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In yet another LCS surprise roster move, Golden Guardians announced on July 6 that they have signed Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, formerly of FlyQuest, and extended his contract through 2023.

“Join us in welcoming the newest addition to Golden Guardians, @Licorice,” Golden Guardians tweeted. “We’ve not only acquired Licorice, we’ve extended his contract through 2023, as we believe he will be a player worth building around in the coming years.”

Golden Guardians has however opted to keep Colin “Solo” Earnest on the bench till November. He will be eligible as a substitute top laner unless he decides to join another team before November.

In a response to Upcomer, Golden Guardians General Manager, Danan Flander said: “We’ve always had an interest in working with Licorice, but teams aren’t willing to make moves, especially once the split starts. We’re always discussing options with teams throughout the year, and this opportunity just so happened to align with FlyQuest’s own internal shifts. Overall, little changes in our 2021 gameplan, as our sights are still set on providing a better, more efficient practice space for our most youthful players to grow and learn in.”

FlyQuest had no further comment.

Golden Guardians Licorice in the LCS

Now a seasoned veteran, Licorice spent much of his early days in the LCS with Cloud9. At Worlds  2018, he became part of the first North American team to make it to the semi-finals. In 2019, the new Golden Guardians top laner finished second with C9 in the Summer Playoffs. The team went on to finish tenth at Worlds that year. He went on to win the 2020 LCS Spring Playoffs with C9 after a very dominant Split from the team. However, C9 missed Worlds in 2020 for the first time in seven years.

As a result, C9 decided to make changes to their 2021 roster and FlyQuest acquired Licorice. Unfortunately, the move has not worked out as intended for the parties involved.  The top laner failed to make the LCS Mid-Season Showdown. His new team finished eighth with a 6-12 record. They have also struggled in Summer Split with a current 9-24 record. Moreover, with a 1.2 KDA, Licorice sits at the bottom of LCS top laner rankings, according to Oracle’s Elixir. Licorice will begin as Golden Guardians top laner in Week 6 with tough battles against 100 Thieves and Team Liquid ahead of him.

Niles still starting Academy top laner

Flander also discussed Golden Guardians’ intentions for Aiden “Niles” Tidwell with Upcomer, given that they now have three top laners. He said they were always prepared to pursue Niles as their Academy top laner. While their roster changes in Spring led to space for Niles in the LCS team, the organization was naturally drawn towards placing Niles in Academy to create space for Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio in Summer. He will continue playing for Golden Guardians on the Academy team while growing and improving.  The addition of Licorice presents a chance to balance the youth and veteran experience in their LCS roster.

Golden Guardians return to the rift on July 9 at 8 p.m ET.

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