Jankos was his usual cheery self in the interview area following his team’s utter demolition of Brazilian team INTZ who qualified for Worlds 2016 via the International Wildcard Qualifier in their home country. INTZ, you maybe remember, beat Group favourites and tournament contenders Edward Gaming in a stunning game on Worlds Day 1. After Europe’s poor start to the tournament, many analysts and players thought INTZ could claim another scalp when they faced Europe’s second seed, but H2K quickly put those notions to bed with a dominant victory.
Despite the win, Jankos insists he and his team aren’t yet happy: “I don't feel a lot of happiness, because we lost yesterday to AHQ,” he proclaims, though the smile on his face betrays him a little. “I think it's good for EU that we bounced back, I think G2 will show whoever they play, I'm not sure if they play Albus or ROX Tigers, but I think they will play good League of Legends on Saturday, and we will cheer for them for sure, and we will show that Europe is still a force to be reckoned with.”
ROX is up next for G2 Esports on Saturday, a huge game on any occasion, but following G2's tough loss to CLG in the tournament’s opening game it becomes even more important. They could take some cues from H2K, who recovered from a similarly tough loss to AHQ on Day 1, even if their opponent is a lot tougher. Jankos says that, despite the loss, H2K can still challenge the best teams in the group.
I think EDG are still clear favourites and they are the best team.
“So there's a lot to talk about and there's a lot of improvement we can take away from it,” the Polish jungler says. “I think EDG are still clear favourites and they are the best team, but if we fix the mistakes we made against AHQ and we still play a decent early game into a better mid-late game, I think we can beat even the top teams, which I think is EDG right now and AHQ next week.”
It would be understandable if H2K went into today’s game with some apprehension following the previous day’s events; INTZ looked electric in their win over EDG, with Legends Rising star Revolta commanding the flow of the game on Lee Sin. It takes a lot of talent and game sense to out-jungle a legend like Clearlove, considered by many to be the best jungler in the World and certainly the best at the tournament. Jankos insists, however, that they prepared as they do for every game.
“We respect every opponent, so we take every game the same, we prepare it enough, we knew what to expect from them,” he says assertively. “We scrimmed them a lot back in Europe so we knew them, and we also knew what they played. We banned their best champions, so the game went really sloppy, slowly, but in the end we had the better team comp and we just snowballed.”
Key to their victory
Key to their victory was Skarner, the latest champion to enter the jungler pool at Worlds 2016. Jankos was relentless on the Crystal Vanguard, Flash Impaling enemies on cooldown to create the picks needed for H2K to start snowballing the game. Jankos may have shown many other junglers at Worlds what they’re missing by picking champions such as Graves, but he believes the top-tier junglers are already set in stone. In the right team comp, however, Skarner can shine and exploit the current popular mid picks.
“Right now, basically no mid laner has an escape, you know,” he says. “Now mid lane picks are very ‘stand still, do damage’, so it's just easy to catch people with Skarner, but his early game is very underwhelming. You have to consider the fact that picking him means that you will probably sacrifice a lot in the early game, so you have to have strong lanes. I think the meta in the jungle will still be Rek'Sai, Nidalee, Lee Sin maybe, and Elise simply because they have such a strong early game that you don't give anything up, you take turrets and you just play really aggressive.”
Group C features a plethora of jungle talent, with each team boasting strong junglers that make few mistakes. For many players, the ability to play against so many talented players is a big draw of Worlds: the challenge, the experience, the ability to learn new styles not present in your region. Jankos immediately noted the difference between domestic and international junglers, citing the intelligence and knowledge of every jungler at this tournament.
“I think every jungler here is actually smart compared to Europe,” he says, likely to the chagrin of his EU brethren. “Like, in Europe a lot of players are just... every player at Worlds knows his shit and every play is smart and they don't make a lot of mistakes you can punish. If they make a mistake you have to punish otherwise it's just bad, you know? Yesterday there were a lot of mistakes that Mountain made that I didn't punish, so I think my debut yesterday wasn't that good. I don’t think I played well enough, but we lost as a team, not individuals so today we played better as a team and pretty much won every lane. I stayed even in a really bad jungle matchup, so at some point we just snowballed the game really hard by just farming up and scaling.”
H2K next play on Sunday against Group C favourites EDG. The no. 1 seed from China recovered from their loss against INTZ to win a close game against AHQ, leaving every team in the group tied at 1-1. H2K will need to prepare diligently on their day off, and Jankos in particular must step up to the plate. He is relishing his first appearance at Worlds, and believes he has the ability to make the difference for his team.
“It feels great, you know,” he says proudly. “I’ve been trying to get here for such a long time. It's my debut now and I have to play much better, you know [laughs]. I have to do much better than this right now. I think I’m capable of it, and it just feels great to finally be here among the best players in the world.”