For three-plus years, Jovani "Fabbbyyy" Guillen was known as the "Gatekeeper" of North American League of Legends. As a player who frequently decided if his opposition (or teammate) would make it into the Challenger solo queue ladder, Fabbbyyy was one of the few non-professional players to gain a following. Despite that, he was always the one on the outside looking in, playing in the minor leagues while others he faced online were becoming stars in the NA League Championship Series.
Today, Fabbbyyy lounges back in the press lounge on the second floor of the LCS arena following Team Liquid's convincing 2-0 victory against the relegation-bound NRG Esports. After years of playing the game at a casual level, the "Gatekeeper" of the online world has transitioned into a true starter for a playoff level team in the major leagues.
"We're fine with each other," he said, when asked about the relationship with former TL starting AD carry, Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin.
Fabbbyyy was switched with Piglet in the regular split as Liquid saw it as a win for both parties. Piglet wanted a break from the pressures of the major leagues and Fabbbyyy's selfless, flexible style to play anything the team needed fit in with the current meta of utility AD carries.
"We're not, like, angry at each other. He's not mad at me that I took his spot, and I'm not mad at him that he took mine," Fabbbyyy said. "It's been just fine. He doesn't argue with me, and we get along. We both do our own thing. He plays on TLA now, and he's happy. He's able to take a break now, play a lot less try-hard because it's Challenger, not LCS. And then for me, I get to [learn how] to try-hard. I was stuck in Challenger for two years and never learned what hard work is, or how to work hard towards an objective I want to work on: my lane, my team-play. I never worried about that. It was Challenger, I was like, 'Eh I'll wing it.'"
"I was stuck in Challenger for two years and never learned what hard work is." Jovani "Fabbbyyy" Guillen
In the minor leagues where the stakes are lower, Fabbbyyy was never pushed to his absolute limit as a player. Now, in the thick of a playoff hunt and the third-seed in the regular season, the former Challenger pillar has started taking strides to become the player he always had the potential to become. He's started to watch game tape for the first time and he's taking all the necessary steps to make sure his rookie split in the LCS isn't his last.
"The main team for me right now is Immortals," he said, musing over which opponent he believes could be the toughest for Liquid in the postseason. "They're pretty much better than TSM right now. But after [Immortals], it's obviously TSM. I still rank them higher. After that, it's kind of a wash, you could say."
While a majority of the teams will be clearly fearing Team SoloMid in the playoffs -- Phoenix1, a team that broke TSM's winning streak, were eliminated from contention Sunday -- the monkey on Liquid's back is clearly colored green and black. Immortals have owned Liquid since joining the NA LCS this past spring. In the nine games the two teams have played against each other, Immortals has taken eight of the games, and that includes a clear cut 3-0 sweep during last season's third-place decider match at the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas. For TL to finally break its curse of never winning the NA LCS championship, or even making the finals, Immortals will almost certainly be standing in the way.
"Working hard, honestly," he said, referencing what he's learned in the past month playing in the professional leagues. "I was so nonchalant, just laid-back. I didn't care. I woke up, played my two scrim blocks, on Wednesday played my Challenger game, win, and I'd be done. It's not like LCS where you really want that playoff spot or really want to make it to Worlds. Challenger isn't anything like that. I never had the drive in Challenger. That's the main thing I actually gained going into the LCS. I have a way bigger drive now. I'm putting in more solo queue games, putting more hours into [game] review. I didn't do [that] at all in Challenger."
One year ago, Team Liquid had to make a decision between two AD carries. Piglet, a former world champion who was having a difficult time connecting with the starting roster, and Yuri "Keith" Jew, a standout talent from solo queue who was meshing well with the team. Although the team eventually decided to stick with Piglet, Keith went onto start for Echo Fox in the LCS against Piglet.
In the postseason, Fabbbyyy will be playing for Team Liquid. A lot can change in the year, and Fabbbyyy knows it too well. The "Gatekeeper" has passed on his torch, and he's ready to see how far he can go when he puts everything fully -- his time, mind and heart -- into the game.