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Evil Geniuses League of Legends team on stage after Spring 2022 finals win lifting trophyEvil Geniuses League of Legends team on stage after Spring 2022 finals win lifting trophy

Evil Geniuses prove North American talent can get it done in first LCS title win

by Xander Torres

When 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses took the stage Sunday in Houston, Texas, for the 2022 LCS spring final, everyone knew that the fans were in for something special. Casters Sam “Kobe” Hartman-Kenzler, Isaac “Azael” Cummings-Bentley and Clayton “CaptainFlowers” Raynes emphasized before the matches that the “old kings” were dead. Cloud9, Team Liquid and TSM were all absent from the final. It was either going to be 100 Thieves repeating as champions and becoming North America’s new “it” team or Evil Geniuses taking their very first title with a duo of young North American talent leading the way.

This time around, Evil Geniuses and their mastermind scouting came out on top. Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki continued to prove that he is one of the best AD carries in North America while Joseph “jojopyun” Joon Pyun went toe to toe with 100 Thieves star mid laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun. Evil Geniuses entered LCS finals weekend as underdogs but leave as champions after a perfect 6-0 weekend against both Team Liquid and 100 Thieves.

Evil Geniuses dominate 100 Thieves

Evil Geniuses’ 3-0 sweep of Team Liquid was surprising enough for most fans. It’s not every day that a team that narrowly finishes in fourth place takes out North America’s $10 million dollar superteam with relative ease. However, dismantling 100 Thieves on Sunday took their story another step forward. 100 Thieves had no problem countering Evil Geniuses in the early game, often punishing Danny and Philippe “Vulcan” LaFlamme in the bot lane with early kills, but it was always a matter of time before Evil Geniuses struck back.

“We wanted to play messy fights around the map, and we had a couple of good early games, but EG was just better today,” 100 Thieves coach Han “Reapered” Bok-gyu said about the games during a postmatch press conference.

Evil Geniuses were just better. Not only did Evil Geniuses 3-0 100 Thieves in the finals -- they did it in a record time of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 32 seconds across all three games, good for the fastest LCS final win of all time. In his postmatch interview, Evil Geniuses top laner Jung “Impact” Eun-yeong joked that it was “good for us so we can go home fast.”

North American talent takes the reins

Photo credit: Marv Watson/Riot Games via ESPAT

More than that, it was the players that orchestrated the domination of 100 Thieves throughout the series. Evil Geniuses funneled all their resources into Danny, who was the star of the show during the team’s entire playoff run. On Sunday, he racked up a total K/D/A of 18/2/12 on Jinx and Xayah, dealing 33 percent of Evil Geniuses’ total damage during the series. In traditional sports, it’s not uncommon for new talent to experience a sophomore slump, but with Danny’s propensity for highlight reel plays -- like his Baron steal and pentakill against Team Liquid -- that’s not happening anytime soon.

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Jojopyun, on the other hand, was more of a facilitative player during the series, controlling side waves on Ryze and Viktor. Rookie players are often expected to crack in high-pressure situations, but jojopyun performed during the series as if it were any other game, showing an improved level of poise from the LCS regular season. If Danny is the “spear” of Evil Geniuses’ offense, jojopyun forms a shield with Impact to keep their opponents at bay.

With both Danny and jojopyun being at the forefront of Sunday’s series as North America’s brightest new talents, criticism is already cycling through the league after Evil Geniuses’ big win. Should every team be trying to unearth their own Danny and jojopyun? Jojopyun says no.

“You have to start from the bottom and give them time … go through the process and trust the process,” jojopyun said after the final.

He went on to explain how teams can’t just expect to find players as good as himself -- they have to develop them.

Enjoying the win and looking forward to the Mid-Season Invitational

It’s no secret that the Evil Geniuses lineup loves to trash talk. Jojopyun has gone on the record saying that he believes the only mid laner better than himself is Gen.G’s Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon. He continued to carry that energy after EG’s win Sunday. Evil Geniuses are set to face off against G2 Esports in the first stage of MSI, and jojopyun is looking forward to it.

“I’m not gonna talk about Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok until I can actually play him. You never know, his team might get eliminated,” he said with a laugh. “I think against Caps, I’ll be fine. I think he’s the best mid laner, but I don’t think that European mid laners are that good. It will be a fun matchup.”

“We literally s--- on everyone,” Vulcan said after the match. “We s--- on C9 first which was my old team … and we beat TL where it was a closer series, but same thing. And then topping it off in the finals. It was also very nice against 100, who have been cocky since winning [last year].”

Vulcan noted how 100 Thieves jungler Can “Closer” Çelik also had been too cocky since winning the LCS last summer. Trash talk aside, Vulcan shared the reality of attending MSI in South Korea next month.

“You’re going to scrim T1 and RNG … they are very good, so you might not have the same success you have in scrims that you do in NA,” Vulcan explained. “You have to be prepared to take the mental damage from getting s--- on so hard.”

Evil Geniuses are a relatively new and inexperienced squad and that’s what makes the roster exciting going into the Mid-Season Invitational. As North America’s sixth unique LCS champion, they will at the very least offer the region a new look on the international stage. Evil Geniuses played the role of underdog perfectly during LCS finals weekend, and while their results may differ in South Korea, there’s no doubt that they’ll continue to show the spunk of a team that fully believes in themselves.

Lead photo credit: Peter Chau / Riot Games via ESPAT

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