Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer spent the break between League of Legends Championship Series splits refining his game in Korea.
The spring split was difficult for Goldenglue, who was benched by Team Liquid in the middle of the season. His team floundered, barely surviving relegation, and Goldenglue decided to use the off time between splits hoping to improve his game by playing in the strongest region of League of Legends.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Goldenglue to talk about his trip, repeated odd moments in his career and how the franchising of the LCS will help teams foster young talent.
Vince Nairn: What were your major takeaways from Korea? What did you learn the most, and how do you think that will help translate back to North America?
Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer: Well, besides all the individual training and all that stuff — I think that is one of the biggest things I’m taking back. But I also learned just a lot about myself, and I learned about how I react to different kinds of sleep cycles. I figured out how I reacted more to the types of food I eat and how much energy it gives me. I learned about how much focus I need to play League. I think I learned a lot about my boundaries from my trip. I think I can really take that back and apply it to my next season.
VN: What regards to what you’re eating and how you respond to that, what did you find? Is it more carbs? Sugar/energy stuff? How did your diet impact you?
GG: I figured out that if I would eat heavy carbs or really just any big meal before I played, it always decreased my play in game. So I tried to focus more on salads and proteins. Just try to stay away from carbs right before I play.
VN: I read in your interview with TheScore that you were living with or playing in close quarters with the Ever 8 team. Were you able to pick up anything from them in terms of how they operate when they’re playing — I know there’s a language barrier — but were you able to pick up anything useful from them?
GG: I would say one thing I really took away from being around those guys is how grateful I am and how amazing it is to be on a team in NA. Obviously there’s cultural differences. For example, I learned a lot of Korean teams, including Ever 8, all slept in the same room. For an NA team, that would be taboo. There’s a lot less privacy. It kind of makes you realize that if you really love what you do, you’re willing to make sacrifices. That’s something I really took away from that.
VN: You also mentioned that your parents have been supportive of your decisions. Has it always been like that? Because I know it’s not necessarily common. And the other thing is: How do you explain to your parents that “I’ve gotta go to Korea for a month because it’s gonna make me better?” Do they have a general understanding of what you’re doing so they get it? Or do you have to explain it?
GG: I didn’t really have to — I mean, I explained it and basically they understood. This is the best thing I can do for myself. And I don’t think they doubted my judgement, and they want me to do whatever I can to do better in my career. So they had really no problem. They were a little hesitant at first, but I’ve been very supportive. It’s not much like the stories like Doublelift getting kicked out of his house. I’ve been lucky to have pretty supportive parents from pretty much the beginning.
VN: Your career to this point has been one that’s just fascinating to see progress. You’ve been on nine or 10 different teams. You were on compLexity when they were still (in League). Ember when that team kind of dissolved. TL and obviously seeing “Breaking Point” and everything that happened with that org last year. What is the oddest thing you’ve seen so far?
GG: That’s hard. There’s been a lot of weird stuff that’s happened. I would say the weirdest thing for me was when I was on Team Coast and I was 16 or 17 at that time, the summer between junior year and senior year, I went out and lived in a Las Vegas skyscraper where our team house was. It was like a super weird experience to go from living in a suburb in Texas to living at a skyscraper in Vegas with five guys on the strip playing video games. That was a pretty odd experience.
VN: Was that almost like a culture shock? How long were you out there?
GG: I lived there for like a month, and I would say it was shocking but a lot of the culture shock just dampened because all gamers are pretty much in their room all day anyway. It’s not like I’m going out and around a lot. It wasn’t too bad. It was just kind of weird being on my own for the first time in such a different environment. Going to the gym on the roof of the like 57th floor, it was pretty cool. But I’m pretty open to new things, even like going to Korea alone. I didn’t feel too much culture shock.
VN: I meant to ask you about that earlier, by the way: How did your trip happen? Was it something where the split ended and you just felt you needed to go? How did this idea even come about?
GG: The idea was my own, and I went around and had conversations with my peers, other players, my coaches. See what they thought, if they thought it was a good idea. It took a week or two to actually decide. I can’t really remember if there was an “I gotta go” moment. It was more planning it out, figuring out how I was gonna live there. As soon as I could figure it all out, I figured out a day I could go and just said “Fuck it, I’m going.”
VN: Last summer being on TLA, what was that atmosphere like? Because for one, the roster situation was kind of odd, especially with Piglet joining. And also, it was the last split that Academy teams could reach the LCS.
GG: The environment was pretty good, I’d say. We had our problems, just like any other team, but we had the core from Ember: me, Solo and Stunt, and I’d been really good friends with Moon for a while back. So we had a pretty good environment. We’re all friends. It’s pretty shocking to have Piglet on a Challenger team. It’s not something I saw ever happening. But that was really cool playing with him for the first time, experiencing all that. We definitely had our struggles at the very end of the split. It was tough. We lost both Game 5s of our playoffs and promotional matches. So that’s something that I will never forget from TLA.
VN: What do you find the more difficult scenario mentally? Being relegated or getting that close to promotion and not making it?
GG: I think it’s kind of hard to say. The stress is kind of different. I probably would say there’s a lot more stress on the teams already in the LCS going into promotion because you’re the team that’s expected to win and you have expectations like that. Your whole organization kind of depends on you to win that match to stay afloat. That’s a lot more pressure than trying to move up from the Challenger Series. You’re always considered the underdogs, basically, and you’re the ones fighting to take someone’s spot instead of fighting to defend your spot. It’s extremely high pressure both. When I was on Team 8, I remember — I think it had something to do with we had a practice for a month and a half, like five weeks for relegations whereas now you only have to wait like two weeks. So I think that created a lot more stress back then.
VN: Man, that had to be brutal. Just so much time to dwell on it.
GG: Yeah, it was savage for sure.
VN: With the LCS moving to a franchising system next year, we hear so much from what it means from a team perspective and the orgs and owners. But I don’t feel like we’ve really heard how a player feels about a franchise system. Is it something you’ve thought much about? What’s your take on the idea?
GG: I think most players don’t really care too much. I think it’ll help out the bottom teams of LCS a lot more because the stress that relegations puts is really heavy, and you don’t really have time to grow players. It’s kind of do or die every split. I think overall it will be really good for the health of players, and it will allow more NA players to get opportunities to play. I don’t really have any qualms with franchising personally. I do think the only thing that hurts is everyone loves to watch relegations because you’re watching people fight for their lives, but for the players I think it’s a good step in the right direction.
VN: Kind of along the same lines, but what do you think of the Challenger Series right now? Does it help players develop? It’s a system that has gone so many different directions in the last few years.
GG: I think the biggest thing that Challenger Series lets players do is get experience in professional matches, which is really important. There are plenty of players in the Challenger Series that did well or maybe just did OK there, but then since they had that experience, they got shots with bigger teams, like Biofrost on TSM or Akaadian with Echo Fox or Moon on FlyQuest. Contractz on C9. I think that’s the biggest thing the Challenger Scene provides. It doesn’t grow you as much as LCS, obviously, but it’s still a good opportunity.
VN: What do you see as the best way, especially in NA, for players to kind of develop? It seems like the options are to either get good at solo queue or sign the right Challenger team. How does the system help players develop?
GG: The most clean cut way to develop is to get high in Challenger and then mingle and talk around with other Challenger players and join a Challenger team. And then from there, do well in the Challenger Series and either make the LCS or look good enough that an LCS team picks you up. Since franchising is coming in and you can’t make LCS, I’d also imagine more teams would be looking at picking up players just to develop them since they know they’ll be in the league for long term. So I think franchising will help in that realm a lot.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot.