Evil Geniuses Surge: How EG has Found a Winning Formula
Among the established names and rosters of the LCS, it can be hard for teams with frequently shifting rosters to develop. Evil Geniuses has been a mixed bag since their reintroduction to the LCS in Spring 2020. With a roster comprised of Huni, Svenskeren, Jiizuke, Bang, and Zeyzal, EG managed to finish second in their first Split back. Unfortunately, that success didn’t carry over to Summer, as EG fell to sixth.
When 2021 Spring rolled around, EG changed over half the team. Impact, Deftly, and IgNar joined their established European Mid/Jungle duo. Results didn’t improve immediately, however. EG went from an 8-10 record to 10-8, once again finishing the regular season in sixth. Two final changes were made in Summer, bringing in young ADC Danny to play alongside the entirely veteran team. Jungler Contractz was also acquired mid-Split and has gotten some stage playtime.
Expectations were tempered heading into the Summer Split. EG would likely stay a mid-table team hoping for a spot in the playoffs. This was reflected in their 4-5 record through the first nine games. Suddenly, Week Four hit and EG looked like a different team. Their record since then is 10-2. Evil Geniuses went from an average team fighting for a bubble spot to tying for the second-best record in Summer and third overall.
What changes caused Evil Geniuses the be on the brink of their best regular season record in their LCS history? We’ll be looking at what has changed for EG in this period of time, how they allocate their resources, and how they are finding win after win.
Pick & Ban Changes
Some of the most immediately noticeable changes to EG’s game plan have come in the pick and ban phase. Starting in Week Four, Evil Geniuses had multiple new approaches to the draft. First off, side selection. Five of EG’s first nine games were played on the Blue side. Since then, EG have played on Red side in 10 of 12 games. This allows for a much different strategy being applied in the draft.
Diana or Viego?
EG use this second rotation pick phase in order to prioritize a Diana-Viego trade. If their opponents take one of the two, EG will pick the other plus a good combo pick such as Nocturne. If both champions are left up, EG then just takes both. In games where EG have employed this strategy, they are 10-0. That’s right, their only two losses since Week Four (including an upset loss to Golden Guardians) have come when they haven’t played Diana or Viego.
Diana was never picked by EG in the first four weeks, but has been prioritized as a jungler in seven of their last 12 games. Svenskeren and Contractz are both undefeated with Diana in their hands, both boasting incredibly high KDA’s. In exchange for this focus on Diana, Rumble and Xin Zhao who made up seven of their first nine jungle picks have almost completely disappeared.
Instead, EG has opted to start perma-banning Xin Zhao. He’s been taken off the table in all of their last 12 games. Another ban that EG started employing is a second rotation ban on Leona. Three of EG’s first five losses came against Leona. When you’re trying to put together a dive-focused team composition, Leona’s point and click stun and CC chain are a major annoyance. EG have only let it through a single time since then.
The Jiizuke Effect
The last thing in Pick and Ban that I’d like to discuss is Jiizuke’s Champion pool. Jiizuke is currently tied for the least unique champions played of any mid laner this Split. Ten of his 21 games so far have been on Lucian and Ryze. Lucian is a strong lane bully champion who can have tons of early priority, but most mids in NA are straying away from it. Perkz is the only other mid who has played it more than three times. Meanwhile, Jiizuke has six under his belt.
His other most played pick, Ryze, also provides his opponents with a problem. Ryze is not nearly as popular a pick in NA as he is in other regions. However, Ryze has always been Jiizuke’s comfort pick who he can play no matter what the meta is like. He is currently an undefeated 4-0 this Split on this champ. Because of his more focused champ pool. EG has given Jiizuke counter pick in seven of their last nine games.
Due to EG’s draft strategy, it is incredibly difficult to hard punish any of their players. Champions like Thresh, Nocturne, and Akali are already requiring tons of ban attention. Having to get rid of Diana, Viego, and comfort mids for Jiizuke is just too much. EG’s last three wins have all featured the Diana-Viego trade plus an end-of-first-phase Ryze pick.
How does EG Play?
Evil Geniuses’ draft focuses on a strong and comfortable top side. As such, they tend to play early towards that side of the map. In the past nine games, EG have a 56% first blood rate. This rate is split mostly between Svenskeren and Jiizuke, with Impact having a much smaller share. Danny and IgNar have no first blood participation during this time.
As a result, Impact and Svenskeren are often ahead of their counterparts coming out of lane. At 10 minutes, Impact is up an average of 506 gold and 475 XP over the enemy top. Sven is lower but still solid 385 gold and 406 XP up. Once EG have a grip on the early game, their objective control has been topping the charts. EG’s Rift Herald control rate is tied at second overall at 61%. They use this to be number one overall in first tower rate, which is where a lot of Impact and Sven’s gold lead comes from.
This gold lead does not go unused either. Evil Geniuses boasts a 68% Dragon control rate in the past nine games, second only to Golden Guardians by 1%. EG then turns all of this gold and pressure into a Baron. Their Baron control rate is a whopping 92% with EG having gotten every single first Baron during this span.
Once Impact and Svenskeren have done their due diligence, EG’s true late-game carries take over. Danny and Jiizuke are given the lion’s share of gold past 15 minutes. Danny farms 33.2% of minions post-15, making him the most funneled player in the LCS in mid-late game. Jiizuke takes a large share as well at 27.9%, making him number one in this stat for mid laners. Using all of this gold, Danny is fourth overall in damage percentage at 29.4%. Jiizuke becomes an unstoppable monster on Ryze and other solo pushing threats, forcing teams to just give up their base in fear of getting killed.
Evil Geniuses have been a well-oiled engine in all of their recent games. It is apparent that all of their players know exactly what their roles are and how they can best perform them. Their actions in-game all look rehearsed and are executed with certainty. Combine their newfound cohesiveness and game planning with the skills and experience of the Veteran squad and you get a winning machine.
Evil Geniuses are in their best form in the organization’s LCS history. After months of practice, research, and fine-tuning, this roster of players which is amazing on paper is finally living up to expectations. If EG can find ways to continue their momentum and quell any counter-strategies that top teams throw at them, they have a formula that could take them far.
EG’s next match, a tiebreaker against TSM on July 23rd, will be a big indicator of this. A couple more clutch wins could see the Geniuses rise all the way to a top two finish and a first round bye in the playoffs.