"I believe it's sorta like the arrogance," Arteezy told Kaci to describe eu Team Secret's failures in the TI5 upper bracket. "Like we were all so cocky to be honest." There is a long-standing reputation of Western teams standing confidently, but how much is too much and will EG escape the fate that swallowed Secret?

Artour said that teams have figured Secret out and Secret hadn't adjusted their attitude to match. As it turns out, being the underdog has distinct psychological advantages when approached wisely.

"Coming here, the expectation was just to do as well as they could," cn Sun 'Agressif' Zheng has said. He told joinDOTA, "In the qualifier we were nervous, because our goal is to reach the main event; once we reached that goal, we feel relaxed, we're not nervous at all."

Regarding their success, he's stated, "perhaps it was a little unexpected, but we're happy with the result."

Compare that to Evil Genius's pk Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan who went so far as to joke about intentionally losing games in the upper bracket just to get more stage time, possibly a dig into Arteezy saying that being in the lower bracket would be good for Secret earlier in the week. For Suma1l, this was only one of a string of cocky tweets he put out this week before EG was knocked to the lower bracket by Agressif and his dark-horse squad.

Shortly after his upper-bracket loss, Suma1l showed a moment of vulnerability and tweeted that things hadn't gone according to plan. The tweet was deleted a few hours later, replaced with an Eminem quote. This is one in another long trail of indications that some of his attitude may simply be the veneer of youth. He does seem to focus into the game quite seriously, and has some of the West's more grounded tier 1 players at his side.

us Peter 'ppd' Dager told Kaci, "We have all the tools to be successful. We just gotta go out there and perform."

HongSheng Zheng, TI5 Chinese interviewer, mentioned in his talk with cn Huang 'Shiki' Jiwei that even other teams noticed CDEC's work ethic. Shika said later in the interview, "We will probably have to wait until we get eliminated before we go out and have fun."

Word around the Westin is that some members of Western powerhouses have not shared that attitude.

It only takes one player to undermine a team's success.

This isn't the first time this distinction in attitudes has made an impact. At Starladder XII, sg Daryl Koh 'iceiceice' Pei Xiang said that European and American players might think Eastern players are so hard working "because Westerners are lazy." PPD has gone on record saying the American scene (barring his own team and CompLexity) does not take the game seriously, and Arteezy said of EG in 2014, "Last year EG was a lot more clowny and stuff."

When confidence gets out of control

Problems in execution, communication, and even basic strategic planning often come down to the egos on the team.

When individual players value themselves very highly or their team very highly, or have the opposite impression of opponents, mistakes result.

Confidence, arrogance, and conceit are not all the same. Arrogance is simply confidence beyond reproach, but for many players it proves difficult to define the line.

It's only looking back and seeing that their self-assured attitudes reduced their work ethic, focus, or sobriety that these players understand the problem that costed them everything.

Sometimes it's very difficult to see. de Kuro S. 'KuroKy' Takhasomi told Kaci, "I'm not proud of myself, to be honest." His self-opinion is grounded (even borderline self-depricating), but he also said his teammates are "the best players in the world."

When you listen to top-tier players talk, their sights are usually focused on later matches in The International. PPD's inteview focused on how to achieve the finals, saying he wanted EG's superiority to be beyond question. We don't know what is in the minds of Western players, but looking at drafts, play, and social media could lead us to believe that EG is susceptible to the same errors of outlook which costed Secret.

Interviews with CDEC's players look game-by-game, calmly marching toward an ultimate goal focused on each step.

The question is, will they succumb or will they rise above

Just like in a game of Dota, it's not enough to believe you will take the ancient. From draft to towers, you need to build an execute a plan as the game unfolds.

It doesn't matter if arrogance comes in the form of team pride, individual pride, or any other form. The biggest attitude difference between CDEC and Western powerhouses:

CDEC doesn't take anything for granted.

Not knowing the teams personally, it's hard to say with certainty if their attitudes are impacting their performances. Based on the public statements of their members and conversation with other players, it seems pretty likely that there is and always has been a culture of certainty in Western powerhouse teams.

Learning the Secret

"Everyone handles (being the favorite) differently," Kuroky says. But everybody is human, and everybody is susceptible to ego. How can players keep that arrogance in check? In this regard, underdogs certainly have an advantage.

"It's a lot of psychology, in the end," Kuroky commented on preparation and choking. And it is. PPD said that a lot of teams without "the same preparation and strength" as EG will experience some "pretty nasty games." Perhaps this helps to explain why no statistically top-ranked team has won The International.

Top teams have a target on their backs. Should they lose sight of that for a moment, they fall far more quickly than they expect.

Will EG stay grounded now that everything is on the line?

"We just have to understand that this tournament is not like any other tournament and every game in this tournament has its own meta."

Despite this realization, Secret ran four of their six most picked heroes in their final tournament game, including Shadow Fiend (which they've run consistently for months). The game before they ran a strange mix of heroes popular in that day: Puppey's classic Enigma and an Arteezy Luna--a hero which Arteezy had only played four times before in his entire professional history... half of which were on or after Day 3 of TI5.

That screams overconfidence: running a hero with which Arteezy is empirically less experienced alongside a greedy jungle support. One of Luna's most notable weakneses is her lack of escape and effective hit points (especially since the agility reduction nerf she took on 6.81 which led to her abrupt disappearance from the professional scene).

Despite the addition of one starting armor with 6.84, Luna is still vulnerable to aggressive early game, and the desk analysts have pointed to this fact time and time again with her rise in popularity.

Coach 1437 watches as Secret is eliminated. Image courtesy of Team Secret instagram

Virtus Pro also saw that opportunity and killed Arteezy four times in fewer than twelve minutes. ee Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov and se s4* are two of the world's most respected drafters with more combined tier 1 Dota drafting experience than available to possibly other team in the world.

This series seemed to suffer from arrogance as much as any other.

Few fans or analysts would have picked CDEC to take the upper-bracket slot for this tournament. Even as late as day three, Arteezy said he assumed LGD and EG will be the upper-bracket finalists.

"We need to lose so we can learn." He and his teammates have plenty to take back to the drawing board after their early exit from TI5. For now, Suma1l's brash certainty has hit radio silence. This is a good sign that some introspection has led to a refocused EG mid, and hopefully reflects the team as a whole going as they move strong out of the lower bracket and into the finals.

Fear's aggressive scouting in game two led Blitz to comment how Fear shoudn't have been assuming LGD wouldn't have sentries out. It seemed like an underestimation of any team at this level, and the mistake of judgment led to a 2,000 gold swing.

It seems that any moment EG isn't playing perfectly is a moment where they've underestimated their opponents.

"We made some uncharacteristic mistakes yesterday (against CDEC)," PPD said. "We hadn't faced a lot of adversity in this tournament yet[...], we have a better mindset today."

None of this is to suggest EG can not or will not win. And should they lose, this isn't to say that there weren't other causes. It certainly seems to have played a role in the course of their tournament life, though.

The question remains, will this problem plague every Western powerhouse? And will EG stay humble and focused long enough to claim the Aegis for the West?

Considering they already saw the impact of taking CDEC for less than a top competitor, fans can only hope the lesson was well learned.

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