Road to Worlds : H2k-Gaming
A GAMURS exclusive series, taking a look at the 16 teams going to Worlds from the beginning of their qualification and see just how their road to Worlds went. Today, we look at H2k-Gaming, of the European LCS.
IEM Season X
H2k-Gaming (H2K) is a professional gaming organisation based in the United Kingdom. The organisation has been a part of the EU LCS for some time and coming off Worlds 2015, they fielded a roster that includes Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu in the top lane, Yoo "Ryu" San-ook in the mid lane, Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski in the jungle, a man who needs no introduction, the beast Konstantinos-Napoleon "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou at ADC and Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan as support.
The team would also be gifted by the rejoining of Neil "PR0LLY" Hammad as the head coach of the team for the foreseeable future.
H2k was voted to play at IEM Season X in Cologne for their first taste in the pre-season alongside fellow EU LCS Worlds team Fnatic, Team Dignitas and Cloud9 from the NA LCS, QG Reapers from the LPL and ESC Ever from the LCK.
H2k would begin their pre-season by taking out Cloud9 in the first round of the event 2-1 to move onto the semifinals against ESC Ever, but would fail to get over the last hurdle, crashing out of the competition.
Roster Changes Galore
A quick recap of a few roster changes that happened for the organization during 2016
2016 saw a host of roster changes for H2k during a dubious season where underdog teams were pulling off dubious tasks and those who were expected to place high were living up to the heights of their expectations.
Before I go more in-depth into H2k as an organisation and how they did personally in the split, I just wanted to make a note of all the roster changes that occurred on H2k at this time to better alleviate the reasons why certain changes came across.
Through weeks three-five, Marcin "Selfie" Wolski joined H2k on loan from NA Team Echo Fox to cover for Ryu who had visa issues. Selfie then would continue as a sub until the end of the season.
In the Summer Split, the most substantial change would come from FORG1VEN leaving to join fellow EU team Origen after the surprise loss of Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen and Alfonso "Mithy" Rodriguez to another EU team, G2 Esports. Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek from NA Team Renegades would be drafted in to take his place in the proceeding split, however, with problems plaguing Origen, it would not be long until FORG1VEN came back home, leaving H2k with two substantial ADCs at their disposal with Worlds coming up. However, with reported health problems apparently stopping Freeze from competing at the current time of writing, our hearts go out to him for a speedy recovery.
Now with the roster changes out of the way, we can finally get into the fun part...
Spring Split and Spring Playoffs 2016
Go hard or go home
Best-of-one games were still the norm in the EU LCS for the Spring Split with EU riding off of the Worlds 2015 hype train, the second best region overall with two teams, Origen and Fnatic, reaching the semifinals. The region as a whole would see drastic changes going forward and all teams were looking to strengthen moving ahead.
H2k started the Sprint Split fantastically, registering a 2-0 over their first two opponents: Giants Gaming and Worlds 2015 semifinalists Origen. Moving throughout the split, H2k persisted to multiple wins with all five of their starting roster ranking in the top-three for KDA. Even Selfie, who had been there for a mere three weeks, still made it into the top-five for mid laners in the EU LCS. This team was surely one of the strongest H2k had fielded and ended the split in second place, just behind G2 Esports by a single win.
H2k was looking to continue this strong group performance into the spring playoffs, with a large chunk of championship points on the line that would aid them going into the Summer Split. Of course, they were also fighting for that coveted place as the best team in Europe, so that they could head into the Mid-Season Invitational to have a taste of the Worlds' stage.
With Origen coming off a 3-0 victory over the Unicorns of Love, H2k were the resounding favourites going into the Spring Playoffs. H2k would get off to a flying start by taking first blood, making the series 1-0 over an underperforming Origen, who many expected to be the region's favourites. Origen would then pull back a game but H2K were quick to respond, making the series 2-1 in their favour. But, a resurgent Origen seemed too much for H2k, as Origen advanced after a five-game thriller 3-2, to face G2 Esports in the finals.
This left H2k in uncharted waters; a final was theirs to win and they dropped at the final chance, leading to a third place matchup between themselves and fellow semifinalists Fnatic, who also, like Origen, had a terrible season not worth remembering after the loss stars, Huni and Reignover.
It would be another five-game thriller with championship points on the line to aid the organizations as we moved into the Summer Split. A spot at MSI was no longer up for grabs, but again, H2k found themselves faltering at the final hurdle to go home defeated in fourth place, picking up a measly sum of 30 championship points. The H2k that dominated did not show up when it mattered most.
But, in essence, the team knew it would be back and stronger than ever. They always did.
Summer Split and Summer Playoffs 2016
The changes on H2k weren't going to stop the team from looking to improve on their previous split. As far as PR0LLY and the organisation were concerned, Worlds was the only way to go, regardless of seed. Getting there was the priority.
Best-of-two series would now become the norm in the EU LCS, testing teams mentality to perform under pressure to pick up a win overall. H2k would be slow to adapt to both roster and rule changes, picking up two points overall from games against the recently formed FC Schalke 04 and ROCCAT. Things would get better in the next week, though, as they were able to register two wins over Giants Gaming and eternal EU rivals Fnatic.
The last few weeks of the Summer Split, however, would see changes across the board, with recent summer promotion winner Splyce climbing up the board with repeated wins, which saw second place Fnatic drop down to sixth after roster and coach changes affected the organisation. A scramble for points would see H2k finish in fourth place behind a flurry of resurgent sides looking to fight for that all important first seed at Worlds.
H2k proceeded into the summer playoffs against Fnatic. With the organisation looking for revenge from their spring playoff result, H2K would take no prisoners and demolish Fnatic with a 3-0 victory, meaning Fnatic looked to be missing out of a precious Worlds' spot in general for the first time in its history, forcing Fnatic down into the regional qualifiers.
H2k then found themselves in the semifinals against a resurgent Splyce side, hoping to get themselves to the finals to guarantee a spot in Worlds after G2 Esports were already guaranteed a place in the tournament as either Europes first or second seed due to their superior championship point advantage.
Another five-set thriller would follow them and although Splyce would show signs of slipping, H2k would once again miss out on the finals and their chance for the first seed place they so desperately craved. This would set up another third place scrap for H2k against the Unicorns of Love, looking to pass over past demons and secure their spot at Worlds, providing two things happened. G2 Esports beat Splyce in the final and H2k made UOL their personal punching bag of victory by taking those all important championship points that would put them just ahead of Splyce.
H2k made quick work of the Unicorns, so their part of the bargain done. Now, it was all up to G2 to fill in their half of the deal by silencing Splyce and giving H2k the second seed spot for EU at Worlds by dispatching Splyce in the final on their behalf. Tension would rise as Splyce was able to take a game off of G2 in the final, but it was all for nought, as G2 dispatched the late surge, taking the first seed for themselves and gifting H2k with the second seed to bypass the regional qualifiers and head to North America.
Now it is all in H2K's hands going into Worlds 2016 for a successive season in a row and the stars are aligned for them to reach new heights as a team and as an organisation.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is H2k-Gaming's "Road to Worlds!"
As we head into Worlds 2016 in North America, we ask you guys which team you are supporting in the competition? How far do you think they can go? Let us know on Twitter @GAMURScom.