After a slow start to the season, G2 Esports finally won a three game series against one of the top teams in the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS): H2K Gaming. Following the set, mid laner Luka “PerkZ” Perković talked to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about his complicated history with Taliyah, G2’s improved team atmosphere post-Rift Rivals, and looking forward to playing against Team Vitality’s Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm.
Kelsey Moser: The blind pick Taliyah is really common, and you guys were doing it in this series, but Taliyah does have some counters, so what makes you feel confident to pick it blind?
Luka “Perkz” Perković: So Taliyah is a really long story with me. I never liked Taliyah before because it was like a roaming champ, and I was always playing for my lane, like before, you know? I was playing for my lane, and I just didn’t like the champ. I thought the champ loses every lane after Level 6 — at some point loses every lane. I just had not so good theory about Taliyah, even though I could play her fine. I just chose to spam a lot more games on her and try different builds (just take MR runes for early game and stuff like that). I just became really good on this champ, and I play it a lot in scrims, and I have a lot of confidence on it.
I think that it’s really strong, especially now in this meta, because it’s tank junglers. So you’re very likely to not get punished at all by junglers. And you can just push almost every matchup 1-v-1. It’s just a very strong pressure champ, so you can pressure bot and top like after every wave almost. You can keep up the vision in the river, and you can always get a base faster because of your movement speed. It’s just a very strong champ in this meta, and that’s why it’s prioritized very highly in Korea (not so much in other regions). Just because LCK plays the best macro version of anyone.
And about her counter picks. I think that Taliyah can actually be fine against everything if you just play smart and you just pressure when you can, and you just push and base, push and base, or push and roam. So just play around pushing lanes instead of trading with enemy mid laner, actually. Best counterpicks I would say is like Kassadin. Even though she can push early, after some level Kassadin can win. And if Kassadin gets like one gank on Taliyah, he can like keep pressuring on the lane and on side. Taliyah can’t do anything against Kassadin, he can just chase her down. Also in teamfights it’s quite good.
Other than that, I think Syndra and Morgana are both fine. Taliyah can be good against them, and they can be good against Taliyah because if Taliyah gets ganked once in the matchup, she’s really fucked or she’s just screwed up because she doesn’t have flash or something. Mages are also fine. I think it’s just Taliyah is such a unique champion. So yeah, that’s why I chose to pick her.
KM: In the last game, H2K early picked Braum/Sejuani and went for some multiple weaker matchups. Is this something you expected from them?
LP: We expected (first rotation) for them to do exactly that because Sejuani and Braum is super strong right now; it’s an OP combo. We just wanted to — we practiced against a lot of tanks, enemy jungle as tank jungler, and just played this kind of style. That’s what we are really good at, so we just wanted to trade. Even though Gragas is worse vs Braum than Sejuani because Sejuani is a little more stable AoE vs Braum than Gragas because Gragas wants to flash ult, and Braum can block his ult, so it just blows. But we were finally just taking the trade and playing tanks because we have so much success with Tahm/Caitlyn, too. Like just play solo lane Caitlyn, it’s insane.
Then — I wasn’t really sure about second rotation because mid is like, it’s a lot easier to pick mid on red side because they can ban champs to pick a first pick champ, and then you can ban another champ. Then they can pick a champ, which is still a good blind pick because they are first pick. So red side has draft advantage there, but blue side you have two or three bans, basically. I was a bit worried in draft because I didn’t know exactly what I would pick, but I knew I would be fine no matter what. So they ban a mid laner, and we just keep trading bans on mid laner, which is actually good for blue side because blue side can get a matchup that is 5-5 (50-50), both sides can go farm, and it’s good for me. But I think if they made the draft a bit better for them, for first pick mid, they could pick Taliyah with no counters or something. Maybe they don’t play this champ, so I don’t know. They could have done better in second draft phase, I think, for mid matchup. Cassi vs Viktor is like a 5-5 (50-50) matchup. At some points, Viktor can pressure, at some points Cassi can pressure.
KM: Also in that game, you had lane assignments where you sent Zven top a lot alone as Caitlyn. Why did it make sense to do that?
LP: It was because we already had bot turret through pressuring mid, mid priority into bot, and chunk turret, chunk turret. And we got top turret. Bot turret and we got top turret. Then, we figured that our duo lane can pressure their duo lane really hard, and I can’t really pressure their duo lane really hard 1v2. And if they go mid, Viktor can just clear, so we decided to put them on side lane, get top pressure, top vision, Herald. After that, duo lane base and went bot.
Then, we push every side wave and try to collapse on cannon on mid turret because cannon wave is hard to clear. And also we have Herald. So basically, if you get Herald vs a mage, you will get turret vs any team, but it’s really good to get turret vs a mage because then he has to hug his Tier 2 turret, and he’s a lot far back on the map. Against assassins, mid turret doesn’t matter that much, but against mages, it’s super OP, so Herald was good there.
KM: In Game 2, you had a really early roam bottom that didn’t amount to maybe that much. What was the thought process for this roam?
LP: Well, in scrims, I usually gank bot like Level 2, and I always get Flash or something. And bot can pressure. And even though I didn’t get anything, I actually got a lot because they are supposed to lose the matchup early. And since then on, they can actually pressure the matchup, and I lost two creeps for that. So it didn’t matter much.
I died to gank later. It’s completely my fault. Not because I went bot. So, basically I fucked my lane a little bit, but I got a pretty big advantage for my bot lane. So I think it’s always worth, and also in scrims, Zven rewards me with a candy if I gank bot, so I do it.
KM: Obviously your team (or at least you) seems really confident after Rift Rivals. Can you explain the source of this change?
LP: So basically, before Rift Rivals — like one or two weeks before — I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe just the burnout ever since MSI and because we didn’t have break and everything, and meta change, blah blah. We were playing worse than we expected. We didn’t know why, or we knew why, but we were still playing worse, and all of that made scrim atmosphere be — not bad, but not good, you know? Like no energy and like a lot of silence and a lot of dooming the game. We were just dooming every game. We were fucking up early game so much (not every game, but half of the games). So half of our scrims were being completely wasted, and then the Rift Rivals, you could see we were not having any synergy or very low within mid-jungle-bot — overall, just as a whole team, we were playing really bad. We had some good moments, we had some really bad moments too.
Then we we had a talk during Rift Rivals, then we had a long talk after Rift Rivals. We got all of our problems out, and we discussed them, and we made good plans for short term, for long term. We just — it was a really great feeling. Everyone felt so relieved. We decided to take scrims a bit not so serious. We take it very serious, but not like — we don’t get mad if we lose. And we try to not doom the games. We try to play from behind. We have a lot more fun. We make a lot more in-game jokes. It just feels so good to scrim now. I feel like it’s very hard to beat us in scrims. I feel like this meta also benefits us, and I also feel like every one of our players is now playing better than ever. Maybe you can way we peaked at MSI or whatever, but I’m sure we will get back to maybe even greater form than then.
I just feel really confident in my ability to play good no matter what happens in the game. I don’t tilt or I don’t get frustrated by the bad things that happen in game. If I have to gank early, for example, I will still play my matchup even when Syndra is 2-0 and try to kill him, you know? If I see that he makes a mistake, which he did. Just like an example like that. I think we are getting better and better and better and better. I’m feeling really confident in my team.
KM: Did you feel like you had trouble adjusting at all to more crowd control picks in the meta?
LP: There was our — miss in the early season where we were just picking for strong lanes instead of picking for team comps. But we had a talk about that too. We decided to pick more for team comps, so now every one of our lanes thinks more about do we have enough CC? Do we have this? Do we have this? Maybe we shouldn’t pick another winning lane top if you already have a winning bot lane bot or vice versa. Same for my matchups. Usually I used to pick mostly for team comps, but I was just picking strong lanes to do better early. And now I just pick every time what’s good for team comp no matter what. If I need a Leblanc in a team vs squishy comp no matter what the matchup is, I will play it or if I need a mage, and they have assassins, it’s whatever, you know? I don’t care about lane matchup so much because I think you can play around everything if you call for help from your team or if you play it right.
KM: You do face Nukeduck on Saturday, and he’s been getting a lot of attention and a lot of praise lately. Do you have any goals for that matchup or any impression of him?
LP: I don’t have any goals for that matchup because I don’t consider any mid laners from Europe my rivals, but it’s always fun to play against Nuke and Febi because I know them for two or three years from solo queue. We have been speaking on Skype and Teamspeak and in real life since then. So they are actually good friends of mine in esports.
I always thought that Nuke and Febi were the best mid laners together with me for last years I play LCS. Always when I play against them, I could see they are better or smarter than others for last two years in scrims. But they had like really shit teams. Both of them. If your team is shit, you will look worse too, so people didn’t expect much of Nukeduck ever. And they expect Febiven to come back or whatever, but Febiven is still really good, and so I am looking forward to playing against him because I think he is really good. He is for sure like top two or three mid, and it’s going to be fun to play against him.
KM: You said you don’t consider any EU mids your rivals. Do you have anyone you consider your rival particularly?
LP: I don’t have anyone I consider my rival, but I always like to play against Bjergsen and Jensen. It was my first time playing against Jensen, but I feel like he is really similar in skill to me. Same with Bjergsen. They are both really good. I like to play against them because they are smart, and they play with good with team, and they play good in team fights, and they are just strong opponents. I want to face against them more often. I wish I could play against them.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration