NiKo believes G2 are “close” to winning trophies: “It’s a matter of time before we do it”

Simon Howar/ESL

Ahead of G2’s first match in the BLAST Premier Fall Groups, Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač said that the ESL Pro League stumble was down to the team’s poor preparation after the summer break and noted that the only way is up.

NiKo joined G2 Esports from FaZe in October 2020 in one of the biggest transfer deals in Counter-Strike history. He linked up with his cousin Nemanja ‘huNter-‘ Kovač in a squad packed with talent and that included a Major winner in Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub.

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But almost 12 months on, G2 are yet to lift a trophy with the Bosnian star. After achieving stability following Audric ‘⁠JaCkz⁠’ Jug’s return to the team in March, they came close to breaking their title duck at IEM Cologne, only to be swept by NAVI in the best-of-five grand final.

G2 celebrating at IEM CologneSimon Howar/ESL
G2 had a solid run at IEM Cologne, finishing runners-up to NAVI

NiKo is happy with the progress G2 have made in recent months in establishing themselves as “a solid top three team”. However, he stressed that he will never be satisfied by just competing and that he is targeting silverware.

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“I joined the team to win trophies, not to be top three or top five,” he told Dexerto. “We are definitely not satisfied with our results.

“But overall, I’m really happy [with the team]. Everyone is working really hard and willing to sacrifice everything to achieve the same goals. We’re on the same page in most of the things. That’s the reason why we have been a bit more consistent than when I joined.

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“I think we are very close to winning trophies. I think it still requires a lot of practice, and maybe implementing some new things or switching some roles around.

“I think we definitely have what it takes to win one and that it’s a matter of time before we do it. I’m not saying that we will create an era or anything. But I’m very confident we will lift some trophies.”

Mental block

The IEM Cologne grand final against NAVI was not as straightforward as the scoreline might suggest. G2 put up strong fights on Mirage and Nuke but ended up collapsing at the final hurdle as the CIS giants ramped up the pressure in the closing moments.

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And NiKo emphasized how important it would be for some of the team’s players to lift a trophy, saying that a title would alleviate some of the burden.

“Winning a tournament definitely helps with your confidence and definitely helps with easing the pressure,” NiKo said. “It helps with many aspects in the team, especially with those players who haven’t won many big events.

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“Once we’ve done it, I think confidence will slightly increase and that we will start performing a bit better when it comes to those tight games.”

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EPL struggles

G2 began the season on the wrong foot, finishing bottom of their ESL Pro League group without a single victory from five series. They even lost to Sinners, who were then ranked outside the top 20, and to a Complexity side fielding a stand-in.

NiKo blamed the team’s “sloppy” approach to the tournament for their horrendous run and said that they have been hard at work in preparation for their next events.

“I think we were very sloppy when coming from holiday and into our first event,” he explained. “Maybe we made a mistake in not going to a bootcamp and deciding to have one only before the playoffs, which we, unfortunately, missed out on.

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“I’d say that was the reason why we started the season poorly.”

G2 will be looking to give a much better account of themselves in the BLAST Premier Fall Groups. They are the highest-ranked team in Group B and are expected to breeze into the second round after being paired with World No.48 MIBR, who are attending the event with two stand-ins.

“I think it’s going to be hard to see a worse G2 [than the one in EPL],” he said, laughing. “I don’t think we can get any worse than that, so that’s always a good sign.

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“We have worked mostly on our map pool, just making sure ready we are ready on the maps we weren’t before, and making sure that we are getting back in form, individually and as a team.

“We had a sloppy start, which is not a good sign, but I’m confident we can get back to the performances we had.”

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