Evil Geniuses stumbled on the first day of the 2022 League of Legends World Championship. The LCS team fell to Fnatic in the Play-In Stage, which has made the hill to climb to the Group Stage steeper. Jungler Kacper “Inspired” Słoma was upset about the loss, but was still confident in Evil Geniuses’ resilience.

After the loss, Inspired spoke to Em Dash about the game and what went wrong. He also discussed Evil Genius’ practice in the Play-In Stage and how the team has integrated substitute bot laner Hasan “Kaori” Şentürk into the team over the past weeks.

On the loss against Fnatic

Welcome, Inspired. It was a tough loss against Fnatic—it appeared to be quite a stomp, from the outside. Still, there were some good moments from you guys in the early game. How are you walking away from the game overall?

Hm, I wouldn’t say it was a stomp. People might think I’m just coping here, but I think Fnatic didn’t do anything during the whole game. I think they picked scaling champions and they played ok on them. Wunder played really well. Playing Aatrox against Renekton and going completely even is very good for the game because he’ll be way more useful. I think our bot lane played pretty well in the early levels. Then we went for the big dive bot, where I think we should have killed at least one person. Easily.

I lost a bit of an advantage there. Luckily for me, the enemy jungle was pretty bad, so he didn’t invade me on the Red Buff and he didn’t really get any advantage from that. Even though his bot lane was very far behind. But then somehow we still lost bot. Then Graves wasted his Flash right before the Rift [Herald] fight and we still managed to drop it. I’m not sure why.

After those first eight minutes of the game, if we don’t really get anything bot, and especially if we die, the game is basically unplayable. So, I wouldn’t say it was a stomp. I think we just didn’t execute our draft well. It was pretty cringe how we lost. The blame is on us, rather than Fnatic playing well.

“I assumed Fnatic was the strongest team, but I really don’t think so. I think [DetonatioN FocusMe] and Beyond Gaming will be as strong as Fnatic.”

The Play-In groups seem quite kind to you, with the teams that are perceived the strongest—RNG and DRX—both in Group B. How has it impacted your preparation?

I don’t know, I’ve never watched the games of the teams that we’re about to face. Except Fnatic. I’ve not followed the games of every other team so I don’t know how good they are. I didn’t expect Fnatic to be too good, especially because the meta changed. I thought they would be a strong team if things like Zeri and Sivir were still there because Upset is their best player. But I thought that the meta would shift so we would have more impact on the top side and maybe could carry the game. As I said, I think our draft was pretty good to do that, but we just didn’t manage to.

I assumed Fnatic was the strongest team, but I really don’t think so. I think [DetonatioN FocusMe] and Beyond Gaming will be as strong as Fnatic. I don’t think they’ll be way easier than Fnatic. But the group overall is way easier than Group B, right?

Evil Geniuses plays four more games in the Play-In Stage’s group phase. (Source: Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

The Play-In Stage environment

This is the first time you’re playing in the Play-Ins. The last two years you went straight to the Group Stage with Rogue. Is it a very different experience for you?

I think it doesn’t matter if it’s the Play-In Stage or Group Stage. The one thing is the city you’re playing in. I liked Worlds in Shanghai the most. I don’t like Mexico too much. It’s fine, but obviously, if you compare it to Shanghai it’s not the same. I also liked Iceland. It was cool to walk around and there were a lot of nice views. Here it’s raining when we finish scrims, so I can’t walk around. [Laughs] I like to go for walks and I can’t do it here because it’s raining. So, it’s probably the least favorite for me.

“I would be really demotivated if we lose the finals and then go into the Group Stage to play against T1 or whatever. I feel like it’s kind of nice to get some confidence first.”

[Laughs] So, the important change from Groups to Play-Ins is that you’re now playing in a location with rain. Great.

Honestly, I wanted to go to the Play-Ins. Before we played [in the LCS playoffs] I said to my team that we either get first or third. I would be really demotivated if we lose the finals and then go into the Group Stage to play against T1 or whatever. I feel like it’s kind of nice to get some confidence first. In the end, if we don’t make it through Play-Ins, whatever, we’d probably get stomped in Groups anyway. If we can slowly ramp up through Play-Ins, maybe we can have a better performance in the Group Stage.

Has practice gone well so far during the Play-In Stage? Some teams reported having technical issues.

Well, it’s kind of weird because we played four days of scrims. Usually when I go to Worlds it is a bit longer, but I guess that is because I was in the Group Stage then. We’re still practicing during the Play-Ins then. Here we only played for four days, so it was a total of maybe fifteen games. [Laughs] It’s not much practice. We kind of freestyled some stuff. I think I didn’t play Viego for two months and today I picked it because there were quite a lot of jungle bans. For me, it isn’t that big of a deal, but I think for other laners, especially mid and top, if you don’t play many games and then you play a matchup that you didn’t expect to play, you might not be completely ready. It would’ve been nice if we had more time to prepare, but I think you can’t prepare much for the Play-In Stage.

Inspired still has faith that Evil Geniuses can turn the tides. (Source: Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games)

Integrating Kaori

The big adjustment to EG is obviously playing with Kaori instead of Danny. How has integrating him more into the team gone over the past weeks?

Kaori is very different from Danny. Integrating him into the team was fine. He didn’t have any problems. But I think Danny was our win condition past twenty minutes and Kaori is our win condition in the early game. If we got to the twenty-minute mark in a good game state, Danny was always doing so much damage and carrying the fights. His laning phase was for sure way weaker than Kaori’s. Right now, we just play a bit more towards the bot side as you could see in the game against Fnatic. With Danny, we would play more around the top side and just let him farm up to get his items. That was the way that he liked to pay the game, so we just adapted to it. I think Kaori doesn’t like to play that way. He really likes to play aggressively. It reminds me a bit of playing with Hans sama. Hans sama is very similar to Kaori.

“[Kaori] really likes to play aggressively. It reminds me a bit of playing with Hans sama.”

There are still quite some days ahead of you. You already briefly touched on the teams in Play-Ins, but is there any particular team you’re keen on facing? Maybe a Group Stage team, if you get there?

I’m not really thinking about the Group Stage yet. We just lost our game, so we might not even make it through the Play-Ins. It’s just one game, but the game was very important because we only play best-of-ones. I assume that it’s Fnatic who we’ll fight for first place. I’m a bit mad that we lost against Fnatic because I don’t think they’re anything special. But it’s fine, we can still win the other games and hopefully, they’ll drop something and we’ll be able to take first place. But if I think about the Group Stage, it would be really fun to play against Rogue. That’s hype.

Yeah I was gonna say, Rogue is the team many people want to see you play against. [Laughs]

I really hope so. But for that to happen, DRX needs to not make it out of the Play-Ins. Judging from scrims, I don’t see that happen. [Laughs] So yeah, I guess I hope that DRX doesn’t make it and instead we make it, so I can go to Rogue’s group.

For a full overview of the Play-In Stage schedule, click here. You can watch all games on the official LoL Esports site.