The LCS is home to a new victor! In its first seventeen splits, the LCS only had four winners: Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Counter Logic Gaming. Last split, 100 Thieves became the fifth ever team to win and were eager to repeat this split. Unfortunately for them, Evil Geniuses had other plans.
From Out of Nowhere?
While their victory was not entirely unanticipated. Rumors swirled around the LCS throughout the season that EG was insane in scrims.
C9 head coach Max Waldo was quoted in an interview with Travis Gafford, an independent League of Legends content creator and host of famous LoL podcast “Hotline League,” saying that EG was the best team in the league in scrimmages. Similar remarks were echoed by other head coaches earlier in the split; however, EG failed to replicate these performances on the big stage.
With a split record of 9-9, Evil Geniuses was in a three-way tie with FlyQuest and Golden Guardians, narrowly qualifying for one of the remaining three spots behind Team Liquid, Cloud9, and 100 Thieves. At the end of the split, anyone who had seen EG perform could confidently say that they were a 4th place team at best.
While they had a promising performance in the Lock-In Tournament, their 0-3 loss to Team Liquid in the finals seemed to completely change the team dynamic. Casters and analysts alike felt that the three teams above EG in the regular season standings were better by a significant margin, and that EG realistically had no chance at winning the split.
With 100 Thieves on the rise, Team Liquid being a consistent 1st place team, and Cloud9 falling off after the 0-3 loss to 100T in the winner’s, there was talk of EG making it to the loser’s finals over Cloud9. However, their sudden rise to the top was, while not entirely unprecedented, certainly shocking.
The 11-1 Miracle Run
After winning two tiebreakers against both Golden Guardians and FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses secured the last spot in the winner’s bracket against Team Liquid. As the fourth seed in the tournament, via tiebreakers, EG was not considered a serious contender to Team Liquid.
Many analysts felt that the matchup would be a 3-0 for TL, and that Evil Geniuses would be relegated to the losers bracket to face FlyQuest. While they were not entirely wrong, EG fell to the loser’s bracket, the matchup could have easily gone the other way. EG lost the opener, but forced TL to game five, nearly winning 2-3. Is what at this point that views and analysts started to put faith in the young roster.
After their loss to TL, they were relegated to the loser’s bracket to face FlyQuest. Like in their tie breaker, EG handily won the matchup, but not after giving up their only loss of their finals run. They won 3-1, and their dominant winning streak started to snowball.
In another shocking turn of events, 100 Thieves 3-0’d Cloud9 and set them up to face off against EG. This is where things started to get interesting.
Although many viewers had lost hope for C9 after their abysmal playoffs performance and lackluster season ending, C9 was still the heavy favorite for the matchup. But the Evil Geniuses just played better. Cloud9, the 2nd ranked regular season team was handily defeated 3-0 by the young North American roster.
While this win was massive for them, EG had not quite gathered a strong enough resume to be seriously considered to win. After 100T pulled off the reverse sweep and sent TL to the loser’s bracket, the rematch was set for one of the best games of the season.
Despite going 2-3 in their first matchup, EG proved that they were a completely different team. After one of the most exciting highlight pentakills in LCS history, EG took the first match and rode that energy all the way to game three, where they closed out the series over the Spring Split favorites in a definitive 3-0 statement.
It was at this point that Evil Geniuses won over the hearts of the LCS fans, a serious advantage moving into the finals against 100T.
Just like in their matchup against TL, EG won the series 3-0. They sent the defending champions home packing and became the 6th ever team to win an LCS title. While the audience was heavily in favor of the young underdogs prior to the first match, their statement victory over 100T sent the live crowd into an eruption of cheers.
For the first time in LCS history, a team with North American talent won a title, and a spot at MSI. While the status quo of the LCS has long been to import the best talent outside of the U.S, EG may have fostered a new success strategy: investing in domestic talent.
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