LCS Finals Weekend Wraps Up: The Newest Stars are Born
The final week of the LCS Spring Split has wrapped up and all expectations have been subverted. In the first live final in 2 years and right in Texas’s very own backyard, a new organization will be hanging a banner in the LCS studio. It wasn’t even close as the two favorites crumbled to dust under relentless pressure from one of the youngest teams in LCS history. For the final time this split, let’s see how it all went down.
Series 1: #4 #1
TLDR: Evil Geniuses flatten Team Liquid as Danny etches his name into the LCS’s history books, and the fans’ hearts.
Summary: I don’t think even the most diehard of EG fans saw that coming.
The desk was surprisingly TL favored and even those who had EG winning usually had it going to 5 games. And yet when game day rolled around, A sweep was on the cards. Team Liquid did not look like they had recovered from the reverse sweep. The drafting was still questionable. Hans Sama played well below expectations. Bwipo was still volatile and the coinflip didn’t come up heads in game 1. Bjergsen was neutralized and shot himself in the foot with a bad Corki build. They couldn’t come up in the clutch.
The bigger factor, however, was everyone on Evil Geniuses playing out of their minds. Impact was an immovable rock in the top lane. Inspired was a playmaker in all 3 games and could’ve won game 2 on his own. Jojopyun didn’t just adapt to the big stage, he thrived on it having one of his best series yet. Vulcan swung a matchup between NA’s two best supports heavily in his favor. CoreJJ looked completely outmatched, a rarity especially in domestic play. As for Danny…
He had a series so good that if you pitched it to Hollywood as a movie, you’d be told it’s to unrealistic. Aside from completely outmatching one of EU’s most storied ADCs, the plays he made and his explosive, unafraid style of playing completely won over the crowd. Perhaps this is best seen towards the end of game 1. TL won a crucial fight and were primed to take the Baron. Danny stepped up to the plate, and with some help from Vulcan and the Baron itself, he hit a home run.
And everyone lost their minds
It was at that moment when series momentum irrevocably shifted in EG’s favor. Team Liquid would do their best to fight back but the fire of EG burned to brightly to be put out. Evil Geniuses walked into NRG Stadium as a plucky underdog and left a crowd favorite.
Of course, where there is a winner, there must also be a loser. I remember saying at the beginning of the season that anything less than 2 LCS championships and deep international runs would be considered a failure for Team Liquid. I still stand by this statement, and I highly doubt anyone in the TL organization is walking away from this split happy. One of the biggest budgets in the LCS, kicking a franchise face to the curb to rip off TSM’s, the most talented roster on paper the LCS has ever seen. All it resulted in was a reverse sweep in a series that was handed to them on a silver platter and a gut punch from the new upstarts.
Team Liquid has become the modern age New York Yankees and are about as likeable for anyone who isn’t already a fan. They were once the undisputed kings of the league but have since fallen from grace. They have massive budgets well above the other members of the league in the name of getting back to the promised land. Their rosters resemble a who’s who of some of the biggest stars in the game. Every other team wants them to fail and dislikes their “throw money at the problem and hope it works” strategy. And no matter what they cannot get back over the hump.
The rest of the league laughs at your failure, I award you no points, good day.
Series 2: #4 #3
TLDR: The fastest final in LCS history ends decisively in the crowd favorite’s favor.
Summary: Perhaps if there wasn’t a live crowd or the nameplates were swapped, I would say that was one of the most anticlimactic finals in LoL Esports history (possibly even more so than last LCS finals or this year’s LEC finals).
And yet, the gameplay itself, the atmosphere, and the building storylines all played a part in creating a perfect end for the LCS’s newest champions.
There’s no way around it, Evil Geniuses were in a completely different league than 100 Thieves. The defending champions were outmatched on an individual level and as a team. All their stars paled in comparison to EG. Ssumday was finally neutralized, Closer couldn’t make the same finals magic happen like last year, Abbedagge had little impact, and the bot lane had their moments, but couldn’t clutch it out. 100 Thieves weren’t completely lifeless, but they looked significantly worse that TL did against EG. You don’t suffer the fastest series defeat in LCS history without doing something wrong. It was all EG from start to finish and there was no point where the team looked truly threatened. With such a one-sided result the two teams are walking away with very different reactions.
When looking at the runner up, it’s a very difficult season to judge. On one hand, not defending the title stings and they looked outclassed in all aspects in the final. On the other hand, in a season where there were no less than 4 different big-name rosters with legitimate shots at the title heading into the season, 100 Thieves did an admirable job staying the course. They were never the flashiest team, but they showed up and did their job when it mattered. The final hurdle tripped them up in a big way, but if they keep this up a Worlds spot is all but locked up already. No changes necessary, just come back next split stronger.
Evil Geniuses on the other hand could not have planned this championship run better if they tried. After that 5-game series with TL to kick the run off, EG dropped a whopping 1 game in their next 4 series. They ran the gauntlet of the 3 unanimous preseason favorites and swept all 3. Impact gets to lift the title with a new roster, dunking both his old teams along the way. Inspired wins his first title a split after winning the LEC MVP. His old team will not be joining him as Rogue pulled a Rogue in finals and completely collapsed. Vulcan makes it 3 for 3 and gets to laugh at his old squad Cloud 9 that dropped him after making it to Worlds quarterfinals last year. He is also making a name for himself as one of the best North American supports to play the game.
Possibly the biggest winners of the weekend are Jojopyun and Danny. Jojopyun becomes the youngest player to ever win an LCS title. He is the first native mid laner to win a title since Pobelter with Team Liquid in 2018. His brand of trash talking, and unmatched confidence has made him a crowd favorite. Danny is quickly becoming the pentakill king and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. He won the MVP award in both series this weekend and is also a fan favorite. In person, the chants of his name during his big moments and the interviews were deafening. And given how much goodwill they’ve built up in their 1st and 2nd seasons respectively, and how young they are, Evil Geniuses have some incredibly solid stars for many years to come. Go make some noise at MSI Evil Geniuses! This is the most optimistic people have been about the LCS in a long time.
As a final side note, as someone who was there, I can safely say that was one of the most lopsided crowds at a neutral site I have ever seen in esports or traditional sports. That’s not to dunk on 100 Thieves, their fans traveled well, and you could see plenty of red jerseys, but last evening’s events had a clear impact on the crowd. Almost everyone who either didn’t have a dog in the hunt or were rooting for TL last night decided to back the black and white brigade. Given that EG wasn’t exactly a branding powerhouse before this year, it was quite amazing to watch them walk out of the building with levels of excitement usually reserved for the big 3. The success story of blending young and new talents is very easy to root for. I myself am currently contemplating switching allegiances and I know I am not alone in this sentiment. If they can keep up this success and good PR for seasons to come, Evil Geniuses might just be the next big household name in North American League of Legends.
This has been Edward Brady, for NTTV.