What happened with Golden Guardians
I think my current situation is very odd and I would have never guessed that I would be in this position if you asked me at the end of Spring Split. My end of season conversations with Golden Guardians went very well and I was both happy with the direction the team was heading and they were happy with my performance and attitude.
One week before practice was scheduled to begin, I had a call with management informing me that there was a chance that Damonte could be joining the team and would try out for the spot depending on how their conversations with Dignitas go. At this time I was also allowed to reach out to other teams if I wanted to, but I believed my best chances for making Worlds were here. I was pretty upset because I thought that I without a doubt proved myself worthy in the Spring Split. However, I’m used to competing for my spot and was prepared to fight for it.
Practice started without Damonte joining yet, but at the beginning of practice, the team wanted to give some of the Academy players some LCS scrim time (Ablazeolive and Darshan) since they were performing well in Academy-- which I totally agree with. Ablazeolive’s first scrim day was vs IMT and he got a penta kill in the first game while they crushed them for the rest of the set. The next day I played vs TSM and we got trashed pretty hard (1-4 if I remember correctly). The remainder of the week I won slightly more games playing against the same opponents, but it was very close, and at this point I was already getting subtle vibes that I wasn’t going to be able to keep the spot.
In the end, the team decided to start Ablazeolive in LCS for the foreseeable future and I was absolutely devastated. I felt like I was one of the best performers on the team in Spring Split, and I had the most MVPs in our wins to show it, but it seemed like none of that mattered at the time.
Fast forward a couple days-- I was preparing myself to play in Academy and earn back my LCS spot that I thought I deserved. However, Damonte was unexpectedly allowed to try out with the LCS team because he finally got Dignitas’ permission. After two days of scrims with Damonte, the team decided to use him for LCS. Now it was me vs Ablazeolive for the Academy spot.
The tryouts between us lasted up until one week before LCS started and they were really fierce tbh. We were both playing very well but, in the end, the org made a close decision to use Ablazeolive in Academy since he had less experience playing and was a younger player. Also the team was already filled with players (Darshan, Keith, and Hard) who had a lot of experience playing in Academy like me. To be honest, I was somewhat expecting this since he was younger than me and has never played in the LCS before. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t believe that I went from being a key performer on an LCS team that made playoffs, despite doubt from the community, to being teamless in a span of weeks.
Golden Guardians gratefully helped me reach out to other LCS teams to look for a spot and were even willing to waive the buyout fee, as this all happened so last minute. However, I was unable to find a team to play for, as there were only a few days left until LCS started.
I’ve spent the last month thinking a lot about my future. I’ve considered what my life would look like if I kept playing, if I tried coaching, streaming, or even tried going to college. While I still want to compete, I’m now more than ever open to the idea of taking on other roles.
After talking to many friends and mentors within the industry, I’ve decided that coaching makes a lot of sense for me, considering my personality type and player experience. The fact that I have over 7 years of experience competing on countless teams, it makes it very easy for me to relate and talk to players. It’s impossible to understand the feelings and struggles that you go through as a pro player unless you have felt them yourself. In addition, by playing at such a high level for so long, I’ve acquired an immense amount of game knowledge that I can apply to coaching. I think growing myself as a coach seems like a viable but also very intriguing career path for me. I could see myself becoming the coach that I always needed but was never there for me.
As of today, Golden Guardians and I have decided that it makes the most sense at this time to mutually part ways while I field offers for both playing and coaching. I’m very grateful for the time I have spent here-- I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past 6 months and have really enjoyed the environment here.
I’m not entirely sure what role I’ll be taking on next, but I do know that I’m going to give it my absolute 100%. This is the first time I’ve been a free agent in around 4~ years (since I left Ember LOL) and to be completely honest it’s very exciting but also equally terrifying. I hope I can find a place to grow and learn for the rest of Summer Split and also continue to develop myself both professionally and personally.
Finally, I wanted to say a huge thank you to all my friends, family, and fans who have supported me over the years. My career has definitely had its ups and downs, but the one constant has been you guys. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it weren’t for you all.
I have had far from the ideal pro playing career, but I’ve always felt like I’ve given it my best, and I have no regrets with how things have gone. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today without having faced all the challenges throughout my career. I believe that your character shouldn’t be judged based on what happens to you in your life, but rather on how you respond and grow from it.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this.
If you came down here looking for a TL;DR, Golden Guardians and I have mutually terminated my contract, and I’m currently a free agent looking for both playing and coaching opportunities.