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North American resident support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme left Cloud9 this past offseason to join Evil Geniuses as they rebuilt their roster for the 2022 League Championship Series season. The team immediately got off to a hot start, winning every game of the preseason Lock In tournament until the finals against Team Liquid.

In the opening weeks of the season, Evil Geniuses have gone 2-2, trying out a myriad of different strategies and playstyles. They haven’t looked as solid as during the Lock In, but like everyone else, they’re working through the early stages of a new roster.

After their third game of the season, Vulcan chatted with Upcomer last week about the overall state of North American League of Legends and Evil Geniuses’ place in it. Watch the interview here or read the transcript below.

You just beat Dignitas. It was a kind of wild game. You had the Smite top — we’ll see how much longer that lasts — but we’ll get into that in a little bit. First, I’m back in the studio for the first time, and you’ve been back for a week now. How is it being back on stage?

Vulcan: Well, first, welcome back. And second, It feels good to be back because there’s a bigger divide between scrims and solo queue and now playing on stage where there’s a mentality switch a little bit. But it’s sad that there are no fans still. I’m looking forward to fans hopefully coming back eventually.

Otherwise, it’s just kind of boring. So there’s that, but it feels good to have that first step of getting back into the studio. Just the drive to the studio, and then you’re listening to your music and you’re chilling, and then you get here. You kind of get your head in the game and I think it’s much better.

Upcomer: Did it feel surreal at all last week your first time back? Did you step in and get that awkward feel? Or was it kind of natural?

Vulcan: I mean, it was kind of natural. Because even last year we had some times when we showed up to the studio and played here, and then I did international tournaments — we played on a venue. So it hadn’t been like that long for me where I hadn’t played on stage, so it was fine.

Vulcan on EG
Vulcan’s Evil Geniuses squad is 2-2 so far in the League of Legends Championship Series. | Provided by Riot Games/ESPAT

Upcomer: Evil Geniuses are starting off pretty well, though it’s still very early in the split. You had a pretty good Lock In performance. What is your trajectory right now? Have you figured everything out as far as communication, team synergy and that type of thing? Or are there still a lot of things that you all need to work on?

Vulcan: So I think where we’re at is the honeymoon phase is kind of over, and now we’re starting to see the things that we need to work on. And I feel like today, maybe we played the Smite top wrong because it didn’t feel right, the way we’re playing the game. So a lot of stuff to work on: communication, like you said, and synergy.

Sometimes I think we have a hard time getting to understand each other in the game because maybe I’ll say something that I used to say to [Cloud9 jungler] Robert “Blaber” Huang, and then [Evil Geniuses jungler Kacper “Inspired” Słoma] doesn’t know instantly what that means, because I played with Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Blaber for two years. So I’m like used to being able to say a few words, and then boom, they understand.

And now we kind of need to build that back up with my new teammates in my new team. So there’s that, which is mostly communication. Yeah, we have a lot of stuff to work on, we’re still new.

Upcomer: You just played Dignitas, who everyone has been raving about being so much better than expected, and they were 2-0, so you now have given them their first loss of the regular season. Congratulations.

Vulcan [to Dignitas]: Sorry. *laughs*

Vulcan on EG
The early part of the LCS spring split is all about experimentation for Vulcan and Evil Geniuses as they try to work out communication and synergy. | Provided by Riot Games/ESPAT

Upcomer: What do you feel about NA this year compared to last year? Everyone’s talking about how exciting it is to watch. There’s so many different styles, so many new players.

Vulcan: I’m not sure if the league is better as a whole, like if the teams are better. Mostly because a lot of the teams are new, so it’s hard. I mean, the teams are not as good as they were last year obviously because by the end of the year, I feel like most teams have everything figured out so then they get a higher level and they play more cohesively and everything.

But if you take that into account, I feel like at least for bot lanes, Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol are very, very good. So it makes the bot lane level higher in general in the region.

I’m expecting that by the end of the year, the teams will be stronger than they were last year. And I also feel like the teams were pretty strong last year, the three teams that we sent to Worlds did honestly pretty well compared to some of the other years that we went internationally.

So yeah, that sounds very “hopium” when I’m saying that for NA fans. But yeah, I think by the end of the year, teams will be better than they were last year.

Upcomer: I want to talk about Champions Queue, because that’s another component of this potential NA growth this year. So I wanna talk about a couple of things: One, how has it been so far? And two, what is it doing to solo queue?

Vulcan: I think it’s very good because most of the issue in the past with the in-house systems, the Discord servers and everything for NA, was the player interests. People would kind of lose interest after a while. But it seems like, at least for now, everyone is very involved at 6 p.m. when the queue opens up because there’s a specific timeframe when you can play Champions Queue.

When it opens up, everyone’s waiting on their PC ready to press the queue. So it feels like the player interest is very high. There are still a few things to iron out, like there’s no MMR system yet, so the teams are very random. So you get some of these games where it’s very unbalanced and it’s very fast, and it doesn’t feel that great.

But we knew it would be like that from the get-go at the start, they just want to kind of get it rolling, and then eventually they’ll add an MMR system and it’ll be much more balanced. But yeah, it’s been fun; it’s been a higher level.

The ping obviously is much nicer to play on. You don’t build bad habits that you might build playing a lot of solo queue on 60 ping, for example. It’s only been like a week now, but for now, I think it’s looking very good.

Vulcan on EG
Champions Queue brought high-level players a better competitive experience, Vulcan said, and it might help North American players break bad habits from playing on higher ping. | Provided by Riot Games/ESPAT

Upcomer: So you’ll be better at killing champions out of Zhonya’s or something?

Vulcan: Yeah, timing spells? Yeah.

Upcomer: That sounds good. On the flip side, have you noticed a solo queue drop-off or longer queues or more frustrating games, or anything like that?

Vulcan: Have I played solo queue since Champions Queue? I’m not sure. I think one day, because during the day we’re just scrimming, and then after scrims, the Champions Queue opens up, so we’re just going from scrims into Champions Queue. I played [solo queue] one day and the queue was fine, I guess. I didn’t notice a big difference. But I’m sure during Champions Queue, it’s probably very painful for the people who are not let into Champions Queue.

So that’s like a potential issue in the future, where solo queue is a bit dead, and then it’s hard to make that jump between being a solo queue player and then making your way into Champions Queue. But I’m sure there will be ways to get into Champions Queue, right? And they’ll be adding people as time goes.

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