Evil Geniuses are a true LCS title threat now, star jungler Svenskeren claims, for one simple reason — newly-crowned rookie of the year Danny, who last week announced his arrival to League of Legends stardom in the North American championship in explosive style.
Veteran-loaded Evil Geniuses have been there or thereabouts for the past few LCS splits, knocking on the door of the North American elite, but never quite there.
The legacy org has always boasted a strong lineup. They scooped up Dennis ‘Svenskeren’ Johnsen and Daniele ‘Jiizuke’ di Mauro in the 2019/20 offseason, and added Korean duo Lee ‘IgNar’ Dong-geun and Jeong ‘Impact’ Eon-young a year later. There’s always been something missing though; a true X-factor star.
That is, until LCS 2021 Summer began.
In mid-May, the LCS team dipped into their Academy roster, and pulled out Kyle ‘Shiro’ Sakamaki, who soon renamed to “Danny”. The 17-year-old replaced Deftly in their starting lineup, and was named Rookie of the Year just 89 days later.
Danny is the missing puzzle piece, Svenskeren told Dexerto, that can turn the Evil Geniuses from contenders to LCS challengers and Worlds representatives.
“He’s really, really f**king good,” Svenskeren claimed.
“I really mean that, I think everyone is starting to see it at this point, but he’s so extremely talented. Every game it feels like he’s just smurfing it, and I think that he’s been a major part of our success so far in the Summer split.
“It makes it so much easier when we have solid AD carry, especially someone as cracked as Danny, it means he is always popping off, and then the team pops off.
“He’s still really young, and he’s a pretty shy guy, so we’ve been focusing on hyping him up, stuff like this, helping him build his confidence. All the praise, focus, it’s only going to be good for him in the long run. He doesn’t like to talk, but his mechanics are f**king insane and he really pops off.
“Look, what I’ll say to you is that the hype is definitely real. I can tell you that, I think that. He’s really f**king good, and I think he has it in him to be great.”
Danny’s emergence finishes the EG puzzle, Svenskeren says.
“We took Summer to get together, and now we’re [feeling more complete]. Me, Jiizuke, Impact, IgNar, we all played together in Spring, and now Danny is fitting into the team really well too. And he’s just so insane,” Johnsen added with a laugh, “so that also helps.”
He continued: “Last split I think we could have won. We weren’t bad. Just unlucky, I think, and that’s how things went. This split we’re in a position to go really far.”
The Evil Geniuses youngster isn’t the only League of Legends weapon the LCS title hopefuls have to rely on either; Jiizuke has enjoyed a renaissance since the return to stage play, which he crowned with a place in the All-Pro first team.
As much as the Evil Geniuses will be relying on Danny to continue his rise on the LCS Championship stage, they’ll look to their star Italian mid laner too.
“He’s been so good since we got back on-stage. He’s a special kind of player in that regard where the fear-factor of being on stage doesn’t matter,” Svenskeren explained.
“Playing online was so much less serious, and you could see it in the games. There were so many fiestas! You could see that in the gameplay. People didn’t care if you died 10 times. Then there’s Jiizuke, that plays like that all the time.
“He’s never scared. No matter what. That means he gets away with so much, people respect more. He looks great, and it’s helping the whole team.”
Evil Geniuses get to take their — in the words of TV coach Ted Lasso, “two aces” — into their do-or-die lower-bracket battle with Cloud9 this Thursday. Danny and Jiizuke will both be key factors, especially against Zven and Perkz.
More importantly than any one player though, Svenskeren says Evil Geniuses have “clicked” at just the right time. The coaching staff (who were crowned best of the split) have been drilling synergy into the squad all year, and now that the pointy end is right at their doorstep, it’s paying dividends.
“We’re clicking at just the right time, for sure,” he said.
“Everyone is on the same page. We’ve been a bit shaky in some games, sure, but when we make plays everyone goes together. The idea of how to play League of Legends that we had at the start of the split is still relevant now.
“There’s trust there, for all of us. The biggest thing for us is not to let your teammates fail alone. No matter what. If they see a good play, and they’re going in, engaging, then you have to trust them. If you leave them out to dry, they can look like they’re inting, but maybe it was really your fault for not being there.
“I think we’re big contenders. As long as we keep up all our hard work and don’t get too cocky whenever we’re winning games, getting ahead, we’ll do well I think.”