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Road To VCT Challengers: How Did Evil Geniuses Advance?

With 2022 coming in, people assumed there would be select shifts in the power dynamic in the North American VALORANT space. However, did anyone foresee Evil Geniuses brand new retooled roster making it to the Stage 1 Challengers main stage? After a disappointing finish during the first open qualifier, Evil Geniuses roared back with a dominant performance in the second open qualifier with wins over some of the region’s top contenders. 

With wins over StarBound, Hyperspace Dark, Team Basilisk, Pack a Punch, Ghost Gaming and Rise, Evil Geniuses swept through the upper bracket only dropping two maps. Ghost Gaming narrowly snuck by Evil Geniuses with a 13-7 Breeze to open their series, but EG would return, capturing the final two maps. Echoing a similar note, Rise took their opening map against EG winning a 13-7 Ascent, and much like their peers, Rise would fall in the following two maps. However, it was EG’s individual performances that truly give longtime fans confidence for the remainder of the 2022 season. 

As one of Evil Geniuses’ newest recruits, Diondre “YaBoiDre” Bond was a worthwhile weapon for the team on their road to qualification. According to vlr.gg, during Evil Geniuses qualifying match against Rise, YaBoiDre scored 271 average combat score (ACS), over 60 kills, boasted a +23 kill to death differential, and held 180 average damage done per round (ADR). However, this isn’t the only instance of his success. During Evil Geniuses’ win over Team Basilisk, YaBoiDre managed an impressive 280 ACS, over 40 kills, a +24 kill to death differential, and 189 ADR. 

Typically a more supportive element to EG’s success, Mike “pho” Panza had some instances of strong stage time throughout the open qualifier. During Evil Geniuses 13-8 win over Rise, pho lead his team on Split with 333 ACS, over twenty kills, a +13 kill to death differential and a 210 ADR. On EG’s map pick of Ascent against Ghost Gaming, he also was a large performer racking up 221 ACS and 158 ADR. 

What’s more impressive is the shift in resources away from what they’ve relied on for so long. Take for instance EG’s staple duelist ace, Kelden “Boostio” Pupello’s role within the team. Not only has he brought more of a supportive look as of late, partly due to the recent acquisition of former T1 Academy duelist, Alexander “jawgemo” Mor. Not only has he continued to play as the teams first contact as they enter their engagements like in Evil Geniuses win over Rise, he also still can put up hard carry performances that push the team over the line. 

Take for example Boostio’s statistics from their upset over Rise. While 199 ACS, a -8 kill to death differential, and 129 ADR doesn’t leap off the page, Boostio played a role in upwards of 15 first engagements, 10 of which were first kills for EG. Now jumpcut to their victory over Starbound where Boostio led his team with 269 ACS, 40 kills, a +7 kill to death differential, and 172 ADR–while still being a significant first contact threat. 

Evil Geniuses have been the team laden with potential for so long, and now they’re capitalizing. While confidence still may vary, this roster has some serious firepower between the likes of YaBoiDre, Boostio, and jawgemo. On top of that, with so many teams holding question marks above their head, Evil Geniuses has a lot of room to carve themselves out a niche at the North American VALORANT table. 

Images via Riot Games