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Photos of Evil Geniuses' Dota 2 team at The International 2018 in Vancouver, Canada
NEWS

Evil Geniuses - True Strength

Nov 072018

Given the ever-changing nature of Dota 2, it is difficult to predict if a team that was good last week will be as good when the next patch is released. Will the style of play that had just worked be made obsolete and have the team fade into obscurity? Or will they redefine the way they play and last until the next patch, only to find themselves repeating the process and vanishing into a sea of other teams anyway a month or two later? Countless teams have shown tremendous ability for a patch or two but as time passes they struggle to maintain their relevance. Evil Geniuses are not one of those teams.

EG has had rough patches like everyone else, that much is normal, but they never let themselves fall too far behind for long. If we look at EG’s TI placements we can see a very telling story. They have placed 3rd at TI4, 1st at TI5, 3rd at TI6, and 3rd at TI8, four top 3 placements in the last five years, which includes winning The International, a tournament which is supposed to place a “curse” on the winning team to prevent them from remaining competitive in the years following the big win. EG has been the most consistently competitive team in Dota 2 bar none, no one else even comes close. 

Arteezy, Suma1L, s4, Cr1t, and Fly were all a part of the team that came 3rd at TI8, and with no changes being made during the roster shuffle period and no patch between then and now they are a real favourite to win the first Major of the year. Watching their play during the Kuala Lumpur qualifier gave the impression that EG have not slacked off during the short off-season, instead we’ve seen an even stronger team emerge. The depth of EG’s strategies and technical skill the players have in order to pull them off is second to none. 

In order to get to the first Major of the year we saw them run a number of different pushing strats involving Lycan and Furion, Drow and Venomancer, or Pugna with a Spectre and Invoker to secure the late game as well. However just because EG focused on strong pushing heroes in some games, they did not ignore team fighting heroes either. We saw Suma1L’s Storm Spirit make a triumphant return, showing everyone that despite Storm being a somewhat weak laner against many of the popular meta heroes we see mid, Suma1L is capable of going into those matchups and still coming out even, or even ahead, as he went 3-0 on the hero. 

We also saw a favourite of the current patch, Terrorblade, picked up by EG more than once and used to great effect as they dashed CompLexity’s dreams with the hero. Arteezy has proven time and time again that he’s one of the best farmers in the game, and while the safelane has been under more pressure than ever before, it has not stopped him from single handedly taking over games when EG needs it. S4, Cr1t-, and Fly are no slouches either, each boasting world class abilities on their heroes and roles in general. EG is the amalgamation of five of the fiercest competitors in Dota 2, and their ability to adapt to any situation comes from their deep knowledge of the game.

The Pieces Come Together

 

You might think they’ve been playing together for a while because of EG’s strong showing at TI and the Kuala Lumpur qualifier, but the team itself hasn’t been together for long. Fly and s4 joined the team in May of 2018, however they have already adjusted to match the other three members of EG. Fly is a genius when it comes to making sure his team is on the same page when they play together as we’ve seen during his countless Major winning runs. His leadership style is well suited to EG, as he gives Arteezy, Suma1L, and s4 the room they need to showcase their skills while also keeping an overall goal for each game in mind. It’s a lot easier said than done to make sure everyone is playing towards the same objective but still making individual decisions on their own without being micromanaged but it once again speaks to the talent on the roster that they are able to make that work. It may be because of this that we saw EG quickly find their footing with so little time to prepare for TI8, no one had to change the way they were playing due to Fly’s strong drafting and focus on the larger picture in-game.

 

Nothing highlights this better than their hour long game against Team Liquid at TI8. In one of the most stressful situations you could ever imagine, against one of the best teams in the world, EG stayed composed and defeated the defending champions which secured their top 3 finish at the tournament. Throughout the game we saw Fly set up wards that would give his cores critical information on enemy positions, smoke ganks, and where they could safely invade to find farm and force rotations with little to no risk for their lives. Fly enables his teammates to make the best decisions they can by providing information which in turn is used by the other members of EG to gain map control, find pick offs, and set themselves up to win each game. While the way EG plays their lanes hasn’t changed too much, with Suma1L and Arteezy generally dominating their lanes, and with s4 added sometimes winning all three lanes outright, we see EG make less risky maneuvers due to the information they gain on the enemies locations around the map.

 

At the Kuala Lumpur Major, where points will be so crucial to securing a direct invite to TI8, EG will be in prime position to leave a big mark on the DPC. They simply outclass nearly all of their competition despite it being a meeting of the best teams in the world. 

A look at how it’s done

 

The missing piece at Hamburg is the key to much of EG’s success — we must look again at Suma1L to see exactly how EG’s laning phase always seems to go so well. We felt his absence at ESL One Hamburg and while EG still played quite well, taking a game off Team Secret and Vici Gaming during the group stage – the two teams who ended up facing each other in the grand finals – we saw a critical part of EG’s usual bravado missing. Suma1L is one of, if not the best, mid laners in the world. His aggressive stance in lane immediately puts pressure on the enemy mid and his timing for pushing out the lane to ensure jungle farm, or quick rotations to either the safe or offlane often nets his team an even larger lead. 

 

With the mid lane being left more and more to a 1v1 matchup, Suma1L puts his team ahead from the start. His tempo controlling heroes like Storm Spirit, Lina, Mirana, or Tiny are all heroes that scale well into the late-game but can also have a massive impact at the very early stages of the game. Simply put, he is a killer. We’ve seen Suma1L solo kill the enemy mid more times than we can count and then use his momentum to push them off the lane entirely, from there every time he goes into the jungle he might be going to gank a sidelane which forces the enemy team to play more conservatively. Meanwhile he’s farming his woods and accruing an even larger lead for himself that is nearly impossible to stop.

 

Suma1L has perfected the art of using creep aggro, or the act of manipulating who the lane creeps target with their attacks, to control the mid wave to a level rarely seen in competitive play. He is also not afraid to use his spells to secure CS early on in the lane while also harassing his opponent at the same time, something which adds tremendous pressure from anyone else who is trying to secure their own farm. The thing about Suma1L is that he’s able to do this even on heroes who are thought of as being traditionally weaker in lane. On four different occasions at TI we saw him play Alchemist, which forced the opposing team to focus on trying to shut him down before he became too farmed to stop, only to find EG ready for their movements, baiting Suma1L to further their lead in the game. 

 

All of this happens naturally, the players on EG never seem to be forced to make their rotations or uncomfortable on their heroes even though they have played so many different drafts. How can you prepare for a team that can seemingly do anything? That is the question many teams will be asking themselves as the Kuala Lumpur Major begins, and it is a question no one seems to have the answer to. With Suma1L back in the lineup and each of the pieces of the fully oiled machine that is the Evil Geniuses back in their TI form, everyone is going to have their eyes on this squad as they take on the year’s first DPC Major event.

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