From the outside, it looked as if H2K had a mildly successful 2016. They qualified for the 2016 League of Legends World Championship after a bronze place finish during the 2016 EU LCS Summer Playoffs. They faced roster changes, specifically with Konstantinos "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou who left the team and then re-joined.
On the inside, the picture is much different. In an interview with Richard Wells, the Co-Owner and Chief Gaming Officer of H2K (done by mmo24.pl), the year did not go exactly the way he had hoped. "I still believe that player for player the 2016 roster was arguably the strongest ever assembled in the west," Wells said. "I consider 2016 as an underperforming year for that team. Sure, we made the semi finals of Worlds which was a good achievement. But that team should have won LCS at least once, probably twice."
"I consider 2016 as an underperforming year for that team... That team should have won LCS at least once, probably twice." - Richard Wells, Co-Owner of H2K
H2K will not field the same roster in 2017. Andrei "Odoamne" Pascu will still be in the top lane while Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski will still find his home in the jungle. The changes come in the mid lane and bot lane where Ryu "Ryu" Sang-ook has been replaced by former Fnatic mid laner Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten while the bot lane formerly comprised of Forg1ven and Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan will see Korean imports Shin "Nuclear" Jung-hyun and Choi "Chei" Sun-ho in their place. Wells also commented on the roster moves, noting that a synergy change had to be made. "Team environment and mindset is a huge part of League of Legends, especially when you consider that these guys live with each other 24/7 during the season. That was a top priority along with balancing a team that would be able to focus more on overall team play and grouping scenarios which were clearly a weakness during 2016. I wanted to create a single unit rather than a team of 5 individuals."
"I wanted to create a single unit rather than a team of 5 individuals." - Richard Wells, Co-Owner of H2K
Lewis also mentioned the psyche of the departing members. "As individuals the players that left had decent mindsets. But this is a team game and the balance needs to be right for everyone," he said.
One of those departing members happens to be Forg1ven, seen as one of the more polarizing figures in the League of Legends scene. While the community may be quick to attack the AD carry, Wells and H2K are even quicker to have his back. "Forg1ven is a great guy and a great player. As an organization in a vacuum we would not hesitate to have re-signed Forg1ven... The guy that played in Summer for H2K was a mature, polite gentleman and someone I consider a friend."
Many blame Forg1ven for any of H2K's downfalls, deeming him a scapegoat. For Wells, he was the opposite. "You won’t get to me say that I think Forg1ven was the problem because I don’t believe that."
"You won’t get to me say that I think Forg1ven was the problem because I don’t believe that." - Richard Wells, Co-Owner of H2K
Problem or not, Forg1ven is yet to find a new home and it seems like he's not in a rush to do so. He stated in a previous interview with mmo24 that League of Legends might be in the rear view mirror for him now. "My intention is to be done with the competitive scene of League of Legends."
"My intention is to be done with the competitive scene of League of Legends." - Forg1ven
For H2K, their new roster is now considered one of the stronger squads and expectations are just as high, if not higher.