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Golden Guardians Closer: “I think we showed that we deserve to be a playoff team”

If someone told you on the first day of the 2020 LCS season that the Golden Guardians were a legitimate contender for the title, you would’ve probably laughed like everybody else.

Now, on March 30th, 2020, the Golden Guardians are the sixth and final team to qualify for the Spring Split playoffs. After a surprising 8-10 record in regular play, the Golden Guardians tore through the Immortals and wrestled with Dignitas to come out at the top of the tiebreakers. For jungler Can “Closer” Çelik, this isn’t just some luck of the dice— this is vindication for both him and the Golden Guardians throughout this season. The Turkish superstar joined TheGameHaus in this exclusive interview to re-live his hard-earned victory against Dignitas to earn a shot at the LCS championship.

 

First and foremost, congratulations on making it into the playoffs! I just want to hear your post match thoughts. What’s going through your head right now?

Yeah, it just feels really good! Like, everyone was expecting us to be 10th place. We were doing really good on scrims, but we had really bad losses early in the split. I was scared that we weren’t going to make the playoffs because of those losses. But this week, we worked really hard, and I think we showed that we deserve to be a playoff team. So I’m really happy.

 

You guys really pulled out all the stops this week. You guys got the clutch wins, and  a little bit of help from EG as well, you know?

Yeah. [laughs]

 

But most of these last few games, you guys have actually been playing online at home and not in the arena. How’s that affected your team? And do you think that helps with on-stage pressure or nerves?

Oh, to me, it’s the same. I would rather play on stage, to be honest. I know that other players, like new rookie players that don’t handle stage pressure? Well, it would be good for them to play from home. But I like the pressure. I like the audience. But it doesn’t change anything for me. I think I’ll still be able to perform well, and focus on my game.

Image courtesy of Riot Games.

That’s great. And earlier, you were talking about how a lot of people were ranking the Golden Guardians to be one of the worst teams in the league, and you guys did have a little bit of a rough start to the season. So tell me about the process throughout the season, like what the coaches or what the players did together to improve and start to grow as a team.

Well, at the start of the year we had Keith, and we were doing really good with him in scrims. But when we got on-stage, something was different, and we needed more of an experienced player and better synergy in the bot-lane. 

I don’t know, I don’t think it’s about the specific players— we just became better overall through the split and we were able to see our mistakes. I think after every loss, going to the practice of the next week, we were like, “okay, we’re gonna work on this,” like we had something specific to work on. We didn’t go into practice just to see our mistakes in scrim matches and then try to fixate on those mistakes. 

For example, we said for this week, we would work on our early game, because we had losses on our official matches due to our early game. We were all hungry to win. That’s helped so much as well. Because of all of this, I think we were able to improve.

 

So for this tiebreaker match specifically, you guys won both games against Dignitas in the regular season. So what was kind of like your strategy going into this? Were you guys like not worried at all? Or did you guys prepare something a little different?

Ah, we didn’t really prepare differently. I think everyone was confident that we could win, either Immortals or Dignitas. But because we beat Dignitas twice in the regular split, we were confident against them much more. 

I think in the early game, we were doing a really good job. But like after the first Baron, we kind of threw our lead. And the game became hard. But we pulled off some good team fights and won the game. We should’ve been cleaner, I think.

Yeah, you just tweeted after the game that you had an early lead with Jarvan IV. Then you decided to build a Black Cleaver and the mid-game became very, very tense. So what did the comms sound like for your team in the mid-game? What were you guys trying to figure out together during that time?

So Pantheon’s a really strong jungle pick. I think he’s one of the strongest. So when we were talking about pick ban, I took responsibility for that. I said, “I can play against this,” and said that I would pick Jarvan IV and just do my job. And I was ahead of Pantheon… [thinks] I think up 20CS or so. 

The early game was free. We took two drakes and the rift herald. So everything was going really well. But after we took the first Baron, we just inted at the mid-turret. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and I shouldn’t have gone for that play. And so the game just became hard after that point. Dignitas were actually able to contest us in teamfights. But in the end, I think everyone played really well in teamfights on our team, and we won.

 

Yeah, I just want you to break down the last fight for me where you guys get the Mountain Soul, and then Hauntzer runs right into the Baron… right into the enemy team. What was the thought-process behind that?

Yeah, I don’t know. I actually told Hauntzer that he was going to die there. [laughs] But when I saw our Zoe and Sett, I was like “Yeah, these champions are not balanced, I guess they can just 2v5.” 

 

Here’s a funny question- So there was a tweet after the game where Greyson Gregory “GoldenGlue” Gilmer was shirtless. So when did he take his shirt off during that game?

[laughs] After the game, we were really happy. First, I took off my shirt and I was hitting them with my jersey, then they did the same. I don’t know why, but… I don’t know.

 

It’s just a celebration, right? 

Yeah, it’s just a celebration [laughs again].

Well, now that you’re the sixth-seeded team going in, the bracket is single-elimination for the Golden Guardians. So if you guys lose one best-of-five, you’re out. How do you think that playing best-of-fives will affect you and your team vs. just playing best-of-ones throughout the regular season?

Actually, in scrims, if we lose one or two games, we are good at learning what to do (or what not to do) for the next game. So I think that in best-of-fives, it’s actually going to be really good for us, because I trust our coaching staff and our players to be fine mentally. Even if we are down, we can learn what we did wrong, and I think it’s gonna be better for us.

Image courtesy of Riot Games.

Sounds great. Your next match is going to be against either the Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves, or FlyQuest. So if you could choose, who would you want to face, and why?

Well, actually, we lost twice to 100 Thieves, but we went 1-1 against the other teams in the regular season. I don’t think it’ll change much, and I don’t really have a preference. We’re all confident that we can beat whoever comes from those three. As soon as our playoff opponent is selected, we’ll work hard and we’ll be ready.

 

Do you have any last words to say to your fans before I let you go?

Yeah, thank you so much for everything. [laughs] I’m just really happy right now. And it was really good to see that even though we were losing, there were still fans that trusted us. So thank you all for supporting us until today, and I hope we can show a better Golden Guardians for the playoffs.

Feature image courtesy of Riot Games.

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