The challenges G2 Esports face in the knockout stage at Worlds 2020
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G2 Esports battled their way through the group stage and now face more tough opposition ahead in the knockout stages of the 2020 League of Legends World Championship.
There are never any easy matches in the knockout stage of the League of Legends World Championship and that appears to be even more true than usual this year. All eight teams remaining in the tournament are stacked, with three from China, three from Korea and two from Europe, so there's absolutely no room for error as we move forward. G2 Esports, Europe’s best hopes for glory, have actually been given a kinder draw than most and will be up against Gen.G in their quarter final match on Sunday, October 18 in Shanghai, China.
Historically, G2 have struggled against Chinese teams at Worlds. In 2018 they lost to eventual champions Invictus Gaming in the semi finals and of course last year they were defeated in the grand final by FunPlus Phoenix. They’ll be thankful therefore that there are no LPL teams on their side of the bracket this year. If they’re going to face a Chinese side, it’ll have to be in the final, but getting there will be easier said than done.
Although Korean teams haven’t been as dominant at Worlds over the past few years, they still pose a major threat. Gen.G are considered one of the weaker LCK teams left in the competition, but when you look at the line-up, it’s hard to see why. Each of their players has a lot of experience in Korea and in the bot lane you have Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk, who was part of the 2017 Worlds-winning Samsung Galaxy team.
There are tough match-ups all over the map, but Luka ‘Perkz’ Perkovic and Mihael ‘Mikyx’ Mehle will have their work cut out, bottom. It’s been an up and down tournament for Perkz so far, but he's often looked the most likely to carry his team, even when they’ve lost. He only died once in their epic 44-minute tiebreaker against Suning and it was only a clutch Gangplank barrel explosion that took him and Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther out of the final team fight that cost them the game.
Perkz has a lot of experience and although Ruler will be a formidable opponent, perhaps they can take advantage of the relative inexperience of Kim ‘Kellin’ Hyeong-gyun – who's never played at Worlds before this year – and get ahead in the match.
In general, G2 have been team fighting well, but their macro game has been lacking in their losses. Teams are often getting ahead in terms of Dragon and Baron control and as we head further into the tournament, G2 are only going to be punished further if they can’t improve in these areas. In the past, G2 have been seen as the meta innovators, however at Worlds 2020, they’re still playing a bit of catch-up.
Luckily for G2, all of the teams in the tournament have lost at least one game so far, so no one is unbeatable. They’ll be especially buoyed by the fact that Gen.G’s single loss in the group stage came at the hands of Fnatic. G2 have had the beating of Fnatic on several occasions in recent years, so should fancy their chances. Plus, while Chinese teams have been G2’s kryptonite recently, they’ve performed very well against Korean teams at international tournaments.
Caps has been considered one of the top mid-laners in the world for a while now and may even have the edge over Gwak ‘Bdd’ Bo-seong on Sunday. Gen.G’s mid-laner has had a solid tournament so far, but hasn’t really dominated his lane opponents. Instead, it’s usually been Ruler who's carried the team, with Bdd as back up. Martin ‘Wunder’ Nordahl Hansen will also be looking to take the initiative against Kim ‘Rascal’ Kwang-hee, who hasn’t had as much impact from the top lane as he would’ve liked so far.
G2 last faced Gen.G jungler Kim ‘Clid’ Tae-min around this time last year. Back then he was in the T1 line-up that G2 knocked out of Worlds 2019 in the semi finals. So, Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski should be well versed in how Clid plays and may have the mental edge in the match-up, having come out on top less than 12 months ago.
If G2 do make it through to the semi finals, they’ll be up against either DAMWON Gaming or DRX. Either way it’ll be a Korean team and based on form so far, DAMWON would be the likely opponents. Before the tournament, they were perceived as the strongest LCK team coming in and they looked almost unbeatable in the group stage. Their one loss did come at the hands of JD Gaming, however their number one seed had already been decided by that point, so there was nothing on the line in the game.
On the other side of the bracket, tournament favourites Top Esports from China are the team most likely to make it through to the final. They dominated the LPL this summer and have also looked on top form at Worlds so far, despite a surprising loss to FlyQuest. However, with the remaining teams as strong as they are, nothing is guaranteed. An ideal final for European fans would, of course, be against Fnatic, with these two teams having a long and storied rivalry.
The only thing for sure is that the next few weeks will be filled with the highest quality League of Legends play. G2 fell only at the final hurdle in 2019 and this year they’ll be desperate to finally take that World Championship trophy home.