Gragas Support, Yasuo Bot, Tristana Mid, Kha’Zix Top, Qiyana Jungle. No, this isn’t just the typical Silver Solo Queue team. Though they weren’t all in the same match, each of these picks were played by recent MSI champions and current first place LEC team, G2 Esports during the current split. Despite losing a few games, they still sit atop the standings and are still regarded by most as one of the best teams in the world. So are these picks just trolling and disrespect, or something a little more? Probably a little bit of both.
There is no getting around it, there is definitely an aspect of trolling going on with the team currently. After a loss with a heavily fan-influenced Garen Top Lane pick, questions were raised about how seriously they were taking some of their regular season games. This reached a peak when Martin “Wunder” Hansen and Rasmus “Caps” Winther played a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” on stage to determine who got to play Kha’zix in lane. While Wunder won the mini-game, he was the only member of G2 to come out of the day with any sort of victory, as they were crushed by Schalke 04.
Wunder wins the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" and gets to play Kha'Zix Top 🤣 pic.twitter.com/VDeAdTo5pS
— LEC (@LEC) August 16, 2019
Despite the carefree appearance, the fact is that a lot of teams have been opting for flex picks in their drafts this season, and then decide which is going where based on matchups once the teams are set. Without a clear advantage (Kha’zix’s passive and Akali’s Shroud can both be a big advantage during Mordekaiser’s Ult) it makes sense that teams can leave who plays what up to chance or a matter of preference, and a small game of chance can be considered a fun variation of this.
What is more telling of the real attitude of the team is how they play once the game gets started, and once they leave the fountain, G2 is always trying to win. Despite some different lineups, and Luka “Perkz” Perković himself admitting that they have a little fun on the rift, the sheer talent and explosiveness they posses means they are always a threat. No team can win every game, but the rarity of their losses paired with some unique picks can make the games where both occur stand out to viewers.
Another intriguing aspect of G2’s season that has drawn both praise and criticism is the fact that their players seem much less locked into their roles than other teams. Not only did Perkz switch from Mid to ADC when Caps joined the team, but he has had at least one professional game in each of the other roles as well. While some other teams might switch players around for a game or two, none come even close to this level of flexibility.
In fact, it is partially thanks to this unique approach to champion selection and team strategy that they have found such success. In an interview with team owner and founder Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago following their MSI victory, he discussed how they found success playing Pyke in the top lane, and other unique picks like that in their back pocket.
“A lot of stuff was practiced that you haven’t seen. It’s scary, I don’t know if my heart can take that, but the guys like to play their own stuff. They create their own league of legends, you know? Whatever is standard…I mean we play it, right? And we play it well. But we don’t believe there is stuff that just can’t be played against. So as a result, we tend to be very solution focused, and we end up finding counter picks to picks that are considered to be standard and comfortable. Not a single counter, but a setup type of counter.”
This attitude of practicing different styles and solutions to what they will be facing indicates that as a team, their focus is on mastering League of Legends overall, rather than each player focusing on just their role. While sometimes it fails them, much more often they are able to use this flexibility and variety to overcome whatever their opponents throw at them. Their high level of individual skill in each role affords them even more flexibility, and they make the most of it.
Yes, G2 choose some weird compositions and like to joke around on stage. But those who dismiss it all as “just trolling” are missing the bigger picture. They work hard off stage trying out unique answers to anything their opponents might throw at them, and have the skill to make these crazy comps work most of the time. It is this aspect of the organization that let them rise to the top at MSI, and is likely to keep them there unless other teams start taking notes.