After the groups for the EU LCS were partitioned, H2K-Gaming emerged from the separation as the most likely contender to cruise to the top of their respective table, carrying over their strong form from the end of last season. The opening week of the European League of Legends Championship Series followed the script the analysts had laid out for H2K – played two series, won both series, without dropping a single game.
When watching H2K-Gaming there is an overriding sense of the pressure placed on their opposition, with the World Championship Semi-finalists forcing themselves into advanced positions all over the map. The H2K playstyle is led by the imperious Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski in the jungle, the first-blood king himself. Admittedly, H2K’s week 1 match ups against Origen, widely regarded as one of the weakest rosters in the league, and an out-of-sorts Splyce lineup failed to offer much resistance to the driving force behind H2K.
Jankos is a League of Legends asphyxiate, roaming around the rift applying an insufferable amount of pressure on his Jungle counterpart and denying them the opportunity to breath.
Simultaneously applying pressure on bot lane – ensuring that what is considered to be one of the weak points of H2K’s current roster remains competitive throughout the game – whilst alleviating the stranglehold on Mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, who is now playing more comfortably in middle than during his final spell with Fnatic. The expectation to carry H2K-Gaming to glory in the Spring Split will once again be placed in Jankos’ clenching hands.
H2K cruised to victory in both of their opening Spring Split matches. The opening match against Origen had the potential to be a banana skin as the underdogs held the game to a stalemate for the opening 20 minutes. But eventually the first blood king found his rhythm, securing a couple of kills on the inexperienced Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen and unsurprisingly punishing OG by destroying towers and imposing global map pressure.
Game 2 against Origen highlighted some underlying weaknesses in H2K’s early game. H2K opted for a composition with the potential to dive deep for kills, but Jankos’ Nocturne ultimately got off to a rough start. But after Top laner Andrie “Odoamne” Pascu found his feet, H2K stormed onwards.
Splyce posed no threat to the H2K squad. In each game of the series, Jankos slid his fingers into position and didn’t stop squeezing until the life had left the eyes of the Danish squad and the nexus was destroyed.
H2K’s next test is to face perhaps their biggest rivals within Group B, Unicorns of Love. This week 2 matchup will provide a more substantial test against a rival that won their opening game of the season. The Unicorns having the makings of a strong EU outfit, with their jungler Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir performing at the top of his game hoping to manipulate any holes that exist in H2K’s early game.
H2K’s strategy, whilst predictable and transparent, is undeniably effective: establishing strong Jungle control, warding extensively and playing safe in lane. Rarely do the lanes make mistakes, making it frustrating for enemy Junglers to find openings to make something happen, all the while Jankos is breathing down their neck waiting to pounce.
Whether there is a ceiling as to how far this strategy can take the squad remains to be seen, though it consistently proves to be effective during the regular season of the EU LCS – once the groups begin to merge, H2K will be one of the teams to beat as teams tussle to earn the right to represent the region internationally.