On April 23, Hai “Hai” Du Lam announced his retirement from competitive League of Legends. The former Golden Guardians mid laner took to Reddit to confirm the news.
Confirming his NA LCS exit, Hai said:
“I’m no longer a part of the Golden Guardians and now I’m looking towards my step in my career.”
“I’m currently interested in pursuing a streaming/content creation/brand ambassador lifestyle at the moment.”
Confirming Hai ‘s decision to pursue streaming and content creation full time, Golden Guardians released a video the following day explaining their roster changes and what the fans can expect in the upcoming split.
The fans said their goodbyes to the iconic mid laner and that was the end of it. Or at least it seemed to be.
On April 26, Blitz Esports published an interview with the Golden State Warriors’ Head of Esports, Hunter Leigh, which sparked a heated reaction from the community.
Leigh said that the team wanted a “stronger laner” in order to help the top and bottom lane.
He stated that Samson “Lourlo” Jackson and Matthew “Deftly” Chen need a better player in the mid lane in order to improve their performances. Leigh stated that getting rid of Hai was a way to “stabilise” the mid lane, since this lane effects the entire team.
“Ultimately what I think we needed to do is get a stronger laner in mid to free up the team to strategically play the game with more flexibility.”
“The success of one can’t come at the expense of the others.”
“We have four good players and now with Mickey in addition, we have five great players.”
The not so Golden Guardians
Hai’s fans and members of the community considered Leigh’s statements disrespectful towards the player.
Out of context, it did sound bad, but the truth is that Golden Guardians don’t have the perfect team.
Golden Guardians finished its first split in the NA LCS in tenth place. Out of ten squads, they were the worst. Changes were needed and, unfortunately, the axe fell on Hai.
Leigh’s comments suggest that the organisation viewed Hai as the weak link. However, he is not to blame for the team’s failure. On the contrary, he’s a renowned and experienced player that brought a lot of knowledge to the squad. He was a leader in the roster and took charge of the team’s shot calling.
Time will tell whether the roster change pays off, but Golden Guardians has lost a leader and are now set to start a new split with a volatile player in the mid lane.
New split, new mid
Son “Mickey” Young-min is taking over the position for the Golden Guardians. He joins from the Team Liquid Academy that finished fourth in the NA Academy Spring Split.
Mickey is described by his teammates as an unpredictable and volatile player.
When asked about Mickey, Kim “Olleh” Joon-sung, support player for Team Liquid, described him as a “50/50 player”, meaning that you never really know what you’re going to get from the player. He can put in an incredible performance in one game and throw the next.
This is not the stability that Golden Guardians need. Leigh stated that the team’s intention is to play through mid lane, but they’re taking a huge risk with Mickey.
Golden Guardians will have to wait until June to see if the change was a good decision. In the meantime, they must wrestle with a plummeting reputation. The disrespectful and inconsistent statements coming out of the club haven’t pleased the community. The video continues to receive negative comments questioning the decision.
The League of Legends community in the North American region is protective of its players, especially those like Hai that have a long history in the NA LCS.