Now that 2015 has come and gone, we feel it's appropriate to take some time to reminisce about what a year it truly was for Evil Geniuses as a whole. Looking back, we witnessed events and performances that will forever be recorded in esports history. These were moments that produced a rollercoaster of emotions, from bitter anguish all the way to sheer excitement, for us all. After all, isn't that one of the most exciting parts of being a fan?
What has seemingly become the norm in esports over the years is the high and lows we experience as fans following the greatest team in the world, EG (yes we're biased!). 2015 had plenty of both, but we feel the high points certainly outweigh the low ones. With the expert opinions of a few of our Senior Web Content Developers, we came up with a list, in no particular order, of some of our favorite EG moments from 2015.
Dota 2 Asia Championships
At the start of 2015 the future of the EG Dota 2 team was uncertain. EG had lost young phenom support player zai and North American DotA incarnate Arteezy to Team Secret. EG reloaded with Aui_2000 and a young and then-unknown pubstar Suma1L. Suma1L had cut his teeth in NEL, the same battle grounds where Arteezy and Mason had risen to fame. However at only 15 years old, he had never been tested in a professional competition, much less a LAN. Moreover EG's first outing with the new line-up at HyperX D2L S5 finals was a disappointment. Despite entering as a heavy favorite, the team placed third. It seemed to all that EG had been the losers of the shuffle.
DAC was the event that put the doubts to rest and showed that the new EG roster was still championship material. And victory was especially sweet with the path EG traveled to claim the Radiance. In the Losers' Bracket Finals, EG faced off against their former teammates on Secret. The new hotshots of the West had finished the group stage undefeated at 15-0 and were favored with nearly 4 to 1 odds in the match up. However EG took the series in a decisive 2-0 sweep, taking down Secret's Medusa the first game then picking Medusa themselves the second. In the Grand Finals, EG met ViCi who knocked them out of The International 4. Showing the ability to learn and adapt, EG forced ViCi out of their comfort zone with an aggressive style that punished ViCi's reliance on having a second carry in mid. EG claimed its first title with the new roster and ushered in a new age of Storm Spirit spam.
2015 started off surprisingly strong for Momochi, riding high off an extremely exciting Capcom Cup victory and a move to Tokyo, but it certainly didn't let up from there. Several notable victories followed in the early part of the year -- including first place finishes at both Shadowloo Showdown and the ridiculously stacked SXSW Fighters Invitational -- but it wouldn't be until July when the World Warrior's strength took center stage at EVO 2015. There, Momochi would claim the title of EVO's last Ultra Street Fighter IV champion by defeating GamerBee's notoriously tricky Adon in the tournament's Grand Finals following a painful bracket reset.
It wasn't only GamerBee's tactics that stood in Momochi's way. EVO's Top 8 held plenty of challenges, including an exceptionally hype match against Infiltration and not one, but two pocket characters: Evil Ryu and Abel. While Momochi previously told us he was ready for Infiltration to deviate from his typical character choices and go for Evil Ryu after seeing several matches earlier in the tournament, he was legitimately shocked to see Abel, and had to adjust on-the-fly. Momochi himself did not hesitate to change up both characters and tactics throughout the tournament either, routinely switching from fan-favorite Ken to execution-heavy damage king Evil Ryu, and even current metagame queen Elena made a few appearances throughout his climb up the EVO gauntlet.
It wouldn't only be his opponents that made this victory exceptionally hard-fought for Momochi, however. An ill-timed equipment malfunction almost brought Momochi's dreams of EVO victory screeching to a halt in the tournament's final moments. Though visibly shaken, he did not let that small setback impact his focus on the task at hand. In the last few seconds of the final round of EVO, his Evil Ryu delivered the finishing blow to GamerBee's Adon, clinching the match and the tournament.
The International 5
After DAC, things were once again right in the DotA world for EG fans. Basking in the glory of the Eternal Radiance, EG not only reigned once again as Best of the West but the best team in the world. But, as large as DAC was, it was not The International. Even though it was larger than three previous TI's, as Fear has previously stated, the goal is always to win a TI. A sword is nothing without a shield after all. In the months following DAC though, EG captured only one of four possible premier titles. The team faltered in three Grand Finals, including finishing second to Team Secret at both The Summit 3 and ESL One Frankfurt. The one title the squad did secure in the time leading up to TI5 was Season 3 of the Dota Pit League - a tournament where Secret had dropped out early on. There was no question that EG remained a powerhouse who would do well at TI5, but to many it seemed like the title was not EG's to lose but Secret's.
However previous TIs have shown that timing isn't just about your momentum coming into an event, it's also your momentum at the event itself. Hitting your stride at the right time is crucial. TI4 saw NewBee, a team that barely made it out of the group stages, pull together at the exact right time and steamroll through the playoffs to claim the Aegis in hand. Meanwhile, DK came into Seattle for TI3 with the wind at their back as favorites, but did not have enough in the tank to clear past 4th place. And for EG, the winds of fortune shifted just in time. With EG finishing at the top of their group and Secret placing second in theirs, it seemed as if the EG and Secret Western grudge match would be coming in the second round of the Winners' Bracket. But one of Secret's biggest advantages, their ability to adapt better and faster to new patches than everyone else, seemed to be nullified by the extended bootcamp and scouting before TI. The European all-star squad fell apart at the seams, finishing in 7th/8th. Meanwhile, EG finished first in their group and their only set-back at the tournament would come in the Winners' Finals where CDEC, a team EG swept in group stages, sent EG into Losers' in a 0-2 upset.
Once again, ppd would prove the value of a great captain can never be overstated. Recognizing that CDEC was using both of its opening bans defensively to eliminate greedy 4th position supports that could punish their playstyle, EG went into the Grand Finals without banning Leshrac. Lesh's status as the most powerful mid of the patch had meant that it was almost always banned, masking CDEC's inability to play the hero. Forced into picking Lesh for the first time in the tournament merely to deny the hero EG, CDEC could not match EG's execution from superior hero mastery. When the dust settled, a EG emerged victorious in 3-1 rout and the Flame of the West was crowned as the first ever North American champions.
Halo Championship Series Season 1 Finals
The release of the Master Chief Collection brought Halo back into the folds of mainstream eSports. Veteran players of Halo’s glory days emerged once again to take part in the Halo Championship Series. EG acquired a team of legends from the past Halo title competitions who have been champions of the game throughout competitive Halo history. The astounding squad consisted of Roy, Lunchbox, Coach Towey, Snipeown, and Pistola. EG looked incredibly promising with one of the most hyped rosters competing; however, disaster struck early into the season when Pistola broke his hand and could no longer compete. As a result, EG recruited a relatively unknown but gifted player to fill the void, Lethul.
Initial shortcomings plagued EG with the team always falling closely behind CLG in online tournaments and providing less than stellar showing at UGC St. Louis. At the tail end of the season, EG began to crush the rest of the league by decisively winning two online cups followed by Gamers for Giving with only one match lost. Riding their momentum into the Season One Finals, EG climbed up the bracket to face CLG twice, once in the Winner's Finals and again with a clean sweep in the Grand Finals. Even through the early tribulations of the season, EG did not falter on their goal and ultimately reigned as the new champions in the second coming of competitive Halo.
The Summit 4
In esports mythology, the runback (and its team-league cousin, the reverse all-kill) sits close to the top of the unofficial hierarchy of individual achievement. Winning three or five or even seven games in a row is a substantial feat under any circumstances, but doing so after losing two (four or six) games is simply remarkable. Even more impressive is doing so in the grand finals of a major tournament.
But that’s exactly what Evil Geniuses Dota 2 did against Virtus Pro in the grand finals of The Summit 4. A quick refresher: following a roster shuffle in August that saw the return of Artour “Arteezy” Babaev to the organization, Evil Geniuses bore on its back the largest weight of expectation of any team in recent memory. At first, results were middling (at least for Evil Geniuses) – an ugly, early departure from ESL New York 2015 was followed by a shaky performance at MLG World Finals. And following a third place finish at the Frankfurt Major, many were wondering whether the team had been wrong to shuffle its International-winning roster.
Which brings us to The Summit 4, the final Western Dota 2 tournament of the year. In its first matches, Evil Geniuses eked past its opponents 2-1, climbing the bracket and into the grand finals, where it faced a seemingly unstoppable Virtus Pro. Fact: in VP’s previous series, the Russian squad utterly dismantled ViCi Gaming in two laughably one-sided matches. Despite coming from the winner’s bracket and sitting on an extra day of rest, Evil Geniuses entered the finals as the underdog, a strange half-inversion of the team’s usual run through the lower bracket.
Of course, regardless of what conventional wisdom held in the moment, it seems obvious in retrospect that Evil Geniuses were the favorite to win. Given the considerable time it requires of both players and spectators, a best of five is rare in Dota 2. In 2015, perhaps 10 such Bo5s took place outside of China. Evil Geniuses participated in at least seven of these, meaning that no other team was as prepared for an extended series as were Evil Geniuses (for comparison, The Summit 4 finals was only Virtus Pro’s third recorded Best of Five series). And let’s not forget that by the beginning of a crucial game three, Virtus Pro had been playing nearly nonstop for nearly six hours.
In the first two games, Evil Geniuses was overrun by VP.G’s excellent Dire-side Shadow Fiend. Given the circumstances. many expected PPD to cut their losses and ban Shadow Fiend in game three. But in a sly bit of drafting, PPD fourth-picked a Bounty Hunter for which Virtus Pro had no answer. This isn’t to discount the tremendous performance of every member of Evil Geniuses in game three – down 0-2 in a best of five, most teams would have crumpled. The deciding moment came when Virtus Pro pushed high ground a tad too aggressively and were utterly trounced in a teamfight under Evil Geniuses’ top tier three. From that point on, Evil Geniuses snatched Virtus Pro‘s momentum and quickly broke the Russians in game three on the back of PPD’s excellent draft. In game four, Evil Geniuses simply outplayed Virtus Pro at every turn and, in game five, with their spirits crushed, VP crumped under the weight of Arteezy’s Shadow Fiend, which was every bit as strong as that of G.
2015 was a landmark year for Evil Geniuses Dota 2, achieving the most successful year of any team in any game in the history of esports. Fans, of course, will always remember the team’s victory at The International 5 (as they should). But for me, money and size of the crowd be damned, it’s Evil Geniuses stupendous runback at The Summit 4 that I’ll remember most – a fitting end to 2015 and the guarantor of high hopes for 2016.
Evil Geniuses is a premiere professional gaming team with a worldwide following. Founded in 1999 from humble beginnings, the team has grown to a place of massive influence as one of gaming’s best known brands. Long known by a hallmark of elite players with unbreaking determination, we are unapologetic in victory and the world's best video game team.