The new LCS team have acquired some heavy names and are not to be taken lightly.
With the advent of the 2020 League of Legends Championship Spring Split, North America welcomes back a relic of its early roots: Evil Geniuses. They’ve had no trouble generating hype during the offseason due to sheer name recognition alone. And by picking up some key players for their starting roster, they’ve made it clear that they’re here to challenge for a title.
Despite the pedigree of names like Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, however, people still aren’t sold on their chances at usurping Team Liquid’s LCS throne.
The legacy of EG as an organization can be contextualized in part by its deep-seated rivalry with Team Liquid, especially in the world of DOTA. In stark contrast to their DOTA success, however, their League of Legends team was simply average in its prime.
EG branded themselves as the villain of LCS right out the gate. From the minute they were announced into the League, EG made sure to plant its flag, slap a target on Liquid’s back, and make it known that no LCS team would be safe from their wrath.
Every good League needs a heel, and EG have taken the role in stride. They’re loved because of their history and commitment to bringing in the best players available to them (they even tried to sign Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon from Griffin), and they’re hated because they roast everyone and have to talent to actually back it up.
What They’re Working With
Promising ex-C9 rookie Colin “Kumo” Zhang in the top lane, 2019 Summer Split MVP Svenskeren jungle, top European mid laner Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro, two-time world champion Bang, and 2018 Worlds semi-finalist Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam. In a world where Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg isn’t playing for TSM or C9 makes a surprise off-color rostermove before the split, most people would rate this lineup as a clear top-three LCS team.
When ranking EG, though, it’s hard to ignore the context. While skilled, Kumo only has four LCS games under his belt. Svenskeren has been known to take a bit to find his groove when joining a new team. Jiizuke is coming fresh off of the worst season of his career. Bang was struggling before coming to NA, and never even made the playoffs with 100 Thieves. Zeyzal was one of the worst performers on C9 during their recent run at the 2019 World Championship.
On paper, this team is strong and well-rounded. It’s a solid group of players and by the logic most people use to rate them (judging them by their recent struggles), they should generally be rated above or tied with TSM on most preseason rankings. The thing keeping everyone from jumping on the EG bandwagon doesn’t have to do with them at all.
The New, Old, Old Guard
In the LCS, the “old guard” universally refers to the trinity of TSM, C9, and TL. That’s pretty funny in and of itself, though, because EG’s involvement in the LCS actually predates Liquid’s by nearly two years. These teams have the brand power and history behind them, and have always somehow prevailed in the face of crippling odds in the regular season; they’ve never missed playoffs during the franchising era.
TSM had another roster overhaul after failing to make Worlds for the second year in a row. Cloud9 has lost the only constant in their domestic and international success, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Visa issues with Team Liquid’s Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen have kept him from practicing with the team at all in the offseason, and may force them to start the split with a substitute.
Now is the perfect time for the freshly synergized EG squad to burst onto the scene and throw down the gauntlet. A brutal offseason left a hold in the LCS plot armor that fans and armchair analysts alike cling so dearly to. The signs of EG becoming a top three team in the LCS this spring have been in front of us all along, we’ve just been slaves to the script.