No one really knew what to expect from EG Kaori when he got subbed in last minute, but he had an incredible debut LCS performance. Who is Kaori, and how did he do so well against 100 Thieves on such short notice?
Danny was a core part of Evil Geniuses success through Spring. When you think EG’s best moments over the last year, Danny’s at the core of most of them.
Sure, Inspired is a genuine MVP and an incredibly consistent player. Vulcan and Impact are some of the most decorated players in the LCS, and jojopyun has more than proven his worth in a short time.
But the highlights were all about Danny, the Prince of Pentakills. When it was announced that Danny wouldn’t be playing at the LCS Finals, most people wrote treated EG’s Playoffs run like it was doomed to fail.
Muhammed ‘Kaori’ Hasan Şentürk was the substitute, a relatively unknown player on EG’s Academy team. With very little time to prepare, Kaori was sure to flop, right?
He didn’t just come into EG and try to fill Danny’s role on the team. He played ADC his way and forced 100 Thieves to game 5 for his LCS debut.
After their narrow loss, we sat down with Kaori to ask him about the process of getting brought onto the team, how he conquered his nerves to play so confidently, and what he’s looking forward to at Worlds 2022.
More than a substitute
The first thing people noticed about Kaori is just how different he is from Danny. As a player, Danny prioritized farming in lane and hitting teamfights with enough items to carry. Kaori locked Lucian, a Champion meant to take trades and fight early game.
And Kaori filled that role well. Rather than staying bot and focusing on farm, Kaori was already rotating top early on to give himself a lead. We asked him about what makes his Lucian so lethal, and why he was able to make the Lucian/Nami lane work better than most other pros with very little practice.
“Most of them just try to farm up for items and fight on dragons. But, if you’re Lucian/Nami, your job is not just fighting dragon. You need to, like, take those mid waves, fight those mid waves and not let the enemy get kills for free. If you let the enemy get kills for free and just fight dragons, you lose.”
Kaori’s playstyle is ferocious, making Lucian a fantastic pick for him. We asked whether or not Kaori was pressured to play closer to Danny’s playstyle, or if he tried to stick to what he knew.
“I think that playing a completely different style is much harder than the team adapting to you. All of them have played with different things, right? For instance, Hans sama playing with Inspired is completely different from me, but they all know how to play with different game styles.”
“I just played like myself, they played around me. We didn’t play many scrims.”
Making the most of dire circumstances
Danny sudden departure was a surprise. It’s relatively rare for a player to bow out in the middle of a Playoffs run.
Evil Geniuses clearly supported Danny’s decision, and showed nothing but appreciate for how far he got the team up until this point and are looking to “support him in every way possible” moving forward, according to EG CEO Nicole Jameson.
But this was also an announcement made just after Danny played in their set against TSM a week prior to the Playoffs Finals. How long did Kaori have to play with the team before then?
“3 days. We only played 8 games for scrims, and only 6 of them were with good teams.”
There’s short notice, and then there’s playing 8 scrims with your teammates before playing in a stadium in front of thousands of fans in-person and hundreds of thousands of live viewers on Twitch.
How’d he conquer his nerves and play such an aggressive playstyle after having almost no time to prepare with the team?
“When you go into game, there’s not much emotion as long as you don’t think about, ‘I did this, what will people think?’ Like, if you don’t think about that, you won’t be nervous. We’re just playing the game. I think nerves come when you lose the game or win the game.
When you take off the headset, the nerves come.”
It’s not that Kaori wasn’t nervous about the massive stadium, the thunderous roars from the fans in attendance, or the pressure of the situation. But the moment he puts his headset on and starts playing, all that disappears.
Not only did Kaori get praise from fans and his teammates for how well he played, he got praise from his opponent in 100 Thieves’ FBI. Playing well enough to get praise from your opponent is one hell of a way to debut.
If this is what Kaori looks like with very little practice on EG, there’s no telling how well he’ll do at Worlds.
Reunited with old friends and making new ones
At the time of writing, Kaori is the most likely starting ADC for Worlds 2022. While that could change, Kaori was still very excited at the possible opportunity to play internationally.
He was formerly the ADC for the İstanbul Wildcats, one of the most iconic Turkish teams. His replacement on the Wildcats roster, HolyPhoenix, is one of the most esteemed ADCs not only in Turkey, but in the World.
We asked Kaori about whether there were any ADCs he was excited to fight, as well as some of his history with the İstanbul Wildcats.
“First of all, outside of Turkey I’m looking forward to playing against Upset and Deft. I really like those players, and they are both in Play-ins. I really want to scrim them and play against them. For Turkey, Wildcats are my friends. Jungle, mid, and top, I played with them and we are still close.”
We managed to get a smile out of Kaori here. He was clearly a little down after losing, but his excitement about being able to see his friends again was contagious.
While the Wildcats aren’t in the same group as EG, both teams will be in Play-ins fighting for the chance not only to move into the next stage of Worlds, but to fight against each other on the big stage.
After EG’s disappointing MSI performance, they’re surely looking to do better during their second international appearance this year. Evil Geniuses have already shown that they can play well while Danny takes the time he needs to recover, and Kaori’s exceptional performance has breathed new life into this team in record time.
With Kaori, there’s hope for EG. Kaori isn’t just the replacement for Danny; he’s an ADC who isn’t afraid to fight from minute one. Kaori isn’t just the replacement for Danny, he’s got his own champ pool and his own playstyle that seems to work well with the existing EG roster.
Kaori isn’t just the replacement for Danny. He could be an upgrade.