It's still early in the 2022 LCS season, but for now, Evil Geniuses is on top. EG was the only team to go 4-0 in the group stage of the LCS Lock In, and with 100 Thieves eliminated in a massive upset by Dignitas yesterday, the path seems wide open for EG to win the first tournament of the season.
After Evil Geniuses' third win in Group B of the 2022 LCS Lock In, support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme spoke with Inven Global about his two years on Cloud9, how he ended up joining EG, and his first impressions of his new teammates.
EG was one of two teams to finish the first week of the 2022 Lock In undefeated. Did you expect EG to be this dominant to begin the season?
Yeah, I thought so. I thought our game against TL could go either way, honestly, because I think they are on a level similar to ours. We played very well in that game and happened to come out on top, which happens. I think we are one of the favorites; looking at 100 Thieves, Team Liquid, and us for the possible winners of the Lock In.
I feel like even though C9 went 3-0, they didn't have the best opposition. We'll see how they do against 100 Thieves, which should give us a better idea of their strength. However, from scrimming against them, they didn't look too hot with their current roster, so I guess we'll see as the tournament goes on. They didn't look too hot from my expectations.
EG has gotten off to a hot start despite the development of synergy between new teammates playing a factor in the squad's cohesion. What has allowed your roster to gel and execute on a higher level than other teams in the same situation?
I think the two biggest pieces for a roster to make the roster play well as a team are support and jungle. I feel like the two of us are pretty strong players who know what we want to do in the game, so we always have direction. That makes it very easy to show our other teammates what to do so they can follow up on us going for plays and back us up.
If you're going to have rookies on your team, you probably want it to be AD and mid because they're going to do the clicking while the rest of the roles can do the more 'brainy' side of League that kind of comes with more experience. I think we have a perfect mix of that. I think Inspired has been playing very well; he obviously had a very good performance last weekend. I mean, everyone played well, but overall, I think the way the team is built is very well thought through.
What's it been like building synergy with Danny and being the veteran of the bot lane duo this time around?
It's been very different because I was always the younger player in my past duos. It's a big shift in dynamic, but obviously, it's one that I am kind of happy to take on. I understand that my role now is to talk more outside of the game and during the game.
That was sort of something that I would already do in my past teams, but it was more about inside of the laning phase and specifically about my role as a support. Now, it's also making sure that we address issues out of the game and reaching out to Danny if things went wrong in scrims; stuff like that.
It's been nice because Danny is obviously very, very skilled. He's a very good individual player; the stuff he does in scrims is pretty impressive, and he's shown it on stage as well. It's exciting to try and help him become a more complete player and someone that is going to be an All-Pro for the next five or so years.
Your mid laner jojopyun has only just made his LCS debut. How do you think he's done so far?
He had a very respectable debut. He didn't get abused in lane at all and he was playing the same way he was playing in scrims. It wasn't that classic thing where players play well in scrims and then go on stage for the first time and have a shift in mentality. I didn't feel that at all from jojopyun, so that's always good.
He's also a player with a big ego, and he compares himself to not only Chovy but also greats in traditional sports. I think it's good that we started the season with wins because he's the type of player that will work with momentum and confidence in getting the wins and playing well. That's something that will help him keep playing like this and evolve into an even better player. I think this has been a perfect start for us.
When Impact joined EG last year, it was a revelation to see him be unlocked to play aggressively and not just the weak side play he was known for on TL. What's it been like playing with Impact, who I would say was one of the best top laners in the LCS last year?
Impact was actually my vote for MVP last summer. He's very, very reliable and he will very rarely fall super far behind in a way that factors into the game. From my experience, even when Impact does fall behind, he still finds a way to be impactful. He obviously has a wealth of experience, so he has a good understanding of what to do during games. He has a good idea of what we should do in certain situations where we aren't too sure, so that's really helpful.
Impact is our rock in the top lane and we can always rely on him, so that's nice.
You were widely considered as the best player in week 1 of the 2022 LCS Lock In. How would you evaluate your own level of play and what you to bring to EG in a team context?
I think I played super well and it feels very nice because there's always this stigma that players who leave C9 just end up kind of disappearing. They don't play as well in other teams, but the way I see it is that I'm a very good player and C9 didn't make me. I'm good because of me, so that's what I've carried over to my new team as well.
I'm the kind of player who just wants to take fights if I see an angle and I will call it very strongly if I see it. I think I kind of showed that in the Rakan game — well, all three games I guess — that's kind of what I bring to any team.
What do you think will help you succeed in avoiding the aforementioned post-C9 stigma?
I believe I am a quality player and it helps to change environments. However, you see this most of the time because some players will play a certain way and they expect their new teammates to do something that they sometimes won't. That can kind of feed into a bad cycle where they will do plays that used to work, but won't work on their new team. Then, they lose confidence, and things kind of start going downhill from there.
However, I'm pretty lucky to have very good teammates once again. I'd say our roster is probably more talented than C9 last year. I'm lucky enough to have a good roster and not have to adapt my play too much because I can still rely on my teammates. I don't think C9 sent me anything special to make me good. I'm just a quality player.
You were praised last year for being the most consistent player on C9 during international tournaments. Do you agree, and if so, to what do you attribute that?
Well, it's kind of just the knowledge or faith that I've practiced enough and am good enough to play those games — I've already done everything I could have done, now I just lock into the game and try to perform.
I'll make decisions in the game, but those decisions are often impacted by my previous choices in competitive games, scrims, practice or solo queue games. I'm confident that the past twelve years of playing League of Legends will help me play well, and if I don't, there's peace in knowing that even if I int, it will be fine anyway.
How would you sum up your two years on Cloud9?
I wish there weren't so many ups and downs. There were some crazy highs, but then there was also not qualifying for Worlds 2020, which I'm sure was a big upset to everyone. I still believe we were the best team in NA at that point. I don't know what happened, really. Things just stopped working for us and it was hard to figure out what was going on.
I feel like in the spring of 2020 we were the best five-man roster in the history of the LCS. It's really a shame that we couldn't make it to MSI 2020 since it got canceled. It would have been fun to have that lineup when we were playing well against the other best teams in the world. We could have had some hype moments like we did at Worlds 2021.
Regarding leaving C9, I think we could have gone further, but I had a goal to leave a mark on the international stage with C9. I guess we did, but then we lost 3-0 in the quarterfinals, so it was bittersweet. I want to play on very good teams, have high moments, and have some fun times playing the game while getting wins in hype tournaments, and I feel like I did that.
Obviously, I have some regrets about how things played out at times and how I played individually, but overall, I'm proud of my time on C9.
How did you end up joining EG? Was it your choice, or did C9 have a different plan for the off-season?
I asked Jack to make a move and that if he didn't want to go in that direction, I wanted to be traded. He decided to go in the other direction. I don't know. I will say that it was his choice, and I'm sure he will say that it was mine. From my perspective, that's how it went down.
Are you able to provide any more detail on what the direction you wanted to go in was?
Sure, because I think people can assume what it was: I wanted to change lane partners. I still respect Zven a lot, but I wanted a change.
I felt that by the end of last year we were not playing to our standards. We kind of had a hard time figuring things out, and I just wanted something new. Zven and I were still good, but I felt like it was time to change things up a bit for me.
The last two supports on EG, while both had good performances, ended up without LCS spots the following season. Was this something that was on your mind at all in regards to proving your value in a new environment?
No, I wasn't scared. I gave Jack a tier of teams I would want to join and EG was the first team out of my mouth. They were a top destination for me and I wasn't worried of how it went down with previous players. I don't know, I'm not them, and I'm confident enough in myself as a player to believe I can succeed anywhere I go and help elevate the team I land on.
It's been fun to see you embrace your new environment with the scheduled #LIVEEVIL tweets and all. Is there anything you want to say to the EG fans after a strong start to the season regarding what you expect to bring to this organization?
Thanks to the EG fans who have welcomed me. I'm hoping to get them a trophy in League because I'm pretty sure that has never happened before. I think we have the right team to do it. Keep cheering for us. We started out strong, but there will be adversity and I hope you guys stick with us during that time and watch us lift that trophy.