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As the League of Legends Championship Series 2022 Lock In finals weekend draws near, Evil Geniuses stand tall as the only team that hasn’t dropped a single game throughout the tournament. But even before Evil Geniuses’ semifinals opponents were decided, the team’s 17-year-old, mid lane phenomenon, Joseph “jojopyun” Joon Pyun, didn’t seem to care which of the two he’d end up facing.

On January 21, Evil Geniuses earned their spot in the Lock In semifinals after an expected 2-0 victory against Golden Guardians, who had been fielding their Academy roster during the event. Evil Geniuses’ next opponent, Cloud9, who defeated Counter Logic Gaming in a close, three-game series, are projected to be a much tougher matchup.  

“Out of those two teams, I think both those teams are not very strong,” Jojopyun said. “But Cloud9 is better.”  

The young talent made his LCS debut at the start of this year’s Lock In. After making a splash in the Academy and amateur scenes, Jojopyun entered the league with perhaps some of the most initial hype surrounding an untested rookie since the likes of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg first stepped foot on the LCS stage. So far, his play and confidence have done more than enough to back up those claims.

The year of EG?

Since their return to the LCS in 2020, Evil Geniuses have made a name for themselves as a team unafraid to gun for the best talent available, even if it isn’t necessarily attached to the biggest names. 

From world champions, like former Evil Geniuses bot laner Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and current top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-young, to domestic league MVPs, like former Evil Geniuses jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and current starting jungler Kacper “Inspired” Słoma, the org clearly knows how to attract the best of the best. In recent years, however, Evil Geniuses have begun developing quite the track record for eyeing stellar young prospects. 

Evil Geniuses starting bot laner Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki was 17 years-old when he shocked North American fans in the LCS 2021 Summer Championship on Tristana against 100 Thieves. This year, Jojopyun is the newest 17 year-old star to join the organization after being promoted from Evil Geniuses Academy, and he’s already made some highlight reels of his own. The most unbelievable part? He’s only been playing League of Legends seriously for a little over three years. 

“I don’t remember how I found it. I think a friend told me and I just tried it,” Jojopyun said. “I never really played it too much. I came back to it like two years ago and that’s when I took it seriously and actually started playing and trying to improve.” 

Now, the former Fortnite player has already triumphed over some of North America’s best mid laners, including Bjergsen and Immortals mid laner Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. And only two more best-of-five series stand in between Jojopyun and the rest of Evil Geniuses winning their first LCS Lock In trophy. With the reigning LCS champs 100 Thieves out after an upset loss against Dignitas QNTMPAY, Jojopyun is confident the rest of Lock In will be smooth sailing.

“I think it’s either us or 100 Thieves that would’ve won the tournament,” said Jojopyun in a post-game interview. “ And, since they’re out, I think it’s only us.”

Genius recognize genius

Much of Evil Geniuses success in the Lock In tournament came from playing together so well already. According to Jojopyun, that’s because the 2022 Evil Geniuses LCS lineup has already developed an impressive amount of cohesion considering the short time they’ve been playing together. 

“I think all of us are just individually really good,” said Jojopyun. “Even from the first day we played, we had good chemistry and everything. Everyone had the same play style in mind, too.”

As Team Liquid demonstrated during their win last year, Lock In results don’t necessarily spell out how the rest of the season will go, especially since many teams have yet to field their intended LCS starting rosters. However, if Evil Geniuses are able to complete their undefeated run off the back of raw talent and natural team synergy, they’ll certainly be a force to be reckoned with come the start of the spring regular season. 

For now, Jojopyun and Evil Geniuses shift their focus to their semifinal match against Cloud9 on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET. While Jojo isn’t worried about his own gameplay for the upcoming matchup, he did share a couple of extra things he does to maintain that confidence he brings into big games. 

“On game day, I always eat some chicken, lettuce and rice from a restaurant and that just gets me in the mood,” said Jojopyun. “For the past three games, I also started listening to a certain song. There’s no lyrics in it. I don’t even know the song name, but I’m doing that and it just gets me pumped up.”