We caught up with Evil Geniuses support Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme after the team’s loss to G2 Esports in the final day of the rumble stage of MSI 2022. It was a day of mixed emotions for the North American team, but he’s remaining focused and ready for the team’s best-of-five against Royal Never Give Up on May 27.
LCS representatives Evil Geniuses are out of the frying pan and into the fire. After storming their way out of the rumble stage, they’ll be facing off against RNG in the semi-finals of MSI 2022 after being picked by the LPL titans as their opening round opponents.
But support Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme is more than confident that EG will be able to bring the heat in their matchup against RNG on May 27 – although a disappointing loss to G2 Esports on the final day of the rumble stage has halted some of their momentum.
Speaking to Dexerto after their final game of the rumble, Vulcan made it clear wasn’t going to let a defeat throw him off his course.
“I think our macro in the mid game was pretty bad – even though we had really strong champions and Kennen was really fed, it felt like we were still on the back foot and we were just kind of running around,” he smiled ruefully, adding: “And then I got caught that one time and after that, the game was really out of control.”
What does peak Evil Geniuses look like?
It’s unfortunate that EG had to end this phase of MSI on a loss. The team looked stronger than ever in their games throughout the rumble stage, even taking a game off tournament favorites T1. According to Vulcan, it was their matchup against PSG Talon on May 24 that showcased peak Evil Geniuses.
“Even though we lost the first fight, we were still looking towards our end goals for the game, and just kept fighting, and eventually the game just tipped in our favor and we were able to close it out really cleanly.”
It’s reminiscent of the kind of gameplay that netted EG an undefeated streak through the LCS playoffs to secure their spot at MSI.
“I’d say that was peak EG,” said Vulcan of their victory against PSG, “because we were known domestically to just get a lead and then play the game not too slowly, but just gradually convert our lead into a win.”
Mediating conflict and keeping a level head
It’s so quintessentially esports that, at only 23 years of age, Vulcan is considered one of the veterans of this EG roster. He describes himself as the person who “makes sure everyone’s cool” in high-stress moments – and there are few higher-stress moments than an international tournament for a team whose star players are still in their teens.
“I’d say my role is to make sure that there’s not too much of people being at each other’s throats,” he said. “There are a lot of emotions rising and there will sometimes be tensions after a loss or a bad day of scrims, and there could easily be arguments or people could get heated.”
“So I try to make sure everyone’s cool, and that there are no underlying issues and that we don’t hate each other. Stuff like that.”
It’s all well and good to be able to perfectly position in a teamfight or pull off a clutch 1 vs 1 in lane – but if your head’s not in the game, performance can go south quickly. Vulcan knows this as well as anyone.
He describes his time on Cloud9 at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational as one when he could feel the burnout creeping in.
“I’m always making sure that we’re not burning ourselves out, because I’ve been in this kind of situation before,” he explained, “where I’ve played MSI, and then had a very long year. It’s just been very, very tiring.”
Not giving up versus RNG
It’s going to be one hell of a battle for Evil Geniuses to take down RNG – but they didn’t come to MSI to give up without a fight.
A best-of-five is a very, very different beast to a best-of-one. It requires innovation, tenacity, and a whole lot of endurance to make it through what can easily be a multi-hour series where you have to bring your A-game every single second.
Vulcan is confident that they won’t be caught out in draft in the knockout stages, pointing out that they’ve played “a bunch of different things” at the tournament so far. In their loss versus G2, he played the only Galio support we’ve seen so far of the tournament. According to him, it was designed as a multi-role counter pick.
“We wanted to pick Galio blind, so if they chose a counter in support we could flex it to mid,” he said, “If they picked a mid that countered Galio, we could flex it to support. Honestly, I hadn’t played Galio in months, but overall I think I did fine for not much practice on the champ.”
Flex picks haven’t had the same kind of power at MSI 2022 that we had seen at other international tournaments. The teamfight meta has returned in full force – it doesn’t matter if you can beat your opponent with a flex pick counter in lane if you can simply roll them over 5 vs 5 in the mid game.
“We have a stronger top side than RNG”
In terms of individual matchups, Vulcan’s putting the pressure on himself and AD Carry Kyle ‘Danny’ Sakamaki to hold their own versus the LPL giants.
“I think we have to stabilize the bot lane against Gala and Ming,” he explained, “because I think we have a stronger top side and we can win through them as long as we’re able to not int too much in the bot lane.”
This isn’t his first rodeo in a high-pressure situation, and he’s taking the pressure of holding down the bot lane against Chen ‘Gala’ Wei and Shi ‘Ming’ Sen-Ming.
“There’s maybe a little bit of stress, but I’ve been in a lot of stressful or nervous situations in the past, and I don’t really let it get to me. Ultimately, it’s always my job not to int the game away – so there’s not too much added pressure in this situation.