Esports.gg spoke with Nicholas “NaturE” Garrison, the in-game leader of Evil Geniuses, following Week 2 of VCT Americas 2024 Stage 1.

Evil Geniuses is coming off a world championship victory in 2023, but the team is vastly different. One player who slots into the 2024 version of EG is their new IGL, Nicholas "NaturE" Garrison.

He had quite the shoes to fill coming into this year, and it looks as though the new EG roster is adjusting. Coming off of a VCT Americas Stage 1 loss to Cloud9, we chatted with the IGL about how the team is adjusting.

EG IGL NaturE on how the game has changed and what EG is doing to improve

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Getting a map victory here looks like a better performance than Week 1, from a spectator’s standpoint. Do you feel like this was an improvement, despite the loss?"

NaturE: "Yeah, this week definitely was an improvement, especially with Lotus in general. We had a really rough Lotus last week against G2. We fixed it and cleaned up a lot of our issues. It was small mistakes, especially in the late round. And I think we showed that we fixed that really, really well, in terms of this week."

"What kind of things did the team intend on cleaning up after the loss to G2, and did that happen?"

NaturE: "Lotus was all about late round stuff, making sure that we're doing everything right when we're actually up in advantage. We cleaned up our starting, our openers, and made sure we were really, really good on those.

"Because we lost a few times when we were in a 3v5, stuff like that. And then we just had some oopsies, right, in the first week. I feel like a few of us just messed up and, you know, that happens. We just made sure that we were cool, calm, collected for Lotus because we knew we were really confident on it."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Okay, well, as the team’s IGL, what kind of pressure do you put on yourself to try to make EG successful?"

NaturE: "I don't think of it as pressure. it's just, I've got to do my job right. It was a lot of small mistakes, even in today's games, that I made. That everyone made, and we'll look over it, but at the end of the day it's like dead comms.

"Anything like tha,t we could have really, really polished a lot of our gameplay in the later rounds. Even people alive could have made better plays and stuff like that. So, that's kind of the pressure I put on.

"Since I want to try to do the most as the leader, but I don't put an infinite amount of pressure on me to make it perfect. I have four other players that are also doing the same thing."

"And how has a veteran coach like Potter helped you when it comes to reaching the level of play you want to?"

NaturE: "She's helped immensely. She does a lot of work in terms of the strategy, but also she really nitpicks us very, very hard. In a good way. We have to learn from our micro mistakes and stuff like that.

"And I think that's probably the biggest focus for us this past week, and it cleaned up very well on Lotus. So, I think that's just the plan moving forward, making sure that we're solid, especially in the later round on the other maps."

"With the different stages being only a handful of weeks and Championship Points being so important, has the urgency kicked in on the team yet?"

NaturE: "I think it kind of kicked in after. We know this was a week that we had to win. Then we know we have two really big games, especially with the super week coming in. KRU and then we have SEN. So, definitely some urgency on our progress. We really want to improve and make the playoffs for this split."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Tell me about the match against Cloud9 briefly then. Winning the first map, dropping the second to a C9 eco, then a pretty one-sided finale. What went right and what went wrong?"

NaturE: "In terms of Lotus, I feel like a decent amount went right even when we lost. We really got to pick apart what they were doing, and that's probably when we worked the best. So, to be honest, Lotus could have been an absolute blowout.

"I think we trolled really hard still. I told the guys while we were playing, we trolled two 2v1s or something like that. And I'm like, 'Guys, it's just like practice. It's what we're working on, right?' We've been trolling these lately.

"We're playing like how we practiced, and that's what matters the most. We don't want to play differently. When we fix these and it goes into a match, that's great, but at least we are playing like we do normally.

"We don't want to change because we're on stage. So, that was the biggest thing and that's why I told that we were up and it's not a big deal. In terms of Sunset, we lost some really tough rounds again, especially with the eco and stuff like that.

"Just micro things. Maybe we missed our shot, but also at the same time, we try to not get into it. If we want to analyze that round, we were working together to double peak. We were doing all the right things. We just messed up our micro a little bit.

"So, I just said that it's all good. To just keep trying to work the kills together. And I think that kind of slowed us down a lot. A lot of the stuff we saw, I think on Split, was a little bit more individualized.

"That's where we kind of got picked apart a little bit, and we were starting to lose. On the first blood rate, we weren't getting traded. We were getting killed and that was kind of the what ended us on map three."

(Photo by Reece Martinez/Riot Games)
(Photo by Reece Martinez/Riot Games)

"It’s a much different game and esport compared to your time on Immortals, and even later on with Gen.G. What do you think the biggest change has been for the game, and for yourself as a player?"

NaturE: "The biggest change for the game, I saw it on Twitter I think yesterday or the day before from Saadhak. I think the biggest change to the game, right now, is the staleness of the maps. We lost a lot of creativity with Pearl and Haven.

"So, right now, people are just trying to find creative ways, and what we would call scrim plays. They're trying to see if anything works. We're becoming crazier when it comes to cooking and what we're doing in the server.

"There's a play on Sunset where they just double walked through our Omen smoke. Just gambled completely. Stuff like that. I feel like people are just doing that more now. So, I don't know, I think the hardest part is the randomness a little bit, in terms of like our map pool.

"And for me as a player, probably just leadership in general. Before this, I was just an IGL a little bit at the end of Gen.G. When koosta fell out of the roster. And then I think I've only grown in that aspect. just trying to become more of a leader.

"Even if when I went to mid-round TSM, and later in this game, there's a lot of things that keep getting added to the game. The timer on the Gecko flash, stuff like that. And then now Clove, we have to really make sure that as a mid-rounder, you're calling all of these things.

"It's a job to do, to be honest. People say this should be the easiest part of it, but when you're playing three agents that you know have rechargeable utility, and you're trying to think about the timers and stuff, that's not exactly easy all the time."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"You mentioned Clove. I don't know if you're aware or not, but they tweeted out that they will be eligible for play starting Week 3. As an IGL, how do you prepare for an unknown like that? How do you get the team prepped or yourself prepped to possibly play against an Agent that no one's seen yet?"

NaturE: "Well, I think the good news is that we play later on in the week. So, I think we'll probably see games on it. With Europe or Pacific playing it, or even the Challengers teams might play it. It'll give me some type of idea of how it's played.

"But I mean, throughout the week, we'll see it in scrims, we might even try it, we might not play it, but we might try it. Just to see whether we play it or not. We'll still be able to see how the Agent works, and we'll be able to counter.

"Just understand what different things Clove can do, that can punish us even if we're not playing it. That's the biggest thing. It's not a mindset before it comes out. What I think is going to happen. I'd rather figure it out.

"Let's say we play three scrims. We at least understand how the Agent is going to work in a scrim environment and we kind of understand how it's going to punish people."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"So, you did stand-in for 100 Thieves during Red Bull Home Ground, but this is truly your first taste of VCT partnership. Is the experience and talent level what you expected?"

NaturE: "I mean, it's definitely what I expected. Today, OXY popped off really, really hard. He was pretty confident, and he was a little cocky on Twitter. He said we'd only get two rounds, stuff like that. But he still surprised me. He played very, very well.

"He was getting a lot of multi-kills that were tough for us to lose to. He was playing very, very impressive. I think the two people that you kind of talk about right now in the Dueslit role, if I exclude Jawgemo, because he's the goat, is OXY and aspas, right?

"I think all the talent looks really good, that we've played against so far. I think that people put together a huge tier list, saying the bottom six teams can't win a map against the top two teams. And, if we even go further, most people on Twitter put C9 really low and they beat LEV and then LEV beat SEN, right?

"We're still seeing that no matter what, if people think the gameplay's lower level or not, these teams have enough mechanics. They're good and have a good enough game plan. If they're all following it well, they can beat the top teams at any point."

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