By Petar Vukobrat
April 24, 2019
In the face of many challenges, the G2 dynasty persevered. Europe is a region that was never dominated by many “kings.” Just two, in fact. Only two rosters filled with immense talent were able to conquer Europe and claim the throne for more than just a single split.
Getting to the top is easy — staying there presents a much tougher challenge. We know this not because of any testimony, nor because of the many battles waged on the LEC stage.
We know this because only three teams throughout history were able to lift the LEC trophy.
If we exclude Alliance and their one-off victory, we are left with just two teams: Fnatic and G2 Esports, two giants that have reigned supreme, regardless of meta. When we analyze the path towards victory, it’s hard not to stand in awe at what they have accomplished over the years.
The many trials and tribulations that the average competitive League of Legends season provides is downright staggering. The many meta shifts, the new and exciting champions being released on a regular basis, the many great threats across the region — the challenges are aplenty. Staying competitive requires absolute commitment and a bafflingly large amount of practice.
So when G2 Esports decided to swap out two of their players after reaching Top 4 at the World Championship, a lot of people got worried.
It seemed like having such a subdued and utility-oriented bottom lane allowed Luka “Perkz” Perković and Martin “Wunder” Hansen to hard carry. After all, there is only a finite amount of gold that a team can attain and distribute. G2 knew that their bottom lane was going to pull their weight, and even though they were never going to blow their opponents out of the water, they would never lose the game either. It was a solid middle ground.
Then, during an off-season that will long be remembered for its sheer amount of insanity, G2 Esports decided to not only sign Rasmus “Caps” Winther, arguably the best and most successful Western mid laner in history, but also move Perkz over to the bottom lane.
People weren’t sure if this was an elaborate April Fool’s joke or not. It seemed fishy. After all, it was December. But G2 wasn’t kidding. Not in the slightest. As if reaching the World Championship semifinals wasn’t enough, they wanted to have the biggest off-season signing as well. A signing that blew everyone’s mind.
But by moving Perkz to the bottom lane, they would essentially end up with three exceptional carries on their roster, and that seemed great, at least on paper. Fans had reason to be worried – maybe a team with three exceptional treats is pushing things too far?
We’ve seen such huge undertakings fail more often than not. Multiple top-tier “super teams” were assembled over the years, and yet all of them failed to leave a mark on the international stage.
Teams would end up with too many exceptional players “under one roof,” each and every one of them expecting to assume the role of a “carry,” and too many egos and potentially differing ideas on how the game should be played. It was a big risk, regardless of the way we look at it.
But then again, G2 Esports got so far without a bottom lane that had any mechanical prowess — why not take a risk? Why not try something new and see if it works out? It’s not like they had a lot to lose.
They could have lost a bit of power if things went awry, but they had already reached their full potential, and getting “just” to Top 4 at Worlds wasn’t going to cut it. Not for a team of this caliber.
Not for G2.
You could see the inherent potential present within their 2018 line-up. They reached similar heights as Fnatic but with a roster many deemed to be considerably worse. There was only one small piece of the puzzle missing.
And they found it sooner rather than later.
Now, no one actually doubted G2 Esports’ strength coming into the 2019 Spring Split. No one was really saying “they’re going to implode.” After all, such a statement would make no sense after just a quick glance at their starting five-man roster — veteran after veteran, prodigy after prodigy.
G2’s line-up was downright staggering. After seeing it, you’d probably rub your eyes, thinking it was a mirage of sorts. After realizing that they really do have such a disgustingly strong line-up, you’d start laughing at the remaining nine teams.
“They have to compete against this?”
Then you’d feel a bit sorry. How could you not? Who in their right minds would want to go up against two of the best and most accomplished Western mid laners — on the same team? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Many teams struggled to contain even one of these incredible prodigies. Surely they won’t stand a chance against two?
That’s what G2 thought as well. And they were right.
G2 started the 2019 Spring Split off with a bang: dominating, unrelenting, commanding. Any superlative you can come up with, chances are, it can be applied to G2 Esports. Their recent run was nothing short of spectacular. No matter how the meta developed, no matter who stood in their way, G2 was exceptional in all facets of play.
They were so incredibly strong on an individual level that they didn’t even need to play as a five-man unit in order to win. Each and every lane would snowball out of control sooner rather than later.
Once the mid and later stages of the game came around, they were ahead by such a wide margin that almost every game ended as a blowout.
While they did have a short period of weakness near the end of the split, it turned out they were just deliberately slowing down in order to preserve their strength for the playoffs. They needed just two quick Best of 5 matches against Origen (and six dominant games in total) to lift the LEC trophy and finally reclaim what was once rightfully theirs.
Perhaps their biggest strengths, other than their sheer mechanical prowess, are their willingness to play on the razor’s edge and their readiness to go for an ill-advised play or team comp and still execute. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in Europe.
They have so much trust in one another, and that allows them to go for plays no other team would. Plus, they’re pretty crazy, both individually and as a five-man unit. How does one counter or prepare for a team that’s capable of doing anything both in-game as well as in the pick and ban phase?
They played meta against Origen in game one and a funnel team comp in game two. We haven’t seen that since the 2018 Summer Split, and yet G2 played it flawlessly. The margin for error was non-existent, and yet it didn’t matter.
Game three was a bit more standard, but seeing how they drafted multiple power picks and played them to perfection, it came as no surprise that they were able to set the record for the fastest game in LEC history.
Then again, eighteen minutes does feel unreal. Origen could barely activate the surrender vote, and yet their Nexus was already crumbling. Saying that it was “dominant” would be an understatement. G2 Esports battered Origen at will as if they were a bunch of amateurs and not the second-best team in the region.
The subtitle above sounds like a disgusting cliché, but bear with me. One of the reasons why Caps decided to leave Fnatic wasn’t because they had reached their full potential. They haven’t. He left because he wasn’t having fun any longer.
He pointed out on multiple occasions that Fnatic players aren’t exactly friends outside of the game, nor do they want to be.
They’re on friendly terms, but anything beyond that is out of the question. They have a somewhat cold, professional approach towards everything they do. And that’s fine. It’s just not something that Caps was content with. He wanted to have fun; he’s a professional gamer, after all. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more alluring and enjoyable career. Why not enjoy it fully while it lasts?
This “friendship” aspect brings us to another key point.
The only reason why Caps was able to move over to G2 Esports was because of Perkz’s willingness to vacate the mid lane position. Now, someone might say, “Well, why wouldn’t he? Caps is arguably better.”
That’s beside the point. Perkz has been playing League of Legends at the highest of levels for years now. He’s a legend in his own right and, as demonstrated by his performance against Royal Never Give Up last Worlds, he’s still in his prime. An absolute beast in every regard.
He’s also a competitor — one that’s incredibly skilled at the game. Giving up a role that made him famous across the globe in order to enable the team and propel them towards greatness is a sign of not just a spectacular team player but of a mature human being as well.
G2 Esports’ founder Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez perhaps put it best:
Perkz was set up for long-term success. He could’ve rested on his laurels and kept playing in the mid lane for years, occupying the most respected and valuable role in the game. He could have gone blow-for-blow with Caps in an effort to preserve his renowned “lane kingdom.”
But in doing so, he would waste time. He would partake in an endless fight from which no one would emerge as a clear-cut winner.
Instead, Perkz wanted more. He wanted to reach higher, and he could only do so with an equally skilled ally by his side. Because of his willingness to take a step back and allow others to shine, he enabled his team to grow and reach heights no one thought was possible.
G2 went for a seismic undertaking during the off-season. They decided to make a roster swap that, in all reality, could have backfired immensely. Many teams don’t have the financial backing, let alone the courage and willingness to go for such a rotation.
But G2 is no such team.
There are so many ways this whole shebang could have misfired, and yet it didn’t, and that’s the only thing that matters. If anything, the way G2’s overarching narrative unfolded taught us one important thing — the best narratives aren’t the ones that have a distinct beginning and end. They evolve over time.
For a good while, it seemed like G2’s reign over Europe came to an end. There were other teams more aggressive and more capable. They never left the top of the region, but even seeing them in second place felt strange, in a way. They had become the ultimate gatekeepers — miles ahead of anyone below them but noticeably weaker than Fnatic.
But time, as they say, is cyclical. There are patterns and moments that go back and forth, occurrences that keep repeating. Once Fnatic assembled a frighteningly strong line-up, it seemed as though we’d entered a new era. But the G2 dynasty persevered — and we’re all kind of feeling stupid for ever doubting them.
By dominating the region once again, they have not only reclaimed what was once rightfully theirs, but they left no question unanswered. There’s no doubt remaining. We know they’re the best team in the region bar none. We know they’re exceptional in all facets of play. We know they’re unhinged and immensely talented. But perhaps most importantly, we know they still haven’t realized their full potential.
That, in and of itself, is absolutely frightening.
In the end, the G2 dynasty persevered, and our new overlords have managed to reach astonishing heights with incredible ease. Seventy-four minutes, in fact, was all they needed to outclass their opponents in front of thousands of roaring fans in Rotterdam.
And so we are left to wonder. How high could the G2 dynasty go? Fortunately, we won’t have to wait for long to find out. By winning the 2019 LEC Spring Split, they booked a direct ticket to the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational and will clash against some of the best teams in the world.
It’s an incredible chance for G2 Esports to test their might against giants of fairly equal strength.