C0M not feeling pressure at VALORANT Champions despite EG now being favorites

by Brian Bencomo

LOS ANGELES -- Evil Geniuses’ Corbin “C0M” Lee has come a long way in the past year and a half. At the start of 2022, C0m was playing VALORANT for Akrew -- a very good team that won 31 matches in a row at one point. But Akrew were only a Tier 2/Tier 3 team that only the most hardcore VALORANT fans were following.

C0M and Akrew won the Nerd Street Winter Championship Philadelphia LAN in January 2022, but that was pretty much the apex for them. Akrew didn’t win any tournaments after that, and C0m was off the team in March.

Read more: Lobster Fishers win Nerd Street’s VALORANT Lockdown 2 finals

After Akrew, C0M got picked up by Evil Geniuses, a Tier 1 team, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing on EG until recently. After EG’s victory over FunPlus Phoenix at VALORANT Champions on Monday, C0M reflected on how the adversity he’s faced throughout his career has made him a better player.

“When I first joined EG, everyone hated us, no one liked us,” C0M told Nerd Street. “Even at the start of this VCT America season, no one liked us. Everyone hated our roster, hated me specifically at the start of the season.

“So I think it's kind of like that mental perseverance of just getting through all that and also not leaning in to what they're saying to me more so -- becoming stronger and willing to improve no matter what the criticism is.”

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From underdogs to favorites

C0M’s career trajectory is a microcosm of how far Evil Geniuses have come too. C0M might not get all the accolades that his other teammates get, but he has become renowned for his Sova play. By and large, the players on this team weren't the biggest stars in VALORANT, but now that they're winning, everyone is watching.

And Evil Geniuses have gone from being afterthoughts last year and looking like they were going to miss the VCT Americas playoffs this year, to suddenly qualifying for Masters Tokyo, finishing second there and now being one of the favorites at Champions.

Read more: VALORANT Champions 2023: Teams, schedule, format and groups breakdown

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

Far from adding extra pressure though now that they’re favorites at VALORANT’s world championship tournament, C0M has still retained the same underdog mentality.

“I still -- at least for me -- I still think back like, man, we're not even supposed to be here,” C0M said. “At the end of the day, no one thought we would be here, so I don't really think there's much pressure.”

Ever since miraculously qualifying for the VCT Americas playoffs when MIBR unexpectedly beat 100 Thieves, EG have been on an incredible run. C0M acknowledged that EG already have had an “insane” year, which makes everything else now just a bonus.

Read more: How Evil Geniuses went from out of playoffs to qualified for Masters and Champions


“I think for me, it's just keep adding on. Keep having fun at the end of the day,” he said.

According to C0M, the team isn’t letting the infamous second-place curse ruin their fun, either. For those unfamiliar with the second-place lore, every team that has finished second at a global VALORANT tournament since 2021, has encountered incredibly bad luck immediately afterward. For some teams it was poor results (or missing out) at the next global tournament, and for others it was the team disbanding.

“We came from -- if you really revert back all the way back -- we came from a coach knifing a guy … against 100 Thieves. We're technically not supposed to be here,” he said. “So I don't really think too much about curses or anything because we have nothing to lose at the end of the day.”

Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

So far, so good, as far as being cursed. Despite a slow start in their Champions debut on Monday, Evil Geniuses beat China’s FunPlus Phoenix in a game in which EG were heavily favored. They’re heavily favored to win their group and move on to the Champions playoffs too.

It’s an open secret that EG’s group is the easiest. At the risk of tempting fate, his teammate Kelden “Boostio” Pupello acknowledged in a pretournament press conference that EG was in an easy group. But C0M isn’t taking anything for granted or buying into the “easy group” narrative.

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“I think it's not as easy as people think, for me at least because I think all these teams can pop off anytime. I mean, we popped off in Tokyo,” C0M said. “For me at least, this tournament is, first goal is to get through this group, right? And I think FUT, at least I've heard, have been looking decent.”

FUT is Evil Geniuses’ next opponent. The two teams will face off Tuesday in the third match of the day at approximately 6 p.m. PT. It’s a rematch of their encounter at Masters Tokyo and will determine which team wins the group and advances to the Champions playoffs.

Lead photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games

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