With an early and unceremonious exit from the Stockholm Major, North America’s golden boys have confirmed a long-suspected reality of the Dota 2 esports scene: North American Dota 2 officially appears at its weakest on the international stage. Following a brutal 2-10 game record in the Stockholm group stage, Evil Geniuses were the only team eliminated prior to bracket play after Group B’s Mind Games were disqualified due to visa issues. Following three consecutive second-place finishes at majors dating back to 2020, EG has fallen to a 13th place result in Stockholm.
EG earned their slot at the major with a strong 6-1 finish in the Spring DPC season and a victory over TSM in a seed-determining tiebreaker. Despite this, EG was unable to put up a 2-0 finish in any of their 6 matches and only recording wins against historically weak international teams, BOOM and beastcoast.
Following their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain LGD at the Kyiv major in 2021, EG brought on 2-time International champion Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka and Eastern European standout Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko. While many Dota fans were excited to see the return of JerAx, fans were also confused by Evil Geniuses’ Coach Kanishka “BuLba” Sosale’s choice to place the Finn on the Position 5 support role, rather than the Position 4 role that he played for OG in their back-to-back TI victories.
Furthermore, Dota fans have begun spinning memes about BuLba’s draft decisions, including repeatedly picking Storm Spirit early in the draft for EG’s Filipino midlaner, Abed. While Abed’s early pick Storm Spirit led the charge for EG in their previous 2nd-place finish at the Singapore major last year, it faltered in Stockholm, producing one victory in the four games it was picked.
EG’s other victory came at the hands of Abed’s Queen of Pain and – the only North American player on the team – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev’s Chaos Knight. This win against beastcoast showed some of the fight left in North America’s last hope, fending off a shut out versus South America’s beastcoast. beastcoast continued on to playoffs, however, where they eliminated previous TI-winner Team Spirit in a stunning 2-0 fashion.
The other team representing North America in Stockholm this May, TSM, has exceeded expectations however. TSM placed third in group stages, defeating Western Europe’s Team Liquid 2-0 and claiming victory during tiebreakers against Team Spirit. TSM, a team formed in January of last year and signed to the organization in January of this year, shows that North American Dota 2 is not dying. Rather, Evil Geniuses’ epoch as NA’s last competitive international team is over. As new teams reach the pinnacle of North American Dota competition, it leaves hope for the future that in the waning days of EG’s golden era, a new age of North American Dota 2 begins.
Words by Nathan Burke