Another week, another resounding Evil Geniuses victory in the 2023 VCT Americas League. Such is the story behind the North American team’s current state after cleanly defeating MIBR 2-0, with them blanking their Brazilian opposition 13-2 in Lotus and 13-5 in Fracture.
Such a display, which goes on top of EG’s similar triumphs over Leviatan and Sentinels, only amplifies their description as one of the hottest teams in the league despite starting off the season 1-3 and surrounding rumors of an impending shakeup if things didn’t materialize in the near future.
Not only did their form get resolved at a crucial point, EG’s subsequent turnaround in the second half of the season has been nothing short of remarkable. With the inclusion of Demon1 and a few tweaks made to the system by coach Christine “Potter” Chi and her staff, EG is quickly becoming known as a force to be reckoned with in the Americas League playoff picture.
Following EG’s series against MIBR, BLIX spoke to Ethan “Ethan” Arnold. He discussed the team’s turnaround and his contribution to the team. As well as how he looks back at their struggles earlier in the year, how he compares this team to his former 100 Thieves and NRG teams, and more.
The continuation of EG’s turnaround
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Just to start off, I want to cover your thoughts on the team’s performance against MIBR given that your opponents had to go through a different lineup with the addition of Txozin.
Ethan "Ethan" Arnold: We definitely came in confident knowing they had a different fifth. We played pretty much lights out so it felt pretty easy.
BLIX: When it comes to the series in particular, I want to dive into Lotus because that marked the first time EG played the map this season. I want to know your input on how you guys played that map with that context considered.
Ethan: Yeah. We were putting in the work. Even though we had not played it in a bit, we were still confident in it. I think that kind of played to how we expected it, so it didn’t seem too difficult.
BLIX: Amidst this team’s turnaround, how much has that confidence grown in recent weeks?
Ethan: Like you said, we started off pretty slow in the season but we picked it up in the last couple of games. Wins help with confidence a lot and especially with clean games. This one and the Sentinels one were relatively clean so we’re happy with that because round differential helps too. It just gives us confidence, kind of like a snowball. It’s nice.
BLIX: Despite EG not winning that series against LOUD back in Super Week, it’s fair to say that sparked the team’s turnaround in a big way. How do you view that series in particular, and how much of a boost did that give to you and the rest of the team knowing that you could stand toe-to-toe with the league’s best at that moment in time?
Ethan: Taking a 13-2 win off of the best team in the world right now–or at least in the Americas region—is huge for confidence. Even though it ended 13-0, we all understood that was just a terrible game from everybody. You don’t get 13-0’d if you’re playing decent, right? Everyone was playing very badly, so we knew that, and a lot of learning was going on.
With every loss, we’re learning a little bit, and for every win, we get a little more confidence, so it’s been going well.
BLIX: From your perspective, what would you say has been the biggest adjustment you had to make that allowed your contribution to affect the team in a positive way?
Ethan: Learning how to use people properly to their fullest is a huge thing, I think. With bringing in Demon1, he slotted into the system really well and I think we’re using him really well right now. That, plus everyone playing well individually is something I’ve been focusing on a lot and trying to get my individual performance up also. Like I said, the system is very tight so we’re good right now.
BLIX: One of those people that have made the system possible is your head coach Potter. How has it been working with her in trying to make sure the system you mentioned is going well as it can up until now?
Ethan: It’s good. Like I said, bringing in Demon1, even though we got him for a Jett main like he is, he can also slot into Brimstone and a couple of other agents. Having trust in players that they’re able to play other things when needed to is huge and having flexibility is really good for a team. Like I said, if everyone has trust in themselves and their teammates, I think we’re in a good spot.
Having Demon1 in EG
BLIX: Did it surprise you to see Demon1 do so well, given that he came into EG with little to no professional experience beforehand?
Ethan: Yeah, definitely. We knew he had the raw firepower when we picked him up, and the coach and staff knew what his comms were like, but personally, I was surprised. He came in like he was already on the team. He came in and was super comfortable with everybody, he trusts everybody, and he’s very easy to play with so it’s good. He’s definitely not just a Jett main that doesn’t talk. He brings a lot to the table.
BLIX: From your point of view, how have you been working with Demon1 in particular so that he can be the kind of player that he is right now?
Ethan: I kind of take it as my job to make sure he shines in a way. I try to set him up as best as I can. If he’s having a bad game, I give him confidence because that’s a huge thing as a duelist. That’s kind of the job for everyone which is to help their teammates and make sure everyone is mentally there, so I think it’s my job to make sure he can perform at his higher potential.
Looking back at EG’s struggles
BLIX: I now want to look at the first half of the season, which obviously wasn’t so kind for you and the rest of EG. How do you view that experience, and what do you think was the biggest reason why the team started off so poorly at that point?
Ethan: Like you said, the start of the season was very rough. We had people in roles that they weren’t too comfortable with, and there was a big learning curve, which I think is the best way to put it. Honestly, getting acquainted with each other and how they play came with time.
We also played pretty tough opponents at the start too, so we got that out of the way, and there was a lot of learning going on because of the loss. We took that forward and made the best of it.
BLIX: I talked to C0M, and he mentioned how the team works through mid-round calling and stuff like that during matches and your contribution to that aspect. How have you been viewing your team’s contribution when it comes to mid and late-round calling?
Ethan: I kind of put that job on myself as being the IGL’s right-hand man and helping him as much as I can, whoever it may be. Also, having the most experience [out of the team] is also a very strong suit of mine in terms of mid-rounding and helping out, but the good thing about this team is everyone pitches in which makes my and Boostio’s job easier. It’s good right now so the system is nice. It helps me out, and it helps Boostio out too.
Ethan comparing EG with his past teams
BLIX: As someone who has been playing this game for the past two years and have played for two other teams in this region (them being NRG and 100 Thieves), how does this EG squad compare with your past teams?
Ethan: I think it’s hard to say. I think the competition back then wasn’t at that high of a level as it is right now. On 100T, we played internationally. We played a lot of the best EMEA teams. On NRG, we didn’t really play any international teams, and then on this team, we only played two teams in Brazil. Until we play a little more on LAN, where we play tougher opponents, it’s gonna be really hard to tell.
BLIX: In recognizing those 100T teams were able to reach the international level, what is the gap like between this EG squad, which is trying to reach Masters, and the former 100T squads?
Ethan: For 100T, when I joined, they were already a Masters-level team in my opinion. They were already gonna make it with or without me. I just slotted in. That was that caliber of a team. In joining this team, it was more of a work in progress, especially from last season. They kept their three [C0M, Jawgemo, Boostio] and they did decently well in the LCQ.
I guess it was a rebuild kind of thing. There really weren’t any expectations from me or maybe from the org, honestly. It was just to see. There was no “if you guys don’t make Masters…” and so and so. It’s not gonna be a huge disappointment if we didn’t. It wasn’t an expectation.
BLIX: With all that considered, your next opponent is going to be NRG, which is a former team of yours that now boasts former world champions. What are your thoughts on taking on NRG for the final week of the season?
Ethan: It’s obviously the most important game of the season depending on how other certain games go. I have a lot of friends on that [team]. Like you said, they have four Masters winners or something like that, so it’s gonna be a tough game for sure. I think they’re looking like us right now. They’re getting back into the groove of things. They had a rough start to the season. It’s literally just going to be whoever brings their A game is going to win, so it should be a good game.