The opening day of the 2022 LCS Lock-In tournament will bring with it an unusual treat: Golden Guardians taking on the age-old North American titans Cloud9! Now, in all fairness, this is by no means the most exciting match-up one can imagine, but it’s fairly stellar nonetheless!
GGS will field a surprisingly competitive (albeit still inherently flawed) roster and are not to be trifled with whatsoever. And, frankly, just writing such a sentence makes one feel giddy and excited — they’ve been one of North America’s most respectable gatekeepers and had often managed to put up a far bigger fight than anyone thought was possible.
Their head coach Inero deserves a metric ton of praise. He never has a lot to work with, neither in terms of finances nor star power and yet he somehow always finds a way to make GGS competitive. 2022 should be no different in that regard. In fact, if things pan out as expected, we might witness one of the best and most threatening incarnations of GGS yet!
GGS — Much Better Than Expected
Licorice, Pridestalkr, Ablazeolive, Lost, and Olleh all under one banner? Color us intrigued! This is far from a perfect line-up, but it’ll nonetheless pack one heck of a punch. Licorice is still a phenomenal player, and much of the same can be said for Lost who, while nowhere near as experienced or revered, still has room to grow.
By the same token, Ablazeolive was actually one of the best-performing mids last split, and if he can continue on that trajectory he’ll stand a very good chance of upending the status quo and finally getting the kind of recognition he deserves.
The inclusion of Pridestalkr, a talented European jungler who’s been struggling to break through for years, is quite surprising — and we mean that in the best possible sense! GGS have obviously done their homework and are well aware of his talents. He might be a “feast or famine” kind of player, but one could argue that that’s precisely what GGS need — someone who’s going to dictate the pace of the game and force plays on the map right from the very get-go. So, needless to say, we can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the table!
— Golden Guardians (@GoldenGuardians) January 12, 2022
The only “question mark” is Olleh. Perhaps we’re being a bit too harsh here, but he’s been on quite the decline ever since his championship-winning days. Generally speaking, we’re confident in his ability to bounce back, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t say that he has a lot of work ahead of him.
He hasn’t played competitively since 2020 Spring, so it’s hard to envision a world in which he steps foot on stage and wrecks house. Be that as it may, he’ll surely be a big asset, in no small part because of his ability to shotcalling and overall veterancy.
All in all, we can’t wait for the Golden Guardians to spawn on the Rift and show us what they’re made of! No one’s expecting them to truly leave a mark once all is said and done, but they’ll nonetheless make things a lot more competitive than most of us had expected coming into 2022 — and that’s more than enough.
Cloud9 — An Unfortunate Start
If you were hoping to see Cloud9’s exciting new roster in action, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. COVID-19 has reared its head once again and has stopped C9 from fielding its intended starting line-up. As a result, all three of their Korean imports will reach North American soil no sooner than February, and the same goes for their revered head coach (and well-known esports personality) LS.
That’s… not exactly the kind of start they were looking for. Assembling such a peculiar roster is a risk in and of itself, and they’ll need all the time and help they can get in order to synergize and conjure up an identity to call their own. Not being able to compete as a five-man unit throughout the month of January means they’ll have a lot less time to get on the same page when compared to most of their peers. And that, in short, could prove to be quite a problem.
Fortunately for Cloud9, a good chunk of their Academy roster is more than up to the task. Darshan, Zven, and Isles will all sub in and, frankly, they’re bound to deliver. Heck, all three of them are former champions! Whether they have as much long-term potential as their Korean teammates is a debate for another time and place, but they’ll nonetheless give Cloud9 a puncher’s chance.
One could even go a step further and argue that they’ll make Cloud9 a fair bit stronger in the short term — or for as long as they are tasked to compete, to be more specific. They already have synergy with Blaber and Fudge, and there’s no language barrier either, so they’ll probably hit the ground running. This doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to succeed, but they stand a much better chance at leaving a mark than most folks realize.
We don’t think they’ll go the “whole nine yards” and upend the status quo, but they’ll nonetheless give 100 Thieves and Team Liquid a run for their money.
As for this match, specifically, there’s no surefire way of predicting what’ll happen. There’s really no other way to put it. Cloud9 have more potential on paper (even in their current, “gimped” form), but that doesn’t mean they’ll execute on the day and get the “W.”
Be that as it may, it’d be downright scandalous if they were to drop the ball here given the amount of talent and depth present within their roster. The Golden Guardians will surely put up a fight (to say the least), but they probably won’t be able to get the job done.
In any case, fireworks are all but guaranteed, so make sure to tune in!