posted by SmittyW.,
There are few teams in the history of Dota 2 that have been as present and iconic as Evil Geniuses. The North American organisation is a staple at TIs, placing third more consistently than any other team. Can they finally win the Aegis for a second time? This DPC season was great for Evil Geniuses. They pretty much secured their spot for The International 2019 early on and showed decent results at almost every major they participated in. However, as tradition demands, they didn't place higher than third place at any of the point-awarding DPC events. They managed to claim two second places this season, but those were at tournaments that were irrelevant for the TI qualification.

Always among the best, but not good enough

The funny thing about the TI5 champion is that they are always among the favourites at any tournament they enter. The current EG line-up has been around for more than a year. Last year the departure of both Tal 'Fly' Aizik and Gustav 's4' Magnusson from OG was one of the biggest upsets in the scene. The two star players replaced former captain Rasmus 'rASmus' Fillipsen and Clinton 'Fear' Loomis and led to Evil Geniuses becoming a force to be reckoned with again.

The updated roster qualified for The International 2018 but lost to Fly's former team and ended up in third place once again. Although there hasn't been a decline of EG's shape ever since, it seems as if they aren't really improving either. The side seems to lack the killer instinct to become champions at last. Has the squad and playstyle of EG been figured out, and is their current roster too predictable to be a real contender at TI9? Or will they overcome the last wall that stands between them and their first big tournament victory in years?

EG have the quality

There is of course a reason why the geniuses are always considered likely candidates for winning a tournament. Each position boasts a worldclass player that can potentially beat any other pro. Sumail 'SumaiL' Syed Hassan can be considered a core part of the team and even stands out from a roster full of absolute top Dota players.

Apart from Sam 'Bulba' Sosale who coached EG in 2015, the mid laner is the only player left who lifted the Aegis for the North American organisation. He has also played in every TI for Evil Geniuses since 2015. In February, SumaiL took a break and was replaced by Quinn 'CCnC' Callahan for the Mars Media Dota 2 League: Macau 2019, as this tournament wasn't a DPC sanctioned event any way.

Artour 'Arteezy' Babaev is by far the best hard carry in North America and has been expected to win a TI for years. He's been playing for many worldclass teams over the years but this hasn't paid off at the Dota world championships yet. Fly, too, is an uncrowned champion and also played for notable teams such as Team Secret and OG in the past. The captain is well known for making excellent drafts in collaboration with Bulba and there is only a handful of teams that can keep up with them.

With s4 and Andreas 'Cr1t-' Nielsen the geniuses have magnificent position 3 and four players at their disposal. The Swedish offlaner even played for the legendary Alliance squad that won TI3 back in the day. Quality-wise Evil Geniuses are easily capable of winning this TI. But there is still the question why they haven't been able to produce results to back up this thesis lately.

Do EG lack the champion mentality?

It seems like a contradiction: on the one hand, the stack consists of accomplished players, people who know how to win tournaments, but also how to lose. On the other hand their killer instinct seems to be missing lately, as pointed out earlier, and with that their champion mentality. What is more, their drafts might be on point, but they lack the virtuosity of a Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov, who is known for being ahead of the meta and make surprising calls in the drafting phase. While it might be too harsh to call them predictable, they are not too surprising either, which would give them an advantage otherwise.

The International 2019 has to be the tournament for Fly and his team-mates to overcome their curse. It has to be do or die, otherwise Evil Geniuses have to consider more drastic changes to their roster in order compete with the likes of Secret, Liquid, or Vici Gaming. Another third place is not what they are aiming for.

Will EG be the first team to lift the Aegis for a second time?

Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL