An upset a year in the making: G2 lost to ROCCAT in the EU LCS
Team ROCCAT is one of the most phenomenal stories of the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split. They started the season with a listless 0-7 matches score (2-14 in games). It looked like they were headed to their third straight promotion tournament.
When the team finally defeated deadbeat Origen in Week 7, it looked like just another discouraging match between EU also-rans. It's no great feat to prove you're better than Origen, but then something curious started to happen. Spurred on by that match victory, the team started to win. And win, and win, and win. Vitality, Fnatic, and Giants all went down to the rejuvenated ROCCAT. Even Misfits, a surefire playoff team, lost, handing ROCCAT a 5-7 record and a glimpse of the playoffs.
The only problem? G2 Esports, the undefeated kings of Europe, were standing in their way.
It was well known G2 had gone over 400 days undefeated in the EU LCS. They were simply unstoppable for Europe's best teams. It is lesser known that first team G2 defeated to start the streak was ROCCAT, way back in February of 2016.
It was fitting that G2 would need to do it again against ROCCAT to finish a second undefeated split. Pride was on the line for the European rulers, but ROCCAT needed more. They needed this match win to get into the playoffs (along with a Misfits victory over Fnatic). More than that, they needed to prove that their own undefeated streak wasn't a ruse, that they could really compete with the best in Europe.
With odds stacked against them, ROCCAT dug deep and beat G2, ending the undefeated streak with a perfect bookend. But how on earth did they do it?
A comeback for the ages
Coming into the match, things already looked bleak for ROCCAT. But after the players got on the Rift, the situation would get much, much worse. G2 built a huge lead in game one by picking three pushing lanes and using map control to dominate ROCCAT. It didn't matter that ROCCAT had a scaling teamfight comp—G2 simply ran over them with superior macro and objective control.
G2 tried the same gambit in game two, and it worked again. G2 had full control of the side lanes and even Luka "Perkz" Perković walked out of a gank in the mid lane. How on earth are ROCCAT supposed to come back from this?
Part of it was mistakes by G2. You don't come back from a deficit like that without the other team throwing, and G2 did their part. In the finals at IEM Katowice, Flash Wolves punished G2 for poor vision control of objectives, and ROCCAT did the same here. G2 stubbornly tried to contest for vision of the river, knowing that they had few options to stop a Baron from the red side. ROCCAT punished them beautifully for their forays into enemy territory.
Face checking and splitting up is a great way to lose a game. But wait, there's more! Instead of learning from their mistakes, G2 again went headfirst into enemy vision with a Malzahar on the other side.
ROCCAT were eventually able to nab a free Baron when all of G2 were dead.
Dominating the duo lane
All series long, ROCCAT support Kim "Wadid" Bae-in was on-point with his calls and engages. From Malzahar in game two to Alistar in game three, he was a monster. Time and again he dissected G2's teamfight comp, giving his own team a chance. The other members of ROCCAT have played better and better as the split has gone on, but it's their bottom lane of Wadid and Petter "Hjärnan" Freyschuss that are the primary carries.
That duo again carried them in game three. ROCCAT punished an early mistake by G2 in the bot lane—again G2 went way too ham—and smartly began moving Hjärnan around the map to take objectives. G2 had a kill lead, but unlike game one, little map pressure. It was weird to see Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "Mithy" Rodriguez get bodied like this, but it's a credit to ROCCAT's duo lane.
Feeling out of control, G2 tried a series of over-aggressive plays that nearly all failed. Perkz often walks a fine line between controlled and crazy, and in this series, he was on the wrong side.
Even a fed LeBlanc requires proper restraint, especially when the other team can stack crowd control. All those failed fights eventually led to a most surprising ROCCAT victory.
Unfortunately for EU fans, ROCCAT's miracle run will not continue into the playoffs—Fnatic's victory over Misfits would knock them out. But for one magical half-split, ROCCAT looked like the best team in EU. And unlike 2016, their spot in the LCS won't be at risk. That means we'll get to see this lovable bunch of believers again this summer.