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Why Was Rival 1 A Big Win For Evil Geniuses?

While it wasn’t a technical victory for Evil Geniuses, Rival 1 was equal parts a morale boost and a proof of concept for the budding VALORANT roster. From unexpected stars to continued growth, EG’s slow but steady rise has not waned as 2021 comes to a close. Let’s jump into some of the exciting prospects as well as some of their matches to add context to one of their best performances to date. 

First, let’s tackle their laundry list of teams they battle to make the semi-finals of the event. From ex-Serenity Black, to Shopify Rebellion, to Proximity and Actually Homeless, Evil Geniuses dispatched a sizable chunk of some of the best amateur talent North America has to offer. Now Soniqs Esports did put an end to their Cinderella run, but Evil Geniuses dished out their fair share of bruises on their two narrowly lost maps. 

Past just solid tournament performances, what really needs to be given the spotlight are the individuals who truly came alive for EG. Take for example their tournament ending loss to Soniqs Esports, even their primary threat Kelden “Boostio” Pupello dropped an impressive 231 average combat score (ACS), 150.6 average damage done per rounds (ADR), and held a staggering 33% headshot rating. Again, that’s during a narrow loss to an impressive Australian team. 

However, it wasn’t just the usual suspects for Evil Geniuses. In back-to-back maps again ex-Serenity Black, Mike “pho” Panza, put on a clinique. On Haven, pho managed 301 ACS, with over 200 ADR and still held a 35% headshot rating. Immediately after that, he led his team on Ascent with 235 ACS and 153 ADR. We’ve been praising pho for months and it seems as though he’s finally growing into his own as an aggressive fixture EG can count on to perform individually. And he wasn’t the only one to take up a new position in the spotlight. 

Jeffrey “Reformed” Lu also had an impressive showing, specifically against Actually Homeless right out of the group stage. As more of a supporting member of the team, you don’t typically see Reformed topping the leaderboard for Evil Geniuses. However, after both maps were put into the books, he led the team with a surprising 261 ACS, 42 kills, and 157.2 ADR. 

While that looks impressive on paper, it pales in comparison when you narrow the lens into their 13-9 win on Haven where not only did he top frag for his team, he dropped 293 ACS and had 167.0 ADR. These are two members that are typically very quiet for EG, playing difficult positions and are utility-focused. Now they are really becoming threats for this team to lean on in the coming year. Gone are the days this potential laden squad was dictated by their duelists, 2022 for EG seems to be the year their backline threats really come into their own. 

With such a chaotic vacuum of time laying on the horizon during the post-VALORANT Champions afterglow, Evil Geniuses are in for some massive shifts. And the former could see a massive benefit from this change in the power dynamic in North American VALORANT. 

Images via Riot Games

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