G2 Esports won the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational. It was G2’s first international championship title and Europe claimed their first international championship in 8 years, since season 1 of Worlds. Like Worlds 2018, the meta in MSI 2019 was also about speed and fighting. The ‘wolf pack’ meta was like a formula to win in this tournament, and G2 Esports utilized it the best.
Also, G2 enjoyed attempting risky plays. When they attempted a play, they prioritized the benefits they’ll gain when they succeed, rather than worrying about the things they would give up when it fails, and mostly, they took benefit through their plays. Their opponents were frustrated by those plays and G2 pressured with more power.
‘Wolf Pack’ MetaPacking up to earn benefits
In the past, macro was about making a situation they want and fighting when there seem to be no variables, and taking benefits in the side while minimizing losses in the main forces. This was the LCK style meta that had dominated the LoL Esports scene for many years. All teams tried to learn and adapt to this meta.
At that time, the ‘wolf pack’ meta, in which all players of the team run around together, was a good example of a ‘bad’ macro. It was trying to make unreasonable compensations while being unable to stop the opponents’ sidelane macro. It was an unstable style, and the results had proved them wrong. However, now the meta changed to that; roaming around in packs to jump in and initiate fights faster and more aggressive than opponents can anticipate. Result-wise, G2 was the team that was the best to do that in MSI 2019.
In a group stage match against Team Liquid, G2 displayed their strengths in a mid lane skirmish at the 13-minute mark. Perkz’s Kai’Sa gave up a solo kill to Doublelift’s Lucian and was on the verge of losing CS in bot lane. In that situation, the previous meta would have had a jungler or supporter cover for the minions, but G2’s choice was initiating a mid lane skirmish. Jankos’ Olaf and Mikyx’s Nautilus was prepared for the opponents’ mid gank. This decision G2 made brought a bigger benefit than covering for the CS in bot lane.
There was another good example of G2’s style in the game against Flash Wolves. G2 had a good win situation with Caps’ Sylas Baron steal. The old style would have been split pushing sidelanes while the main troops pressure mid. However, G2’s choice was to swarm down bot to cut off Hanabi’s Ryze.
It could have been said it was overinvestment, but as soon as G2 killed Ryze, they marched through bot lane. Their choice was most likely because they wouldn’t be able to push quickly enough if Ryze was alive. G2 continued to push until Ryze revived. Although they weren’t able to close the game at that point, since they destroyed the bottom inhibitor, they were able to secure the next objective.
As the tournament went on, G2’s ‘wolf pack’ meta and their mechanics that make their plays possible became more and more precise. The only teams that were able to defeat G2 were teams that denied G2’s attempts head to head.
In Game 4 of the semifinals against SK Telecom T1, G2 packed around and rolled the snowball bigger. Of course, this time as well, there was a good reason to do so. G2 had pushed their opponents away from top lane. As G2 didn’t seem to take more benefits, SKT went back to their lanes. What they didn’t know was that G2 was already preparing their next move. All players except Wunder gathered around top lane to surround Teddy’s Ashe and Mata’s Tahm Kench. The two fell, and they gave up a turret as well, which widened the gap between the two teams.
Thinking in SKT’s shoes, it was a play that was nearly impossible to predict. It was only a minute after the top lane skirmish, so they thought if they have proper lane distribution, the opponent wouldn’t be able to dive in easily. Unfortunately for them, G2’s creativeness didn’t think so.
G2’s thoughts were even if they were to lose other lanes’ CS, they knew that if they cut off the bot duo and destroy the turret, they would take bigger benefits. Also, they knew that while they attempt that play, the next CS wave wouldn’t reach mid lane so that SKT wouldn’t be able to destroy the mid lane turret. This was another good example of G2’s decisive detailed plays.
Attempting Risky PlaysSkating on thin ice to bring desired results
There’s another reason to G2’s championship at the MSI: all players of the team know how to reel in the results they want with outstanding mechanics. If the opponents were able to evade one skillshot, the opposite would have happened, but G2 overcame those situations through their mechanics. This strength of G2 was displayed countless times in their matches.
G2 started to plan a dive in Game 2 of the semifinals against SKT. They had pushed SKT’s bottom duo under their turret. It wasn’t easy because Khan’s Hekarim had already arrived, but Caps’ Akali patiently timed his dive well. He used his Flash and ult to record a dive kill.
Watching the play again, this play was very risky. Faker’s Sylas was already going ahead on CS in mid lane, and since Caps used his Flash to go in, if Hekeraim dealt well with the situation, he could have died together. Since Wunder’s Neeko didn’t come, it would have been about the same regarding CS, but a 1:1 exchange wouldn’t have been welcome for G2. Exchanging the same number of kills is always a loss when ahead.
However, Caps pulled off the play. He survived from Hekarim’s skills purely with his mechanics and escaped the scene alive. Caps’ Akali in that moment was a good example of G2’s strengths: attempting risky plays… and actually pulling off the plays.
Like this, G2 proved that their interpretation of the meta was correct to teams from other regions. Wolf packing to take more benefit than the losses they give up in other places due to their absence, not being afraid of the risks there are when they attempt plays, and the remarkable mechanics of each and every player. LoL is in an era of aggressiveness and making detailed plays, which were G2’s sharpest weapons.