Yeong-Cheol “Irean” Heo and Connor “Artemis” Doyle are the new coaching duo for the 2020 Evil Geniuses. With strong individual players and much anticipation of the brand’s return to the LCS, fans and analysts alike predicted Evil Geniuses to be a top-tier team. However, the beginning of the Spring Split has been a struggle for the team; unexpectedly, Evil Geniuses finished out week 2 with a 1-3 record and a thrilling base-race loss against the Golden Guardians.
The initial win-loss record doesn’t bother the coaches, however. Irean and Artemis believe that they have the talent to be a successful team, opting for a more holistic view of the season. The Evil Geniuses coaching duo sat down with The Game Haus after their loss against the Golden Guardians to explain their experimental draft picks and explore their team’s formulating identity.
Edited for accuracy and clarity.
Thank you so much for joining us today. Could you go ahead and give a quick introduction?
[Artemis] I’m Connor, also known as Artemis. I’m the division coach at Evil Geniuses, but I also work as the LCS assistant coach.
[Irean] I’m Irean, the head coach of Evil Geniuses.
First things first, what were the key takeaways from this match?
[Irean] So I think that we had a very good team-fighting comp. And [GGs] didn’t have a good team-fighting comp, they just wanted to split-push with their Fiora. I think that was the key point.
[Artemis] Yeah, I’ll echo what he said, that’s what both comps did. I think for us, two things that we should’ve done better were playing around side lanes and also just executing better mechanically. Even in the first 20 minutes, there were at least four or five times where we should’ve had a better outcome than we had just because of a misplay, the things you don’t typically see on stage or in scrims. So that was a bit unlucky. But also I think in the 15-20 minute mark, we played poorly around sidelanes, lost a lot more than we should have, and put ourselves into a pretty bad situation going into the late game.
I want to talk a little bit about the draft. I know coach Irean said after the draft that picking ADC Sona was safer than ADC Soraka because of Sona’s healing and sustainability. Is this something that you guys have been experienced with in scrims, or was this a newer strategy?
[Irean] I think when we practiced it in scrims, it went well. Our players knew what their jobs were with this comp. We were pretty confident after the draft, but today we didn’t play too well in the side lanes.
[Artemis] It’s something we practiced a lot, so we were pretty confident in the composition. And as far as if Jun-Sik “Bang” Bae has played [ADC Sona] before, he’s actually quite good at Sona. As a team, we’re good at playing these types of compositions. I think for both Irean and I, it’s important to us that we can play anything— and it’s definitely a little bit experimental, but I think that it’s just important to try new things and keep learning about the game. I think that this week, we had great practice with it and we had good results in it— we just didn’t see it on stage.
Talking about team playstyle and atmosphere, is there a certain identity that your team has formed since Evil Geniuses have come together as a full roster?
[Artemis] I mean, of course, every team is going to have their own way that they play the game. If you take the nameplates off, you’ll see how teams will look different. So of course, we do have some style, but I’m not trying to label it right now.
Everybody in the media and the press are very quick to be like, “What’s your style? What’s your identity?” And the fact is, these guys have been together for four weeks. It’s still extremely early for what we see as an eight or nine month process. But I think we’ll see. There’s already a few different pieces moving together right now, so I think that by the middle of the split, we’ll see.
Following up with that question, are there any specific players that have stepped up as a leader, for specific causes?
[Artemis] I think everybody has stepped up in different ways. We have a pretty big variety of players. For example, we have Colin “Kumo” Zhao, who’s a true rookie this year, and also Bang, who’s a two-time world champion. Those players are going to lead in different ways.
So, a player like Kumo? As a rookie, he’s going to lead by his work ethic. He’s going to come in and he’s going to outwork everybody. He’s going to be playing the most solo queue, trying the hardest in scrims, and really showing his focus to his teammates, and that’s how he’s a leader.
But somebody like Bang? He’s going to lead in VOD review, where we need him to be talking about how he sees the game and how he wants to play the game. We need him to be able to help set the strategic direction for our team.
This is just an example of two binary oppositions, but everybody is going to be somewhere on that spectrum of how they lead. I think that it’s important that each player contributes to the leadership of the Evil Geniuses roster. I don’t think it’s healthy to have just one shot-caller or just one person dominating the game or VOD review. We’ve encouraged everybody to step up in their own way, and we’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen so far.
[Irean] Yeah, me too. I have similar opinions with Artemis, because in-game, normally we just try to talk as much as we can. We discuss a lot about how we should play each teamfight and other things in the game. So we don’t have a single shot-caller, but I think that Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam especially helps with good communication.
Coach Irean, I want to talk to you about Jiizuke, as he was the last player, the last piece to come in for Evil Geniuses. How does he fit in, and how does he round out the rest of the team?
[Irean] So basically, Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro seemed to be a very strong laner in EU. And we already have Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, one of the best junglers in NA. So, if we just make them play together, and if they play well with each other, I think it’s going to be successful for our mid-jungle synergy in teamfights. In League of Legends, I think that the mid-jungle synergy is one of the most important things in the game, so that’s why we’re trying to figure that out for our team.
You were previously parts of a larger coaching staff in other organizations. Now that you two are the leading voices of Evil Geniuses coaching, what are your goals with that responsibility?
[Artemis] So as far as how different the system is from past systems I’ve worked in, I actually find it fairly similar to the system I ran last year. With [Clutch Gaming], we ran a two coach system with analyst support, and that’s the same thing we’re doing here. Irean’s a very talented guy. I love working with Irean, so that feels good. And I think the system we have works very well. Our head analyst Naser “Empyre” Al-Naqi is also a big part of what we do. He’s extremely important to the preparation and everything, so shout-out to him.
But as far as goals, I really don’t think too much ahead. I think right now, like my goal is to just help the team improve, and help them reach their goals. When we talked about goals as a team at the beginning of the year, we had the players go through theirs. And [goals] for both Irean and myself was kind of secondary.
I won’t speak for Irean, but for me, these are the very early days of my coaching career. Last year was my first year in LCS, and this will be my first full season of LCS as a coach. Last year, I just had the mentality to learn as much as I can, work as hard as I can, and just do the best that I can for my team. I’m trying to keep the same mentality this year, despite the success I had last year. So I think as long as I stay in the present and just focus on the process rather than the results, I will achieve my goals.
Obviously, every North American player wants the international title— and the coaches? We’re no different. But again, the timeline for that is up in the air. For Spring Split, winning was a team goal, and we had MSI as a team goal. But winning Summer Split and going to Worlds are also team goals. So for me, I think at the end of this year, if the players look back happy, then I’ll be happy.
[Irean] This is the first time I’m working with Connor (Artemis). I met him before when he was on Clutch Gaming and I was on CLG, at the 2019 LCS regional qualifiers. And that was a very exciting match. The draft was really good and it was a really good experience to coach against his team. And so I’m really happy to work with Connor, because when I work with him, his in-game knowledge is amazing. He already knows what I want to talk about, and so we’re able to focus on the little details. When we’re going through feedback, I’m really happy to work with him.
Despite a rough start to the season, there are still many more matches left to be played. Are there any messages you would like to say to the Evil Geniuses fans?
[Irean] Big thanks to our fans. We just started the season, but it seems like it’s not a very good start. But we’ve been improving, and every player is trying hard, so keep cheering for us.
[Artemis] It’s weird for me, because I don’t see three games as very indicative of of anything. I think that everybody likes to push narratives really early in the season, and I think it’s a bit premature. I wouldn’t even say that I’m necessarily disappointed with the start because of how hard the guys have been working. We did a lot on very short rest. I think that the improvement that we’re seeing in scrims, we will show on stage, and I’m excited for that.
But to the fans— we love you guys. I think you guys are a huge part of what brings us to the LCS everyday and what keeps us going. So if you’re an old fan of me, or Irean, or any one of our players, welcome to EG. And for the old guard from EG, welcome back. We’re really excited to be here. Thanks so much for the support.
Feature image courtesy of Riot Games.
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