G2 Esports: Battling lows, revenge tours, and winning suspicions
As stalwarts of the Rocket League scene, G2 Esports' story is filled with "what if" and "nearly" chapters, as they have always eluded hoisting the World Championship trophy above their head, despite being the best team in the world at many different points over their illustrious journey.
G2's near misses would be enough to sink most teams, and even players, but with a core motto of loyalty and drive, the rather ominous roster has continued to appear in the upper echelons of the RLCS standings, six years since they signed talisman Jacob "JKnaps" Knapman.
Now, after a somewhat stinted season, G2 Esports is back in its usual throttle and is charging towards another title shot, this time hoping that all of the pain and suffering of previous second-place finishes will be enough to supercharge them into first and finally get their hands on the trophy that they deserve more than most.
G2 Esports talk about using pain and losses as motivation to become Champions
G2 Esports had an undeniably slow start to the 2022-23 season, after winning a Major the season prior and facing an agonising defeat in the Grand Final of Worlds.
The roster only slipped into the Worlds Qualification slots at the twilight stage of the season, picking up their form in the final Split, battling their way through the heartache of the season prior and taking time to adapt their playstyle to a more team-focused meta that the rest of the world has also adopted.
Now, having steamed through the Wildcard Stage and the Groups, they've secured a top-eight finish, at least, and will be using the pain and acknowledgement of finally hitting 100% effort, to spur them on.
"I think me and Chicago especially have always believed in holding a roster for a long period of time and battling through the lows, so I think that's important for our roster to take the extreme lows and go into a tournament brand new, just like we have this year, and hopefully make a deep run," JKnaps told GGRecon in a press conference.
Head Coach Mathew "Satthew" Ackerman echoed this sentiment, applauding the team for sticking together, despite some discourse around North America being too comfortable in their ways.
"There is always the achievement of winning a Major after you add a new player, or winning a World Championship after you add a new player, that is one thing, but I think sticking through the low points is a completely different accomplishment. That's the goal of the tournament," he added.
Some of the pain and anguish is more recent than you would imagine too.
While you might associate G2's fuel with the Season 7 narrow loss or the last Worlds Grand Final, for Reed "Chicago" Wilen, it's also a game-by-game situation, where even one loss will truly annoy them into knuckling down.
"We were really mad at ourselves for the loss versus Gen.G," he began. "We know we could have done better."
This quickly turned into a ferocious comeback against Moist though, as they dispatched with a rampant European team with ease.
"I think we all knew Moist was doing really well and they played against FaZe extremely well. So we were just more confident in ourselves and we knew we had to play our game plan to beat them and we just executed our plan the best that we have done so far."
Circling back round to JKnaps, he spoke about his personal motivation to keep grinding seven years after debuting, as he added, "Losing is the motivator. Especially because we've had a rough year and this is the final tournament where you can prove everyone wrong and prove yourselves wrong. This year, it's really motivated us to have a strong finish."
G2 Esports eye the revenge tour against BDS
On the subject of pain, it was BDS who inflicted the last knife through their hearts, back at Worlds 22, and the haunting loss is still begrudging G2, as they now look to face their rivals once again in the Quarterfinals.
"We're looking forward to the revenge tour from last Worlds. We always hold grudges when we lose against teams that we don't think we should lose to," JKnaps said.
Chicago also added, "I'm so excited to have the potential rematch and honestly take back what they took from us a year ago and just knowing like that will be such a fulfilling feeling.
"So I'm really excited because we didn't show what we were capable of last year. So if we come out and do what we can do and get that match back, I think it'll just skyrocket us for the rest of the tournament."
Although it's not a Grand Final matchup, this clash of titans could be the defining game of the tournament given the regional spar, where G2 will not only be flying their own flag, they will be playing for the recognition that North America is not rolling over and submitting to the French overhaul.
G2 Esports org superstitions breathe positivity for RLCS Worlds
This time though, G2 Esports might have more than just raw form on their side, as there appears to be a greater power at work making sure that the entire organisation succeeds at the same time.
"I remember when we won the Winter Major in LA, three other G2 teams won as well. I believe the League team won - whatever title it was, I don't remember which - and then the CS team too. We had three or four wins, literally every weekend in a row. So honestly, it seems like could be repeating itself. I'm down for that."
The superstition goes deeper than that too according to JKnaps, as the organisation also netted championships when they reached the Grand Finals a few years back.
"That happened for season seven too, when G2 won the Mid-Season Invitational for League of Legends and we got second. We didn't win Worlds, but it was a motivator seeing other G2 teams winning other events. It's definitely like a motivator for just like knowing we can do it too and making the org proud."
Whether this will be enough juju in the jar to overpower the destiny that Team BDS' Finlay "rise." Ferguson has set himself, it's yet to be seen.
But while cars collide in-game, the powers above will also be boxing to prove victorious, leading one of these teams to become closer to their ultimate goal.