Yes. Of course. That's what we do.
Anyway, I wanted to talk with you guys about the saviour that is EU: G2 Esports. Less than 2 weeks ago they showed the audience just how far ahead of the competition they actually are. YamatoCannon, Ender and Vedius both spoke highly of how G2 won over OG. They were fast, ruthless and maybe most importanly; creative. I was there as well in Rotterdam and remember having to drive home while it was still light outside, processing how exactly they got to be so domineering. G2 has amazing players, flexibility, teamplay and even creativity. When other teams move their knight in anticipation of a check, G2 punches the opponent, takes the king piece and eats it.
So after some careful deliberation, I did what I love doing: Write some pristine and unbiased analysis on the LEC finals. Partly to applaud G2, partly to hype EU at MSI and partly to try and
aggressively subtly market myself.
Let's get to it.
More specifically, I wanted to look at the drafts coming from G2 vs OG and not look at the how the games themselves unfolded (I only have 40k characters to work with!). I'll split them up under their respective number with an attached image of both pick and ban order. Hopefully, that'll illustrate just how scary a good draft actually is.
Even moreso against OG: A team that has been praised by various EU analysts and other teams for having an incredibly intelligent drafting process and, coincidentally, the coach of the split Guilhoto. And just to make sure, this piece is not about OG being bad. They have well deserved their place as the second strongest in Europe, as they showed on Saturday.
But somehow G2 made them look bad. How?
First movement, in SonaTa
In the first game of Sunday G2 has blue side, meaning they have first pick and no certain way of counterpick anything. Sona and Taric have been present in a lot of games these weeks, and it's at the back of every team's mind. But even though Sona/Taric is so strong, it has counters. Strong counters. OG knows this, since they countered Fnatic the day before with a Blitzcrank pick.
So to start things off, G2 bans Draven, a comfort pick for Patrik (and a strong pick versus Sona/Taric). Second and third they ban Karthus and Jarvan IV. Especially Jarvan is a solid ban here due to both Alphari and Kold having frequent games on the champion, whilst Wunder and Jankos have played him twice in the entire split. Karthus is just a strong champion for Kold. OG respond accordingly by banning Sylas (because red side) and Rek'sai, since they got 3-0'd the week before, with Jankos thrice on Rek'sai. They end with a Braum ban, an interesting ban which I believe is a waste.
This is when the fun begins. Having first pick, it's a risk to pick either Sona or Taric. OG could immediatly see what's hapenning and respond by picking a counter or the other half. So G2 starts with Irelia, a flex for Wunder, Caps and, to a lesser degree, Perkz. This gave OG a choice: Pick Sona/Taric with the ever-present risk of getting countered or pick something else entirely. They chose the latter, which is not wrong in itself, but it is a mistake when you pick your support that is unable to really punish Sona/Taric. OG goes for Galio and Ryze. Blame Flexius, 'cause we have two more flex picks. But not really. Alphari has played Ryze once in his entire career, back in 2016, so a reasonable assumption is that Ryze goes to Nukeduck, which means Galio goes to Mithy. And G2 pounces. Knowing the enemy support is Galio, they can safely pick Sona/Taric. OG end with a Varus pick to get some semblance of lane strength, but that alone is not enough.
And that brings us to the secondary bans. Both teams know that the botlane for G2 is a time bomb and that the options are shutting it down or commiting to a 1-3-1 composition. Gangplank is a smart ban, because he can do both. Late-game he can pressure a lane easily, and early on his ult can aid in tower dives. Skarner in itself is also a needed ban, since it would endanger Sona/Taric and force them to spend on a QSS, delaying the effectiveness. OG on their turn ban Sejuani and Akali. Sejuani synergizes great with the three picks of G2 and Akali is an enormous threat if she stays alive. Guess what happens when paired with two shielding and healing supports? That's right,
Akali Irelia kills them all.
OG now needs some kind of diving power, so they go for Nocturne. And G2 responds with Olaf and Lissandra. The Olaf pick is solid. Powerful in the early game, can ignore the CC that OG has and run down Varus or Ryze. I was worried for the Lissandra pick. Yes, it punishes low mobility and diving hard, but I was expecting G2 to lack damage, especially if OG went for a tank toplaner. Then came another issue with OG's draft; Hecarim. It was known that Hecarim was strong. It was known that Hecarim does well versus Irelia. It was known how Alphari played his lanes. Take the risk of Irelia flexing mid in this case and go for the pony earlier in the draft.
In the end though, OG did the best they could after the Sona/Taric reveal. G2 simply forced them into an awkward support and took control of the draft due to that. Judging by the drafts, you would give the advantage to G2. And they showed just that, with Wunder putting on a great performance.
Screeching birds and bald men rudely interrupt performance
Now this is the banger. The infamous funnel strategy returns. This is a big part of why I even wrote this analysis. Not necessarily the team comp itself, but the way G2 lead up to it.
First off, the bans themselves. OG, having been burned by Wunder's Irelia, decide to ban her. Sylas is the standard red side ban. Then OG actually already drops an inkling on what they want to do by banning both Varus and Skarner. G2 responds with Karthus, and to make sure OG goes for Sona/Taric, they ban Draven as well.
Now as I said before, picking one part of the supporting duo is a risk AND a really strong champion is open regardless, so they pick Rek'sai for Kold. A smart pick. G2 then picks their “bottom” lane in Xayah and Rakan, a duo they used to beat OG the week before as well. But OG believes that Xayah/Rakan can't beat the infamous Sona/Taric hard enough, so they lock it in anyway. G2 ends the first pick round with Ryze, posturing it as a flex pick.
Second round of bans, OG bans two strong solo laners, since they (A) don't know where Ryze is going and (B) want to ban out hard dive/1-3-1. G2 bans Jarvan (reasons above) and Corki. The Corki ban is part misdirection once again, since he would beat Ryze or the midlaner G2 wishes to pick and he would provide a lot of damage to OG's comp.
But the much bigger
misdirection is the Morgana pick. At this point, OG may have noticed something awry. Caps has never played Morgana before, but it's a decent pick against the composition OG already has. It just can't punish OG's bottom lane, so it seems like a bit of an off-pick. But OG now knows: Ryze top, Morgana mid. They pick their two solo laners accordingly, Yasuo versus Morgana and the lane-dominant Kennen for Alphari against Wunder's Ryze. OG has completed their team composition and honestly, it seems pretty strong. They're probably thinking: “AOE CC, strong teamfighting, an enabler for Yasuo. The only thing that could possibly happen is some unique jungle pick for Jank- Oh god no.”
And the plan comes together. G2 ends with Pyke, but we know he's not support. Is this the renowned
Caps pyke mid? Well yes, but no. Morgana still exists, and even though solo queue would have you believe otherwise, she can't really jungle against Rek'sai. A few swaps later, we see Perkz taking smite and Jankos taking teleport.
And the entire Rotterdam Ahoy realizes: We funnel now.
The rest of the game is history. G2-0G.
Float like a butterfly, get eaten by a chameleon
Now that we've firmly established that this G2 team seems pretty decent, it's time for draft no. 3. This game's draft shows us just how to bait the enemy. OG lost two games in a row, they want to take a convincing win to realize they can tango with G2.
The first five bans are the same as the match before. The Varus ban irks me a bit. It's like they're saying they want to try Sona/Taric again, but G2 blocks that by banning Sona themselves, and therefore leaving Draven open. G2 has banned Draven against OG in literally every game in 2019, except their very first game in January, where they went for a mage botlane in Zoe with Jayce mid (SPOILER: THIS IS IMPORTANT). OG picked Draven back then as well.
OG does what they did in January: They pick a really strong champion first. Rek'sai once again. Still a good pick. G2 goes for Jarvan and Ryze (FLEXIUUUUUUS). OG, still not anticipating what's happening, drop the hammer and go for Draven/Galio. A solid duo for Patrik and Mithy. Normally. G2 then unloads the toad in Tahm Kench. Someone who can save poke-oriented, immobile champions. Hmmm.
Second row of bans, OG still bans the same two strong solo laners. G2 targets Alphari once again with Kennen and Gangplank bans to eliminate hard flanks and cross-map support.
In the last picks of the tournament, G2 still goes for possible flexing by picking Neeko first instead of Jayce. She can go top, mid or bot, so all those lanes are still unsure after the fourth pick. And that insecurity prompts OG to go for Akali and Aatrox. The Akali pick bothers me, not as much as Galio in game 1, but it still does. Yes, she does work against Neeko and Ryze, but you're not garantueed to face them here. Moreover, the enemy has TK, denier of assassins. I understand the assumption is Neeko going mid lane, but it's a gamble. And the gamble does not pay off when G2 last picks Jayce. Neeko, the mage (like Zoe), goes bottom with Tahm Kench against Draven/Galio. Jayce stays mid and pokes at OG. G2 picked very similar to what they did in January. And OG fell for it again.
A look beyond the kingdoms of Europe.
Now, I've been praising G2 for the entire post, so I think it's fair to at least think a bit about the competition they will be facing. After all, MSI is where the big boys come to play.
And those big boys are truly absolute units. SKT and IG obviously stand out as the behemoths, but, as always, every region sends their best. It would be prudent to act accordingly.
First of all, the reigning world champion IG. As we all remember, IG absolutely demolished Fnatic 3-0 at Worlds 2018, setting the fastest time for a World Finals. But that's nearly half a year ago, a lot can change in that time. We've seen teams falter in less time.
Not this time though, last weekend IG casually destroyed JDG with only the third game being relatively close (due to strong performances from Yagao and Flawless) only to be put in their place by Draven one-trick Chinese Tyler1 and that one decent guy named Theshy.
They still have the incredible laners that handily beat both Wunder and Caps the last time they met, who says they can't do so again? Will a good draft be sufficient to defeat IG? How would a Bo5 go?
On the other end, the Unkillable Demon King returns. And this time he brought capable lackeys. SKT set the standard of beating your opponent 3-0 this spring split and this series possibly scares me more for G2 than IG's did. If G2 does MMA, Griffin definitely boxes. In my opinion, GRF and G2 are fairly similar in both playstyle and drafting, which makes SKT beating them 3 to nothing a possible major tell as to what to come.
Then again, OG could be considered “SKT Lite” as well. Khan and Alphari are focused on suppressing their lane counterpart, Faker and Nukeduck are the star players with deep champion pools, Teddy and Patrick were both bright lights on unsuccesful teams before they could show their potential, Mata and Mithy are intelligent players and good shotcallers & finally Kold and Clid… Both have 4 letters in their names. (TO ALL FANBOYS: I'M NOT SAYING OG IS EQUAL TO SKT. CALM DOWN.)
So maybe, just maybe, G2 can treat SKT like they did OG and suckerpunch them with surprising picks. Or maybe SKT is going to sit them down for a grandmaster game of chess?
Finally, while TL and FW are not garantueed to be in the main bracket, I don't see any other team being able to (consistently) take a bo5 from them. How the third team joining the main event will be determined is unclear to me unfortunately.
But I haven't done enough research to predict anything here, so I'll just say that G2 is going to beat them without any evidence or reasoning. It's the r/leagueoflegends way.
Now to round it all out, some closing remarks. As I said, this post has been focused purely on drafting. Of course, player skill is still a huge part of a team's success, and G2 has plenty of that. Everyone of their players would be ranked top 1~3 in their position in EU itself and they look to be capable of great things. But we aren't there yet.
Sjokz mentioned she wants to see Perkz playing ADCs at top level. I disagree. I want to see G2 go for oddball compositions. Don't let SKT, IG or TL play chess. Punch them when they move their pawn. I don't want no strategic back-and-forth (at least not all the time), I want some good old cagefighting. I know IG and SKT hit the gym, so kick them in the shins!
However, even without the weird drafts, I truly believe they can surpass the achievements Fnatic made last Worlds. As Froskurinn mentioned during the finals: It's time to see G2 as heroes and no longer as villains.
But maybe they are neither heroes, nor villains.
They are mad scientists.
TLDR; G2 Smart! G2 Smash!
If you liked this bit of writing, that's good! I plan on writing more and trying to make a name for myself. Maybe I'll dabble a bit into VOD reviews or casting as well.
But for now, I'll post updates on my Twitter: @AaronKolder Feel free to pester me there.
Thank you for taking the time to read! Please do comment, I'd love to talk with you all. If you've got some criticism, I'll be hearing you out as well. After all, improvement is necessary.
Special thanks to Vedius, YamatoCannon, Froskurinn and Ender for being great examples!
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© Post "The World is playing Chess, G2 does MMA." for game League of Legends.
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