Evil Geniuses haven’t played a single match since November of 2020, an ill-fated IEM Beijing-Haidian semi-final loss to Chaos, as the team wasn’t able to fly back to Europe after that tournament and had to sit out the rest of the season.
EG are the lowest-ranked team attending the BLAST Premier Global Final, in which they will start their run against Astralis, the current world No. 1, but Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz hopes that his team will be able to take advantage of their underdog status to surprise some of the other sides in contention at the first event of the year.
The Canadian player chatted about some of Evil Geniuses‘ problems last year, particularly their failed European trip for the BLAST Premier Fall Series, in which they went out after two matches, and how the team has worked to fix those problems by arriving in Serbia at the beginning of January in order to get up to speed in the current competitive climate.
Get us up to speed. Where are you now? What have you been up to so far this year?
We are currently in Serbia, it’s pretty much the only country that has allowed us to travel so that we can compete in European tournaments. We’ve been here since January 6 because we wanted to give ourselves as much time as possible. Towards the end of last year we didn’t play any tournaments, we couldn’t travel, so we wanted to make sure we got here as soon as possible to pick up where we left off, catch up with the new meta and make sure we’re prepared for this big tournament that’s coming up.
The end of 2020 was somewhat disappointing for Evil Geniuses as you couldn’t make it back to Europe at the end of the year, and the time spent here hadn’t been very fruitful. How is the adjustment to playing in Europe going this time around?
I don’t think we arrived early enough the last time we came to Serbia. It’s not really anyone’s fault, everything was just really last minute with the travel restrictions and everything. We didn’t have as much preparation or as much practice as we could have, but now we definitely learned from the last trip, which is why we came much earlier. We’ve been playing a lot more Counter-Strike and we feel a lot more prepared, both individually and as a team. We’ve been putting in a lot of hours and preparing a lot of things, so we feel a lot more ready than we did the last time around.
What was 2020 like? You won a few tournaments, but it was a hard year in general for everybody and you had a tough ending. What were the takeaways?
it’s hard to take anything away from 2020, there are some small lessons we can learn, but aside from the little period in which we won three online tournaments, I really don’t think there’s much to take away. We played two LANs last year, that’s not normal for what we do and what we’re used to. We really missed competing in front of the fans, which gave us the motivation and fire, and we struggled with that until the end of the year. We didn’t play a single tournament during the last two months.
We really missed competing in front of the fans, which gave us motivation and fire, and we struggled with that until the end of the year
We had to stay local and practice against regional teams in North America, so I feel like our practice wasn’t very efficient and didn’t have a lot of quality, which led us to build a lot of bad habits and is why when we came to Europe after a while we definitely weren’t ready for what was over here. The main takeaway for us is really focusing on the foundations that we initially built with zews and taking the few positives from our three tournament wins online in North America. We’ll try to practice harder this year and make sure we can travel and prepare so that everything isn’t as last minute as it was last year.
You bring up zews. Can you tell us a little bit about his impact on the team so far and what has changed since he was brought on?
Since we brought on zews, it has been nothing but positive. He’s not only extremely motivational and a great leader, but he also has a lot of great ideas. I had worked with him in Liquid in the past and we’ve always found it easy to be on the same page in terms of how we see the game. He has a lot of great ideas and he helps in and out of the game. I think he’s a great addition to any team.
Several players that were in North America for most of last year have said that it was easy to lose motivation. Do you feel reinvigorated at all coming into 2021, a new year, a new tournament season?
We all have our motivation back for this year. Towards the end of last year, we didn’t play a single tournament and we took two months off, so obviously we missed competing, we missed playing Counter-Strike, so we were eager to come back to Europe and play against the best of the best. We feel motivated and we just want to compete and win. That’s what we came here to do. Hopefully, we’ll perform as best as we can.
Let’s dive into the BLAST Premier Global Final itself. You’re in the opening match of the event against Astralis, the top-ranked team in the world and the top seed at the tournament. How do you feel about the seeding and having to go up against the world’s best in your first match?
The seeding is fairly justified, Astralis is definitely still the best team in the world, they’ve shown their consistency through time and it’s definitely going to be a tough opening match. But like I said before, we feel more prepared than we did last time and I feel like we’re going to make it a competitive match, one that we can win.
Do you think you can pull off some surprises? Do you have any aces up your sleeve?
People are going to see us as the underdogs, we haven’t played a tournament in a while since we didn’t compete at the end of last year, so that’s how we’ll be viewed and we’ll use that to our advantage. We’re going to practice as hard as we can and just make sure we’re prepared.
We’ve used these two weeks to make sure that our fundamentals are sound, that we have a strong map pool, all of those things that you would expect from a team that has had this much time to prepare
In terms of preparation, it’ll be the same as zews and I usually do. We’ll do our homework for Astralis to understand how they play so we can play to their weaknesses and use our own strengths. As far as we are concerned, we’ve used these two weeks to make sure that our fundamentals are sound, that we have a strong map pool, all of those things that you would expect from a team that has had this much time to prepare. So yeah, just do our homework and hope it goes well.
You’re going up against a team that can use a sixth player as a substitute. Will that change anything going into the match?
No, teams that use a sixth player don’t really affect our preparation. Whatever map they use a sixth player on, we can still do our homework and prepare as best we can, so I don’t think it changes too much.
Have you talked about goals at all for the beginning of 2021 or for this BLAST event in particular?
We have a couple of small goals, we’re going to stay in Europe for 53 days to kick off the start of the year, and we’ll play four tournaments, so we just want to leave with a trophy. It’s as simple as that. We have four big tournaments, they’re all huge and with the top teams, so we just want to show that we can compete with the best of the best and come home with at least one trophy.
We’re going to stay in Europe for 53 days to kick off the start of the year, and we’ll play four tournaments, so we just want to leave with a trophy
That segues into the plans for 2021 in general. You’ll be here for your first tournaments, then travel back. What does the year look like?
I’m not sure how the end of the year is going to look, but for the first six months, we’re probably going to spend most of our time in Europe. I’m not sure if it will always be in Serbia or if it’ll be somewhere else, but for now, for the first two months, we’re going to stay in Serbia and play from here. It’s tough to say because everything can change last minute, but hopefully, we can return to LAN sometime soon. We’re just going to have to keep a close eye on how the landscape changes.
Having spent some time in Europe, practicing against some of the world’s best teams. How do you feel about the general level at the moment? Are we going to get some exciting matches coming up?
Yeah, you guys are definitely going to see some exciting matches. The level in Europe is so far ahead of what North America was at the end of last year. My team and I sometimes play pick-up games after we’re done with practice at night and we’re really impressed even with the level of FACEIT PUGs. It’s really competitive, people have good team play, great ideas, even if we’re just talking about a PUG environment, and we can really see that the level here, currently, is a lot higher. We need to rise to the occasion and meet the standard that has been set in Europe.
Are you feeling confident in rising to the occasion?
I’m feeling very confident. The last two weeks have given us a lot of confidence as a team, we’ve played well in scrims, so now that just needs to translate into matches. We’ll see!