In 2022, there were few moments as shocking in League of Legends esports as Evil Geniuses' loss to Cloud9 during the 2022 LCS Championship. After a year of dominance throughout the region, the Spring Champions fell to C9, 1-3. It was an event that caused many to worry about EG's prospects of competing internationally.
EG eventually qualified for Worlds — opening up even more questions. What happened to EG? How strong is Muhammed Hasan "Kaori" Şentürk? And will NA finally have a good year at Worlds? Inven Global spoke with Peter Dun to seek answers.
What were the biggest aspects that changed with the team from your series against Cloud9, to where you are now? What did the coaching staff emphasize in order to come back and qualify for Worlds?
I think fans maybe don't necessarily see how things are going in scrims, and going on behind the scenes. There were a lot of changes in the meta coming into playoffs. Obviously, there was a massive patch that was released two weeks before, which was maybe good for the entertainment of the average fan, but makes it very difficult to prepare for from the perspective of a coaching staff.
To summarize: the patch made it very difficult to out-rotate people on the map, because the value of objectives — which make trading good for stronger teams — was kind of nerfed. And that meant that it was very clear what objectives you should be playing for every single time, which helps a lot of the teams with less strong macro.
That meant that a lot of the games were a lot more fiesta-like rather than controlled. That hurt us a bit, and adapting to that letter was the big thing that made a difference. Obviously, great entertainment for the fans — a 3-2 series every time. But the consequence of having all these 3-2 series is it means that the strongest team is not winning 3-0, and we were one of the strongest teams, if not the strongest team in NA going into playoffs.
Do you believe this opinion is shared by most of EG's players? When I spoke with Jojopyun following the C9 series, he said the team liked the current meta.
It took us time to adapt, and the C9 series was kind of a wake-up call for everyone. But following the C9 series, we had a good read of what we wanted to do. Obviously, our approach to the meta was different with Danny versus with Kaori, because there's different ways you can attack the metagame as it is. But yeah, we're definitely more equipped with a better understanding now than we were two weeks ago.
It will be interesting to see how C9 continues to adapt because I think C9 came into playoffs with a really, really good read. Whereas a lot of other teams took a long time to adapt. And obviously, we weren't scrimming C9 because we had to play Cloud9. So they caught us a bit off guard. But we'll see how they've adapted over time.
It was incredible seeing how well Kaori fit into the team. What was the adjustment like of automatically slotting Kaori into the roster?
One thing that is different in EG versus a lot of other teams is that a lot of the LCS coaching staff have responsibilities working with Academy and Amateur. Rigby is the Head Coach of the LCS team, but he still does one-to-one with one of our Amateur players once a week, and he still talks with those regular assistant coaching sometimes in the academy. And obviously, I spent a lot of time helping with Academy this year.
So we knew already a lot about Kaori coming in — the same way that we knew lots about Danny and Jojo. When we promote these people, we know them really well by personality, champion pool, and their strengths and weaknesses. And we know all the things we need to adjust to make sure that they have a smooth transition to the team.
Obviously, we only had a week of scrims, but we didn't even really have that because of coming to Chicago. So to be honest, we had eight scrims with Kaori. But I would say that our understanding of how to incorporate Kaori was not eight scrims worth — it was a whole two splits worth.
So Kaori did well today under difficult circumstances, but we already knew a lot about him coming in, and it was simply a case of saying to Vulcan, "Here's how we need you to adapt." And I think Vulcan is very harsh on himself, but considering the circumstances, he did well to adapt. So I think maybe he shouldn't be as harsh on himself.
What do you see as his future in the LCS?
There's no question that Kaori is going to play in the LCS next year. There's no question. You look at his CS-differential at 10 in Academy: it's 16.5. It's a plus 16.5 CS differential on average, which is crazy. And he had the highest damage in team fight share of any AD carry, despite not being on a top team — EG Academy were a mid-table team. But he consistently had incredible numbers. Next year, for sure, he will play in the LCS.
And it's not like we're promoting some rookie. This guy was in Turkey — he was very, very strong in Turkey. You've seen a lot of players coming from Turkey that have had a lot of success. So it's not like we're bringing in some completely random rookie — this guy's a professional who knows how he wants to play the game. He knows how to punish really aggressively. He is very aggressive in-lane and very proactive.
How would you contrast him with Danny?
I would say in terms of pure laning phase, Kaori is one of the top three in the region. And I don't just mean in Academy — the entire region. In champions queue he is consistently ranked right up there — he has an incredibly strong laning phase. He knows how to play a game up from a lead, as you saw today.
Danny's main strength is he is a very, very good team fighter. Maybe one of the best fighters up there with Doublelift and Sneaky at his peak. Obviously, there's a little bit of a meme of him dying in lane, but that's the big contrast between the two players. They both have their strengths — they're both incredibly strong where they're strong. But both of them have to continue to work hard to overcome the weaknesses in their game, and to be undisputed top players.
With what we've seen demonstrated throughout playoffs by the North American teams, what does it say about the region's chances at Worlds?
That's an interesting question. NA's at a big disadvantage this year versus most hosted years, for the simple fact that Play-Ins is not on home soil. Play-Ins is in the LLA studio in Mexico. So, obviously getting into New York into the group stage is going to be a difficult challenge that we have to overcome. But I would say that if I had to compare any chances of Worlds this year — the Chinese teams this year look very, very strong. And Gen.G, as well.
But I think that after maybe the top six or seven teams, there hasn't really been any team that's really stood out. Obviously, the six teams are very, very strong at Worlds, but I think that NA can do some damage this year. It's important for NA, because if we have a better World Championship than EU, we will move up to being the number three region. We're on home-soil, so we have a good chance to do that — EG maybe a better chance than anyone because we have two EU teams in Play-Ins. So it's on us to share what we've got.
The region has a lot of standout individual players, it's just how the team macro goes and how the team fights goes. This is a meta that is very, very high variance, as you can see by the number of 3-2 series in all regions. So hopefully we can find a way to channel that to our advantage.
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