In appearance, G2 Esports struggled down the stretch in the LEC spring split.
The team scored a 4-5 record in the second half of the split after starting support Mihael "mikyx" Mehle sat out due to injury and Hampus "promisq" Abrahamsson replaced him. Despite that, they are the top-seeded team of the spring split, and it is easy to see why.
If that is not the case, leave it to the lineup to speak for itself. Martin "Wunder" Hansen in the top lane, Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski in the jungle, Rasmus "Caps" Winther in the mid lane, Luka "Perkz" Perkovic as the AD carry, and either mikyx or promisq. That is four all-pro team members in one lineup, two of them on the first team.
Indeed, for the longest time, it seemed as if they would all fill the first-team slots. In fact, G2's winning ways reached absurd extents as, according to Perkz, they lost less than a handful of games in scrimmage sessions throughout January.
"It's insane: I've never had this before," Perkz said. "We were 6-0, and we were 25-0 in scrims. It didn't just feel that we were 6-0. We felt unbeatable because no one was taking a game from us."
The team's early season start unfolded differently than he had imagined. He had expected mages and marksmen to share playing time in the bot lane. Instead, marksmen dominated the meta. Even then, the team steamrolled through the competition to the tune of a 9-0 first half of the split.
For a while, the current team reminded him of another successful iteration of G2 Esports he played in: the "Kings of Europe" G2, as he called it. "We were all super skilled individually, very high talent and we were winning games mostly due to our individual skills," he said. "Back then, Zven and mithy were so much better than anyone else in the bot lane, and it was kind of boring. Then we started worlds, and we had this realization that we could be [good] if we actually learned how to play the game."
Even then, the Kings of Europe G2 stumbled along the way and looked vulnerable from time to time. On the other hand, the current G2 rendition looked that way much later, after mikyx's wrist flared. He had expected resistance, but it came a little later than anticipated. Still, he remains focused on what lies ahead: "They want to win a title, I want to win a title, and that's what we're here for," he said.
"With the old G2, it took us a long time to work on all the small things, and I don't expect this road to be any easier, even though I feel that the talent we have on this team is way higher than it was back then. Everyone has a lot to work with, and it's very good - but we also need to control it."
Control as you might, G2's current iteration has plenty of jokesters on the lineup, making for a lighthearted atmosphere even in defeat. Perkz noted how Caps and Jankos particularly like to ease him, and how he plays along for fun, even when Caps brings up how many times he solo-killed him in solo queue. Ultimately, the mix of hard work and team-wide banter makes for an agreeable atmosphere, be it during defeats or scrimmage session reviews.
"I'm really happy with the way we approach problems and review games," he said. "I feel super happy with this team, and confident in the way we approach our team problems and the atmosphere we have. We're going to stumble on problems, defeats, but we're going to be good at working over them. Unless something insane happens."
For a while, they failed to find their flaws as they cruised past opponents at large as they understood how to play the game -- and, unlike Misfits Gaming, saw the game similarly. The matter still caused problems. They lacked strong opposition early on and developed poor habits as a result. In a way, their recent losses have been a blessing, as it asserted their need to work on the minutiae that turns a good team into a great one.
"It will take time," Perkz said. "It will take months. It's a process, right? We're just enjoying our time together. We know what we are here for, but we don't really expect ourselves to win everything. We just want to play the best League we can. [...] Even though we are not having the best games sometimes, we are working towards it hard in practice to actually improve on our flaws."
As G2 marched towards the second half of the season, they did so knowing that they were a playoff team after Week 6 ended. By that time, other teams had started to improve and were able to contend against them. During Week 9 G2 scored its first 0-2 week (albeit with promisq starting), with a noteworthy result being their chaotic loss against Fnatic.
The loss was doubly noteworthy: in Week 4, they had beaten the same team in 20:30, at the time the fastest game in LEC (and EU LCS') six-year history. By Week 9, they lost to that team after a thrilling 48 minutes.
"Teams are punishing us when we were not being punished before, and we aren't stomping lanes as hard as we were early in the split," Perkz said. "Now, we actually get challenged in draft and gameplay. So, the game is a bit more hectic. Maybe we sometimes play to win too hard, and we end up losing. I think we're just being overconfident, and we need to think more with our brains."
On the other hand, it also highlighted their fighting spirit. Rather than bend the knee in under 30 minutes, they insisted on making the game difficult for Fnatic. Even in defeat, they were in high spirits. Besides, what's a loss within the scope of an entire year?
"My goal is for G2 to become the best League of Legends team that there has been, at least in Europe," Perkz said. "Let's take it one step at a time. I want us to become the best ever European or Western team."