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Stixxay: “I don’t remember what playing on stage feels like”

Dan Smyth-Temple

Expectations for the revamped Golden Guardians roster were low coming into the split, being one of a handful of organizations that opted to foster young talent rather than acquire big names. GG took it a step further by pulling straight from the collegiate scene in acquiring Aiden “Niles” Tidwell and Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson for its top/jungle duo, and while their 1-2 start to the LCS doesn’t look great on paper, their scrappy playstyle has a lot of fans excited for their potential.

stixxay lol lcs clg

After five years with CLG, Stixxay joined Golden Guardians this offseason (Photo via Riot Games)

We sat down with Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes after their loss to Evil Geniuses to discuss the AD carry meta, the importance of understanding multiple roles in the game, and the consequences of playing remotely on the NA scene.

Hotspawn: Hey Stixxay! A lot of people have been pleasantly surprised by this rookie roster’s overall performance, despite the 1-2 start. How’re you’re feeling about your team’s progress?

Stixxay: Not too bad overall. Both of our losses were not great, I’d say. Our [game] versus C9 was a lot closer than I expected. Usually when you play versus teams like that it’s like “oh man, we’re gonna get rolled,” but it actually wasn’t too bad. Going into our match with EG, there were a lot of early fundamental things that we didn’t do well, and it made the game snowball really fast. We had some nice macro in the game versus immortals on Saturday, so overall it wasn’t too bad.

Hotspawn: Totally. What do you look for after a tough loss like that, in terms of takeaways for future improvement?

Stixxay: Really, it’s just a lot of fundamental early things, that after the game you look at like “oh yeah that’s really obvious to fix.” Stuff like dying level one, and wave management. It’s really easy to fix, honestly. I’m glad that it’s easy to look at our issues and go “this is what we need to do to fix it,” cause sometimes you look at a game and it’s just so scattered that you don’t even know what you’re supposed to do differently to win. I think we have some pretty solid points to go over going into our next week.

Hotspawn: What should people be expecting from this Golden Guardians roster in the coming weeks?

Stixxay: Honestly, I’m not too sure myself. I think personally, individually, I feel pretty good. Overall, especially on stage, we’re coin flippy. Going into game it’s really hard to tell how we’re going to do early— a lot of it depends on early [game]. Stuff like that. Hopefully, we can work on our fundamental gameplay and [we’ll] be a lot more consistent.

Hotspawn: You said that you’re feeling good right now. How’re you liking the current AD carry meta?

Stixxay: I really like this AD carry meta. I think it suits me pretty well. Xayah, Kai’sa, the occasional Senna. I think it really fits me. I like playing those type of champs. Personally, I think I know the matchups pretty well, and more importantly, I actually understand the support meta really well. And that affects the way I’m playing the game too. I know exactly what’s gonna happen every game in terms of bot side. I’d say that’s the main reason I feel really confident in myself.

Hotspawn: You mentioned that you know the support meta really well. Is that just from being a more veteran player at this point, or working well with Newbie? Where does that come from?

Stixxay: I play a lot of autofill support in solo queue, and [laughs] surprisingly I actually win most of my games as support. My main thing is I just understand the meta, as well as the map movements of supports right now. There’s just patterns you see every game, and being able to understand those patterns as an AD carry is really important so you know what’s gonna happen at certain times in the game.

Hotspawn: Do you think it’s valuable for people to have a strong knowledge of more than just their main role?

Stixxay: Yeah, one hundred percent. Not every role is super important to know, but as any role in the game, you should probably know how to play jungle, at the very least. And support is also helpful. I think a lot of AD carries get mad at their supports when they’re leaving lane, and their AD carry dies. You just have to understand what the support is thinking when he’s doing that. Obviously, there’s good and bad timings, but you should understand why they’re doing what they’re doing instead of just getting mad at them.

Hotspawn: You mentioned that everyone should have some knowledge of playing jungle. Could you expand on that more?

Stixxay: The current jungle meta is just full clear into full clear. Most people are expecting their jungler to gank lanes more. Pretty much every game you hear “jungle diff,” right? But most people are just dying to ganks because they don’t understand the timings of why that jungler is there at that time— which is usually just dependent on which side of the map they started. Just understanding the way junglers want to clear, and how it feels to play jungle, is pretty important to have.

Hotspawn: Have you been transitioning into more of a leadership role on this GG roster, being one of the more experienced players?

Stixxay: Depending on the game, I can. Especially if I’m ahead, it’s really easy for me to call what we need to do in the game. But our last game, even though we were behind, I was still pretty strong individually. So it was really easy to call what needs to happen in-game. But if a game goes poorly for me, I don’t really have a lot of agency in my role, so it’s hard to be calling the shots. For the most part, I just try to educate [on] things outside of game, to show what we should be doing rather than trying to lead everything in-game. I think it’s a little harder to focus on my own play if I’m doing that.

stixxay win lcs clg

Stixxay made his first appearance in the then NA LCS with CLG in 2015 (Photo via Riot Games)

Hotspawn: How has playing remotely affected things for you?

Stixxay: To be honest, I don’t actually remember what playing on stage feels like now. It’s been almost a full year of playing remote. It’s kinda weird playing in my scrim room. It’s a lot easier to get into the comfort zone, but I think you could potentially play better by going into the adrenaline that you get just from playing on stage in front of people. It’s a lot of [nerves], but sometimes you can channel the nervousness to be good for you, and do some really good plays. Or just really fast reactions. Stuff like that is what I’m used to. Playing in your scrim room can be a lot more relaxed, and you need to get into the mindset that this is an LCS game, and these results matter.

Hotspawn: I’ve asked that question to a few pros now, and it seems like veteran players want that experience back, whereas newer players are happier to play in their scrim rooms. Do you think playing remotely has given an advantage to new players entering the scene, in not having to overcome that stage fright?

Stixxay: Yeah, one hundred percent. I think a huge reason why the league has transitioned to newer players rather than veterans is because you’re not playing on a stage— you don’t have to worry about the nerves as much anymore. Whereas before a lot of the veterans were kinda recycled— because these guys have experience playing on stage, and that’s not something that someone can first time go up there and do and [still] play at their optimal level, right? Usually, they’re gonna be really nervous or just playing really off. It definitely helps that everything is remote.

I would prefer to be back on stage. I think the adrenaline and hype of the matches is really important. I remember telling the new people that came to the team, “I hope you get to experience getting to play on stage like I did when I was younger,” cause I think it would really suck if you only got to play remotely during your time in the LCS.

Hotspawn: Do you think it’s going to be a shock for your newer teammates when you do eventually transition back onto stage?

Stixxay: Yeah. I think it’s one of those things you can’t really explain to someone. You can tell them how it feels, but you don’t really know until you experience it yourself. It’s definitely going to be something you’re gonna have growing pains through, but once you get used to it it’s really an enjoyable experience. And it’s really the reason why everyone is competing as a pro— to feel like that.