At just 18 years of age, G2 eSports mid laner Luka “PerkZ” Perković was already considered to be a pantomime villain of the European League of Legends Championship. Crowned a regional champion twice during his first competitive split in the LCS, the young Croatian was accused of allowing the glory to go to his head. Following the humbling experiences of the 2016 Mid-season Invitational and World Championship, PerkZ has pulled his reputation back from the brink during the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split.
Every good drama needs its villain, whether unwillingly or otherwise, PerkZ fell into the role within the European region after frustrating fans with his arrogant comments and lacklustre international performances. As part of a roster who are known as the ‘Undisputed Kings of Europe’ , there may be no team that elicits more emotion from European fans than G2 eSports. With PerkZ showcased as the team’s poster boy, he typically bore the brunt for much of the criticism aimed towards the divisive eSports organisation.
As a rookie brimming with confidence, PerkZ burst onto the European League of Legends scene, forming an integral part of the G2 roster that would go 15-3 in their first split to capture the EU LCS 2016 Spring Split Championship. PerkZ quickly became a fan favourite and a rising star in EU, set to represent his nation at the Mid-Season Invitational. Many analysts had G2 projected for a second or third place finish at MSI, a tournament that had gained international importance as the top four teams’ regions would automatically be granted the top pool positions for the World Championship Group Stage.
On the international stage, it all fell apart for G2 eSports and PerkZ. An abysmal showing at MSI saw G2 finish in fifth place, costing Europe their top seed at Worlds and crippling their international reputation. The “G2-8” meme was born, causing the swagger and bad boy persona (the same traits that had initially drawn many fans to G2 eSports) to now be perceived as irritable cockiness and over-confidence.
PerkZ immediate post-tournament interview – in which he explained that the team had treated the tournament as a “vacation” – infuriated fans who felt G2 had been unprepared for a tournament with lasting consequences for the region. It was the first of a number of episodes that would taint both G2 eSports and the mid laner’s reputation:
After yet another dominant split, G2 eSports were drawn against a resurgent Fnatic lineup for the opportunity to retain their title in the 2017 Spring Split Playoff Final. PerkZ’s play throughout the split has seen a return to form from the Croatian mid laner, dispelling much of the negativity that had been pinned to him following the events of 2016.
Faced with the talents of FNC’s Rasmus “Caps” Winther, PerkZ was keen to re-establish himself as Europe’s superior mid laner. The pair exchanged blows in the opening series of the split, in which the Fnatic rookie notched a number of impressive solo kills at PerkZ’s expense. As the pair squared up in the crucial semi-final match however, it was the former-villain PerkZ who enjoyed the spoils of victory:
— lolesports (@lolesports) 15 April 2017
PerkZ’s convincing performances throughout 2017 have been reminiscent of the play that earned him such acclaim during Spring 2016, but notably without the arrogant undertones. The mid laner has coped well with the criticism aimed towards him and has made a conscious effort to let his play do the talking after a bitter end to Season 6.
With just the Unicorns of Love standing in the way of G2 eSports progression to the Mid-Season Invitational in Brazil, both PerkZ and G2 eSports were hoping for a shot at redemption at the international event; his role as an EU villain may soon be coming to an end.
After demonstrating his strength in lane during the semi-final against Fnatic, PerkZ continued his fine fettle against the Unicorns of Love’s Fabian “Exileh” Schubert in the EU LCS playoff final. As public opinion continues to shift favourably for the G2 eSports poster boy, PerkZ firmly reestablished himself at the top of the European mid lane food chain:
— lolesports (@lolesports) 23 April 2017
The helpless Unicorns of Love prodigy was simply outclassed by PerkZ, who was later crowned MVP of the final series, a deserving accolade to complement his third successive EU LCS title.
G2 eSports and PerkZ head into the Mid-Season Invitational with their reputation in the strongest state it has been in since their embarrassing episode at the Shanghai event almost 12 months ago. It has taken almost a year, but Europe’s pantomime villain has swayed the general consensus of public opinion with consistent strong performances throughout the split; Europe is ready to forgive PerkZ and rally behind him in Brazil.