G2 Esports: The cracks are showing after two surprising defeats
After the opening three weeks of the League of Legends European Championship, G2 Esports appeared almost unbeatable. First of all, they boasted an impeccable 6-0 win-loss record. Furthermore, they had comfortably seen off Fnatic, a team widely regarded as their strongest competition. All discussion about who would ultimately top the LEC spring split table had ceased, obviously it would be G2!
However, just one week later, the picture had changed drastically. Misfits had taken down the European champions in a convincing display of superiority. What’s more, supposed no-hopers Schalke 04 shocked Europe by emerging victorious in a 42-minute thriller against G2.
The Berlin-based outfit has now lost its spot at the top of the standings. But how did it happen?
Week 4 Game 1 – Misfits
Their first match of week 4 was against Misfits. It started well enough; an effective response by Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski to a botched Misfits tower dive netted G2 an early lead. Not to be outdone, Misfits’ jungler Iván “Razork” Martín Díaz moved straight to the top lane, where he executed another early tower dive. On this occasion, Jankos was not present to foil Razork, allowing Misfits to pick up a kill on Martin “Wunder” Hansen.
Nevertheless, G2 seemed to be coming out on top in the early exchanges. That is, until their bottom laner Rasmus “Caps” Winther overstepped his mark, gifting a free kill to Misfits. This was to be a game-long trend for the hapless Caps, who racked up an impressive nine deaths. Ultimately, it was a combination of Caps’ poor performance, the inability of G2 to effectively utilize Wunder’s Sona in the top lane, and an outstanding performance from Misfits’ Razork which led the boys in gray and white to their first defeat. While a loss to Misfits was undoubtedly disappointing for G2, it pales in comparison to what came next.
Week 4 Game 2 – Schalke 04
Schalke 04, G2’s second opponents of the week, were a team in shambles. Their win-loss record was 0-7. Multiple roster changes had done nothing to improve the team’s performances, and they seemed destined to battle it out with Vitality for the last place in the standings. The match between the two organizations ought to have been a morale boost for G2 after their first loss of the season.
It was not to be. Alarm bells started ringing almost immediately as a botched tower dive in the bottom lane saw Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle give up first blood. It was another nine minutes before G2 managed their first kill. Fight after fight went the way of Schalke. G2 was able to cling on through clever macro gameplay, and when they took Baron after only 20 minutes it seemed as though they would be able to pull through. However, every team fight was still going Schalke’s way. It was a battle of G2’s brains versus Schalke’s brawn. The game drew on, with neither team landing a knockout punch.
The climax of the match was appropriately chaotic. First, G2’s midlaner Luka “PERKZ” Perković attempted to sneak into Schalke’s base through the backdoor. Schalke sent three players to deal with him, while G2’s Wunder joined this particular theater of battle. Meanwhile, Perkz’ play was mirrored by Schalke’s own midlaner, Felix “Abbedagge” Braun. With the aid of Han “Dreams” Min-kook, Abbedagge dismantled G2’s defense. Back on the other side of the map, Perkz and Wunder had both perished at the hands of Schalke’s own defense. All that was left was for Abbedagge and Dreams to destroy G2’s nexus.
The match is a lifeline for Schalke, but it raises serious questions about the assumption that G2 is the best team in the LEC. Against Misfits, G2 fans could point to Caps’ bad game, or to the choice to run Sona in the top lane. Against Schalke, there are no such excuses. There was no anomalous performance like that of Caps against Misfits, nor did G2 draft an unusual team comp.
In order to prove their strength, G2 will want to demolish Excel Esports and MAD Lions in week 5. If they don’t, their competitors will start to smell blood in the water.
Jacob is an undergraduate student at the University of St Andrews. Originally from East Sussex, he loves writing (and sometimes shouting) about esports.