An incredible series between Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves for a Worlds 2021 bid had a finish that fell flat. Evil Geniuses would throw in another change-up that simply didn’t throw 100 Thieves off-balance. Instead, it would be an uncharacteristic error in their game plan, one that hopefully won’t cost them an international appearance.
Game 4 saw potentially the greatest backpack job North America League of Legends ever seen. The just-crowned “Rookie of the Year” Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki saved the day. Not necessarily having the greatest start to his first professional post-season, an incredible five-kill team fight saved Evil Geniuses from an exit in Game 4 which was a fairy-tale moment. Text doesn’t do it justice, Danny’s navigation of the team-fight was similar to a choreographed action movie fight.
If Evil Geniuses were going to win Game 5, he definitely would have to have a role in it.
100 Thieves continued to be a team effort in wins. Can “Closer” Çelik and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun would play four games of Viego and Ryze and look really good in wins and less than impressive in their losses.
That seems relatively explanatory — look good in wins, look bad in losses — but that’s just been the story of 100 Thieves this season. It’s been mainly reliant on just how good their mid-jungle duo operates. Although, it shouldn’t diminish just how incredible Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun had been playing this series, outclassing Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun.
The Very Bad Ziggs Pick
Evil Geniuses would telegraph a first pick Viego with their substitution of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen into the lineup. Everyone knew it was coming, it was a clear reaction to the Viego priority. Finally, they were taking away a key piece of the 100 Thieves puzzle. But the real headscratcher would come with the Ziggs selection for Danny.
Ziggs has become a popular pick. The ability to seemingly win most laning phases with his wave clear, range and more importantly, it allows the support to be more active. Team Liquid would use Ziggs to perfection against Cloud9 in Round 1, allowing Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in to roam around the map while Edward “Tactical” Ra would push the lane and not die. They would search for out-of-balance skirmishes and rarely would Tactical look to get involved. It protected him from criticism of his team-fight positioning in critical situations.
It’s why it didn’t make sense for Evil Geniuses. The clear win condition in their previous games was Danny. It also made the game much more predictable for 100 Thieves.
The key ingredient to 100 Thieves’ summer success was their ability to win the game early. In wins, they were top of the LCS in the summer for average gold deficit at fifteen minutes (+2298), first in herald control (73%) second in first blood percentage (78%), second in first turret (89%) and second in first dragon (67%).
While they also are one of the worst teams when playing from behind, it did feel weird that they were willing to take a chance on a coinflip strategy with no real possibility of recovering if things went wrong. Then again, it is also Evil Geniuses.
Why Things Went Wrong
Evil Geniuses wouldn’t start the game on the right foot with IgNar’s roaming. After securing a useful first blood in the top-lane, the team looked to capture Team Liquid’s previous success and force fights in the mid-laner. However, 100 Thieves simply outplayed them with Huhi doing an excellent job at limiting the recovery potential of Viego.
EG also weren’t in a terrible position when 100 Thieves would execute a great gank in the bottom lane after forcing IgNar back into said lane. Even with it being huge at limiting the strength of Ziggs, Danny could still hold down the fort.
Despite a ton of top-lane pressure from Svenskeren, he wasn’t able to secure a crucial Rift Herald that would assist in opening the map. It came as a result of 100 Thieves’ bottom lane meeting the Evil Geniuses’ bottom lane mid and winning the exchange.
Not only would 100 Thieves take the Herald into the bottom lane for critical plate and first turret gold for Victor “FBI” Huang, but it should also have been a blinking red flag that EG had to monitor their bottom lane situation. Instead, EG would call for a top-lane dive. They would secure the kill but 100 Thieves would secure much more.
IgNar would be zoned away from the bottom lane and Danny would be stuck by his inner turret alone. Because of wave management, Herald would be able to get off a second headbutt. 100 Thieves would capitalize on it and secure a second turret and double their gold lead from 1,500 to 3,000. Even more important, it removed a much-needed security blanket for Ziggs on the bottom side of the map.
It forced Ziggs to go into the top lane and paved the way for 100 Thieves to not fear a contested second dragon. All of the advantages that would come with a Ziggs were seemingly gone.
When An Evil Plan Doesn’t Work Out
Cartoons meant for children loved the concept of a master plan not working out. There was a flaw in the design that our hero could take advantage of.
100 Thieves took complete advantage of a significant misread by Evil Genuises regarding the state of competition. It is easy to point out that Daniele “Jiizuke” di Mauro did not have a great series and is likely the scapegoat for this loss. But Evil Geniuses really struggled at putting the players in the best position to succeed.
It was sort of like calling a bunch of run plays when you have peak Tom Brady in your backfield.
Evil Geniuses are looking to cement their status as an organization to be reckoned with. While they have an excellent coaching staff, an excellent farm system, it’s getting tough to ignore these lapses at the end of the finish line.
On paper, losing to 100 Thieves doesn’t seem as bad as they were the second-place finisher for the regular season. However, this was also a 100 Thieves team that went 1-2 three times in the last four weeks of the regular season and appeared to be down for the count. It could just be the reality check the organization needed, the reminder that they need to finish the job before letting up on the gas.
Or, it could just be the LCS scriptwriters just continuing the same story with the same organizations finding success.
“From Our Haus to Yours”