Marcin "SELFIE" Wolski will start at Mid lane for H2k-Gaming in their Week 5 European LCS games, according to a tweet from H2K's support, Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan, on Wednesday.
The team's jungler, Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski, later confirmed the news to theScore eSports.
SELFIE has been H2K's starting mid laner since Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook's visa issues prevented him from playing in Week 3. Across the four games he's played, SELFIE has picked up a 4.40 KDA, with a perfect win rate. SELFIE is on loan from Echo Fox, a team in the North American LCS.
H2K is currently 7-1 in the EU LCS, tied for first place with G2 Esports. They are set to play against G2 Esports and Unicorns of Love in Week 5.
At the conclusion of the third place match between H2K and the Unicorns of Love, the hometown heroes stood together on stage with the Polish flag draped over their shoulders. H2K support Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan expressed his regrets. “We should have taken the series against Splyce. We beat ourselves, I should say.”
Some might think this statement puts down Splyce, whose improvements and triumphs this split have been truly admirable, but VandeR’s words were heavy and genuine. “We beat ourselves” rings truer for H2K than many who have uttered the phrase. The laundry list of public problems has been recounted several times: Yoo “Ryu” Sangook’s visa, Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou military summons, as well as his conflict with Coach Niel “pr0lly” Hammad and Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek’s injury.
The visible devastation H2K experience on stage after losing 2-3 to Splyce in their fourth consecutive semifinal forced me to have doubts. But this week’s third-place match wasn’t about any of those things — it was about what allowed the team to scrape by, to overwhelm Unicorns more convincingly than G2, the Summer champions, and qualify for the World Championship. The small changes the team made to their style and the difference between them and G2 made this match incredibly impressive.
Watching the early games of Unicorns of Love and H2K-Gaming, Kang “Move” Minsu received heavy criticisms for falling behind in farm. During the regular season, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski could hardly be called a farming jungler. He averaged 48 percent of total jungle camps taken, usually underfarmed relative to his opposite — unless he made the early ganks work. This gave H2K-Gaming the famous “live or die by Jankos” tag line.
During the course of the set against Unicorns of Love, however, there were instances where other members of the team, Ryu especially, granted Jankos waves of farm by backing early. Because of Ryu’s strength over Fabian "Exileh" Schubert, he could trade very well in lane and remain ahead. This particular matchup made a significant difference. Throughout the regular season, H2K progressively focused on holding mid lane, and the synergy between Jankos and Ryu has grown increasingly strong.
For once, H2K were able to execute the style that has been incredibly popular in the EU LCS all year: running through mid-lane. There were several instances where H2K were able to use the terrain between first and second tier mid lane turrets for dives and invades. Jankos’ ability to invade through the bottom blue side jungle and utilize the part of the map between turrets proved effective for a red side team. This, as well as the team’s tactic of delaying the support pick to counter the enemy team’s strategies, could have been a major reason H2K continued to choose red side throughout the series.
With more farm, Jankos averaged 51 percent of jungle camps taken throughout playoffs, and Ryu came off as the star of the team in the third place match, constantly pressuring the lane and abusing Exileh’s champion pool. Yet this was only possible because of the stability of H2K’s side lanes.
With a strategy that relied less on a jungler farming, H2K teetered between spectacular and deplorable throughout the summer split. Their bottom lane often had limited effective strategies, perhaps because of Freeze’s injury and inability to practice consistently. Freeze tunneled on his famous Draven pick. This made playing around the bottom side of the map occasionally ineffective. It also cut down on many opportunities for the top side of the map to get ahead, as with the popularity of Teleport, the most effective way for a top laner to get a lead is often to Teleport to bottom lane skirmishes. In this way, top and bottom have a very strong link in the current meta.
During the semifinal match between Unicorns of Love and G2 Esports, top lane lacked any independent pressure. G2 were only able to have their most decisive victory over Unicorns of Love when Kim “Trick” Gangyun camped the top side of the map, allowing Ki “Expect” Daehan to finally get a lead. This discouraged a great deal of aggression in the bottom side of the map, as G2’s top lane had the ability to push out the wave and both get to the bottom lane before the enemy top laner as well as have a greater impact.
Top lane was never a weak point for H2K throughout the series. Jankos put more jungle pressure on the top side of the map, and Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu’s consistency shone through extremely well. This series, the bottom half of the map exerted a great deal of pressure without Jankos even traveling to the bottom half, and FORG1VEN and VandeR were able to play aggressively, abusing their advantage, knowing the rest of the team was winning top side.
This is the seamless symbiosis we’ve always expected form H2K this season, but never really encountered. For once, this was a team with more stability and freedom, yet it still hinged heavily on the skill of their individual players. This was H2K showing up in their meta against another semifinalist, not a bottom lane camp or a high risk-reward strategy based upon early ganks that don’t always pan out. This was H2K showing up when almost everyone had lost faith.
The question is how long it lasts.
If you’ve had a year like H2K, there’s always another shoe. FORG1VEN’s departure from H2K and return after pr0lly’s comments is incredibly admirable on both sides. H2K swallowed their pride and admitted they needed help. FORG1VEN swallowed his because it’s undeniable — if you play like that, no matter how high your Overwatch rank is, you love League of Legends, you love the competition and the feel of victory, however rare it has been in the past, on the competitive stage.
But the problems H2K had don’t just disappear, and with their inconsistent performances throughout the summer, it’s almost certain that they have even more issues that have nothing to do with FORG1VEN. This H2K is the H2K we’ve wanted to see all year. They’re flexible, they’re less reliant on either FORG1VEN or Jankos. They know how to use the solo laners who have always been there, braving the storm since H2K entered the LCS, two of the best solo laners in the world, though this is rarely acknowledged with the rest of the talent on the team.
“We beat ourselves,” VandeR said, and it rang true of H2K’s struggles throughout the year. Everyone who loves this team or loves the European LCS felt it, though it only lingered in the air for a minute.
H2K finally stopped beating themselves and started beating their competitors for perhaps the first time since Spring. As a fellow lover of League of Legends, I can’t expect this to last forever, but I can hope it lasts through the World Championship in October. I can hope that this is the H2K we see in San Francisco because this is an H2K that can win, this is an H2K that understands how to use the resources they have. This is an H2K that can beat almost anyone.
Remember, H2K, the enemies are on the other side of the rift, and you’ll do just fine.
H2k-Gaming took care of business on Saturday, deftly defeating the Unicorns of Love 3-1 to secure third place in the EU LCS Summer playoffs and give themselves the best shot at returning to the World Championship.
After the series, Marcel "Dexter" Feldkamp chatted with the MVP of the third place match, Yoo "Ryu" Sang-ook, about his team's mid-game issues, a possible return to the world stage and the secrets of the "battle nap."
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H2K defeat UoL 3-1, secure third place in EU LCS Summer Split
H2k-Gaming have defeated the Unicorns of Love in a decisive 3-1 series, securing a third-place finish in the EU LCS 2016 Summer Split.
With the win, H2K secure themselves additional championship points, which crucially give them a chance to qualify for Worlds as Europe's second seed. If G2 Esports win their finals match against Splyce tomorrow, H2K's combined points from spring and summer would see them qualify for Worlds on points ahead of Splyce.
H2K kicked the series off with a slow march to victory in Game 1, relying on Jankos' Gragas and Odoamne's Shen to create the space necessary to secure objectives. UoL kept pace with some timely kills in the bottom lane, but eventually were unable to overcome H2K despite their late-game scaling composition.
Game 2 was delayed for some time due to a bug involving champion select, but when the game got underway, H2K looked to repeat their Game 1 performance with several well executed ganks in the early game. However, a disastrous teamfight in the mid game saw UoL cleanly wipe H2K, allowing them to take the Baron and begin a counteroffensive. Though H2K managed to hold on for some time, a final push by UoL ended the game in just under 40 minutes.
Not to be deterred, H2K came back in Game 3 with their most dominant performance yet, smashing UoL apart 17 kills to 3 in a 29 minute game. A dominant performance by Odoamne's Shen in the top lane, who ended the game with a strong 3/0/10 KDA, helped secure an early game lead that UoL could not recover from.
Game 4 was another strong showing from H2K, in which they simply steamrolled the Unicorns. After plowing through UoL's objectives, they closed the series with a 33-minute game thanks to an approximately 14K gold lead by the end of the game.
The Unicorns will now turn their sights to the regional gauntlet, where they will have to fight for the final European Worlds seed. They could face H2K there once again if Splyce are able to triumph over G2 on Sunday, which would see G2 qualify for Worlds as the second seed on points.
Top 5 Plays from Unicorns of Love vs. H2k-Gaming (2016 EU LCS)
theScore esports Staff
Although they both joined the EU LCS in the spring of 2015, H2k-Gaming and the Unicorns of Love have only crossed paths in the playoffs once before, in Summer 2015.
One year later, these two EU LCS mainstays look to write a new chapter in their history. Before H2K and UoL take to the Rift, we look back on their games from this past year's matches and admire the best moments, counting down the Top 5 Plays from UoL vs. H2K.
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