Whenever someone asks Mihael "Mikyx" Mehle a question at a press conference, the G2 Esports support always begins with the same line:
"So uh, thank you for the question."
"First of all, thanks for the question."
"Thank you for your question."
There are many nuances in his insistence on thanking journalists for their questions in an environment specifically designed for journalists to ask questions, where there's a pervading atmosphere of awkwardness and forced politeness.
Yet, Mikyx's responses toe a fine line between a palpable, honest gratitude and mockery. He cuts through the artifice cleanly in a way that answers every question with, "I'm actually so happy to be here" while also poking fun at the situation. With every "thank you for the question" his teammates inevitably giggle, facepalm and elbow him in the ribs. They shake their heads with a near-audible sing-song response, "Oh, Miky."
Mikyx is truly happy to be there, despite the perception that "happy to be here" means you're having fun. Sometimes having fun is incorrectly translated as not working hard enough, or not taking the game seriously enough.
G2 and their expressive support, Mikyx, are shattering this perception. They are fun. They are happy to be here. And regardless of whether they beat FunPlus Phoenix in the worlds finals on Sunday, they are the best League of Legends team of 2019.
Throughout the year, G2 have made a name for themselves by being the most flexible team in the world. At one point, there was a running joke that Mikyx wasn't near the best Pyke player on his team, despite the fact that Pyke is a support champion, due to the champion's strength and the mechanical prowess of Mikyx's teammates.
Similarly, although G2 is now heralded as the world's first successful "superteam," Mikyx's status as a player worthy of being on such a team wasn't a guarantee in early 2019.
While on Splyce at the beginning of his professional career, Mikyx's role as the brains of the team reached memetic status after taking over the position from Nicolai "Nisbeth" Nisbeth. Despite this, there wasn't a rush to proclaim him as Europe's strongest support outside of a few analyst voices on the periphery of the discussion -- he received no more support than any player with a small cult following would receive. When he left Misfits and landed on G2 in the 2018-19 offseason, Mikyx's arrival was overshadowed by mid laner Luka "Perkz" Perković moving to the bottom lane in order to allow former Fnatic star Rasmus "Caps" Winther to sign on as G2's new mid laner. Perkz's talent was obvious, but it was Mikyx who helped smooth Perkz's transition to a new role. It's hardly taking anything away from Perkz to say that Perkz's overwhelming success this year in his new role is Mikyx's success, too.
"I feel very comfortable playing with Miky," Perkz said in an early-spring split interview with the Shotcaller. At the time, he had played three games in the bot lane position on the League of Legends European Championship stage. "He's very skilled and he's very kind as well. I tilt often so when I, sometimes I tilt and he tells me, 'No, no, it's fine. You did fine anyways.' That's something that [former G2 jungler Kim "Trick" Gang-yun] used to do. So that's very nice."
Mikyx steps into the world's largest League of Legends spotlight at a time when supports have more agency over the game than ever before. More importantly, he's now lauded for his success and various contributions to the team.
Historically, support has been the most overlooked League of Legends position. All roles take their turn out of the spotlight, but support has a near-permanent home there, especially among casual esports viewers. This is largely due to the fact that a support's impact isn't as visually obvious as nearly every other position, save jungle, outside of teamfight initiations and crowd control. Calculating matching support roam patterns, vision control and the efficiency of a support's 2v2 lane trading requires more effort.
As SK Telecom T1 support Lee "Wolf" Jae-wan said in a Riot Games' preview at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, listing off his superstar teammates, "It's all of them and then Wolf." He gestured upward when talking about the likes of Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, Bae "Bang" Jun-sik, and so on, while moving his hand rapidly downward when talking about himself. On various language broadcasts across the world, supports are frequently passed over in player-of-the-match awards in favor of flashier plays from their teammates. Mikyx is no exception to this, but due to support's increased in-game agency and more visible contributions, he's been rightfully recognized as a star on par with the rest of his G2 teammates.
G2 Esports would have been an overwhelming favorite going into this year's Mid-Season Invitational, similar to how they entered the world championship as tournament favorites, if it hadn't been for one key factor: Mikyx's wrist injury. Days before MSI began, Mikyx wrote on his Instagram that his playtime could be limited due to his injury.
"I've always really wanted to play MSI and play all other top teams from the other regions, but right now I'm not so sure if that is gonna be possible given that I'm still very much restricted due to the injury," Mikyx said. "The healing and recovery takes priority, but I'm gonna give it my all nonetheless. Maybe next time it won't take me a trophy to make another post, cya at MSI!"
Nearly a month later, Mikyx was an MSI champion. He played in every G2 game at MSI and was a key component of their eventual tournament victory. After the tournament, he joked that his wrist had magically healed itself.
"It feels pretty nice considering that last year was quite a disappointment," Mikyx said at their post-MSI finals press conference (after thanking the press for the question, of course.) "I felt like already last year I was good enough to do well internationally but I just never really made it. So this time, I knew that we could go the furthest I could and yeah, I'm just really happy that everything worked out even though it didn't look like it would work out with my wrist issues and everything. But honestly, it's looking really bright right now."
Again, Mikyx's honesty and gratitude were on display.
During G2's initial worlds introduction at Verti Music Hall, Mikyx waved with his right hand before feigning pain and wincing. As he laughed, the crowd roared.
Mikyx would be the first to tell you that he hasn't performed up to his standard at worlds this year, but his teammates have already beaten him to it.
"After the loss against Griffin we took scrims way more seriously," G2 jungler Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski said after defeating Damwon Gaming in the quarterfinals. "And I feel like that way, we improved a lot as a team."
Mikyx nodded, rubbing his chin as if deep in thought while Perkz stretched and laughed. The G2 support knew what was coming.
"But I think the main issue was that I was running it down against Griffin, and I feel like Miky was also running it down," Jankos said.
Nodding in agreement, Mikyx gave a melodramatic shrug. Perkz cackled, reaching over to pat his back in mock-sympathy.
"Since support and jungle are so important in the mid game, where they go, what do they do with their lanes, and both of us were playing pretty bad, they won," Jankos said.
After G2 went on to beat SK Telecom T1 in the semifinals, Mikyx reiterated his own underperformance at the tournament, citing the SKT series as his first good match.
"I think [FunPlus Phoenix support Liu "Crisp" Qing-Song] is a really good support and I think he's been performing the best out of every support at this tournament so far," Mikyx said. "So I'm looking forward to playing against him but I know that I can match up well against him because, uh, this series gave me a lot of confidence that I can actually play well."
Next to Mikyx, G2's coach, Fabian "Grabbz" Lohmann laughed, covering his mouth with his hand.
"So I look forward to it," Mikyx finished.
Should G2 have a post-finals victory press conference, Mikyx will say with a bright smile and the Summoner's Cup on the table:
"First of all, thanks for the question."
And that expression of thanks will be a celebration of his and G2's success this year as the consensus best League of Legends team in 2019.