Europe has historically been the territory of G2 Esports’ League of Legends team. The storied organisation has claimed a record eight European titles and are also the only western team to have won a Mid-Season Invitational (MSI).
Heading into this year, G2 were on the back of four consecutive playoff titles in the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and had just signed legendary botlaner Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson from arch-rivals Fnatic. The expectations couldn’t have been higher.
Things started well for the star-studded roster. G2 took first seed in the regular season with 14 wins and a stronger head-to-head record against Rogue. It wasn’t the perfect, undefeated split like many predicted, but the squad had done enough.
However, there was no time for the team to get comfy. G2 had a target on their backs as the rest of Europe aimed to make a statement at the reigning champions’ expense during the spring playoffs.
G2 were quickly met with a wake-up call in the opening round as they were almost defeated by Schalke 04 who pushed them to five games in a surprisingly tight series. The European champions had time to regroup but things went disastrously wrong as G2 were defeated by both Rogue and MAD Lions, eliminating them from even reaching the final. The entire competitive LoL scene was left shellshocked.
After a rare break, G2 will be feeling refreshed and extremely motivated to bounce back and show the world what this world-class roster is actually capable of. Especially with the World Championships edging ever closer.
Before the playoffs, Rekkles said on his personal Twitch stream that he wouldn’t mind getting “smashed” at MSI as it would mean the team could make big improvements in a bid to lift the Summoner’s Cup.
That challenge may have come earlier than expected, but increased domestic competition can only be a good thing for G2 at this point. A new generation of European talent has made the rest of Europe stand up and take notice – G2 will surely relish the task at hand.
The likes of MAD and Rogue are forcing the rest of the LEC to adapt and improve, which is exactly what G2 needs. It will take a push from talented rivals to ensure that this special group of players are able to reach their ceiling.
Rekkes is an incredible player, hence why he was voted European MVP of the Split for a record fourth time earlier this year. But it was always going to take time for the team to gel alongside him.
The loss of Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković to Cloud9 has undoubtedly left a void. The Croatian midlaner proved himself as one of the greatest western players of all time with an uncanny ability to perform in high-pressure situations.
His leadership and ingenuity with off-meta picks crafted G2 into the international powerhouse we know today. Stylistically, he and Rekkles are very different players, which is why comparisons between the two are unfair.
Perkz was constantly testing limits and pushing boundaries, bravely backing his own abilities in fifty-fifty fights that most would find too risky. Rekkles on the other hand, is the ultimate backup plan.
Rekkles is terrifyingly calculated. He remains safe and racks up tons of damage to become a potent late-game weapon no matter the circumstances. During the regular season, he recorded the lowest average deaths in Europe with an extraordinary rate of just one per game and crushed everybody else in KDA with a ratio of 12.6 – the next highest was Rogue’s Emil ‘Larssen’ Larsson’s tally of 7.8.
The dream for G2 is that they will be able to maintain their aggressive, proactive style to dominate the mid-game with Rekkles acting as a fail-safe should they be unable to close out the game early.
Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski admitted on his Twitch stream that G2 didn’t have a leader last split. It’s possible that the team had become complacent but those same mistakes won’t be made again.
Jankos has said he’s ready to step up as a leader and the other four players will have to do the same if they want to become Worlds contenders once again. With Perkz gone, other players will have to become the team’s creative beacon.
When a team of G2’s quality is given just a little more hunger, that tiny bit of extra motivation, the results can be terrifying. You would expect that G2 will be a force to be reckoned with at the next split.
Meet the rivals
If you had to choose any team that could come close to stopping them, it seems like MAD and Rogue are the only likely candidates.
After also struggling in spring, Fnatic have put their faith in top lane prodigy Adam ‘Adam’ Maanane while Gabriël ‘Bwipo’ Rau has astonishingly role swapped into the jungle. While Fnatic still have an extremely strong squad, it will be very tricky for them to build synergy quick enough to really challenge for the title.
Considering they narrowly missed out on the LEC trophy in spring, Rogue will be desperate to go one better with Kacper ‘Inspired’ Słoma and Larssen the stars of the team. Their semi-final victory was the only time the organisation has ever come out on top against G2, who are usually a stylistic miss-match for them.
The main team that G2 will be eyeing is MAD, who had an impressive showing in their MSI debut as they took a game off eventual winners Royal Never Give Up and forced the reigning World Champions DWG KIA to five games.
MAD are similar to G2 in that they love to fight and look for creative plays which makes their games quite the spectacle. Most games will come down to individual brilliance, giving G2 the perfect opportunity to remind the world of just how good they are.
While they will be bitterly disappointed to have dropped the ball in spring, the Summer Split has always been the most important time of the year as the Summoner’s Cup is the ultimate goal.
G2 have time to find synergy, get back to the level that everybody knows they’re capable of and then exceed that to become the most dominant team in Europe once again. The throne is there for the taking.