Inspired positive about EG’s chances in LCS lower bracket: “Liquid match gave me hope”

Chris Bet / Riot Games via ESPAT

Evil Geniuses jungler Kacper ‘Inspired’ Słoma spoke to Dexerto about defeating FlyQuest in the LCS lower bracket and the team’s chances of finally claiming the scalps of the ‘big three’.

If FlyQuest are the wholesome protagonist, Evil Geniuses are certainly the unhinged villain that torments them relentlessly, and that story was no different in their 2022 LCS playoff match on April 10. With a 3-1 victory, Evil Geniuses extended their spring split by another week and put jungler Inspired one step closer to winning his first-ever playoffs.

Despite their prior loss to Team Liquid in a riveting, back-and-forth five-game series, Evil Geniuses weren’t deterred or distracted from their goal of making it to Houston and winning the split. With FlyQuest slated to greet Inspired and his team in the lower bracket, they were poised for a series victory in their second match.

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Chris Bet / Riot Games via ESPAT
Inspired joined EG in November after leaving Rogue

Evil Geniuses boasted a 3-0 record against the environmentally-conscious org, winning both a regular season game and a tiebreaker against them in the final week of the LCS. With that in mind, and given their near-win against the heavily-favored first seed, EG moved into the lower bracket with confidence.

“I was kind of happy,” Inspired said about their loss to Team Liquid. “I expected jojopyun to play badly in the playoffs because it’s his first playoffs, but he actually played very well.

“Obviously, it would be way better if we won, but it gave me a lot of hope that we can do the lower bracket run. If you want to win LCS, you have to beat everyone anyway, so it’s just more stage practice.”

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With their improved performance in playoffs and their recent history with Flyquest, Inspired showed up to their match confident and eager to show off on stage. “Before the series, I said, ‘Guys, we’re doing the G2 run,’ and then we lost Game 2 and I was like, ‘F**k, guys! We can’t do the G2 run!’” (laughs)

EG weren’t able to make a clean sweep, but their victory sends them forward to face Cloud9 on April 17 nonetheless. If we flip the story and make Evil Geniuses the protagonist, then Cloud9 is the first big boss fight after their anime training arc where they used FlyQuest as a target dummy.

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“I think jojopyun is getting a lot of stage experience so he’s playing better now than he did at the beginning of the split,” Inspired said of his mid laner’s recent improvement. EG have racked up nine stage games with a crowd so far, well more than the rest of their competition.

The big three

Evil Geniuses are going to have to hope that training session was enough, though, because unlike their history with FlyQuest this year, their combined regular season record against Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and Cloud9 is 0-6. Evil Geniuses have a strong track record of being the gatekeepers between the good and the great.

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Chris Bet / Riot Games via ESPAT
EG’s matches against C9, 100Thieves and Liquid have all ended the same way

They took two games off of Liquid in their opening series, however, so it’s possible the playoff format buffs them up more than their opponents. Inspired thinks so for himself, at least.

“I felt way more stress during the best-of-ones during the season because I knew that if I made a mistake the game was just lost,” Inspired explained. “But in best-of-fives, I actually feel so chill. It feels way better because I can actually focus more on the game.”

Regardless, Cloud9 is their first test. A win sends them to Houston for the Finals weekend, with two more series on the line, but a loss leaves them stuck in Los Angeles for the next few months without even Champions Queue to keep them company.

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“Blaber is way more aggressive than other junglers,” Inspired said of his immediate competition. “The biggest point on C9 is that they will make some plays that might not be good, but they force them and outplay you and get a lead from that.

“You need to be ready to punish mistakes,” he said. “Very often, they play over-aggressively and you can punish it.”

He acknowledged that Cloud9 are a strong team, but that because of their playstyle, they can sometimes become their own worst enemy. “I can see us stomping them or them stomping us.”

With that weakness and Cloud9’s 0-3 loss to 100 Thieves in mind, Inspired approached the topic of his matchup against them with optimistic caution. “I wouldn’t necessarily say [100 Thieves] are a way better team [than Cloud9]. The score shows it was a 3-0, but I think C9 is also a good team.”

After 100 Thieves’ sweep over C9, people quickly jumped on the hype train that camping the LCS first team All Pro top laner, Park “Summit” Woo-tae, would lead to victory for any team who did so successfully, but Inspired isn’t sold on the notion that it’s a foolproof strategy.

“I think it’s a bit hard [to reproduce what 100 Thieves did],” he said. “I think Summit was very disrespectful against 100 Thieves. Closer likes to gank a lot and he knew Summit was going to die to them, and they punished him hard.”

It was a strategy Golden Guardians tried to employ but failed, and it’s one that Inspired hopes to avoid using as a crutch if possible. “If [Summit] is inting, then we’ll kill him as well, but maybe he’ll just refuse to int this time.”

Although Inspired doesn’t think defeating Cloud9 is a solved puzzle yet, he’s still confident in their match. “I think we are good enough to beat them,” he said. “We just need to play well on the game day.”

Likewise, he’s not too worried about their potential Team Liquid rematch either. “I would be confident playing against TL again. I think they are more chill to play against than 100 Thieves or Cloud9.”

“I was really confident going into the series against TL because their playstyle is ‘don’t really do much and win the game,’” he explained. “It’s really good in best-of-ones, but I think once the best-of-fives come, it’s a bit harder to do that.”

Despite Evil Geniuses’ defeat to Liquid in their first go-round, if they’re to meet them again, they’d have a bunch more audience-filled stage games under their belt in a best-of-five setting, and Inspired thinks that’s just enough of a difference-maker to reverse the scoreline.

Spring in review

Overall, Evil Geniuses have had a rocky split. They lost every game to the teams above them, and too many to those at the bottom to truly inspire confidence going into the playoffs. They had glaring issues at the start of the split after their near-perfect Lock In run, and those issues bore themselves for weeks before being patched up.

Issues that are now beginning to fade, as EG have matured and blossomed into a real threat to those teams above them.

“I feel like at the beginning of the split, we were really not clear on what we wanted to draft,” Inspired said, “but when [assistant coach] Rigby came, I feel like it was way easier to draft. He had a better understanding of what we wanted to play and how we were going to play. It was a big turning point for us when Rigby came.”

Luckily, their younger players gained meaningful experience throughout the split and adapted quickly to the bustling environment brought with the fans back in the studio. Inspired is confident in their matchups against all three of the teams left for them to face in the playoffs. Now, it’s just up to them to prove it.