Being a part of G2 Esports’ League of Legends roster isn’t easy.
When G2 are on a winning streak, as was the case during the spring split, the narrative often shifts to “When will they lose, and who will beat them?” As for their losing streaks, speculations can go rampant as to why a previously unbeatable team has stumbled so. Right now, G2 sit at a 0-3 record in the new Patch 10.14 meta, their latest defeat being a very unexpected one at the hands of 2-10 Schalke 04.
But for their head coach, Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann, narratives are an afterthought at best as he keeps G2 focused during winning streaks and motivated during losses. And it has not been easy as of late, as Luka “PerkZ” Perkovic has needed as much recovery time as possible, and as burnout management is necessary to prevent a crash similar to the one they experienced against FunPlus Phoenix in 2019 from happening.
Inven Global was able to chat with GrabbZ following the team’s defeat against Origen on Week 5, where he explained what factors into G2’s losing streak, particularly given the current circumstances and how the meta is shaping up. Below is a full transcript of the exchange.
It's been a rocky summer season for you as a coach overall. Could you please walk me through it from your perspective?
We obviously don't have the best preparation going into the week, and it shows. We have some drafts where it's easy to say, in hindsight, "Yeah, if we would have known this-or-this, we would have drafted differently."
The main impact is that we're not quite sure now where the meta lies. Today, there was the Senna: it didn't appear too much; Upset played it a bit in solo queue, but we weren't sure if he's actually going to go for it, especially if other picks are open like the Ashe which I see more and Aphelios.
[Against Origen], if we end with two bot lane bans, and we still lose bot lane — not just matchup-wise, not even play-wise — the games are going to be hard.
We have lots of outside circumstances that impact our practice. Understandably, certain players aren't in a great mindset to practice, so we give them the time to heal. We try to make the best of it.
Our play is usually good. It's just that with the current meta, side laning is not possible, or that's how it feels like. There's no champ that can go side lane pretty well; if you have a worse team fight comp, you just lose. That's the main issue.
"Usually, in the past, we would have champions who have more individual freedom, and they would be able to give us an advantage. But now, these champs don't exist as much, so these issues get amplified."
It sounds, on one hand, like a playstyle issue where everyone has to adapt to a completely different way of playing...
No, I wouldn't say that. We don't have the full information [on the meta.] This week, we played nine games of scrims, so there's only a finite amount of time you have. Then, if you go into the game thinking "X is good" and it turns out that it isn't, then you lose, especially in a meta where there's no individual playmaking, and just hoping that your 5v5 is better — and that's even worse.
Usually, in the past, we would have champions who have more individual freedom, and they would be able to give us an advantage. But now, these champs don't exist as much, so these issues get amplified.
Okay, I wonder if I'm actually reaching, but does the ability of someone having personal agency in the game seem to be gone? I hope I'm not completely misunderstanding this.
To an extent, yeah. Just compare the champion pools between [2019 and now].
[In mid,] there were picks like Akali, Ryze, Sylas, Irelia, Jayce — picks that could put pressure on their own and where we can show mechanics on. Right now, the meta is basically: blind pick Orianna/Azir, and just scale.
Bot lane: it was more Xayah-Rakan, or Kai'Sa, where there's also a bit more skill expression. Right now, we have very immobile champs - I think Ezreal and Kalista are the only two, and they were banned today.
The top [lane] pool also suffers from it. Beforehand, we had flex picks that I have mentioned before. Now, you see the Ornn blind pick. Wukong could be a [flex] pick, but he's not easy to blind.
It's just teamfight-heavy, which is not a bad thing, but if we as a team don't have the correct information because of our limited practice, then it just shows. There's only so much that our players can compensate.
"Of course, we don't want to lose, and we all hate that we are losing: five losses are too many for a team like G2."
Could you also please tell me about having to account for so many outside variables before even going into practice, to a point where you'd go "if things go bad, that's the way of it, but we'll do our best without fully knowing whether it'll work out for sure"? That's quite scary.
It's manageable, because we have high confidence, and we know how good we can be. We still think, even in those games where it was doomed from the draft, that we played better — especially in the early game [against Origen.] It's just that at some point we can't catch up anymore with the draft difference.
We also manage expectations: we know that our circumstances are not the best, and we know that we probably could have had better practice, but we just that our goal is not to be first place in the regular season, but to be strong for the playoffs.
If we have little practice going into the week, and we say "yeah, going 0-2 could happen, it could happen that we don't know how the meta works out, and that's fine." We just keep the confidence up, that we are a strong team, especially [since] we historically shine more in best-of-5s in one meta. We can learn. It's about reaching that stage.
Of course, we don't want to lose, and we all hate that we are losing: five losses are too many for a team like G2. But we also accept that this might be the variance of best-of-1s. We're not going to use our circumstances as an excuse, but I think that everybody can see that it impacts us a lot. We try to manage the best of it. We know that expectations can backfire, so nobody's really panicking or feeling bad about it, more than usual.
I'm reassured to hear that there is some level of expectation management considering the circumstances. It lessens the blow of a defeat when it happens, and in the end, you can fall back on knowing that you will get better anyway from practice. But with any roster that you have coached throughout your career, would it have been possible at all to take that break, and to manage expectations this way?
Yeah, and I don't think that it's only a G2 thing. I do believe that it's about being open and talking about it before the fact, so that if I go to my guys and tell them: "We only had nine matches of scrims, and we could lose", it's not an excuse, but if we're not going to have [as much time as possible,] let's make the best of it and see what it brings us, then I prevent the fallout.
Any team should have damage prevention beforehand if you just talk openly about how practice went. That being said, we still felt confident from our nine games that we could have a good week, and that did not hold through.
"Even though we hate losing, we don't care whether we end the season 9-9 or whatever as long as we get to the playoffs and win the split."
Let's talk about managing expectations — in losses and in wins — throughout your years of coaching: how does that go? We're not only talking losses but also managing player morale during wins so that they don't slack.
It basically becomes a game of saying why we won, or why we lost. There's nothing more frustrating than losing a game and having no idea why — and that plays into the fact that we have a good mood, because these losses are very easily explainable, and it's not rocket science.
Same thing if you're winning: you should still look at the fact that we won despite the mistakes we made. These players are hungry, and they look at their own shortcomings. Especially for us as a team, we know that best-of-1s don't really excite us, but we still try to get the best out of it so that, for best-of-5s, we feel more prepared.
If we lose, it's about finding out what the reasons are, about realizing that losses aren't dropping from the heavens - there's a clear reason for them, and if we work on it, then it's fine.
If you win, just hold the goal in front of you. Even though we hate losing, we don't care whether we end the season 9-9 or whatever as long as we get to the playoffs and win the split. That's what helps when we're losing, and also grounds us when we're winning.
Communication is everything when it comes to managing expectations. That's what can make or break a team: if you mismanage that, certain players on their own feel differently, and you have friction [from that.] So as long as the team as a whole knows what we want to achieve and what our goals are, then taking a loss or more losses will not matter too much.
We would like to thank GrabbZ once again for his thoroughness despite G2’s circumstances and their recent results. Tune in to the LEC on Saturday, July 25, to see whether his team will snap their four-game losing streak by snapping the red-hot Rogue’s four-game winning streak.