“We Are Playing Really Well and Have a Good Understanding of Each Other” – An Interview with GGS Hauntzer

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“We Are Playing Really Well and Have a Good Understanding of Each Other” – An Interview with GGS Hauntzer

ESTNN had the pleasure to sit down and talk with Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, top laner for Golden Guardians, after week three of the 2019 Summer Split. Hauntzer is known for his time in TSM, where he found himself to be one of the best top lane players in the LCS. After a disappointing 2018, TSM decided to move on and released Hauntzer, where he was picked up by Golden Guardians. During the spring split, Hauntzer helped GGS get to their first-ever playoff appearance.

How do you feel about the start of the split with Golden Guardians?

We've had a pretty successful start to the split; we had maybe one or two mishaps, but overall a really solid start. Especially compared to the last split when we had an 0-4 start. Right now [we are] playing really well and have a good understanding of each other, where we are just improving.

You were originally in TSM and have made to the world’s stage and other international tournaments; you've kind of experienced it all. What have you been able to bring back from those experiences to the Golden Guardians?

I would say the biggest thing has been the overall mindset and attitude towards the game. If you want to play the game at the highest level you can’t take it as just a game. You have to take this very seriously, you have to be competitive, you need to have a drive. Be willing to take criticism, don’t get too emotional, pretty much don’t hold yourself back when you are trying to improve. That was something I learned with TSM by winning championships, going to Worlds and other international events. By learning a lot from that I am definitely trying to give that back to my teammates right now and hopefully we can all improve so we can make it back to the international stage.

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Like you mentioned, this has been a pretty good start in comparison to the last split. Do you feel that the Golden Guardians are ready to challenge the three teams we always see on top (C9, TL,TSM)? Or do you still have a lot to work on?

The thing about the top three teams is that they have a good foundation to work from. They've been around for a very long time so they know how things go. Basically, what it comes down to is infrastructure, how the team atmosphere is, and how those teammates work together. We have been working a lot on all of that and pretty much have approached that stage. It all comes down to us playing well, being disciplined in the game and focusing on the fundamentals. I think individually we all have incredible talent, it is just how we play on stage.

So specifically talking about top lane, many people think that top lane has no impact in solo queue and such. What are your thoughts on the meta and do you like it? If you don’t what would you like to see changed?

Top lane meta right now is pretty enjoyable. There are a lot of skill-based matchups, there are no tanks and it just seems that all the OP picks Ryze, Sylas, Irellia, and Aatrox are being played mainly top. You have a lot more of an impact if you play one of those champions. If you are not playing one of those champions you see you have a bit less impact. I enjoy the meta, I think it is very fun to play. It feels like you really have the ability to pop off, so I wouldn’t change it really.

For the LCS, in particular, who would you say are the best top lane players? And who is most underrated?

I think Solo is underrated. He's shown he is a very strong laner but I think his team play is a little bit lacking. I think the top lane pool is very even and it is very hard to stand out. Personally, I don’t think there is a true stand out among all the top laners. Everyone is getting back into the groove of things and we just have to see. It’s mainly about consistency, throughout the split we will have to see who performs best and then during playoffs, that's when you have your pop off moments. Well, I believe that's when you should have your pop off moments because you don’t want to peak too early during the split and then degrade or not play as well during the playoffs. It’s just a build up.

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At the moment, there is a tie for first from six different teams. Do you think the level of play in the league that has gotten closer or are teams still grasping at the changes in the meta?

It's definitely a mix of both. You see teams like CLG that have changed some stuff up and are doing really well, I mean they are one of the teams tied for first. Yet, you see a team like FlyQuest, who made playoffs last split, being 1-4. So it does seem like people have gotten better, but also the meta is difficult to grasp because of the new picks like Yuumi, Sona/Taric, Sona/TK (Tahm Kench). If you don't play it then it is kind of a liability, so I think that teams are having trouble adapting to that. Maybe if the meta is more stable with less OP support picks, you will see the top teams rise again.

For now I think the skill level is pretty even. The way the game is, if you make a mistake you get punished really hard. So I think everyone is making mistakes and no one is really standing out.

Any tips for the solo queue warriors that are trying to climb from the top lane?

Hmmm, any tips for the solo queue warriors … Probably get good at one champion and play it over again. I see a lot of one tricks top laners in solo queue right now, like Darius one tricks, Riven one tricks, anything really. Just anything that doesn't get banned a lot. Then you will be able to play your game, get good at one champ and maybe you can transition from that one champ to many champs. For starters though, get good at one champ, preferably a mechanical champ, so the game isn’t too easy to play and that way you can actually learn mechanics and transition that elsewhere.

Any last words to your fans and fans of the Golden Guardians?

Yeah, keep cheering for us! I feel right now the game is incredibly fun to play and very fun to watch because there is a lot of action. So keep watching and keep cheering for us!

Watch the LCS here at ESTNN TV. For more information on the tournament, teams, standings, and players, visit www.lolesports.com. Stay tuned here at ESTNN and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more League of Legends news, articles, opinions and more.

Manny Gomez
Manny ‘Manstr’ graduated with a degree in game design and development but fell in love with the thrill of esports. Manny has always enjoyed talking about professional League of Legends and FIFA. He has been a published video game journalist in Colombia for two different publications. Twitter: @Manster415