Evil Geniuses went back to Arteezy’s Terrorblade as they reverse swept Vici Gaming. EG is now in the top three at the WePlay Animajor and will face the loser of the match between PSG.LGD and T1 esports.
Vici Gaming and Evil Geniuses faced each other in the lower bracket of the WePlay Animajor. Vici took down Quincy Crew while Evil Geniuses sent Team Nigma out of the TI invite race in the previous series. As we head into the last few teams at the Major, the clash between the East and West was always going to be an exciting one.
The two teams had already faced each other in the group stage of this tournament. That time, it was an even game right down the middle (1-1 score). But in a best-of-three series, every game matters, especially when a loss could eliminate you. Vici Gaming has been extremely calm and collective while Evil Geniuses has shown us diversity in their gameplay. More recently, Evil Geniuses has tried to adopt a rather fast-paced gameplay through the lower bracket.
Vici Gaming use EG's combo against them in Game 1
Evil Geniuses tried something new in this match by picking Outworld Destroyer. The hero is extremely unpopular right now, especially because many other heroes do its job and better than itself. Artour "Arteezy" Babaev on the Outworld Destroyer and Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang on the Broodmother was definitely a very weird combination of heroes even for Evil Geniuses. The weird draft put Vici Gaming off guard and EG managed an early lead.3
OD is a great hero when it can deal damage uninterrupted by the enemy lineup. With the small lead for Evil Geniuses, the players probably felt they were in a commanding position. However, Vici Gaming was adapting really well for the late game and their gameplan was obvious. Arteezy did not go for the BKB as the second item and this item decision hurt EG a lot. With Storm and Spectre jumping on Arteezy in every mid-game team fight, there was very little that the carry player could do to save himself.
Broodmother also went a very tank-heavy build, which means when Vici focused on Arteezy, there was very little damage coming from IceIceIce. Vici's decision to focus on Arteezy's Outworld Destroyer would instantly win them the teamfights, because EG simply did not have enough damage once Arteezy goes down. An extremely late BKB and lack of other sources of damage allowed Vici to take a 1-0 lead in this all-important match.
Why is the Storm-Spectre combination strong?
Several teams have used the Storm Spirit + Spectre combination in pro matches. This combination is particularly strong cause Spectre's haunt allows Storm the vision to dive deep into the back-lines. With a clear focus on objectives, in most cases it is the support hero, the team fight can start off in a very dominant fashion. Sometimes, it just goes 5v4 with one hero unable to get any spells of.
Back to Basics for Evil Geniuses in Game 2
After experimenting with Outworld Destroyer and Broodmother, and failing miserably at that, EG was back to comfort picks. Taking the Terrorblade for Arteezy and Templar Assasin for Abed Azel L. Yusop, it was no doubt that the players were back to their basics. The Templar Assasin and Terrorblade have been two of the most successful heroes for Evil Geniuses. Arteezy is extremely popular for his Terrorblade performance and did not disappoint in this game against Vici Gaming.
EG was extremely dominant in the laning phase and always had a backup plan for the late game. Vici Gaming seemed extremely uncomfortable, especially with that doubtful Kunkka pick. The Chinese roster picked a teamfight heavy lineup, but they were simply unable to find these circumstances.
Medusa is an extremely late-game pick and requires a lot of farm and experience to come online. In contrast, Arteezy is extmreley comfortable on Terrorblade and flash farms the jungle with his illusions. The team also creates space for their carry player applying pressure on the opponent, but in reality allowing Arteezy to farm.
Evil Geniuses was extremely dominant in game 2 with three high-scaling cores at the 15-20 minute mark. With some basic items such as Blink, BKBs and agility items, Evil Geniuses was able to come online extremely early.
Game 3: How to deal with Arteezy's Terrorblade?
After the back and forth between the two teams in terms of strategy, it was down to the last map. Evil Geniuses got the Terrorblade for Arteezy and Puck for Abed. Getting Terrorblade was definitely a comfort pick, one that Arteezy is extremely efficient at. Vici Gaming's lineup depended on high cooldowns and late game teamfights. The Chinese team had Faceless Void, Doom and Winter Wyvern, all providing excellent value in teamfights.
However, it was also a very greedy lineup as the heroes needed a lot of farm and items. Grimstroke also went for the Aghanim's to deal with Arteezy's Terrorblade. EG went off to a very strong start, leading in all lanes. Faceless void in particular was extremely underfarmed against a Lion+Timebersaw lane. But Vici Gaming doubled down on their late-game prowess, picking a Hand of Midas on their Doombringer.
Things were going well for EG as they got the Roshan and then tried pushing the high ground. But a near-perfect execution by Vici allowed them to kill Arteezy twice.
Arteezy would then buy back and come back into the teamfight to die a third time, yes three times! As you can see in the clip above, it was a combination of perfect items and great timing on the blink daggers and chaining of abilities. The Dark Portrait uses the opponent's damage (in this case, Terrorblade) against them. Terrorblade's Dark Portrait illusion deals 150% damage, which is quite significant regardless of the target and armor.
EG fell back, building crucial items as they tried to deal with the Dark Portrait and Doom. What's best to counter two game-changing single-target spells? Linken's Sphere. The North American team squeezed out the form from Vici Gaming, now allowing them to venture far outside the base.
What's next for EG?
Evil Geniuses has kept alive the dreams of North American Dota 2 at the WePlay Animajor. They had already secured a slot at The International, but this tournament is for glory and the title of the Major. The North American squad lost to Invictus Gaming in the Singapore Major as IG managed a reverse sweep. Can they win the Major this time around? Or will they be runners-up once again?