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Photos of Evil Geniuses Dota 2 in Shanghai China for the Dota Asia Championships 2018

Evil Geniuses: Return of the Kings

Aug 082018

North America’s throne has been vacant; a brutal power struggle among three different teams raging while Evil Genuses tries desperately to pick up the pieces of their shattered crown. With the addition of Fly and s4 EG has finally put themselves back together, prepared to face the daunting task ahead of them with renewed vigor. When the team released Universe it raised questions on how they would ever find an offlaner with his pedigree to replace him, and with the departure of Misery they also needed a captain who would be able to lead a team aiming for championships. No ordinary players could fill the shoes of those two, and finding people who fit such strict requirements is in and of itself a huge challenge. 

EG not only met that challenge but cleared it in spectacular fashion, picking up two of the best players in the world in their respective roles, the offlane and support/captain. To replace Universe EG picked up s4, the TI3 champion and winner of the Boston and Kiev Majors; EG’s offlane would be in safe hands with him. To fill the captaincy they acquired Fly, the four-time Major winner and former captain of OG, the team that had not only shown the world what Miracle- was capable of, but Ana as well. Fly’s ability to bring out the best in his players was well known, and he carried with him the experience that EG required. 


These pickups also served another important purpose, as EG’s roles would be returning to normal. Suma1L would be going back mid, a move that caused havoc for EG’s opponents in the qualifiers for The International. With the midlane returning more to the way it used to be, a pure 1v1 with very little outside interference, Suma1L has had his full talent unleashed. Very few players can match up against him in the midlane and even fewer have a chance if the matchup doesn’t favor them. Suma1L is an extremely aggressive mid player who pushes his hero to the limit in order to bully the enemy out of the lane; he can often be found farming behind the enemy’s tier 1 tower if it means he can zone them from the creep wave. While this does open him up to being ganked by enemy supports, that is extremely difficult to do in the current meta as it would mean leaving one of the sidelanes exposed. 


The edge this gives EG in the laning phase on its own is monumental. As we saw during Dota Summit 9, EG would crush their lanes by splitting the attention of the opposing support players. They would need to both help their mid lane and try to stop the pressure that was being applied in the safelane and offlane by EG’s dual lane setup. The result would usually be that EG would win two lanes while coming out even in the third. Even if one of EG’s cores was being caught by enemy rotations, the time the other two had to find farm was worth it and they would slowly pull ahead despite being down in kills.


The DPC season brought with it many ups and downs for EG, but the way they’ve played after acquiring s4 and Fly brings real hope to TI8 with them. Every member of the team plays with a renewed purpose, perhaps due to the leadership style employed by Fly. Arteezy and Fly meet the challenges of playing in the safelane against dual lanes meant to disrupt farm almost perfectly, rarely letting the pressure interrupt Arteezy and even netting him kills which increase his net worth instead. It’s a testament to both of their skills that they have been so quick to match wavelengths.


On the other side of the map s4 and Cr1t have been paired together numerous times and while they have only played together for a brief time, they too show teamwork that would make you think they had played together for years. Cr1t’s Pudge, Earthshaker, and Dark Willow have all had their impact felt in recent weeks. Key hooks and fissures cut off the enemy’s retreat and keep his allies safe at the same time, while his Dark Willow assassinates unsuspecting targets with nothing but a Blink Dagger. Cr1t has always been one of the stand out 4 position supports and when he is allowed to shine he may even be the best in the world, giving contention to players like GH.


Another thing working well for EG has been their drafting. Fly has brought back a little bit of his Major winning style of picks with Phoenix and Treant Protector and mixing them with current meta heroes like Necrophos and Storm Spirit to great effect. The result of Fly’s experimentation is not only a successful tournament run at The Summit, it also raises questions about how they will draft at The International, an advantage that no other team attending will have. Fly has carte blanche and that’s a terrifying prospect when you want to try to prepare to face a team as strong as EG is on paper. This isn’t to say that EG plays flawlessly, but the advantage they gain from the draft (as we saw at The Summit) is that they don’t need to. 


They can react to their opponents with ease, while the opposite at the moment is not true as no one quite knows how they like to play yet. We’ve seen s4 play Magnus to empower his allies and be used as a utility core with the sole purpose being initiation and buffing Arteezy and Suma1L. In the same series that will change and he’ll be playing an aggressive push-oriented Pugna while they sacrifice Arteezy and leave Suma1L to win his lane on his own. Most importantly we’ve seen EG on the same page no matter how they decide to approach the game. This was a key component that had been missing recently and it’s easy to tell the difference just by watching them play. While everyone will be expecting Team Liquid, VP, LGD, and Team Secret to do well at TI8, EG has fallen off everyone’s radars. It’s bizarre to say but EG might be entering TI as the most underrated team.

The Breakdown


It’s odd to think about considering the fact that Suma1L can almost single handedly win games from the mid lane. His Storm Spirit and TA have done exactly that in recent weeks. The way he plays mid is so different from most people that it catches them off guard and they quickly find themselves behind with no chance of recovery if they don’t receive assistance. This is primarily due to two things: the way Suma1L uses his abilities, and the way he positions himself to harass. While other people often use spells to hit the enemy hero, Suma1L will use them to farm creeps, push the lane, and then hit the enemy hero with right clicks given his advantageous position while they try to farm under their tower. This puts extra pressure on his enemy because CSing under a tower isn’t simple with Suma1L waiting to deny creeps, and they take a lot of damage while they can’t retaliate or else they’d miss even more cs. It’s easy to talk about in practice but to actually do this consistently is another thing entirely. The scary thing about facing EG is, he isn’t the only one who knows how to play his lane this efficiently.


Arteezy is often thought of as an extremely stable carry who very rarely has a bad game and always finds his farm. What people don’t realize is that he’s one of the most aggressive carries in lane. If the offlane is just slightly out of position he will take the opportunity to harass them all the way back to their tower, sometimes even behind it, to zone them from the lane. This results in many extra kills that some carries who only want to focus on last hitting will miss. This is probably because originally Arteezy also started out as a mid player — one of the best mids in North America. He was very similar to Suma1L in that everyone knew Arteezy was a genius when it came to Dota 2, his impact on the mid lane is still felt today in the way people block the first wave of creeps before they reach the mid lane. 


The other thing Arteezy is well known for is his mechanical skill. His manta dodges and armlet toggles have saved him in countless situations and turned a losing fight into a winning engagement, or successful escape. The Canadian wonder child has made his mark in the pro scene in many ways outside of just farming, but his efficiency in acquiring gold is also amongst the top in the world. In older patches Arteezy and Suma1L’s penchant for farming caused some problems as there wasn’t enough space for both of them, and generally the team had to prioritize one over the other in the laning phase but that is no longer the case. With both Arteezy and Suma1L allowed to play as they please it puts EG in a fantastic position going into every game.


Of course there is also another component to what makes this iteration of EG so deadly and that is s4 in the offlane. s4, nicknamed the “son of Magnus” both due to his last name, and ability on the hero, has filled in a vital role on EG. He can play both initiators and carries, can play an active role or a more passive farming one, whatever his team needs to win the game. His Batrider and Magnus are capable of tearing key heroes away from their team in an instant and forcing either poor engagements from the enemy or free pick offs for his team, both resulting in gained map control for EG. s4 is looking for his second Aegis of Champions after winning back in 2013 and he has a very good shot at becoming the first player to win the Aegis twice while playing for EG.


The support duo of Fly and Cr1t- are somewhat familiar with each other, Cr1t- having played for OG before he joined EG late in 2016. The familiarity between the two has made Fly’s transition to his new team much easier as Cr1t- already has a good idea of how Fly likes to play. You can see that in how the two will coordinate during team fights or even in the early game, making their rotations work by exploiting openings in the enemy defenses. Cr1t-’s Earthshaker in particular has been outstanding lately, making a hero that many believe has no place in the current competitive landscape look like a monster. Fly on the other hand has brought certain heroes back that have also entirely vanished from competitive play. We mentioned Phoenix earlier but he has also been using Silencer to great effect, interrupting the enemy and stealing their intelligence to build himself up to do a decent amount of damage even as the 5 position.


With everyone on EG having their part to play, and doing so successfully, the team has risen once again and can be considered the best team in North America. Heading into TI, they will have the opportunity to change that title to the best team in the world.