G2 Esports Eye a Third Consecutive LEC Title, Can Anyone Stand in Their Way at LEC Winter Playoffs?
The LEC Winter 2024 Playoffs begin on February 3. This is the second year of the LEC’s new three-split structure featuring a unique Winter Split. Last year, G2 finished the Winter Regular Season as the fourth seed before shooting to the top of the LEC and winning the trophy. This year, they’re coming in as the first seed and look to be above the rest of the competition.
Standing at the Top
G2 entered 2024 with the same roster they fielded all last year. That roster won the Winter Playoffs, the Summer Playoffs, and the Season Finale, locking up three of the four yearly LEC titles. On top of that, the team they lost to in the Spring Playoffs with a 3-2 scoreline, MAD Lions, went on to win that trophy. It’s no exaggeration to say that the LEC belonged to G2 in 2023.
The benefit of carrying the same roster between seasons was not one they had last year. G2 had to adjust to their new roster heading into Winter 2023. Most notably, rookie jungler Martin “Yike” Sundelin had to get used to the LEC stage. G2 jumped those hurdles nearly instantly and had an amazing year. Now, they’re a step ahead of the competition.
Looking at their LEC Winter 2024 Regular Season, G2 finished with a 7-2 record. This tied them with Team BDS, but G2 had the tiebreaker for the first seed. G2 beat BDS in the season opener. They also won matches against the third, fourth, and fifth seeds. G2’s losses came to the 4-5 Team Vitality and the 2-7 Rogue. How did these two sub-50% teams take a game off the strongest team in LEC, and is it replicable?
Loss vs Rogue
The match against Rogue happened on day three of week one. G2 drafted a somewhat unorthodox composition, grabbing Trundle for Yike, Neeko for Rasmus “Caps” Winther, and Jax for Sergen “BrokenBlade” Celik. With a hard-scaling ADC in the bot lane, G2 had a much weaker early-game skirmish than their opponents.
Rogue took advantage of this by forcing plays on the mid and bottom sides. One of these plays, a dive onto G2’s bot tower, went badly thanks to a well-timed Teleport by Caps. However, G2 got greedy on the chase, resulting in a double kill for Rogue’s ADC. Using their bot control, Rogue took three Dragons and threatened Soul.
Despite the gold being even, G2 felt pressured to make a play anyway. After it went disastrously in the topside river, Rogue got a free Baron, and the game was over from there. Caps ended that game 0/6/3 on Neeko and likely never felt like he could make a play. Ever since then, G2 has only drafted carries for Caps: two games for Tristana, two games for LeBlanc, one for Akali, and one for Azir.
There were, of course, more issues than just mid-lane that game. After the double kill went to Rogue’s ADC, G2’s bot duo of Steven “Hans Sama” Liv and Mihael “Mikyx” Mehle had no control over their side of the map. This lack of control leads to losing Dragon on repeat. Something similar happened in G2’s loss to Vitality.
Their week two day three matchup featured a hyper-scaling Seraphine Sona bot lane for G2. This type of lane is notorious for being weak early but is nearly impossible to beat once the enchanter duo hits a late game. G2 indexed heavily into helping their bot lane get gold and ensuring they were safe. Despite BrokenBlade having a counter matchup top lane with Yone into K’Sante, he was left on an island and effectively neutralized.
The onus was now on Seraphine and Sona to win the game alone. G2 couldn’t fight the first two Dragons at all, and when they were forced to try to contest Soul Point at 18 minutes in, they got overpowered by Vitality and ran over. G2 tried to hold on for their enchanters to get items and bring Yone and Tristana to relevance, but they couldn’t break through Vitality’s fed frontline.
How to Topple the Giants
So, what do these losses have in common? Both came off the back of G2 losing three Dragons in a row bot side. G2 is second in the LEC in average Dragons at 15 minutes. They would be first by a large margin if these two games never happened. Early control for Hans Sama and Mikyx is paramount for their success, and teams should target them there if possible. Of course, it’s hard to target the best Draven and Kalista player in Europe for early game dominance if G2 want it. When both are banned (which happens often), G2 prioritizes Varus for the same reason.
G2 has the number one gold difference at 15 minutes at 805. This number is crazy high, but what’s crazier is that G2 is in the bottom two in the first blood percentage. They don’t get their leads off of looking for kills. Instead, they focus again on dominating lanes. G2 crushes everyone else in the tower differential at 15 minutes stat, being up nearly half a tower every game by the time Plates fall. G2 also has the most CS per minute of any team, adding another layer to their oppressive gold generation.
For teams to contest G2 at the LEC Winter Playoffs, coming out ahead early is the most important factor. Whether it’s by getting as many early Dragons as possible or shutting down G2’s pushing lanes with ganks, making G2 uncomfortable with the game state is the win condition. If the game is allowed to stay balanced (or worse, G2 gets ahead early), they WILL make more money than you and slap you around later. It’s difficult to beat the best team in the LEC early, but Rogue and Vitality have shown us it is doable.