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G2 Esports: The True Wildcard of MSI

Perkz, meanwhile, is the undoubted successor to the legacy of owner Carlos Rodriguez "Ocelote" Santiago. The latter was the mid-laner for SK Gaming from 2011–14 and was one of the first western superstars in League of Legends. His trademarks were his collection of scarves, his total passion for the game and perhaps less desirably — his ego. The perceived narcissism of Ocelote took much of the focus away from his talents at the game, which were not insubstantial, especially at a time when professional League was still in its relative infancy. After stepping down as a player in 2015, it seems Ocelote has found a kindred spirit in Perkz and his knowledge of both LoL and brand-building means he is the perfect person to mentor the young Croatian.

Perkz certainly appears to be blessed with similarly stratospheric levels of self-confidence, but it is yet to manifest in a way that has turned fans against him. Besides, so far his play on Summoner's Rift suggests that a measure of arrogance is both warranted and beneficial to G2.

The roster is rounded out by young support player Glenn "Hybrid" Doornenbal (who even Ocelote is at a loss for words to describe) and top-laner Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek. Kikis is the only true veteran on the team, who took the surprising decision to leave a decent-looking Unicorns of Love team in the middle of the 2015 LCS season, to step down a level and play in the Challenger Series.

Since Kikis' departure, the Unicorns have had to cycle through a host of junglers in search of an adequate replacement. Kikis, though, hasn't looked back, transitioning into a steady and consistent top-laner. There is perhaps a suggestion that Kikis' abilities are exaggerated by the current meta that gives weight and power to tanks. But while Kikis may not possess the creativity and invention of peers like Origen's Soaz, he is a workhorse for the team, the solid foundation on which to build.

To watch G2 play League of Legends is a curious experience; they are perhaps not the greatest team-fighters in the world, while their communication is intentionally kept basic, thanks to their Korean imports who are still learning English. They also have a tendency to overstay their welcome and can be found overextending when they have a lead. But despite what might be considered "obvious" weaknesses, no team in Europe was able to capitalize, no team was able to convincingly put down and keep down this G2 side. That ability to spring back from defeat suggests a degree of mental strength that can perhaps be attributed to coach Joey "Youngbuck" Steltonpool. Youngbuck is himself an LCS veteran who remained at the top level for several years, despite the LoL communities' indifference to his play. His quick rise to a coach of stature suggests depths that might not always have been evident to mere spectators.

There is no question that MSI will be a very tough test for G2 as the newest side in attendance. Both Origen and Fnatic — who G2 beat to earn their place at the tournament — had difficult spring seasons, rarely playing to the high standards they would expect. But you can only be as good as the teams that are put in front of you, and G2 are worthy of their place at MSI.

The fact that they have perhaps not yet truly been tested by a team of superior ability only means we don't yet know the limit to their potential. Of the six teams at MSI, G2 is the hardest to predict (though we would expect them to make the knock-out stages). As the tournament's wildest of cards, perhaps it's better to stay away from making assumptions and enjoy watching the latest iteration of a great sporting story — whether that's the feisty newcomers learning humility from masters, or the unstoppable rise of a new powerhouse, is yet to be determined.

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