G2 Esports had an incredible year, nothing can take that away from them. The European and Mid-Season Invitational champions marched into the League of Legends World Championship 2019 final in Paris, France with a fierce army of fans firmly behind them.
After Fnatic had fallen 3-0 in the previous year’s final to LPL side Invictus Gaming, European supporters were desperate to see G2 put in a better performance against China’s FunPlus Phoenix and secure the region a Worlds title for the first time since 2011.
The extremely talented players poured their hearts out on stage, but it just wasn’t enough. History was destined to repeat itself, as G2 were easily disposed of 3-0 as well.
Considering both teams are known for finding quirky and unique picks, the draft was always going to define the series. And that is what Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle believes was the biggest difference between the teams:
“They were, I guess, better prepared in draft because game one, they let us have Varus and Tahm Kench, then played around it with Sivir.
“Basically, I think they had something prepared for level one in Game one and three, which we didn't respond well to and that put us really behind,” the support explains. “They had pretty good preparation I feel like, and they played better as a team.”
G2 tried to match Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang’s unorthodox style and roaming around the map on Nautilus mid with some of their own personal flavour, putting Rasmus “Caps” Winther on Pyke mid, but otherwise G2 didn’t really pull out anything unexpected and because of that, Mikyx admits they could’ve made the draft harder for FPX.
Still, with both G2 and FPX making the final, the European support believes being flexible is the future of competitive League: “Draft is really important, especially at this level. I think the team that has the better champion pool and can throw more curveballs in draft is probably going to come out on top.”
It was a sour end to G2’s season, one that will undoubtedly sting European fans for months to come. However, the incredible run that G2 made this year should not be forgotten. Last year, fans were blown away by the sheer fact that a European team had reached a Worlds final. This year, G2 did the same with an MSI trophy under their belt and an arguably harder run in the Knockout Stages.
“We should still be winning everything in Europe next year, then we'll see how we do internationally.”
Still, all of G2 are fighters and will never be satisfied. Mikyx is undoubtedly proud, especially considering this was his first time competing in the Worlds Knockout stages, but the support player couldn’t hide his disappointment:
“I mean it probably was the most successful season any European team has had, but still not quite enough. I think people might remember us for making finals, but for us, it's still kind of a failure because so many expected us to win. Hopefully we can do it next year, and even if we don't win MSI and both splits, if we just win Worlds I think that would still be better and feel more rewarding.”
Though bitterly disappointed, Mikyx was also surrounded by a hint of gratitude. Afterall, a serious wrist injury earlier in the season stopped him from playing and could have cut his career short.
“Yeah I mean, I didn't really think about my career too much before, I took it for granted,” admits Mikyx. “Now that I don't have problems any more, I feel more grateful because I can actually practice and enjoy playing the game. The two months I couldn't play were really boring."
Adding on to that, Mikyx was also pleased to experience the spectacular energy and support he and G2 received from the crowds in Berlin, Madrid and Paris: “It was really cool, I'd never really had as many cheers personally on my past teams. It was only this year that I could see how it feels to be on the receiving end of a big crowd.”
“Usually, I was on the side with a smaller fan base,” he says. “So if we played Fnatic or someone like that, people would cheer really loud when they did something good, but were really sad if we did anything good which was kind of frustrating. It's pretty nice for us now.”
And after such an impressive year, G2 have surely earned more fans than they had at the start of the year. All of the team will now spend the next few months at home relaxing after a gruelling month of international competition but it won’t be long before they all queue up for another ranked game and prepare for next season.
The offseason will undoubtedly offer many twists and turns but it’s hard to imagine any members of G2 departing. Mikyx is already thinking about next season and says that Europe can expect much of the same in 2020:
“I think it would be crazy if we don't perform similarly next year. Our players are still really good and we don't really have many issues compared to other teams. We should still be winning everything in Europe next year, then we'll see how we do internationally.”
This fairytale run for G2 has come to an end, but this was only the start. Next year is an unwritten chapter filled with promise and unlimited potential. A European team making the Worlds final in 2020 would be third time lucky, and considering the tournament will be held in China, you can bet a few players will have revenge in mind.