Banner image: Ubisoft / @ericananmalay
Beating a well-oiled Wolves Esports team is never easy. While they have usually been strongest in BO1 games, they finally found their BO3 rhythm in the group stage of the Six Invitational 2023 and took G2 Esports down 2-0 in the first round of the upper bracket. Then, they beat LOS oNe by a 2-0 margin as well and could have also beaten Oxygen Esports 2-0.
Yet, today, G2 overturned a 3-7 Bank and a 2-4 first half on Skyscraper to come back and take the series 2-1.
“The hardest part with Wolves for us is their map bans,” shared G2 Esports coach Fabian "Fabian" Hällsten in a post-match interview with SiegeGG. “They have map bans that they’re same old every time. So, we kind of were forced into picking Skyscraper.”
The logic behind that pick, even with Skyscraper not the ideal pick for G2, was to prevent Wolves from banning it. G2 knew that Wolves “weren’t the greatest team” on the map and gambled on that belief, even if it meant starting on the far less-favoured attacking side on the map.
“Out of their five or six strong maps, they will always get a minimum of two,” said Fabian, emphasising the importance of preventing Wolves from having that comfort. “You can’t really out-ban these guys.”
While Fabian admitted that he, too, did not manage that, he did give his team the best shot at winning the series. G2 player Karl "Alem4o" Zarth was thankful for that, stating that the way Fabian managed the vetoes “helped us a lot”.
Even with Fabian managing to somewhat out-manoeuvre Wolves pre-match, it was the Wolves that ended up running circles around his players on Bank. A balanced first half marked the end of the round wins for G2 on that map, as Wolves surged to four defensive wins out of four.
“The boys were really stressed,” shared Fabian. “LAN nerves for two new players that haven’t really been on this level of gameplay before … There was massive problems with the communication, to begin with.”
The problems for G2 were plain to see even for the spectators in the arena, with their players visibly not working together and repeatedly making the same mistakes.
“We weren’t talking about how we solve our issues … We weren’t talking about what we were doing, but rather what they were doing, which then led to chaos within our communication,” said Fabian.
Alem4o also praised Wolves for their strength, defining his team’s victory against them as the “hardest match” for them so far at the Six Invitational and defining Wolves as the “best team” they had faced so far.
“We quite can’t predict what they do sometimes, ‘cos they adapt very well,” he said
As good as Wolves were, though, G2 eventually proved to be better. Presumably led by one of Fabian’s legendary behind-the-scenes speeches, they came out prepared and unbothered by their inability to win a single attacking round on Bank. And this time, they were working well together.
“It’s just how we talk to each other,” said Fabian. “They woke up with that through map two.”
Fixing their communication issues and sharing their plans with each other also meant that Fabian did not have to use his tactical timeouts to remind his players to do the “small things”. As such, when he did speak to his players, it was to give them an edge over Wolves -- not to patch their own holes.
Winning five rounds on defence on Skyscraper, it was G2’s turn to prevent Wolves from winning a single round on the attack. That momentum carried onto the decider map of Oregon, where G2 found themselves on series point after a perfect, 6-0 defensive half. Just two more close rounds went to Wolves before G2 closed it out 7-2.
“I didn’t expect that (6-0),” said Alem4o. “If they managed to win, like, two attacks, it’d be a tough match. But, even though the rounds we lost on attack… we just throw so hard, so could [have been] a 7-1, I think.”
Now, they are aiming their guns at the next team -- either Astralis or KOI. With Fabian’s 15-0 record against North American teams, he might have preferred the former, or he might have wanted to face another regional rival to minimise any clash in play styles. But, the answer to which he would prefer was quintessential Fabian.
“I don’t care, I beat both,” he concluded, leaving to prepare for his team’s next match tomorrow.
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