Confident Evil Geniuses put North America on notice at VCT LOCK//IN

by Brian Bencomo

Of the five North American VALORANT teams competing at VCT LOCK//IN in São Paolo, Evil Geniuses entered the tournament with the least hype and expectations. 100 Thieves added a star and won a major offseason tournament. Cloud9 added arguably the best player in the world. NRG rebuilt around OpTic’s championship core. Sentinels added two Brazilian world champions. Evil Geniuses? Their moves were considered underwhelming in comparison.

However, after winning their opening match against a slightly more favored European side Team Heretics, EG put NA and the rest of the field on notice. They know they’re underdogs, and they’re wearing that badge proudly.

“If I could drop this mic I would. First thing, they hate us ‘cause they ain’t us,” the sunglasses-clad Brendan “BcJ” Jensen told reporters in a press conference after EG’s win over Heretics.

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BcJ was one of Evil Geniuses’ offseason additions. EG didn’t qualify for any international events in 2022, but BcJ did with XSET. Adding him and Ethan "Ethan" Arnold, who competed internationally with 100 Thieves in 2021, not only infused the team with more talent and international experience, but also swagger.

“Coming into this year we needed confidence, we needed experience, and we needed a little bit of an ego,” head coach Christine “Potter” Chi said. “And that’s exactly what Brendan and Ethan bring to the table.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

Unlike other teams that typically have only one other player besides the starting five -- a “sixth” man -- EG have nine active members on their roster. EG didn’t drop any of their five players who started in 2022, but added four new faces, with BcJ and Ethan being the two additions that have been inserted to their new five-man starting lineup. Potter clarified that the five players that are competing for EG at LOCK//IN are the starters for now and that the team won’t be mixing and matching.

Read more: The 2023 VCT Americas partner teams’ rosters

She echoed the newcomer BcJ’s confidence in declaring that Evil Geniuses were ready to face anyone at LOCK//IN. Potter said she hoped EG would face MIBR next in order to feel the Brazilian crowd against them (instead they’ll face Thailand’s Talon Esports) and then a North America foe after that.

“We want to face an NA team because we want to face them on LAN on the big stage,” she said. “Everyone is ranking us No. 5, so let’s just see.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

“I wanna rematch Cloud9 on stage. Simple as that,” Alexander "jawgemo" Mor said.

If EG beat Talon and Cloud9 beat DRX, then that’s exactly the matchup that would occur with a semifinal appearance on the line.

Read more: VCT LOCK//IN groups, matchups and schedule

Jawgemo, who has remained on EG’s starting roster since last year, was one of the players whom BcJ has been particularly impressed by since joining the team.

“This team has so much drive and passion for this game. All they do outside of practice is play this game,” BcJ said. “I watched Jaw stay up until 2 a.m., then he’s home after practice streaming at ridiculous hours coming into the practice room the next morning at 10 a.m. to get back on that grindset.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

Jawgemo matched up well against Wassim "keloqz" Cista in EG’s match against Heretics. Each team’s duelist put up over 30 kills, including 10 first kills on Jett. While keloqz had previous international experience competing for G2 Esports at Masters: Berlin last year, jawgemo was making his international debut.

Read more: NRG’s s0m proves himself in international VALORANT debut at VCT LOCK//IN

The standout on either team though was Ethan. He was the only player with an ACS over 300 and led all players with 45 kills.

Evil Geniuses know they’re good, and now they’re hoping to show the rest of the world just how good they are. EG will take the stage again in Brazil on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET when they will face Talon Esports.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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