Stixxay explains why Golden Guardians are having their most successful year ever

by Brian Bencomo

LOS ANGELES -- Golden Guardians reached the League Championship Series finals this spring and qualified for the Mid-Season Invitational. It was the first time in Golden Guardian’s six-year history that they reached an LCS final and qualified for an international tournament.

Last week, Golden Guardians reached another milestone as they got their 10th win of the summer split. It’s the first time the org has won that many games in a split and it guarantees that they’ll finish the summer with a winning record.

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Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, who’s currently the longest tenured member of the org, having joined in 2020, said it felt good to be of the Golden Guardians team that achieved this accomplishment. But he did say it felt like a foregone conclusion once they got their ninth win.

“It wasn't too surprising, especially when we're looking at it, we're 9-4. Realistically, we're not gonna go 0-5,” Stixxay told Nerd Street. “That'd be really, really unlikely. So I think we knew it was coming. We were making a lot of jokes about it, but we knew it was gonna happen.”

Making jokes and playing loose has been key to Golden Guardians’ success this year. Stixxay and his teammate Eric “Licorice” Ritchie both joked on Twitter after the team’s ninth win that it was time for the team to go winless the rest of the way.


“The attitude right now is we kind of go into every game saying, ‘let's lose,’ Just kind of like our joke,” he said. “Kind of just a loose atmosphere. I think on other teams I was on, if we said, ‘let's go lose,’ I'd probably get really tilted, but like this team, it's just kind of funny. It seems to work for us.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

The team’s rallying cry in the spring was “f--- you.” This summer, the team appears to be leaning in to “let’s lose.”

“When we're all just super focused and serious, honestly it doesn't go as well for us,” Stixxay said. “We tend to get more tilted and stuff like that. So when our atmosphere is loose, kind of just having fun, that seems to be our key to doing well.”

Huhi is him

Of course, crediting Golden Guardians’ success this year simply to their lose/loose attitude is simplifying things. Licorice has had his pop-off moments in the top lane, the team’s mid-jungle duo of Kim "River" Dong-woo and Kim "Gori" Tae-woo has been one of the best in the LCS, and Stixxay’s reunion with Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun in the bot lane also has been fruitful.

Stixxay thinks he’s been playing well, but at the same time, he thinks it’s hard to separate an AD carry’s success from that of the team as a whole.

Read more: Why Golden Guardians assistant GM Ji Eun Shin is a pioneer in the LCS

“A lot of times because an AD carry on a winning team is like, it's a bit weird because you can't really tell if they're, how good they are, a lot of the times because AD carry is kind of that role where you can kind of just be there in a lot of games,” Stixxay said.

He said he sees how other teams play and feels like he would be put in impossible situations to succeed, but not with Golden Guardians.

“My mid-jungle tends to win more often than not, and then that makes my life very easy,” he said.

There’s one player in particular though, whom Stixxay had a lot of praise for: huhi.

Photo credit: Riot Games

“I think he's like a really good leader in the game and he kind of just outlines the game for everyone makes it very easy to play,” Stixxay said. “And I think that's a very invaluable thing to have. Not many teams have that where they just have that one guy that kind of just knows what should be happening on the map at all times. And he just makes it really clear for everyone.”

Stixxay said it reminds him of another player he competed alongside when he was with Counter Logic Gaming.

Read more: Why esports fans will miss CLG

“I felt that also when I played with aphromoo, and when I stopped playing with him, I realized how important that was to a team. I think you can kind of see on 100 Thieves this split too -- it's how important that type of person was because they had a lot of success with huhi, right?”

100 Thieves won the LCS and went to Worlds in back-to-back years with huhi. Of course, huhi also was on those CLG teams with Stixxay and Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black. In 2016, CLG had one of the best years for a North American League of Legends team in reaching the MSI final and qualifying for Worlds.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Back then though, huhi played mid lane, while aphromoo played support and was Stixxay’s partner in the bot lane. Stixxay thinks huhi is even better now that he’s in the support role.

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“It kind of feels like he's in the right role now,” Stixxay said. “Cause as a mid laner sometimes he just wasn't as selfish as I thought he should be.”

Stixxay also said huhi is very aggressive, which is something he appreciates in his lane partner.

Will Golden Guardians go to their first Worlds?

Photo credit: Riot Games

Golden Guardians might joke about losing the rest of their games this summer split, but regardless of whether they win any more games, they’re guaranteed a spot in the LCS summer playoffs. They’re currently second in the LCS this summer, which puts them in a very good position to qualify for Worlds. It would be another first for Golden Guardians.

“It's kind of like a no-brainer that we'll qualify to Worlds, especially with the whole fourth seed thing going on where its like the fourth seed fights with Europe to go to Worlds, like at the very least we'd make it there but like, I think it's quite likely we make it as a top one or two seed,” Stixxay said. “I guess my question right now is can we make it to finals again? That's what I'm looking towards.”

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A lot can obviously happen, but given Golden Guardians’ success this year, their attitude and the state of the rest of the teams in the league, Stixxay is right to be confident.

Golden Guardians conclude their summer split with games against Team Liquid, Dignitas and 100 Thieves this week. They’ll begin their quest to reach the LCS finals and Worlds next week.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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