Evil Geniuses. They’re a hard team to describe, really. The problem is that there are too many things to say about them — there’s too much history, heart, and personality to ever truly describe. Evil Geniuses are a special team. They’re the only North American team to ever win The International and have unquestionably been the best team in the region for the past 5 years, if not longer. They have had a history of being the home of many Dota 2 superstars, often able to bring in, or bring up, the most popular and skilled players in the world. Most rosters be satisfied to have one or two players that any team in the world wish they had — EG has five.
The new season brought many changes to EG. They weren’t able to win The International in 2019, placing 5th-6th and while many teams would view this as a solid placement, considering their company, anything short of that isn’t satisfactory for those that Live Evil. Sadly, this led to a significant change in the roster after TI, with SumaiL and s4 becoming inactive while Abed and Ramzes took over the mid and offlane roles, respectively. While these two players are obviously great in their own rights, there was concern about how Ramzes would fair in the offlane role. A safelane carry moving to the offlane is certainly a rare sight, given how differently the two roles play. A highly skilled player in his own right, only time would tell if he could fill the large shoes left by s4. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long. The Chengdu Major qualifiers weren’t long after TI so we saw EG’s mettle tested, albeit briefly. EG cruised through the NA qualifiers as they always do and Ramzes played no small part in it (including an absurd game where he averaged 1 kill or assist per minute on Legion Commander). EG were headed to the first Major of the year, comfortable in their normal position at the top of North American Dota.
The Chengdu Major would be an important tournament for EG. Their first real tournament against international competition since the shuffle, EG had not only high expectations but also something to prove. Any time you shuffle multiple slots on a roster, so much changes that you’re exceptionally vulnerable to surprise losses. Sure, they cruised through NA without any issue whatsoever, but EG is the kind of team where that is the expectation. They came in second in the group stage, their only loss coming to a strong Team Liquid. EG’s following playoff performance was great, even taking a 2-0 win over Team Liquid in the lower bracket. Their run finally came to an end in the lower-bracket semifinals with a 1-2 loss to Invictus Gaming. While not first place, fourth place is a solid finish for EG’s first tournament with this new lineup. Abed and Ramzes performed up to or beyond expectations while the rest of EG continued their solid play.
This tournament also showed the interesting changes in playstyle brought about with the arrival of Ramzes and Abed. While not a hero played by either of these new players, Faceless Void has proven to be a valuable part of EG’s arsenal. Fly picked up Faceless Void for Arteezy several times during the tournament, which resulted in them winning all 5 games with the hero. While EG still won plenty of games without Chronosphere, the fact that they were able to go 5-0 with it against top teams definitely shows off one of their new strengths. This iteration of EG is particularly strong at teamfighting. In all the games where they picked Faceless Void, Fly picked up at least one other strong teamfight hero to pair with him.
So, what makes this teamfight style so good? One aspect is that it means that EG is never completely out of the game. If you have good enough teamfight heroes and players to execute on them, you’re able to both defend your base or force objectives unlike any other team. This plays to EG’s superstar strength by creating situations where their individual ability usage is exponentially more important than it would be in other lineups. In particular, some of the heroes we saw combo with Arteezy’s Faceless Void were Ramzes’ Enigma, Fly’s Lich, Cr1t-’s Mirana, and Abed’s Kunkka. Notice anything special about that list? It includes four heroes for four players. An excellent display of Fly’s drafting skill, he always makes sure that at least one person has a combo with Chronosphere, though often they end up with far more than that. EG doesn’t just rely on Cr1t to be the combo guy, they create drafts where each player can use Chronosphere as a setup for a kill, making Arteezy’s Faceless Void infinitely more dangerous. While the Faceless Void is the common theme here, the strategy as a whole shows how EG views the game and their roster right now. When you pick a teamfight-centric, execution-heavy lineup, you’re betting that your team will execute better than the enemy team. It’s also one of the best ways to build trust and experience with your teammates when you need to coordinate with them.
We’ve only seen EG twice since the Chengdu Major, in the Leipzig Major qualifiers and at the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational Singapore. Qualifiers were once again not an issue for EG, while the World Pro Invitational saw EG take second place in a very strong field. EG are looking good going into the Major and another strong performance will likely see them one step closer to TI. The games start this weekend, so make sure to catch the boys in action!