GrabbZ: “I Think, Right Now, No Top Team is Really Good”
Once again, G2 Esports have done it. The reigning champions of the LEC grabbed their fourth consecutive title in the league with a 3-0 revenge series against Fnatic, who had defeated G2 just last week. This trophy marks G2’s eighth time being the best in Europe, the most any team has won the European championship title in history. But G2 Head Coach Fabian “GrabbZ” Lohmann was far from satisfied with the win.
In a post-match interview with us, GrabbZ explained why he’s feeling uncomfortable about the level of play shown by his team and the other LEC teams going to the League of Legends Worlds Championship this year. He shed a light on G2’s preparation and how they tried to adapt, evaluated other teams heading to Worlds, and discussed how G2 can get on track to make it to the grand finals once more and, hopefully, claim the world championship title this time around.
Hotspawn: Welcome, GrabbZ, and congratulations on winning the Summer Split Championship! How do you feel after that 3-0 victory?
GrabbZ: Indifferent. Pretty bad, honestly.
Hotspawn: Oh wow, does that have to do with the level of play in the series?
GrabbZ: Yeah, I’m a bit worried about how the LEC is going to perform at Worlds. We’re nowhere near good enough to actually compete, with the way we played today. I’m pretty disappointed in how it turned out to be. In the end, it is my responsibility. We entered the Summer Split saying that we wanted to take it slowly in the beginning and ramp it up for the Playoffs. I just think that I missed the point of actually ramping up. Like, sure, if we play well I think this series is over in seventy minutes. I think it could be a new record, maybe. I think Fnatic had very predictable drafts. In game one, for example, I think we fed Rekkles 3k gold in shutdowns for no reason. We made the game hard on ourselves.
Sure, I should be happy winning the LEC. But the way we did it, if it makes sense, doesn’t satisfy me. So I just see the huge workload we have in front of us if we actually want to compete at Worlds. We don’t want to go there just to go to the Group Stage, maybe get second place, and bump out. We actually want to win. For that, we have a lot to do.
Jankos is still by far the best jungler in Europe.
Hotspawn: We’ll get to Worlds later, but let’s first talk about your preparation for this final weekend. Your loss against Fnatic, last week, had some incredibly messy play as well from both sides. What did you take from those matches that you implemented in training this week?
GrabbZ: I think that we played a little bit better against Rogue than we did against Fnatic. The series was close because Rogue is a better team and drafted better. For Fnatic specifically, we felt very at ease, just because we knew what to expect. In the first draft, we knew all the picks that would come through for them. It’s so telegraphed. If their mid laner then decides to play the Corki and farm for thirty minutes, farm for three items, and then hopefully have an impact… it doesn’t work. So yeah, I just think it was pretty straightforward today. For yesterday, we tried to learn a bit of the farming jungler style, which we then of course could pull out if we wanted to. I think it was harder for enemies to draft against us. Sure, they can ban Sett, but then we could just play Hecarim or Graves and we’re fine. Or they leave it open and take the risk of us snowballing the early game. It added another level to our play.
Hotspawn: Traditionally, G2 has been very flexible, but this Split has been quite different. Is it easy for your team to adapt to a new style of jungling with something like a Hecarim, and implement that in the gameplay?
GrabbZ: I think it is really hard for us to adapt if it is Jankos who has to change. Usually, he is the kind of guy who adapts to whatever his team needs. If he wants something, it always takes a lot of time for us to learn it. His teammates still expect him to play the same style, but it is fundamentally different. Very often, we tried in scrims to change it up. Jankos would play Nidalee, and his teammates would not get the help they needed because he needs to farm. But our laners would still play the same way as before, and afterward Jankos would feel bad for playing Nidalee. So we just told him to play Volibear and Sett again.
But after losing to that farming jungling style, we actually had more patience to try to work it out and see what we can play. I’m pretty happy that it worked, in a way. I felt the narrative was a bit ridiculous that Jankos can’t play this style. It’s mind blowing to me to see that people think that—no disrespect to Selfmade and Inspired, I think they’re both really insane—but Jankos is still by far the best jungler in Europe. People don’t see it because he has to do so much for the team in terms of how he plays the game. I think Selfmade, for example, just does his own shit. If his laners int, they int, and he doesn’t care. Whereas Jankos is the first to give up his own lead to help the team.
Hotspawn: Against Fnatic, Rogue played the same old style we were used to seeing from them. But then against MAD Lions they shifted completely. How do you prepare for a team that, all of a sudden, starts throwing curveballs?
GrabbZ: Well, it’s hard, right? You try to play your own style and hope it works. That’s also why the series was so close. First of all, every single one of the Rogue players played really well. They knew exactly what our champions could cheese with, so we didn’t get a chance to do so. They placed their Wards really well.
Also, how do I say this… Let’s just say that both teams know that, if Finn plays a lane against Wunder, the top lane will be a disaster. And, knowing that, Finn sacrificed his lane to just go to the bot lane and invade. It made our bot lane game unplayable. It sounds very simple, but Finn admitting that he’s weaker, and therefore is willing to give himself up, is a huge thing. I have to respect him for that because it is hard to do.
I think the way Fnatic is set up is a bit dysfunctional.
Hotspawn: While it may have been in part because you were playing badly, Fnatic still took you to five games and actually won in the upper bracket semifinals. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
GrabbZ: Their weaknesses are that their top lane and support play a different game than the rest of their team does, I think. I’m not flaming them. Rekkles and Nemesis don’t want to lose. Selfmade is doing his own thing. There is absolutely no team cohesion in what they do. They function the best if they all play together, which, for them, depends on what composition they have. I think there’s just no team cohesion. They have no identity, in that way. They did try to let Selfmade carry, which did work last week. But that was also because we were hard-throwing it. We were really, really, really inting the series.
Fnatic could be so much stronger realizing what their weaknesses are. Even though they did make Selfmade carry, they have it a bit worse than Rogue. I think Rogue is better at realizing their shortcomings. There are two parties in Fnatic. You have mid and AD, and top and support. One of those parties has to change their approach to the game for Fnatic to function, I feel. There are meta picks and there are certain threats they have, but those are band-aid fixes. That’s been the story for them for three years. Fnatic just tries to overcome their weaknesses by making short-term fixes. I think the way Fnatic is set up is a bit dysfunctional. But they’re good because individually they’re all good players.
As you might have noticed from how I talk, is that I think that we were really bad. And that was enough to win the LEC. I think the scene itself got closer, but just because we’re not that good at the moment.
Hotspawn: That is what I want to move onto next. At the start you said you were disappointed in the way you won the Summer Championship. I share your view that the play simply has been worryingly messy, especially considering Worlds is coming. But how come that Europe has fallen down?
GrabbZ: I just want to mention that I don’t think that China and Korea are good either. So if I watch, let’s say the DAMWON versus DRX series, first of all: DRX got hard outdrafted every single game. They just had no clue when to actually reset. I see Top Esports against JDG where the bot lane tries to push out with no vision, and the jungler is behind them but they don’t get punished for it. I think, right now, no top team is really good. I don’t see any team that makes me say we can’t compete with them. It’s just that we’re in the same spot. I don’t think we’re good, internationally. But the Chinese teams, on average, are probably better than the LEC and the LCK. Even the fourth-best team there could compete against us.
People like to drool over DAMWON or Top Esports and say “Oh my god, they’re insane!” because that’s the narrative. But I don’t see anything they’re doing that makes me say “Oh this is so fucking smart.” They play the game, they have the same approaches. They sometimes int but don’t get punished for it. It’s just that we int a lot more. So basically, every team right now will go to the bootcamp. I’m sure they’ll realize what the state is and that they have the same idea. So everyone will try to clean up their style and have it in the best shape.
First of all, on average, the LEC is weaker mechanically. Sure, we have Rogue and MAD Lions now, who actually elevated that mechanical level in a way. But still, China is just the best league when it comes to mechanics. There is no hiding it. Let me put it like this: We have a base level of mistakes we make and it takes a team like Rogue or Fnatic to punish us. But it’s not hard for teams like DAMWON or Top Esports to punish us either. So with the way we’re playing right now, we’ll get hard-stomped at Worlds, I think. But we have a lot of time to clean up. And if our level of play is enough to win the LEC, then it of course means that the other European teams will equally get hard-stomped, or even harder. I think that’s where my concern lies.
Hotspawn: It sounds like there is a lot of cleaning up to do, not just at G2 but for all international teams, before Worlds starts.
GrabbZ: For us, I take a lot of responsibility. That’s really important to me. I made the call that we would take a relaxed approach. I made the call that we want to change it up for the Playoffs. And I was probably too late to make us good for the end of the season, how we approach our drafts and our practice. So now, knowing that, I will just make sure that we actually go into Worlds and go into our bootcamp with a good plan and enough structure to actually make us good. If we can’t do that, that’s on me.
Hotspawn: I appreciate you taking responsibility, but when I spoke to Mikyx last week, he mentioned that the team just gets too greedy in-game. For example, when they overextended in the bot lane against Fnatic last week. Or in the top lane against Fnatic this week. That’s a call the players make and something you have no influence over.
GrabbZ: I think that it’s more about how I am with the team. Basically, if I tell them the entire season to take it slowly, and I miss the point of switching it up, I can’t expect them to change from one day to another. Of course, these situations you mention are pretty frustrating because, as you said, I don’t have any control over it. But I can create an environment where they are more encouraged to try hard in that aspect. So that’s a responsibility I take. Sure, decisions that are made in the game are something I can’t directly influence, but I can build the structure better to make them practice on these things.
I can share it now, but I was very frustrated with this week’s scrims. We played the way you mentioned. We had a lead, we ran them down, tower-dive their tier three turret, and if it worked it worked. If not, then the enemy would get Baron Nashor or whatever. It’s the same thing that lost us the game against Fnatic, game three of last week. But I can sit here and say that it’s on my players to int, or I can realize that maybe the environment around scrims, around the way we practice, wasn’t ideal for them to take it seriously enough to improve. I’d rather look at the way that I can change something than just say that it’s not my fault.
I have full confidence that, when it matters, we can turn it around.
Hotspawn: I greatly appreciate your candor and you having both feet on the ground, but I do want to end on a happy note—you still are the LEC Summer Champions and you’ll be going to Worlds. Looking ahead at Worlds, and even though everyone is trash, are there any teams you specifically want to play against?
GrabbZ: [Laughs] Always the top teams, of course. That means DAMWON and Top Esports. I don’t care as much about NA. But with the way we’re playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we will struggle against these top teams, honestly. If we int like we did today or the day before—
Hotspawn: Just a reminder, I said a positive note, GrabbZ. [Laughs]
GrabbZ: No no… [Laughs] Ok, here’s the positive outlook: Going to China, we’re going to scrim for three, four days against the Play-In teams. We feel good. We stomp them, feel strong. We then play scrims against China and DAMWON, we get 0-6’d every single day for two weeks, but then we improve at the last moment. It was the same story last year at Worlds. DAMWON came, we got shit-stomped, we realized that we were bad, we improved, and then we got to the finals.
So even though I’m generally pessimistic, and I’m really a Debbie Downer right now, I can be so open because I have full confidence that, when it matters, we can turn it around. If I wouldn’t have that confidence, I would try to mask it right now. I would say “You know what, it’s not that bad, we can win” blah blah blah. That’s bullshit. But because I have full trust in them, and I know how good they can be, I can be so open about it. I’m very sure that, even if right now we’re not on the right level, we’ll give it our hardest and everything to make Europe proud. And I think there’s actually a very good chance that we will do so.