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In the end, the glass slipper just didn't quite fit for Golden Guardians. Despite an incredible and unexpected run, Golden Guardians came up short in their quest for their first split title in the LCS. Instead, Cloud9 powered to a 3-1 victory in a series that will be remembered for high emotions, a raucous crowd, and a missed opportunity for GG.

The Cinderella Story That Wasn't

If you were writing a cheesy 90's sports movie about esports, Golden Guardians would have been the heroes. A team that was expected to finish near the bottom of the standings suddenly goes on a crazy winning streak in the back half of the season, and somehow makes it into the playoffs. Then they keep winning games that they're supposed to lose, and suddenly they're in the Grand Finals.

It was oddly reminiscent of DRX's miraculous run at Worlds 2022. A team that had no business making it to the finals defies all expectations and defeats the juggernaut T1 to become world champions. For GG, they came up just a little bit short of replicating that feat in the LCS. 

Golden Guardians Have A Lot To Be Proud Of

Truly, they do. But no one wearing a 'F*** You' hat or shirt is going to sleep well tonight. Admit it, you were feeling the magic. Golden Guardians powered out to a huge lead in game one, but as has so often been the struggle for them this season and especially in the playoffs, they couldn't close it out. They allowed C9 to hang around too long, and as the best teams are wont to do, Cloud9 made them pay for it.

Golden Guardians powered back to take game 2, showing a ton of heart and perseverance to recover from the game 1 heart break, but that was as close as they would get. Cloud9 played solid in games 3 and 4, allowing Berserker and Zven to pick aggressively and carry. Emenes, in particular, played extremely well in game 4 on Leblanc.

Nevertheless, this split represents a remarkable accomplishment for Golden Guardians. For players like Huhi, Stixxay, and Licorice, this split was a statement that they're not done yet. River played extremely well in the series and throughout the playoffs, and Gori is likely to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. 

But There's A Big Difference Between Second And First

Ask any athlete and they'll tell you: No one is in it to take second. 

The players of the LCS are the best of the best in North America, and all 50 of them enter into every split with one goal in mind: raising the LCS trophy. Anything less than that is a failure. If that's not the goal, you don't belong in the league. 

So while it might seem like you're playing with house money when you perform so far above expectations, it's still a bitter taste in the mouths of Golden Guardians as they return back to the hotel tonight. 

Absolutely, they'll feel energized for the summer split, and they do still get to represent North America at the Mid-Season Invitational in May. But this one's going to hurt for awhile. What could have been if they had managed to close out game 1? What sort of momentum would they have ridden into a game 2 against a shell-shocked Cloud9?

Cloud9 And Golden Guardians To Represent North America At MSI

Despite the heartbreak, Golden Guardians will need to get right back to practicing. They've got a date with the MSI play-in stages come May. Cloud9 will also be making the trip over the London as North America's number one seed. 

After the matches, C9 boasted that they thought North America would make some noise internationally this year. That's been a familiar drum beat for about a decade, and it always has ended in the same fashion - disappointingly. 

Can Cloud9 or Golden Guardians win MSI? Well, a lot of people would have told you that Golden Guardians would never make the playoffs this split, so never say never. After all, if there's a better motto for the LCS than 'hope springs eternal', we have yet to see it.