The hometown heroes were excited to finally play in front of an electric Polish crowd in Kraków, and the crowd were behind H2K all the way. Chants of “H2 what? H2K!” shook the stands of the Tauron Arena as H2K downed the final Nexus, securing another third-place finish in the EU LCS.
H2K opened the series with a convincing win as Ryu began what would be a standout night for him, dominating Unicorns of Love mid-laner Exileh. The former KT Rolster star mid-laner kickstarted their win with a 9/1/2 game in Cassiopeia, a performance that echoed some of his best as a top-2 mid-laner in Korea.
H2K led game 2 initially, before a poorly played fight in the bot-side river cost them an ace and handed the Unicorns a baron, which they dutifully used to turn around the game and take the victory, a scenario both players were disappointed in.
“We just threw really hard,” says Vander. “Ryu got caught and I ate him, and then Ashe wanted to help us but she died. So everything just went wrong for us there. The communication in that moment was really bad and nobody knew what was happening, so we all just kind of tried to help and everybody just died.”
“That game should've been won simply because we were way ahead,” says Jankos. “If we had set up this fight, we'd win easily. So we came into game 3 with a refreshed mind, had another idea for picks and bans.”
H2K recovered after that unfortunate loss, and proceeded to trample the Unicorns in games 3 and 4, taking a comfortable series victory. After a tough loss to Splyce in the semifinals, H2K decided to ease their scrim load, and Jankos thinks that preparation helped them in this series. “We came here with a refreshed mind and Ryu played one of the best games I've seen him play on our team,” he says. “I think all of us played really well and we didn't make a lot of stupid mistakes.”
H2K will watch tomorrow’s final between G2 and Splyce with bated breath, as a G2 win would ensure H2K qualifies for Worlds as Europe’s second seed on championship points. With so much on the line tomorrow, it promises to be an intense and hard-fought series.
“I think G2 is the best European team by far,” said Jankos. “Trick, Zven, Mithy, they are so good in their positions. Their picks and bans are flawless. I do believe G2 will win, but I also think Splyce will take one, maybe two games.”
Should Splyce complete their transformation from relegation-favourites to top EU team, H2K will drop to the EU Regional Qualifiers where they are guaranteed top seed if they don’t auto-qualify for Worlds. The qualifiers, dubbed “The Gauntlet”, will contain two teams H2K defeated in the playoffs already, Unicorns of Love and Fnatic. Regular season third-place finishers Giants will be the lowest seed in the Gauntlet, though Jankos does not expect them to qualify for the Gauntlet final: “There aren't that many good teams. I think we will meet UOL again or Fnatic.”
Jankos and Vander are relishing the chance to compete on the Worlds stage, and should they make it there both players are particularly excited to test their skills against Asia’s best. “I want to test myself against the best Korean and Chinese junglers,” Jankos said. “Maybe ClearLove. My abilities are not as good as his, but I can learn a lot from him, even though I'm an experienced player already.”
“In Europe I've had decent success but I've never really played in a bigger tournament internationally so I look forward to it,” says Vander. “I hope I qualify and I look forward to facing whoever, especially players like Mata.”
For now though, it’s all eyes on the final as G2 look to secure their second EU LCS title this season, while underdogs Splyce aim to secure Worlds qualification and send H2K to the Gauntlet. Tune in Sunday at 17:00 CEST to catch all the action!