In my recap of the LCK Telecom War, I mentioned how SK Telecom T1 had experienced an uncharacteristically shaky season that had landed them clawing their way into the grand finals. Another League of Legends titan is feeling a similar pressure, this one in Europe. For the first time, G2 Esports has found themselves being forced to play a quarterfinal after a tumultuous summer split that left them with an 8-5 score. Today, G2 is competing against Splyce to get one step closer to the finals.
G2 Esports: Thresh, Gnar, Zac, Tristana, Cassiopeia
Splyce: Camille, Jarvan IV, Galio, Sivir, Morgana
The analysts called Splyce the underdogs, and they were quick to prove their worth in the Rift. While G2 instigated fights they couldn’t win, Splyce was popping off stellar plays right off the bat. In the first 13 minutes, Splyce had a 4k gold advantage, two tower kills, and four players kills on the board; this was before the first Dragon, the Mountain Drake, spawned, which they claimed for themselves at 15 minutes. This isn’t to say that G2 Esports rolled over to intentionally open themselves up for attack, but their subtle mistakes and inability to keep up with Splyce in the lanes was steadily giving their opponents an advantage.
That advantage was snatched away from Splyce at 27 minutes when the Baron was stolen by G2’s Trick, only moments before Splyce wiped. In less than a minute, G2 had completely turned the game around. They had the Baron buff, they were tearing their way through Splyce’s turrets, and they had every numerical advantage that they could need. It’s that ace in the pit that left Splyce too scattered to reclaim control of the game, and game G2 the confidence to rush in to destroy the first inhibitor of the game. In the time it took for Splyce’s Inhibitor to respawn, G2 had taken the second Baron of the game and were running in to destroy it again but, this time, Splyce was ready for them. Losing two of their own, Splyce pushed G2 out of their base and bagged three kills in the process before running out into the lanes for the Elder Drake.
Like with the first Baron, G2 closed in to steal the Dragon from under their noses, sending Splyce limping away to safety and leaving a half-dead Elder Drake open for the kill at 40 minutes. While Splyce recovered, G2 destroyed their two exposed inhibitors. What had started out as a game that leaned so heavily in Splyce’s favor had completely turned around, but Splyce wasn’t ready to lose, just yet. G2 lost a critical team fight at 43 minutes, just as a third Baron spawned, and Splyce rushed in to bag an easy Baron kill while four of G2’s players were literally down for the count. Another won team fight just minutes later, Splyce risked overextending to take an Inhibitor and deal major damage to a Nexus turret at 45 minutes, losing Sencux on the retreat and two of their Inhibitors while waiting for him to respawn. It was the fatal team fight at 49 minutes that was the final nail in G2’s coffin, when Splyce (who, mind you, is in a deficit) tore G2 apart in a clean, well-executed team fight and pushed for the Nexus.
G2 Esports: Caitlyn, Cho’Gath, Jarvan IV, Leblanc, Morgana
Splyce: Thresh, Lucian, Jhin, Gragas, Kled
Splyce was running into a game two against a Caitlyn-Morgana combo they did not want to be up against, while G2’s Perkz was expected to have a tough time on Leblanc against Sencux’s Lucian. The result was an action-packed early game that was full of almost non-stop fighting. In total, nine kills had been claimed between the two teams by 12 minutes, six of which and the first Ocean Drake going to G2. It was just after that mark that things started to slow down, both teams focusing their efforts on farming and taking down turrets.
Things finally started to pick back up at 22 minutes when G2 bagged two more kills off of Splyce in a team fight, then closed in on Baron. They got Baron, but lost the team fight that followed from Splyce trying to interfere. They immediately lost three, Mithy using his shield too late after taking damage from Mikyx’s Thresh and Trick and Expect simply being overwhelmed. G2 immediately bounced back to apply the pressure on their opponents in a two-for-one team fight, and slay the Ocean Drake. With Splyce on their heels, G2 wiped out four of their members at 29 minutes and wrapped up their first major push into Splyce’s base by destroying a middle Inhibitor. With just a few more minutes to prepare, G2 won the game’s final team fight and secured game two to tie out the series.
G2 Esports: Cho’Gath, Jarvan IV, Cassiopeia, Ashe
Splyce: Jayce, Elise, Orianna, Xayah, Tahm Kench
A direct contrast to the previous game, game three started out very slowly. Mikyx was the unfortunate one to get ganked first on Tahm Kench, but that first blood was the only kill made in the first 13 minutes. By 20 minutes Splyce managed to destroy three towers, G2 Esports bagged the first Mountain Drake, and they were even in kills. It took G2 launching a surprise team fight that knocked out Mikyx and Kobbe to finally see a team start to make headway on the first Baron, but Splyce regained their footing too fast for G2. G2 was chased out of the river at 24 minutes, Splyce hot on their heels and destroying a fourth turret as an afterthought, then Splyce waltzed into the pit to finish off an easy Baron kill once the coast was clear.
The game was finally picking up in speed. Another team fight saw G2 decimating Splyce, finally pulling ahead in kills and eventually destroying their first tower while still leaving them with a 4k gold deficit. They were even able to claim a bloody fight in the river in a reversal of the last Baron fight, with Splyce wiping entirely and leaving the Baron and Mountain Drake open for G2 to take. They lost their momentum at 36 minutes, however, when they let themselves get sloppy in a fight that nearly gave Splyce the ace. It took G2 nearly 10 minutes to finally regain their mojo, taking out the three inhibitors in a triage of blitz attacks at 42 minutes as Splyce scrambled to defend their Nexus. When Splyce crumbled beneath the pressure being pushed onto them, G2 moved into game four with a score of 2-1.
G2 Esports: Renekton, Gragas, Corki, Caitlyn, Alistar
Splyce: Rakan, Jhin, Sejuani, Orianna, Jarvan IV
Splyce had a good first game, but they went into game four on the ropes. G2 had enough padding to not have to worry too much about this game, but they weren’t about to throw.
Both teams drafted carefully for a balanced team composition, and played a textbook example of a typical laning phase. 12 minutes in, Splyce had bagged the Infernal Drake but were playing a very even game against G2. In fact, most of Splyce’s kills up until 16 minutes were coming from Perkz, who made for easy ganks in the mid lane. Meanwhile, G2 continued their series trend of bombing during team fights and leaving Dragons open for the taking. Splyce slowly started to pull ahead, starting at around 19 minutes, but crushed G2 in a team fight at 26 minutes that put Splyce ahead by five kills and approximately 1k gold. Splyce swooped in on the second Infernal Drake of the game while G2 licked their wounds.
G2 tried to come back to stop Splyce from pocketing the Baron, but not without the price of losing Trick in the process. They found themselves back in the river shortly after at 32 minutes in a knockdown drag-out, but G2 couldn’t hold their own and Splyce was able to complete their Baron kill.
To put it simply, it looked as if G2 was suffering from both a lack of communication and a dash of overconfidence in all of these team fights; it would normally be entirely uncharacteristic for EU’s superteam if it wasn’t almost expected by this point in the season. Even if they drafted well, G2 played like a glass cannon – they would deal some damage, but they couldn’t do it without suffering casualties. Their synergy was inconsistent at best.
Splyce was ready to cue the Silver Scrapes. They had three Infernal Drakes in their pockets, a 7k gold advantage, an 11 kill lead, and had destroyed eight of G2’s towers by 41 minutes, and literally gave G2 the Baron in favor of the Elder Drake. Even with the Baron buff, G2 couldn’t stop their opponents from taking out the middle Inhibitor. It respawned but, to G2’s chagrin, it didn’t slow Splyce down by a second. Sencux’s Shockwave on Orianna decimated G2 Esports in the final team fight at 45 minutes, and Splyce forced a game five.
G2 Esports: Jarvan IV, Elise, Cassiopeia, Ashe, Alistar
Splyce: Gnar, Gragas, Orianna, Xayah, Trundle
The laning phase had an excruciatingly slow burn, with the Mountain Drake turning out to be the first kill of the game at 12 minutes. There was too much at risk for either team to risk putting instigating fights they couldn’t win, which ran the potential of giving their opponent the upper hand, so any scuffles were quickly disengaged from. Instead of hissing and spitting at each other like a couple of stray cats, Splyce and G2 were more than content with playing things safe and taking their time with farming. The first towers didn’t start to fall until around 15 minutes, when G2 and Splyce took out two towers between them, and first blood wasn’t drawn until 19 minutes when Kobbie dropped to Zven.
It was enough to finally get the ball rolling. G2 and Splyce soon found themselves duking it out in the Rift just a couple of minutes later, with Splyce picking up three kills and only one going to G2. At this point, Splyce had the advantage. They had nabbed the Cloud Drake, three turrets, the 2k+ gold lead, vision in the river, and a four kill lead after acing G2 in a disaster of a team fight at 24 minutes. Splyce was getting ready for a massive upset, but a miserable attempt at stealing the first Baron allowed G2 enough wiggle room to get themselves back into the game.
G2 took the opportunity without hesitation, and they flipped the tables on Splyce in a heartbeat. By 33 minutes, they had an almost 4k gold lead, the second Ocean Drake, six turrets, and were only down by one kill. Splyce had suddenly found themselves on the defense, but they managed to catch G2 in the jungle at 34 minutes when they were positioned just far enough apart to lose three of their five. G2 managed to get a kill on Splyce, but Splyce chased a fourth kill down to make a risk-free run for the Baron. A marginal lead reclaimed, all either team really needed was one successful team fight to close out the series.
That team fight should have been at 42 minutes. G2 tore Splyce apart over the Elder Drake, and took both the Elder Drake and Baron Nasher within seconds of each other. This was G2’s chance, but they couldn’t quite use the buffs to immediately take game five. While they failed to bag any kills, G2 was able to skirt around the edges of Splyce’s base to take out their Inhibitors, destroying one and ducking back into the jungle to catch a breath before returning for another objective. Splyce defended their final Inhibitor with everything they had, pushing G2 back into the lanes over and over again until their Baron buff had run out, but they weren’t able to gain any ground for themselves. At 51 minutes, with Splyce having been decimated outside of the pit and the death timers up to 50 seconds, G2 closed in and shattered their Nexus to win the first fifth game they have played in the EU LCS.
G2 will move on to compete against H2K Gaming in the semifinals next Sunday at 11:00 AM EST but, if this series was anything to go by, their journey to the finals will be a very rough one.