G2 eSports’ second place finish at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational could be a turning point for the organization in the eyes of European fans. After a year of disappointment on the international scene, the team had become somewhat of a ‘despised champion’, carrying the crown of Europe yet failing to deliver when faced with international rivals. With this finish, G2 finally have something European fans can be proud of, and those reluctant to root for them in the past should finally give them the favour they deserve.
G2 eSports exploded onto the EU LCS Scene in 2016, going 15-3 in their first split and capturing the EU LCS 2016 Spring Split Championship. Quickly becoming fan favourites as rising stars in Europe, their EU LCS Championship qualified them for the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational as Europe’s representative. 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.
In short, it all fell apart for G2. 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 and the sting was worsened after being swept by North America’s Counter Logic Gaming.
A repeat performance was to follow at the 2016 World Championship. The opening match against CLG showcased a dominant performance by the NA squad, gaining an early lead and easily dismantling the EU Champions. From that point it would only get worse for G2, finishing last in the group and tied for the worst record in the tournament with a 1-5 finish. The pride of Europe had imploded on the international stage… again.
With the new season, G2 would be given multiple opportunities to regain the trust of their European fan base, starting with IEM Katowice. Although G2 would finish second to the LMS’s Flash Wolves, they had a respectable showing that proved not only could they perform on an international stage, but that they were clearly Europe’s best team. This point would be further cemented when G2 rolled through the EU LCS playoffs en route to a place at this year’s MSI.
Finally, a year after their first embarrassment for Europe G2 would have their chance to right the wrongs. After a shaky Group Stage, the EU LCS champions finished with a 4-6 record, frequently falling behind early in almost every game, but managing to persevere in the late game. The European squad managed to secure the third seed and a match-up against the LPL’s World Elite in the semi-finals.
A clear underdog for the semi-finals, G2 would surprise both their fans and those around the world with a 3-1 series victory over the Chinese champions. With just a week to prepare, G2 seemed to have fixed many of their group stage issues and clearly looked to be the dominant outfit. Although they would fall to SKT in the Finals 3-1, they once again surprised fans with the quality of their play in multiple games and their ability to cruise to a thirty-minute victory in game two.
With their second place finish at MSI, the G2 eSports organisation has finally delivered a piece of glory to their European faithful. After a year of disappointment, G2 has given Europe a result they could be proud of, and some substance behind the claim they are an elite team, not only in their domestic region, but in the global rankings. They have captured the all-important bragging rights over North America and regained the preferential seeding for the 2017 World Championship, lost a little over year ago.
Now a team with substantial international experience, G2 eSports look like they may have turned a corner in their development and announced themselves as a team that can no longer be counted on to choke internationally. Their ability to grow stronger as a tournament progresses is an invaluable attribute to possess in a major event, and their resiliency in games made them a difficult team to beat even when the game looked to be a sure loss. Moving forward, G2 should only continue to impress internationally and continue to deliver on the faith of what will surely be a growing European fan base.