Ever since his meteoric rise to stardom with Rogue, Evil Geniuses’ newly acquired jungler Inspired has quickly become one of the most talked-about League of Legends players in his role.
He might only be 20 years old, but the Polish phenom has already climbed to heights that not many other pro players can claim, including an Ultraliga championship, an LEC 2021 Summer Most Valuable Player award, and two World Championship appearances to boot. Yet in 2022, he took on another mountain to challenge himself by joining a North American team.
Although his 2022 LCS Lock In run ended at the hands of Team Liquid, Inspired reflected on his first experiences in the region, including his initial impressions of the competition he faced in his first event on an LCS roster.
The games against the bottom-tier teams went as expected, according to the talented star. Their other matches—and the Liquid series in particular—gave him the impression that “people are not too good here, [and] the imports of the teams are their best players,” echoing sentiments of many fans who believe NA has become overly reliant on international talent rather than building from within.
The topic of youth development has been a huge sore spot for LCS supporters, especially when compared to other regions like Europe, Korea, and China. Over the past decade, NA teams have focused on spending massive amounts of money to pick up star imports instead of putting more effort into creating a healthy environment for young prospects to succeed. Organizations like Cloud9, EG and 100 Thieves, however, have finally taken the initiative with young rising stars like Blaber, Jojopyun, Danny, Tenacity, and Luger all earning their place on LCS rosters.
Inspired is also a perfect example of what happens when a team trusts in a rookie to blossom into a star, and he ultimately “has a lot of trust in new, upcoming players because [he] was also an up-and-coming player.” On the flip side, older players have that much more to prove, both to him and a fanbase that now has a new appreciation for the youth movement.
One resident NA player that had to earn some of Inspired’s respect, for example, was star mid laner Bjergsen. The 25-year-old made headlines with his triumphant return to pro play, and fans were naturally excited to see him become the X-factor they know and love. Before his impromptu retirement, Bjergsen was the floor general for a TSM squad that eventually won the 2020 LCS Summer Split, and was even a contender for summer MVP.
“I didn’t expect [Bjergsen] to be as good as he is right now,” Inspired told Dot Esports in an interview following the Liquid series. “I thought that he would be a pretty mediocre mid laner when he comes back ‘cause he didn’t play for one year, but he’s still—he and [Jojopyun] are probably the best mid laners in the league, but I don’t think he’s unbeatable. Same for Santorin. I think he’s pretty good, but it’s not the level that we can’t get to. So they’re fine players, but not really anyone that I would be scared of.”
The “respect all, fear none” mentality towards top competition is exactly how Inspired became one of the West’s best players, especially with the amount of skilled veterans and fiery young prospects he had to outperform in the LEC. But now, he is poised to become one of the leaders for a relatively younger EG squad that is aiming for greatness in their first year together.
As one of the world’s premier junglers, Inspired has given fans some pretty good reasons to cheer for EG. With Impact and Vulcan alongside him, the roster has well-established, star talent to carve a path to success. The team is, however, fielding two of the youngest players in the league. That level of inexperience could be a cause for concern among some potential supporters, but Inspired is very familiar with public doubts around rookie talent since he had to experience those same reservations around his own debut in Europe.
“When I was coming [into the LEC], I knew that I was gonna be the best or at least a top-three jungler,” he said. “People on other teams or analysts don’t really think about it that way because obviously everyone is like, ‘The rookie coming to the league, he’ll probably be fine, [but] not someone very good.’ But I just saw some games of Jojo, I saw games of Danny, and I saw a lot of potential.”
He voiced his excitement to help build up EG’s rookies with the knowledge he has gained over the past, including the aspects that he wishes he learned about in his first LEC year. When Inspired made his start with Rogue’s main team, he said he lacked someone that could help him improve on key aspects of his career. But now, he is ready and willing to be that person for Jojopyun and Danny, which will only benefit both their trajectories as pros and the team’s trajectory for the coming years.
Welcome to ‘Jojopyun’s Bizarre Adventure’
One huge facet of EG’s success will ultimately lie in their mid-jungle duo, since most top teams have historically won through these positions, such as DWG KIA’s superstar pair in Canyon and ShowMaker, G2 Esports’ exciting Jankos-Caps combo, and FunPlus Phoenix’s Worlds-winning duo of Doinb and Tian.
Inspired has plenty of faith in Jojopyun’s potential, but he still thinks he needs the right guidance to grow into a star. At the moment, he thinks the 17-year-old’s confident aggression is a great starting point, along with the fact that he can play any champion well, even if it’s his first time. On the flip side, however, he thinks Jojopyun needs to open his horizons when it comes to playing for more team-wide advantages.
“In solo queue, you’re winning games by outplaying enemies, playing really aggressive and just [killing] them,” he explained. “In competitive games, sometimes very small victories can lead into big leads and then you just snowball the game from that. I think sometimes he just needs to have a better presence of mind of what’s happening on the map and how he can influence the team’s play. This will come eventually with experience. I don’t think any player just has it instantly, so I’m trying to help him think [about] the bigger picture when he’s playing.”
Inspired’s biggest goal for 2022 is to work well with his rookie partner, because he believes they can become the best mid-jungle duo in the league. He wishes to prioritize looking at the game from his mid laner’s perspective, so “[Jojopyun] doesn’t need to do that much thinking, and [he] can lead the game” for both of them for now.
As a team, there are still plenty of things EG must work on, evident by their loss this past weekend. But every top lineup must learn how to walk before they can run, even though they seemed to be sprinting for most of the tournament with their dominant nine-game win streak leading to the finals. Inspired pointed out that when his team starts to find advantages in-game, they “get a little bit too excited while [they] start winning” and end up pulling the trigger on overly aggressive plays that cost them in the long run.
These improvements will come with time and practice, just like how Inspired and Rogue needed a few seasons to discover the style that suited them the most before they became a consistent championship threat in Europe. If these Geniuses are looking this good to start off the year, there’s no telling where they could end up by the end of the year and beyond.
Catch Inspired and the rest of EG in action when the 2022 LCS Spring Split kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 5.