DreamHack Masters: Malmo aside (group stage started today), Evil Geniuses (EG) have been in peak form since the StarLadder Berlin Major. Expectations for former NRG at the Major were to at best crack top 8, but they were not seen as a world class side just yet.
Much like a hot baseball team in a rebuilding year, EG’s flashy results took much of the Counter-Strike world by storm, but after they fell short of dethroning Astralis at the major it seemed the magic may have run its course. Fortunately for NA Counter-Strike fans, EG was more than a flash in the pan and continued their newfound dominance by proceeding to drop only one map over their entire ESL One: New York campaign.
Where did this form come from? A mix of positive changes at the IGL spot, better performances from their NA members and a flexible map pool has given EG some unique advantages over their peers.
Stunning changes at IGL
Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz has taken stops at almost every top NA team in the scene sans Cloud9. From his brief period on Team Liquid (where the NA team saw their first surge to the top of the scene - first manifested at ESL One: NYC 2017) to OpTic Gaming (where Stanislaw entered NA lore by molding a team of NA misfits into ELEAGUE S2 champions in Atlanta, Georgia). Stanilsaw has experienced his fair shares of highs and lows. He may not have the best reputation for loyalty, but his reputation as a fragging in-game leader is impeccable.
Damian “daps” Steele has always been a good IGL, but his fragging always left something to be desired. While daps has been great at preparing teams for success, stanislaw has been great at getting the best out of both his teammates and himself on the server. At NYC this was never more apparent, in both his personal performance and the performance of those who strugged earlier in the year (Ethan “Ethan” Arnold” and Tsvetelin “CerQ” Dimitrov). EG looked free, loose, and had a killer instinct that Team Liquid seemed to lack in the past few events.
Being the hometown team comes with uneven benefits. While its definitely a positive, because it usually provides a friendly crowd and lower travel times, the actual benefit it provides to teams in Counter-Strike is a topic of debate. Regardless, the atmosphere in the crowd went from a very pro Team Liquid to a very pro EG crowd after Liquid fell 1-2 to the Danish Astralis. The Barclays was electric with chants for homtown favorite Tarik “tarik” Celik who looked elated when he lifted the ESL: One NYC trophy.
The hometown advantage certainly seemed to keep EG mentally in the final after losing a heartbreaker in overtime on Train as they bounced back with a resounding 16-8 win on Nuke.
EG does not have the typical “heirarchy” of star/role/igl players that other teams seems to posses. You can argue that Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte is the star of the team, but that role has been bounced around several times before. Tarik has become a “support” element, but his impact is often felt during the mid round of big moments. Ethan is not the star that was promised, but he has developed into a good second/third best player depending on how CerQ performs. This fluidity seems to remove ego related issues other teams such as Na’Vi or G2 (of the past) seemed to have where one player wanted more than he might otherwise need/deserved.
This iteration of EG reminds me a lot of the major winning Cloud9 with a better AWPer. That team featured several high quality fraggers and a loose style of play that worked well on almost all of the maps. While this version certainly seems to have more stable footing (upgrade in IGL and AWP) and a deeper map pool, the similarities point to the one player both lineups featured: Tarik.
Tarik has really come into his own in the later end of his career and one can only imagine how far EG can go in upcoming tournaments.
Written ByEzekiel Carsella@jamaican116