Gen.G at Worlds 2021: The classic LCK team who refuses to evolve
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Gen.G held a slight lead in their second game of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship against Europe’s MAD Lions. The League of Legends Championship Korea second seed took their third drake of the game and looked primed to end the game as both Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong and Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk were accelerated to their power spikes on Azir and Kalista.

But instead of pushing their advantage and trying to take more towers or fights while strong, Gen.G sat back and caught minion waves in a pseudo gentleman’s agreement. It was as if they told MAD that the game would be decided at the next drake, which spawned five minutes later. As both teams postured toward the objective, Gen.G chased MAD Lion’s İrfan Berk “Armut”Tükek behind the dragon pit as his teammates secured the area around it. As Gen.G funneled into the tight jungle area, Armut pounced and jumped into the Korean team with his Wukong ultimate and a Yuumi on his back. The rest of the MAD Lions’ squad rained down damage as the fight became messy and eventually, the Europeans won the bout and took the objective.

Gen.G went on to lose that game, squandering their early lead in a fashion that many Gen.G fans are familiar with.

“Yup thats a Gen.G game,” LCK caster Maurits “Chronicler” Jan Meeusen said on Twitter after the match.

The team has not changed much since 2019 in terms of their slow and measured style and roster. Kim “Life” Jeong-min’s addition is the only change that the lineup has seen in that time. Even as their league has seemed to leave them behind in terms of tempo and playstyle, the black and yellow organization has refused to adapt with the times.

According to LCK caster Max “Atlus” Anderson, the LCK adopted this more fast-paced style in the summer, and it added some spice to a normally dull part of the season.

“We have these lull states where we talk about Ninja Turtles and that was a little bit few and far between during the summer split,” Atlus said. “I feel like, not only is it a fun move for actually watching the games, but it’s also really good for Korea to, I guess, be forced into learning this far more fast-paced style. Even though some of our teams have ignored it completely, looking at you Gen.G.”

Coming into their knockout stage series against Cloud9 on Monday, the team still has not shown a level of proactivity or adaptation that one would expect from a supposed World Championship contender. Even a team like Hanwha Life Esports, who bombed out of the knockout stage against T1, had more draft variety and could throw a curveball their opponent’s way to catch them off guard, according to Chronicler. This is a concept that has escaped Gen.G since 2018, and cost them dearly in their 2020 Worlds loss to G2 Esports at the same point in the tournament.

Even with G2 absent from the event, Gen.G will still have to play the front man from that 2020 roster in Luka “Perkz” Perković. Which could prove difficult for a roster that doesn’t deal with his type of League of Legends well.

“Gen.G doesn’t like weird, they are very rigid, they play their style,” Atlus said. “And if it doesn’t mesh with the team that they’re playing against then they lose. It’s not that they adapt, they just lose.”

But from the Gen.G’s perspective, they do mesh well against the North American hopefuls, with even DWG KIA’s Kim “Khan” Dong-ha giving his fellow regional team the edge in the matchup.

“Compared to other teams, Cloud9 is relatively weaker,” Gen.G’s substitute top laner Noh “Burdol” Tae-yoon said. “So I think we are having some good results in that regard.”

But long-time LCK fans aren’t convinced, and they were not confident at the start of the tournament either.

“You look down the roster, and this is a team full of extremely accomplished players,” Atlus said before the tournament began. “So they can do it. Do I think they will? No, no, I don’t.”

Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.
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