Evil Geniuses have hit the ground running after a top 4 finish at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational. The reigning LCS champions are currently tied for 1st place in the Summer Split with a 4-1 record alongside Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming, and despite a close loss at the hands of CLG to close out week 2, EG still look like the best team in North America.
After Evil Geniuses' fourth win of the LCS Summer Split, support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme spoke to Inven Global about what his team learned at MSI 2022, his thoughts on the new Cloud9 roster, and why he's confident his former bot lane partner Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen will have a successful roleswap to support throughout this summer.
Seems like the 'MSI hangover' hasn't affected your team much! What has resulted in EG being less affected by international tournament fatigue than other LCS teams in the same situation in past seasons?
We're pretty well-relaxed. We didn't go back into scrimming again too fast. We barely had any days of practice going into the first weekend. We're trying not to rush and trying to pace ourselves to make sure that we don't potentially burn out later in the Summer Split.
I also think that our strength of schedule was kind of easy. We played C9 with subs, for example, and so far, our only hard game was against 100 Thieves. I mean, today was kind of hard to win, but looking at the rosters, it shouldn't have been. In the game against 100 Thieves, we had a better draft and we also played very well.
I think we improved a lot during the Spring Playoffs, we learned a lot at MSI, and we're just pacing ourselves. The meta has changed quite a bit but I feel like we're all comfortable with the new champions that have popped up. We're just carrying over past things we've learned from playoffs and MSI.
What do you think your team learned at MSI and what specifically has helped you in the Summer Split thus far?
At MSI, you kind of need to be able to play from behind against the Asian teams, unfortunately. A lot of the time, we would fall behind and then the game would become much harder; it was kind of on the other team to mess up or allow us to create an angle. In addition to that, we played so many games going through MSI, so that kind of gives us an advantage in the LCS.
Throughout MSI, jojopyun was praised for his performance. Were you able to help him or prepare him for international competition in any way?
Not really. Honestly, jojopyun is a very confident person. He was like, 'Oh, yeah, Faker's trash, I'm going to s**t on him,' and then he got s**t on our first two scrims against him, obviously. He's very objective about what he did, what he messed up, and the situations where he got s**t on.
He takes a lot of lessons and learns from them, so I think he has a great personality for a player. He doesn't care if he's playing against T1 or Immortals — he's going to be just as aggressive, which I think is very important. I didn't tell him much, but I do remember saying that our opponents were just human. I told him we should just play our game and fight if we want to fight.
You were eliminated 3-0 by Royal Never Give Up at MSI 2022, but you made the games competitive despite the scoreline against the eventual champion of the event. Was there anything EG was able to take away from that series despite its seemingly one-sided result?
I thought that our drafts were very good in that series. The way we lost the games were kind of just getting situationally outplayed. These situations were those in which we would just roll over NA teams through better teamfighting or something, so I think it made us be more aware of the angles the other team has to outplay us. It's resulted in us thinking more creatively in terms of how we approach teamfights.
It's a shame we didn't take at least a game off of RNG, but we had some pretty close games against them. It was neck-and-neck for at least two of those games.
EG was also supported by the community for not playing scared and sticking to the team's identity in the face of international adversity, which hasn't always been the case with North American representatives at MSI. To what would you attribute EG's steadfastness?
I've honestly never been on a team where I feel like we played more scared at international events. On Clutch, we would still play our wonky drafts and try to fight the opponents. On C9, it was basically the same where we would scrap and fight all of the time. I was never on TSM or TL, which are the teams that people have said have played more passively internationally. And it's probably true. However, it's never been like that for my teams.
I also feel that Impact is the kind of guy that thinks the game should be played the same way regardless of who we're playing against, which is also true. Inspired always plays the game in the best way he sees fit, and jojopyun is very confident and arrogant so he's going to fight. There's all of us, and then there's Danny, who has a different personality than jojo, but he saw everyone not caring that we were up against T1. That influenced him and I think it put us all on the same page.
The consensus in the LCS is this summer is that EG, TL and 100 are still the top 3 teams. Do you think the new C9 roster is the most likely to contest that top 3, or do you think another team who retained the same roster will become a dark horse down the stretch?
I think it will be C9, if anyone. I think Zven will be doing well at support and they have good players at every position. They didn't look too good today in their win against Dignitas, but they're pretty much a new roster that hasn't practiced very much. I think C9 will probably take out 100 Thieves and go to Worlds with us and TL.
Zven is a known grinder. Do you think the number of games he plays will help him with the roleswap, or are there other factors of his play that you think will transition to the new role well?
The fact that he grinds a lot will make it so he will have a deeper champion pool, and he's a smart player. Any player who plays ADC at an LCS level could probably, after some time, be able to play support at the LCS level.
It's funny because Zven would always talk about how OP Plated Steelcaps are and he would ping them when the enemy built them and he was doing no damage to them as an ADC. Today against DIG, the first item he built when playing Tahm Kench was Steelcaps, which I thought was hilarious. [laughs] He finally has the power to build them himself.
I asked Closer about your recent comments on your own trashtalk towards him from the LCS Spring Playoffs. Is EG vs 100 Thieves a new budding rivalry in the LCS?
I still think TL is a bigger rival for us. I think they were better in the last playoffs and I think they're better right now. We trade them twice in the LCS Spring Playoffs and our first series went to game 5. I also feel that when 100 Thieves won their trophy when I was on C9, we should have won the series to go to the final of the LCS Championship.
We were in a favorable spot in so many games, but Closer was able to find plays that, looking back, were all pretty illegal. If we had played those situations a bit better, he would have been inting. I thought it was kind of a fluke, and I think we should have won that. I think if we had beaten them, then we would have probably beaten TL in the final. So, no rivalry there.
It's always a pleasure to speak with you, Vulcan. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Thanks to the fans for cheering for us. I'm happy about our start and we'll keep going. Also, shoutout to the LCS crew who makes this whole thing run from backstage.