From Academy standout to LCS secret weapon, Contractz has re-invented himself on Evil Geniuses


Evil Geniuses has been spectacular in the 2021 League Championship Series Summer Split. With a previously unseen level of coordination around the aggressive style of mid laner Daniele “Jiizuke” Di Mauro, EG shot up the standings and finished 3rd in the LCS season after going 14-3 in its last 17 games of the season.


Four of those wins are attributed to Juan “Contractz” Garcia, who, after signing with EG Academy for the 2021 season, has begun to split time with starting LCS jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.


Contractz didn’t just go 4-0 in the regular season for EG, he played a pivotal role in all four wins and has re-established himself as an LCS-caliber jungler. Despite not playing in the LCS for a year, Contractz has looked even better than his criminally underrated performance when he stepped in for William “Meteos” Hartman on 100 Thieves in the 2020 LCS Summer Split.



Contractz attributes his success on EG in part to the lessons he learned on 100 Thieves Academy in 2020. After a rough finish to the 2019 LCS season on Golden Guardians, Contractz found himself without a starting job for the first time in his career. Contractz joined 100 Thieves Academy and had the worst split of his career at any level that spring.


“I think that in your first split after being dropped down from LCS to Academy, you're kind of complacent,” Contractz explained to Inven Global. “You don't respect your opponents as much and you kind of lose sight of your goals. But since I've already gone through that for a split, I'll never make that mistake again.” Before the start of the 2020 summer split, Contractz developed a system for his own individual weekly goals in order to re-focus and improve regardless of his level of competition.


When 100 Thieves began to struggle in the 2020 LCS Summer Split, Contractz was brought up to replace Meteos. History, and at the time, recency, pointed towards Meteos as the overwhelmingly stronger choice, but Contractz proved to be a lightning rod for 100T and revitalized the squad enough to qualify for the post-season. Despite his strong individual performance, Contractz once again found himself without an offer from a team in the LCS in the off-season.


“Honestly, I was very disappointed in the off-season. I felt like I kind of lost hope because of how I performed on 100 Thieves last summer. I thought I definitely proved myself to be an LCS starting jungler. I'm pretty sure I was comfortably top 5 or at least top 6 in my role, so I was very disappointed that I wasn't able to find a roster.”


In addition to external factors such as COVID-19, Contractz attributes the oversight of his performance to the amount of games in context of his entire career. “I think the sample size of my play was small, and people had already seen a lot of me in the past as well, so I think they wanted to try out fresh faces and see how that works out.”


While Contractz was disappointed, he was grateful when he was signed by Evil Geniuses to play for EG Academy after a tumultuous six weeks in the off-season: “Honestly, I was pretty close to not being on an Academy team, either.”



The start of Contractz’s 2021 season was eerily similar to his 2020 season, but this time, he was armed with previous situation experience and restored self-confidence after finishing 2020 in the LCS. Between his own methods of self-improvement and Evil Geniuses’ organizational prioritization of development and promotion, Contractz was confident he would start in the LCS once again, and established himself as one of the best junglers in the LCS Academy League throughout the spring.


Two weeks before the start of the 2021 LCS Summer Split, Contractz began splitting time with Svenskeren in practice with the LCS team. Contractz was knocking on the door for an opportunity to return to the LCS, and TSM answered. On Diana against TSM and MVP candidate jungler Mingyi “Spica” Lu, Contractz dismembered TSM and earned player of the game honors to the tune of a 6/0/12 KDA.


Contractz wouldn’t come in to start again until Evil Geniuses’ match against Immortals, where another strong early game on Diana made the difference for the EG squad. In a rematch with TSM later on in the season, Contractz once again earned player of the game honors on Diana, and in the final match of the Summer Split, Contractz took on 100 Thieves and ran circles around the top 2 squad on Xin Zhao as EG finished the regular season with a win.


Contractz has developed into a secret weapon for Evil Geniuses, giving their aggressive style an entirely different early game approach. Not only has Contractz gone 4-0 in his unique role on the EG roster, he makes the team far more difficult to prepare against in the best-of-five series format that makes up the LCS Championship. "They're getting rather plug and play where we can put either jungler inside the roster and already visualize how the game is going to play out,” said EG strategic coach Connor “Artemis” Doyle.


In his conversation with Inven Global, Artemis also broke down the roster methodology for EG’s two junglers. “As a staff, we do a careful job analyzing the early games of teams and looking at how they play around waves and their jungler in the early game,” Artemis explained. “Based on that information, we make the decision of who we want to use while also making sure we're being fair to both players as far as communication goes.


Artemis attributed a lot of the jungle platoon success to coach Gabriel "Turtle" Peixoto, who works exclusively with EG’s two junglers, and finds ways to make sure both players work with each other to improve. The EG jungler who isn’t starting will often sit with Turtle in practice, listen to the comms, and watch the other LCS jungler play with the rest of their teammates so both players can learn from one another’s strengths and weaknesses.


However, Artemis admitted that the bulk of the credit should be attributed to Contractz himself: “How determined he is, how much grit he's been able to develop, the struggle he's been through - to be able to persevere and still elevate himself to a new level of gameplay and as a person has been a privilege to watch.”


Contractz may have needed a few extra games to solidify his return to the LCS, albeit in a unique, but pivotal role, but the jungler knew he had arrived once again much sooner than that. “After I won the game, I was putting my gear away and taking in the win. I just realized 'Yeah, this is where I belong.’”



Note:  A previously published version of this article stated that Contractz had bested Can "Closer" Çelik in EG's final match of the season, a win against 100 Thieves. This is inaccurate as Closer and the rest of the 100 LCS squad were given a rest for the last day of the LCS Summer Split. It was the entire 100 Thieves Academy roster that lost to Contractz and EG in the squad's last match of the split. 


All images by: Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

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