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Niles: “People Shouldn’t Sleep On Us”

Nick Ray

After sweeping the amateur scene on Maryville University’s dominant collegiate lineup, top laner Aiden “Niles” Tidwell made his LCS debut on January 15th with Golden Guardians. After only three games, he’s already made his mark on the League of Legends Championship Series as one of the league’s most promising rookies.

Niles golden guardians

Niles (right) is taking the LCS by storm along with his old collegiate teammate Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson”. (Photo courtesy Niles)

We caught up with Niles after the first half of the LCS Lock-In Group Stage to discuss how he’s adjusting to life as a pro, his competitive mindset, and his thoughts on the current meta.

Hotspawn: It’s great to speak with you again after Scouting Grounds! How are you feeling about your first LCS weekend?

Niles: It’s been fun and a good experience so far!

Hotspawn: You haven’t been shy talking about how ready you’ve felt to start in the LCS. Did playing your first official matches feel like home or were there more differences between how teams play in scrims versus “on stage” than you thought?

Niles: People definitely play differently on stage, but I think I’ve gotten used to the way people play. I think my biggest learning curve was the first week of scrims. It’s just a higher level of competition than I’m used to and a more competitive environment. The first week of scrims was more of a shock than the first week of the Lock In tournament so far for me.

It’s just a difference in opponents. Good players will punish you for things that you don’t know you’re doing wrong until you’re punished for it. If you’re doing something illegal, they’ll show you why you shouldn’t be doing that. When you’re scrimming the top amateur teams or top collegiate teams, it’s just lower level competition; it’s not the LCS.

The two losses we’ve taken so far we learned one big thing from each

Hotspawn: What’s the team environment been like? Have you found it difficult to focus on improving when you guys drop games?

Niles: I think we have a really good team environment. I haven’t played on many other teams, but the general vibes have been good so far. I think especially with this Lock In tournament, it’s pretty easy if you lose. I imagine it’s easier to shake these losses off as opposed to the regular season. At the end of the day, you’re playing for charity and the prize pool money, but it doesn’t really matter, right? I think you lose and you learn, and the two losses we’ve taken so far we learned one big thing from each. Right now, it doesn’t really matter a lot. Obviously everyone wants to win, but at least for myself, personally, it doesn’t really matter if we lose.

Hotspawn: It seems like with the top lane meta as diverse as it is at the moment, you’re a little more in your comfort zone. What are your thoughts on what’s strong and what’s not?

Niles: Yeah, the meta for top is pretty open right now; I think you can play a lot of things. There’s not one pick that’s turbo OP with zero counters and normally you have to ban the setup or something. It’s mostly damage in top lane right now, which I like.

Hotspawn: What do you think about the prevalence of Gnar right now?

Niles: People are just picking Gnar when he’s not good. The champion’s fine, but he’s just a counter-pick champion. You have to pick him when the matchup is actually good for you and when you can’t get absolutely destroyed when you’re in Mini Gnar. That’s the whole thing about Gnar, right? If you can get on top of him when he’s in Mini, then he’s paper, but his Mega form is pretty OP.

The level of play we’re seeing in Lock In is much different than the level we’ll see once the season starts.

Hotspawn: Straying away from more specific game stuff, then, what’s your perception of how the competition is performing right now?

Niles: I think it’s pretty hard to tell exactly how everyone is doing. There are a lot of rosters having difficult times with their visas and everything; some teams are just now getting together and starting to scrim and stuff. I think that no one really has a good read on anyone, honestly. Every time that we’d scrim people, they aren’t playing with their full roster. But I do think the level of play we’re seeing in Lock In is much different than the level we’ll see once the season starts. People will improve very rapidly once their roster is all together.

Hotspawn: As a newcomer on a team that DOES have the full roster together, does it give you confidence knowing you have that slight edge over the other teams especially since people don’t expect much from Golden Guardians?

Niles: I would say that playing these games just gave me and Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson more confidence in general. You play versus these players for the first time. You get to scrim versus Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho or Barney “Alphari” Morris and then play a match against them. You may have looked up to these people, but they make mistakes too, and you can punish them for it. Going into the season and just playing and scrimming versus these teams has given us more confidence.

Hotspawn: That’s good to hear! Before we go, do you have anything you wanted to say to those who are supporting you back home? 

Niles: Keep supporting us. I think that we’re going to be a really great team in the coming weeks and months and people shouldn’t sleep on us.

Golden Guardians play their next match against 100 Thieves on Friday January 22nd at 4 p.m. PDT.