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G2 Esports marched forward against SK Gaming on Friday, Jan. 21 and, just thirty minutes in, the squad had slain Baron Nashor. With a Mountain Soul under their belt as well, G2 were untouchable and confidently secured their third victory in the League of Legends European Championship spring split.

Their subsequent match, against Team Vitality went the opposite way. A 1-1 weekend put G2 on an overall 3-2 score in the split. Acceptable, but far from the end goal, G2 jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski said.

Finding fun in playing the game

“We don’t look as dominant as some other teams do in their wins,” Jankos said about G2’s first weeks in the LEC spring split. “I think we have a lot of room to improve, a lot of room to grow. I think we’re doing well.”

Jankos made note of the fact that G2 were dealing with numerous COVID-19 cases within the League of Legends team. On Jan. 16, Romain Bigeard, the General Manager for G2’s League of Legends department, shared that four players and both members of the coaching staff had contracted the virus. Two days later, the fifth player had also tested positive for COVID-19.

This has caused an unforeseen hindrance for G2 in the spring split, Jankos explained. “All of us are split apart throughout the house since everyone is quarantined,” he said. “I hope that, as soon as we are back in shape, our practice also gets more efficient and we can become a better team.”

Despite the COVID-19 hiccup, Jankos said that the team had been getting along great. “The atmosphere has been very good so far,” he said. “Everyone is having a lot of fun and we are laughing a lot in games.”

Nevertheless, winning remains the most important part of competing in the LEC, said Jankos. “If we don’t win, even though we have a good atmosphere, it doesn’t matter that we have a good atmosphere,” he said.

He later added, “I do think that a good team atmosphere can help you to win games. What we do now is not enough, but it’s not bad either. So far, I am very hopeful.”

Picking up the right players

Winning is on the forefront of Jankos’ mind after G2 had a disappointing 2021. They were dethroned as LEC champions and did not even make it to the League of Legends World Championship. A drastic overhaul followed. Three players and all the support staff of the League of Legends team were replaced. To find the right players, G2 held several tryout rounds, according to Jankos.

Jankos said he was vocal about the players G2 chose. Support player Raphaël “Targamas” Crabbé appealed to him quickly. “When we played scrims with him, he clearly showed that he is a talented player,” Jankos said. “He’s also pretty smart about the game and is open-minded not only about champion pools, but also how to play the game.”

G2’s new bot laner Victor “Flakked” Lirola showed similar talent but stood out for other reasons. “He has shown a lot of desire to improve. He is grateful for the opportunity, but at the same time he tries super hard,” Jankos said. “He has been playing the most solo queue from all of us.”

Less scouting was needed for top laner Sergen “Broken Blade” Çelik, according to Jankos, who described the signing as “self-explanatory.” Broken Blade played on Schalke 04 Esports and, despite the team struggling throughout the year, had shown great individual skill. When Schalke sold their LEC slot to Team BDS, Schalke’s players were relieved from their contracts early and G2 could freely contact them.

Broken Blade was not the only former Schalke member recruited in the offseason to G2. Head coach Dylan Falco and analyst Rodrigo Oliveira joined the ranks as well.

In an interview with Duncan “Thorin” Shields, G2 founder and owner Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez said that mid laner Rasmus “caPs” Winther, in particular, spoke up about recruiting Dylan Falco.

“Dylan always had good drafts against us,” Jankos said. “Every time we played against Schalke, it felt like the draft favored them. This is why we decided that he might be the coach for G2.”

New G2, same old Jankos

G2 are building a new identity with an almost completely new roster. Jankos noted that the change of coaching staff especially has changed how the team operates compared to how it worked in 2021, with Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann as head coach.

“Sometimes, I felt like we had too much power in the draft. We had so many players that were very vocal about what they wanted to play to counter the opponent,” Jankos explained. “I think that is not something I would blame GrabbZ for, though. I think he did very well with what he had.”

That said, Dylan Falco sticks more to his own guns, according to Jankos, and it’s paying dividends. In the new team environment, G2 rely more on the evaluation of what the meta demands. “Dylan is quite pushy when it comes to playing “the good champions.”

“Our first thought is to play the good champions, instead of countering them,” Jankos elaborated. “We rely on the coach a little bit more and we trust his judgment.”

The identity of G2 might have gone through a massive overhaul, but Jankos said he didn’t think he needed to change much. “I just try to fit whatever style is best for the current jungle and the current team,” he said. “In this team, nothing stops me from being a supportive jungler, but nothing stops me from being a carry jungler either.”

For someone who has been playing in the LEC, or EU LCS as it was called previously, since 2014, accessing different jungling styles is as easy as browsing through a Rolodex.

“I’m just too old, I suppose. I’ve played this game for way too long,” Jankos said. Laughing, he added, “I think the game took a part of my soul. I don’t know what happiness is anymore. But you know what? We can win games, so that’s happiness to me!”