G2 Esports represented Europe's best chance at the mid-season invitational after winning the EULCS Spring Split and EULCS Playoff. Now two days into the tournament G2 is already going into damage control. It comes following the revelation that instead of practicing for the Mid-Season Invitational the team elected to take vacation, and the move had devastating effects on G2's play.
G2 is the only winless team in Shanghai following group stage matches on Thursday. Currently the team sits at 0-4 with losses to Counter Logic Gaming, Flash Wolves, Royal Never Give Up and SK Telekom T1. Uncharacteristically poor play caught fans off guard, but the explanation has fans and players alike livid.
How did this begin?
Following the Spring Split G2 decided to give its players a much-needed rest. Training and play in the split resulted in 10+ hour days of training, coupled with the immense pressure and stress a season holds. It was decided that rather than continue to have the team grind through in preparation for MSI they would return home, see their families and regroup mentally ahead of Shanghai.
In a vacuum this decision is fine. In fact, it's a lot better treatment than most players get ahead of a tournament where grind becomes seemingly-endless and scrimmages take up the majority of players' days -- often playing seven days a week. However, there were two key problems with G2's decision:
- They played so well in the split that they would be representing Europe at MSI, which should have been viewed as an honor and taken more seriously.
- The release of a major patch (6.8) came during G2's vacation.
The first point is largely subjective, but the second one is not. There is simply no way a team, even as one as talented as G2, could have been prepared for MSI without having adequate time and scrimmaging under the new patch.
How did the situation escalate?
Report's of G2's decision to vacation proliferated after Day 1. They were confirmed by players on their personal Twitter accounts, most notably midlaner PerkZ who didn't mince his words on the issue.
Sorry ! :(( GG FW!! No practice really shows off! We will pick it up for the rest of the tournament!— Luka (@Perkzlol) May 4, 2016
Other members of G2 alluded to the vacation without directly saying anything. AD Carry Emperor chose not to say anything directly, but tellingly retweeted League of Legends analyst MonteCristo, who released a video condemning the lack of practice by G2.
Fuel was poured on the fire by Team ROCCAT support Edward. He wasn't just upset with the team's poor play, but its representation of Europe as a whole.
@EdwardCarryLoL rather see any other top 4 team from Europe.— Edward (@EdwardCarryLoL) May 4, 2016
@EdwardCarryLoL actually fkcing disgusting to see. T I L T.— Edward (@EdwardCarryLoL) May 4, 2016
Edward's tweets incensed fans leading to a wildly popular Reddit threat with over 1,900 comments, the majority of which slammed G2 for its vacation.
How did G2 respond?
Almost 24 hours after its players tweets and the Reddit thread that brought the issue to the fore G2 issued a statement on its decision to vacation rather than practice and scrimmage. You can find the full release here, but these are the key points from the statement:
"Planning a bootcamp in China / Asia before MSI proved difficult, due to the VISA application process and the uncertainty of knowing whether we'd qualify or not."
"There simply weren't any LCS level scrim partners in Europe ready to practice against and staying in Berlin would've been a very poor use of time."
"Instead we allowed our players to take some time off, see their families and go to MSI re-energized and with high motivation to do good. Obviously our results throughout the first two days of MSI didn't attest to that fact, but rest assured that we will do everything in our power to come back stronger as the group stage progresses."
Members of G2 have been noticeably silent on social media following the release of the statement. In addition there are elements of the explanation that warrant more investigation.
What happens now?
G2 alleges that its inability to bootcamp was created by unsurity they would win and an inability to attain visas in time, coupled with the impossibility of finding quality competition if they remained at the team house in Berlin. The EULCS season completed on April 17, while the LCK finished a week later on April 23. This would have provided time for G2 to travel and still find teams currently in competition that would be willing to get high-quality scrim practice, especially against the EULCS winner.
The visa issue was presented as a roadblock, however the Chinese embassy to Germany states on its website that it takes 8 business days to obtain a working visa to visit China. Keep in mind that G2 went 15-3 in the Spring Split and were poised to be the most dominant team in Europe this split. This means visa preparation would have been a given, had the team wanted to get in scrimmage time.
Furthermore, G2 won its quarterfinal game on April 2, and its semi-final on April 10. Either date would have given ample time for visas to be approved in preparation for a trip following the split -- but they were not applied for.
The second concept is that it was impossible for G2 to find solid competition in Germany, had the team elected to stay in its team house. While this may have been true, at least lower-level games would have given the team a chance to adapt to Patch 6.8 in a tournament setting, rather than relying on Dynamic Queue to get practice in.
In any event this is a debacle. It's an unnecessary tarnishing of a stellar split by G2 Esports caused by a series of bad decisions. Fans of the EULCS and fellow EULCS players have a right to be angry. The vacation should have occurred following MSI, not before it -- and it's as simple as that.