“We know why we lost that game,” EG Ethan on preparing for the NRG rematch
After a statement victory over NRG in the VCT Americas playoffs, Ethan of Evil Geniuses spoke with us here at esports.gg.
Ethan "Ethan" Arnold and Evil Geniuses have made the miracle run of VCT Americas. They went from being written off by everyone to barely making the playoffs. And now, at the time of writing, they are a single victory away from qualifying for Masters Tokyo.
Their first game of the VCT Americas playoffs was an immediate rematch against NRG, a team they lost the last game of the regular season to. We spoke with Ethan following a scrappy victory that propelled EG forward in the bracket. He gave insight into the team's improvements, prepping for the same team in back-to-back series, and more.
Ethan talks about Evil Geniuses' progress in VCT Americas after winning NRG rematch in playoffs
"First, I'd like to talk about getting to this point. From a longshot to a playoff hopeful, and now in the VCT Americas playoffs. We saw some of the team react to MIBR beating 100 Thieves, but none of us were there to know how it truly felt. Did you take a minute to celebrate or were you ready to get to work as soon as that result came through?"
Ethan: "We actually practiced the day before, just in case. So, I mean, that day just before that, we were practicing for the hope that MIBR would beat them. And they did and then we just kept on prepping. It was like we made playoffs ourselves, even though it was a little bit thanks to them. We closed it out into later in the season and I think that helped boost our chances."
"Between the start of the season to now then, what's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome to make it this far? Whether yourself or the team as a whole."
Ethan: "Myself and the team started off pretty poorly. Honestly, I wasn't really performing like I thought I should. I think I picked it up a little bit in the end. And as for the team, I mean, everyone. Bringing Demon1 in, it was a lot of just getting the system to work to where it is now. And it's not an overnight thing, obviously. Once we did figure it out a good bit, I think it showed in the matches. We're just going to keep improving."
"So, I looked it up and the last time you played a team in back-to-back official matches was against Cloud9. You were on 100 Thieves. Completely different teams now. It was the LCQ Lower Bracket Final in October 2021 and then Week 1 of the NA Challengers Group Stage in February 2022. That was roughly four months apart. Did you know that?"
Ethan: "No. I mean, it definitely felt weird facing NRG, losing that game, and miraculously making playoffs. Then seeing me play them first, I was like, 'Well, at least it'll be a good revenge story or a good rematch.' We get it right after, so the result is really fresh and that's what happened today. We liked it."
"That leads right into my next question. These back-to-back games versus NRG were separated by just five short days, vastly different than what I just mentioned. How did the EG game plan differ from the Week 8 series?"
Ethan: "We know why we lost that game. I'm sure they know why they lost some rounds, too, even though they 2:0'd us. Both teams changed a lot. You could tell playing. Props to them for having good prep and props to us for also having good prep and kind of thinking ahead.
"The vetos helped a lot and every single person today was on their A-game. That definitely helps, but it was a battle. Two close maps at the start and then on Ascent, we kind of ran away with it after a certain point. But every game felt like it was definitely our hardest game we played."
"And in what way did you personally approach the match up differently?"
Ethan: "Personally, I know what I had to do. I definitely boosted up the mid-rounding and kind of helping the team direct where they wanted to go. After a certain point, I didn't really have to do much. My team had me for sure. Demon1 popped off and did his own thing. He just threw us in the backpack and told us where he was going. That helps a lot, but it was definitely a team effort today for the most part. Everyone showed up."
"Okay, so NRG took the first map. It was a close map and losing that could have easily stifled any possible momentum for EG. Every player handles that in their own way and the team clearly turned it on in the following two maps. So, I'd like to get your perspective. When a close map doesn't go your way, does that fire you up a bit? Do you buckle down and focus more? How do you keep from faltering?"
Ethan: "After losing a Thrifty or whatever that was for the last round, definitely a little heartbroken at the end. But everyone knows we have to reset. There's still a whole BO3 to play and I just told everybody from that game, it was obvious we were playing not to lose and we need to flip that switch. To make sure we played to win. And I think that clicked a little bit with people and everyone started coming alive for the second and third map. It definitely felt like it, so it was really good."
"Okay, then onto Split and the overtime periods. We had just seen the massive overtime map between Leviatán and FURIA. That made it later in the day then it probably would've been originally. So, with your overtime happening, what's your take on stamina when you're playing these games? How do you keep the stamina up? How do you keep from losing that energy, losing that fire? And then when it does go your way, what kind of momentum does that bring to you and the team?"
Ethan: "It's a huge thing for sure, especially in BO3's. I think that plagued us at the start of the season, you know, having a lot of young players, maybe not a lot of experience. They don't really know how to keep themselves in optimal shape for a BO3.
"Yeah, you're going to get cracked out for the first map. You might play really well the first map, you might lose and you still have to play two more maps. And you just crash. So, that's definitely a huge thing. That was a big topic for the team and as soon as we switched that, it was kind of a coincidence. We started winning. So, yeah, like you said, definitely a big thing. Stamina for BO3's."
"Well, Evil Geniuses didn't win a pistol round across all three maps. But heroics from every single player prevented that from mattering. You mentioned everyone being on their A-game, Demon1 popping off, and a lack of experience at the start of the season. It looks like everyone is firing on all cylinders now. You have plenty of FPS experience with a lot of different teams and teammates over time. What can you say about your current teammates and their performance this season so far?"
Ethan: "Yeah, from the start of the season, the improvement is unreal. It shows, but a lot of people don't see outside the server. You don't really see it too much. That's definitely a huge focus and improvement that we've had a lot during the season. That's a big reason why we've started winning.
"Like I said, it plagued us at the start, so it's kind of unlucky. But for the pistols, I mean, yeah, it kind of shows how well we played, right? Get a pistol, that's two rounds, right? You win pistol, you eco, that's 12 rounds out the window right there already and we still won the B03. So, that's a little testament to how well we played at least."
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