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Europe's Redemption Lies with Odoamne and H2K

After a terrible week one of Worlds, League of Legends fans had written off Europe. The region had only picked up one game, and every other region had comfortably tossed them around. When G2 was officially eliminated from their group, only picking up one win against Albus NoX Luma, all hope seemed lost. There was, however, one team who refused to accept the seemingly inevitable.

H2K rallied hard, going 4-0 and placing 1st in their group. While Splyce also showed signs of life, no European team recovered as hard and fought back as furiously as H2K.

In the wake of their victories, Odoamne is ecstatic.

“It feels great!” is the first thing Odoamne admits. “I expected a run where we’d do well and try to clinch the second place. We didn’t think we could do this well.”

The top laner shares how H2K handled their early momentum: “When we came into this week and got into the game and they were going smooth we didn’t really get ahead of ourselves and give opponents ways back into the game, aside from a Baron steal we won’t talk about. I knew we performed really well and we went over our expectations, so I am proud of the team and happy everyone performed this well today.”

So far, the consensus has been that teams are approaching each other on a more even playing field. Odoamne went into a little more detail about their losses to Edward Gaming.

“Even the first the first week when we played them, I don’t think they were better, I think we just threw our games. Against ahq we had a 4 or 5k gold lead and we just gave up the lead and they snowballed the game. Against EDG, we kind of failed level 1 as well and me and Jankos failed early game in the top lane. These games, we just focused on our early game a bit more and played safer compared to last week. If we didn’t throw the games from the last week, we would have steamrolled EDG again.”

When it comes to the top lane, Odoamne found himself in a whole new environment compared to his native region. “I thought [Ziv] was okay, he had a good knowledge of how to lane, but I didn’t see anything spectacular. Yang played laning phase a bit poor, but he could have played more aggressively. Mouse, I don’t really know, I heard he was a support main or whatever. When I played against him, I felt like I could do whatever.”

Top laners have to worry about more than their opponent; the jungler is often ready to come up and gank. “For jungle, I think they were pretty much all the same. Mountain was okay and Clearlove was much weaker than I expected. I’m just used to EU junglers, where I can get ganked at any point in the game.

But when I played against these Eastern junglers, I felt no pressure on myself. I feel like anything they do is super obvious and Jankos just read them all like a book.

Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu

We knew every time where they were, they didn’t really do anything creative or unpredictable. It was just really easy to read them. Maybe we just played a lot better, but that was my impression.”

Adjusting from Europe was a big change, especially after the region’s massive changes. Last year’s semi-finalists, Origen and Fnatic, weren’t able to compete on the same level. It was a totally new playing field.

Odoamne expands on exactly how the region felt from an inside perspective, and how that dynamic played out on the world stage. “Internally, I think G2 was really good in EU and everyone else was kind of weak. We had draft issues when we played playoffs and stuff. But I think coming to worlds, I think we were kind of same level as NA at least. I don’t know what happened to G2, they had the same issues as us, play early game well and make some throws. We managed to fix them for week 2, but they should have done more in their group. For Splyce, I think their group was just really hard, but I think they can pull off some wins against other teams. I still think EU could have done more and on paper, was just as good as NA.”

When it came to figuring out EDG’s weaknesses and how to exploit them, Odoamne tips his hat to H2K’s coaching staff. “I think the coaching staff did a good job because I don’t think their early game was that week. Just like ahq, we just messed up our own good plays. The way they played, they only had a certain number of champions at their disposal, in order to be playmakers. So, that’s why they lost, they didn’t have the playmakers once we banned one out already. I think picks and bans were just really important against EDG.”

Picks and bans have been heavily discussed at this tournament, with some players and analysts considering it the most important part of the game. Odoamne disagrees.

"Right now [in this meta] picks and bans kind of lost its value and how you play is more important. I’m not saying it's useless, but it wasn’t like one year ago, when Azir was meta and all the mid laners played him," he explains. "Back then if you made a mistake in picks and bans, it was over. Now I feel like it's more accessible and every role has more champions to pick from. We have a variety of champions and everything is a triangle at every position. If you have the idea of picking champions, but pick them at the wrong time, they will lose value at that point. It’s not 90% like it was on other metas, it would be more like 80%.”

Odoamne further honed in on the top lane meta and what it takes for a top laner to succeed. “I think knowledge of matchups and a lot of map movement are the most important things. Once you take down your tower and stay in lane, you are pretty much dooming your team. You just need a lot of knowledge because with all these matchups between Rumble, Jayce, Kennen, Poppy, and Gnar. All of them work into one another, but each of them have clear win conditions. Some matchups might be more inclined to one side, like Kennen being 60-40 against Rumble, but Rumble can also win. If the top laner doesn’t know his champions win conditions, it’s really bad. All these picks can succeed against each other.”

With the first seed secured, Odoamne looks to the future. When asked what team he most wants to face, he had a few contenders in mind. “I think we would do really well against Albus Nox just because they’re 2nd seed and we can draw into them. I don’t know about other groups because the other groups are more unpredictable, but I would like to play against Albus Nox, Cloud9, and also would like to play against ROX Tigers later on in the tournament. I think our early game matches up well against them and we can overtake their flaws.”

Odoamne may sound confident, but he has a good reason for it. “I think the way we play early game, no team is particularly threatening. Because if we have a strong early game, we have control of the mid game. Well, we should, unless we make some stupid throws like we did in the first week. I think SKT is really scary again even if they messed up against Flash Wolves. I think most teams are equally strong, EDG was kind of weak, but ROX and SKT are on the same level I think. All these teams have these areas where they’re really good. If you play a Best of 5, you have time to figure things out."

If we saw anything this week, it's that if H2K have time to figure out their opponents, they're one of the deadliest teams at Worlds. And they will need to be. As Europe’s last and brightest hope, H2K will be representing the entire region in the days to come at the quarterfinals. If any team at Worlds has proven that they can shoulder the pressure, it’s H2K.

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