Jankos on catching up to NA: “If you go to (worlds), you have one or one and a half months to prepare for the international meta.”

A commanding 2-0 against Team ROCCAT propelled H2K Gaming to the top of Group B in the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS). Following the fastest game of the summer split, jungler Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski talked to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about H2K’s approach to setting up ganks, how EU can improve post-Rift Rivals, and a few details from the set.

Kelsey Moser: Obviously after Rift Rivals, jungle synergy with lanes is a pretty big topic. When I see H2K play, it always strikes me that Odoamne (Andrei Pascu) sets up the wave really well, and you play ganks in this way. Is that something that H2K has really focused on?

Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski: I think H2K’s main focus is that we talk to each other a lot, and then if we have lanes pushing toward opponents or lanes pushing to us, we always talk about it, and we try to always set up something. And, for example, in the games against ROCCAT, we knew that, you know, the Renekton lane is pushing, and there’s a huge wave, so we can try a dive, and then, even if it’s one for one, since he will lose a lot of minions, it will still be worth it. I believe we basically just try to communicate everything we can because as many plays as you can do in the early game is really important right now it seems like after Rift Rivals.

KM: Some people are saying that because in the past this has sort of been H2K’s MO, that you may have done a little bit better at Rift Rivals. How do you feel about this kind of comment?

MJ: Honestly, I think that H2K wouldn’t do much better than all the teams that went because, looking at the history of spring split, and even of this split, we were not able to get a game off Fnatic, and we didn’t win against Unicorns. And, you know, we will face G2 in the future, so we will see about that, but for now I will say that, you know, we did send our best three teams, and they didn’t do so well. I’m not sure if we, as H2K, could do any better, even though I felt that some European teams didn’t perform as well as they do in the EU LCS. But for now, I think NA meta is better, and I think how NA plays is overall better. I think NA is just a better region right now, and we have to step up our game.

I think, though, that changing the meta right now in Europe is not that big of a deal because everyone wants to go to world finals. And then if you go to world finals, you have one or one and a half months to prepare for the international meta. And then you can scrim the best teams from all over the world. So we will pick up a lot of plays quicker, and if you try to pick up the other meta right now — if, for example, Fnatic would just totally leave their style and would just try to play it different like they were trying to play before they had their style and they were losing a lot of games, I think if they wouldn’t go to world finals, and, you know, they would be good at the meta that world finals would be played in. It wouldn’t really make a difference, you know, because they are not there, so they can’t actually prove that they are good.

So if our play style was very similar to NA’s: we pressure mid a lot, and we always try to have good matchups mid as well to snowball it. Even if our style would be a little bit better at Rift Rivals, it doesn’t really mean anything if we cannot qualify to Worlds or to Rift Rivals or to MSI or to other tournaments. To be honest, I think overall EU will pick up as a region, and we will play better, and a lot of teams will realize how important is mid pressure, but at the same time I don’t think teams like Fnatic will drastically change their play style just to fit more for worlds, you know? They will have time to do it after they qualify.

KM: Since you said that teams learn a lot, was that your experience last year? Did H2K or your own play improve drastically when you were preparing for Worlds?

MJ: Yeah, I think when we went to boot camp in Korea and played NA and Korean teams, we improved a lot, and I think we didn’t show it that much in the first week of worlds because we were still a little bit not the best onstage, I would say, back then. In the second week, we managed to beat — maybe people didn’t consider those teams the best, but we did beat EDG and other teams, so we went to quarters, and we had a really lucky group draw, and we went to semis. And we got destroyed and 3-0’d by Samsung, I believe. I think the time that we spent in Korea in the boot camp, I think was really useful, and I think you can pick up so much.

KM: First, you guys prioritized Zac. I think a lot of people think of Zac as a champion that can’t do much early, but when I see you play Zac, you’re pretty content to go for some different gank paths in the early game. What do you think is different about how you think of Zac compared to maybe some other junglers?

MJ: I think Zac is just a safe mid-late game champion, so a lot of junglers don’t look for those early game plays, but I think when Zac is Level 4 or Level 5, his E is already such a high range that he can maybe gank to waste a flash. Maybe he doesn’t have that much damage just yet, but if you have a laner that can kill the guy while you CC him with your E and Q, I think that Zac has still decent ganks. So I’m not sure why people don’t try to gank more on Zac, but also Zac is just not open almost at all because it is such a strong champion right now.

KM: I think it was in the second game — not the play top, but…

MJ: *laughs* Yeah, that wasn’t my best play in my career for sure.

KM: But when you were going for the engage on Pridestalker in river, and you had the Shen ult set up from Odoamne, but it turned differently for you. Can you talk a little bit about what happened or what went wrong?

MJ: I think overall the play was set up, and we knew what we could do, and then we tried. What failed was that we didn’t kill Elise fast enough, and the bot lane TP’d with Tahm Kench. The main thing there was that when it’s a fight happening, and at the same time your bot lane is trying to call that their bot lane will be there first, it’s sometimes difficult to react. So I think we could have waited for our bot a little bit more either if our bot lane would focus more on stopping their bot lane to be there. Because I believe that we would win the 3-v-3 pretty easily. We had the kill on Elise, and we could back out if Tahm Kench wouldn’t TP. But I think also they used so many summoner spells there that even after this, we still have so much pressure on the map, so even though they got, I believe maybe one more kill (I think it was three for three or four for three, I’m not sure), we still pretty much got ahead out of this because they had Renekton, they had Elise, they needed those kills to be ahead. But if we trade kills, and right after, we can set up our plays again, then they will just get more and more behind.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Raphie Rosen