North American Counter-Strike has been a trending topic with the game’s community for a while now. The region always had its ups and downs, but since the online era, North America is reaching new lows, while being far from reaching its peak from years ago, and this goes to every team in the region, no exceptions. However, there’s one squad specifically that has become the perfect representation of its region’s downfall. And this team is Evil Geniuses.
The team currently led by Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip has just reached its lowest point yet, but the legendary organization has been seeing its Counter-Strike division failing to reach any objectives for a while now. Consequently, uncertainty has been surrounding Evil Geniuses for a while, but it has never been this bad as the team failed to qualify for the upcoming PGL Major Antwerp.
Yet, it’s in such moments as this one that it’s interesting to look back in history. It’s time to start asking “when exactly Evil Geniuses started failing”, “what happened then”, and this is exactly what we’ll be looking at here. Let’s take a dive back to the brief period when Evil Geniuses sat at the top of HLTV’s World Rankings and see what happened since then. Come with us in this journey to the recent past as we remember Evil Geniuses downfall and continuous steps into a downwards spiral.
A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER
September 2020 is a month that Evil Geniuses fans hold dearly in their memories. At the end of that month, the team composed by Ethan “Ethan” Arnold, Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, Tarik “tarik” Celik, Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov and Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte reached the top of the world rankings. This happened after a strong 3rd place finish in ESL Pro League Season XII. Back then, CSGO was still adapting to the online era, and we were seeing events being divided by regions. So, EG had won the North American EPL Season XII, but that meant something. EG still faced high-level opposition such as 100 Thieves, FURIA and Liquid.
Nonetheless, while Evil Geniuses’ run as the world’s best wouldn’t last for more than a week, the team was still putting strong performances. Next in their schedule was the North American edition of IEM New York 2020, which they finished in 3rd once again after being defeated by FURIA. After that, though, things would get interesting. The Geniuses would attend their first international event in a while: the BLAST Premier Fall Series. It was still played online, but the best teams from all over the world would be there.
Considering how competitive Americas looked as a region going to that event in late October, fans had plenty to be excited about. Unfortunately, though, all three team from the Americas failed to accomplish anything there. EG, specifically, had another close encounter with OG in their opening match, but failed to top the Europeans. Next, they played against NiP, and failed to beat the Swedes and went home with only one map under their belt.
Now, it’s both confusing and interesting to look back at that time in CSGO. It was an incredibly turbulent era after all. In EG’s case, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions even now. Sure, when watching back their game against NiP one might note how coordinated their opponents looked compared to the Americans, but again, Evil Geniuses barely had any practice against European teams back then. In fact, the last time we had seen Evil Geniuses playing in an international event was back in late February of that year.
Anyway, if there’s one thing the community could conclude from that brief appearance in BLAST was that Evil Geniuses needed more time in Europe. However, the online era was in full effect. With pandemic-related restrictions in full-effect and more events being split between the Americas and Europe coming up, Evil Geniuses was headed back to the Americas.
Evil Geniuses returned to North America after finishing the Fall Series in last place in late October. Their next event would be the IEM Beijing-Haidian North America, an 8-team event in which they were the favorites alongside with Team Liquid. Peter’s team would perform well during the event’s group stage where they faced Rebirth and Triumph. While Evil Geniuses defeated both without dropping a match, neither team were present in the top 30 of HLTV’s World Rankings, so that result was nothing but expected.
In the playoffs, though, we saw EG disappointing massively as the favorites. EG faced Chaos and lost. Now, Chaos was a competent team with a lot of potential, yet, back then, that roster was on the verge of losing their sponsors as rumours pointed that Chaos E..C would leave the game in the coming weeks. Still, back to Evil Geniuses, the squad failed to reach the grand-finals and concluded 2020 with a bitter taste in their mouths. Yet, they still qualified to BLAST Global Challenge thanks to the circuit rankings.
With the year over for Evil Geniuses, we would only see them again back in January 2021. At the Global Challenge, Evil Geniuses would be once again put to the test against international competition, and that would work as an opportunity for the team to prove whether they could compete with European squads or not. Yet, for Brehze and his fans, the end would end on a higher note compared to the rest of the team as he was named the 20th best player of the year.
AN EVEN WORSE START
EG’s first tournament of 2021 was the Global Challenge. Featuring teams like Astralis, Natus Vincere and Team Vitality and a $1.000.000 prize pool, that was the first premier event of 2021, and one that no team wants to finish in last place. Fortunately, Evil Geniuses didn’t finish in last. Unfortunately, they didn’t end much far from it, though. The Americans got beaten by Astralis, defeated an incomplete FURIA and then got eliminated by their rivals from Team Liquid.
The important thing that fans notices in Evil Geniuses during the Global Challenge was that the team didn’t look competitive. The team’s in-game leader, stanislaw, had an awful performance during the whole event. CeRq, their AWPer, didn’t do much better either. More noteworthy, though, when facing Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses felt completely lost. Not only all players from the squad failed to finish the series with a positive HLTV rating, but Liquid had run circles around them.
Sure, only might point out that Keith “NAF” Markovic had a standout game and Liquid were going through their honeymoon phase with FalleN, but that doesn’t excuse how uncoordinated Evil Geniuses looked during clutch situations and how CeRq was ineffective with the AWP. It was hard to single out a player from EG back then, everyone had individual issues.
THE EUROPEAN GRIND
While Evil Geniuses failed to kick off 2021 with the right foot, the future looked hopeful enough. More international events would take place, albeit online, and the team seemed to be dedicated to return to the grind in Europe. As a matter of fact, Evil Geniuses next stop would be DreamHack Open January 2021: Europe. The second-tier event in the old continent would see Evil Geniuses facing the likes of FunPlus Phoenix, BIG, Gambit and other teams from that level of competition.
Unfortunately for stanislaw and company, Evil Geniuses wouldn’t go far in that tournament. The team started by beating FunPlus Phoenix in a best-of-three which was too close for comfort. Unfortunately, BIG would be too much for the Americans. After a disastrous performance from Tarik, Evil Geniuses faced elimination as they headed for a rematch against FunPlus. This time around, though, the Europeans crushed EG. Every player on the losing side looked terrible, and the team was sent packing.
While these results paint a negative figure already, results alone don’t make quite clear how bad EG was during that time. However, watching their matches in DreamHack are enough to see why fans were starting to get worried about that roster. There was no teamwork. When they played against European opposition it felt like they were seconds behind their opponents in every level of the game. Finally, EG was looking bad on an individual level. Without firepower, tactics and teamwork, what’s left?
TROUBLE IN EUROPEAN SERVERS
While a group stage finish at the first DH Open of the year was bad, Evil Geniuses wouldn’t have time to regroup. There was plenty of events in Europe in their schedule, and the team would have to work overtime to solve their issues while attending key events. The first one of these events was the BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2020, and then we saw actually a better-looking EG! The Americans got beaten by G2 in their opener but sent Vitality packing and then won over G2 in a rematch.
Peter’s team would end up getting beaten by Complexity in their final match there, but EG accomplished their main objective. They had finished in 4 – 6th place and guaranteed a spot in the BLAST Premier: Spring Finals. This meant that EG would skip the Spring Showdown, and consequently could fully focus on IEM Katowice and other tournaments close to it.
Talking about IEM Katowice, EG started their run back on. February 18th by quickly taking down Gambit, the team which would end up winning the event. During that match Ethan performed well and rekindled fans’hopes for this team, even if for just a moment. Unfortunately, that moment didn’t last. Evil Geniuses had another disastrous performance, this time against Astralis. Now in the lower-bracket, EG was set to face G2. Despite a strong showing by Brehze, the Americans were eliminated.
The overall takeaway from Evil Geniuses in Katowice was that the team was slightly better, but individual inconsistencies were still hurting them. Back then, Evil Geniuses was seen as a team one change away from recovering from their fall from grace. One of these options was to bring another AWPer in place of CeRq. The Bulgarian player was performing well below other top tier AWPers back then, although not as badly as he eventually would.
Another idea thrown around at that time was about replacing stanislaw. Now, North America has always struggled with leaders, but the idea here is that another captain could revamp the team’s approach to the game and give them a much-needed breath of fresh air. Perhaps under a new leadership Brehze and Ethan would find their consistency once again, and CeRq would be back on the top.
However, things would take a different turn than anyone could expect. Now back in North America, Ethan announced his move to VALORANT. In his place, the organization signed Owen “oBo” Schlatter, who previously played for Complexity until benching himself from the European-based roster the Dallas organization hosted back then. This was also Evil Geniuses’ first player change since they acquired the NRG roster back in 2019.
Ethan leaving was sad to see, but oBo being his replacement was well-received by fans. The young player was a star in-the-making back then, and he was seen as someone who could light back the flames Evil Geniuses lost at some point. It wouldn’t be long until oBo had his debut, as the team headed for ESL Pro League Season XIII next. This time, EPL would feature teams from all over the world, too, so it would be a fair test for this new EG.
HONEY MOON SPEEDRUN
Evil Geniuses started the thirteenth season of EPL with a bang as they defeated Astralis assertively. As for the newest addition to the team, oBo didn’t impress at first. However, he was key for EG’s T-side dominance on Inferno, which led them to victory. Sadly, Astralis would be the only team to be defeated by the Americans in that event. Evil Geniuses failed to beat Virtus.Pro in a close series that went to overtime in the decider map. FNATIC, however, had a far easier time against EG.
In the final two matches of the group, EG would face Liquid and Endpoint. While the former was dangerous as always, the Geniuses simply had to defeat Endpoint. However, instead of recovering, EG kept performing worse as the week went, and after failing to get a map against Liquid, EG also couldn’t get a lead against the British underdogs. With that defeat, Evil Geniuses was eliminated from EPL XIII with one victory in their belt.
Failing to do well in Evil Geniuses sparked the return of some uncertainty about this team, and fans were right when speculating that roster changes were coming. On April 15th the organization announced the benching of Tarik and unveiled Michał “MICHU” Müller as their new fifth. The Polish rifler had been through various rough projects, including EnVy’s final CSGO roster. Yet, he was well-received by fans. MICHU had talent and could become a success story in a team that’s not destined to disaster.
Once again, it wouldn’t be long until we saw this team in action, and they headed back to Europe to compete in Snow Sweet Snow 3 as a playoff’s invitee. The squad managed to win over Dignitas in a very close series but were eliminated by the ex-Winstrike roster that nowadays plays under Entropiq.
After Snow Sweet Snow 3, Evil Geniuses would have a quick break to work on themselves. However, by late May, the team would attend to one of the most important events of the year: cs_summit 8. The tournament was part of Valve’s Regional Major Rankings system and doing well there was important. After all, qualifying for the PGL Major was essential for any team with the amount of investment that EG had.
And yet, May 20th came and EG started the last Beyond the Summit event in CSGO with the wrong foot. The Brazilians from paiN upset Evil Geniuses in their opening match, and FURIA sent the North American squad home. Evil Geniuses finished the eighty seasons of the Summit in last place, and that was a worrisome result. Now, Evil Geniuses could still qualify for the Major, but their performance in the Summit was a complete disaster and it’d be hard to bounce back from that.
The North American squad with two imports wouldn’t have time to shack off their result from the Summit though. IEM Summer 2021 was next on the schedule, and that was another international online event that EG couldn’t afford to finish in last place. The North Americans were placed in Group B, and they started things well by beating Team Spirit in the opening BO1.
More surprisingly though, EG defeated Heroic which had just won EPL XIII. This win was thanks to a strong performance from both CeRq and oBo and served to qualify the team for the playoffs. In their final match of the group stage, EG faced OG, and while the Europeans won that encounter, EG was looking decent for the first time in a while. EG then started the playoffs by facing Gambit, the best team in the world back then. The CIS powerhouse bested EG in their BO3, but a playoffs finish was enough from EG.
Evil Geniuses finished IEM Summer with their heads up high and for a good reason. Unfortunately, the momentum would go away shortly. EG attended their final spring event as they headed to BLAST Premier: Spring Final. However, it’s hard to argue that the Stanislaw and his team had a tough drawing. First, they had to face Gambit, still the best team in the world then. Next, it was NiP, which had just added Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz to their CSGO roster.
Next in the schedule and with hopes to show that the Spring Final was nothing but a single misstep in their recovery process, Evil Geniuses attended IEM Cologne 2021, the first LAN in CSGO in over a year. Differently than Katowice, though, EG had to qualify for the main event, and that’s where they absolutely crumbled. EG lost to FaZe Clan in their opening match despite a good showing from MICHU. EG survived their elimination match against ViCi Gaming, but mousesports quickly sent the Americans packing.
After IEM Cologne 2021, CSGO entered the player break. Evil Geniuses however didn’t do any player changes, but they instead brought in a new coach. Damian “daps” Steele returned to CSGO to become the team’s new head coach after a stint in VALORANT. Once again, a small flame was ignited for fans as maybe all EVIL needed then was a new coach. Yet, nothing changed.
EVIL attended ESL Pro League XIV in late August, and once more, they finished their group in last place. Admittedly, EG’s group was way more competitive than in the previous season, but EG also performed far worse. This time, the Americans only got one map out of five BO3 series. It’s important to mention that EG played with their coach back then as stanislaw took some personal time off.
SUCCESS NEVER TASTED THIS BAD
For some time during the player break, EG didn’t play with their full roster. First, stanislaw took some time off and was then followed by Brehze. Of course, speculation run wild back then as these two could be looking into moving to VALORANT. That didn’t happen, though, and both players returned eventually for the final event in Valve’s RMR circuit. During that time, EG attended to one event besides EPL, which was the BLAST Premier: Fall Groups. The Americans finished in last place then.
In any case, IEM Fall was next for EG, and that was their final chance of getting themselves a spot in the upcoming Major. Ultimately, Evil Geniuses succeed, but it wasn’t easy. The squad defeated 00 Nation only to be crushed by Team oNe afterwards. They got the win over Triumph since one of the players in that team was asleep, and that was EG’s saving grace since they failed to win against every other team in their group.
After a series of tiebreakers to see which team would end up in Group B’s third-place, EVIL managed to get the upper-hand against Triumph and Team oNe. After getting 3rd place, EG faced EXTREMUM. Fortunately, EXTREMUM seemed to be lost in their own map pick, Nuke. While the Australians bounced back and stole EG’s pick, the decider map was Inferno. Thanks to that, as well as a strong performance from the four guns in the roster, EG won that series. Winning that match gave Evil Geniuses a spot in the Major. A Legendary spot, that is, which meant that they would skip the first stage of the tournament. If anything, EG wouldn’t be able to finish the Major in dead last!
Before the Major, though, EG attended one last event: BLAST Premier Fall Showdown. The event ran a single-elimination bracket which saw EG being eliminated almost instantly. EG was beaten by MAD Lions without winning a single map, and all that was left was the Major.
The Geniuses attended Stockholm as one of the favorites to be eliminated without winning a match. That was the kind of expectation they could actually deliver. The team was defeated by FaZe Clan and Copenhagen Flames without getting ten rounds between these two BO1s. In their final elimination match, they faced Vitality. Now in a BO3, the Frenchmen faced a EG on Inferno first. Back then, Inferno seemed to be the only map EG was able to play, and the Americans won it. On the following maps, though, Vitality conquered stanislaw & co. With that defeat, EG was sent home with a 0 – 3 record.
The Major would be the last time we’d see EG in the server in 2021. However, the organziation popped up in our newsfeeds shortly after their elimination. The organization announced in early November that MICHU, oBo and stanislaw were released. Then, in late December, daps’ departure was announced. In his place came G2’s Damien “maLeK” Marcel to lead the yet to be unveiled 2022 roster.
Now, it’s unknown the exact roster the organization planned to field originally. Yet, we know that it wasn’t the one they currently have. Liquid’s NAF, for one, was supposed to be part of this new roster, for example. And as we all know, he still plays for TL. Instead, EG went with a roster composed by Brehze, CeRq and three faces from Cloud9’s Major-winning roster. Stewie2K, Timothy “autimatic” Ta and William “RUSH” Wierzba were unveiled in mid-January as the reinforcements. Stewie would also take the IGL role.
NEW ROSTER, STILL FAILING
As we now know, Evil Geniuses’ fortune stays the same, even with Stewie as their leader, if not worse. The team finished in last place at the BLAST Premier: Spring Groups 2022. They had to qualify for the Americas RMR on their second try after being beaten by. Strife in the first qualifier. Then, EG also finished in last place at the fifteenth season of ESL Pro League. More recently, EG failed to qualify for both PGL Major Antwerp and IEM Dallas 2022 and finished in last place of the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown 2022.
Yet, it’s clear that this roster isn’t working. Sure, both Complexity and Liquid have hurdles to worry about, but at least those two teams are working. Complexity is worrying about their players’ individual forms, and Liquid needs to decide whether Richard “shox” Papillon has a place in this roster. Yet, none of their issues compares with Evil Geniuses’.
When it comes to EG, it’s time to see that Stewie2K isn’t working as a captain. The only consistent thing about CeRq is his underperformances. RUSH is a support player so we can’t expect high fragging from him. Yet, in a team with an underwhelming Brehze, CeRq and Stewie2K, he doesn’t really have anything to support since they destined to crumble once they enter the server. Autimatic at least isn’t terrible. Still, even he isn’t performing as strongly as he did in his return to CSGO earlier in 2022.
Nonetheless, the only thing one can say for sure about this roster is that they need changes. We don’t know who’s going to be replaced and by who, but we can only hope that the upcoming roster moves will take Evil Geniuses back to a competitive level. If anything, EG’s CEO has already made a statement and promised changes. For now, that is all one can ask.
KEEPING UP WITH EVERYTHING
Evil Geniuses will be taking a break, but Counter-Strike certainly isn’t. The first Major of the year will be starting in a week, and even now there’s plenty of events running. So, in order to keep up with everything esports, make sure to follow us here.
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