Golden Guardians surprised the LCS when they shot out to a 2-0 week one start, downing both Flyquest and Echo Fox. With two last-place titles under their belt and a history of early losses, it was the first positive start for the team so far.
And things got better in week two, when they gave Cloud 9 their first loss of the summer split, putting the Gold Guardians in first place—albeit tied with five other teams.
Bot laner Matthew “Deftly” Chen believes the Golden Guardians can still do better, though.
After a back-and-forth game against CLG this Sunday, Golden Guardians lost their second match of the split, putting their overall record at 4-2.
“It’s like we definitely have the tools to win and I feel like our team in general feels like we kind of threw that game away,” Deftly told Dot Esports. “So, in all hindsight, we could be like 5-1 or 6-0 and it sucks that we’re not, but at the same time it’s definitely way better than before.”
In their first year in the LCS, the Guardians struggled through the early game and found it difficult to transition past laning phase. Communication issues were abundant, which led to loss after loss and a 10th-place finish twice in one year.
At the end of 2018, the team added Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell, Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung to the starting roster. And this Spring, the pieces started coming together for the 10th-place champions.
“Ever since halfway through the Spring season, we’ve improved a lot on how to transition our leads,” Deftly said. “Like a lot of teams think we’re a really early game-centric team that likes to blow open the game. So I think that’s definitely one of the things we improved on.”
He added: “I feel like there’s still a lot for us to improve on in that. Like our game against 100 Thieves. We got a huge lead early, but it took us a while to close the game out.”
On the other hand, communication has become a vital part of Golden Guardians’ recent success.
“That’s actually one of our biggest strengths now, like how we communicate as a team,” Deftly said. “I feel like we really kind of play as one in the early game and that’s why we’re able to find these leads early on. We talk about all the conditions that need to be met, like which mid has TP, which top has TP, which jungler is going to be first, how we’re going to start the fight. We discuss all these things before the fight even breaks out. So, you know, the conditions are right.”
Next week, Golden Guardians will be facing two LCS powerhouses, TSM and Team Liquid. The three teams are tied and will be fighting for first. To move forward, Golden Guardians’ focus needs to be on fixing inconsistencies between their on-stage and off-stage performances, according to Deftly.
“I still think our team struggles a lot with consistency,” he said. “Especially—it’s really weird because in practice, it just feels like everyone has like their brains off or like not trying their hardest and when we come on stage and it’s just a completely different team. So I feel like if we’re able to take practice more seriously and actually try to emulate how [on] stage would be in practice then we should improve a lot more because it feels like at the moment, we’re two different teams in practice and on stage.”
Golden Guardians have seen more promise this split than in their entire stint in the LCS. But they’ve yet to face three of the teams currently tied for first. And although they’ve kept the same roster from Spring Split to Summer Split, they still struggle with consistency. It’s hard to say whether they’ll keep taking wins off LCS stalwarts like Cloud 9, but this roster is ready to make Golden Guardians a playoff contender.