Golden Guardians top laner Niles retires after one professional season

In the span of just one year, Niles went from a collegiate level prospect to LCS-level top laner to completely retired from professional League of Legends.

Photo by Oshin Tudayan via ESPAT/Riot Games

Golden Guardians Academy top laner Niles has retired from professional League of Legends after just one season, he announced today. 

Niles’ decision to retire was based mainly on his homesickness and desire to spend time with his family. In a video posted to his personal Twitter account today, Niles mentioned that he had only seen his parents once over the course of the last nine months while he’s trained with Golden Guardians in Los Angeles. 

“I’m at a point in my life where I’m choosing between the people that I love on one hand, and a professional League career where you have to put in so many hours to be the best,” Niles said. “If you’re a professional League of Legends player, if you’re not putting in so many hours and so much work to be the best, then what are you really doing?”

Niles had been signed to play for Golden Guardians’ LCS roster ahead of the 2021 season alongside one of his former teammates at Maryville University, Iconic. The two made their LCS debuts together earlier this year. 

After one split with the organization’s LCS team, Niles was demoted to the LCS Academy scene. During the 2021 LCS Spring Split, Niles broke an all-time LCS record for the lowest KDA ever posted by a non-support player with a mark of 1.1. 

Niles also cited his recent engagement as a factor in his retirement. The 22-year-old shared news of his engagement on his personal Twitter account earlier this week. 

“I didn’t want to half-ass being a League pro, I didn’t want to half-ass my relationships,” Niles said. “This decision that I’ve come to is something that, like I said, I didn’t want to have to choose between one or the other. The people that I care about, the people that I love, they’re all here on the east coast, and I know that is what will make me happiest and be the best for me moving forward.”

Earlier this week, Golden Guardians released three other Academy-level players and will be forced to restructure its farm system moving into the 2021-22 League offseason. 

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Michael Kelly
Staff Writer covering World of Warcraft and League of Legends, among others. Mike's been with Dot since 2020, and has been covering esports since 2018.