With the International 2019 rapidly approaching, it is time to have a quick look over the participating teams. Today we are going to concentrate on the sole representatives of the North American and CIS regions.
Evil Geniuses is one of the most popular and recognizable brands in esports and one of the most controversial teams in Dota. The amount of drama surrounding this tag eclipses all competition: from the kick of Aui_2000 right after the victory in TI5 to PPD/Sumail split and ultimately to the biggest storyline of the last year, with Fly and S4 joining the squad and leaving OG days before the Major.
If you are into this sort of thing, Evil Geniuses is probably the best team to follow. If you are not, there is still insane individual skill level of all players that can grab your attention.
Their general playstyle is best described as “efficient”. The team is excellent at splitting the map and getting the most out of it, generally pushing midgame farming to the absolute limit. Arteezy is still known as one of the most reliable position one cores in the game for that reason.
This approach to the game is heavily bolstered by SumaiL- who can essentially make any core in the game look like a tempo core. No matter the hero, Sumail will find a way to create space for his teammates and will usually live to tell the tale.
Lately, the efficiency alone couldn’t bring better results for the squad and they finished top16 at the EPICENTER, but keep in mind that the team was already qualified to the International and the stakes weren’t too high for them in this particular tournament.
We can only speculate how well Evil Geniuses are going to do in the International. On one hand, their results throughout the year were good with multiple top3 finishes. On the other, they certainly don’t look as dominant and scary as they should be on paper.
What is clear is that Evil Geniuses are not going to TI as favorites and it definitely puts them in an advantageous position: the team can and should be very strong and no one should forget that, despite the recent results.
Uncontested champions of the previous DPC season looked a lot tamer this year. One victory, two second places and a third place is a great result, but it is a far cry from what Virtus.Pro showed last time around. At this point all of the CIS is hoping that the squad is simply pacing itself and is trying to save at least some energy for the TI.
It is unclear why this dominant team always fails to deliver results during the biggest tournament of the year. Sure, there is a target on their back and everyone is generally trying to figure them out as one of the favorites, but it is true for all tournaments Virtus.Pro participates in and it rarely stopped them.
Add to it somewhat shaky games in the last Epicenter and many fans might be up for a disappointment or a very pleasant surprise. Lately it sometimes feels like the squad simply doesn’t want to play the game and if these motivation issues will be resolved by TI, Virtus.Pro is easily going to be one of the scariest teams in it.
It all comes from the team’s origins—at one point a couple of years ago Virtus.Pro was simply the strongest CIS squad that could execute aggressive lineups almost perfectly and outplay their opponent through constant pressure. Unlike many CIS teams, however, VP didn’t stop at that and continued developing, adding more and more strategies to their arsenal to be prepared to virtually anything.
Sometimes it would cost them a tournament, but the team was constantly getting new experience and would outpace the competition in terms of skill growth. Whereas most teams usually find their style first and then carefully sharpen and refine it to the International-worthy level, Virtus.Pro had a holistic approach where they got their Dota basics to almost perfect condition and then started adding extra layers on top.
This approach is yet to pay off on the biggest stage, but as it was the case last year, Virtus.Pro is going into TI as one of the clear favorites, carrying the hopes and dreams of the region that is looking bleak otherwise.