Almost one year ago to the day, Kim “Trick” Gang-Yu was about to be crowned as a back to back winner of the EU LCS MVP award. Fast forward to Summer 2017, the G2 eSports jungler is a prominent weak link in the side’s title ambitions.
Only two players have ever won multiple MVP LCS awards: Trick’s consecutive accomplishments, in the Spring and Summer Splits of 2016, put him in a hall of fame alongside the phenomenal talent of Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.
Trick was the bedrock of G2 eSports’ success in the 2016 EU LCS; the jungler that pulled the sword from the stone to crown the squad as the ‘Kings of Europe’.
The former CJ Entus sub launched his European career in spectacular fashion, notching unbeaten records on Gragas (8W-0L) and Elise (7W-0L), a 6.59 KDA and 75.7% kill participation over 54 games.
In 2016, Trick was unrivalled in his role within Europe, claiming the jungle in almost every game he played. G2 could rely upon the Korean in times of need, trusting in his ability to produce clutch plays and carry games single-handedly.
The 2016 World Championship would mark the start of Trick’s rapid decline, however, as G2 eSports were dumped out of the competition in the group stages, with Trick amongst the worst of the team’s underperformers.
G2 eSports salvaged the 2017 Spring Split, reaffirming themselves as the champions of Europe. Trick was able to find his footing, but notably never returned to the level of dominance he had once enjoyed in the region.
The Korean was conceding uncharacteristic openings to his opponents and looked shaky as the team prepared to face off against the world’s best at the Mid-Season Invitational.
Within the familiar environment of Riot Games European studios in Berlin, Trick had previously been 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 an unrivalled force domestically… international competition was an entirely different story.
Placed outside of his comfort zone, Trick operates as erratically as a compass in proximity to a magnet. The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational was the third consecutive international event in which Trick 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 (@Tricklol12) May 10, 2017
Mechanically uncouth and positionally unaware, G2’s jungler was little more than cannon-fodder at times during the tournament, setting up his teammates for a number of uphill battles during the group stage.
It initially appeared that G2 had moved to phase out the team’s dependency on Trick, bringing in Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin from Schalke 04 eSports as a substitute jungler.
Though Trick performed admirably during the knockout stages of the event, his group stage mishaps caused many fans to question whether the European representatives needed to pursue an alternative option for the position.
Loulex presented a different strategic approach to the game than Trick, offering a legitimate alternative to Head Coach Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool and the team’s coaching staff.
The team soon parted ways with Loulex however, with the jungler playing just one series for G2. Trick returned to the fray but has shown little sign of improvement.
G2 eSports potentially missed a golden opportunity to improve with Loulex, either providing a means for Trick to improve or outright replacing the fallen talent.
G2 continued with Trick, who could easily have been considered the worst jungler at the mid-split Rift Rivals tournament, tied with Unicorns of Love mid laner Fabian “Exileh” Schubert for the highest number of deaths at the event with 26.
With G2 looking to consolidate their Summer Split and challenge for first place in Group A, Trick was required to produce solid performances against Team ROCCAT and fellow title hopefuls, Fnatic – he couldn’t deliver.
sry guys 🙁
— Trick / KangYun Kim (@Tricklol12) August 10, 2017
A calamity of errors in the final game of the regular split against Fnatic was a fitting end to what has been an inexplicable 12 months for last season’s two-time MVP.
Getting caught stealing wraiths when PerkZ wasn’t even in lane, awkward uncoordinated engages, a peculiar use of summoner spells and just being generally out of sync with proceedings, Trick’s performances left both G2 fans and his fellow teammates’ heads in hands.
Given Trick’s current form and previous record at international events, G2 eSports’ prospects for the EU LCS playoffs and subsequent World Championships are in their worst state since the organisation joined the league.
Either Trick rediscovers the prowess that made the Korean such a threat in 2016, or G2 eSports will need to consider shuffling their roster in order to remain competitive.