MSI 2022 has been quite the tournament so far for North American representative Evil Geniuses. The LCS champion failed to pick up a win against the LEC’s G2 Esports during the Group Stage, securing its spot in the Rumble Stage thanks to a clean sweep against LCO side ORDER. However as the tournament has progressed, the team has gradually found its stride, and today booked its place in the semifinals after outmanoeuvring PCS juggernaut PSG Talon.
In esports, though, it’s the defeats which tend to weigh most-heavily on the minds of players. And in an end-of-day interview with The Loadout, midlaner Joon ‘Jojopyun’ Pyun only had words of reflection with regards to EG’s second game of the day: a sixth consecutive defeat against G2.
“The game was definitely won, but I think I just played bad this game,” Jojopyun says, admitting that he felt “like shit” heading into today’s rematch. But for Jojopyun this feeling wasn’t due to stage nerves. No, the midlaner who is currently oozing confidence in his play had simply forgotten to undertake his pregame ritual: caffeine and a bite to eat 20 minutes before a match.
Regardless of the result, EG has gone from strength to strength over the course of the Rumble Stage, doing the double over PSG Talon and Saigon Buffalo, and yesterday pulling off a shock win against local favourites T1.
just beat the goat ama
— Jojopyun (@jojopyunlol) May 23, 2022
At just 17 years old, Jojopyun has managed a feat not even regional phenoms Søren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg or Nicolaj ‘Jensen’ Jensen could in taking down Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok – the Unkillable Demon King himself – marking the first time an NA team has taken a game off of T1 since Counter Logic Gaming blew open its nexus back at 2016’s Mid-Season Invitational.
Although EG still couldn’t get one back over G2 Esports today, spirits are high, as Jojopyun remarks that everyone on the team has been “getting way better”. On a personal level, everything from the midlaner’s laning, to his teamfighting, to his general game sense has improved in a remarkably short time – something he attributes to the masters of the game he is either watching, or constantly testing his skills against.
“I think the way Heo ‘ShowMaker’ Su plays is really in-tune with his team, and I learn a lot from watching him,” Jojopyun notes. “Also versing Li ‘Xiaohu’ Yuan-Hao who’s Galio – and the way he controls the map – is really insane, as well as Faker on his Zoe and LeBlanc. Just from watching pros I’ve learned a lot from Song ‘Rookie’ Eui-jin too.”
With Jojopyun himself picking up the Galio as MSI’s teamfighting meta has become more and more established, lane kingdom is strictly off the menu. “Playing for lane really hard and smashing it doesn’t matter as much as it did before,” he says, “and I feel like objectives – especially Rift Herald – is really important.”
Win or lose, Jojopyun has been a big presence on social media this season, and hasn’t missed an opportunity to trashtalk his opponents in a way we have seldom seen since the likes of Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng. Though he may have all the respect in the world for the likes of Rasmus ‘caPs’ Winther and Faker, and remains humble throughout our interview, don’t let it fool you – taking names and taking games is the business he’s in.
I think League is just really stale with that [trashtalk]
However, while the midlaner may have earned a reputation for giving it massive, the reality, he feels, is that the lack of trashtalking throughout pro League simply makes his own comments more pronounced. “I don’t think it’s anything crazy,” Jojopyun says nonchalantly, “I think League is just really stale with that [trashtalk].”
Of course, talking smack invites it back, and Jojopyun is a regular recipient of streams of banter on socials. However, commenters sometimes take things too far, crossing the line between jovial responses and abuse. When asked how he deals with the more toxic replies, the 17-year-old simply shrugs his shoulders before responding: “Man, I just don’t care about that – it doesn’t matter.”
Having rapidly ascended to the upper-echelons of the League of Legends world – from Academy to MSI – in a single split, the pressures of social media are but a drop in the ocean compared to representing an entire region at the highest level of competition. Trashtalk and banter aside, Jojopyun has remained grounded, and continues his climb to the top with an unwavering level of dedication.
“I just focus on my game and my gameplay,” Jojopyun states. “I just focus on how to keep getting better, and how to play better with the team – that’s really all I want.”
Having now been picked by Royal Never Give Up as its opponent for the MSI 2022 semifinals, Jojopyun and Evil Geniuses will have its work cut out for it. With a 0-2 record in the Rumble Stage, the team will have to bring out all the stops to cut down the reigning MSI champion.
With that said, the midlaner relishes the challenge presented by best-of-fives – a confidence bred by EG’s stellar domestic performance throughout the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs. As EG “popped off” back then, Jojopyun is certain that this form will be replicated at MSI.
You can see if Jojopyun will be able to take down Xiaohu and his mighty Galio for yourself when MSI 2022 resumes with EG versus RNG on Friday, May 27.