LCS free agency officially opened up on November 21st. While rumors have swirled around the community for the past few weeks, Golden Guardians are the first team to officially announce their complete roster headed into 2023.
Their previous lineup, for Summer 2022, consisted of the following players:
- Top: Eric “Licorice” Ritchie
- Jungle: Kim “River” Dong-woo and Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes
- Mid: Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Antonio Abbott
- ADC: Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes
- Support: Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung
2022 In Review
After finishing the Spring Split 9-9, Golden Guardians’s starting ADC Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui left the team to play for Immortals in the upcoming Summer Split. Left without an ADC and with little time to find a replacement, GG promoted their ADC positional coach and LCS veteran Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes to the starting lineup headed into Summer.
Early in the Summer Split, a string of poor performances forced Dignitas, a competing organization in the LCS, to call a quits on the split. After promoting their academy players to the starting lineup to get them LCS experience, DIG entered in talks with Golden Guardians about selling the remainder of their star jungler, Kim “River Dong-woo’s, contract. Eager to upgrade from their unique, but underperforming current jungler, GG signed Kim in hopes of boosting their playoff chances.
Unfortunately for them, GG tumbled in the rankings, just barely qualifying for playoffs with a 5-13 split record. Despite making it into the playoffs, GG were way out of their depth. Only one other team, TSM, had a negative record; the remaining six teams boasted Summer Split records of 10-8 or better.
Even so, GG surprised almost everyone in their playoff opener. Although they could not close out the series, GG forced Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), the 4th place team in the split, to a game five in a best of five series. After being narrowly defeated 3-2, GG were eliminated from the tournament and sent into the post-season with plenty of time to think about next year’s lineup.
A Familiar Face and Overseas Talent
Coming off of the second worst record in their history, Golden Guardians entered the offseason with a clear idea of how they would enter the free agency market. Prior to this; however, the organization promoted their Head Coach Nicholas “Inero” Smith to the General Manager position. Alongside Smith’s promotion, GG promoted their Assistant Coach Samuel “Spookz” Broadley to Head Coach to lead the team in 2023.
While there were not a lot of bright spots in 2022, GG identified their weakest points as the mid lane and support positions. While they had not originally planned to stick with Stixxay for 2023, his strong performances in Summer played a key role in their few victories that split.
Retaining Licorice, River, and Stixxay, GG picked up Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun from 100 Thieves and imported Kim “Gori” Tae-woo from the PCS.
Choi had previously played for Golden Guardians in 2019. He, along with FBI and Closer were promoted from GG Academy to the starting roster in July, and continued to play with the team until all three were bought out by 100 Thieves in 2023. With 100 Thieves seeking a complete rebuild for 2023, Choi was released into free agency and quickly snatched up by his original organization.
Kim, on the other hand, has never played in the LCS. He started playing competitively in 2017 on multiple tier 2 Korean teams. It was not until the 2018 offseason that he was picked up by T1 (then SKT T1) to compete in the LCK, where he remained as a substitute before transferring to EDG (Edward Gaming) in the LPL as a substitute until 2021.
Following the 2021 LPL Spring Split, he received an opportunity to start for NS RedForce in the LCK. Unfortunately, he was released at the end of the split and returned to the LPL where he played one more split with FPX.
Losing his starting spot to Lin “pinz” Li-Pin, Kim was moved to the substitute position before leaving to play with PSG Talon in the PCS for the 2022 Summer Split. Once again unable to find success, Kim is headed to his fourth ever starting position with hopes of remaining with a team for more than one split.
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