Cloud9 Upsets Evil Geniuses 3-1; Sends Reigning Champs to Lower Bracket

Evil Geniuses

Despite their incredible Summer Split performance, it appears that the Evil Geniuses are not as far above the rest of the teams in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) as everyone thought.

The reigning Spring Playoffs champions and North American MSI representatives have faltered on their first roadblock. In their first match of the tournament against Cloud9, EG were outmatched and outperformed by the boys in blue.

Ironically, the first place team in Summer put up the least resistance of any team in the league last weekend. With four best of five matches played, the maximum number of games possible was 20. In the end, 19 matches were played meaning three of the four matchups went the full five games.

Want to take a guess which team could not make it all the way? If you said the defending champions, congratulations you’re right.

Even though they were touted as the best team in the league and their star jungler and former LEC MVP is expected to earn the LCS MVP award this split, Evil Geniuses could not manage to push the fifth place team in Summer to five games.

Although Cloud9 played the best League of Legends their current roster has played all year, it was obvious that Evil Geniuses performance is what produced the 3-1 result, not the other way around.

It might be easy to say that EG choked or is finally succumbing to their unavoidable MSI hangover, but there is a little more to it. Let’s take a look at what really happened to relegate the reigning champions to the lower bracket.

Big Expectations and the Pros and Cons of Playoff Byes

Going 15-3 in the regular season, EG took sole control over first place and earned themselves 4 of the 5 First Team All-Pro spots.

A performance like this warrants significant praise, but it also comes with a pressure to stay at the top. Evil Geniuses had no trouble dismantling everyone in the Spring Playoffs, but their first place seeding means they won’t be able to play as many matches this time around.

Because of the LCS’s unique eight-team playoff format, the top two teams in the league—based on Summer Split standings—are awarded a bye for the first round of the playoffs. As the first place team, Evil Geniuses did not have to play a single best of five until every other team had played at least one.

This is quite the double-edge sword because, on one hand, a bye is extremely beneficial in that it gives EG the opportunity to scout out every single team, and focus on the weaknesses of their most likely opponents. On the other hand, a bye means playing less games and getting less time to adapt to the pressure of playoffs.

While EG gets to sit and watch, the other teams are forced to play. This means that those teams have to win more games, but they get time to adjust to the pressure of playoffs and shake off playoff jitters prior to playing stronger opponents.

Despite having to play more games, the teams that do not get byes have the advantage of getting playoff mistakes and nerves out of the way before they play the top teams like EG.

What Does History Say?

While you might think that the top teams in the League should not get jitters heading into playoffs, LCS history tells a different story. Since its inception in 2020, the eight-team playoff format has never yielded a winner from the upper bracket in the Summer Playoffs.

In other words, no team has ever won the LCS Championship without losing at least once. In 2020, TSM pulled off an incredible run from the lower bracket to win it all after losing in the first round.

In 2021, 100 Thieves pulled off a similar run after losing in the upper bracket finals to Team Liquid, who they went on to beat in the finals.

What does this have to do with jitters and big expectations? Well, neither TSM and 100T were the first place team. TSM won from fourth while 100T won from second. In other words, the best teams in Summer historically have poor performances in the postseason.

Does that mean EG is doomed? Of course not. Let us not forget who we are talking about here. Despite all the bad omens, EG’s successes started from a loss.

After they lost in the upper bracket of the Spring Playoffs to Team Liquid, EG went on to win it all without dropping a single game. If history is to repeat itself, the Evil Geniuses are in a position to win it all once more.

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