The Golden Guardians are still locked in the relay for a potential playoff spot, but they will need to avoid another 0-2 week to punch their ticket to the post-season. The Guardians are sitting in sixth place along with Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves, both of whom people wrote off at the start of the season as bottom feeders. Only one of those teams can make the make it through in the sixth-place spot. With the top five of the league seemingly set with all five of those teams, TSM, CLG, Optic Gaming, Cloud9 and Team Liquid, two games removed from the three team pack.
This is make or break time. The Guardians need at least two wins to meet the win total that Echo Fox had as the sixth seed last split at 8-10.
Week 7 Recap
The Guardians played TSM in the first day of Week 7. The team came out with an early lead, wining early fights and executing dives thanks to Henrik “Froggen” Hansen’s Twisted Fate pick up. He made fantastic use of the Twisted Fate ultimate, showing up all over the map to make plays for his team. The Guardians even picked up an early Baron but couldn’t overcome the two Baron steals that TSM pulled off and the grievous wounds their carries could dish out.
Thanks to Sergen “Broken Blade” Sergen and Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg pick up of Executioner’s Calling and Morellonomicon, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell’s Aatrox was held at bay in team fights. The Guardians came out of day one with a heavy loss and looked dejected in the post-game screen.
Day 2 wasn’t much better for the yellow-clad paladins. They faced off against the top team in the league, Team Liquid. This played out like a regular scripted win for Liquid, an early lead that turns into a mid-game team fight win, Baron, then a Nexus destruction. Not even the off-meta Talon pick up by Froggen was enough to shake the number one team’s resolve. The Guardians bottom lane was especially underwhelming this game, Victor “FBI” Huang and Jae-Hyun “Huhi” Choi finished with a KDA of .58. This is why teams don’t give Liquid the Xayah Rakan duo anymore.
Week 8 Day One: 100 Thieves
This is a huge matchup for the Guardians, putting distance between them and 100 Thieves is how they can get closer to their goal of playoffs. The last time the Guardians faced off against the Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider led team. They won in a convincing fashion after a few missed plays by the Thieves in the early game that set them back too much to come back. Now the Thieves are one a run, winning three of their last four games, even taking a game off Optic Gaming.
The matchup that is going to decide the game is the bottom lane. Will FBI and Huhi make it out of the lane with a lead and can they stay relevant in team fights. In recent games, the duo has worked well together with the Guardians jungler, Juan “Contractz” Garcia, to set up dives in the bottom lane and come away with kills. The duo does struggle to fight with the team, with FBI getting caught out or not contributing as much damage as he could during fights and Huhi’s propensity to be the first player to die in every fight. This duo will have to test their metal against an in-form Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black who have looked more coordinated and aggressive in lane as the weeks have gone by.
Week 8 Day Two: Optic Gaming
Another top five powerhouse, Optic gaming are coming off a 2-0 week after beating fourth place TSM and tenth place Echo Fox in the previous week. Before that, the team was in a bit of a slump, losing to three bottom five teams in a row. This is a game that the Guardians could conceivably steal, they did take down top five CLG two weeks ago.
Last time these teams played, the Guardians came away with a loss thanks to a terrific performance by Optic jungler William “Meteos” Hartman. He shadowed Contractz all around the map and was there to counter almost every gank the Guardians tried to pull off. This matchup will have the biggest impact on the game, whether Contractz can counteract the pressure Meteos can put out. The champions picked are also going to have a huge impact on how this matchup plays out. Sylas should be a contested pick and expect Sejunai to be banned since both junglers have used it extensively to great success.
I think the Guardians are going to go 0-2 this week. The rest of the league has surpassed them in learning the meta game and gelling the chemistry of their teams. This is the make or break week for the Guardians, and I think they are going to break.
Follow Declan on Twitter: @DickyMclaughlin