With an opportunity to advance in the lower bracket of the 2021 LCS Championship, Evil Geniuses was swept by Cloud9 three games to none to be eliminated, thus removing them from contention for the last vacant NA spot for the World Championship.
In a series littered with high expectations due to the close parity both teams showed in the regular season, EG underwhelmed greatly as their trademark playstyle of split pushing was upended by C9 in three sub 30-minute games.
Even as EG entered this series with the best season in the org’s history and were one win away from qualifying for Worlds, they couldn’t summon the same magic against the defending champions. It was a circumstance that EG head coach Peter Dun lamented following the series in an exclusive interview with Gamezo. Besides the team’s elimination, Dun discussed how the team will move forward to 2022, who will win the LCS Championship, and who will secure NA’s third and final seed for Worlds.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Peter. I’d first like to know the overall mindset of the team right now after this series.
Peter Dun: Obviously it’s a very disappointing loss. I’m not disappointed that we lost the series. I’m disappointed that we didn’t come out to play today. It felt like we didn’t really play our style. I think the way EG plays the game is that we play a very high-risk, high-tempo style of play, the kind that says if one person dies, it doesn’t matter. We’re just going to trade for something on the other side of the map and there’s a trust amongst the team that if we mess up, it doesn’t matter because somebody will get something else. Obviously, it’s a very fine balancing line in which sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
In the series against 100T, it worked okay and it wasn’t the best, but today, we didn’t even play the game, so that’s what’s disappointing. It’s acceptable to lose, but it’s not acceptable to lose in the way that we lost and I can’t help but be disappointed by that.
As you described, it was a pretty disappointing performance from your players, but even so, you guys were ahead in some aspects throughout the series and it didn’t look as though the team’s mentality was in absolute tatters. What made you believe that the team’s mentality wasn’t up to speed for this series?
Peter Dun: To be clear, I don’t want to blame our players for this because the coaching staff has to take a lot of the blame for making sure that our players were in the right mindset. But if you compare how we played today to how we played 100T and DIG in the regular season, we’re pushing the pace, we’re forcing the enemy team to make decisions, right? But here, we were never in a position to force the enemy team to make decisions and so we didn’t force any mistakes and we basically let C9 choke us out.
To give an example, in Game 3, we had a comp that wants to collapse from the side lane into mid-lane, and we had to Jhin to facilitate that kind of thing, right? But we didn’t use the Jhin ult once in the entire game until right at the end to clean minions on our base. To be clear, that’s not on Danny. It’s a team pull, right? We need to play in the side, we need to collapse onto mid, and we need to use our Jhin ult, but we never had opportunities to do them and that is disappointing.
Everyone can have a bad day in the office, but I kind of wish we got blown out more so we could say ‘C9 were the better team’, but we had a 3k-4k gold lead in most of the games and we just stopped playing the game when it came to the mid-game. I’m not really sure why [that was the case]. I have to go back and listen to our voice comms again, but we just stopped playing and that’s disappointing.
Speaking of those compositions, in Game 2 you selected Morgana for Jiizuke which is similar to what 100T did in the beginning in the summer split. What was the idea behind that composition and how did that not end well against C9?
Peter Dun: I think it went really well, actually. So I can go into more detail but basically Game 1, we saw that Perkz and Fudge were playing in the same lane a lot trying to pick off Jiizuke or Impact a lot, so we could see they were specifically playing through side lanes to pick off our split pushes a lot. I think that was the point of what C9 played against us today.
It was to pick champions like Nocturne and Gangplank which can absorb pressure in the side and wait until LeBlanc on the other side can push out for the Nocturne and then engage the person who’s pushing into the GP. When we saw that, we had ideas of how C9 might have adapted their playstyle to face us because this is normally how they play the game, but we knew that this was something they might try to do. We were like, ‘Okay, so what can we do about it? Okay, let’s pick a champion that plays really well in one or two lanes and just go mid and force C9 to make a decision,” and this was why the Morgana was picked.
With that champion, Jiizuke can be with Danny on the same lane together and we wanted to stop C9 making picks on the side and fight us 4v4 in mid-lane. It worked for a lot of the game until that fight just before Baron where, I think, Lee Sin survived on 100 HP and he died, Viego full resets through their entire team, but he managed to survive and C9 then ace’d us, took Baron and the game was over.
That was the idea behind the Morgana pick. We picked it into LeBlanc because it gets full priority early. It protects your hyper-carry in mid-to-late game team fights, and it allows him to push and roam in a way similar to Zoe, Neeko, Ryze, or TF. You push in and make plays on the side lane which he did in that game because LeBlanc couldn’t do much against Morgana.
I appreciate you explaining how each game happened. Now looking into the entire year, you’ve had a stellar season with your players. Around two or three of them were selected for All-Pro teams, your coaching staff was selected as the best Coaching Staff for this summer, but it’s tough to balance that out with today’s elimination since, obviously, you didn’t qualify for Worlds. How will you look at this year as a whole considering everything that happened inside of it?
Peter Dun: If you asked me this question last week, I would have answered that we just had a bad day at the end and had a lot of positives to look forward to, but frankly, as a head coach, the fact that we can come out on stage and play like we did today makes me–I can’t help but have bad feelings towards this year, right?
If we’re an organization that was supposed to have the Coaching Staff of the Split, how can our team come out and play like this on stage in the final game of the season? We must’ve done something wrong over the past week, right? I don’t think it was C9 being too good for us. I don’t think C9 did anything special. We kind of just beat ourselves and the only thing I can do is go back into the offseason and see what we did wrong and what we need to fix for next year.
Definitely, we did a lot of things really well, but in the regular season, none of that matters to how you perform in playoffs. We had a good series against DIG and we had an unfortunate series against 100T where I think we were a little below par but within variants, you know? We play a high variance style of play and the level that we showed against 100T wasn’t outside of that range. It was just below on the lower end. But our performance today was even–I mean, I couldn’t in my worst nightmares imagine that we would play to this level today and we have to go back and figure out what happened. I don’t think we, as an organization with the players and coaching staff involved, did ourselves justice today. As head coach, I take full responsibility for that and we’ll go back and see what we could’ve done better.
Nevertheless, you guys built a solid foundation for next year. Despite just scratching the surface for that elusive third Worlds spot, you have Danny as that ADC in which many people are calling one of the next big stars in the LCS. Coupled that with the amateur that you guys have cultivated with EG Academy and EG Prodigies, how are you guys going to look at those three fronts for next year?
Peter Dun: Tomorrow, I’m going to–maybe I take a day off but I don’t think I will–but tomorrow, I’m going straight into coaching a camp. There’s no rest for the wicked in the offseason. Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed with how things went today, but my responsibility to EG isn’t just focusing on the LCS team. I’ve been fully glad with the support I received from the org and the trust that they’ve had in developing through amateur and academy.
We’ve had Danny from the amateur team which was obviously the big highlight for us but also Contractz paved his way to the main team through his performances in academy and I think he’s a better player now than he’s ever been at any point in his career. He had a solid performance in the playoffs.
From being somebody who people kind of put as a player who was on his final chance and should be retiring, I think he has turned into one of the top junglers in the league and a jungler that teams have to respect and which is something our academy team did as a result of the coaches and support staff.
I’m happy with how we developed talent in our pipeline. Again, talent developed in the pipeline is not just for the sake of bringing up young players for the sake of it. It’s to find success in the LCS level but we couldn’t find that today.
One final question before we end this interview, Peter Dun: Since you will now watch the LCS from the couch, who do you think is going to win the LCS title and grab that third NA seed?
Peter Dun: As for how C9 would play against either IMT or TSM, you have to back C9. They haven’t played well but they found ways to win games and that’s what you need in a playoff situation.
As for who’s going to win the league, TL had worked out their problems, you know? I think the really smart thing about TL is that they copied some things from EG and adopted them into their game plan. They copied some things from TSM and C9 and have molded them into their own rather than dismissing other teams as weaker. Because they’ve been able to assimilate all these ideas really quickly, I can’t see how another team can beat them in playoffs because they can play your style better than many teams could do with theirs, and just through studying and learning, their run in these playoffs have been very positive.
If I have to make a prediction, I would say TL is number one, 100T is number two, and probably C9 number three.