The Semi-Finals match between G2 Esports and SK Telecom T1 was brought with a lot of hype. Come to think of it, the entire year for two of the world’s best regions will inevitably have to end before reaching the final Bo5 of the tournament. That in itself is depressing for the losing region. On top of that, this is a much-anticipated rematch from MSI. Many fans believed G2 Esports – SK T1 series was the “true finals” of the tournament. While both teams went through tough domestic competition, their superiority prevailed. The entire 2019 season for Europe and Korea must end here. The question is: Did the series deliver?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I wish it would have gone the distance and if not for a couple of micro-decisions, it probably would have. However, such is the nature of League of Legends. Every misstep can cost a team a game and you can only make so many mistakes before you’re eliminated. In this series, both teams proved that they really are titans in their own right. Unfortunately, one team had to crumble under the pressure first. That team was SK Telecom T1.
To understand how G2 Esports overcame the gods of League of Legends, let’s take a look at each game and how they continuously pummeled SK T1 until they finally broke.
In all the B05’s in this tournament, the winner of Game 1 wins the rest of the series. Why? I think it’s because the game evolved into something that utilizes momentum well. The current state of the game rewards teams that continue to take risks. In other words: if you tilt, you lose. With that said, it’s no surprise for me to see both teams going all-out right off the bat. SK T1 responded well to G2’s aggression but the LEC champions just refused to stop making plays.
An important thing to note for this game: Both teams drafted versatile compositions capable of going 5v5 or 1-3-1. Whoever pulls the trigger and successfully gets a pick should de facto win the fight. While SK T1 made better rotations around objectives but they could not generate a gold lead. It took a Baron for them to do so but even then, it didn’t matter to G2. G2 played excellently around Caps’s Ryze, avoiding any major engagement while maintaining split push pressure all game long.
Also, I noticed something in this series I’d never thought I’d say against SK Telecom T1: G2 actually had the better vision game. After Caps got picked in the side lane, G2 Esports made a counter play that denied SK T1’s 2nd Baron. When SK T1 tried to brute force it, G2 picked the perfect battlefield for their composition and out-fought the Koreans to win the first game of the series.
G2 Esports 1 – 0 SKT T1
Game 1 exposed Effort’s inexperience against international competition. G2 made rotations and plays LCK teams would never go for. Imagine this: You’re up 3k gold after picking off the opposing team’s mid laner. You head for Baron because that’s the default play to go for. Then, G2 bursts out of the fog of war and picks off your mid laner, despite the numbers disadvantage. How do you ward against a team you can’t predict? The simple answer is you can’t. G2 simply blew SK T1 out of their collective minds. They made borderline disrespectful calls nobody could’ve predicted. The kings of Europe stretched the limits of what was possible in-game and toed the line between 400 IQ plays and trolling perfectly.
On top of Effort’s struggles, Mikyx played out of his mind in this series. He turned a 3v4 collapse into a first blood and then he follows it up with a double taunt moment later. To be fair, Effort’s engage paved the way to SK T1’s first teamfight win of the series. He followed it up with a sick Flash-ult on Perkz to widen the gap even more. Moreover, Faker and Clid’s pressure prevented Caps from making any sort of impact on the map all game long. SK T1 did a fantastic job preventing Caps from making the same kind of split push in Game 1.
A recurring story in this series: G2 Esports out-fighting SK Telecom T1 from despite huge deficits. They just didn’t give up and flat out refused to tilt. They won a fight in the top lane that allowed them to make a hail mary Elder dragon play. Fortunately for SK T1, their lead allowed them to massacre G2 in the pit to tie up the series.
G2 Esports 1 – 1 SKT T1
One player I haven’t praised yet for his incredible form this series is Jankos. In both games so far, Jankos’ ability to turn the smallest openings into tangible advantages allow G2 to play however they want to. He’s easily the MVP of the series. Not to take away anything from Caps and Perkz though, they’re both phenomenal in this series as well.
Still, SK T1 is SK T1. No matter the odds, they always find a way to stay in the game. For every play Jankos made, they countered. At 23 minutes, they had a 2k gold lead and a freshly taken Baron buff. Okay, this is the point where the rest of the world used to crumble. SK Telecom T1 and Korean teams, in general, are so good at choking out enemy teams by constantly clearing vision and maintaining three waves pushing in. Well, G2 doesn’t give a crap about that. This is where they proved to the world how mentally resilient they are as a team. Despite the deficit and the Baron buff disadvantage, they stood their ground, trusted their mechanics and teamwork and they out-fought SK T1.
At 30 minutes, G2 have recovered from the deficit and challenged SK T1’s second Baron. The smite fight went to SKT but in the aftermath, G2 took the advantage. It became apparent how disjointed SK T1looked like compared to their former iterations. They seemed shellshocked from G2’s hyper-aggression, as they get constantly get caught off-guard. One Camille combo from Wunder chunks Effort’s Leona down to less than half HP and that prompted G2 to go all in. Teddy valiantly defends his base but G2’s push prevailed. Matchpoint: G2.
G2 Esports 2 – 1 SKT T1
Faker and the rest of SKT are playing below expectations, but definitely not below their skill level. They’re playing good, but G2 is simply playing better as a team. Also, similar to SKT being down 1-2 in the ROX series, they called on a legend to try and save their season. Mata got subbed in for Effort. Effort looked lost, shaken and titled from last game. SKT hoped that Mata’s veteran leadership can stabilize the bot lane enough for Khan to carry the game from the opposite side.
Yeah, like that ever worked against G2 Esport. We all saw how G2 dismantled that same strategy Damwon Gaming employed against them. It also didn’t help that Faker, of all people, couldn’t keep up with Caps in terms of impact. Faker had a decent gold lead over Caps but SKT failed to translate it into a decisive advantage. Jankos simply zoned out his Qiyana every teamfight.
A rare misplay from Faker in the late game gave G2 Esports access to their first Baron of the series. However, they made the misstep that set up the final fight of the game. G2 tried to defend their base with one man down after SKT got a pick on Perkz. SK Telecom T1, in all their wisdom, surely thought G2 Esport would simply wait for Perkz to respawn. With still 20 seconds left before Perkz respawns, G2 pulled the trigger. They played perfectly in sync with Perkz’s arrival, allowing him to clean up the rest of SK Telecom T1. Clid died too early in the fight. Faker died trying to solo Mikyx. Khan couldn’t save SKT’s season as the last man standing. When the dust settled, the greatest team Europe ever built prevented the second coming of the SKT dynasty. G2 moves on to the finals against FunPlus Phoenix. GG.
Winner: G2 Esports
MVP of the match: Jankos
Jankos was simply the best player of the series for G2 Esport. He neutralized the bot lane all series long and put Khan in a hyper-aggressive mode that G2 Esports easily punished. Additionally, he kept Faker tied up to his lane and gave Caps the space to operate and impact the map without necessarily winning mid lane. I don’t think G2 ever won a lane in any game of the series. They simply played their game and waited for the right moment.
For G2 Esports to be even in the game at that point despite not winning any lane shows how brilliant Jankos is. He never forced any low reward play and instead opted to play cross-map. Clid played well individually but as a teammate, not on the level Jankos did. Matching up against arguably the best performing jungler in the tournament in Tian in the finals would surely be explosive as much as it is cerebral.