After a few months without significant results, including a shocking early exit at the PGL Major, G2 finally lived up to everyone's expectations with a first place finish at DreamHack Masters Malmo, the first premiere event after the post major break.
While many teams shuffled rosters in the post-Krakow mid season break, G2 avoided any tweaks to their lineup in favor of switching up their approach to the game. These adjustments propelled G2 to go on a monstrous run at Malmo, toppling over PGL Major Finalists Immortals, one of the world’s best teams SK, the new and improved NiP, and the ever dangerous North.
The changes that helped G2 find the crown in Sweden included placing shox into the main attack group, adding mirage to their map pool, and finally, instilling some discipline to their economy management. Moving shox away from the edges of the map on T side has done wonders for his shot calling as well as the team's entry power. This was first noted during the ESL One New York Qualifiers directly following the PGL Major.
Traditionally you would see Shox playing around the squeaky door area on Cache. However, at the NY Qualifier versus EnVyUs, Shox started to get more involved with the middle of the map, helping to lead attacks and capture map control. Let's take a look at two rounds from this match vs. EnVyUs.
In round 12, you can see Shox and apEX both sitting on the mid boost. Both players peek out at the same time resulting in two quick kills for G2. Unfortunately the rest of the team loses their duels resulting in EnVy taking the round.
In round 13, you again see Shox and apEX taking mid control, but this time with shox coming out solo at first to get the initial pick. Thanks to the coordination between these two players, Shox gets a frag on the AWPer in mid. He then dies to a Happy at Whitebox, but he created an opening which is what matter most.. Because of apEX’s presence, Happy needs to fall back to A Site via Highway, leaving a 4 on 2 B split for G2.
In both rounds you can see Shox getting in the action, making trades in the middle of the map, as well as making solo picks to help open up the map for his team. During DreamHack Masters Malmo you can see more of the same. Here in round 27 vs. NiP, you can see Shox being more of a team player. He boosts over mid and leads the charge securing 2 frags and picking up an assist on GeT_RighT. With Shox’s sheer firepower concentrated with the rest of his team, these hard hitting fast pushes are much more lethal than when he was playing near Squeaky.
In a recent twitter post NBK-, Shox's teammate, stated "it would make our team basis stronger to have shox in the attack group and being able to see what happens better.” Not only does having Shox as part of the main attack group help due to his immense firepower, but it also allows him to see first hand how his opponents are responding allowing him to make more informed calls when IGLing. Team Liquid made a similar decision with stanislaw and nitr0 recently at ESG Mykonos. We can see an example of how this move may have helped shox in the grand finals of Malmo vs North.
On round 6 of the match on Inferno, you can see G2 go for an early Banana push. They are delayed by smokes and nades, allowing CajunB to rotate from A to the back of B site, where he’s able to hold off G2’s attack. In the very next round G2, shows the exact same Banana aggression, except this time they utilize molotovs to control the CT’s placement leading to a free frag on MSL. Knowing how quickly the CT’s rotated in the previous round, G2 doubles back and hits A Site. Because Shox was in the main attack group, he was able to see how quickly North rotated to the pressure on Banana. Knowing this, he was able to modify the previous round’s strat, capitalize on North’s quick rotations, and take Round 7.
Another shift in G2’s approach going into Malmo was some fine tuning of their map pool. For a long time Mirage was a permaban for G2, yet at Malmo G2 looked to ban Train while leaving Mirage on the table. G2 is able to integrate Mirage into the pool by letting apEX lead instead of shox. On Mirage apEX brings a good mix of standard mid control play as well as pacing changes, including some rapid executes.
On Round 4 vs. IMT at Malmo, you can see apEX calling for a mid control play that turns into an A Site execute. Just two rounds later, you can see apEX switching things up, calling for Shox to entry on A Site into a fast hit, taking advantage of shox’s new entry role. Again, two rounds later apEX switches it up again with a fast B play. By switching up strats so frequently, Immortals are unable to make consistent reads on G2, giving the French team the edge to take out the Major finalists.
On the CT side of things, apEX sees the team playing more aggressively. In round 20 you can see Shox pushing A Ramp which results in a frag on Boltz, something that shouldn't happen on paper considering Shox could only afford an MP9. Just 2 rounds later, Shox plays close on A Ramp again shutting down IMTs execute.
This aggressiveness isn't only seen by Shox. Mirage has often served as a playground for mobile CT AWPers such as FalleN and device, and for kennyS it's no exception. In round 28 you can see Kenny go for an aggressive peek out Catwalk where he get a pick on Lucas. As IMT executes on B Site, Kenny rotates to market where he picks up two more frags securing the map for G2. Because of Kenny’s amazing skill with the AWP combined with his mobility, Mirage is a solid map for him.
By allowing apEX to take over strat calling on Mirage, utilizing shox’s entry power and kennyS’ mobility with the AWP, G2 now has one more map in their pool where they can go head to head with the best teams on the planet.
Finally, the last big change was G2’s shift in economy management. The French players on this team are certainly famous for their pistol work and force buys dating all the way back to the days of the infamous LDL-CZ. The current G2 was also fond of rolling the dice on mixed buys since coming together.
However, at Malmo, G2 demonstrated more discipline when it came to their spending habits. We saw a lot more traditional saves from G2 throughout the tournament which gave G2 more opportunities for better buys during their games. This allowed getting better firepower in the hands of G2’s star players on a regular basis, particularly giving kennyS more cracks at the AWP. The result was a monstrous performance from kennyS with the added rounds on the sniper, eventually earning him the MVP award.
While there are certainly some other changes G2 made coming into Malmo, these particular arrangements leapt off the page and provided a noticeable positive impact on G2’s performance. G2 will certainly be a team to keep an eye on going forward as they bolster a lineup full of talent and now an improved strategic approach. Hopefully there will be more success in this team’s future as they look to add some more trophies to their cabinet as 2017 heads into a busy conclusion.