Third in the North American Pro League currently, it seems that Evil Geniuses' spectacular failure to make it out of the groups at the Six Major Raleigh -- a first in their entire history -- has forced the team into a sea change. After having parted ways with coach Aaron "Gotcha" Chung and manager Peter Chau, the team has announced that team captain Troy "Canadian" Jaroslawski has also left, finding a new home with Spacestation Gaming (SSG).
Gotcha, too, has made his way to another team -- Team SoloMid, in his case -- while Morquis "Modigga" Hribar will be joining Evil Geniuses as Canadian's replacement, with the team yet to confirm a new coach or manager. Over in the Spacestation Gaming camp, however, it is Braden "Chala" Davenport who will be making way, with his future also undetermined.
SSG have been middle-of-the-road in the Pro League this season, currently sitting in fifth with just two wins and three draws, but have been far more fearsome in Best-of-Three games. After almost qualifying to the Six Major themselves, but being stopped by Team SoloMid at the very end, they were invited to the Major anyway. Finishing top of their group after defeating the Vodafone Giants and then Evil Geniuses themselves, they made it to the playoffs but lost to Team Secret.
SiegeGG spoke to Spacestation Gaming coach, Justin "Lycan" Woods, to find out more about his team's decision to sign Canadian from Evil Geniuses:
How did this change come about, and why Canadian in over Chala?
I first want to say that we didn’t want to get rid of anyone in this roster change because Chala has been significantly improving over the last couple months, and as a bomb planter I do feel like he has become one of the best -- if not the best. We didn’t get to play as many rounds as some of the other teams at the Major, but he had the best bomb planting percentage (plants to round ratio).
That being said, there is one thing that we have always lacked at a high end level and that is In-Game Leadership. The closest I think we have been to a true In-Game Leader (IGL) might have been Redeemer. One thing we have always struggled with is mid-round corrections and late game adaptions. Our IGL for a long time has been a three-way system and it usually works well, but there are times when someone is struggling and if all three of them aren’t in [the system], it breaks down quickly. With a true IGL [in Canadian], I think we can take our team to the next level and start making it past the quarter-finals.
With Canadian and Evil Geniuses' recent struggles, how do you anticipate him fitting in with this new scenery?
I think this is a great move individually for Canadian. I think for a long time, people have put so much pressure on him, specifically for the team (EG) to succeed. This gives him, and honestly also EG, a chance to find their new identities and for us to welcome someone who has a lot of experience and knowledge when it comes to making deep playoff runs. As far as him fitting in, we already have played a lot with Canadian in 10-mans and ranked in the past and we knew that he would get along great with our team.
Some may criticize your team for tinkering with what seems to be a solid formula -- do you agree with this perception of this being a calculated risk that your team has taken?
I think its safe to say that we have probably made the most changes out of any team in the last year, namely +Rampy +Shuttle -Trip -Dave, +Bryan -Shuttle, +Bosco -Bryan, +Bryan -Redeemer, +Fultz -Bryan, and now +Canadian -Chala. We have gone from a team that can land top-four finishes and stay alive in North America (not get relegated), to now a team that is getting out of groups as the number one seed.
We still have more work to do, and there is still a lot more to accomplish, but I can confidently say that we have a pretty good track record when it comes to roster changes and them being successful ones.
How, if at all, are roles going to be shifting internally with this change?
The big change is going to come to Bosco. He’s going to go back to his roots a little bit and play hard breach. When we brought him onto the team, we did need a fragger and roamer, and honestly Bosco is so good that he was able to fill that for us, but I feel that the way that he plays this game so cerebrally is going to make him even better going back to support. Canadian is going to IGL from the front and entry-frag while also duoing with Rampy on the roam.
How soon do you anticipate your team to start seeing significant success, or is the pursuit of titles not a primary focus for your team at first?
One of the hardest changes I think you can make is bringing in a new IGL. You need to come up with new strats and he also needs to learn everyone’s quirks, and that takes time.
That being said, our team is hungry and loves to grind the game. I’m not going to give you some cliché answer like "we are here for the long term and we are okay with the wait". While that is partly true, there is an Invitational spot staring us in the face and we want it. We have a short time to prepare, but we are committed to winning and trying to beat the best teams in the world and we aim to do just that.
With Canadian having been the in-game-leader, Gotcha the coach and sixth player, and Peter Chau the team's manager and photographer, the team has a lot of positions to fill. The first of these replacements will be the ex-Disrupt Gaming player of Modigga joining the roster as a player, with the other positions still empty.
Modigga has played in the Challenger League as the main entry-fragger for Disrupt Gaming since Season 8, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Pro League on two occasions. Aside from this, he is probably best known for his appearance on Orgless (previously known as Noble esports) at the US Nationals 2018 Finals where his team went out in the Quarter-Finals against Evil Geniuses.
Mark "cashflo" Flood, co-founder and CEO, had the following to say regarding Modigga's departure from Disrupt:
It's not easy to see a critical piece of your team for the last year leave. This, no doubt, has an impact on our ability to reach our organization's goal of reaching the Pro League. However, it is part of our core values to help our players achieve their own goals and dreams. We are extremely proud of Modigga and are looking forward to watching him succeed in PL. Mo, you will be missed!
Canadian is one of the best-known Rainbow Six players in the world, having captained the Evil Geniuses roster to a Pro League and Six Invitational title in Year 1, as well as second-place finishes at two Majors, a Pro League Final, a Minor, and the US Nationals. Now, after failing to make it out of the group stages for the first Major in their history, Canadian has opted to leave the Evil Geniuses roster for Spacestation Gaming in what truly is an end of an era.
Canadian began his Rainbow Six career alongside Ammar "Necrox" Albanna on Mythic eSports, finishing fourth in Season 1 of the Pro League, before joining Austin "Yung" Trexler and now-Pro League caster Michael "KiXSTAr" Stockley's lineup of Team Orbit for Season 2. Then, they had made it all the way to the Pro League Finals Grand Final, before falling to Yunktis (later known as Millenium).
Following this, Canadian rejoined his ex-teammates of Yung and Necrox to form the team Biggity Boo Bop, with another ex-Pro of Nathan "nvK" Valenti and the relatively inexperienced player of Alexander "Retro" Lloyd.
This team was quickly picked up by Continuum as it stormed through the North American region in a flawless fashion in Season 3 and qualified for the Pro League Finals once again. After beating GiFu eSports, they then met another European roster in Playing Ducks in the closest Grand Final to date, with the winning moment coming down to the final round of overtime on the final map to decide the title. History would be made as Necrox and Retro would hold strong to clutch things out, and Continuum would win to claim North America's first and only Pro League trophy to date.
The 2017 Six Invitational saw Retro replaced in the lineup by George "KingGeorge" Kassa as the team marched to their second title running to become R6's first-ever Six Invitational champions after defeating their fellow NA team of eRa Eternity in the Grand Final. This point saw a peak for both this team and the North American region as the following two seasons saw cTm make a number of changes, leading to them failing to make both Pro League Finals, before being knocked out in the first round in Season 6 just after being acquired by the Evil Geniuses organisation.
The following 21 months saw this roster get incredibly close to returning to their Year 1 heights but fall just short again and again. First came the 2018 Invitational, where they went 2-0 up in a Best-of-Five map matchup before being reverse-swept by PENTA Sports (now known as G2 Esports) in the Grand Final. Four months later, they made another Grand Final at DreamHack Austin, where they met the French team of Millenium but, despite taking map one 5-3, fell in the final round of overtime in maps two and three -- 5-6, 5-6.
The Six Major 2018 in Paris saw another Grand Final meeting with G2 Esports, which was a much more one-sided defeat. However disappointing their 0-3 result was, though, they were still clearly the second-best team in the world at this point -- but that didn't stop a number of changes just afterwards, with the departure of Brandon "BC" Carr and introduction of Emilio "Geoometrics" Leynez Cuevas, with Gotcha joining a few months into the second half of Season 8 as a coach.
From this point, however, their results saw a sharp dip. The team first inexplicably lost 0-2 to a Fnatic that had to have their greatly inexperienced coach substituting for their ill captain in the Season 8 Quarter-Finals. At the US Nationals 2018 Finals, Gotcha had to step back into a playing role briefly, filling in for Emilio “Geoometrics” Leynez Cuevas, who had been unavailable. Despite Evil Geniuses’ best efforts, though, they fell to a dominant Rogue in the Grand Final.
However, their international play would not get any better. Once again one of the favourites at the Six Invitational 2019 -- aside from G2 Esports and Team Empire -- they would clear the group stages with ease, but fall to domestic rivals Team Reciprocity in a loss they attributed to having spent an extraordinarily long day at the venue.
Despite letting slip the Season 9 Grand Final against Team Empire after winning the first map and having three match points on the second, their worst result to date was at the Six Major 2019 in Raleigh, where they finished outside the top eight. Evidently, this was the final straw for Evil Geniuses, as they have now dropped Gotcha after nearly a year with him as the coach.
Canadian, too, has decided to call it quits with his team of three years, leading to Evil Geniuses undergoing a significant makeover less than a week before their appearance at DreamHack Montreal 2019.
With this change, Evil Geniuses does keep the core of their Pro League and Invitational winning lineup of Necrox, nvK, and Yung but loses what was the face of both their team and North American R6 since the game first came out. With Gotcha now at Team SoloMid, this also makes Evil Geniuses the second North American roster without a coach alongside the Susquehanna Soniqs, who have recently begun looking for one.
For comparison, Europe and Latin America combined have just a single team without support staff -- PENTA whose coach, Jessica "Jess" Bolden left earlier this transfer period -- showing just how unusual this situation is, and is something they'd likely aim to change over the next month.
Canadian will thus be part of the Spacestation Gaming roster partipating in DreamHack Montreal, with his team placed in Group D. Gotcha's new team, Team SoloMid, will also be eager to get the Six Invitational ticket, featuring in Group C opposite Evil Geniuses in Group B, with sixteen teams aiming to secure the qualification spot to the 2020 Six Invitational by winning the event.
As such, the Evil Geniuses roster is now:
Nathan "nvK" Valenti
Austin "Yung" Trexler
Ammar "Necrox" Albanna
Morquis "Modigga" Hribar
Emilio "Geoometrics" Leynez Cuevas
Conversely, the Spacestation Gaming roster is:
Javier "ThinkingNade" Escamila
Troy "Canadian" Jaroslawski
Dylan "Bosco" Bosco
Alec "Fultz" Fultz
Nathanial "Rampy" Duvall
Keep up to date on this story and more upcoming roster changes here at SiegeGG and check out our Season 9 Finals interview with Necrox here, or our two interviews with Gotcha from before the 2019 Six Invitational here and before the 2019 Six Major here.