Kim “Trick” Gang-Yu has looked lost for the majority of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, struggling to acclimatise to the Rio de Janeiro climate. The G2 eSports jungler has been all at sea during the group stages, strapping unnecessary weight to his teammates’ backs as they fought to keep their heads above the waterline of 5th place. As the EU LCS champions prepare for their semi-final clash with Team WE, Europeans fans are praying for a convincing performance from the regionally consistent Korean.
Within the familiar environment of Riot Games European studios in Berlin, Trick is completely at ease. Working alongside the ever-improving mid lane prodigy, Luka “PerkZ” Perković and Trick have forged one of the best jungle/mid lane partnerships in the EU LCS, making G2 eSports are an unrivalled force domestically.
Placed outside of his comfort zone however and Trick operates as erratically as a compass in proximity to a magnet. The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational is the third consecutive international event in which Trick has struggled to find his bearings on the competitive stage.
Today first game so nervous so i couldnt buy after i got first blood sry 🙁 i will focus next game keep cheering pls 🙂
— Trick / KangYun Kim (@G2Trick) 10 May 2017
Following the combined disappointment of last season’s event and the 2016 World Championship, Trick was hoping for his shot at MSI 2017. Yet where his teammates have made significant strides towards achieving that goal, the Korean jungler has been aimlessly heading in the opposite direction.
The metaphor can certainly be extended to describe Trick’s play style throughout the event. Mechanically uncouth and positionally unaware, G2’s jungler has been little more than cannon-fodder at times during the tournament, setting up his teammates for a number of uphill battles during the group stage.
Trick’s preference towards Nunu has been one of tournaments most contentious debates. After struggling to provide a significant impact on G2 eSports’ matches when playing the jungle meta’s more pro-active champions, Trick has instead adopted Nunu to maintain a level of relevance as G2 scale towards their late game power spikes.
Not having to perform complex combinations or rely upon hitting skillshots, Nunu has provided Trick with a much needed point-and-click element of reliability. It’s hard to misplay mechanically playing Nunu, but it’s easy to be useful. Utilising the champions’ blood boil ability to ramp up the attack speed of AD carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen has at least provided Trick with a much-needed purpose.
Sponging damage on the frontline whilst providing a useful steroid for the team’s primary carry has become Trick’s most reliable source of success at MSI; G2 eSports have now won two out of three matches with Nunu. He may not be producing the type of flashy pro-active plays made frequently by the likes of Han “Peanut” Wang-ho or Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan, but Trick has at least found a means by which to support and aid his team. Zven is more than happy to take the team’s underperforming jungler under his wing.
In many respects the Nunu pick paid dividends for G2 eSports in the group stage. Though it has done little to redeem Trick’s previous international failures so far, the controversial pick has at least relieved the mounting pressure on the squad, who have now secured a top seed for Europe for the forthcoming World Championship.
Now faced with a semi-final best-of-five against China’s Team WE, Trick’s Nunu may ironically forge the pathway towards the junglers international redemption. G2 have demonstrated that they can take Nunu into the highly-contested Ivern pick, forcing WE’s hand to either ban Ivern, pick it and grant Trick Nunu, or allow Trick to have Ivern and continually supply Zven with shields.
Provided that G2 eSports draft in a manner that can allow their jungler to be useful vs Team WE, a place in the Mid-Season Invitational Final would overwrite any clumsy play in the group stages. Where the other members of the squad have found redemption with hard-carry performances, shot-calling courage or highlight reel plays, G2 Trick’s vindication will come in the form of semi-final success.