They’re the only European team to qualify for the Top 8 of all three Europe Opens, and they've had a spot for Prague since the first one, but Gamers2 never clinched a coveted first-place spot in any of the events.
It’s not like they never had the opportunity: they placed third in July and second in August. But, Łukasz “LeofromKorea” Mirek, Bartosz “Szychu” Kosmacz, Oskar “Jowe” Halamus, Emanuel “Baczek” Bąk and Piotr “Nicker” Muzolf don’t intend to let their chance to compete at BlizzCon similarly slip away.
Nicker took some time to speak on behalf of the team before they packed their bags to head to Prague. One thing he emphasized about his own role was the importance of flexibility.
“I am a flex player in my team, which means I have to fit [the] role we need at the moment, due to that fact I have a very wide hero pool (16 heroes) and I have to feel good with all of them. I think I prefer a little bit more dealing damage than providing utility or tanking for my team. I feel good with either role but I like numbers,” he explained.
That flexibility, he said, extends to the team strategy as a whole.
“Of course, we have our more preferable playstyles but we are working on making them even for us so we can feel really good no matter how draft goes. I don't really want to go into specifics — I’ll let our opponents do their job!”
The team went through a transition period after removing Adrian "adrd" Wójcik from the roster. Not only had they lost a talented and flexible player, but adrd had also been performing shot-calling duties for the squad, so someone else had to take up that mantle. The all-Polish team had to change, and they added Baczek as their replacement for adrd while nominating a new shotcaller.
“After a while we figured out Jowe is best guy for that [shotcalling] job. Another thing that changed is my role in the team. I was playing only assassins before the roster change and now I have to be more flexible and play anything we need. Also I think Baczek is mechanically a better player than adrd was, but he lacked shotcalling ability and he has a smaller hero pool,” Nicker said.
Their results in the interim have been consistent — the team won $7,000 over their three Europe Open appearances — but as mentioned previously, they have not managed a first-place finish at a major event.
Their closest shot came in a grand finals match-up against ROCCAT at the final Europe Open. But ROCCAT, coming out of the losers’ side of the bracket, managed to take the first best-of-three series to force a final series — and took it from Gamers2 with a 2-1 match score.
Nicker explains that the team learned something from that series.
“We learned that we can throw everything... In the last game, we had to do exactly nothing to win the game. Instead of waiting for the win, we had the biggest throw in the competitive HotS scene, I believe. We have to work on eliminating stupid, totally unnecessary mistakes and everything will be good,” he said.
The game Nicker mentions is an illustrative example of the consequences of a late-game mistake. Up 20-17 in level late in the game, all G2 had to do was defend their bottom lane against a boss and wait until the next set of temples respawned. Instead, they got pulled into an ill-advised team fight under the boss, lost a couple of members, and the boss marched to G2's core.
The late-game collapse, sometimes called a “throw” in the eSports world, is something that the team has focused on eliminating from their game.
“It's our biggest problem at the moment and we’re working hard to fix that,” he said.
Another thing the team has struggled with is their matchup against Team Liquid. As Nicker points out, they've defeated teams that have, in turn, defeated Liquid. But, they need to focus on getting the upper-hand on the long-time European powerhouse. Nicker assures the fans, however, that they’re working on that, as well as the late-game.
“Both will be fixed soon!”
Leaving the topic of his team’s play, Nicker has a few ideas for things that Blizzard could do to make the game a better experience for competitive players.
One is a limited pool of competitive maps — something that other MOBA-style games haven’t had to deal with, but that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with its myriad maps, has been doing for some time. Another would be a full ladder system that gives players a reason to continue playing Hero League once they reach rank one.
“Another thing I kind of hope for is that Blizzard will finally optimize HotS! I am not able to cap FPS with my high-end machine even on lowest details, and a lot of players can't have decent impressions from gameplay because of poor engine optimization.”
Onward to Prague
With Prague on the horizon, the team has been doing quite a bit of practicing — and their schedules are designed with maximum productivity in mind.
“We usually play together since 3 p.m. till about 11 p.m. every day without exceptions. This time is designed only for scrimming, we play solo after or before "scrimming time." I can tell you I spend about 10 hours a day with HotS (playing, watching streams etc.) so I don't have much time to do anything but that,” Nicker said.
That dedication is balanced by the excitement that comes with their impending appearance on the biggest European Heroes stage ever.
“We are really excited to take part in EU Championship in Prague. We were working for that since we had access to HotS in closed alpha tests and it paid off. We are looking forward to meet other teams IRL for next or first time. Also personal contact with fans is a really great thing. We expect that after EU Championship in Prague, our next stop will be BlizzCon!”
To get to BlizzCon, they’ll need to defeat enough of their opponents to make it to grand finals. But as Nicker explains, it’s recently become difficult to tell who, exactly, their toughest competition will be.
“I don't really know. A few weeks ago I would be able to answer that question but at the moment EU scene is much more flat than before. We have eight very strong teams that can beat each other. Everything depends on the game day and pre-event preparations,” he said.
Finally, Nicker wasn't kidding about his team’s excitement to meet their fans in person. He took some time to offer his team’s appreciation of the scene as a whole.
“I would love to [say] thanks to all Heroes of the Storm fans, no matter if G2.Kinguin is your favorite team or any other team. It's great we all can make this awesome HotS scene together and I hope we will be just bigger and better!”
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Josh Bury is the hero Murky's tribe deserves, but not the one it needs right now. You can find him on Twitter.