With their fate out of their hands, G2 Esports relied on a win from Phong Vu Buffalo and then a tiebreaker win against Flash Wolves to make it to quarterfinals for the first time in the organization's history. We talked to their coach Grabbz about having to go through play-ins to reach groups, playing multiple styles and having special champion picks.
Renato (Shakarez): So first of all, congratulations on your win and making it out of groups. First time for G2, finally. I actually talked to Jankos after play-ins, who told me, "If we play like we did today, I don't think we'll make it out of groups." So what changed between play-ins G2 and groups G2?
Grabbz: Honestly, again confidence, because when we got here to Korea, scrims were not pretty. Which is to expected, right? You play against the best teams in the world, suddenly things get really punished, and we just adjusted over play-ins to actually learn how to play against the good teams and not get punished as much. So if we would have gotten into this group immediately, I think we would have lost hard against Flash Wolves and Afreeca. But now we learned a lot in that time, and we could improve on that. And yeah, I mean it was definitely a good trip from play-ins.
I was actually going to ask you that G2 is traditionally a bit of a slow team. Did you think play-ins really helped getting those extra games in and helping the team figure out what's best for them, meta-wise?
Yeah, for sure. I mean as everybody knows, unfortunately scrims are always different. People play more aggressive, they're more likely to get caught out. That means we had false confidence in certain champions, which showed even in the first game against SuperMassive. The way we drafted, we thought it was good, and suddenly we thought, "Ok, if we don't get kills here, what is happening? We could get out-scaled." So that definitely knocks it down a bit, and you think about what is actually good and try to be more objective. So it was very important for sure.
After day one, a lot of people were pretty surprised with your performance, going 2-1. But there was a bit of a worry that you guys could only play that 1-3-1 style. Do you think you're more than that, that you can play other stuff that you haven't shown as much?
I mean I think today we tried to draft a bit more towards teamfighting, and we can play it. It's just that—I think it's hard to show it since today we were really nervous going into the games. I think we got this thought of "only one more game we needed to win." after PVB and it was really toxic to the players, in the sense that they rushed many things. So especially the first game of Brand, in the second game against Flash Wovles, this is a snowball comp, and we take the fights we shouldn't take, and we get behind and lose the game. It looks really bad, right? Just because usually, in scrims at least, we're more calm and we know, "Ok, this is how we want to play the game." And now we just wanted to get that win so badly that we made many mistakes.
But for sure, G2 is not only 1-3-1. We're very confident playing it, because everybody knows what to do, but I think one for one team fighting is still something we can bring out for sure.
You talked about being nervous in the Flash Wolves did that transfer to the Afreeca game? Knowing that if you win that you get out first, but if you lose you have to play a tiebreaker
Thankfully we were a bit calmer going into Afreeca because no matter what happens we still have the tiebreaker and we knew for a fact even though we lost with a brand against Flash Wolves that we should better, they didn't do anything special we just int'd really hard. So the players had a bit more leeway going into the game but the whole day again there was this excitement which was not what was good in playoffs - if you think too much about actually getting through, you make mistakes and this was something that happened a lot today.
Moving to quarterfinals the first time G2 qualifies. How do you rate your chances. You're going as seed 2, which means you face a seed 1.
Honestly, in this worlds I think nobody is unbeatable. There's No SKT level team where you're like "oh shit we want to avoid them". RNG was very beatable yesterday even though they played a comp which is like a bit different than what they usually play., admittedly. KT, I'm not sure about them because they weren't forced to do anything special in groups either. They're just playing standard and win because they're better but they don't do anything where we're like "Oh my god we can't play against this".
So if we go back to day one performance, poised and very calm. I think we have a shot against anybody. Of course RNG and KT is something you would want to avoid if you could choose but we just take whatever and we celebrate the fact that we can play against the best and hopefully get through.
Hjarnan picked Brand today which I think caught a lot of people off guard. And that was after not picking Heimer. You had a chance to pick Heimer in the first phase, you decided not to go through it, why was that?
People think that we really rely on it, and it's a strong champ for sure. But we knew what we wanted in the draft and when we get to draft we think Heimer is banned, so we draft around that fact. Brand is basically a Heimer 2.0 and how we can play around him even though it didn't show in game because of the early mistakes. So we were not forced into picking Heimer early. Going back, we would have picked maybe differently, not necessarily Heimer, but there are many things in draft going wrong. So that's definitely on me and I have to apologize to the players for that one
So you say maybe you would've drafted differently but maybe not Heimer, does that mean Hjarnan has other special picks up his sleeve?
Why only Hjarnan? We have five players that can bring something special.
The interview above has been edited for clarity
Images via Lolesports Flickr