Golden Guardians had one of the only off-season roster changes, by acquiring Mickey and releasing Hai. Most fans viewed this decision as underwhelming, because Mickey still had not proven himself on the North American stage. GGS finished last in the 2018 Spring Split, and Deftly, specifically, was viewed as a weaker AD carry in the league.
Entering week two of the LCS Summer Split, GGS sat among six teams tied for third at 1-1. Their first match for week two pitted them against a struggling Cloud9, also tied for third. The professional league moved onto patch 8.12, removing Banner of Command and systemically nerfing supportive shielding.
Neither team prioritized marksmen in the initial ban phase, as GGS banned Morgana, Nocturne, and Irelia, while C9 banned Taliyah, Camille, and Rakan. With first pick, GGS locked in Braum, an intriguing flex-pick. He can act as a traditional bottom lane option, or he can act as a roaming support to funnel gold into a mid laner with Smite. C9 responded with a flex-pick of their own: Shen, which can play top lane or support. They also chose Ezreal as their bottom laner.
GGS picked Kai’Sa and Yasuo to round out their first phase. These champions can play in several roles, making it impossible for C9 to predict. C9 took Swain for their third pick, before banning Graves and Sejuani. GGS took out top laners Aatrox and Gangplank, trying to force the Shen pick into top. Evelynn locked in for Svenskeren, but GGS finalized their composition with Ornn and Alistar, signaling a mid-Smite Kai’Sa gold funnel strategy. Tahm Kench was C9’s final pick, creating a more standard composition. Finally, Mickey and Deftly switch their Summoner Spells, revealing Deftly as the Kai’Sa and Mickey as the bottom lane Yasuo.
The Early Game
With gold funneling strategies, players need to maintain an extremely fast tempo. The support (Contractz’s Braum in this case) repeatedly roams with the carry (Deftly’s Kai’Sa) to absorb as much farm as possible. They start in the jungle to clear a buff, then the duo rotates back to mid lane to clear a wave. They move back into fog-of-war to kill monsters, then return to mid lane for the creeps. The goal is to feed Kai’Sa as much gold as possible, as quickly as possible.
GGS got off to a good start, as they successfully invaded C9’s jungle and stole the red buff. Meanwhile, Mickey’s Yasuo gained solo experience in the bottom lane one-versus-two. Over the first 10 minutes, GGS held a steady pace. However, C9 secured an Infernal Drake without contest and First Blood in bottom lane. These advantages amounted to nearly 1,000 gold lead for C9. Deftly was holding a 27 CS lead over Goldenglue, which was his main objective.
C9 attempted two bottom lane dives in the first 15 minutes. Keith and Zeyzal pushed Mickey and Matt under turret, Svenskeren hung out nearby, GGS engaged, then Licorice used Shen ultimate to enter the fight. The dive at 9:30 gave Licorice First Blood by killing Mickey. At 12:55, Mickey engaged with Yasuo ultimate again, killing Keith. With bottom and mid lane pushing in, C9 secured another Infernal Drake.
The game really blew open when Goldenglue and Svenskeren shut down Deftly in the mid lane around 16 minutes. Contractz and Deftly did not respect the Swain’s ultimate damage, resulting in a dead Kai’Sa and a nearly dead Braum. C9 took bottom and mid lane turrets as well. In theory, these advantages should slow down GGS’ funnel strategy.
However, GGS secured the top lane turret, Rift Herald, and a pair of kills for their carries. With C9 down two members, GGS dropped the Herald mid lane to knock down the turret and back off. They reduced C9’s advantage back down to 1,000 gold.
Around 23 minutes, with Baron spawned, GGS engaged onto C9 near the pit. They took down an isolated Zeyzal, but C9 completely out-executed the fight, killing Deftly again, Contractz, and Matt. C9 secured the Baron, as well.
Focusing on the Deftly, he helped burst down Tahm Kench, but got flanked by Evelynn with Shen’s ultimate channeling onto her. Using Killer Instinct, Deftly re-positioned, but Svenskeren landed Evelynn’s charm, pulling Kai’Sa back briefly. Deftly Flashed to avoid Shen’s taunt, but it still got Contractz and Matt, isolating the Kai’Sa. Lourlo tried to use Ornn’s ultimate to give Deftly space, but none of the crowd control could stop Goldenglue’s Swain ultimate from obliterating GGS. This fight shows how much the gold-funneled carry relies on his teammates to protect them and help navigate fights.
C9’s Baron buff allowed them to siege the mid lane, pigeonholing Deftly and crew to defend their turret. This type of pressure essentially pincers the funnel system, since C9’s players can steal all of GGS’ jungle camps. To compound the issue, Svenskeren’s Evelynn could be anywhere. Her Demon Shade camouflages Svenskeren, denying GGS any vision of him. Their carries cannot venture from under their turrets, for fear of assassination, even when C9 took their third Infernal Drake.
The Late Game
Over the next four minutes, GGS did their best to funnel all of the minions and monsters into Deftly. At 27 minutes, he led Goldenglue by 37 CS. By minute 31, he had a +53 CS difference. Kai’Sa had finished three full items, including Deathcap.
Around 32 minutes, C9 snared Contractz, prompting a fight. This time, GGS held up pretty well in a four-versus-four situation, with Licorice’s Shen ult getting interrupted by Lourlo. Svenskeren lost his life, but C9 regrouped and started Baron. GGS used almost all of their crowd control to lock down Svenskeren from Smiting, but Deftly was too far away to contest. Deftly finished off Licorice, bringing him to a 2-2-2 scoreline, and rotating to secure the Mountain Drake.
The turning point of the entire game happened at 35 minutes, when Svenskeren attempted an assassination on Matt’s Alistar. GGS completely denied him entry, while killing the Evelynn through Shen’s shield instead. Lourlo’s Ornn ultimate separated Keith from the rest of the team, allowing Deftly to Killer Instinct and burst him. These kills helped GGS delay the game even more.
Svenskeren tried the submarine engage again, with Shen channeling Stand United on him. The charm-taunt landed, but Deftly re-positioned behind Mickey and Contractz and survived. He secured a double kill, and GGS charged up the mid lane. After GGS knocked down the inhibitor and Elder Drake, C9 rushed onto the Baron pit. They secured the objective, but, with Mickey and Deftly on full, Ornn-upgraded builds, the buff provided mostly anti-siege. GGS rotated between bottom, middle, and top lane, taking turrets and resetting.
GGS knew they had the upper hand, so they moved to pressure Baron. C9 could not even get close before Deftly Smote, and GGS turned to fight while Licorice pushed bottom lane. None of C9’s players could touch Deftly, and he took down Svenskeren and Goldenglue without issue. C9’s remaining three members opted to Tahm Kench ultimate to push bottom lane, but Deftly and Contractz were too quick. They took the Nexus and ended the match.
This week two match-up between GGS and C9 pitted two different strategies against each other. GGS drafted a gold-funneling strategy revolving around Deftly’s Kai’Sa, while C9 attempted to shut it down. Goldenglue’s Swain provided enough early wave-clear to deny as much mid lane farm as possible. Svenskeren’s Evelynn and Licorice’s Shen provided layered crowd control with global assassination potential for catching out the hyper carry. Keith and Zeyzal’s Ezreal-Kench bottom lane offered two more global ultimates with the potential to Devour a low-health ally and execute a low-health enemy.
C9’s counter-strategy worked for the first 35 minutes. But once GGS hit the tipping point, it fell apart. Svenskeren and Licorice could not pull off their submarine engage through Braum, Alistar, and Ornn. GGS met their win condition – get Kai’Sa to full build.
Deftly fell victim to C9’s engage a couple of times, but his positioning with the rest of GGS adapted. This match also demonstrates how much hyper-carries rely on the cooperation of their teammates.
Poor engage or disengage from Contractz, Matt, or Lourlo spelled death and failure for GGS. Luckily, the team coordinated properly and secured the win over C9.