Although H2K Gaming ultimately lost the final best-of-three of the regular season against Unicorns of Love, it had already secured first place in Group B of the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS). After H2K handily dispatched Mysterious Monkeys 2-0 earlier in the week, jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski spoke to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about playing with strong lanes, Cho’Gath vs Trundle, and H2K’s previous playoffs woes.
Kelsey Moser: Some have said Elise has fallen out of priority in tank meta. Could you talk a little bit about why Elise was so effective for you today?
Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski: I think Elise is still good just because of her early pressure, and I think as long as you draft tank top lane, it’s still good. Because you still have front line. In our game, we had Cho’Gath. He cannot initiate in second game, so that’s harder in mid game, but as long as you can kind of kite back fights, it’s still good. I think against good teams — like, for example, G2, we will have a lot of troubles. In the first game, we bet more on snowballing the game and just kind of closing it out. I think, with Elise, it’s obviously harder to fight mid-late game if the enemy can match you with a tank in the jungle. But it’s still playable, and you have way more early game pressure.
KM: Some teams are picking this Xayah-Rakan combo really early (first rotation red side), but it seems to be hit-or-miss whether it’s successful because you are often trading some other really strong picks. Like maybe Thresh or Tristana (in your case). Do you think that this combo together is a good first rotation red side?
MJ: I think, overall, I think it’s a good pick — like both of them. But only if bot lane can punish enough 2-v-2 because Xayah/Rakan, you still pick it for lane. You still pick it to have pressure early game. Even if you face Thresh and something else (Kalista probably), you still have pressure. So, usually, you should play around bot lane or at least ward for them, and they can fight 2-v-2 a lot. That’s the strength of Xayah/Rakan.
But if the enemy bot lane is not fighting a lot or is not punishing the pure 2-v-2, then Xayah/Rakan is probably not as strong. You still have initiation with Rakan. It’s one of the few supports that can 100 percent initiate, you know? Because Thresh needs to land hook, Braum can only go, Alistar sometimes. So it’s just strong. It’s overall a strong pick, strong draft, but, like I said, you need to punish on lane, and Mysterious Monkeys — I felt like they didn’t punish enough. That’s why it didn’t look so strong in mid game.
KM: If you have really strong pressure in side lanes, instead of keeping that pressure, teams are grouping mid more and taking mid turret first. H2K did that in Game 1. Why do you think this type of rotation is more common?
MJ: Right now I think that most of the teams think that mid pressure is the most important, so that’s why everyone is kind of grouping mid. It’s something that UoL was doing before everyone, but it wasn’t the meta back then because you would go for less teamfight comps. Right now, you kind of pick team fight, and you look for those rotations mid lane, and try to out-rotate your opponent and fight them when they are splitting on side lanes.
So there’s a lot of thought behind it, and I believe that NA taught us how to do it on Rift Rivals because they were already grouping a lot in mid lane and fighting a lot. They also were playing picks that had way more engage. For example, Kled top lane, or jungle and support picks that could kind of go in. Or Ashe/Varus. Whatever you call it. So I think we kind of picked it up from them, and I think that’s how everyone is playing the game right now, but I’m not 100 percent sure because I don’t watch LCK that often lately. So I don’t want to say that’s the best way to play the game, but I believe that in NA and EU, it’s the best way to play the game.
KM: Speaking of these teamfight comps, it seems like H2K — even outside the Elise — still favor these strong laning phase picks like the Lucian. You don’t necessarily think of these double AD laning comps as huge teamfight comps, but why do you think that the Lucian mid, for example, is still good?
MJ: I think sometimes you just go for strong lanes and snowball the game. Sometimes we pick for pure team fight. It kind of depends on what opponents we play against because, you know, against Mysterious, we feel confident enough that we can win lanes with winning picks for sure and snowball it.
In the second game, the Trundle surprised us a little bit. That’s why the game was a little bit harder, especially after the dive top, but still we had Tristana. We waited for 3-4 items, and then Nuclear played pretty well in team fights along with Febi when we were in the front lines throwing CC. We had backline CC, we had double AD carry, and we had frontline that couldn’t be killed fast, so I think it was overall fine, but it was just a little bit difficult in mid game when they had a lot of pressure on Trundle, and we couldn’t gank him because he could 2v1 us, and then they had a lot of push, so it was difficult, but we won.
KM: Before Nuclear got items on Tristana, you were trying to set up 1-3-1, but it was a bit tricky into that comp which lane assignments you would want to pick. What was your thought process there?
MJ: I think we just tried to dodge the Cho’Gath-Trundle matchup. I can’t say too much because, you know, opponents are watching, so basically, you know, it’s kind of just that you don’t want to put Cho’Gath into Trundle because you will have zero pressure on the lanes. We just kind of played around it.
KM: You will be going into playoffs after the week closes. Traditionally, playoffs hasn’t been the most fun time for H2K. What are some of the issues you’ve had in the past that maybe you’ve been working on for this go-around?
MJ: Maybe we focus too much on winning, and we kind of treat it wrong because instead of showing what we worked on and playing our game, we kind of try to think about the old comp too much. Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure.
With different H2K lineups it’s different problems, so it’s really difficult to say what was the problem last playoffs against Fnatic. I think, overall, they just played better game, and we played more scared, and we didn’t play so many pushing lanes, so they would have a lot of pressure, and stronger jungler. It was just difficult. I think this playoffs, we’ll be more prepared for G2 or for Misfits, depending on the game on Sunday (Note: This interview was conducted before Vitality defeated Unicorns of Love). I think we can for sure do better. For sure we can fight with those teams. I can’t say too much, you know. I am not going to say we are going to finals. I’m not going to say we are going to win vs Misfits, but for sure, I think our understanding of the game right now is better, and the meta won’t shift as much, and for sure we’ll have a better fight against G2 or Misfits.
KM: Something I’ve heard a bit from Odoamne or other members of the team is that, in the past, when you’ve gone to playoffs, if a comp or matchup that works on paper, but you are having trouble with it, you will keep drafting it because you know it should work. Do you think that this is still a good approach?
MJ: I think we just kind of try to play our game, so if we are wrong about the game, then I guess, you know, we were wrong — all of us — and we just all played worse, you know? But we always try to play our game, and we try to draft around our picks because we feel confident on them, and sometimes you don’t see it, and sometimes you do, depending on which match is it. But overall, I think, we will probably play similar style in playoffs. Playoffs are approaching really fast, so it’s also depending on if we will play semis or quarters because if we will play semis, then we will have more time to watch the other teams and maybe learn from them. For sure, we will figure something out.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games