kills in the bottom lane so I think they did well honestly. I played with a lot of players and vets and sometimes when you have rookies, you kind of wonder how they’re going to react on stage and how they’re going to deal with the pressure and I thought both of them were really [acting like] veterans about the way they approached it and the way they comm’d.
It seemed like they were loose, it seemed like they weren’t afraid to make game-winning calls and plays. Even the call to try and end the game at the end after we killed Sett, that was them. A lot of that was them being aggressive and wanting to win, so props to them for overcoming any kind of nervousness and acting like real vets today.
With the exception of your brief stint on Counter Logic Gaming for the Lock-In tournament, you didn’t have a team for the spring split. How does it feel getting another chance on the LCS with GG, beating C9 in your first game back, and posting that banger of a tweet?
Solo: I’m no stranger to the adversity of finding opportunities. It’s kind of been my thing lately. I’ve never been worried about betting on myself and having the confidence that I’ll be able to come back in any situation. Time and time again, I’ll prove that if it’s necessary. I’m always grateful for the teams that have given me opportunities. Just like last year, I was grateful to Nicholas Pham for pulling me into FlyQuest; same thing with Danan Flander in GG for pulling me and getting involved [as well]. I always want to compete and I always want to win for orgs. For people who buy into me, they’re going to get rewarded.
Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes said in the post-game interview that his main goal for GG was to give the rest of the team experience for the future. With that said, what are your goals with this team?
Solo: First and foremost, I’m here to win games and just win as many games as possible. I know we’re in a hole right now from the first split but I really think that we can beat one of the better teams and make a playoff run. You have the young players and you want to help them grow, but from what I’ve seen so far, they seem ready to go. I think they are capable of winning games against good teams like we’ve seen today. For me, that’s always going to be the goal: to win and improve from top to bottom.
GG went 3-15 in spring and now you have taken down the defending LCS champions. As a whole, what are the team’s expectations? Where do you think you will place at the end of this split?
Solo: I’m not sure where we’re going to place and I’m not necessarily worried about that. I’ll take it game by game and week by week. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of games played this season [which is] more than what I’ve played ever in the split. We’ll have bad weeks where we go 0-3 and then we’ll have weeks where we go 3-0. I think that’s just the nature of the game and as long as we’re improving day to day, we’ll be a good team, have enough wins to reach playoffs, and go for a run.
What was the feeling like on stage during that game? Feeling all the trials and tribulations from that game, it must’ve been hard especially for the younger players.
Solo: It was a tough game. Any time, from my experience when we played C9 especially since they have Robert “Blaber” Huang, you just have to be ready to fight it out. I’m glad we didn’t shy away from the skirmishes and team fights. I think they’re always going to test you in-game and you have to be ready to pull the trigger. I thought it was really great that, even in a game where it goes back and forth, we’re not afraid to take winning positions. We’re not afraid to flip a fight if it means we can win a game, so I’m glad we manned up a bit and took it to them when it needed to be done and it rewarded us.
Did you watch MSI and, if you did, what did you take away from it by watching C9? And what do you think about their overall performance?
Solo: I think C9 did as expected in some ways. Like most teams when they go to international tournaments, the bar is raised very high from the very beginning. And I think for most teams when they get there, it’s not so much that they’re incapable of being as good as some of the other top teams from other regions. It’s more of just lacking the amount of time that it takes to do so. That’s what I feel like I’ve seen. That has been my experience.
You know we can get to that level but you only get a brief stint at that level of competition and it’s really difficult to close such a large gap in such a small amount of time. That’s why whenever I see NA teams go out and struggle, it’s really on the region as a whole to improve and push those top teams to be better so that there’s less of a gap when we go to international tournaments.