On the final day of the EU LCS gauntlet, we spoke to Petter "Hjarnan" Freyschuss of G2 Esports about the growth he and his team experienced during the Summer Split, the unexpected qualification for Worlds, and how does it feel to reach the League of Legends World Championship for the first time since 2015.
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One thing that strikes me is that you're going to Korea with this random Korean that you found two years ago in the offseason, but this time around, you're actually going to compete at Worlds together. Any thoughts?
Yeah, it's going to be pretty fun, but for me and Wadid. Last time I was there, I was enjoying it a lot, it was really intense: the matches, the preparation, everything's really enjoyable. In Europe, we play the same teams, so we know what they're doing, what state they are in. But at Worlds, we won't scrim the teams we'll face, we'll face them for the first time on stage. We don't know what they'll bring out, if they have cheese picks, etc. But it will be really funny to play there again.
During our slump, we had really bad scrims and tried really hard to fix our problems. But we tried too hard maybe, that we just created more problems.
This time it's also with completely different teammates than last year, and I'm not just talking about the guys that are no longer in Team ROCCAT, but also the different atmosphere you had to get used to: from shotcalling, to having to adapt within a system. What challenges did you face overall?
This split, we had a really good start. We went 6-0, everything was going great. We found out there were a lot of cheese picks we could use like Swain, Vladimir, Heimerdinger. And always in scrims we did really well because they could leave me alone bot and then we'd either get bot turret or snowball top. We practiced this really well. We respected bot, we gave up bot tower if we had [to] and then just full around top and mid. We got this playstyle down pretty easily.
Then after Rift Rivals, we wanted to play around bot a little more, because ADCs came back. We wanted to have good scaling and snowball it into bot turret. But we had a lot of difficulties. Every time we went bot in scrims with me, Jankos, and Wadid, we had miscommunication or something went wrong. So we weren't really confident in it.
During our slump, we had really bad scrims and tried really hard to fix our problems. But we tried too hard maybe, that we just created more problems. Against Misfits, we were at our worst probably. We were playing really bad and we didn't have much trust in the team. We'd be stressing out a lot.
Now, we took a break for one week after [losing to Misfits Gaming]. Everybody came back with fresh mindsets. Everyone was like, "Let's open a new sheet, let's focus.". I don't know how it worked, but somehow everyone was more positive after this week and we started picking up wins in scrims again and playing better as a team.
Overall, the spit has been a rollercoaster. Now, we're playing well as a team, we trust each other in-game, there isn't much stress if somebody's mispositioned. For me and Wadid, especially, we're playing a lot better with Jankos. So when he's top, for example, we try to play more safely and restricted, not dying to ganks. In the past, we'd keep pressuring because we'd be winning the match-up; now, we're more balanced. We wait for each other and [are] playing better as a team.
I guess sometimes you just need a reset.
Personally the way I saw [what you described] was mostly, if you looked at G2, the first thing that popped out was primarily Jankos/PerkZ doing things. And you guys in bottom would be stable, do your own thing, and survive till teamfights. But at that point, especially against Misfits, who were putting all of their eggs in bot lane, that was a stylistic counter, especially since the meta also favoured that.
Yeah, I agree. We played fine against Misfits in the first two games. In the third game, we had Alistar and Varus versus Braum, Draven and Poppy. We can't do that much with Alistar, so they stacked for red buff on red side into crab into insta-dive, right? And we were level one. We could've stayed under the turret and survived because of Alistar Q, but in-game you go for the safe approach. So we lost a lot of creeps and fell behind a lot in the third game. We had Nocturne as well, so we had to wait for a bit of levels for level 6 and then we could snowball hard.
G2 making it [to Worlds] was fairly surprising in the light of what happened [ahead of the Gauntlet]. What changes did you notice in that one week off that allowed you to come back and start clicking again, from a personal standpoint?
Say me and Wadid make a mistake and we'd do it for two weeks straight, right? We'd never get out of this loop, because you constantly try to fix it, but you're trying too much. And when you take a break, you get to reflect a bit on it and you come back with a fresh mindset to it. If it happens again, you will not be as upset. The break allowed us to reflect a bit on our mistakes and how we should actually play the game. I guess sometimes you just need a reset.
A reset into Worlds! First time since 2015, man!
Yeah, it's true, it's been a while. [laughs]
You even took a break in that time.
Yes, I took a break in 2016 Summer. I think I was a bit burned out, because I played so much during Worlds and the offseason. In my first year in the LCS, I didn't even think you could burn out. But at one point it would be hard to just think and you get stuck in the same game. I felt I didn't play well that split either, so I thought I'd take a break and then start playing again come offseason and see if any team wants me.
In my first year in the LCS, I didn't even think you could burn out.
Then I get an offer from ROCCAT and H2k-Gaming and took ROCCAT's. I don't know why [laughs] but it was really fun to play with ROCCAT, even though we were losing — it sucked to lose that much. But it was a fun atmosphere, a fun gang of people. And this was really important to me: if I was depressed and sad, I wouldn't play as well either, and I think I played pretty decently in ROCCAT.
In the end you get to find this troll over there [points to Jankos] and you're off to Worlds with him now. [laughs] Is there anything you want to add on the entire story?
I think me and Wadid had a rough time in the Spring Split because we had to adapt about how we talked and played. I think overall, when I look back at the year, we were working hard even when it was not going well for us. And now in the end, we made it to Worlds — even if we didn't make it to the final, which is a big disappointment for G2 as an organization — which was our goal as a team. If you do well at Worlds, nobody will actually care if you did well in the Split or if you made it to the finals. As long as we do well at Worlds, nobody will care we didn't make the LCS finals.
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G2 will test their might in the Worlds 2018 Play-ins, starting Oct. 1. The EU LCS legacy brand is still favourite to make it to the main event, but G2 absolutely can't revert back to their slump form in South Korea. Every other region is hungry for blood.