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League of Legends

Ignoring the Warning Signs: G2’s Unfortunate End to the Spring Season

G2 Esport Week 3 Recap

Déjà vu.

For the second time in his career, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is experiencing a tragic end to his first split with a team not named Fnatic. The blame isn’t being pointed his way – rightfully so, given his MVP performance this split — but it is interesting to look at. A player that is widely considered to be the best in his role in LEC history joined arguably the best franchise in LEC history. It was seen as a much needed upgrade.

Yet the team wasn’t able to put all of the pieces together. Their regular season would feature the same G2 chaos that made them such an incredibly fun team to watch but wouldn’t be as dominant. Their 14-4 record earned them a first-place regular season finish but the LEC’s “top of the pack” seemed to have taken a stepdown.

There’s no way G2 Esports don’t represent Europe at MSI.

Well, they aren’t. An incredible run by the organization is over. And it was predictable.

The Warning Signs

G2’s 2020 Summer Split performance was their worst since 2018 Spring. An 11-7 record secured them third place in the regular season but it was the first real crack in their armor. Luka “Perkz” Perković would miss time to focus on family but when he would return, he would struggle in the marksman role. Rasmus “Caps” Winther would shine in his return to the mid-lane — winning the LEC MVP — but he appeared to be the only bright spot for a lot of that split. He would be the only G2 representative on the first team LEC All-Pro team.

Investing into Caps to carry would lead them to a LEC title once again. Unlike the regular season, where he would have a higher percentage of his team’ damage in losses compared to wins, he was able to put his team on his back. Averaging 30.5% of his team’s damage and 677 damage per minute in wins, G2 were able to shrug off criticism and return to Worlds as the first seed from Europe.

G2 wasn’t trying in the regular season and only cared about making it to Worlds.

Their bottom lane struggled to adapt to a more conventional meta – which in hindsight, wasn’t all Perkz’s fault but could be attributed to errors from Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle. Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski and Martin “Wunder” Hansen would have good regular seasons but would really return to their expected form in the play-offs.

Performing admirably at Worlds helped their case. Losing to the eventual tournament winners DAMWON Gaming in the semi-finals and finishing second in a group against runner-up Suning helped a lot. G2 were relying on their outstanding team-fighting and it was working until it wasn’t. With DAMWON kicking them out in commanding fashion, it was time for a change.

The Kevin Durant Problem

Kevin Durant will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of professional basketball. There are no questions about it. But what makes him such a frustrating player is how he approaches the game. It is incredibly difficult to guard him, he elevates his team whenever he is on the court.

But he hates being the front man.

In a way, it is understandable. Its a lot of pressure. You don’t want to be that person that gets the glory in the wins but the guilt when the team losses. It also takes a lot of weight off of his shoulders to carry the team to the finish line. While KD has done it multiple times, what makes him more valuable is when he is able to follow the natural flow of the offense, rather than bringing the ball up the court every single possession.

Rekkles kind of has this problem. He’s not the player that will ever playdown towards his team but needs his team to play up. It is what made the move to G2 a lot more reasonable than his previous move to Alliance. G2 were five mechanically gifted players that sometimes-had incredible macro plays. Alliance were a team that needed four players to play into Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. When it worked, they won a title. When they changed the formula, they collapsed.

Rekkles deserved the MVP this split for what he was able to accomplish. Realizing that G2 had more problems than Perkz’s performance as a marksman shouldn’t fall onto his shoulders.

Still The Right Choice

Rekkles can play with a weaker economy than Perkz. His regular season average in creeps post fifteen minutes and his average percentage of his team’s economy was 1.8% and 0.3% lower that Perkz’s 2020 Summer Split average.

But the economy shift wasn’t going into the hands of Caps. It was going into the hands of Jankos – who would see an increase in his percentage of the team’s economy by 3% and an increase in his percentage of his team’s creeps post fifteen minutes by 3.8%. It wouldn’t impact the damage numbers as much — with Rekkles and Caps being first and second across all of the LCS in damage per minute numbers, but it was a strange shift. Rekkles lived up to the expectations set out for him. He played what was meta, held his own in lane and participated in 8% more kills than Perkz.

They would also see minor improvements in their early game. They would improve their average gold lead at fifteen minutes by +428. And they would record better first turret rates (+11%), first herald rate (+1%) while still averaging a 61% first dragon rate. Their kill-to-death ratio would improve by 0.32 points, their dragon control rate would improve by 15% and their baron control rate would improve by 25%.

By all means, this G2 lineup is better than last year’s lineup.

They Just Weren’t Who We Thought They Were.

A large problem sometimes isn’t the most important problem that needs to be addressed. Despite an improvement in the bottom lane, G2 still experienced similar problems: losing early game, not finding a way back into the game with a team fight. The sample size might have decreased – going from seven losses to four but when G2 are still losing due to early game struggles and not being able to fight back into games, it probably should be addressed.

When is a Coaching Change Needed

Members of G2 have spoken out about this being a “wake-up call.” This shouldn’t have been the wake-up call – it should have been getting stomped by DAMWON. The warning lights were already blinking.

Coaching changes often are made as a result of a change in direction. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the coach is bad or that a coach doesn’t know what they are doing, a roster may just need a change of scenery. It is why it feels different to have the same teacher in high school versus when you had them in middle school.

Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann and company have been incredible in allowing great players do great things. He’s been with the team since December of 2017. His reputation is relatively untouchable, he’s a legend of the scene.

But it should be questioned whether he can lead the team through this setback. Another change is clearly needed. Their ability to survive in a relatively low maintenance environment for as long as they did was impressive. While there has been clear influence from the coaching staff regarding strategy and discussion about G2’s game, a new voice can make a difference. Whether that is on the rift or off of it, we’ll find out.

An Active Break

Fixing their issues won’t be easy but then again, its G2. Managing to turn water into wine is something they are capable of. They have an impressive coaching staff and without a doubt, have the talent to perform. Its just a question of can they figure it out.

The rest of the league appears to be getting back into form. The middle of the pack continues to improve. And more importantly, young teams are developing.

A third-place finish isn’t anything to scoff at, but it is not G2. Having two of the best players in the league on your team, along with a prestigious history, means higher expectations. Missing the mark isn’t really something to laugh at anymore. G2 can’t just laugh this off on social media, something that they’ve been really good about in the past.

Or can they?

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