Big changes are coming to G2 Esports’ League of Legends European Championship roster in 2021. With the departure of their star-studded Bot Laner Luka "Perkz" Perković and the acquisition of Martin "Rekkles" Larsson, the team has stirred up the offseason, creating arguably the most hyped lineup in the upcoming season of LoL Esports.
G2 Esports Head Coach Fabian "GrabbZ" Lohmann joined Inven Global’s Lara Lunardi to discuss the team’s journey in 2020, the new roster, Perkz’s departure, and more.
Thank you GrabbZ for joining me. I’m sorry I took time off of your Warcraft grind. How is that going for you?
[laughs] Oh yeah, pretty well. I’m close to (lvl) 60, but of course, this interview here is not in the best timing… but I could find time for the fans to talk a bit.
What are you playing?
I’m playing an elemental shaman. It’s a pretty bad class but I have been playing it since Wow Classic, so I just ended up playing with that.
And did you end up playing with Wunder?
A bit yeah, but then I dropped out of a quest and he just went off on his own.
He just left you behind! [laughs]
Pretty much, yeah. [laughs] I was behind ten minutes, I couldn’t expect him to wait.
To start off with the serious topic, I wanted you to go over the year 2020. From the very beginning in Spring, to the very end. What are your thoughts and takeaways?
It’s been an awkward year for everybody, right? With the pandemic, everything felt new. Unfortunately, we fell short at the World Championship again, for the third year in a row we lost to the eventual winner. It’s getting kind of boring, honestly. I hope next year we’ll win, finally.
Everything is blurred since we are in the gaming house all the time, we didn’t really get out to play any games, even the finals felt different because there were no fans, the excitement was missing, we were sitting in a living room, basically, getting a trophy delivered, which is kind of awkward.
As a team, I think we improved. With the Perkz and Caps swap, we actually learned how to play the game better as five as opposed to the individual style we had in 2018. It also showed in the preparation for Worlds, of course with DAMWON as the roadblock, they were just better in style. They are an incredible team and there is no shame in losing to them, even though of course you feel disappointed in not reaching finals and being able to play in front of an audience again.
I am sure the players had quite a lot to adjust with the role swap, but what about you, personally? What was different for you in this scenario?
Not that much, honestly. The communication structure kind of was kept the same. Perkz was always vocal about the game, so if he is in Bot or Mid Lane it doesn’t really matter. Caps had to adapt in a more safe style as an AD Carry, compared to when he plays Akali and jumps into five people and survives.
Towards the end of Spring, I think we were a good team and I am kind of sad we could not prove it at the MSI. Ultimately, we swapped back because of how the players enjoy their roles. Caps did not enjoy the Bot Lane, and we didn’t want to force him to play there if he didn't want to. From there, we tried to protect the players from burnout, which was the main goal this year compared to 2019, because we felt really tired towards the end and this time around. We felt that we had way more to give at Worlds this year than last year. We’ll take these lessons next year as well.
Still on the role swap topic, Perkz ended up in NA. It’s crazy to think that well, he’s gone. How do you think he’s going to do?
Perkz will elevate the entire region. Starting with Solo Queue, he will show that the NA One Trick Ponies will have to actually adapt. He just has this aura that makes everyone try-hard. I think Cloud9 will be really, really strong. I also think he will instantly be the best Mid Laner in NA, no doubt about that. They are contenders and depending on how well it develops, they can be a threat internationally. No doubt he will succeed there and that Cloud9 will win Spring, at least.
Team Liquid looks strong as well, but I still think Cloud9 is favored depending on how Topside plays.
It’s the Perkz difference.
Yeah. Just the Perkz difference.
How do you think they will do internationally? Do you think they finally have a shot at reaching something meaningful at Worlds?
Winning is always hard, right? Because in the end luck is also a factor and only one team can win worlds. We were close many times, but it always feels like every year one team is just really strong. In 2018, it was Invictus Gaming, in 2019, FunPlus Phoenix, even then, IG was probably stronger than us, and now, DAMWON. So sure, Cloud9. There is a chance of course.
They have good players, but the meta has to be in their favor. Of course them being in NA will not help them develop, but if MSI happens they can learn and find these first roadblocks, and then they will be a threat at Worlds, I think. If that’s enough for them to win it, I’m not quite sure, but I can see them going to semifinals.
With Perkz going to NA, do you think his performance is going to suffer in any form?
Usually I would say yes to European players, but I can’t imagine Perkz being the kind of guy that would accept being worse than he actually is. He will make sure to try hard, I think, and they’ll have good supporting staff for him as well so he doesn’t get blindsided by the cultural differences in Solo Queue. He is very adamant about solo queue being important, and at the same time, he has very high standards. He’ll have Zven, he knows him from G2 times, so he will have a good surrounding to thrive in NA. He didn't go there to just cash out, even though allegedly he has a good contract.
What about your new Bot Laner? I’m curious as in how his conventional style would work in G2 and what would and wouldn’t work.
With Martin, well, the second Martin now with Wunder and Rekkles, and Marcin, actually. [laughs]
It’s going to be interesting to both parties who were a bit worried about the personality difference between him and Perkz. From the perspective of fans, it fits into the team, because of course, we look like the happy-go-lucky team has fun all the time and screams at random sh*t.
We had long talks with each other and the way he sees the game fits pretty well. Nobody’s worried about the in-game perspective, we all know he is going to be the best AD Carry in Europe with us. It’s more about how he would fit into the team, but we also have our serious moments in practice where we tone it down a notch until Jankos eats sugar on game days and then goes off and the entire team is in a good mood.
I just worry because Wunder and I are quiet people, so Rekkles won’t be the first guy who is not perma running and screaming around the house. I think it’s going to fit perfectly fine.
And what do you think this change means to FNATIC?
How Spicy do we wanna go today?
As spicy as you want I guess.
It sucks for the team of course. They are losing their cornerstone. It’s just hard to replace Rekkles, right? Also, just mentality-wise, he is a player that in the late-game, he can carry you, so you have something to fall back on. You can’t just get that trust, it has to be built up over time. It doesn’t matter who comes there, the players won’t have the same trust.
Apparently, they have disagreements on how to play the game, as Bwipo was very vocal about those issues, and that’s not going to help them. One thing that annoys me is the money topic, about how G2 buys the players because they come to us, see the atmosphere, the environment, and it just shows that that pays off. That’s why they come to us.
Their management has to answer some questions, which I see fans ask on Reddit already, so it’s not going to be an easy season. Sure, they can come in second place, but there is a high potential for them to blow up, especially if the first weeks don’t go well. I’m looking forward to seeing what the coaching will be like, he will have a very interesting job next year.
You mentioned FNC getting second place, who do you think is the team that is the most likely to defy that?
I still think Rogue and MAD Lions. MAD upgraded Top Lane, you could say the same with Jungle, since Shad0w had big issues with the meta, which was seen at Worlds. They are going to be equally strong, with a really good Bot and Mid Lane. Rogue has a good roster as well, Larssen keeps developing, he’s going to be really good. These are teams to look at and take seriously. Thinking about other teams, I think Astralis will have to prove themselves, but besides that, lots of new rookies again.
What are your thoughts on Astralis building a roster around Nukeduck?
It’s interesting. I thought with renewing they should just get new blood, but they believe in him, and apparently, he is also very stable, so maybe he can give some knowledge to the rookies. I say rookies, but Promisq is not a rookie, he went to 2019 Worlds, and he is an MSI champion, so… It’s hard to say if they are a 10th place roster or whatever, but it’s a new season, new patches, new items, maybe something works for them.
It will be an interesting season for sure, but we know the expectations are for us to win. Not 18-0.
I’m expecting 18-0.
Well, it’s not happening. You’re expecting me to not int draft 18 times in a row. Chances are very low. There will be at least one unplayable draft, I’ll make sure of that.
But again, I think every team has a shot. It just depends on how they come out of the offseason. For example, SK signed Tynx, and I really like him. Vetheo in Misfits, Blue is in as well, lots of new talent that can be the next superstar. I wouldn’t count on anybody straight up.
And what about G2’s season?
It will probably be more relaxed again, in a way that the top four gives you big benefits, so we will not worry whether we are second place, third place. We’ll reach the playoffs in a good seed and like usual, improve from there. We have a track record of leveling up for best-of-fives. We’ll make sure we are not burned out, and three years of not winning Worlds is enough. Maybe this year we’ll get it.