On paper, Evil Geniuses is one of the strongest teams in the League of Legends Championship Series: they’re like-minded veterans who’ve been at the top of the game for ages and are all coming together to form a powerhouse of aggression.
But that just hasn’t been the product seen on stage. It feels like the team’s performance on a weekly basis comes down to the flip of a coin. If the coin lands well, then there’s no stopping the Evil Geniuses. But if it lands bad, then there’s definitely reason to worry.
We at Stropse talked to Evil Geniuses head coach Peter Dun and jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen about the nature of this issue and heard their insights into what’s going on behind-the-scenes of the premier League of Legends team.
The Balancing Act
“I like my teams to be able to push the edge of how aggressive they play in the mid game, and this is about balancing risk/reward situations,” Peter Dun told Stropse.
In today’s League of Legends, coordinated, aggressive skirmishing is a key element to winning games, but too much aggression can backfire. While the Evil Geniuses organization has done a tremendous job at bringing together like-minded talent, this abundance of aggression has created an imbalance. The team is fighting and coin-flipping too frequently to hold and maintain advantages.
“We sometimes just fight outnumbered, even though we shouldn’t,” Svenskeren said. “When we can give up something and trade on the other side, we tend to always take the fight.”
Peter Dun described it as “limit testing.” The team is constantly looking for plays and opportunities, and as time goes on, players will get a better feel for which plays they can and cannot take.
But in the meantime, this limit testing has harmed Evil Geniuses. Svenskeren explained that his team is very reliant on coming out ahead in these early-game skirmishes, but because of the team’s volatility, this has caused issues.
“We definitely struggle the most if we don’t have an early game lead… When we need to chill and just farm up to two items, that’s what we struggle with. Our strong point is fighting early game and getting early game leads through skirmishes. If we do end up winning the fights, I think we snowball pretty well.”
The jungler noted that to fix these issues, it’s key to focus on the basics. “Playing aggressive on our timers, and respecting enemy timers. Pretty basic stuff, but it’s stuff we need to keep encouraging and focusing on.”
Peter Dun added that at the end of the day, aggression is a good thing, and he’s sure these issues will be fixed with time.
“We have to be clear about what we need. It’s good to flip to get yourself in a good early advantage, right? But when you’re 5K gold ahead, you no longer need to continue to play aggressive and flip, you can have a more defensive mindset. And I think this is just something that, as a team, we just have to work on. And I’m sure that we’ll fix it.”
Despite its aggression issues, Evil Geniuses is a team which has the potential to beat any opponent in the LCS, and that’s been shown with wins against Cloud9 and Team Liquid.
“I think the team as a whole has pretty good general knowledge, which allows us to win games in the late game that maybe we shouldn’t win,” Peter Dun said. “We have inventive flanking and those kinds of things that we do in the beginning. We’re always looking for fights, we are very aggressive and very decisive which can get us a lot of wins.”
There’s no doubting the talent which Evil Geniuses possess as a roster. In the top lane, Jeong “Impact” Eon-young has played integral roles on successful teams throughout his whole career. The same can be said of Svenskeren, who won an MVP award himself in the summer of 2019.
In the mid lane, Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro is a player who has long been praised for his natural ability, and Matthew “Deftly” Chen Lee in the bottom lane is being supported by “IgNar” Dong-geun, one of the league’s perennially underrated stars. The combined talent on this roster is what gives it the capability to contend with the best of the best.
But the team’s aggressive nature also gives Evil Geniuses the potential to lose to just about anyone, and Peter Dun admits this. “EG are a team that plays at the level of the opponents, is what you’ve really seen this season.”
Peter Dun explained it as a trade-off. “It’s a product of playing this style. It means that you will have a higher chance of beating the stronger teams, but at the expense of having a lower chance of beating lesser teams.”
The head coach believes that his team will iron out these issues by the time playoffs roll around, and its aggressive style will prevail in the end. Despite the inconsistencies, the team is sitting in fourth place in the LCS standings at 7-5, which puts them in decent position heading into the latter half of spring.