It’s hard to find a player that inspires as many conflicting feelings as Luka “PerkZ” Perković. To anyone who’s followed European League of Legends, this love-hate relationship between G2’s mid laner and his fans shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, PerkZ has repeatedly proven that he’s the best mid laner in the region. And yet, every time he's had a chance to show off his skill on the international stage, he's fallen short.
It's almost like watching your favorite player replaced by a different person. A person that struggls in the face of vastly superior competition. Or maybe it's the same guy choking under pressure.
How did PerkZ get to this point? Will he ever manage to turn things around?
The Mid Lane Artist
When PerkZ first entered the EU LCS as a part of the Gamers2 Challenger team, he was filled with resolve. There weren’t any doubts in his mind that he could go against the best European mid laners—and come out on top. Most importantly, he didn’t feel any pressure. He played with a sense of comfort that is hard to come by even among the top players in the world. He already exceeded everyone’s expectations by getting into the LCS.
The only way he could go was up.
It was this combination of freedom and fearlessness that made PerkZ so deadly in the mid lane. He refused to play safe. Instead, he pressured his opponents; he forced early recalls and went for those solo kills. Acclaimed European mid laners struggled to defend themselves against the rookie’s aggression, which made it almost too easy for G2 to win one game after another. They breezed through competition all the way to the finals where they took down Origen in a 3-1 victory.
G2’s members jumped and cheered in celebration. PerkZ had a wide smile on his face. In the midst of all the jumping and cheering, he looked around—as if waiting for someone to wake him from this dream. But no one was there apart from his teammates.
Sure enough, it was real.
PerkZ finished his first competitive season with a 5.2 KDA, 9.0 CS per minute, and the Rookie of the Split award to his name. The fans were certain that they were witnessing the rise of the next legendary. This success was almost intoxicating. Could you really blame PerkZ for letting it get to his head?
The only thing left were international results, and the opportunity was already there with G2 qualifying for the MSI. PerkZ was brimming with confidence. He was certain that he had what it takes to go toe to toe with Korean mid laners; that even Faker was within his reach at this point. PerkZ was young, talented, and the sky was his limit.
He didn’t know that he was about to get dragged down back to earth.
Many things went wrong for G2 at the MSI—from their bot lane getting the news that they were being replaced to the team deciding to go on a vacation instead of rigorously preparing for the tournament. Whatever the case, European champions didn’t come into the competition at their 100%.
And they paid for it dearly.
G2 started dropping one game after another. It wasn’t just them losing that hurt the most—it was the one-sided manner in which it happened. PerkZ was one of the people who struggled the most. His play was riddled with uncharacteristic mistakes and his trademark aggression backfired more often than not. Throughout the entire competition, G2 have only managed to get two wins from a wildcard team and finished the event with a 2-6 record. The best team in Europe couldn’t even make it out of the group stage.
A year later, it’s clear that no single person was responsible for the failure. G2 went into the MSI as a team—and they lost as a team. But it didn’t matter at the time. PerkZ was the face of G2 and a huge chunk of the blame fell on his shoulders. With a single tournament, G2 went from being fan favorites to one of the most hated organizations in Europe. For someone like PerkZ who was at the very start of his career, this was a hard pill to swallow. It was hard to imagine this not affecting his future performances.
And sure enough, it did.
The Face of Failure
On the surface, not much has changed in the beginning of the 2016 Summer Split. G2 kept racking up, and the addition of Zven and mithy turned the team into a powerhouse that bulldozed through opposition. But its superstar mid laner wasn’t the same. Suddenly, PerkZ became a lot more careful, a lot more reserved.
Sure, the meta shifted away from his trademark assassins. But it wasn’t just about that. The sense of freedom that made PerkZ stand out so much in his first competitive Split was seemingly gone. Perhaps being free was no longer an option under the crushing weight of his MSI failure. Now, he wasn’t the promising rookie with nothing to lose. And the Rift was no longer his oyster.
Still, this dip in performance wasn’t enough to stop him from taking over the mid lane. And it definitely wasn’t enough to put an end to G2’s domestic dominance. Their finals against Splyce ended with a fountain dive—and a 3-1 victory. Again, G2 members smiled and cheered as they were showered with confetti. Again, PerkZ would get a chance to prove himself on the international stage.
This time, though, the stakes were higher. This time, he was going Worlds.
When G2 was seeded into the group with ROX Tigers, Albux Nox Luna, and CLG it seemed that luck was on their side. Beating the Korean powerhouse was probably out of the question. But—at the very least—they had to have the upper hand against a wildcard team and North America’s second seed. This time G2 was practically guaranteed to reach quarterfinals.
Well, turns out they weren’t.
Not only did G2 manage to do worse than their last international showing, but they also struggled against weaker competition. Sometimes—like in their first neck-and-neck game against ROX—success was right within arm’s reach. Yet somehow, it always seemed to slip away.
Once again, the best European lineup failed to make it out of the group stage. They finished their Worlds run with a single win to their name. Combined with Likkrit’s post-game interview this might’ve brought them some solace—but it didn’t bring results. And just like before, PerkZ came under fire. Every move, every decision of his was dissected and criticized.
PerkZ wasn’t making excuses. Even in his darkest hours, he was always honest with his fans. In his eyes everyone on G2—and, most of all, he himself—simply underperformed. The situation was almost eerie. Was this team destined to fall short when it mattered most? PerkZ didn’t seem to think so. G2’s mid laner was motivated to work harder than ever. Just like in the beginning of his career, PerkZ’s goal has always been right in front of him. No matter what he was going to get that international victory.
Road to Redemption
If G2 were, in fact, cursed, it didn’t affect their EU LCS performance. The team entered the 2017 Spring Split stronger than ever. The biggest difference was PerkZ. The prodigious mid laner that was once regarded as Europe’s new hope was starting to gain ground. His movement got sharper and his play—stronger. It was as if PerkZ was once again in his element. As if he’s rediscovered that magical confidence from his rookie days.
With players like Febiven, Exileh, and PowerOfEvil competing for the title of best mid laner, PerkZ managed to outshine them all. Finishing the Split with a 4.5 KDA and 9.3 CS per minute, he was already looking at Playoffs. Neither Fnatic nor Unicorns of Love could put a dent in his conviction. Because no matter how much he stumbled overseas, no one could take away his crown.
G2 have secured another victory in the EU LCS, and PerkZ set his gaze on the international stage Once again, he’d have to go to MSI and face his demons. To prove—once and for all—that Kings of Europe can stand tall somewhere other than their own home.
What do you think about G2 PerkZ and his rollercoaster career? Share your thoughts in the comments!