Four years ago, the League of Legends (LoL) European Championship (then known as the EU LCS) was shaken to its core by the debut of G2 Esports - an organisation that would go on to become, arguably, the greatest Europe has ever seen.
The team was created by retired mid-laner Carlos “Ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago. Ocelote is known for his rivalry with esports giants Fnatic, ever since he and his SK Gaming squad were the victims of the iconic backdoor moment by Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez - who also now has a team of his own in Origen.
While Origen hasn’t found any success as of yet, the other two have trophies galore. Alliance’s 2014 Summer Split triumph makes them the only other European champions outside of G2 and Fnatic who have earned a staggering seven domestic titles each. It took G2 one split fewer to reach that tally as they took down Fnatic in a dominant 3-0 victory during the 2020 Spring Split final.
The war between Fnatic and G2 is still ongoing but currently, the latter sits atop the throne. The organisation has provided an incredible amount of entertainment and historic moments in the last four and a half years, this is how G2 became the Kings of Europe.
Having won promotion into the EU LCS in 2015, G2’s reign of dominance didn’t take long to get going as the organisation and Luka “Perkz” Perkovic won the Spring and Summer Split in 2016. However, as Fnatic had found out a year previously with one of Europe’s strongest-ever rosters, trying to replicate that same level of success internationally is an extraordinarily difficult task.
European fans, including the army of already irate Fnatic supporters, were outraged as G2 crashed out of the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) Group Stages after it was revealed the squad had taken a vacation instead of preparing for the tournament.
A victim of their own success, the squad had worked incredibly hard to become the top team in Europe but had burned out in the process.
And despite learning their lesson, the same happened at the 2016 World Championships as G2 embarrassingly came bottom of their group with Korea’s ROX Tigers, North America’s Counter Logic Gaming and Wildcards Albus Nox Luna who G2 only managed to defeat once.
However, G2’s domestic form continued. The organisation signed the superstar bot-lane of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez from European counterparts and Worlds quarterfinalists Origen and recorded another two European titles as well as second place at MSI. With the experience of Mithy and Kim “Trick” Gang-yun as well as the talent of Perkz and Zven, G2 was a terrifying prospect to face.
Yet, G2 fumbled on the Worlds stage once again as their group with eventual semi-finalists Royal Never Give Up and champions Samsung Galaxy was too good for even the star-studded European roster to handle.
While domestic success is always welcome, becoming the first European team to win Worlds since Fnatic in Season 1 is the ultimate goal of every LEC team - especially considering South Korea didn’t even have a server back when Fnatic won the trophy. After failing to even come close to completing that mission, it was back to the drawing board for G2.
Following the departure of their talented bot-lane and Korean top and jungle duo, Perkz was the last man standing as G2 looked to build a new team around its superstar mid-laner. Joining him was Danish top-laner Martin “Wunder” Hansen who had impressed in his first few years as a pro on Splyce as well as experienced jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski who had proven himself to be one of the best players in the region and had found relative success internationally having reached the Worlds semi-finals in 2016 with H2K.
Yet, for the first time, G2 struggled. The 2018 season was the closest G2 has ever come to failing to qualify for Worlds. Having been humbled 3-0 by Fnatic in the Spring Split final, G2 began to falter in the Summer and in a shocking turn of events, were eliminated 3-0 in the first round of the Summer Playoffs by Misfits Gaming.
From there, G2 would have to run the gauntlet and considering their poor form their chances seemed extremely slim. Yet, the squad managed to rally and went on an incredible run to take down Splyce and Schalke in order to secure Europe’s third and final seed.
Still, considering G2’s history at international tournaments and the fact that the squad dropped games to Turkey’s SuperMassive and Latin America’s Infinity Esports the expectations on G2 were extremely low.
However, something special happened at that tournament. All three of Europe’s teams rallied. Fnatic managed to overcome China’s Invictus Gaming in a tiebreaker. Team Vitality astonishingly took games off reigning champions Gen.G (formerly Samsung Galaxy) and then the tournament favourites as well as MSI champions Royal Never Give Up (RNG). And G2 took a game off of Korea’s Afreeca Freecs and defeated Flash Wolves in a tiebreaker to finally reach the Worlds knockout stages.
From there G2 had a rather unfavourable draw with RNG, who had looked much better in Week 2 of Groups, as their quarter-final opponents. There were still huge questions over G2’s bot-lane Petter “Hjarnan” Freyschuss and Kim "Wadid" Bae-in and with one of the greatest ADCs in LoL history in Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao, the odds were once again heavily against G2 . But extraordinarily, Europe’s third seeds did it and in a five-game thriller no less. In the final game, as expected, Perkz made the difference. The Croatian thrived under pressure and secured his legacy with a spectacular performance as LeBlanc. The mid-laner blew RNG out of the water and finished with a ridiculous KDA of 11/0/4 in one of the greatest individual performances in LoL history.
But that was where the road ended. In the semi-finals, IG dominated G2 3-0 and went on to do the same to Fnatic in a heartbreaking end to a run which reignited the dreams of European fans. The metaphorical ‘gap’ was closing. This was a tournament that paved the way for the remarkable events of 2019.
The history makers
Ensuring the EU LCS’s rebrand to the LEC started with a bang, G2 completed one of the most shocking and utter mind-boggling roster swap. In an unthinkable turn of events, one of Europe’s best mid-laners Rasmus “Caps” Winther left Worlds finalists Fnatic for bitter rivals G2 which in turn pushed the team’s star-player Perkz to role swap to ADC. Helping the Croatian adapt to his new role was mechanically talented support Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle.
If you thought it would take G2 a little while to adapt and start picking up wins, think again. The squad kicked off the season with an incredible victory over Origen with a unique poke composition which made use of Perkz’s mid-lane capabilities with the surprise pick of Zoe bot-lane which synergised perfectly with the global damage of Karthus from Jankos in the jungle.
G2 would go on to dominate the Spring Split and did so while constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of the current meta.
Origen were the unfortunate victims once again in the Spring final as they attempted to abuse the bot-lane combo of Sona and Taric which wouldn’t farm but would become unkillable in teamfights. G2 came prepared and countered it by playing a funnel strategy, which hadn’t been seen for over a year, ingeniously rendering Origen’s players helpless.
At this point, Perkz was beginning to prove himself on marksman but the constant threat that he could potentially bring a mage into bot-lane gave G2 a major advantage during the draft phase. That flexibility paid off big time as G2 became the first ever European team to win MSI after Perkz’s incredible Syndra performance saw them take down SK Telecom T1 in a five-game thriller, before G2 decimated Team Liquid in the fastest international final ever.
G2 would go on to dominate for the remainder of the year and managed to take down SKT once again at Worlds to reach the World Championship final for the first time in the organisation’s history. G2’s creativity, aggression and outstanding individual skill made them a ridiculously lethal team. Yet, you wouldn’t have guessed that watching the final. History repeated itself as the LPL’s FunPlus Phoenix dominated G2 3-0 in an anti-climactic end for the crowd in Paris who had desperately cheered for their region’s best hope of lifting the Summoner’s Cup.
Having come so close to their ultimate goal yet that final step feeling so far away, G2 returned to the drawing board and once again shocked everyone by returning Perkz to mid and moving Caps into the bot-lane instead.
The polarising move didn’t start off smoothly with Caps dying a record seven times in the opening 15 minutes of a game against Misfits. And after a shock defeat to the young squad of MAD Lions in the Playoffs, it looked like G2’s reign had finally come to an end.
Yet, the squad managed to recover and reach the final again where in a surprising turn of events G2 decimated Fnatic 3-0 to lift the LEC trophy for a third consecutive split and tie the record for most European titles. With the Summer Split, this will be G2’s chance to truly surpass Fnatic and at this point you can expect them to do just that.