Have you ever stepped on a Lego piece? The small brick is laying deep in the carpet, behind enemy lines. It’s guerrilla warfare and it has set a trap, waiting patiently for you to obliviously come close. You finally find it, with the sole of your vulnerable unprotected feet, the sharp sting radiates upwards warning you. But it’s too late – you’ve put all your weight down and now the harmless brick has become anything but. You scream, as the brick sinks-in, introducing itself as a new unwelcome part of your foot, falling to the floor. A tiny insignificant piece of plastic took down a person probably over a hundred times its size. This is what Griffin losing to Gen.G looked like, except I felt more like I was watching the fall in excruciatingly slow motion.
Griffin were formed in 2017 and are currently a much-talked about team in the League Championship Korea. Why? Because they’re good. Just how good? Well, they went on a 12-0 match win streak during the 2019 split, in the highest skilled region of League of Legends – an impressive feat for such a young team. They also shattered records for the best start to any League championship with their 18-1 match total. Losing only one round to SKT, who were previously the best team in the world, setting the now broken record in 2015 at 18-2. This record was broken when Griffin swept Gen.G 2-0 with their suffocating jungle play style, which their jungler Lee “Tarzan” Seung-yoon is famous for creating and perfecting.
Yet, while Gen.G helped Griffin set the record, they returned a month later to finally end the tyrannical giant’s domination of the LCK. Facing down their fierce competition they held their composure, put on a stern face and played with extreme care; methodical planning and perfectly timed strategies. Even as a Griffin fan I can’t deny, Gen.G tore apart Griffin’s seemingly impenetrable fortress, showing these titans are still flesh and blood just like everyone else.
The passive strategy Griffin is known for, playing safe and focusing on their jungle Tarzan’s oppressive ganks and routes, has been considered by other junglers as trend setting. And some junglers even disregard their pride, admitting Tarzan is the best jungler in the game. But sadly, Griffin gave Gen.G Neeko and Vayne to the top and bottom lane respectively. These champions were used perfectly against Griffin’s passive strategy, as they both have escapes built into their kits against Tarzan’s ganks, thus not allowing any early game leads. They also strongly scale into late game, meaning by the time a team fight occurred no amount of communication and team synergy could stop Gen.G from out damaging and collapsing in on the titans.
That one round loss in Griffin’s 2019 split was from the previous best team in the world, SKT. Going back into the game after this loss against SKT, Griffin seemed cool, calm and collected. However, they lost a round to Gen.G, an insignificant team ranked 7th out of 12 in the entire LCK. They should have been easy to beat, which is why Griffin came back pale, clearly distressed and not ready to face Gen.G in the Rift again. The titans were now shrunk and cowering, trying to play the best their shaking hands could. But yet again this was a complete domination by Gen.G and there was nothing Griffin could do.
Are Griffin fading into obscurity? Well, the defeat certainly left a dent. Straight after they lost their first game of the split, Griffin then lost to AF 2-1. Could this be the end to Griffin’s reign of terror? No, almost instantly they got back to their old selves – they haven’t lost in the two weeks since, going flawless against Damwon Gaming and Hanwha, putting them at 14-2. It seems this Gen.G match was nothing but a bump in the road for the stellar 2019 track record predicted for Griffin.