Unflappable G2 Esports and Wunder fly to LEC summer finals

Martin 'Wunder' Hansen and G2 Esports enjoyed a successful Mid-Season Invitational, and are now heading to the LEC summer finals in Athens with victory in their sights. Timo Verdeil/ESPAT Media/Getty Images

The 2019 G2 Esports might not be the best League of Legends team of all time, but they are the most unflappable.

Down 0-2 against Fnatic in the League of Legends European Championship's upper bracket final, they joked about their predicament -- and their misplays afforded them a lot to joke about.

But somehow, they took off and flew out of reach of Fnatic -- or in Martin 'Wunder' Hansen's case on the 3:45 mark in Game 4, across the map on Akali to secure a decisive early-game advantage.

"I was supermanning across the map, that's for sure," Wunder said about the play. "It took so long, I was checking my wrist and asking: when do I land?"

The play showed G2's calm, quirky and daring sides; had they failed to set him up before he landed -- or, worse, conceded kills -- they would have lost. Instead, they found themselves on the right path, scoring a decisive reverse sweep (3-2) and securing participation in the LEC summer grand finals.

For a while, G2 were poised to play the third-place matchup against Schalke 04 Esports; in the first two games, G2's disastrous laning phases and sub-par skirmishing left much to be desired, and Wunder admitted as much.

They undervalued the danger in Fnatic's Twisted Fate and Nocturne picks in the first game, and failed in early laning fights in the second game. G2 were unfamiliar with Fnatic's all-out style of play in the first two games, but that alone would not explain the initial 0-2 deficit.

Indeed, the team has played aggressive early-game compositions in the past and wields many unorthodox picks in their arsenal.

"I felt that we also weren't 100% in the game," Wunder said. "Maybe some of [my teammates] were, and not every player played bad in every single game, but I for sure didn't play 100% in Games 1 and 2 -- mainly because I was a bit confused, and they had a [composition] that we didn't face much.

"We weren't playing in our comfort zones, but I still believe we should be able to win [outside] our comfort zones."

But G2 have been there before -- at the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational, which they ultimately won. Beyond their victory at the tournament, they learned how to manage this type of situation.

Their two group stage defeats against early-game powerhouses Phong Vu Buffalo taught them how to manage botched early-game situations, and how to avoid digging themselves deeper towards an irredeemable loss.

"The Phong Vu games were lost really hard early-game," Wunder said. "We threw ourselves [at them] really hard after that. Maybe we did the same against Fnatic, but we were actually trying to win."

Additionally, SK Telecom T1 took them to five games in the MSI playoffs, with a brutal loss in the first game. Memorably, the players were -- as was the case against Fnatic in the first two games -- joking through an inevitable loss, instead of deluding themselves into a must-win mindset despite their base falling apart.

According to Wunder, this mindset difference sets them apart from other teams, including Fnatic. Besides, the loser of that game would have had the opportunity to win the LEC title in Athens, albeit after overcoming Schalke 04. G2 would have seen it as a chance to improve, whereas Fnatic pressured themselves to win then and there.

"Even without knowing too much about Fnatic, they really broke down," Wunder said. "If you went behind the scenes and watched us after the first two games against Fnatic, it was not even remotely similar.

"Sure, we're 0-2 down and it sucks, but we still want to win and we can still joke with each other.

"Maybe on Fnatic, there were a lot of arguments on what went wrong [and what went] right," he added. "That can be a good thing, but not necessarily; it's really rare that it's a good thing during the series to have these kinds of emotions."

In the end, G2 were relaxed, fully in the present. Their MSI experience helped them stay calm and play, tough start or not. They could always try to salvage unwinnable games with risky plays, but they wouldn't stake their hopes on those. That mindset could help them greatly at the World Championship, for which they have qualified.

Now with even less pressure upon them, they still have LEC victory on their sights. After all, they could become the first team to complete the Golden Road -- winning in the spring and summer splits in their region, as well as MSI and Worlds.

Many teams have attempted the feat; all have failed; despite reaching the Worlds finals three years in a row, SK Telecom T1's hopes for the Golden Road vanished before Worlds in their two best attempts (they lost MSI in 2015 and the summer split in 2016).

And the team that came closest to achieving it, the 2018 Royal Never Give Up, lost to... G2 in the Worlds quarterfinals.

So far, the European team is on track -- a crazy thought in itself and not one with which Wunder would burden himself with right now.

"It's not something I think about, but at some point in my life [after] I retire, I could at least look back and say that I achieved something and made a legacy for myself, and that I made Europe proud," he said.

Those thoughts are far off into the future, but G2's current situation is desirable as they await their opponent in the summer final on Sunday. Their reasons for winning the split are more pragmatic.

"We all agreed to win the split, because we will have more off time as well," Wunder said. "We don't have to play the gauntlet or the play-ins. We have more time to recharge for Worlds."

What if they lose? There's always a positive, and Worlds around the corner.

"We have memes in the team about going through the [Worlds] play-ins, because it's a buff," he said.

"Our main focus is winning Worlds, but winning the split will make our chances better."