Let’s look at why Golden Guardians fans should be excited for the coming LCS season.
The Golden Guardians were one of the most surprising and exciting teams in the LCS last year. With a lineup that comprised a mishmash of rookies, imports from wildcard regions, and veterans who went under the radar, Golden Guardians made it to the second round of the Summer Playoffs, outperforming where most fans thought they would finish.
Heading into 2021, Golden Guardians seem to be copying that same strategy from the 2020 offseason. The question is whether they can replicate, or even improve on, those results.
8-10 in the Spring Split, 9-9 in the Summer Split
The good news is that this team managed to improve standings-wise from spring to summer. And arguably, they outperformed expectations in the Spring Split.
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In the summer, as noted above, Golden Guardians managed to make it into the playoffs as the fifth seed. Although they managed to sweep TSM in the opening round, they were bounced out of the playoffs by losing 3-0 to Team Liquid and then falling 3-2 to that same TSM team in the lower bracket.
You might have expected for Golden Guardians to make some minor tweaks to their roster and rebuild around stars like Closer and FBI. Instead, they blew the whole thing up. All five players on this Golden Guardians roster are new to the team in 2021.
In rebuilding the team, GGS went back to the same formula as last year. Their team consists of three rookies – top laner Aiden “Niles” Tidwell, jungler Ethan “Iconic” Wilkinson, and mid laner Nicholas “Ablazeolive” Antonio Abbott. They also brought in veteran LCS ADC Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, his first time playing for a team that is not CLG. For the support role, Golden Guardians scouted the LLA, bringing in Leandro “Newbie” Marcos.
Nicholas “Inero” Smith returns to the team for his third year (second full year) as the team’s head coach. Having been with the organization since 2018, few coaches have done more with less talent than Inero. If there is a hope to improve this unproven lineup, Inero will be key.
Players to Be Excited About
Everyone is focused on the three young players, but I am actually most interested to see what Newbie can do now that he’s getting a chance on the big stage. Newbie has had a lot of success during his time with All Knights (and Isurus before that) and he is my pick to continue the trend of players from under-scouted regions performing well, a class that includes FBI and Closer.
I think Golden Guardians are quite easily a playoff team. Right now, I wouldn’t rate them especially high (maybe in the seventh to fifth range), but they definitely have the talent floor and coaching to grow.
If things go right for GGS, I could easily see this team improving to become a top-five team. It’s not completely out of the question that this team is fighting for that last LCS Worlds spot if things go right. I wouldn’t bet on that right now, but I think it’s more likely that they’re fighting for third than a bottom-two team.
What are the Fans Excited About?
From the Golden Guardians subreddit:
I’m super excited to root for rookies! After Bjergsen and Doublelift retiring, I can’t wait to see new talent rise to the top, Golden Guardians are truly aiming to do that this year!
GG is trying to show what a real developmental team looks and performs on the LCS stage. I am excited to see how the rookies stack up against the LCS veterans as this will give us a perspective on the NA talent pool and the future of the league.
GGS is the first team to really take advantage of the collegiate scene, something I’ve been asking NA teams to do for over a year. No question, I’ll be watching Iconic and Niles with a lot of interest, as will many LCS fans.
I’m excited to see if Inero can develop more young talent such as Niles, Ablazeolive, Newbie, and Iconic
In the same vein of the previous two comments, the rookies are going to be excited. I definitely agree with the comment about Inero and, given his track record, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to expect to see those young players develop.
Excited to finally see Stixxay on a different team than CLG and matched with newbie
I’ve never really been that high on Stixxay, but it very well could be the case that playing with Newbie helps raise his level of play. It could also be the case just by getting off CLG.