EG's Year in Review
Evil Geniuses ended 2021 on a tad bit of a sour note. The team had recently dropped out of HLTV's top 30 in September, and their descent was unabated. The nail in the coffin came in the form of a 0-3 exit from the PGL Stockholm Major Legends Stage. After that loss, Evil Geniuses embarked on a new direction for the coming year with the departure of Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz, Owen "oBo" Schlatter, and Michał "MICHU" Müller.
The organization promised something new coming into 2022. They promised fresh faces and a renewed vigor that would propel the team back into tournament contention.
EG started 2022 with some blockbuster signings, bringing on the Boston 2018 Major winning core of Jake "Stewie2k" Yip from Liquid, William "RUSH" Wierzba from Complexity, and Timothy "autimatic" Ta from a stint in VALORANT. They would join the only two remnants from the previous roster Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov and Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte. In addition to the starting five, EG would make an international move to bring in former G2 coach Damien "maLeK" Marcel.
With these moves, EG brought back together one of the most successful rosters in NA CS history and paired them with a proven coach on the international stage. Add to this firepower from their previous roster, and EG had a new team that could conceivably fight for the spot of the best team in North America.
Unable to perform
The first international outing for the new-look EG was quite disappointing, with the team leaving BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2022 with zero match wins, and only a single map win total. Obviously, it's not the start they were hoping or expecting to receive, but a new team oftentimes has growing pains in their first couple of months.
After the poor showing at BLAST, EG had a short breather where they qualified for the Americas RMR for Antwerp. After that, however, came ESL Pro League. ESL Pro League would come to be the beginning of the downfall of the young EG roster.
ESL Pro League Season 15
In what was only their second international tournament up to that point, ESL Pro League offered the team lots of time in Europe to practice and scrimmage against European teams. In addition, it offered five guaranteed best-of-threes for the team to eke out a win, or at least get some map victories in.
In what would become a theme for this roster, they were unable to get any momentum going at all. They exited Pro League without a single match victory, and if not for a single map win against a similarly struggling Complexity, EG would have gone home 0-10.
Disaster at the RMRs
EG were of course saddened by their numerous shortcomings at EPL, but they still had games to play. The next tournament came in the form of the Americas RMR in Romania. This provided a glimmer of hope for the team. They can still get good European practice in, and get some victories against the NA teams they should be beating every day.
However, the tournament started off badly with an early loss to paiN, and bad turned to worse when EG matched up against Liquid in their 2-1 match-up. EG were able to turn it around and secure the three wins they required in the Swiss-style tournament. However, only six American slots at Antwerp meant that EG needed to win two tiebreakers to qualify for the Major. They stumbled to 9z in the first.
Now, not only were EG failing in international outings, they also were being bested by North and South American teams that they should beat on paper. The team was in freefall, and their next tournaments proved that.
Losses to Liquid and GODSENT in an American qualifier meant EG would miss out on IEM Dallas, the only S-tier tournament to take place in North America in 2022. The final game that this roster played was an unenviable 2-0 by GODSENT in BLAST Spring American Showdown, yet another inter-American game that EG should be winning. This loss meant that EG would then be absent from the BLAST Spring Finals.
After that loss, EG's CEO hinted at changes in the team on Twitter, saying that the organization is "not complacent with these results" and is "committed to making changes to improve".
Changes in the open, drama behind closed doors
EG's first change came in the form of their coaching staff. On May 10, the team would undergo a complete overhaul with the benching of maLeK, as well as the removal of assistant coach Paolo "EVY" Berbudeau and analyst Juan "Hepa" Borges.
This move came with quite the uproar, as EVY and Hepa claimed that they were not notified of their dismissal prior to the release of Evil Geniuses' announcement over Twitter. In fact, the two of them even claimed that they had been part of a team meeting earlier that very day before they were fired.
In early June, EVY would then talk with French reporter and journalist Guillaume "neLendirekt" Rathier and give a tell-all into the dysfunction and poor management that he saw in his time in Evil Geniuses.
EVY gave many damning claims which questioned Stewie2k's ability as a leader and EG as an organization, including stating that Stewie refused to talk to maLeK in any capacity at ESL Pro League after a few days. He claimed that the team's IGL would refuse to call tactical time-outs, and would not communicate with the team, completely giving up calling rounds at times. This dysfunctional system caused maLeK to bench himself since it was clear he was unable to assist the team in any meaningful capacity, and the organization quickly stood behind their players, removing Hepa and EVY. Summed up, "in the end, it was maLeK or Stewie", and EG went with Stewie.
In a detail that became a point of contention for the public, maLeK offered to get a coffee with the young IGL at Starbucks, not to talk about CS, but to get to know the player better and try to reconcile their differences. Stewie declined.
Stewie, of course, would not let these scandalous claims go unanswered, and said that his issue lay with maLeK, and he held absolutely no grievances with EVY. He claimed that most of what EVY said was exaggerated, and that "on my life, I had nothing to do with the changes to the coaching staff." He reached out to apologize to maLeK and admitted that he simply was not cut out to be a leader, and placed a lot of blame on himself and his poor choices at ESL Pro League.
The Blueprint comes together
All the while that EG's roster was falling apart, there were murmurings in the scene of Evil Geniuses trying to build something bolder. Rumors swirled of a 10 or even 15-man roster in the work*, and on June 2nd, the organization announced the signings of both Carpe Diem and Party Astronauts to the team.
For a while, it was unclear how these two teams would operate, but over time, their roles became more defined as EG Black and EG White. These are salaried teams that compete under the EG name in regional tournaments such as ESL Challenger League and various Cash Cups, while the main team is sent to play in more prestigious events such as ESL Pro League, BLAST tournaments, and of course, the Majors.
Inspired by their successful academy program in League of Legends, EG wanted to build a solid foundation to homegrow NA talents and slot them into the main team when required.
The community was split regarding EG's decision to envelop two of NA's best unsalaried teams, but overall, the transition went well bar a few questions about conflict of interest. Without a doubt, if it weren't for EG, these ten players wouldn't have received salaries like they are now. On that front, they've certainly succeeded in helping North American CS:GO. Clearly, those players have decided that's worth them being unable to attempt qualification for Majors and other large events.
Back to the main roster...
Continuing their shake-up, on June 15, Evil Geniuses brought back Soham "valens" Chowdhury to lead their Counter-Strike division. Previously, he had worked as their Head of Data Science for all of their esports, but with this move he was more committed to their fifteen-man CS team.
Stewie would not come out of the whole maLeK drama unscathed, as later in the summer, it was reported that EG was looking to bench Stewie as well as RUSH in favor of a European core.
autimatic, the other recent addition to the squad, had actually been performing quite well. To fill the holes of Stewie and RUSH, EG looked across the Atlantic for Europeans.
For an IGL, EG went with the young Kazakhstani player Sanzhar "neaLaN" Iskhakov from K23. Despite earlier reports of Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså being on the team's radar and Kévin "misutaaa" Rabier almost having a contract in his hand, EG eventually promoted Jadan "HexT" Postma from EG Black to the main roster. EG went with HexT so that they could could keep their status as a North American team, as any European in combination with neaLaN and CeRq would mean a majority of the team would be from Europe.
In addition, EG acquired a head coach for their main squad in the form of Daniel "Vorborg" Vorborg, former Chief Gaming Officer and coach for Copenhagen Flames.
In the wake of Stewie2k leaving the team, EVY and Hepa rejoined the team in their assistant coach and analyst positions, signifying no bad blood between the coaching staff and the organization.
Its also notable to say here that Stewie2k did not join another team after EG, and instead opted to become a content creator for the organization in VALORANT and CS:GO, though in recent months, he has been seen playing a lot more of the former.
With all this being said, finally, we have a team. To recap, starting August 18th for the BLAST Premier Fall Groups, EG are CeRq, Brehze, autimatic, neaLaN, and HexT, with Vorborg as head coach, EVY as an assistant coach, and Hepa as an analyst. In addition, EG had signed two more teams, later called EG Black and EG White, to the squad to further their goal of developing North American talent.
EG didn't stop there though, on the 18th, they also announced a fourth team, later named EG Gold. EG Gold are a female team, competing in the ESL Impact Circuit and other events, bringing EG's total player count up to 20.
Can we start playing matches yet?
Despite a completely new look to the roster and numerous changes to coaching staff, EG's immediate results were still lackluster. Remember how their first event with the previous roster was BLAST Spring Groups where they bombed out of 0-3? Well, the same thing happened again, this time in Fall Groups.
Like last time, they then had Americas RMR Qualifiers to go through. Luckily for them, these went off without a hitch, with autimatic bullying the competition into submission to qualify for the RMR without a map loss, though they came close at times.
Afterward that successful feat, EG decided to make one last change to their coaching staff, bringing maLeK back. Certifying a rumor that was circled earlier in the summer, maLeK returned to the organization, but not in the same role as he originally played. Vorborg was and continued to be the head coach of the main squad. maLeK instead served as a sort of coach for the coaches, heading up the backroom staff for not only the main EG roster, but also EG Black, White, and Gold.
Their first event with maLeK back was at ESL Pro League Season 16. With the last Pro League season being the catalyst for the former roster's implosion, it was a very important tournament for the American team.
The games started out as expected, unfortunately, racking up four map losses immediately. However, things took a surprisingly positive upturn after that, with EG securing two 2-0 victories over Eternal Fire and Movistar Riders. A loss to FURIA in the fifth game meant that EG would miss out on playoffs, but the two wins were a market improvement over their previous results. This was EG's first win in EPL since Season 13 when they defeated Astralis on March 25th 2021, a year and a half in the past.
While they missed out on playoffs, a 2-3 at EPL showed incredible improvement from the North American squad with two new members and a head coach just getting into full-time coaching.
Rio RMR and Major
After a decently successful EPL, the team went to Stockholm to play in the Americas RMR. This was a crucial tournament. The previous roster was unable to make the Antwerp Major, so securing stickers for the organization would show progress in a very tangible way.
The RMR went about as well as EG could have asked for. They won all three of their opening games, including a close affair with FURIA, one of the top teams in the region that they'd have to beat to have any chance of becoming a top player in the Americas. Their 3-0 record left them tied with Liquid for the Legends spot. Liquid won 2-0 in the tiebreaker match, but not without a fight. EG took America's kings to three overtimes in the two maps combined, showing that they had a real fight in them.
EG went from missing the Major six months ago, to being just a couple rounds away from securing a Legends spot.
Their next event caused a small bump in the road. A loss to Fluxo put EG out of contention for BLAST Premier Fall Finals. Nonetheless, the team kept their heads high for the next tournament, the IEM Rio Major.
The Major started well for the American side, taking down IHC in their opening game. However, their results from there on would be disappointing. A loss to MOUZ followed by a close overtime loss to 9z put EG just one game away from elimination. Cloud9 ensured that EG would be sent home with just one win.
While the results of the Major were obviously disheartening, just getting to the Major was miles better than the previous roster was able to achieve. The team was still just a few months old with an entirely new in-game leader and coaching system. Things were and are looking up for EG.
End of the year
Since the Major, EG have only played in a small ESEA Cash Cup. Only 3/5 of EG's main team played on that mix, since that was all they needed to secure enough ESL Pro Tour points to be invited to 2023's IEM Katowice Play-In. Those are the last games EG played in 2022.
Moving into 2023, EG have made a change that will see CeRq leaving the team. While we still do not know who will don the big green next, a replacement for CeRq was duly needed. Their first event of 2023, BLAST Premier Spring Groups, has Jerric "Wiz" Jiang, Wesley "Viz" Harris, and Jeorge "jeorgesnorts" Endicott on the roster. Presumably, we'll see one of those members take CeRq's permanent spot on the team once EG decides what direction they want to move towards.
Looking towards 2023
At the end of 2021, Evil Geniuses looked to create a bold and ambitious new project which would combine the Major winning core of Cloud9 and some of the pieces of their #1 team in 2020. With this move, EG looked to propel themselves back into contention of the best team in America. We know how this turned out.
Internal drama flared up due to poor results, which concluded with the team’s implosion in the summer. What should have been a stellar roster fighting in international tournaments instead turned into a circus and a laughingstock, to say the least.
Yet, out of the dumpster fire that was the Stewie2k roster, a new EG was born. Evil Geniuses are now outfitted with a world-renowned coach and a proper IGL with no baggage attached at the helm. They also have two rosters from which to grow and develop North American talent, a move that facilitated HexT’s transfer to the team’s main roster. Plus, a stay over from the previous roster, autimatic has shown up in spades, repeatedly placing at the top of the team’s leaderboards.
It’s fair to say that EG has not lived up to community goals or their own expectations so far. However, with a complete pivot in the middle of the year, that’s to be expected. In addition, Evil Geniuses’ Blueprint project is built for the long haul, so it’s only fair for us to judge it on those terms.
EG’s prospects currently look better than at any point in the last year. This roster has plenty of promise. maLeK’s, vorborg’s and neaLaN’s systems will pay dividends the longer they can work off of one another. EG’s 2022 was bad, there’s little room for interpretation with their results. However, their early roster was dead before it hit the ground, and their newest roster is just getting started. Give it time, and EG’s 2023 will certainly be an improvement, partially because the bar after the first half of 2022.