EG Pho: “I think if there’s an optimal way to play Valorant, Cloud9 are close to it” cover image

EG Pho: “I think if there’s an optimal way to play Valorant, Cloud9 are close to it”

It’s all coming together for the new Evil Geniuses Valorant roster as they qualify for the Stage 1 CHallengers after a 2-1 victory over RISE.

Evil Geniuses scored an emphatic victory over fan-favorite RISE to secure the VCT Stage 1 Challengers spot. The North American team's roster is still relatively new but they are making a name for themselves in the scene. In a post-match interview, EG's Mike "pho" Panza talks about the passion and skill of the new players on the squad.

Evil Geniuses were just one win away in the Open qualifiers #2 to qualify for the Stage 1 Challengers. After defeating TSM and Ghost Gaming in the open qualifiers, EG's new roster had to prove its weight against Rise, the final hurdle. YaBoiDre and Pho led the NA team to victory. In the meantime, Evil Geniuses also extended its winstreak on Bind. The team has seven consecutive victories on Bind.

The 2-1 victory over Rise means EG has qualified for the upcoming Stage 1 Challengers. But it’s not over for Rise just yet as they will have another opportunity in the lower bracket.

21-year-old YaBoiDre ended the series with 65 kills with a 180 ADR. The teams played out the series on Ascent, Split and Bind with Rise winning the first map but EG bounced back on the remaining two.

Pho: "It kind of fell into place, everyone taking their roles"

EG announced its Valorant roster with three new players in Jeffrey "Reformed" Lu, Alexander "jawgemo" Mor and Yaboidre late last month. The roster features a mix of young talented individuals joining the team to aid existing superstars. Just a few days later, EG has already qualified for the VCT Stage 1 Challengers after an undefeated run through the upper bracket.

One of the biggest challenges for a new roster is being comfortable with the new roles. But for EG, the players’ adaptability and flexibility allowed them to streamline their performance and achieve their initial goal of qualifying to Stage 1 Challengers. Pho had nothing but inspirational words for the new players on the squad. 

It kind of fell into place, everyone taking their roles. Reformed has been learning Sentinels for a couple of months now. He just picks everything up, he just soaks it all in. Reformed and jawegemo are pillars for us.

Evil geniuses pho

When asked which team he is most excited to play against, Pho said it was Cloud9. The NA squad has been one of the hottest commodities in the scene although their Berlin performance left something to be desired.

Cloud9’s consistency and aggression has made it one of the most exciting teams in the NA scene and EG.Pho feels their playstyle is close to perfect. 

Cloud9 is the most consistent team in NA right now. I love the way they play. I think if there’s an optimal way to play Valorant, I think they are close to it if not somwhere around it.

Evil Geniuses Pho

Further elaborating on this Reddit thread, Pho explained his thought process. He explains why he thinks Cloud9's playstyle is one of the strongest in the scene, but he also says we will not see an optimal Valorant due to unique scenarios and the ever-growing agent pool.

"I just think C9 has a good mix of slower defaults, faster-paced plays, and set pieces. On top of that their defaults just have very few gaps, so you rarely get an advantage without working hard for it. To consistently win rounds vs a team playing like this you have to make a read on very specific patterns while also having very few gaps yourself.

Comparatively, a team like Sentinels is a strong team because of their playmaking, individual talent, and mid-round decision making. This means there's more room for them to force errors, but also to make them sometimes. Depending on the particular series you play against a team playing this style, you might have a very different level of difficulty on a given day.

To be fair though, I don't really know if we'll ever see "optimal" Valorant because the game has so many unique scenarios with this ever-growing agent pool. I don't see the game ever getting to a point like CSGO where it's about playing the most optimized version of the game possible. I also don't think there's any right or wrong way to play Val, but this is just my take on different teams' gameplans."

What's next for EG?

Evil Geniuses have put together a strong team and they have potential. Their qualification to the Stage 1 Challengers tournament is proof that they can achieve even better results. But what’s next?

We worked hard for the last two weeks. And I mean hard. We put in 8 hours every day without taking a break in the last 2-3 weeks. [...] This is a team that just grinds. Everyone is just there grinding it out everyday. If we keep that up, I think that's the start of the formula our success. People who succeed most in this game are passionate, they play all day. And this team, they have that. We want to play all day and this is what we do. 

EG Pho on the EG roster.

The VCT NA Stage 1 Challengers Open Qualifier #2 will send four teams to the main event. EG and Knights have already secured their qualification.

The VCT stage 1 Challengers event will kick off on February 11 with $200,00 and the best NA teams in competing against each other.

Evil Geniuses' time in Valorant has not been impressive. The team crashed out of the VCT 2021: North America Stage 3 Challengers 2 - Open Qualifier after a 0-2 loss to Complexity.

But with this new roster, it's the start of a new era for EG Valorant They have potential, they have already proven that. But how far can they go?
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