Can Evil Geniuses Push Into The Top 10 In 2022?
EG Content 12/17
What Did We Learn From VALORANT Champions?
What a way to end the year. Wielding substantial narratives, impressive displays of skill, and bringing the esports world to its knees, VALORANT has earned its wings after their inaugural world championships. However, what are some of the biggest takes away now that we’re left without major VALORANT competition for the next few months?
VALORANT Champions showcased not only the power of flexibility but the upcoming demand for it. After going to game five, it’s not all that surprising that the grand final featured a myriad of agents. However, it’s both the volume of different agents picked coupled with the variety of roles that caught our eye. Take for example Gambit Esports’ Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov. Throughout the five game set, he was featured on Sova, Killjoy, and Brimstone. Igor “Redgar” Vlasov had four different agents play. And Acend’s in-game leader, Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi, had starting time on Sova, Breach, and Omen.
Again, it’s not that a lot of agents saw playtime, it’s how impactful each of them were on the overall strategy of the map and how fluid the roles became towards the end of the series. As VALORANT matures into its second year it will become more and more common to associate flexibility, both in roles and agents, with success. And this goes far past the grand finale as well.
During their Cinderella run in the playoffs, KRÜ Esports showed a shocking amount of versatility in their agent selection. In their game against Gambit Esports, nearly every single member had a total of three agents played by the end of the three map barn-burner.
Gone are the days of one standard composition to fall back on. Each team approaches and tackles each of VALORANT maps in their own unique way and that is only going to progress into the 2022 season. And that won’t be the only thing to continue going into their sophomore year.
If we learned anything from VALORANT Champions, it’s that all bets are off. Every region is capable of competing and should be respected. With three major international events, what we all assumed to be minor region representatives ended up performing well above expectations. And we need not look further than the Cinderella story KRÜ Esports during VALORANT Champions.
After fairly disappointing finishes during Masters 2 and 3, KRÜ Esports were billed as a light competitor but not someone who was going to go the distance. How wrong we were. With victories over notable names like Sentinels and Fnatic, KRÜ Esports are the banner carriers for exploration when it comes to judging some of the more underdeveloped regions with much more respect.
Then you have cases like X10 CRIT’s upset victory over Team Envy to advance as the second seed from Group A and Brazil’s continued growth as a whole. There are some impressive teams coming to these international events and these major regions need to be put on notice because things are only going to increase in difficulty as the game evolves and the Chinese esports scene begins to spool up.
And while that may paint things as chaotic and uncertain, there was one thing the VALORANT landscape can rest their heads on; Europe is king.
European VALORANT teams are built differently. When you have every single group headed by a European team, when nearly every single member–save for KRÜ Esports–of your top four teams are from EMEA it’s clear; Europe is the top region at the end of VALORANT’s first year.
Even if we go to the match history and look back to the previous two Masters events, Gambit Esports and G2 Esports performed extremely well at Berlin and Fnatic showed up during Iceland earlier this year.
As for why that is, it’s difficult to say. Is it a cultural thing? Is it their previous Counter-Strike experience that gives them an edge? Who is to say, but one thing we do know is that the imports are sure to be just around the corner. Be it Brazilian teams exporting or Europeans doing a bit of both, international moves are going to begin to take root and that comes with it the discussion of region locking. However, without going too far off-topic, Europe is the best right now and that is not up for debate.
Images via Riot Games
Can Evil Geniuses Push Into The Top 10 In 2022?
With the conclusion in the books for VALORANT Champions, we’re left with a void, a power vacuum waiting to be filled. Roster mania is imminent and we’ve already seen the minor sparks from that groundwork laid. And as our eyes drift towards Evil Geniuses, we’re left wondering; with such a potential laden team and a possible shift in terms of North America’s standings, can Evil Geniuses break into the top 10?
First, let’s establish what kind of rankings we’re using as a base. Vlr.gg’s Elo ratings give a familiar and easy to understand format to judge the North American VALORANT region by. This gives us something to judge Evil Geniuses budding VALORANT roster by–and the names ahead of them are far from insurmountable.
Take for example Pioneers. As of writing this Pioneers boasts a 1687 rating and is ranked 11th in North America. As it stands now, Evil Geniuses have a 1575 and are ranked 20th in North America. If we jump back to the Nerd Street Gamers Summer Championship held this past August, Evil Geniuses swept Pioneers and in a fairly dominant fashion.
Now, in that time both teams have made changes and now look significantly different, so taking these results as hard and fast facts would be disingenuous. However, there is a very real chance that, in the head-to-head matchup, Evil Geniuses have been known to punch above their weight.
Yes, Pioneers have made changes that undoubtedly improved them but EG has really come into their own with their duelists leading the way but not being beholden to them for wins. Being able to challenge the gatekeeper to the top 10 should already be a sign of confidence but this is easily their most difficult hypothetical task. The fact that it could be feasible says a lot about EG’s chances.
Another team that is ranked quite aggressively are the Pittsburgh Knights. Currently standing with a 1663 rating and ranked 13th in North America, the Pittsburgh Knights are yet another team Evil Geniuses have some history against. This past October at Nerd Steet Gamers’ Winter Championship Open 2, Evil Geniuses stole the show against the Pittsburgh Knights–in a best-of-1.
However, this past summer at the Nerd Street Gamers’ Summer Championship Open 11, EG was throttled by their would-be rivals. Now, recency should inherently be weighed more as well as EG’s eventual evolution into the team they are today. Again, these matches are not an easy lock for Camp EG, but that’s the point; this is a team that has a lot of upsides which rankings aren’t going to always account for.
Built By Gamers is another name that Evil Geniuses has orbited around for some time–and they’ve found success before. Built By Gamers enters the 2022 offseason with a 1646 rating and is ranked 14th in North America. And if we go back to the Nerd Street Gamers Summer Championship, Evil Geniuses battled one of North America’s better contenders incredibly close, going the distance but eventually winning 2-1.
This did come off the back of an incredible performance by Kelden “Boostio” Pupello on the 3rd and final map of Icebox. Touting a 368 average combat score (ACS), 42 kills, and 210.9 average damage done per round (ADR) on a single map, Boostio was a massive weapon that EG relied on–and that’s a performance that has shown to be more consistent than we originally assumed. Obviously, things have changed now, but the positives for EG have only gotten better with time.
And as a wild card, let’s take FaZe Clan as our final possible candidate. Currently, FaZe trot into 2022 with a 1763 rating and is North America’s 9th best team according to vlr.gg’s rating algorithm.
Now while we don’t have any head-to-heads to measure, FaZe Clan are a great example of the power dynamic shift coming with the end of the VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) season. Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo recently announced his departure from the roster.
Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty left before VALORANT Champions to coach Sentinels on their final bid for the year. And prior to that, Corey “corey” Nigra was reportedly set to sign with TSM. This leaves some massive shoes to fill for a team that was already inconsistent within the region. Does that mean EG will easily topple them? Of course not, but there is some room at the top for teams to filter and climb.
While the future is unclear for one of North America’s longest standing esports organizations, it is hopeful. Evil Geniuses have a prime opportunity to not only climb their domestic ranking but would also capture the possibility to earn a seat at major events. Top 10 is a difficult shout as it stands currently, but with that said–EG are not that far off.
Images via Riot Games