Gen. G has been a weird team to follow. Have you ever that feeling that you failed despite doing everything right? Let’s think about an exam, for instance. You attended every single class, you kept your notes in order, you studied and prepared as hard as you could.
You entered the classroom confident in your knowledge and ability, but when the grade came back, disappointment.
That feeling is what Gen. G has been for me in the LCK. How can one organization build multiple star-studded rosters and not win a single trophy?
Samsung becomes Gen. G
The organization had its inception in 2017 when it acquired Samsung Galaxy’s roster, the reigning World Champions. KSV Esports, as they were known then, opted for what they believed to be the best roster in the world at the time. But that’s not what they got.
2018 was a failure for a team which ended the previous year on top of the entire world. 5th place finish during Spring and Summer, a miracle qualification for Worlds through the regional finals, followed by one of the worst performances from any South Korean team at an International tournament.
Ambition was on his way out, already 26 years old by then, Lee "Crown"’s Min-ho form had fallen off a cliff and Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin never again reached his Worlds 2017 level. Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk and Kim "Life" Jeong-min were the only consistently great parts of the team. Still, a year after Samsung became KSV Esports and later Gen. G, the roster which was meant to be the best had fallen apart.
Holding on to the past
The following year was outright worse. The organization was holding onto the roster’s remaining pieces, but without Kang "Ambition"’s Chang-yong leadership and a good enough midlaner, Gen. G was a mere middle of the pack squad.
The team tried to make it work with Song "Fly" Yong-jun as their mid laner, then opted into a double substitute approach during Summer 2019 but didn’t even manage to get into the playoffs. The fall from grace had reached the ground. It was time for a serious change.
Gen. G’s first Super Team
Gen. G’s approach to their 2020 roster got them one of the most exciting teams the LCK has seen, at least on paper. They rebuilt entirely around Ruler and Life, the pieces which truly worked, and their choices were great.
CuVee was replaced by Kim "Rascal" Kwang-hee, a consistent soldier of the top laner who had replaced Kim "Khan" Dong-ha in Kingzone DragonX. He wasn’t a star, but he didn’t need to be one. In the jungle he had Kim "Clid" Tae-min, the incredibly talented jungler who had just dominated the LCK in 2019 with SKT T1. To top it all off, Gwak "BDD" Bo-seong, the original “Faker-junior” was ready to win in the midlane.
How could you not get excited for a roster as stacked as this one?
2020 Gen. G was definitely an improvement. Two splits back to back with a 14-4 regular season record, First and Third place respectively, with a 3-0 over T1 to qualify for the World Championship. Still, international performance eluded them after a 3-0 loss against a weakened G2 during Quarter-Finals.
2021 was more of the same, except we now knew that the Super Team didn’t really materialize out of the paper. They looked incredible at times, but never good enough to beat the best teams in the league. BDD never really reached expectations and Clid’s form seemed to be on a steady descent.
Gen. G were cementing themselves as the perennial second place team in the LCK, but Worlds 2021 was a good surprise. The team reached Top 4 and took the eventual World Champions EDG to a nail-biting 5th game.
Regardless, where are the trophies?
2022 and the second Super Team
Second place is enough for a lot of teams, but not for Gen. G, so roster changes were in order. Coaching staff was rebuilt, Choi "Doran" Hyeon-joon came in for Rascal, Clid was replaced by Han "Peanut" Wang-ho and Ruler’s new bot lane partner was Son "Lehends" Si-woo. Most of these changes felt more like sidegrades than anything else, until the mid laner was announced.
BDD has been hailed as one of the best mid laners in the region for a long time now, so replacing him would never be easy. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok will likely never leave T1, Heo "Showmaker" Su seems to be heading the same direction with Damwon KIA and most other candidates are worse than BDD.
Except for Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon, the best mid laner in the world to never win a title. The second super team was now complete and, frankly, it looked even better than the 2020 one. A stable top laner, a veteran jungler and a talented support player paired with two of the best carries in the world. How could this not work?
Sheer bad luck
The perennial second team angle is still a thing. Gen. G lived under T1’s shadow the entire Spring Split, but they weren’t really given a fair chance at leaving it. They were the most unlucky team in the League when it comes to Covid infections, with major absences on both of their matches against Faker’s squad.
They managed to field their full roster for the finals, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the LCK champions.
Can Gen. G finally get their trophy?
Despite the obstacles put in front of them in Spring, Gen. G finished in solo possession of second place with a 15-3 record. They looked incredibly strong at times, but again, not strong enough to beat the best.
With more time to practice, more developed synergy between their members and, hopefully, less Covid surprises, they should be an even stronger team heading into LCK Summer 2022, but will it be enough?
T1 looked weaker during MSI, but were unchallenged in the LCK. Adding to this problem for Gen. G, Damwon are instantly back to being favorites now that Nuguri has returned.
Is this finally Gen. G’s time to win, or are they doomed to become the LCK’s eternally unfulfilled promise?
If you enjoyed this piece, follow the author on Twitter at @Kaaaosh.
Images Courtesy of LCK's Flickr.
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