Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A between The Daily Californian’s esports reporter, Julia Shen, and Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, top laner for the Golden Guardians. Jackson speaks on the Guardians’ growth as a team, the current LCS standings and breaking out of the boxes that have defined his career. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Just four months ago, making the playoffs of the North America League of Legends Championship Series, or NA LCS, was a distant dream for the Golden Guardians. Struggling at the bottom of the standings, the Guardians finished their first competitive split in dead last, far from the top-six finish needed to advance.
Despite a crushing introduction to the league, what was once unthinkable could become reality for the Guardians. After a roster swap in the mid lane and a League-wide meta shakeup, the team is now in a four-way tie for sixth place in the Summer Split.
The Daily Californian: The Guardians have shown a huge improvement over last split. What has changed on the team?
Samson “Lourlo” Jackson: We’ve had a lot of different opinions about trying to figure out what works best for our team. Right now I feel like we have really, really good days and then we still have some really, really bad days. So it’s just finding that middle ground.
DC: Regarding different opinions — what is the team disagreeing on?
SJ: It’s not negative disagreements. I think every team has a lot of discussions about draft and how they want to play the game. It’s helped us grow more this split. Before, we didn’t speak our mind to the fullest. But now we’re all speaking our minds, discussing things and actually getting the most out of review and day-to-day practice.
DC: Juan “Contractz” Garcia recently said you guys are a top-two or -three team; do you agree, and what are the positive things that make the Guardians stand out?
SJ: Our individual play is good in all our roles. We have a strong laning phase, we’re adapting to the meta really quickly, and for the most part we know how we all want to play the game.
It’s hard to say where we are in the placements. I think we are for sure a playoff team right now. But with how close the NA LCS is right now, it’s hard to put us in a position — top three, top four, top five — in the standings. These next few weeks will show who’s there. The games will all be super close, that’s just how NA LCS is, and all the teams are not in very good form right now. I feel like anyone can win versus anyone.
DC: A few weeks ago, you wrote for The Players’ Lobby about how you want to be known for more than being consistent. Do you feel like you’ve been pushing past that reputation on GGS?
SJ: In these last two splits, I’ve had more spotlight performances I guess. I’ve had more games where people recognize me. I want to keep growing and making sure that I can be the person that wins us games, not just the person that keeps us stable in the game.
I really want to make sure, in the next few years that I’m playing, that I make something out of this. I’m not just here for fun. I want to be one of the best players in “League” — that’s my goal.
DC: Do you feel like you’ve been getting more support from the fans this split in light of the team’s improvement?
SJ: People just respect our team, more so than last split. We’re not that joke team anymore. It does feel nice to be treated seriously since we’re actually all trying to compete at the highest level. On top of that I feel like we got a lot of new fans when we had some upset wins over (Team Liquid) and 100 Thieves or the top teams last split. I hope it keeps up as we win more games, so I’m excited.
DC: Now that this roster has had half a split together, how has playing with Son “Mickey” Young-min been?
SJ: Mickey’s been really good — he has a good perspective going into reviews and the game overall. He’s just a really hard worker. Personally I have a really strong work ethic, and it’s nice to see someone have so much passion and involvement in what they do. He feels like he’s a player that’s putting everything on the line, and that’s how I am too.
DC: Does the importance that you and Mickey place on hard work carry over to the rest of the team?
SJ: Yeah, I think it definitely does. We kind of set the tone in terms of how hard we work and how much we want to improve. I feel like it shows the whole organization and the players how much they want to put in as well.
Last split we worked hard, but it wasn’t the level of dedication that I would want for a team that wants to win the whole thing. Now, we’ve upped the passion and the work ethic. But I still feel like in order to be a team that wants to win everything and be the best in the world, there are still things we need to work on.
There’s always room for more sacrifice, more giving time to the game. We’ve done a better job this split, but I think in future years or future splits we can learn a lot from what we’ve done these past two splits.
DC: You said “future years.” Do you see this same roster staying together for years to come?
SJ: It’s hard to say. With the volatility now with franchising in LCS, rosters are getting shuffled up a lot, and players are going on and off teams way more than before.
But I really enjoy playing with all my teammates right now, I wouldn’t be opposed to playing with them again next year. It’s just hard to say if that’s going to happen, with how crazy offseason usually goes. If one person’s gone then maybe the whole roster gets swapped up. So it’s just hard to say.
DC: Do you have anything you want to say to your fans?
SJ: I just want to thank all the fans who have been supporting me from day one and still are supporting me now. I also want to thank the new fans. I appreciate everyone that believes in GGS, and also myself. It’s been a really big pleasure to play for you guys, and I hope you keep following us throughout the rest of the season.
Julia Shen covers esports. Contact her at