Can the New Evil Geniuses Roster Win Majors?
The new Dota Pro Circuit is quickly approaching. Some of the top teams have revealed their hand, making big roster changes and starting to prepare for the battles ahead. In some ways, this is a wise decision because having several weeks of preparation at your disposal can only increase your chances of performing well when the moment comes. And the sooner a club has a complete roster to work with, the better for everyone involved.
In this article, I will take a close look at the new EG roster and provide an analysis regarding their chances of being a world-class team in the upcoming season.
Recent Roster Changes
After a disappointing result at The International 2019 (5th – 6th), EG’s management has decided to make two big roster changes again.
SumaiL and s4 Left
As you might be aware of, Evil Geniuses has recently decided to finally part ways with SumaiL and let him leave the nest. I say nest because SumaiL joined EG when he was very young (15), and spent his teenage years living and playing with adults. In a way, that’s a dream come true. I’m sure it’s also challenging for anyone his age. Professional gaming is just as serious as any other job, and you no longer do it for fun after a while. You do it to get better at it and hopefully win trophies. You also don’t do it casually. You play 8-12 hours each day.
Now, at 20, SumaiL is finally ready to embark on his next adventure, most likely in the NA or European region. I can see him joining the new Team Liquid roster or perhaps even OG, as his latest tweets and OG’s responses to them indicate.
Officially, SumaiL is still under contract with EG, being “inactive”. But the fact is that he’ll soon announce the name of his new team.
Another player that has left EG is s4. No doubt, he will be on everyone’s radar in the coming weeks, as he is one of the best offlaners in the world. Not to mention his midlane skills. Keep in mind that Swede used to play in the middle lane. His experience spans across many top teams: Alliance (TI champion), Team Secret, OG and Evil Geniuses. His next destination will most likely be Alliance or the new Team Liquid roster.
RAMZES and Abed Joined
To replace two superstars, EG had to bring in two other superstars. There’s one small problem though: how will the roster communicate now? And how will they forge a proper Dota 2 team if they don’t have a real offlaner? Abed‘s main role is midlaner while RAMZES‘ main role is carry. And the team also has Arteezy, who’s also a carry/midlaner. There’s an obvious overlap between these three and at the highest professional level. Not having a perfect understanding of your role can be punished severely by an opponent that knows how to exploit any weakness.
In terms of accomplishments, RAMZES is one of the most successful players in the world. He’s played three years for Virtus.pro, a team that won many Majors and even the entire Dota Pro Circuit in 2017-2018. Last season, VP finished 2nd. And even though they messed up at The International 2019, they still played in three of the five Major Grand Finals. And RAMZES was instrumental in that. So the expectations are high. A player who has seen seven Major Grand Finals and won five of them is very knowledgeable and experienced.
But how will his carry skills help him succeed in the offlaner role? After all, these two roles are at opposite ends of the same spectrum. As the team’s carry, you get all the protection you need and safe farm all around the map. As the offlaner, you need to endure a lot of pressure from your opponents and get whatever you can out of your laning phase. So the mentality that you need to succeed is entirely different.
The second player that was brought in is Abed. He’s perhaps best known as the first Dota 2 player to reach 10,000 MMR, not only in the old matchmaking system but also in the new one. His pro-level results don’t come close to SumaiL, s4 or any current teammates. The third place at a Dota Pro Circuit Major and a 9th – 12th place at The International are the highest achievements he’s ever earned. So in that regard, he’s still a big gamble for the new EG roster. In terms of age, he’s 20 years old, just like SumaiL.
The new Evil Geniuses team have three important weaknesses.
The first challenge when you become a truly international team is communication. People from around the world have a different style of expressing their thoughts and attitudes, and this can be very annoying for those who are used to a completely different style. And on top of that, there’s also the language barrier. Most of the members of EG are fine with English, but RAMZES is not doing well in that department. He may understand his teammates and captain. However, how will he communicate with precision in the heat of the battle, when he has to let his mind speak on autopilot and convey critical information to his team?
As I mentioned before, EG suffers from some overlapping and lacks a competent offlaner. Just like in football (soccer), Dota 2 positions are specific and involve little things at the highest level that you can’t become a master at anything in a few weeks. It’s like trying to compensate for 10 years of training in the goalkeeper position as a striker. It just can’t be done. Just imagine a support player trying to learn Invoker and at least 10 other heroes to perfection in one month. You need hundreds of games on each of those heroes to start getting good at them. Let alone be a master and do everything perfectly at the professional level.
By cohesion I mean more than just communication. Cohesion is about playing together to execute a strategy to perfection and adapt to whatever the opponent is doing. If you don’t have cohesion and a predefined set of exercised tactics, you’re just a pub team with excellent communication (assuming you have that). Teams who have played each other know how to work together and understand what needs to be done. That allows them to synergize and become more than the sum of their parts. But with two new players to integrate, EG will have a hard time achieving the level of cohesion needed to reach the top.
This new EG roster has several strengths to compensate (or at least try to) for the weaknesses.
Fly is one of the most experienced captains in all of Dota 2. At the age of just 26, he has four Major titles and a 3rd place at The International. These accomplishments clearly show why EG wanted him when they made their first big roster change around a year and a half ago.
Every player on the team is highly experienced and has many important results. Except for Abed, everyone on the team is used to playing at the very top of this esport and achieve great things in tournaments. And even Abed can be regarded as a world-class achiever in Dota 2 if we extend the notion of achievement to the top eight instead of reserving it for placements in the top three.
Overall, EG is a team of pure individual skill with great leadership. Everything else will have to be developed along the way. My personal feeling when I see teams like this is that they might crash and burn from the start and then create unhealthy internal tension. Everyone is excellent at the game, so when things go wrong, who do you blame? Who takes responsibility?
We’ve already seen a team like this several years ago. And you probably know of whom I speak. Team Secret had a roster full of superstar players who couldn’t communicate with each other or put their egos aside. And when it mattered most, everything collapsed under the pressure. There were too many voices willing to say what was wrong and not enough cohesion.
These will be some of EG’s main rivals in the upcoming season.
The main regional rivals for Evil Geniuses will be J.Storm and the former Forward Gaming roster. As a result, I don’t expect them to be heavily challenged in qualifiers. With Fly giving directions, the new EG roster should, in principle, qualify for every single Major of the upcoming Dota Pro Circuit.
The problem, however, starts to become visible when they need to compete with the likes of Team Secret, who have had zero roster changes in more than a year, or the former Liquid stack, or OG. There are several others of course, but these are the ones that will almost certainly pose real challenges.
Evil Geniuses hasn’t lost any of its potency in terms of individual talent. However, their most recent roster changes will almost certainly lead to weaknesses in their game. Regionally, I expect them to be the new EG roster to still be the same dominant team they were last season. But at the International level, I don’t expect them to climb higher than 5th – 8th, at least during the first half of the season.