Over the course of Rift Rivals, G2 Esports, three-time European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS) champion, managed to win only a single game on the first day of group stage. Afterward, support Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez spoke to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about the state of the meta and his mounting worry regarding G2’s form.
Kelsey Moser: Between Games 1 and 2, you had drastically different circumstances from draft. In Game 1, you had basically all losing lanes, and in the second game, you had pretty much all winning lanes and strong jungle matchup. What were the considerations for both drafts? Was the outcome intentional in Game 1, or were there other factors involved?
Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez: For the first draft, we put high priority on Syndra over anything else really. They just picked the Galio and carried the game. It didn’t really pay off at all. The Galio had more pressure the whole time until like level 11, and it was really over for that time. The Syndra pick felt really useless to me, and the Galio felt like it was carrying really hard, so we decided to drop the priority on Syndra and just get into a situation where we get Thresh first pick or we first pick our jungler (one of the two strong junglers, like Rek’Sai or Elise) and then they decided to leave both open. So we don’t get one for free. So we decided to trade the stronger jungler for the Thresh. It paid off in the end.
KM: I’ve seen a lot of really high priority on the Renekton-Elise combo. It seems to be much more in LCK than maybe some other regions. Are there reasons for it not doing as well in Europe?
AR: I think in general top-jungle synergy is not very good in Europe. I can’t really think of anyone from the top of my head who has good top-jungle synergy. If I think about it now, it’s probably Vitality or H2K who have good top-jungle synergy. Every other team doesn’t really. So it’s understandable that there’s not really a good way of playing these two champions if they don’t coordinate with each other when one of them is trading if they’re both low HP. Elise can come over and dive or — the level 3 dive is very telegraphed. Once you know he can do that, you have to think a little bit outside the box and maybe take another level, take other routes, get other advantages elsewhere if you know enemy jungler is going to be top. You can maybe adapt your path to cheese him or something. You can do a lot of stuff regarding that pressure that you have in the top lane. It’s the same way what Zven said about Rek’Sai. It is very strong, but once you know how to deal against it, it’s not so strong, but the enemy team still has to know how to spend resource to play against it, so I think Elise-Renekton is more of the same.
It also just gives good value to your draft. You can blind pick Renekton, you know, it’s overall good. You get an AP jungler — good AP/AD balance. Everything is good about it. Renekton is buffed now with the Gargoyle so you don’t just get one-shot in team fights.
KM: You went for Blitzcrank this time around. What you did a lot with the Blitzcrank was invade the jungle, look for picks like this. How do you set up to make these kinds of plays?
AR: Honestly, I think I have a very good eye — throughout the years, I have a very good eye for watching the minimap and the flow of the game, so I can tell whereabout the other team is warding, whereabout the other team thinks I am even though I see my whole team. I feel like I have a very good eye to understand where everyone is running around. I can kind of feel where everyone is moving and feel what everyone is thinking about what they can and can’t do, and that makes me be very good at playing champions like Tahm Kench, champions like Blitzcrank, because I’m able to think outside the box and kind of understand what paths people are going to take and what places they don’t have vision on and make plays around that. In this game, I was playing very well around tempo and pressure and waves. I was able to get deep wards through that. And sometimes I knew they were afraid of me, and I was just walking in alone whereas in other cases I would go with my team. I would take some risks because I knew that they were shitting themselves, you know? Because I could feel from their point of view what was happening, and who was basing, and who was missing from our side. So I could be more judgmental in that way and pressure them until we lost the tempo and we lost the vision. Then the pick is useless, you know?
KM: There are a lot more engage picks in the meta right now. How does that impact the way that you play the game?
AR: Engage picks, as in?
KM: As in like the Jarvan, the Gragas, to an extent the Renekton. You have more engage supports like the Thresh, Blitzcrank.
AR: Now with the whole tank items being buffed and the fact that ranged supports got nerfed, and just the meta in general is shifting just through item-wise. Nothing to do with champions themselves. Well, champions too, but the nerfs and the buffs of the items made it so that tanks have an easier time — or bruisers because of the Gargoyle makes bruisers stronger. Once you have those kinds of champions, you know, you have more playmaking potential in a lot of roles.
The same way carry tops were buffed in a way because of items or AP tops in a way or AP supports were buffed in a way. You would see a lot less CC and a lot less forgiving team comps. These team comps nowadays, since there’s tanks and there’s a lot of playmaking, it’s very forgiving for both teams because if you make a mistake, you can always come back by catching someone off by making a pick, you know? Kled ult, Blitzcrank hook — there’s always something you can do to get back in the game so everyone is just falling more and more back into this. Sometimes you can pick stuff that doesn’t have CC and is still good. Once you realize that if the team doesn’t — or just picks something with CC, and you don’t, and you have to either play perfect or you might lose.
For example, the game where P1 played against Fnatic. For bot lane, for example, one team had Blitzcrank/Kennen and the other team had Morgana/Caitlyn. Morgana/Caitlyn would take their tower and just snowball the game, but once they screwed up, the Blitzcrank/Kennen was able to exert so much pressure in the side lanes and in the mid was able to get picks and stuff, you know. Which the Morgana/Caitlyn couldn’t because it’s just there to snowball. This is the same for tops, the same for mids, the same for jungle.
Gragas is a different thing. But every other jungler if you want to play — Gragas is basically OP because he does that, and he doesn’t get screwed up early game. Now with the Cinderhulk changes, I am sure that we’re going to see stuff in the jungle that might be that kind of thing where they sacrifice the early game a little bit to just have the playmaking later. If teams don’t play perfect, and even if you play perfect, and the other team catches you off by doing something good themselves, you can always get something in the game because you have playmaking potential.
KM: Do you think this has any impact on why everyone is saying ‘Oh, we are playing so sloppy, these games are so sloppy,’ or?
AR: No, I think if you play sloppy it’s because you fucked up, and you’re shit, you know? I don’t think there’s — no. Like if you’re good, if you’re really good, then you understand what you can do and how they can play make against you. And you just expect it and play around it. It’s the same for everything. It’s just that people are not used to this style, I guess, and they are making more mistakes than we would see in the past, but I don’t even think it’s that. I just think it’s the fact that now it’s more punishing to make mistakes because more champions can punish you — not just the — before, what was it, that can punish you? There was like Lee Sin in the jungle, and then there was nothing else because every other champion was just straight up damage. Then for mid it was mages. No punishment. Top laners were the only thing that could punish you. Top laners and Varus and Ashe were the only things that could punish you. Or Jhin in the Jhin times. It was a lot more forgiving to go and ward alone, to go and do something on your own — like skip one place or don’t check this bush or don’t wait until they show on the wave. It was a lot more forgiving because you couldn’t get punished. But now you can get Blitzcrank hooked over the wall or Kled can ult on you or something can happen. Maybe mid lane is playing Galio mid or something. Someone jumps on you, and Galio just pops on top of you. There are a lot more ways of being punished for the mistakes you make. If you don’t make mistakes, you are still a good team, and yeah.
KM: By that same consideration, I hear you guys say “We are playing sloppy, we are still catching up” quite a lot. Is there a point where you start to worry a little bit?
AR: I’m worried, yeah. I was fine, honestly, before this week. But I think maybe the stress of this tournament and the fact that I want to show that I’m performing well put me on the edge. Now I’m worried, honestly. I really feel like — it doesn’t feel well anymore, you know? I think we need to speed up the process if there’s any process at all. We need to get things working again or we will not make it, so that’s kind of how I feel right now.
KM: Is that your objective for Rift Rivals — to really kind of hammer down some of the stuff you are missing?
AR: Well, I know all the mistakes that we make. I can see them in scrims. I’m trying my hardest. I can sense what is going wrong and what is going right, and I think I’m really giving it my best to become good again, so I think it’s just a matter of fixing the issues and putting in the effort.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Raphie Rosen