Before G2 Esports’ 15th July match against Vitality, Lucas “Hungry” Reich let the rest of the team know he had “something planned” should G2 win, according to its coach, Thomas “Shas” Lee.
G2 took the map 8-7 after falling behind 6-7 in overtime, and Hungry took out a sombrero and a pair of maracas in a celebration. They hadn’t exactly qualified for Mexico yet, but the creative, surprise celebration got a chuckle from the rest of Hungry’s G2 teammates. Hungry’s celebration was elevated to meme status nearly instantly.
It also served as a near-perfect extrapolation of how this new-look G2 likes to play Rainbow Six Siege -- creatively.
“We don't ever want to be rigid because if you're rigid, then you're just a puppet. You can't adapt,” said Shas.
Adaptability is G2’s calling card, but recently Shas has been refocusing the squad on playing its own game. Key to this strategy is controlling the tempo of the match and ensuring the team has the tools to make its gameplan happen. Target bans are nice, but sometimes teams can go overboard and accidentally kneecap their own plans.
Crucial to this style of play are two players: Ben “CTZN” McMillan and Jordan “Kayak” Morley.
CTZN, Shas explains, is able to lurk extremely well, and uses a strong sense of timing to know whether to carve out map control by himself or push with the other members of the team.
In 2021, CTZN has elevated his typically sky-high performance into the stratosphere. He topped the SiegeGG Rating chart during the first stage of the EUL in 2021, and placed second behind Stéphane "Shaiiko" Lebleu in Stage 2. Despite an early exit at the Six Invitational (SI) 2021, CTZN tied for fourth among all players at SI in terms of rating.
In addition to his duties in the raw fragging department, CTZN also calls plays from the frontline. “[CTZN’s] creative with a good knowledge of the game and a better game sense. [He] understands that if there's an absence of something, that's something that we can abuse,” said Shas.
As for Kayak, the young up-and-coming support player shares shot-calling duties with Hungry, but has also been a workhorse for G2. Shas credits his success and development to his work ethic and even keel during tough times.
“It can be really stressful playing in this type of team where we kind of like going back-and-forth and back-and-forth with tempo and calling,” said Shas. “Sometimes [Kayak] will have an absolute master plan, and it will just need to be scrapped because we see an opportunity and we're just going to act on that opportunity and be proactive.”
Playing for G2 in “Rainbow Six Siege” means something. It means being a part of a legacy of past excellence, and with past excellence comes immense amounts of pressure to repeat past excellence. At SI 2021, it appeared that the pressure was on full display.
G2 began its SI 2021 group stage run with a 6-8 loss to Team oNe despite having had a 6-2 lead. The team also ate a 2-7 loss to FaZe Clan and posted another overtime loss to FURIA later that day. And while it rebounded and avoided being eliminated in the group stage, it was by the barest of margins.
Only one team would be eliminated during the group stage, which meant that all G2 really had to do was not finish last. But in the first round of the playoffs, G2 were bounced out by NA Challenger League side Parabellum.
“We would fix an issue with the process about our play style and it would just come back up like two months later,” said Shas of the changes G2 made after the Six Invitational. The team’s preparation processes as a roster weren’t functioning; gameplans weren’t being retained, and advantages yielded in the server weren’t being properly exploited.
Despite G2’s EUL Stage 2 second place finish, the transition to Hungry and Jonas “Jonka” Kaczmarzyk after Juhani “Kantoraketti” Toivonen and Aleksi “UUNO” Työppönen were benched wasn’t easy. G2 had a mere two weeks between the time contracts were signed and EUL began to prepare for the stage.
Heading into the Mexico Major, G2 appears improved from its SI performance, but is not completely without struggles. The team will face a tall task in the group stage, which will contain two bouts with Ninjas in Pyjamas, DarkZero Esports, and DWG KIA apiece.
G2 will begin its Mexico Major against DarkZero on the 16th of August, starting with a game against DarkZero Esports at 1 PM CDT (UTC-5).
The weight of fan expectations falls harder on G2 than other teams -- such is the nature of championship-winning success.