The opening week of the 2016 League of Legends World Championship gave European fans plenty of incentives not to tune in for the rest of the tournament. Not only was the tournament taking place in the small hours of the morning, but each EU LCS team was falling short of the mark expected of them. As the group stages approached its conclusion, H2K-Gaming raised their game and made Europe proud – though the failure of American favourites Team SoloMid has unfairly detracted from that success.
H2K-Gaming deserve more credit for advancing to the quarter finals of Worlds 2016. Europe’s second seed displayed some obvious weaknesses in their opening fixtures, leaving H2K’s progression to the knockout stages was hanging in the balance after the first week.
Group C certainly presented the easiest group in the tournament, but there was still a job to be done. Most analysts predicted H2K to qualify as the group’s second seed behind China’s, Edward Gaming – Forg1ven and co. exceeded expectations. H2K concluded their second week as easily the cleanest team in their group, perhaps the most convincing in the entire tournament. Having the easiest group, is no fault of H2K-Gaming, and it in no way detracts from how well they played – a fact that seems to be lost on Team SoloMid fans, still angry at an unfavourable group draw.
Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan and Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou are finally getting their moment in the sun on an international stage and they’re making the most of it. Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook has always been a consistent performaner and has proven himself to be a monster in the mid-lane, his week 2 performances highlighted his ability to compete with the best.
— H2K (@H2KGG) 8 October 2016
H2K have clearly put the hours in on improving their mid-game and macro play, and their team compositions, whilst not particularly innovative, are stable and well balanced. The roster always had the potential to perform at the highest level and it seems that they are hitting form at the perfect moment. For all the smack talk and unfulfilled potential, FORG1VEN is looking like the champion he always claimed to be:
It’s understandable that there may be some resentment from North American fans, though in my criticism of their reaction, American fans have my sympathy, but not my regret.
Granted, there were no Korean teams in Group C – H2K’s biggest rivals from the group were always set to be Edward Gaming, but to undervalue the top seed from the LPL wrongfully detracts from H2K’s achievement. Ahead of the tournament, EDG were widely considered to be the second best team in the world, yet after losing to H2K-Gaming, suddenly they’re considered to be a ‘weak Chinese outfit’, with a support who can flex as a top laner.
Lest we forget that nearly every analysts’ pre-Worlds power ranking positioned EDG in second place behind the ROX Tigers… H2K smashed them in the top seed decider.
Albus NoX Luna have proven themselves to be a formidable foe, having taken games off the ROX Tigers and Counter Logic Gaming on their route to the knockout rounds and will prove a tough test for H2K.
If the EU LCS side manage to secure victory, there will undoubtedly be the same, condescending voices in the background suggesting that H2K don’t deserve to find themselves in the semi-finals.
H2K-Gaming deserve all the praise aimed in their direction – they’re the only Western team that actually showed up to Worlds and lived up to their potential. The failings of other sides in the tournament should in no way put an asterisk next to H2K’s achievements.