The International 2018: Evil Geniuses

Over the entire 2017/2018 season, EG have been an enigma. They have brought on some of the most talented players the world has to offer but didn’t even make the finals of a single Major. While one could blame that on the dominance of teams like VP and Liquid, that’s not the full story. EG have desperately been looking for their identity this season. Thanks to early shifts in the meta, their superstar midlaner SumaiL moved away from the lane only to find little success in the offlane, prompting him to call this season “the worst year” of his career. So where do EG stand now? Interestingly enough the team, find themselves in the position of underdogs, which is crazy. When you look at the lineup of the team, they have world class players in every position. They have two TI winners on the squad and the support duo of Cr1t- and Fly has won several Majors together, but fans are still hesitant in trusting the squad.

This year has been one of broken promises for EG and they have a lot to prove in Vancouver. If you go back to the start of the season, things didn’t look all that bad for EG. Sure, they had lost Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg to Peter "ppd" Dager’s new team but that freed up space on the roster for Clinton "Fear" Loomis to re-join as an active player. They could also move Cr1t- back to his preferred 4th position, a position he excelled at during his time with OG. With a veteran captain and a younger support hungry to prove himself after a lackluster performance at TI7, they seemed to have things going for them. And at first, it looked like they might still have it. In their first four tournaments, EG scored DPC points in three events and steamed ahead to the last tournament of the season: Dota Summit 8. Dota Summit 8 was to be their proving ground. EG went into a fairly easy group with Team Kinguin and compLexity Gaming, and with Team Liquid and Team Secret sitting out the tournament, it looked like they could make a deep run. But instead, they had their worst performance so far as they finished second in their group and were sent home by OG, who also had plenty of issues. And for EG this seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. They felt like they needed to shake up their playstyle and selected long term offlaner Universe as their scapegoat. Saahil "UNiVeRsE" Arora was removed from the team and the players shifted positions. Suma1l would play offlane, Fear would move to mid, and they brought in Rasmus "MISERY" Filipsen to lead the team instead. Little did they know that they had just gone out of the fire and into the frying pan. Their results for the rest of the season were all mediocre at best. Their poor results at majors didn’t improve, quite the opposite. Their 3rd place at the DreamHack major in early December, before the roster changes, became their top placement at a major. The removal of Universe turned out to be the defining moment for EG’s 2017/2018 season. In a recent interview with Suma1l he said the reason for the roster change was that EG felt like they needed “a fast offlane player” and Universe isn’t that. Universe is a stable offlaner that won’t lose the offlane, but also won’t come out of it with a huge lead. He’s the opposite of a “high risk, high reward” player. So the removal of Universe wasn’t illogical if you accept that they needed a faster offlaner, but that’s the real fallacy here. For a few months the midlane was a dual-lane which significantly lessened the impact of the midplayers.

By removing Universe EG set in motion their own demise. The team had a limited time to pick up a new captain and Misery, while a great captain, wasn’t a good fit for them. This became very clear when he in his parting tweet said that he was “happy and relieved to be out”. Happy and relieved. Those are strong words. So what should EG have done instead? EG is a team that puts a lot of emphasis enabling Suma1l and with the dual-mid meta he couldn’t get the space he needed to operate. When your offlaner doesn’t play a style that’s hugely impactful it’s easy to shift blame on him when he can’t pick up some of the slack instead of reviewing your general playstyle. In retrospect it would’ve probably been better for EG to simply ride out the storm. But hindsight is 20/20 and there was no way to tell when, of if, the dual-mid meta would end. So how likely is it that EG will pick up another Aegis? It’s almost impossible to say. They have a team filled to the brim with superstars, as previously mentioned, but there are underlying issues to be solved. And those have to do with control of the team. All western top teams have one thing in common: they were assembled by a strong captain. Solo, Kuroky, and Puppey all hand-picked the players on their team. Fly doesn’t get that luxury. He comes in to a pre-assembled team and needs them to trust him. The focus can no longer be on Suma1l or Arteezy. They have to fall into line, something that has been an issue before. It’s doubtful if they will, but if they do EG will definitely be a contender for the Aegis.

(1) Artour "Arteezy" Babaev
(2) Syed Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan
(3) Gustav "s4" Magnusson
(4) Andreas "Cr1t-" Nilsen
(5) Tal "Fly" Aizik
The International 2018: Evil Geniuses The International 2018: Evil Geniuses Reviewed by Jesi Max on 09:15 Rating: 5

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