Golden Guardians opened the first week of the Summer Split with two quick victories over Echo Fox and FlyQuest, a far cry from their 0-4 start to the spring. Against FlyQuest, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last split, the Guardians looked clean, choking out their opponents with a poke composition.
We spoke with bot laner Matthew “Deftly” Chen after the team’s win over Echo Fox to discuss the game, how the team has worked to become closer as friends, and his thoughts on Yuumi, a champion that has had 100 percent presence through two days of play.
Deftly: We don’t really think much of our opponents. It’s just like, if we play our game, and we play like how we practice, then we’re going to win. I feel like last split, in the beginning, we really weren’t able to emulate our stage performances the same as practice, and today we did. We had a really clean game, and we played as a team. We didn’t have any individual splashy plays, played as five players together, and won the game. It felt really smooth in game. Before, it was really chaotic, but now this split we’re really calm. We know what we want to do and how to execute that.
Last split we were sort of animals in scrims. We would just try for flashy solo plays everywhere. The jungler would be ganking top and us bottom would try to 2v2 kill them even though we knew their jungler was down there too. Sometimes we win the game off it, and sometimes we lose, and there was never really that consistency we were looking for. This split we just told ourselves, “Hey, let’s just think about the basics.” Early on in the split I feel like the teams that have their basics down are the teams that are winning. Towards later on in the split then you need to start doing more advanced stuff, but right now it’s really basic. We just did the basics and we won. I think that’s just it.
I think last split we had a lot of trouble just talking to each other deeply. It’s more than just a game -- it’s how we interact with each other outside of the game and how we talk to each other about the problems we have with each other.
We didn’t really fix those problems until Week 7 I’d say, when we started playing Warcraft together. We all just played Warcraft III custom games and everyone just starting becoming more like actual friends rather than teammates. After that, everything started connecting. All the discord in between teammates or the miscommunication -- that stuff all cleared up and it led us into playoffs and a five-game series against FlyQuest.
It was out-of-the-blue actually. We’d stay in after scrims just to play Warcraft with each other. With that, our coach noticed it at first. He was like, “You know, you guys are talking to each other differently now that you’re playing Warcraft. This is really good.” We even played less solo queue just to play Warcraft, and the results -- we were winning every scrim. We were just smurfing, so I think if we can keep that up and really be able to communicate with each other we can definitely make Worlds this year.
I think win or loss doesn’t really matter in scrims. A lot of shit happens, so you don’t know how the game is going to play out and it’s generally not that consistent because people play more loose in scrims and try different things. What you can do is be really strict on yourself and your team on how you guys want to play and keeping to the basics. Simple stuff like fight when your jungler is on your side, don’t fight enemy jungler is on your side, or go get vision when you need to. Stuff like this we try to reinforce on each other.
Even though we’re winning scrims we want to make sure we’re doing the right things to win the scrim. We’re not just looking at the result, “Okay, we won so everything in game was perfect.” I think win or loss doesn’t matter. It’s how you think about the process of getting there.
Tahm Kench is a really good combination with Ezreal because you guys can poke together. They increased Tahm Kench’s Q range to like 900 so it’s really really long. Not only that, but Ezreal and Tahm Kench is a really safe bot lane that can’t really get dove, and at the same time if the enemy fucks up you can pressure the enemy.
Once you hit the 20-minute mark Ezreal-Tahm Kench just starts running over the game. You set up 1-3-1. Since we had two really strong splitpushers with Irelia and Sylas, they just go sides and Ezreal-Tahm Kench is in mid. Ezreal will get you mid prio, and after you get that prio you can go to either lane with Tahm Kench ult. It just makes the game really simple. The enemy team had Nautilus for example, and Nautilus has to R someone to engage or Q someone to engage, and Nautilus can just eat. It denies them their win condition and helps us with ours.
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She’s fucking OP. I can’t believe Riot made that champ. It’s unreal. You can’t hit her when she’s in someone, but she can just weave her Q around the creeps and hit you for like a fifth of your HP and there’s no consequence. You can’t punish her.
Yeah, until she gets nerfed, which I hope is coming soon. I saw on the PBE she’s not getting nerfed, so I’m kind of confused myself. We will see. It’s just really hard to play against, or obnoxious I’d say because if you don’t kill her or set her really far behind, she’s like Ezreal in the mid game where your champs mid will always get prio.
Each individual player on the team has their own set of goals that they want to improve on, and it just varies by person. For me, it’s like dictating what we’re doing in the early game, like when good dragon timings are for our team and stuff like that. I think everyone has their own set of goals.
I’m just trying to voice my opinion a bit more. I think last split I was a little trusting of my teammates. If they saw a window that I didn’t like, I’d just be like, “I won’t say anything. I’ll just follow along.” One of the things coaching staff told me was I should voice my opinion more because what I think a lot of the times is good, so I’m just trying to be more vocal.
The change in atmosphere is very different. I think a lot of it comes from just me and [jungler Juan “Contractz" Arturo Garcia] changing. In the first year both me and [Contractz] were really emotional players. If scrims were going back then our mood would be affected by it and we wouldn’t be able to talk to teammates about what went wrong and stuff like that. I feel like that was a big reason why our team didn’t really work out, but I feel like over the past year we’ve matured a lot, me and him. Now we’re able to fit into this machine that we have now.
Everyone on our team is really outgoing so it’s really easy to talk about stuff with everybody. On top of that we all like going to the gym. Even Olleh is going to the gym now, so it’s just another bonding moment for us all.
I’d say yeah. I think it’s both time and experience for me. My first year, that was my rookie year so I learned a lot in that year even though I lost a lot. I was able to take that into this year and figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. I think both me and [Contractz] are pretty young compared to the rest of the people on the team. He’s like 19, I’m 21, and the rest of the guys on our team are like 23, 24. We’re not fully mature at their level yet, but we’re getting there.
For me, since I’ve only played on this team I don’t really get excited playing against a former team since there’s no former team for me. I do get excited playing against my ex-teammates, which they’re all on Cloud9 now so everytime I play them I want to go fucking solo kill [C9 top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie] or I want to shit on [support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam]. We always have some nice banter before the game, so that’s always fun.
I think when we play against TSM or C9, for [top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell] or for [Contractz], it’s like let’s win it for them. That always feels good.
Yeah. I think last split making playoffs really showed me a glimpse of what I can do and what my team can do, and that really opened my eyes, like, “We can really make Worlds this split.” I felt like we lost in game five when I felt like we should’ve won the series, and if we could just fix up those small mistakes we made that led up to us losing then we really can make Worlds. On top of that, before going into playoffs, I felt like I would be really nervous, but the moment I stepped out on stage for game one I felt so calm. I was like, “This is where I belong.” I hope we can make it there again and have a really good showing.
Last split when we played against Liquid, both our games we were in the driver’s seat and in my opinion we had a really good early game and then we threw. Going into it this time around I hope we clean that up and make sure we can transition our lead to a win. I feel like our team has really strong laners and if we can play off that and really snowball then we should be able to win. I don’t think there’s a team that’s unbeatable or anything like that. It shouldn’t be that bad.