EG standing on familiar ground as the champions of NA seek a second TI victory
With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. Now we move on to the third invited team, and a former TI champion – Evil Geniuses.
Heading into TI7 Evil Geniuses occupy the same position that they have for a few years now; that of the champions of North American Dota. Time and time again, EG has stood as NA’s best and sometimes only hope for victory on the global stage. This year the region has some new blood thrown into the mix, but Evil Geniuses will once again be leading the charge as the team looks to bring the Aegis of Champions to North America for the second time in Dota 2 history. It’s worth noting that the first time the Aegis was won by a North American team, it was EG who managed to do it, though the roster looked a little bit different from the one heading to Seattle this year. From that TI winning squad in 2015, only the team’s youngest and oldest players remain active on the roster. (SumaiL and UNiVeRsE respectively) While this year’s version of the EG roster may have some different names, the squad have a high level of confidence, and the skills to back it up.
Like all of the directly invited teams at TI7, the expectations for Evil Geniuses are somewhat high. EG may not be the favorite to win it all in Seattle, but the North American squad has to be looked at as a legitimate threat to take the Aegis of Champions. The current EG roster has placed within the Top 4 at both the Boston and Kiev Majors, so it would make sense to set a Top 4 finish as the minimum expectations for EG at TI7. EG has exceptionally skilled players at every position, and the team can rely on experienced and level headed leadership to steer them through the trials of TI. UNiVeRsE is one of, if not the most stable and dependable offlaners in the world, and current team leader Crit- has seemed more than capable of filling the shoes of legendary former EG captain PPD. EG has not exactly looked invincible within the last few months, but no team is ever truly unbeatable and EG has shown the ability to consistently go toe-to-toe with any team in the world.
If one had to choose a single word to describe EG’s performance, that word would probably be “consistent”. In the last year, EG have participated in 12 major tournaments and have yet to place any lower than 6th. These performances include the previously mentioned Top 4 finishes at the Boston and Kiev Majors, as well as 4 tournaments wins. EG’s most recent tournament performances have given us a look at the squad at both its highest and lowest levels of play. The North American squad won The Manila Masters in May by defeating an impressive list of teams. Team Faceless, Invictus Gaming, Newbee, and Team NP all fell to EG in the course of this event, with 3 of those 4 teams being fellow TI7 attendees. Two weeks later, the NA team made another impressive run at Epicenter 2017, where EG won its group with a 4-0 series record, only dropping a single game. EG ended up placing 2nd overall at Epicenter, only losing out to another TI invitee in Team Liquid. MDL 2017 was the closest thing one can find to a “letdown” performance from EG. The squad posted a 4-3 record in the group stage, and was eventually defeated 1-2 by OG to fall out of the tournament. On the surface, this result looks like cause for some concern for EG fans, but it may not be time to push the panic button just yet. That 4-3 group stage record was earned through single game series rather than best of 2 or best of 3 series, and honestly no team should be discouraged by losing to OG, one of the strongest teams in the world. This weaker result may have put some doubts in the minds of fans, but the team’s overall consistency should instill confidence that EG will find a way to return to top form for TI.
Evil Geniuses still stand at the top of the North American Dota scene, and they are a top contender to win this year’s iteration of The International. Although the team’s most recent performance may have opened the door for some concern that opponents might have gotten a leg up on them, EG have shown time and time again that they can adjust their drafts and play to overcome any opponent. The boys in blue should be ready to go as TI gets started, and they will be hell-bent on bringing the Aegis back to North America and becoming the first team to ever win multiple TI’s.