On day 3 of the 2022 LoL World Championships, Evil Geniuses defeated The Chiefs to place themselves on top of their play-in group. Heading into day 4 of the play-in stage, EG are now tied with Fnatic with a 3-1 record, and will be facing DetonatioN FocusMe in their last play-in stage match.
The following is a one on one interview with top laner for EG, Jeong “Impact” Eon-young.
After your victory over Chiefs just now, EG is 3-1 alongside Fnatic. How do you feel about your victory just now, as well as the team’s run in play-ins so far?
I think that LOUD played really well and won against Fnatic today, so it was pretty refreshing to watch. As for our match victory just now, I think the enemy Viktor dying and losing his Flash during the Herald fight was when the game was basically over. After that, it was easy for us to play the game; they needed to dive top lane but couldn’t, and the GP vs Vladimir matchup is GP favored as the game goes on. I predicted that we'd win the match pretty easily, and it went pretty much the way we felt it’d go.
Vladimir isn’t a champion you usually see in the top lane, yet you faced a Vladmir that took Aery with Ghost/Ignite. What are your thoughts on Vladimir in the current meta?
I agree that it isn’t a good pick in the meta, but I always think it depends on how you play him. I think the matchup could’ve gone very differently if he managed to kill me at least once. If he did, then It would’ve led to our team babysitting our top side more, but in the end, Vladimir failed to kill me, so that’s why I think the pick looked bad.
Also, I saw that Vladimir took Absolute Focus over Scorch, so I thought that he wasn’t playing for the laning phase. So I thought, “Was he expecting me to take Bone Plating? I still think he should’ve taken Scorch in this matchup”, and felt the game was easier to play out.
EG’s only loss in the play-in stage was against Fnatic. What was the feedback after that loss and how did you apply in your future matches?
It felt like we’re a completely different team. We weren’t playing proactively, to the point where we weren’t even making attempts to make the plays we needed to. I told the team, “I’m just going to go in if I see an angle. I don’t care if the play goes south”, as well as playing the vision game properly as a team. I think that mindset led to good results so far.
I feel that what you just talked about is essentially confidence. As a veteran, what can you tell me about the importance of that confidence, especially on the international stage like Worlds?
I think that it always comes down to that level of confidence, but you need to have good reasons to back that confidence up. Player skill and confidence are always proportional. You can just ‘say’, “Let’s play confidently”, but you might not know what the right play is, so it’s important to figure out what that is and play with confidence.
EG’s bot laner, Danny, decided to step down from the starting roster to deal with his mental health issues, with Kaori stepping in for the LCS playoffs and Worlds. First, how is Danny doing, and how has Kaori integrated into the team?
On a personal level, I hope he’s doing well. I’m sure he’s recovering at home, and I think it’ll be a big problem if he isn’t. However, as a pro player, I don’t have the luxury to think about how he’s doing, because my focus is completely on how the team could play better at Worlds. This may sound a bit heartless, but realistically, there are a lot of people with similar issues, and right now, I’m busy dealing with what’s in front of me, and that’s performance. I really do hope he’s doing better. He needs to.
The way it works for Kaori is that he just fulfills the roles of a bot laner inside the game plans that the four of us [Impact/Inspired/Jojopyun/Vulcan] make. Personally, I don’t think he played in our match against The Chiefs. He wasn’t able to utilize the tempo we created properly and his vision game was poor. We shouldn’t have lost that Rift Herald, but letting them even start it is what gave them footing to even potentially come back in the game.
Apart from that however, I think he played alright.
Depending on how the matches go on day 4, EG might advance directly to the group stage, but if EG has to play additional matches to advance, is there a team you’d personally like to face from play-in group B?
I personally don’t want to face DRX or RNG. Our scrim results against them aren’t bad, but they’re still very good teams, so making it to the group stage as easily as possible is the priority. It’s do or die at that point, so it’s either MAD Lions or Saigon Buffalos. I know that the Buffalos lost today, but I personally think they’re a better team than MAD. I think they have more potential, so I’d rather face MAD.
NA vs EU is always a rivalry that everyone talks about in international tournaments like Worlds, but in comparison to the Asian teams, the consensus is that the gap is even bigger between the West and the East. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you think the NA vs EU matchup is going to go at Worlds this year?
No matter how much I think about it, the Western teams are much worse than the Asian teams this year. Especially MAD Lions. Also, because we lost to Fnatic in our first match, I feel that our image has gotten worse. There’s only one way to prove those doubters wrong, and it’s to win. If it comes down to us playing in the elimination/qualifying matches, I want to beat MAD Lions.
I also want to ask about Maokai. It’s been mostly utilized in the jungle so far, but it’s a pick that can be flexed into multiple roles. If played in the top lane, what are your thoughts on Maokai’s strengths/weaknesses?
As a jungler, I think his strengths are in locking down aggressive, playmaking mid lane champions. Junglers like Lee Sin or Sejuani don't have any targeted CC, so playmaking champions like Leblanc, for example, have more freedom. Maokai can lock those champions down.
It’s only a matter of time before teams find out how to play against Maokai jungle. For instance, teams might pick carry junglers against it and look to skirmish inside the jungle to bleed his resources. When teams figure that out, then Maokai will be sent to other lanes, like top and support; I think Maokai isn’t bad in a tank vs tank matchup because the champion value is so high. However, bruiser champions are very strong at the moment, and Maokai needs to play the laning phase VERY well against them. In my opinion, he’s very good at reacting to enemy plays, but he can’t make plays happen very well. That’s why I don’t think he’s that good in the top lane, but we’ll have to see. I might be wrong on this.
As a veteran, do you have a specific goal that you hope to achieve this year with EG?
It’s just winning. When I won Worlds back in 2013, the goal wasn’t specifically to win the tournament, but rather to win the matches in front of me. I think the reason why I’m able to have such a long career is because I focus on winning. That same objective hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it will for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, it’s Jojopyun’s birthday, so is there anything you’d like to say to wish him a happy birthday?
He’s playing against really good mid laners at Worlds this year, so I hope that he plays smarter and gains a lot of confidence from playing against them. I hope he plays a little bit better [laughter].
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports