Entering Week 3 of the European LCS, two teams stood above the rest as the clear class of the region: defending champions G2 Esports and H2K. The two teams met Thursday in their first best-of-two of the split, and while the resulting 1-1 draw may have left you wishing EU also adopted North America's best-of-three format, it showcased each of them at their best.
This was G2's first game since starting top laner Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek stepped down after he wasn't guaranteed the full-time starting position. Filling in was Dae-han "Expect" Ki, a Korean import who previously started one game for G2 (the team's sole loss this split) and someone who is still working on his English and his team play, AD Carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen said after Game 2. How would G2 fare against H2K, a team that looked on top of their game a week before in sweeps of Giants and Fnatic?
In Game 1, H2K looked every bit G2's equal.
One of H2K's main strengths is the synergy between the Polish duo of jungler Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski and support Oskar "Vander" Bogdan, who have followed each other as teammates on three different teams since first joining H2K in September 2013. In the first game against G2, H2K leaned into this, locking in a potent pick composition led by Jankos's Elise and Vander's Bard.
The game started slowly, with no kills and a fairly even game after 20 minutes, but a beautiful ultimate-Q combo by Vander caught G2 backing away from dragon, setting up a play for H2K to take the lead.
If you kept watching that video after that play, you'll see H2K was able to take a hold of that advantage and expand it, using Elise, Bard and Gragas to catch G2 players out of position and set up advantageous skirmishes.
But in Game 2, it was G2's turn for a near-flawless performance.
With the Game 1 upset under its belt, H2K strayed away from Game 1's pick composition and instead opted for something with barely any crowd control at all, picking Rumble and Olaf to join Viktor and Sivir for a composition that is here to fight.
Problem was, G2's composition could fight, too, but with Fizz, Rek'Sai, Azir, Ezreal and Karma, it was also a team that was very hard for H2K to lock down. Add in some early mistakes from H2K, and G2 suddenly built up an insurmountable lead, exacting vengeance from the first game and quickly taking a 6-0 lead.
G2 managed to kill H2K before minions spawned, by waiting for H2K's bottom lane in the tri-bush. After the series, Zven said G2 was waiting there because they knew Vander and Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek liked to go to that area at the start of games.
Likewise, if you keep watching that video, you'll see it only got worse for H2K. There were times when H2K was able to secure kills and objectives, but G2 was in peak form, keeping a firm grip on the game and closing it out quickly.
This game's massive gold difference was felt hardest at AD Carry. By 12 minutes, Zven was doing classic Zven things: up 50 CS, split-pushing by himself into an inner turret against a helpless opponent. At 20 minutes, that opponent, Freeze was still 0/5/1, having just completed his first item (Essence Reaver). He finished the game 0/9/3.
Next week is tougher for G2, but it's hard not to look straight to next month's rematch.
G2 plays FC Schalke 04 and Team Vitality, two teams trending in opposite directions but both of whom should serve as at least somewhat difficult competition. H2K faces Splyce, a team exceeding expectations so far, and Unicorns of Love, which may be the worst team in the region.
We'll see these G2 and H2K again later in the season, when they meet in Week 7 on July 15. They'll almost certainly face each other in a best-of-five in the EU LCS playoffs, and it seems very likely that these are two of Europe's three representatives at Worlds. Get excited for plenty more of G2 and H2K this year!