In a crucial match to help separate from the top half of the LEC standings, G2 Esports were crushed by Team Vitality after bringing out a surprise Garen pick in the top lane. Vitality took the win fair and square, and G2's play was riddled with mistakes, but the purposeful handicap in draft may have challenged the competitive spirit of the match.
League of Legends personality and streamer Christian "IWillDominate" Rivera commented on the pick, not because of its effectiveness, but because such a draft inhibited G2 from playing their best before the game started.
The result of this game had huge implications on the standings. Before today, Vitality, Origen, Rogue and Misfits were in close contention for fifth and sixth place to round out the league's playoff teams. The possibility was also there for exceL to compete, even though they would've had to win basically every remaining game this split. Vitality winning propelled them to fifth place, making things even harder for teams trying to secure sixth.
G2 probably lose this game nine times out of 10, with or without Garen. With nameplates off, most viewers would've thought the two teams were reversed. Vitality made quick work of G2 after securing a 2v2 kill against their bot lane and catching Martin "Wunder" Hansen and Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski top side mid-rotation. Vitality cracked the early game wide open and rolled with it all the way to G2's nexus, rarely giving them a chance to claw back in.
G2 have shaped an identity around preparing unique picks that not only throw off their opponent, but also play into their own players' individual strengths and play styles. In week six, Wunder picked Annie top and Rasmus "Caps" Winther picked Tristana mid. The innovation is something fans have come to expect, and a key part of their strategic makeup.
It's not likely that a team as prestigious and respected as G2 would purposefully tank a match, but putting one of their most stable players on a champ he hasn't played before didn't do them any favors. In Wunder's Pro View perspective, you can see him reading over Garen's abilities, showing his unfamiliarity with the champ.
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Pulling out something unique is one thing if you're gaining a counter-pick, but something entirely different if you're doing it for the sake of novelty this late into the split. Last weekend, G2's comms showed their Tristana mid lane pick may have been influenced by a sign in the crowd.
In a post-game interview, Amadeu "Attila" Carvalho gave his thoughts on whether or not G2's draft played a role in their demise.
"I think we just played better as a team overall," said Attilla. "The Garen pick made them really weaker--much weaker. I'm looking forward to facing them again and actually having them pick stronger picks than just Garen."
Although Vitality were simply the better team on the day, they had an arguably easier time winning against G2 than they otherwise would have. Ultimately, G2 were caught with their hands too deep in the cookie jar during both pick/ban and in-game, with greedy rotations, trades, and back timings that resulted in free kills for Vitality. G2's early game was exploited by Vitality's bot lane and jungler Lee "Mowgli" Jae-ha's early rotations.
With this win, Vitality continue their surge in the standings, leaving G2 exposed. With an important game against Fnatic tomorrow, going 0-2 is a legitimate possibility for G2 for the first time this split.
On Saturday August 3, Vitality play exceL at 9 a.m. PDT, and G2 play Fnatic at 12 p.m. PDT.