G2 NiKo: ‘I expected to play much better. I’m not performing the way I’m supposed to’

G2's CS:GO superstar sat down with Dot Esports on the eve of the BLAST Spring Showdown.

Photo via BLAST

In October 2020, G2 Esports did what it does best: breaking out the checkbook to acquire an esports superstar. This time, it came in the form of the Bosnian sensation Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, considered one of the world’s best CS:GO players from FaZe Clan.

The goal for G2 was simple: Inject a superstar talent into a roster that was considered one of the world’s best just a few months prior to reverse a recent slump. But as the team approaches the six-month mark since signing NiKo, it’s clear that they haven’t reached the lofty expectations that have been set.

G2’s star player hasn’t been shy about shouldering the burden, either.

“The way I’ve played over the past three months, it’s definitely not what I expected,” NiKo told Dot Esports. “I expected to play much better. I’m not performing the way I’m supposed to. I’m not delivering the numbers the team needs.”

The first couple of events looked promising for the new-look G2 roster. In November, they came in first in their BLAST Fall group with a 2-0 win over Astralis. They then reached the semifinals of IEM Beijing Online: Europe, falling to Natus Vincere.

Photo by Joe Brady via BLAST Premier

But the team failed to capitalize on that momentum and haven’t made a deep run in any of the events they’ve participated in since. G2 felt another change was needed, so they benched longtime AWPer kennyS, moved NiKo to an AWP/rifler hybrid role, and reinstated Audric "JaCkz" Jug into the starting lineup.

“He brings so many good things,” NiKo said of JaCkz. “He’s a very supportive player and a really good entry fragger. Both he and AmaNEk can entry frag so the rest of the guys can follow behind and clutch the round. He adds to a good atmosphere as well. He and huNter- have really good chemistry; they just understand each other.”

G2 already look a step ahead since JaCkz’s return. This year, their record was 11-13 with kennyS and it’s 10-7 since JaCkz was brought back. That may be a small sample size and only a minimal improvement, but the biggest change is in the team’s mentality. Nemanja "huNter-" Kovač said that JaCkz’s return felt like a brother coming back—and his actual family member is happy with the state of the team post-reunion.

Photo by Igor Bezborodov via StarLadder

“One thing I’ve noticed since bringing JaCkz back in is that we click better,” NiKo, huNter-'s cousin, said. “I think everyone feels more confident in their roles. In general, the will to win is somehow much higher than it was. We’re OK with the result from our first event [with JaCkz], but at this one we have to show more.”

In their most recent event, G2 made the playoffs of ESL Pro League season 13 following a 3-2 performance in their group. In the opening round of the playoffs, they rebounded from a 1-0 deficit with two straight close maps on Vertigo and Inferno. They ended up earning a top-eight placing after falling in two maps to FURIA.

NiKo thinks the biggest problem that affected G2 was consistency, saying that the team either looked “really good or really bad,” with no consistency established. But he’s excited for the prospect of competing in the BLAST Spring Showdown, despite teams that have troubled them like Liquid and Astralis looming in the distance.

“We were in an adjustment period for a long time, and now at this event, we’ve figured out how we want to approach the game,” NiKo said. “It’ll be tough to get through to the final round, but if we find our consistency, then we’re going to be really dangerous.”

G2 will begin the daunting single-elimination bracket with a series against Endpoint, a team that finished 2-3 in the Pro League with wins over Fnatic and Evil Geniuses. Endpoint just cracked the top 25 on HLTV for the first time.

That series starts at 8:30am CT on April 13 after OG vs. Astralis opens the Showdown.