On April 24, young League of Legends star Kyle “Danny” Sakamaki became an LCS champion, lifting the trophy after Evil Geniuses iced an incredible run through playoffs with a 3–0 demolition of 100 Thieves in Houston. It’s a special moment for the star, and one he hopes sparks a “new era” in the North American league.
The 18-year-old expressed his hope for more league youngsters to follow in his footsteps during the decider’s post-game conference, calling for them to “just keep going.”
The Evil Geniuses bot laner—dubbed the “Prince of Pentakills” by org chief executive Nicole Jameson—has only been in the NA league system since mid-2020. He played four months on amateur lineup Zenith Esports, before joining EG’s “Prodigies” program. In May 2021, he was pulled into the team’s starting lineup over Matthew “Deftly” Chen. He was named Rookie of the Year months later.
Hopefully, Danny says, he’s set a modern blueprint for new LCS stars.
“I think there’s a lot of openings available to get into Academy, and probably the LCS itself as well,” Danny said. “You can just prove yourself in time. I know I gave myself a lot of time. I started pretty early in leaguebut I didn’t start competing until I was old enough, so just give it time.”
“My advice to new league players wanting to get into the league is to just keep going,” the star AD carry formerly known as Shiro added. “Just keep going.”
He and fellow young Evil Geniuses star Joseph “jojopyun” Pyun may have laid the groundwork for any and all LCS hopefuls, especially developing North American talents, but even Danny has been blown away by just how quickly the pair, alongside fellow domestic star Philippe “ Vulcan” Laflamme, have hit the top.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how far I’ve come,” he said.
“After that, I started thinking about our results, because it matters a lot in terms of my confidence that I went from this amateur League of Legends player all the way to actually winning the LCS. I finally get to say it. It’s nice.”
It was a feeling the often-quiet AD carry also echoed on stage moments after EG put the finishing touches on their victory—the fastest win in LCS Finals history. He wasn’t smiling as wide as Jojopyun, or punching the air, but all his emotions were boiling up and out onto the stage in his own silent way.
“I’m just a cool, calm, collected guy, so I don’t look as hyped as you maybe would, but don’t say I’m not hyped! I am,” Danny said. “I am! I’m just not showing it.”
Danny and Evil Geniuses don’t have long to soak in their against-the-odds achievement, however. This week marks the start of a potential five-week sprint to the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational final, where the North American representatives are hoping to be come the end of the org’s first international event as an LCS team.
The draw pits them against Europe’s G2 Esports, who won the event in 2019, and LCO champs Order, who staged a similar run to claim their first-ever league title.