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GG Ablazeolive: “I’ve changed a lot” since joining the LCS

Dan Smyth-Temple

It’s been a tough year for the developmental Golden Guardians roster, whose struggles in Spring carried into Summer despite roster changes in top and bot. Their NA native midlaner Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Abbot, however, has proved categorically deserving of a starting LCS spot time and again throughout the split. He’s firmly slotted himself as a contender for rookie of the year, but it’ll be a tough fight with only one more day of games to secure the final LCS playoff spot.

GG Ablazeolive

With only one more day of games, the Golden Guardians need both luck and skill on their side to secure the last playoff spot from FlyQuest. (Photo by Riot Games via ESPAT.)

We sat down with Ablazeolive after GG’s loss to 100 Thieves to talk about the game, the plan moving forward, and how he’s changed since starting in Spring.

Hotspawn: Thanks for joining me, Ablazeolive. I’m sure that was a disappointing game for Golden Guardians— where’s your head at after that loss to 100T? 

Ablazeolive: Not the best performance from us. We had a composition that relied on getting ahead. They had a much better scaling composition, and we made some mistakes in the early game that set us behind around herald especially. It wasn’t over, but it was definitely a lot harder to play out the game from that point on. We never really figured out what to do to get back into the game, so we just lost. 

Hotspawn: The big-ticket item for GG right now is making playoffs. What do the next few days look like for you? Besides crossing your fingers today that FlyQuest loses

Ablazeolive: In terms of the playoffs race, I think you try not to think about it as much as possible. Just play every game as it comes. That’s always gonna be when you play your best— when you play like it’s just a normal game. Yeah, now we get to watch and see how the rest of the teams do. Hopefully it goes in our favor, but it might not. All we can do is prepare for tomorrow’s game.

Hotspawn: Is it difficult watching games from backstage? I’m sure it must feel helpless, in some way. 

Ablazeolive: It definitely does. It’s a little different as well because we have personal relationships with a lot of the players. There are people on the teams we’re playing against that I’m good friends with, so I want them to lose but when they lose I feel bad for them because I want them to do well. [It’s] awkward. You definitely become the #1 fans of the teams that are beating the teams we want. 

Hotspawn: Are there any examples you can give me of that? Any conflicts of interest for the games today?

Ablazeolive: Myself and Damonte— we don’t talk too often, but we have a pretty good relationship together, I’d say. I want him to do well. He’s always helped me out. When we were on the same team last year he was helping me out, and hyping me up as well. And giving me confidence to do well in the LCS. I want him to do well, so when he loses that makes me sad, but it makes the competitive aspect of me happy. 

Hotspawn: I want to shift gears a little here and reflect on the year as a whole. Were there any goals that you set for yourself when you first learned that you’d be taking to the LCS stage? 

Ablazeolive: I think the most notable one was to not expect myself to immediately do extremely well. For a while I was expecting, well, half other people expecting, to be playing in the LCS earlier than I did. When you’re thinking you’re gonna be playing in LCS a few years ago, and now you’re finally playing, you maybe feel like you have to do well. Upon reflection, my first year in Academy I wasn’t very good. I didn’t play very well, but my second year I really turned it up. My long-term goal there was basically to give myself a year.

The first year is just gonna be hyperbolic timechamber— just improve as much as possible. With the developmental roster that worked out great for me. No stress about putting up poor performances, especially earlier in the split. That was helpful for me. That helped me align with my goals about this year being a building year for me. That’d be the biggest one I can think of. 

Hotspawn: How do you feel like you’ve done in terms of handling those expectations for yourself? 

Ablazeolive: I’m not sure. The split’s not over yet, so there still could be a lot more to play. For me, it’s a little hard. My self-review of my own gameplay is not as good as some people might think. There’s a lot of people that are hyping me up— it’s hard for me not to hear about it. Personally, I don’t feel like I’ve been playing that well. Mainly because I know I can do so much better, so even if I’m playing and doing well I know I can do much better.

I think I have gotten better, and I think the most important aspect of that has been getting comfortable on the LCS stage. Outside of that, in terms of actual skill, I’ve definitely gotten a lot better. Playing in LCS scrims improves you so much faster than Academy. I’m not disappointed with my growth, I don’t think I’ve done poorly, but I’m not super happy with how I’ve been playing. There are definitely a lot of games that I play on stage where I feel like I played really poorly, today included. 

GG Ablazeolive

Ablazeolive has remained in the conversation for rookie of the split despite GG’s difficult year at the bottom of the standings. (Photo by Riot Games via ESPAT.)

Hotspawn: Do you feel like a different person now than the Ablazeolive that started in Spring? I imagine playing a year of LCS is enough to change a man. 

Ablazeolive: [Laughs] I definitely think I’ve changed a lot. My coaches have done a good job at accommodating me and changing the way that I think about the game to one that is more conducive to success in the LCS. There’s a lot of concepts that have been true for a very long time that over the course of this year I’ve learned have changed. I’ve been playing for the entire existence of League pretty much— since season one. And I got to challenger in season five, so I’ve been playing at that high level for a while, and that meta for the professional scene has changed a lot recently. I think that’s something I’ve learned and understand a lot better. In terms of personal growth, It’s definitely a new Ablazeolive.

Hotspawn: Could you give me an example of one of those concepts? You mentioned the changing meta as one. 

Ablazeolive: Sure, the best example I can probably give is— in the past, you’re taught that when you’re ahead in the game you don’t want to trade, because when you artificially inject gold into the game the percentage gold difference between the teams goes down. If you’re up 3k gold at twenty minutes, you don’t want both teams to get 2k more gold, because the percentage goes down. Eventually, that 2k gold lead doesn’t mean anything— at forty minutes it doesn’t matter.

That isn’t necessarily wrong anymore, but there are certain trades that are advantageous to the winning side because it opens up the map more. Trading turrets is very common now when you’re winning. You’ll see us do it a lot when we’re ahead—- we’ll take every single tower on the map, and we’re okay trading the towers because opening up the map allows us to make other macro plays easier, like doing baron. That would be one example of something I wouldn’t have considered doing until this year. 

Hotspawn: Unfortunately that’s about all I have time for— do you have any parting words for the Golden Guardians and Ablazeolive fans out there?

Ablazeolive: Bad loss today, bad luck for the boys, but we’re gonna bounce back tomorrow. We’ll get a big dub, secure playoffs, and win all playoffs for sure.