Evil Geniuses has started off strong in the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Lock-In with back-to-back victories against Cloud9 and Immortals. EG cared not for the hype of new C9 mid laner Luka "Perkz" ( listen) Perković, taking the win in a bloody brawl before dismantling an Immortals team so hamstrung by visa issues that only two of its LCS starters are currently in the country.
After dispatching of IMT, Evil Geniuses mid laner Daniele "Jiizuke" Di Mauro spoke to Inven Global's Nick Geracie about the team's new acquisitions, his sudden disappearance from the starting roster in the 2020 LCS Summer Split, and the visa issues currently affecting EG's coaching staff that the team has had to overcome early into 2021.
How does it feel to start the 2021 LCS Lock In 2-0?
It's cool, and I think starting off strong early on is great for our team’s mental fortitude.
This is your second year on Evil Geniuses, but this season, your coaching staff looks very different. What's it been like working with Peter Dun and co when compared to last season?
Our coaching staff is still not here, actually. Both Peter Dun and Gabriel "Turtle" Piexoto are having visa issues, so for right now we only have Connor "Artemis" Doyle and Brandon "Mash" Phan as our in-person coaching staff. Peter Dun and Turtle are still working with the team remotely, but it's not the same as being around them. What we're doing now is working, so once they arrive, it's going to be even better.
That makes the team's start all the more impressive. Individually, you had a great game on Zoe today outside of the one 'whoopsie' death to the tower. How did you shake that off to continue pressing forward against Immortals?
I go for the plays I believe I can make. If I think there is something I can do, I'll just do it. I don't care if it's a perfect game or not. *laughs* I just stick to my thought process. So for me, it was basically laughing at myself. I was like, "Oh...I inted. ****." *laughs* I shook it off.
That's the right mentality to have, especially when your team was as far ahead as you were at that point in the game. Since other teams have been affected by visa issues, I wanted to ask how long your team has had to practice before the start of the LCS Lock-In?
Our players didn't have any visa issues like our coaching staff has, so we've been practicing together for exactly two weeks now. Starting this week, we began to shine in terms of playing together as a team. It feels good because I feel that this time around, Evil Geniuses is actually a team that plays together.
It was expected that once Evil Geniuses signed mid laner Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer and top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon before the start of the 2020 LCS Summer Split that the team would be platooning them as options to still allow you to start, but then you never started for the team again for the rest of the season. Can you explain how the roster decisions were made last summer?
Well, the team decided to play with Huni and our starting AD Carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik, and that was it. I'm not a resident, so EG needed to start Goldenglue in my place to allow Huni to start. I don't like to see myself as someone who was benched by Goldenglue. In my opinion, it's more that I was benched by Huni.
The way Evil Geniuses wanted to play last year was different from what I wanted. The coaches at the time had a different view of the game than I did, and while they promised that we would go back to the way I wanted to play, we never did.
It was sad because I think Huni and I playing together on the same roster would have been insane. It would have been like the way I played with Lucas "Cabochard" Simon-Meslet on Team Vitality. We would play aggressive and play towards diving the top lane, which is basically what we're doing right now on EG.
Jeong "Impact" Eon-young is playing Renekton and stuff like that, and this type of playstyle could have been something the team did last year with me and Huni, easily. Instead, the team wanted to play safe.
This is obviously a better style for you, but the team as a whole looks great so far. We haven't gotten to see Impact play this much strong side top lane since before he joined Team Liquid in 2018. Would you say EG's new aggressive identity is a result of the individual players or is it due to a cultivation of the team as a whole?
I think it's the players, for sure. We have different players this year with different minds. I think that change was important coming into this year, particularly the addition of Impact and Peter Dun allowing these types of plays to happen. If we did something unusual last year, we would just not do it again or go for the safe play instead.
For example, if I could solo kill the opposing mid laner, my coach would tell me, "Why not just push the wave and roam, so then your opponent can't do anything?" For me, it was like, 'Why can't I solo kill this guy, get 20 CS, and then roam?' I can do both at the same time, but we always wanted to play safe.
If I had to define my playstyle, it would be how we played in Team Vitality. We would aim to not let the enemy team play their game. We wouldn't let our opponents breathe, and that's what teams in the League of Legends Professional League are doing as well. I think it's the best way to play the game.
All of the hype surrounding opening day of the 2021 LCS Lock In was primarily focused on Perkz making his North American debut, but it was Evil Geniuses who bested C9. What did you think of playing against Perkz for the first time since you both played in Europe, and what was EG's gameplan coming into the match against C9
I'm not worried about laning against Perkz. I'm pretty confident in my laning phase against him, but the strength of Perkz is the way he communicates with his jungler and support.
From what I remember in 2018, the difference between Perkz and Rasmus "Caps" Winther is that Caps would contest your lane to create roaming opportunities, where Perkz was better at utilizing his jungler and support. Then there was Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm who does both but isn't excellent at either. He was still a threat because he knew both really well.
When playing against Perkz now, I was fine because I've learned a lot since we last played each other, but you could see how well Perkz coordinated with his jungler and support. We were able to CS top, but if I had communicated better I would have been way more active than I was. Perkz is better than I am at communicating with his jungler and support, and that's something I have to learn
I appreciate your insight. We're only two days into the LCS Lock In, but who would you say is most likely to be your biggest challenger for the top of Group B?
It's Cloud9 for sure. We didn't scrim against FlyQuest so I'm not sure what to expect from them, so we will see when we play them next week. It should be C9, but it's also the start of the year. Most teams have only had two or three weeks of practice, and it's still early in the season, so no one should be counted out.
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