Despite no audience or in-person production, the LCS continues allowing the best of North America to battle it out. Many lessons were learned: Luka "Perkz" Perkovic is still incredible and has breathed new life into Cloud9, Dignitas' bold North American lineup is working, and Evil Geniuses are an awesome fireball of talent and chaos. But although brimming with potential, EG's performance this season has been littered with inconsistency, which brings a lot of unknowns about their prospects for the Mid Season Showdown.
EG are like a malfunctioning version of the Terminator. When they're on, they're a powerfully aggressive force — capable of taking out any team in the league. Problem is, they're off nearly half of the time. In many games we've seen them take early leads, only to squander them a few minutes later. They've been able to take games off the top teams in the league, but have also lost to the weakest. They just barely qualified for the Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). Despite all of this, Evil Geniuses are one of the most interesting stories going into the tournament — a team everyone should watch carefully.
No one could deny their talent, but they couldn't be trusted to consistently beat even a bottom-ranked team.
The inconsistency was expected to a degree given the lack of foundations. Besides their lone building block in their jungler, everything from the team roster to the coaching staff was changed top-to-bottom. It was a promising lineup. Three bloodthirsty veterans with Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen, Daniele "Jizuke" di Mauro, and Lee "IgNar" Dong-geun. A smart and talented young AD carry in Matthew "Deftly" Chen. And the old wise-master Jeong "Impact" Eon-young to help guide them. Paired with a fresh coaching staff, EG on paper promised to do well.
It's never that simple though. When discussing their struggles with Deftly, he expressed concern over the team's consistency, speaking of their tendency to throw away advantages with reckless mistakes. Like most fresh teams playing in the LCS, EG experienced growing pains, either being overly aggressive or making poor decisions. The problem though, was that as other teams finally found their footing, EG remained volatile. No one could deny their talent, but they couldn't be trusted to consistently beat even a bottom-ranked team. With their buckwild playstyle, the only promise the team could make was that games would be crazy and that the outcome would be unpredictable.
As we reached the final stages of the split, the team began putting the pieces together. Many of their games looked cleaner than before, as they had more bright spots than dark. Talking with Deftly again, he pointed out not only the team's practice together but also the full integration of Peter Dun. Because of visa issues, the team's head coach was unable to enter the United States and was restricted to working remotely. When asking Peter Dun about this, he talked of the difficulty in latency and communication caused by this, saying "I'm not the type that stands at a whiteboard and says 'Do this, this, and this.' I'm at my best when I'm leading group discussions."
Since solving the travel issues, Peter Dun is fully integrated with the team. With that lost time, though, they're behind the cohesion of other top teams in the region, and now need to play catchup. As noted by their coach, though, them placing sixth actually offers a unique advantage.
"I think that we're a team that no team wants to play against. I think that I can imagine that if you're TSM or TL your lost your first series in playoffs and then you're forced to go play lower bracket against EG when they've had an extra one to two days after you've just played upper bracket—they've had extra days of rest, extra days to scout—I think that's a really scary matchup for teams.
In terms of how we'd do, we have one week where we actually have the opportunity to do more proper practice in our schedule, because with a three day game week, we have only three days of scrims...this has made it very difficult to experiment a lot in scrims and to kind of fix more than one issue at a time, because if you have limited days to scrim — Thursday's preparation for the weekend— so you kind of only have a two days a week to fix your fundamentals. This week we're going to have a minimum of five days as I understand. This means that we're gonna have a lot more free time to try some things, we're gonna have a lot more time to fix our fundamentals, and hopefully with the extra two days it should make a large difference... if we can fix two or three things that are kind of holding us back and are kind of things that are self-inflicted, then we can be a challenger, and definitely be a team that isn't afraid of anybody."
That's what makes EG such an interesting team going into the MSS. We've already seen the squad beat out every top team in the league (with the exception of Dignitas), and the team knows they potentially have something great. Deftly expressed excitement for the team going into the tournament, saying: "I think that in the best-of-five format that the better team wins, so if we drop a game from mistakes we can still come back and readjust. I'm very excited for it, and I think we'll do well. Me personally, as well as my teammates don't view ourselves as underdogs."
That, paired with the fact that they'll finally have extensive time to practice with their coach could mean the turning point for a team already on the rise. When asking Jizuke about this, he stated:
"Honestly we could be a very new team in two weeks... I think we can shape to the team we want to be... I think we could be a really good team, but we could really fall off as well. It really depends on us, on our approach to practice."
They certainly have their work cut out for them. Anything could happen, but one thing is for certain— it'll be exciting to watch them.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.