League of Legends LCS: Breaking Down the 2020 Golden Guardians

League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /
Froggen of Golden Guardians.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

A look at the Golden Guardians’ prospects for the upcoming LCS split and what this League of Legends team can be looking to accomplish.

The Golden Guardians is an LCS team with a good bit to talk, both positive and negative, regarding their offseason roster moves. With an offseason full of controversial announcements, let’s look at what the 2020 edition of the Golden Guardians professional League of Legends team should be aiming to realistically accomplish.

A whole new logo

To start the 2020 LCS year Golden Guardians will be sporting a brand new logo. It’s a slick gold sword and it looks way better than the previous logo. It even scored pretty well in our LCS logo rankings.

The new logo makes it look like Golden Guardians are their own brand and not just an add-on for the Golden State Warriors like the old color scheme and logo suggested. I just hope they announce new jerseys to match their cool new logo. If they do I may buy one, which is something since I’m not even the biggest Golden Guardians fan.

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Roster changes

In 2019 the Golden Guardians went 9-9 in the Spring Split and made the playoffs before losing in the first round to Flyquest. Then in the Summer Split, they went 8-10 before dropping a tiebreaker with Optic, causing them to miss out on the final playoff spot and finishing in seventh place.

Though both of these finishes were an improvement on 2018 when they finished in 10th place during both splits and only won nine total games, Golden Guardians fans were understandably disappointed. But comparing their performance in 2019 to the nine games they won in spring alone and the 17 wins they finished with for the 2019 season, shows how much this team improved in a year.

For 2020 the roster is getting shaken up. Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell is staying in the top lane as the starter and Ian  Victor “FBI”  Huang remains in the bottom lane. But beyond that, nothing looks the same.

This offseason, Golden Guardians brought in Can “Closer” Celik from the Turkish professional league as the new jungler, Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer as the new starting mid laner and promoted Yuri “Keith” Jew from the Academy roster, role-swapping him from ADC to support. The 2020 roster is absolutely a downgrade from 2019. Letting Henrik “Froggen” Hansen walk and replacing him with Goldenglue is big mistake, in my opinion.

Although Goldenglue is a decent mid and has experience on the Worlds stage, I don’t see him as the carry threat Froggen was. In fact, I’m not even sure if he is even good enough to start in the LCS on a permanent basis. With mid lane being a talent-rich position in North America I feel like Goldenglue will struggle against better talent and make it harder on the Golden Guardians.

In Froggen, Golden Guardians had one of the better mid laners in North America. Froggen finished 10th in the MVP voting in the summer split, despite his team missing playoffs, showing you just how good he was even on a mediocre team.

In terms of rankings going into 2020 Froggen was rated the fifth-best mid in North America, while Goldenglue was rated in the number eight spot amongst NA mids. Making this swap a significant downgrade for Golden Guardians.

Worse yet, the bottom lane is really on a downhill slope. FBI hasn’t shown a lot in his brief time in North America and was rated as the ninth-best ADC by League on Lock.  

Even if Keith was still starting at ADC it wouldn’t be much of an improvement. Keith is using a role swap to get one last shot at starting time in the LCS. I think he’s a player that has should consider retiring and should be moved on from in favor of younger talent.

I would even consider starting Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun over him, because he role-swapped last season and has more experience as a support, while Keith is at square one in the role. No surprise he was named the worst LCS support starter going into 2020.

Although Closer is coming off an MVP Summer Spilt in Turkey and a Worlds appearance with Royal Youth, the question is will that success carry over in his new home in North America? The preseason rankings don’t seem to think so as he was rated the ninth-best jungler in North America.

In fairness, the man he replaced, Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia didn’t seem to rate very highly on ranking lists either.  While he did play more than most junglers in the LCS, he is pretty close to the bottom, or middle of the pack in terms of stats and a weak point on the GGS roster. I think this move is probably an equal switch at the moment and will be determined as an upgrade, or downgrade based on how Closer plays.

The top lane is Golden Guardians’ strongest lane and Hauntzer is their best player. During the 2019 Summer Split he had the second-best CS per minute and cs per game totals among top laners. He was number four in the least number of deaths per game as well at 2.26. Stats-wise he is steady in most categories of and was rated the fourth-best LCS top laner going into 2020.

Expectations should be pretty low for this team. They just don’t have the talent to contend with the top-tier LCS teams. The consensus rating seems to be that this is the 10th best team playing in the LCS this season.

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I think maybe if teams underestimate them they could shock a couple of teams and collect a couple wins, but I doubt they will challenge Liquid for the LCS crown. This is maybe an 8th place team at best and at worst a last-place team. I predict the latter.