Making the grand final of IEM Katowice 2020 against all odds after battling through the European Qualifier is a huge achievement in itself for the Franco-Serbian roster of G2 Esports.
While the loss was bitter and Natus Vincere never gave them a chance, the progress shown is a promising silver lining within the disappointment.
BLAST from the past
As the old superteam roster did previously, current G2 entered the new year with a statement. While the ELEAGUE Boston Major 2018 run saw the team's last push reclaim a Legends spot, it was a swan song rather than a phoenix reborn and a turbulent period followed.
Heading into 2020, G2 Esports was set to be a top 10 team but not one to be a frequent challenger to the established names in the game. Having acquired new talent and transitioning to an international lineup while retaining the French core, the experimental mix was thrown in at the deep end.
G2's first event was BLAST Premier Spring Season and they were drawn into Group 3 alongside Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves and OG as the third seeds against more successful lineups with proven track records.
Teams like Astralis and Team Liquid underperforming, many had written off some of the results that had come in previous weeks, blaming the player break for the dip in form witnessed, but regardless G2 took down 100 Thieves and OG, beating the latter twice to top the group, qualify for the Spring Finals in Moscow and earning $50,000 in prize money.
IEM Katowice 2020 started with a rematch versus 100 Thieves for G2, but this time it wasn't even close. A 16-3 on Mirage and 16-2 on DustII saw G2 make a statement against the Australian side.
With more than just pride on the line, revenge against mousesports was sweet and came after an initial scary loss on their usual DustII map pick after a 12-3 lead at the half. Team Liquid too fell at the hands of G2 and the win saw them through to a semifinal where they dispatched of Fnatic in the midst of a resurgence of their own.
The return to form for Kenny "kennyS" Schrub, a player known to be ruled by his emotions, rising again after a period that saw his confidence drained saw him through to his first IEM final since IEM gamescom 2015 1,667 days ago.
In the best-of-five grand final, G2's initial map pick of Nuke saw them get smashed 16-4 and while DustII was a closer affair, the game was done by game three, with Mirage and the series going 16-2 in favour of Na'Vi.
The win streak of 13 was clearly unlucky and went no further than that.
G2 in 2020 looks like a far more resilient squad that is able to bounce back and keep focused even in the face of defeat.
A reinvigorated kennyS, a capable in-game leader who can step up in Nemanja "nexa" Isakovic and three powerful riflers Francois "AmaNEk" Delaunay, Nemanja "huNter-" Kovac and Audric "JaCkz" Jug all under malek are no longer just dark horses, but frontrunners for the future.
With ESL Pro League Season 11 rumoured to take place in Malta, the site of G2's Champions Cup Finals victory at the end of last year, and the ESL One Rio Major on the horizon, the biggest tests for the players still lie ahead.