The Golden Guardians are looking to take their momentum from Week 8, going 2-0, into Week 9 and making it to playoffs. The team created a crucial gap last week between them and two of the teams vying for a playoff spot, Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves, as well as pulling themselves even with Optic Gaming.
This burst of energy from the Guardians will need to be recreated in Week 9. They just need one win to reach the coveted 9-win threshold for playoffs while keeping something in the tank for a potential tiebreaker game. In terms of tiebreakers with the other three teams in the race, they have a 2-0 record over 100 Thieves, a 1-1 record on Optic creating a potential tie-breaking match and a 0-1 record against Clutch Gaming. Their game on Day 2 will decide their fate in a potential Clutch tiebreaker scenario, but other than that, the Guardians look in good shape.
With just one week to go, the Guardians are looking to cap off their most successful season ever with a playoff birth and a chance at worlds on the horizon.
100 Thieves Recap
The Guardians came into this game with a strong draft, getting Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell on the solo lane Tristana while also putting Henrik “Froggen” Hansen on Karthus. 100 Thieves started off the game with a decent lead, getting Aaron “FakeGod” Lee going on Kled with an early gank. The rest of the early game played out very slowly, the Guardians secured two Drakes, with only a small skirmish in top river to speak of in terms of action.
100 Thieves then decided to take a fight with the Guardians in the mid lane, Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider came out of the fog of war with Skarner and engaged on Victor “FBI” Huang. This was a game-losing blunder by Amazing as FBI had already bought a Quick Silver Sash and used it as intended, cleansing the Skarner ultimate.
From there the Guardians won the fight, rotated to Baron, secured Baron while taking a one-for-one fight over the objective from the depleted 100 Thieves. The Guardians opened up the enemy base, reset and then took 100 Thieves’ Nexus.
Optic Gaming Recap
The Guardians played a bot lane focused early phase this game, focusing on getting FBI a lead on Kaisa. They came away with a kill and gold lead in the early game, then floundered in the mid-game. Both teams were content with playing footsies around Baron, Optic would win a fight then get pushed off Baron and then the same thing would happen to the Guardians.
The game came down to one team fight initiated by Optic. Niship “Dhokla” Doshi flanked the Guardians and stunned and killed Froggen instantly. The fight then switched to the Guardians favor as they reengaged, and FBI found a kill on the back line.
From there, the Guardians took Baron, broke the base, reset then took the Nexus.
Day One: Cloud9
The stakes of this matchup are pretty high for both teams, with Cloud9 trying to secure a playoff bye and the Guardians trying to secure a playoff spot. The last time these two matched up, Cloud9 had the game in the bag and then threw it away in the mid-game as they overstepped and played too aggressively. The Guardians may have changed slightly since their last matchup, but Cloud9 has remained the same so far and could still make the same mistakes as they did before.
The big matchup to follow for this game will be the mid lane matchup, Froggen against Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer. Cloud 9 has been playing through the mid lane lately and always have Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen hovering around it. Froggen and company will have to whether that storm, then convert that into mid-game pressure and use it effectively.
Using that pressure effectively may be the hardest part of that key to success. The Guardians normally come out of the early game with a lead or at least close to even. They then either lose the game in overextending and being punished or win fights then take Baron and break the base to win the game.
For this game, they will need to do the latter to give themselves the best chance to win.
Day Two: Clutch Gaming
So much has changed for both teams since they last played that reviewing their last game is not worth the time nor the effort. What needs to be known going into this game is that Clutch has gotten all of their wins off the bottom teams and none off the top three. They are 0-6 against TSM, Cloud9 and Team Liquid and they split their series against CLG and Optic. So by the power of the transitive property, the Guardians did just beat Optic, they should split this series as well and win their final regular season game.
Jokes aside, this game is important and should fall on the shoulders of the top liners for both teams, Hauntzer laning against Her “Huni” Seung-hoon. Huni is the star of this Clutch team, drawing bans and drawing pressure from the enemy jungler. Putting Hauntzer in a preferable matchup, maybe throwing him on the tried and true Aatrox or another oddball pick like Tristana, will be key to throwing off Clutch’s rhythm in game.
I think the Guardians will go 1-1 this week and win whatever tiebreaker they might have to to make playoffs if so. This is has been a historic split and season for the Guardians so I can’t see the script calling for them to bow out in at the end of the second act.
Follow Declan on Twitter: @DickyMclaughlin