Peaks and Valleys: Is Caps at his best?

Source: LoL Esports

Rasmus "Caps" Winther is one of the greatest League of Legends players of all time. His countless iconic plays and victories have forged a legacy few exceed. In his rookie season in 2017, he was already making top 8’s at Worlds. By 2019, he was a back-to-back Worlds finalist and a Mid-Season Invitational champion with two different teams. In 2020, he was doing a push for his third consecutive Worlds finals and taking games off the best team in world in DAMWON Gaming, and was on the very top of the western hemisphere in LoL esports.


But in 2021, Caps’ career looked to be in trouble. Failing to win the LEC or qualify for Worlds, his team, G2 Esports, was in turmoil. Caps, who a year ago was in conversation for being one of the best in the world, fell out of the talk.


When some players fall, they never get back up — something Caps had even admitted considering. "I could barely see a few weeks forward. I was thinking about just quitting League. I was thinking about the fact that I wasn't good enough because I did as poorly as I did," he told Inven Global earlier this February.


Yet, the Danish mid laner overcame the slump and started anew in 2022, playing with a new top laner and a new young bot lane. While there were growing pains, this new G2 lineup soon became one of the best in the region. Though several other teams were favored in the 2022 LEC playoffs, Caps showed off an unreal playoff form and carried the team to a 12-0 streak to win the event. Add to that the opening games of MSI 2022 and he’s stretched that run of wins to 20-0. 


He’s better than the Caps we saw in 2021. The question remains, though: is he back to his peak form? Is he once again of the very best players in the world? Could he even be better than ever? In this article, we’ll look at Caps' past performances and compare his achievements, his individual play, and the context surrounding these years. 


2017 - A Bold Beginning

Source: LoL Esports

The beginning of Caps’ career begins when he joined the EU LCS with Fnatic in 2017. Of course, Caps competed for two years before that in 2015, but it’s safe to say his time on teams like Enigma Esports, Nerv, and Dark Passage doesn’t come close to the excellence he’d achieve later on. He was mechanically gifted, but his youth and surrounding players prevented him from winning anything. 


While his talent was immediately noticed — soon dubbed “Baby Faker” — he didn’t have the discipline to regard him with the most elite mid laners. Not only that, but the rebuilding lineup meant there wasn’t as much cohesion as some of his other teams. Still, he established himself in the Spring Split as one of the most impactful mid laners in Europe — even making the EU All-Pro 2nd Team. His team has some good results too — two third placings in the EU LCS’s Spring and Summer Splits, as well as a win at the Regional Finals to qualify for Worlds. His first international event had some cool storylines, such as winning a three-way tie to advance to the quarterfinals. However, making it that far was not much of an anomaly for Europe.   


Though a great debut for Caps, it doesn’t reach his peak. His tournament success wasn’t the best, and he wasn’t considered the main option of the team, as he would be later on. While he proved to be very talented, he often zeroed in on plays that could cost his team. 


2018 - Caps Is Here

Source: LoL Esports

This is the year Caps became the player we know and love — he not only put himself in the running for the best player in Europe, but one of the best in the World (earning the Summer EU LCS MVP). He had refined his aggressive style to the point where he wasn't dying as much to over-risky plays. His team was now very strong — boasting the legendary Zdravets "Hylissang" Iliev Galabov, and a young Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau. His team record was looking stronger as well — winning the Spring and Summer championships, as well as showing off a semifinal run at MSI and a finals run at Worlds.


It was a very strong year, and one instrumental in building up his legendary legacy. One of the most important points of this year was how Caps dealt with difficult situations. When Rekkles was not in as much of a position to carry because of the marksman meta at the time, Caps gave one of the most impressive carry-jobs of his career in the Summer Playoffs. Still though, most of the year he was being aided by other superstar players, and his team success did not reach the peaks of other years.


2019 - Wow. Just…Wow

Source: LoL Esports

It’s still insane how good G2 Esports were in 2019 — and how good Caps was himself. Leaving Fnatic, Caps took over the mid lane for G2. The team worked beautifully together, had a perfect understanding of the meta, and an insane amount of talent — each player among the best in their position. From there they went on an unbelievable streak of dominance — winning every domestic competition, Rift Rivals, and MSI.


He finished the year with another run to the finals of Worlds — their only event loss of the year. It remains one of the best years for a team in League of Legends history. On top of that, his individual play was also brilliant — top honors at every turn: EU All-Pro 1st Team nods for Spring and Summer, the LEC Summer MVP award, and the MSI MVP award.


Success-wise, it’s hard for any player to beat the magic that was 2019 Caps. However, there are some points to consider. For one thing, the rest of the major regions were arguably not as competitive as they are currently — you didn’t have a team like 2022’s T1 or 2020’s DWG KIA. Additionally, while Caps was individually excellent, the unprecedented strength of his team should not be ignored, and should be factored into how we perceive his relative strength compared to other years. Still, there’s not much else he could’ve done outside of winning the Worlds finals. Overall, this year was a benchmark that any Western player would pray to have, and the benchmark for Caps.


2020 - Cakewalk Of Wins

Source: LoL Esports

There were many factors outside of Caps’ (and every player's) control in 2020, so it's difficult to gauge his skill. He didn’t get to compete at MSI, and wasn’t able to play in front of an audience — the environment he historically plays best in. However, whether because of complacency or other teams getting better, he just wasn't as strong in 2020 as 2019, or ever 2018. 


While still one of the best players in the LEC, he didn’t show as much of the consistent dominance as before — his individual honors falling short of his 2019 accomplishments. He also made the odd move to swap to AD carry for part of the year, and obviously wasn’t as good as his peak mid lane form. Team-wise, despite working with the same lineup that dominated 2019, it wasn’t as strong. They won competitions, but not with the same brutal dominance they had in the past (even if this was intentional, you still like to see one-hundred percent effort at all times from a team). It wasn't as hungry. At Worlds, G2 couldn't replicate their previous success, and fell to the eventual winners in the semifinals — the first time Caps had failed to make the finals in three years. A very successful year, but one that lacks the hunger and energy of 2019. 


2021 - The Sad Year

Source: LoL Esports

This year was sad. I was sad, G2 fans were sad, and Caps was sad. There were some impressive performances from him occasionally, but the G2 lineup just didn’t have the same cohesion and understanding of the meta that they did in the past, and Caps stated  some of the methods he used to get to improve were actually detrimental. A good year by the standards of many professional players, but not for Caps.


2022 - The Back Year

Source: LoL Esports

So far, 2022 has been a very strong year for Caps, one that is contending for the best in his career. Statistically, he’s on track to follow the same line of brilliance he has shown in previous years, and the same can be said for his accolades. Already he has won the Spring Championship, as well as the LEC Finals MVP — doing so in a way with the same motivated will that draws back to 2019. While their MSI performance ended on a disappointing note, it’s hard to deny that Caps was one of the best performing players in the tournament. At the time of this article, he continues to be a strong player in LEC competition. 


What sets apart this win from the many championships he has won in the past is the manner in which he has done it. This is one of the most unproven lineups Caps has ever played with — the only comparable team being his Fnatic lineup in 2017. Raphaël "Targamas" Crabbé and Victor "Flakked" Lirola are still very new. Though good, they haven’t shown the dominance of the bot lanes led by players like Luka "Perkz" Perković and Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle.  Sergen "BrokenBlade" Çelik has always been a strong top laner, but he’s never been seen as of the same caliber (until very recently) as some of the top laners Caps played with before.


Despite the raw nature of his team, Caps’ carry heroics have made them champions. Of course, it’s not as though his teammates are dead weight, but it was only once Caps began putting regular monstrous performances that the team started to succeed — a situation he has rarely been put into throughout his career. So while it’s hard to say he’s surpassed the magic of 2019 — he would have to at least come close to the team success he experienced that year — it’s safe to say that Caps has returned to the hungry and unstoppable sage we saw in 2019. As Caps told Inven Global earlier this year, "It feels good to be back."







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