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After their opening day loss to Clutch Gaming, I spoke with Golden Guardians AD carry Matthew “Deftly” Chen about Ornn cheese, sorting out a Matt-centric bot lane, and meeting the Golden State Warriors.

Miles Yim: What was it like finally getting out on stage for the first time in the LCS?

Deftly: For me, playing on stage for the first time was kind of nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t say I changed how I played, since I’ve been on the stage before. In the Challenger Series, I played in the promotion tournament which was the exact same stage. But there were a lot more people in the crowd, I had friends there coming from Texas to visit me. But in game, I think nothing changed. We just failed to execute our early gameplan.

MY: And what was the early gameplan? How did you approach Clutch Gaming’s composition in laning phase?

D: Well, in the matchup between Kog’Maw versus Tristana, you want to just farm it out until Kog’Maw gets [Guinsoo’s] Rageblade. And once you get Rageblade, you’re stronger than Tristana until she gets like three items. So once you get Rageblade, you want to look for fights, look for fights, look for fights. That was our plan going into the draft, until we saw the Ornn support pick. We’d actually never played against it before, so it was really surprising. It gets priority in lanes against Taric, so we got pushed in. And it can also move mid and ult, so that was really frustrating for [Hai “Hai” Du Lam], I’m sure. But yeah, if I think we executed early game better, since we had a counterpick top, and a strong jungle, I think the game might have went a lot smoother.

MY: Ornn is considered a strong champion across the board right now, but he was let through the first round of bans in this game. What’s your team’s approach to Ornn, both playing him and picking against him?

D: Our team thinks of Ornn really highly. However, we did not expect a support at all. I just…I feel like we got cheesed. [Laughs] I think the game wasn’t fair. I think the next time we play them, we’ll be much better prepared.

MY: The switch to best-of-ones this year has introduced the possibility of teams cheesing for wins. How do you account for that? Is there a segment of game prep where the team goes over strange picks you might see?

D: I don’t think there’s really a way to prepare for them. Sometimes we think of our own…can’t really tell you. But I don’t think you can really prepare for cheese picks since they’re just out of the blue, cheese for a reason. The most important thing is trying to keep the game stable though there are cheese picks, because it’s a best-of-one. If you lose the game, the series is over.

Courtesy of Riot Games

MY: Before we move off the bot lane, I have to ask a question that’s been percolating in me since your interview with Travis Gafford. You and [Matthew “Matt” Elento] both have the same first name, and his is his in-game name. How do the two of you, and your team, treat that in comms?

D: Actually, for the first week or so, scrims were really rough because Hai or [Juan “Contractz” Garcia] or [Samson “Lourlo” Jackson] would say, “Matt, I need you to do this,” and we’d both be like, “What?” And we’d both start moving to help them out. It was kinda frustrating, but we cleared it up. We were like, okay, I’m Matthew, he’s Matt. And sometimes they just call me Deftly. And that’s how we cleared that up. He got the name Matt since it’s literally his game name, and also he’s older than me, so they just gave it to him. [Laughs]

MY: Matt is one of the more experienced players on your team. What’s it like playing with him, and what have you learned from him already?

D: Not only did he just play with Team Liquid, he also played with really good AD carries. He had a stint with [Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng], with [Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin], they’re all really strong AD carries in lane. I think me and Matt are progressing at a really strong rate, and we’re definitely going to be one of the stronger bot lanes in the LCS. He’s taught me a lot of individual laning stuff, what I should do, what Piglet would do, and I try to implement it in my own game. And I think its actually working really well us. It didn’t really show this game, since there was an Ornn support, but I think in a more standard 2v2, we can definitely shine and show our lane kingdom.

MY: You faced an experienced LCS AD carry in Apollo today. What did you make of him face-to-face?

D: I think Apollo is a really stable player. He’s consistent, kind of like [Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi] in a way. I look up to him, but at the same time, I definitely think I’m at the same level or better.

MY: I know it’s a short turnaround and you haven’t seen the VOD yet, but critique your performance today. What could you have done better to change the result?

D: The things that you can improve upon instantly aren’t really things within yourself, it’s within the team. I learned this throughout the month that we’ve been practicing, that it really doesn’t come down to individual skill. I think in the LCS, most players are evenly rounded out in level, and it all comes down to how you communicate to each other, your attitude towards each other, stuff like that. Teamwork is really important in this game.

MY: Switching gears, your team is new to the NA LCS and is backed by the NBA Golden State Warriors. What interactions have you had with that organization? Have you met Kirk Lacob, have you met the players? What’s your relationship been like with them so far?

D: So, one week after getting into the gaming house, we got announced, and the Warriors invited us to San Francisco to see their new arena. They’re building a new basketball arena called the Chase Center. They showed us that, all the new stuff they’re building, and they also took us to a Warriors game. I think they were playing the Mavericks, so that was heartwarming for me even though they got crushed, since I’m from Dallas. After the game, they gave us media training, interviews. They told us what the Warriors philosophy is, and how they want us to replicate that on the Golden Guardians. And not only that, we got to watch the Warriors practice. How they treat their practice, it’s really professional and efficient, and that’s something we’re replicating at home. Not only that, but we also got to meet Kirk, all the players in person. It was really surreal. I was one of the only players that took pictures with them, since I was really nervous. Everyone else was being a fanboy, but it was just me and Contractz, we just stood there awkwardly and looked at them. It was definitely a great experience, and I’m happy the Warriors gave it to us.

MY: You have another game tomorrow, against Cloud9. You’ve got a few former C9 players on your team right now. Has there been any extra emphasis on this game in prep?

D: I think we look at most games equally, regardless of the players. I think at an individual level, it’s not like we’re worse than them or anything. I don’t think that’s the issue. It comes down to teamwork.

The NA LCS can be found streaming on Twitch, YouTube, and at lolesports.com.