Stixxay is ready to continue his development as a leader for Golden Guardians, on and off the rift.
In his very first split as a young rookie for Counter Logic Gaming, Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes won an LCS Championship and carried his team to the Mid-Season Invitational off the back of an inspiring Tristana performance. Then at MSI, he continues to showcase his talents for the game and reaches the finals of the tournament before making a trip to the LoL World Championship in 2016.
But after that 2016 year, everything slowly began to fall apart. In 2017, CLG barely failed to make it to the World Championships. And throughout the course of 2018-2020, Stixxay managed to only make the LCS playoffs once in 2019 Summer. With a rough cluster of years, he made the move over to Golden Guardians in 2021 and helped the team qualify for the playoffs in Summer, while also helping young players become better at the game.
Now GG Stixxay, is a coach for Golden Guardians, filling in for the LCS Lock-In Stage. And while he is currently not playing right now, he is hoping that he can make his way back as a player and showcase his new learnings as a leader.
In this interview, we spoke to Stixxay about his past offseason and why he credits Golden Guardians for a lot of his growth as a person and a player.
First, I just want to ask you about just the offseason. What you were up to after just playoffs with the Golden Guardians? It is a very different offseason for you.
GG Stixxay: I went back home in Arizona during the offseason and I was there for a couple of months. Throughout that offseason, I was talking to some teams, but ultimately I was unable to find a team.
As a result, I was asked to coach Golden Guardians so I took that opportunity because I felt I could be really good at that. I have good knowledge of the game, especially botlane situations. There was no harm in trying something new is what I felt.
Do you feel like your experience last year with Golden Guardians, where you’re pretty much this veteran player surrounded by rookies really prepared you for a role like this?
GG Stixxay: Naturally, I am not a leader or a mentor. I am also somebody who really struggles with conflict naturally, so it was a lot of learning with Golden Guardians last year. A lot of it was getting out of my comfort zone to become something bigger and it was a lot of growing up. Something is different when you are talking to younger players, especially ones who have not played before.
You are teaching them the game and it was nice being helpful for that. There’s a lot of random concepts and fundamentals that I understand because I have been playing for a very long. To other’s they have not even heard of certain things that I have learned over the years. So I got a lot better at communicating those things and communicating as a whole.
It seems like you really learned how to characterize your feelings into words now. Would you say that naturally, you are a more introverted and conflict-averse person? And then was that your biggest hurdle when becoming a pro?
GG Stixxay: Definitely, I am a very introverted person in general, and what you described is exactly what I struggled with. It took me a couple of years to actually learn how to understand what I was feeling into words. This was even more true when I would be playing with people who have played longer than me.
It changed when I was counted on to be that leader though. I had to figure these things out on my own and had to realize that getting into arguments is not always bad. Sometimes it is needed if you want to grow as a person and find a better solution. But it took a really long time to get past this conflict-averse nature I had. I would often keep to myself and have my own thoughts secretly.
Can you pinpoint a time in your career where you really felt this breakthrough to become somebody who can comfortably voice their opinions better? Do you feel like it has helped you in your everyday life as well?
GG Stixxay: Yeah. I mean, to be honest, the breakthrough point was when I joined Golden Guardians, and really just that entire 2021. It was a learning process that really forced me to break out of this conflict-averse nature. I learned a lot about communication being with Golden Guardians. I learned how to be an actual leader last year with Golden Guardians. There are so many things that I never did in the playing career that I did with Golden Guardians and I attribute that experience to why I am a better person now.
Some people might be wondering why it was not on CLG, but the environment was very different. In all honesty, being on CLG was really depressing, to put it lightly. I never could really be that person I became on GGS. Maybe it is all a part of growing up too.
Everything was hyper-accelerated when I joined CLG back when I was 18 years old, but as I became an adult with Golden Guardians and everything began to slow down, I just learned a lot more about myself.
Something I notice is that GG likes to retain a lot of their coaching staff and is one of the only teams that utilize positional coaching. Could you talk about that environment and how much of a difference it all makes?
GG Stixxay: To be honest, the reason why it works is that they have such a strong belief in the coaching staff to be able to develop players and get them where things need to be. Upper management really puts a lot of trust in us to do our best with what we are given and I like that about Golden Guardians. This is the only team I know that has positional coaches in every role and that takes a lot of stress off Inero.
Rather than have him cover every single player, he can cover general points about how the team can improve. With us as positional coaches, you have people who can cover more minute things about their certain role. For example, I can help Lawrence or Lost with matchups and cool little mechanical things on certain champions to be more efficient. It is definitely a great system overall and the best team that I have ever been on.
You are on stage with some familiar faces from last year’s lineup. Is it almost like picking up where things left off with this team?
GG Stixxay: For sure, I played with a lot of these guys last year so I am just looking to lead by example and carry over what I was back in 2021. So I am relatively vocal for a botlaner because of this. They can learn what needs to be communicated for the future as well. I was not supposed to be part of this tournament but I am really grateful for the opportunity to play once again.
I am just going to make the best of what I have. For the past few months, I have been scrimming with this team as well, and we have been dominating the amateur and Academy scene, which is to be expected. There are a lot of learning lessons that you get from playing stage games.
For example, you do not really get many opportunities to play against teams like Cloud9 and 100 Thieves. I am probably leading the team more now than I was in 2021, which is crazy to think about. We have a new roster of players who don’t have as much experience. SO a lot of it has been me and Ry0ma leading this team and I think everyone has been learning a lot from this experience.
Would you actually be able to talk a little bit about how impactful Ryoma is into the team because I feel like the outside perspective that people have him does not justify his impact on a team?
GG Stixxay: He is an incredible player in the scene and he gets a lot of flack from the community when he brings so much to a team that people do not see. His attitude is what really makes him such a star in the scene. He is a really chill guy that is able to handle pressure situations very well. For me, I am a very high-stress person so in situations I can get a bit more anxious. On stage, sometimes I think about not making mistakes instead of just playing to win sometimes. He is a really loose player that you can tell has a lot of experience playing in a team setting. He is a natural leader in teams as well.
In all honesty, he has really been helping me grow as a player to not be afraid of making mistakes. Playing with him has really opened my eyes to some struggling points that I had as a player during my rough years with CLG or on Golden Guardians where I was not performing as well. He is also really knowledgeable about the game as well. It is why whenever you see him playing in the academy, he is always playing really well. He has what it takes to be an LCS player, and I think this time on Golden Guardians will be really great for him to develop whatever was holding him back on stage before. I hope he can make that LCS breakthrough because he deserves it so much.
It seems like this is an opportunity for you to show everything you learned in this past year and that a lot of your barriers were because of these fears you had. How are you treating this opportunity yourself?
GG Stixxay: Yeah, that is actually spot on. I just want to perform my best and show good I still am. In the future, I would like to play again. Something that people took the wrong way when I announced that I was becoming a coach is that I was retiring. That is not the case.
To be completely upfront, I did not get any offers to play. I am doing coaching for now, but I definitely want to keep playing. For now, I am going to use this opportunity to show that I can still compete at an LCS level, and be a leader for teams that need one.