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For the first time ever, the Golden Guardians traveled to Australia for the Melbourne Esports Open. The LCS team is competing in a League of Legends exhibition match. This match will feature some of the best players from around the world. We caught up with Anthony “Hard” Barkhovtsev at MEO to get his thoughts on the match, Australia, and where he got the name “Hard”.

First time in Melbourne, first time in Australia

Coming to MEO was Anthony’s first time in Australia. Like many of his teammates, they had never been to the land down under. Hard is excited to try some new things:

We’re staying a few days – me, Olleh, and Victor are going to stay as long as possible. I’m heading to Sydney. My highest priority right now is to get a picture of a kangaroo! I heard we can pet them. And I want to go surfing… I heard the waves are really big and good here in the winter time!”

Looks like Hard has his priorities in order. While he has a few things to achieve on his bucket list, it seems his Aussie teammate has been floating some rumors around to his players.

That’s right, the Golden Guardians roster carries an Aussie player: Ian Victor “FBI” Huang. As the first Aussie to play in the LCS, FBI had teased his teammates about the types of things they would find in Australia. Hard was certainly glad some of FBI’s predictions hadn’t come to pass. He’s happy he hasn’t seen any spiders yet!

Melbourne looks exactly like the pictures. So I got a good idea of what it was supposed to be like. But I was expecting a lot of spiders and stuff outside. I haven’t seen a single spider yet! It’s really pretty here and really nice… I’ve asked [FBI] so many questions and he made me believe there was gonna be like spiders and snakes outside everywhere.”

Maybe because the Golden Guardians are staying in a hotel, they’re safe from all the tarantulas running around the streets (don’t worry, I’m joking)!

Hard’s excited for exhibition matches

Thanks to ESL, TEG Live, and Riot Games, the Golden Guardians were able to come to Australia to compete in the League of Legends exhibition match. Hard and his team are excited to play some of the Aussie talent and have commented on the friendly nature of all the players:

I met some of the players yesterday, and everyone I’ve met – all the pro players – are all so friendly and funny guys. It’s going to be fun. I’m not excited about anything in particular, just the whole event!.. I think a lot of people believe the region [Oceania] isn’t as competitive, but the individual players who come here are awesome. Like “lost” is top tier, and Victor [FBI] was one of the top ADC players in academy when he came in. There are great players in every region.

The story of “Hard”

One of the questions I love to ask players is where their gamer names come from. Some stories, like Dennis‘, are simple, while others like Dexter‘s have a little more of a backstory. We asked Hard for the tale behind his name:

When I first joined C9, before they submitted the paperwork, I had to choose a new in-game-name. My first name I created when I was really young, was called “FamilyPuss”. I really liked Shrek and the cat was my favourite character. But that name could have been perceived as a negative thing, so I had to switch my name. I had five minutes to choose a name, I didn’t have much time. My coach told me to take the name “STARK”, like Ironman, like Tony Stark. My name is first name is Anthony and everyone calls me Tony. I really don’t like that name though [STARK], like it’s too cheesy, too corny. And so last minute, someone messaged me on the League client and his name was “easy”. I always looked at the Korean region for names. And I thought maybe I should do acorn, or PO – oh that’s already a player, so I was thinking something simple. I always thought the Korean names – they are only one word – they don’t really make sense, but they are just one word, which is nice. So this guy named “easy” messaged me and the first thing that popped into my head was “hard”. So I thought, ‘I’ll just choose this one!’

What a backstory. Next time you think about choosing a gamer name, just remember Anthony had to choose his in five minutes!

A message for the fans

To wrap this all up, Hard has a message for all his fans back in Canada:

To everyone in Canada who has supported me, or is supporting me, just – it’s always a great thing to well welcomed and appreciated for the things you do – and I am really happy about that, and I can’t say thanks enough!

So to all the fans in Canada cheering for Hard and his team, you have their thanks. We wish the Golden Guardians all the best on their travels here in Australia. And we hope Hard gets that photo with the kangaroo he so desires!

If you want to stay up to date on everyone happening with the Melbourne Esports Open, tune into the official OCE Twitch channel to watch all things League live!