Evil Geniuses have qualified for their first LCS final after sweeping Cloud9 out of the semifinals of the 2022 LCS Lock In. EG has won their first nine games of the season and is the only team undefeated in the LCS; they will face Team Liquid in the final of the LCS Lock In tomorrow.
After sweeping Cloud9, Evil Geniuses AD carry Kyle "Danny" Sakamaki spoke to Inven Global about EG's form in the 2022 LCS Lock In, the impact of his own success on rookie mid laner Joseph "jojopyun" Joon Pyun's debut, and what he thinks makes EG an organization that can develop North American talent.
Congratulations on the win today. Vulcan just said in a post-match interview on broadcast that he expected the series to be a 3-0. Did you also expect to sweep Cloud9?
I had the same idea as Vulcan that we would 3-0 C9, but I definitely think that C9 had the potential to take a game off of us. Obviously, game 3 was kind of in favor of them for quite a bit, so they could have won that one. Overall, before the series even started, I thought it would be a 3-0.
Yeah, C9 picked a lot of champions we haven't seen much or at all in the 2022 LCS Lock In. Was that unexpected?
Their overall draft in the last game was really off-meta. They didn't really pick the champions that we thought they were going to pick and that really threw us off. However, if we had played another game after that, we would have done pretty well.
EG is now to start the seaason. Any thoughts on your series in the Lock In finals tomorrow against Team Liquid?
I'm really excited to face Hans or Core depending on who they choose. I'm pretty sure they're going to go with Hans and Eyla, but yeah, it's pretty exciting. I think Team Liquid is our #1 contender and I'm really excited to face them. That's all I can say.
There's also the chance that they start TL Academy top laner Bradley "Bradley" Benneyworth to free up import slots for both Steven "Hans sama" Liv AND Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, right?
Yeah, if they did that, I think it would be a really good and fun matchup.
There's been much talk about your mid laner jojopyun's LCS debut in the Lock In this month. As someone who made your own LCS debut less than a year ago, how do you think he's done in this tournament?
I'm really impressed with how jojo has done in the Lock In tournament. He's a very nice person, very confident...maybe he's a bit cocky at times, but I think he deserves it. He's really good. I think jojopyun has shown in the Lock In that he's a top 2 mid laner.
It seemed like people immediately believed in jojopyun despite EG parting ways with Daniele "Jiizuke" Di Mauro after a strong season last year. Do you think your success in the past year was part of why he's been trusted by so many, and now that he's proven his talent, celebrated by even more?
Yeah. I do think that, and I think that our reputation at EG for building up rookies and developing talent through our programs is definitely a breath of fresh air in the NA scene. I think that that gave people a lot of faith in EG having Jiizuke leave to put in jojopyun. It's going well.
What is it about EG that have resulted in them succeeding in the area of talent development, an area where so many other North American organizations have failed?
I think it's the people that we have. I could name a lot of people who have helped me and jojo, especially, get us where we are now. I'm eternally grateful for them. A few of these names are Kelsey Moser and Peter Dun. They are really big names in the NA amateur scene and...I don't know, they have the magic touch.
EG recently announced a coaching change in which Peter Dun will now oversee all League of Legends operations and coach Gabriel "Turtle" Peixoto is now serving the role of the LCS team's head coach. Has that changed the day-to-day for your team in any significant way?
For me, I think it's almost the same. It's slightly different because people have different coaching styles. Turtle is obviously different from Peter Dun, but because I worked with him last year I don't think it's a big deal. I know how things will go, but for jojo, I'm not sure. He could have a different opinion, but for me, it's fine.
Good luck in the finals tomorrow, Danny. Is there anything you want to say to the EG fans after helping bring the organization to their first LCS final?
I want to thank the EG fans for supporting us all the way through. I'm really happy with our results in Lock In — well, it hasn't ended yet, but I'm really happy with our current standing. We haven't lost a single game, so thank you for watching and supporting us.