For the first time since its promotion to the League of Legends European Championship — at the time known as the 2016 EU LCS — G2 Esports will spend the entirety of the 2021 World Championship from home. G2 failed to qualify for Worlds after being eliminated by Fnatic 3-2 in the 2021 LEC Summer Playoffs, with FNC securing the third and final seed to represent the LEC at Worlds 2021 alongside Rogue and MAD Lions.
A few weeks after the end of G2 Esports' 2021 season, jungler Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski sat down with Inven Global to reflect on the year as a whole, compare G2's 2021 to its previous seasons, and look ahead to Worlds in Iceland next month.
Looking back on the season as a whole, is there anything you feel you could have done individually to help the team go further?
I feel like the answer is always to step in and play better. Individually, I played better, but I definitely could have done more to play even better in the Summer Playoffs. Maybe I could have had a better champion understanding and I could have pushed more for the Lee Sin pick in game 5 against Fnatic. I felt like I could make the same level of impact on other champions, but it didn't really seem like I did.
I also think that the game is currently more about the team than anything. If you are on the same page as a team and you play well as a team, that will kind of cover individual flaws. Five players playing well as a team will win over five players who are slightly better individually.
Of course, in the end, you cannot be sh*t. [laughs] You can't just be straight-up bad individually and win, but I think that if you are slightly worse than your opponent individually, you can definitely still outperform if you are the better team.
As a quick follow-up to that, I'd love to hear what you think has changed about the game that has led to what you just described, especially given how many years you've played professionally.
I think the game is still kind of played in a similar fashion. I think the game has developed over the years to be a more teamplay-focused game. Currently, I feel like whoever can snowball harder through the early game with roams from the mid lane will win.
The mid laner is not allowed to roam on his own: he needs the support, which means he needs the bot lane, he needs the top lane to set up the wave well, and he needs the jungler to be around pretty much at all times to make sure that the mid and top waves are set up so that they can get Rift Herald afterwards. Then they can get more gold from the turret plates they get with the Rift Herald and maybe even go for two towers if they feel like it. The drakes are also a team objective.
We often see 8-minute fights for Rift Herald in LPL, which is something that didn't happen as much before. Turret plates are a team objective, as are drakes and the herald, so we just see more situations where you have to be on the same page as your team. You need to make sure you are strong as five, you are understanding each other, and know which decisions to make to optimize for the play.
Your first series of the Summer Playoffs was against MAD Lions. What were the expectations going into the match, and what factors led to your loss?
I think we had pretty good prep against MAD. I think we were winning most of the scrims against our scrim partners and it felt like we were actually in a pretty good state at that given moment. When we played MAD, though, it felt like we played slightly more to the bottom side of the map and they played slightly more to the top side. Both are a correct way to play the game, but it felt like we made more mistakes in the mid and late game parts of the series.
When MAD got ahead, they snowballed the lead better than we did when we got ahead. Of course, in the games we got ahead, we managed to close out, but I think we were struggling a little bit more. I thought game 1 was a good example of how well we can play when we get ahead. In that specific game, MAD Lions were running into us, and in every other game, we were kind of behind early and had to fight our way back in. Sometimes we succeeded; sometimes we didn't.
MAD was playing as a team more to roam to top lane, while we were trying to play through bot lane. In the Summer Playoffs, I think playing for top lane seemed easier, so we got quite behind often in our early games. That would snowball into not being able to play the mid game well.
Was it the same story against Fnatic?
I think that we actually tried to change our playstyle a little bit against Fnatic. We tried to play more for teamfights and contest a lot of teamfight picks. I think the priorities we had against MAD were way different from our priorities against Fnatic. We preferred a lot of Orianna into roaming champions with the idea of outscaling them and winning teamfights instead of playing the style with LeBlanc or Twisted Fate in the mid lane that we wanted to play against MAD Lions.
Our plan didn't really seem to work against Fnatic because they are also a fast-paced team. They will punish you a lot for your mistakes and they roam a lot around the map while we were playing with high priority on Braum.
I think it made sense to pick Rakan away from Fnatic. You shouldn't give Fnatic Rakan, but outside of that, it felt like we blind picked Braum a lot and they would go with a full roaming style composition. They even had Pyke support, which is not really played competitively if you don't blind pick Braum.
I think we gave Fnatic too much space for their own playstyle, and while I think we got what we wanted in terms of our priorities that week, I think our plan against MAD Lions would have been better against Fnatic specifically. The playstyle from our Fnatic series would have most likely been better against Rogue. This is all speaking from hindsight. I think that both series could have been won if we had just played better as a team and made better decisions around the gameplay.
How much of G2 being challenged more this year was due to the other LEC teams improving?
I do think that overall teams have gotten much better. There are a lot of young players that are definitely stepping up. I think Inspired has improved a lot, especially this year. I think Elyoya is stepping up quite a lot as well; I think the bot lane of Kaiser and Carzzy is very, very strong. I think that Rogue as a team overall has stepped up quite a lot as well, and I think Fnatic found the roster they needed with their changes to the jungle and top lane positions.
It feels like all of the teams kind of found their way of getting better. It feels like that we are maybe not as ahead of the players on other teams as we were before on an individual level and we are not as ahead in macro as we used to be compared to 2019.
I think in 2020 you could already see that teams were challenging us more. We couldn't cleanly swipe either of that seasons' Playoffs — we lost to MAD Lions in spring and Fnatic in summer. In the end, we did secure the championship, but it was not as one-sided as it was in 2019. It made sense that if we didn't step up enough in 2021 that we could struggle in the post-season, and that's what happened.
One of the big talking points throughout this year was your guys’ schedules and how you all manage things outside of the game. Is this something you think the team still has solved, or does it need serious reevaluation?
I mean, I do think that G2 probably has a tougher schedule than...I look to other teams, I think that we have to develop content for the organization. Which makes sense, because we are a big name. And I think all of the other teams, their organizations just don't have as much exposure, so maybe they just don't have to put in as much work.
We also tried implementing a lot of schedules around the team. And I think that some of the changes were bad, and some of them were good. And we adapted in a way. So I think the changes that were good stayed, and the changes that were bad went away. So it just felt like in Summer Split our schedule was good. After the first 3-4 weeks I think, we had very good changes in the schedule. And I think it stayed with us, including playoffs. And it was not a part of the problem.
I felt like our schedule overall helped us to get close as a team, and helped us to kind of build up our individual relationships again. And it's something we didn't have in Spring Split or the scheduled part.
So I felt like maybe we were not as connected to Rekkles, for example, as we could have been possible in Spring Split, but the schedule helped a lot in Summer Split. So I think that it helped us quite a lot, at least in Summer Split. When we started making sure that there's something to follow throughout the day.
Every player on G2 Esports was voted in by the community for one of the three KIA All-Pro teams for the 2021 LEC Summer Split. Do you think this was a fair assessment?
I mean, I think it's hard to say. I think that the players that were chosen made sense that they did. Because in the end, I don't think we have bad players this year. I just think that we're not good enough as a team.
I felt like we should have been better than maybe we showed in Playoffs. And individually, I still believe that our roster is pretty decent. And as much as if you'd not give the pro vote to the players that got them, then they'll still be up there. If they will not be at the first position they will maybe be second or third — Mikyx got it, Caps got it, and Rekkles got it.
So I think it is deserved, in a way. And you could argue that maybe it's not, because again it's a fan vote. Or maybe you could argue that after performances in playoffs, you could give it to other people. But keep in mind that the vote happened before playoffs. And at that moment, we improved so much from the first half of the split to the second half of the split.
We were dominating pretty much everyone including MAD Lions. We only struggled against Fnatic I think during the first and second half. So I think it made sense to vote for our players and I think that was deserved.
Do you think All-Pro’s should be something primarily decided by the fans?
I mean, I think that definitely fans don't know as much about the game as we do. But I don't mind having something like that. It is in the end a community—All-Pro votes. So the name is community, right? So we want the community to vote for who is in their opinion, the best players in Europe.
In the end, we as players have our own opinions: who is actually good and who is not good. And that's between us. And we don't have to be as public about it. And if we make a community voting, then the community will choose who is in their opinion their best player.
And maybe it's close in votes and maybe it seems a little bit that sometimes that, "Oh, this player shouldn't be as high because this year, he was not performing as well. And he's just there because he has the most fans." As could happen with me last year, for example. I think that it doesn't really matter that much. Because again, this reward doesn't mean much. I mean, I would like to receive one because this year, they actually got like a statue beforehand.
I think there was a statue for being the MVP, but never something for being a part of the All-Pro Team. Now they actually give you something for being part of the All-Pro Team. So I would really like to be one next year. [laughs] Because I would like to get stuff. I think it's super cool. But the value is sentimental. It's not something that I know you will sell or something that you will flex with, so I think it's completely fine.
In your post-playoffs update video, you spoke a lot of how you’re going to be playing solo queue in order to stay sharp for next season. Once Worlds is over—will you still be doing it? What are you plans beyond that?
I think that since Worlds are in Europe, it makes sense to play now. Because all the teams will come over and all the good players will be here. So I think I'll just play. I'm also a person who doesn't do many things outside of League of Legends. So of course, I spend a lot of time with my friends and family.
I will want to take a vacation before the next splits happens—so before January. I don't know when that will be, I planned it next month in October, because the weather will still be somewhat doable. And my friends need to take time off work for that to happen.
And I feel like it's a good timing even though Worlds will be on. But if that will not happen, if someone drops out or if maybe I'm needed elsewhere, then I feel like I will definitely want to still take vacation. And I will figure out how to and where to do that. And except for that I will be playing solo queue and be streaming.
I will most likely be playing some other games on stream as well. Because in the end, after my career, I want to be a streamer. So I want to be more versatile with the games I play on stream. I didn't really want to play other games during the season, because I feel like it would be a waste of time.
During the season, I was playing only League, and spending time with a team. But now that the season is over, I think I can play a little bit of other games. And except for that, I'll be streaming, I'll be playing solo queue, I'll be trying to have a good form for the January and for the next split.
Other top LEC junglers question the value of solo queue. What is your perspective?
I do think that solo queue is not super useful, honestly. I think the only value it brings is making sure that your mechanics are on a decent level. And outside of that you can practice champions in solo queue. So if you need to learn a champion, you just got to solo queue, play 20 games of it and then you hopefully know how to play the champion.
If that's not enough, you maybe play it more in scrims. Or maybe you don't need as many games, maybe you need a little bit of games to get some confidence on the champion. It depends on the player. But I don't think that solo queue is very useful during the season. I think scrims are way more important. I think playing around the team is way more important. I thinks reviews are way more important. I think watching replays is way more important. So solo queue is the last thing on the list.
That being said, in offseason, not much you can do, right? You obviously don't practice with the team anymore because there's nothing to practice for. And even if you practice with the patch we are going to play on in January—it's so so much different than the patch that is at Worlds that the whole season changes will come out by the end of the year.
I think that you can play a little bit just for the sake of maybe building up the team, again, to make sure that you guys are on the same page. And not much changes from like 2021 to 2022, so that you guys still are kind of good. Yeah, it's not really useful. But you can practice champions and practice mechanics.
And with the question about if the value go up a little bit when all the good players come. I think the value will go up definitely because we'll be able to face actual good players. I feel like on EU-West, we have some decent players, but pro players are still the best. But now we are gonna have pro players from different regions. So if you get into the same game, I think it's interesting to see.
From all the solo queues I've played around the world, I still think that Korea's is the best. Because it felt like people were super try hard to not int as much. Of course, there's int games and int players. I felt solo queue in Korea was the best. And then Europe is actually not bad as well. I think it's fine to play but doesn't bring much value if we are competing as a team.
Do you think it’s a possible benefit for Western teams—that we’re used to awful solo queue anyway—whereas Eastern teams have to make the adjustment?
I think that it depends. If you get mentally affected by the solo queue, then it's your problem in a way. Because I think solo queue, like I mentioned, is almost no value. You just practice mechanics and it's so much more about the team. So if you go into solo queue, and you get mentally affected by people playing bad or just being toxic, you can always just mute them and play your own game.
And as long as League of Legends is a team game in solo queue both and in competitive, then you have to keep in mind that these are not the players you would always be competing with. And if you have int teammates and if you hate them, all you have to do is get through this one game and focus on yourself and then just start another game and hope for better teammates. If you hate everyone on the server, then while it sucks, you will go home after and you will play with other players.
So I think that it brings an advantage if you cannot mentally deal with that solo queue. And if you have to play a lot of solo queue to stay sharp or you are that kind of player that just has to play 20 games a day on top of scrims—then it can make you maybe slightly worse compared to...yeah.
Maybe ShowMaker in the Korean solo queue plays 20 games a day, or 10 games a day of solo queue on top of scrims and then he goes to Europe and he hates solo queue so he doesn't play as much, then maybe it gives us an edge in a way, because he's just not playing as much so maybe he's not as sharp. So I think it can be explained that way. But I think for pro-players, their mental should be strong enough. And I mean, I'm also tilting in solo queue sometimes so I'm not surprised there.
I do think that in Korea at least, solo queue was for sure better than Europe. So I'm not surprised if they come over and are a little bit upset with the level of play or maybe with the attitude or toxicity of the players. But I still think that the European solo queue is for me at least—it seems definitely decent. You can still play and you can still kind of play the game.
Give your perspective on both Elyoya and Inspired—how they've grown and how you think they’ll do against top Asian junglers.
Yeah, I mean, I think both of them are very, very good. I think Inspired is maybe more methodical. It feels like he has a lot of plans in-game and he tries to follow them. I also felt like he was better in that two minute clear meta than the 2:15, because it just feels like he's always on his camps. Like he's always full clearing. That's what it feels like to me.
But at the same time, Inspired is very good mechanically. And he plans his clears in a way where he will be at the right time at the right place. So I think he was definitely the most consistent jungler in Europe, this split or this year even.
And for Elyoya, I think he's...well more of a rookie than Inspired is definitely, and he's a little bit more crazy. And he's more open minded towards changes. And when he sees a play, he will most likely go for it. So he can give up camps more I think, to help his teammates. And he's also not afraid to make plays.
So I think they are definitely slightly different junglers, but both of them are very, very good mechanically. And both of them performed very well to that team strength. I just think that gameplay from Rogue is different than gameplay from MAD. So I think that the both junglers played to their team's strengths very well. And both of them I think, will perform well against international junglers in their own way, kind of.
This is the first time in quite a while we've seen you not be one of the representatives at Worlds for Europe. How do you think these three teams as kind of a class so to speak, will do compared to previous European representatives?
No I mean, I think that we can do well. I think that looking at MAD Lions especially—I think that this team is pretty good right now. So I think they can definitely fight for top positions: maybe even win Worlds. It is still hard to say, because whenever every team goes to Worlds, every region wants to believe in their own teams and wants to believe that, "Oh, this this year my region can actually win." And then well, it's just not that simple. In the end, it's like one best-of-five and you're in our out.
You can even go as far as to lose in the group stage and not be able to perform in a best-of-five, if some teams maybe are better in best-of-fives than best-of-ones. I think teams like MAD Lions can be very good at Worlds. I definitely do believe in MAD if they keep on the gameplay they did. And also they were kind of close during MSI to beat DAMWON—in the end DAMWON also lost to RNG—but I mean, I'm excited to see MAD at Worlds.
I'm also excited to see Fnatic at Worlds. I think both teams can still grow a lot, and both teams can perform much better. I think for Rogue I am the most hesitant because it felt like we were also dominating them in scrims by the end of the split. And I don't know if they got worse, or we got better, because they used to win a lot of scrims against us at the beginning of the split. But yeah, I think they have the most distinct playstyle from the other top teams in Europe—so Fnatic and MAD.
I'm hoping that they will grow during the bootcamp as well. And I think that they can. I think that last year at least they got better quite a lot during the bootcamp. And they are the very top group, so they didn't make it true. But I mean, now again, they are the third seed. So there is a chance they get a really, really hard group and they don't make it through. But I believe that they can improve during the bootcamp and they can also perform well at Worlds—at least make it out of groups.
For other teams, I think that DAMWON is really strong. I think FPX is very strong. EDG is really, really strong obviously. I would say that FPX was way stronger than EDG, but then EDG won against FPX so I don't know what happened there. I think that the Korean teams are strong, too. So I don't know, it just feels like a lot of the teams are good.
I will not have as much inside information as I did previous years because I don't get to scrim against these teams, unless we actually do scrim as G2 still to maybe stay in shape for 2022. So we could technically scrim a little bit if these teams would actually want to scrim us, and then I'll have more in-depth knowledge about these teams.
For now, I think we have a chance for sure. And I will be cheering for European teams. At the same time, though, I feel like there's a lot of other strong regions. So we'll see.
Do you think Cloud9 can do well for Perkz’ sake?
Yeah, I mean, I will be cheering for Perkz. I don't know how much they can do going from Play-Ins to groups. And if they get a hard group, I think there's no way they're making it through. It's just reality. I just don't think they are that good of a team to make it through like a very difficult group.
If C9 gets a bit lucky, and they get maybe teams that perform decently in the leagues but don't perform as well internationally, then I think that they can still making it through. But they are going as the third seed.
The reality is normally, as the third seed, you can get a very, very, very hard group. I think we in 2018 with G2 also went as the third seed and we actually got pretty lucky that year, I believe. If they end up in a difficult group, I think it's gonna be hard for them to make it out of groups even. But of course, hoping for Perkz to go as far as possible. And I'll be cheering for him as well.
Out of all the NA teams, I think Cloud9 is the team to look forward to, for me at least. Just because Perkz is playing there. But I also feel like the team 100 Thieves brings...I actually don't know. I don't think they are that great. I mean, it's kind of weird to say because I'm the fourth seed from Europe, and they are the first seed from another region. I'm not even there. But I just feel like 100 Thieves are not very good. And same goes for Team Liquid. So I think that...yeah, I mean, we'll see how it goes.
You know Worlds from NA is always a surprise, or like always something to look forward to. Because you never know if this region will crash and burn like they did last year, or if they will actually perform slightly better than expectations are. So I'll be cheering for Cloud9. And I'll be looking forward to NA performances at Worlds and we will see how it goes for them.
I think that again, like something I mentioned in the beginning of the interview, if they play well was a team—that can definitely cover their individual flaws. And I also feel like the teams that are currently at World from NA—they have decent players because a lot of them are like imports. There's not that many NA players there. So obviously, they're not bad individually. So you know if they can step up and improve even harder for Worlds, then they can perform surprisingly well. So we will see.
All images by: Michal Konkol/Riot Games
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.