It’s time we rubber-stamp the title — after Luka “Perkz” Perkovic managed to lead Cloud9 on an impossible escape out of the Worlds 2021 “group of death” over Rogue and FunPlus Phoenix, we have to accept reality: the Croatian is the greatest Western League of Legends player of all time.
On October 15, Perkz and the Cloud9 roster made LoL history.
The odds were certainly stacked against the North American hopefuls after they had managed to slide to a winless 0–3 start in what many had dubbed the “group of death” in Worlds 2021’s group stage.
Cloud9 had qualified for the main event via Play-Ins, defeating Oceania’s Peace in a best-of-five. That qualification came just days after the LCS third-seed had spectacularly collapsed against Russia’s UOL and Japan’s Detonation FocusMe to miss automatic qualification in the Worlds appetizers.
Coming up against Damwon Gaming (reigning world champs), FunPlus Phoenix (2019’s victors), and Europe’s Rogue, few gave C9 a chance. The “group of death” looked nasty enough for others, let alone an NA qualifier.
The LCS hopefuls had an ace up their sleeve though: in their mid lane was Perkz, on the verge of stamping his legacy as the best Western star League has ever seen.
Seven years ago, the idea that Luka would be the greatest Western star in the history of League of Legends would have seemed pretty damn ridiculous. Doubly so when you look at the American and European stars playing around that time.
There’s plenty in the conversation: Jankos, Rekkles, Bjergsen, Caps, Sneaky, xPeke, Doublelift, and SoaZ could all mount arguments in their own ways, for Worlds titles, longevity, and achievements.
Perkz is now outshining all of them.
Wind the clock all the way back to early 2015, however, and Perkz is playing in the mid for Millenium, on his way to second place at Gamers Assembly and third at DreamHack. He was on the precipice of returning to Gamers2 (a name which pivoted to the modern “G2” soon after) for eSports Festival 2015.
It was this Perkz that guided Gamers2 through the EUCS Summer Playoffs, and into the EU LCS proper with a 3–2 victory over fallen giants SK Gaming. It was this same Perkz that staged an incredible first season in the European competition, leading a G2 roster that had added Trick and Emperor to back-to-back titles in 2016, and played in his first truly international events — MSI 2016, and of course Worlds.
There were road bumps in these early G2 days.
The biggest was the “vacation” jokes, the “G2–8” meme that went viral after the newly crowned EU champs were belted from start to finish at the Mid-Season Invitational, barely scraping two wins against SuperMassive.
That year was the last time Perkz really failed to deliver, however.
In 2017, the Croatian and his reshuffled G2 Esports line (Zven and Mithy the team’s big pickups) threw off the vacation memes to finish second at the Mid-Season Invitational after losing to Faker’s juggernaut SK Telecom T1 roster.
Worlds at year’s end was a little rougher as they finished 3–3 in groups, but Perkz still managed to stretch his domestic dominance to four straight titles.
The next three years, however, are what define Perkz’s growing legacy.
To be honest, Summer 2018 was actually terrible. G2 plummeted to a top-six finish in European playoffs finals as arch-rivals Fnatic surged ahead to the title and a ticket to MSI. Perkz and his G2 team looked lost in key games, struggling to find leads, and eventually finishing a meager fifth-sixth.
It was a stark season compared to even their Spring run just months before, coming second to a red-hot Fnatic in that split.
Then, in EU Regional Finals, G2 Esports found themselves down 1–2 to a Kobbe-led Splyce and facing a disappointing elimination before even getting the chance to play at Worlds again after two mixed championship campaigns.
Perkz, however, changed the course of his and G2’s history.
Throughout the year, the Croatian had given himself one goal — “Mature, change for the better, and take responsibility [in the team] in every scenario”. It was “really, really hard,” he admitted back then, but it was an ambition that paid off in a huge way. Something clicked for him in the EU gauntlet, and a new Perkz emerged.
It was a Perkz driven to succeed on the biggest stages in League of Legends. Gone was the young mid laner who laughed off MSI losses, blamed “vacation” mindsets, and didn’t believe he could beat the eastern powerhouses.
“I love playing against the best in the world. I give my 200% to do that, every day. I love competing at the highest level of what I’m good at. It brings me joy.”
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It was this new Perkz that solidified his GOAT status with an incredible run domestically and internationally between late 2018 and 2020. He raked up silverware and top finishes, and on the Rift, his play became renowned around the world.
Despite a rocky 2018, the year ended up a major high note for Perkz and the G2 lineup as they — alongside Fnatic and Cloud9 — shocked the international world with upset after upset at Worlds. Fnatic managed a runners-up spot, while C9 and G2 ran top four, with Perkz besting Flash Wolves in groups and Royal Never Give Up (and Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao) in a historic quarter-final win.
In 2019, Perkz nearly pulled off the League of Legends grand slam.
G2 was one game off walking the golden road with two domestic titles, an incredible Mid-Season Invitational title over heavyweight challengers Liquid, SKT, and Invictus, and a 0–3 defeat to FunPlus Phoenix in the Worlds finals.
Then, in 2020, Perkz repeated his domestic success, before losing to eventual Worlds champions Damwon Gaming in a 3–1 barnstormer in the semifinals.
Even more incredibly, G2 Esports was denied an opportunity to play at the Mid-Season Invitational in 2020 due to global health orders, meaning Perkz missed another chance to claim silverware during this peak.
And remember, he achieved all this across two roles, playing mid in 2018 before pivoting to AD carry in 2019-2020 to fit Caps into the G2 roster.
To sum it all up, between 2018 and 2020:
- 1x MSI championship
- 4x LEC titles (in a row)
- 5x European finals
- 1x Worlds final appearance
- 3x Worlds top-four runs
- 2x Rift Rivals titles
Few players from NA or EU can boast that kind of track record, especially playing against Eastern titans, but Perkz keeps doing it, year after year.
There’s one thing that puts him head and shoulders above the rest of the Western world when it comes to playing League, however, and we saw that on full display recently, as C9 escaped Worlds 2021’s group of death — courage, combined with an incredible skill on Summoner’s Rift in the big games.
Forget every trophy Perkz has won; his gameplay does the talking.
Since moving to Cloud9, the Croatian has been hot and cold — every League of Legends viewer has seen that. But when it really mattered, when the group of death’s jaws came for Cloud9 on Day 4 of the World Championship, Perkz showed his true caliber. The team staged an incredible run out over Rogue and FPX, and will face GenG in the quarter-finals this weekend.
And this time, Perkz did it all without Caps too.
Even as elimination loomed, which would have brought with it an offseason of questions, accusations, and hate for Cloud9’s expensive eleven million dollar man, the 23-year-old (yes, remember Perkz is just 23 years old) was laughing.
The Rogue tiebreaker isn’t the first time he’s been ice-cold in do-or-die situations either. In 2018, against RNG, his team slipped to a 1–2 deficit before winning. Against SKT in their MSI title run, Perkz stood tall in game five. Over the course of his career, he boasts an 80.6% win rate in Game 4s (25–6), and an 82% chance of victory in any sudden-death Game 5s (9–2 since 2016).
Perkz is built to play League of Legends with the highest stakes on the line. He may have forged a leadership quality into his playstyle in 2018, but deep down he’s always been the ice-cold laughing star playing on the very edge.
It’s that cocky yet calm attitude that puts him on top.
“I got LeBlanc, so I was just laughing!” he said of his clear confidence in the Group A tiebreaker. “I knew the game was already insta-won. There were some mistakes there, but we had nothing to lose, so I knew that we had to go for it.
“I’m so happy that we could get out. We were getting super smashed in scrims, but it’s always different on stage. Our games against Damwon, against FPX, we looked good, so I think that we can take it to anyone in the tournament. I’m looking at RNG right now, it would be nice to [play] them.
“I think we can take anyone down, especially with how I’m feeling,” the Western superstar added ahead of playoffs. “I think we can win the whole thing!”