“We have a bit of different mentalities on the team,” Tal ‘Fly’ Aizik admitted of CompLexity at TI5, “Hopefully we’ll be able to go in with one mentality next time.” Now there won’t be a next time, as Fly and MoonMeander have joined Monkey Business. Why the break for one of the biggest surprise successes in recent memory (behind CDEC, of course), how did Fly view his time with compLexity, and what is in the future for both squads?
TI5 Complexity - SwindleMelonz, Zfreak and Zzyy are staying with the team

Fly and I stood outside, watching fans walk in and out of the KeyArena on the penultimate day of games. Considering they’d already been eliminated, his spirits seemed high. He smiled and laughed, and the gestures seemed genuine.

“Morale has been okay,” he said of his teammates as a whole, “We definitely didn’t have a talk with the team for what we’re going to do yet, but that’s probably going to happen soon.[…] Nobody likes losing but we definitely learned a lot from this tournament and we can only hope to do better next time.”

Although CompLexity is a team with a somewhat controversial figurehead in Kyle ‘swindlemelonzz’ Freedman, they turned a lot of heads when they finished their groupstage in third place, ahead of some directly invited teams including Invictus Gaming and Cloud 9.

This narrative was squelched under the weight of a poorly received mainstage run reminiscent of Team Liquid In 2014. Liquid’s top of the group stage performance for two days led them to being applauded as having given “the performance of the day” on day two, and I went so far as to dub them the “Kingslayers” for their strong performance against Newbee on day one.

Despite this, Liquid ended up sharing 9th place, exactly where CompLexity landed after a similarly received groupstage performance. But CompLexity did it with largely less experienced players who had never played a tournament game together against any of their TI5 opponents.

“I feel like that whole situation kind of came from inexperience because we kind of were a bit thrown off that game already because the first game we thought we had that game in the bag and we lost it. We kind of got tilted, to be honest.”

“Obviously we did get outplayed some games,” Fly also told me. Despite this, they didn’t fail to turn several heads, even those of some of their detractors.

Working hard on playing right

Swindlemelonz, Zfreak, Fly, Zyzz, and MoonMeander are all among the hardest working aspiring champions in the world. The auxiliary team included Trent “MotPax” MacKenzie pulling together custom stats to help inform their decisions. Fly said they gathered “info on every team and we printed out popular drafts they had or recent drafts, hero pairings they would have (you know, like what did they pick with certain heroes), ward maps.”

“I made a video about Cloud 9, talking about Io and how it was going to be key in their group stage matchup,” Motpax recalled to me, “Then during the draft CompLexity snag it second pick after C9 opened with the Gyro. I’ve never been so stressed watching a Dota game.”

He followed up with a big smile, “Then they crushed C9 and next game C9 was forced to ban Io first phase. That was pretty sick.” This is a team that goes beyond the players, from the exemplary support of manager Kyle “Beef” Bautista (who is available, it seems, any time day or night) to the multiple specialists like Motpax who help support draft and practice decisions.

CompLexity was suddenly on the map—and although after TI they still aren’t a major city, their brand has definitely grown. For a region that has been sitting in the shadow of Evil Geniuses for ages, it is refreshing to have an up-and-coming Americas team actually improving and want to continue to work together even after The International.

Reputations are earned, not given

Players like PPD noticed, and CompLexity went from a regional semipro team to at least a known name in the span of one group stage.

“I think they are (a good team),” PPD told Hot Bid at The International just before playing them on the main stage, “I think the reason why CompLexity are doing so well compared to other teams is that they practiced a lot, and I think their two most teams they practiced against are us (EG) and Secret, just because they were willing to play us at whatever time was convenient for us.”

He’s said elsewhere that he respects their work ethic, and anybody who has met the team or walked through their practices would be hard pressed to disagree.

“I would watch pretty much all the replays of who I was going to play. Especially as a support player, I would want to see their movement and their wards, specifically,” Fly told me at the event. He rolled through to his next thought without pausing for breath. “CDEC's very aggressive. They always smoke behind their mid tier 1, enter the Radiant woods, go either mid or bottom. You know that's their play: always happens, always works.”

He said that last bit with a laugh—he loves watching CDEC because, as he put it, “they’re slayers.” He cheered for them straight until the finals, and its clear this is a competitor who respects his adversaries, the game, and the audience. He thinks seriously about the game, and seemed nothing if not level-headed.

Without him, CompLexity will have to restructure its decision-making process: “During the actual game I make most of the calls, but during the draft it's kind of a team thing. It's a bit of a weird dynamic… I don't really know how to describe it,” he said, countering the popular narrative that Swindlemelonzz makes most of the in-game calls. That narrative comes out of Swindle’s willingness to take the fault when things go wrong, especially since he is the final voice during drafts.

Perhaps this is one of the few areas where losing Fly will be good for CompLexity in that it will force them to address their often malfunctioning hive-mind leadership style. “We're trying to mix it together but I think definitely for the next time we're gonna have to work it out better before and kind of decide how we actually want to play and not just go into it, you know, with a few people doing this and the other two people doing something else.”

It just doesn’t work for them when games turn into meat grinders, like game #2 against EG where the game was basically lost in a four-minute long bloodbath in the top lane.

“That's what ended up happening. I think it's a bit of lack of experience from everyone. A good team would just stop the bleeding straight away and say, 'No, we're not doing this anymore. No way.’”

Parting for the future

PPD speculated that sharing a house played a large role in CompLexity’s ability to attract the world’s best teams to scrimmages because it allowed such flexibility. Those scrims, in turn, gave CompLexity a huge step forward because they were able to test everything they have against the toughest competition out there.

In the end, though, Fly and MoonMeander didn’t believe living in a teamhouse for 40+ weeks out of the year was the best and only way to improve as a team. That isn’t to say they weren’t willing to work hard, but they had a different concept of what that work looks like than Swindlemelonzz. Compromises were not enough to keep the team whole despite a desire on all sides to find common ground.

Everybody had been hoping to keep the team together, but when priorities clash sometimes restructuring is the only option.

Fly and MoonMeander will leave NA Dota for the new squad Monkey Business with Miracle, Big Daddy, and Cr1t- (best known for his time on MYM and Mousesports). They will be replaced on CompLexity by MJW (formerly of eHug) for offlane and Wayto on support.

New Complexity roster
us Kyle 'Kyle' Freedman
us Zakari 'ZfreeK' Freedman
us Luis 'Zyzz' Perez
ca Peter 'Waytosexy' Nguyen *NEW*
us Michael 'MJW' Nguyen *NEW*

Out: il Tal 'Fly' Aizik and ca David 'Moonmeander' Tan

Everybody is eager to get back to work. As for my talk with Fly, he ended asking me to throw in a special thanks to his family, his girlfriend, and the brands that sponsored him throughout his time on CompLexity, which include Soundblaster, CyberPower PC, and Newegg. For more information on Complexity, their sponsors, or their future, find them online.