Throughout his career, Tal “Fly” Aizik only succeeded when he was at the forefront. Never considered the strongest position 5 player, but he remained the captain of the best team in the world for many years straight. This is the story of the new leader of Evil Geniuses, from the player Heroes of the Newerth to the nickname “Master of the Majors”.
The article consists of 2 parts: Part 1 / Part 2
In an interview with epicchats, MoonMeader discusses “being psyched for TI”:
When TI came, I don’t know what happened, but everyone didn’t play like they practiced. I guess I have a TI mentality. Maybe because we dominated for so long, we got bored and everyone didn’t give their best.
After OG only ranked 9-12 at TI6, 3 members left, only Fly and n0tail stayed. The departing members were replaced by s4 in the offlane, young talent in mid Ana, and JerAx, a former Team Liquid support. With OG losing an important player, Miracle-, the school team and coach were forced to rethink the game plan.
Fly talked about signing Ana before TI7 with RuHub as follows:
Tell the truth [ký hợp đồng với Ana] almost like a gamble. This was a risky choice, because the story goes like this, I was talking to someone in China a year and a half ago, while OG was still in the same lineup, and this person told me about a kid named Ana. […]Then, when Miracle- left the team, we wanted to find someone new, but couldn’t find a suitable player on the list we had. […] Then I remembered talking to that person in China, I contacted him and ended up talking to Ana.
[…] This is a gamble worth taking, because I don’t see a better option. […] It really took Ana a lot of time to become as good as she is now. At first, in his first major, I thought he was still a long way from his true potential.
At that time, OG benefited from the meta: position 4 supports sometimes became mid-lane, and carry positions became more important than last season. As a backup for mid, Fly picks Terrorblade and Naga Siren for n0tail, extremely dangerous heroes in the late game. On the other hand, Faceless Void or Drow Ranger is still the companion pick for Outworld Devourer.
The 2016/2017 season once again saw the team’s success, and was the season in which OG played the fewest matches in the league. Before the 2016 Boston Major, OG had only participated in 4 tournaments and 1 qualifier. The new roster debuted at Mars Dota 2 League 2016 Autumn, where they finished 3rd. Two weeks later, the team lost their first BO1 match at the FACEIT Invitational to Team Empire, and shortly after, Virtus.pro changed their roster, shows that things in Europe are not as easy as they used to be. First, VP dashed OG’s hopes at ESL One Genting 2017, and then once again beat them to win The Summit 6 trophy.
Taking place in December, Boston was the first tournament that Valve used the Olympic system. The fact that OG ranked first in the group marked a favorable start for the playoffs. In the semi-finals, the team faced Evil Geniuses, who had just defeated Virtus.pro. OG had no trouble deciphering the former Cr1t member’s team and made it to the finals to meet Greek team, Ad Finem. Ad Finem only won one match in the entire series, and that match brought Ad Finem to his knees. Fly and n0tail pocketed me another Major, proving that I don’t need Miracle-.
OG’s new way of playing reminds us of what Fnatic did in 2013: the team spent a lot of time playing defense and farming the necessary items. The boys often sacrifice early game except for the mid lane, where JerAx goes to great lengths to make sure the opponent can’t get an advantage over Ana. Until OG caught up with the enemy, they started destroying targets and initiating teamfights, always traveling 5 people together, and carefully monitoring the cooldowns of their moves.
This plan is only effective if each player fulfills his responsibilities perfectly. The idea here is to take advantage of every space: in the early game, JerAx controls the map, and after that, n0tail and Ana will take over the role. Not only do cores outgrow their opponents and constantly push lanes, they also support their captains with more information. Fly completely mastered the macro of the match.
In an interview with Red Bull, Fly talks about the team’s instability when it comes to finding the recipe for success:
You know, we have a vicious circle like this. The team wins the Major, and loses the next one, then wins the Major, and then loses at TI. And…this vicious cycle continues! […]
I knew I could win, but I knew the team wasn’t considered a contender. And I think that’s good too. I’ve been as a candidate for the tournament, and that puts extra pressure on you. This time, we got rid of that pressure.
Over the next four months, OG entered 4 tournaments and were never out of the top 3. The worst performance was when OG faced Chinese teams – possessing aggressive early game play. In the final series at Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017, Fly’s team failed to win a game, mainly due to losing mid three times.
The next Major starts in April 2017. Again, OG is considered the contender, but the trophy goes to VP. In the Swiss group stage, VP won 3 out of 3 matches, while the “Major Boss” had to play one more game against Invictus Gaming and OG lost. The team fell into the other bracket and did not rematch Virtus.pro until the finals.
In addition to Virtus.pro’s explanation of how OG won the previous major, Fly added:
With the way we played, especially at the Kiev Major, we probably had more conditions to win. The longer the game goes on, the better off we are. Then the team sacrifices the early game. Teams are going to try to take advantage of this and when they do successfully exploit – take Virtus.pro for example, they are one of the best early game teams in the world – we will be at a disadvantage, but what are we? I need just one chance. And if they gave us that chance, it would all be over. That’s what happened at the Kiev Major. VP crushed us, but lost only one teamfight, the game ended for Virtus.pro.
No more Major, no more boss
In the few tournaments before TI7, OG was unsuccessful. The players said fatigue, as well as not enough practice time in the patch was the cause. For example, at EPICENTER: Moscow 2017, the team failed to make it to the group stage, only winning against Natus Vincere when they played alongside Pajkatt. From the initial draft, Fly and 7ckngMad looked like they had never practiced: the team ignored Troll Warlord, Ursa, and Sand King.
However, OG received an invitation to TI7 and was once again considered the top team. It seems that Fly found the key to breaking the meta, but he failed to do so. OG saw important points with the bottom two teams, Digital Chaos and Execration. As a result, the team only needed to lose one more BO1 match to be eliminated. Luckily for OG, Infamous couldn’t take advantage of Troll Warlocd. This is one of the heroes that Fly missed.
OG’s next game is against TNC, the opponent who saw OG off at TI last year. This time, OG focused and performed extremely well. Fly continued to play slow defensively with JerAx being the team’s only active element. TNC made a lot of mistakes, was hasty in the teamfights and created too much space for the opponent to exploit.
In the third round of the losing bracket, OG faced LGD and Fly was not ready to adapt to the opponent. In game 1, the Chinese team played with maximum initiative with Night Stalker, Earthshaker and Leshrac to disrupt Fly’s intentions. JerAx couldn’t save Ana, and n0tail’s Phantom Lancer couldn’t cure Bristleback in the late game. Although OG reversed the game many times, in the end LGD still won. In draft game 2, the Chinese team picked a lot of highly controllable heroes, that’s why by mid game, the Fly team started losing every fight. With the result 0-2, OG again failed to touch Aegis.
The first season of Dota Pro Circuit started with Ana being replaced by Resolut1on. After TI7, this mission was considered the best choice for the squad, but in the end, OG lost the first three qualifiers, including ESL One Hamburg 2017 under the new competition format.
In the past, the team was often famous for its ability to take advantage of situations that occurred on the map. But now, the boys not only failed to take advantage of the other’s mistakes, but also made their own mistakes. The members said they needed time to understand Resolut1on, but that never happened. Even though mid and carry kept switching positions, the result remained the same: Resolut1on still farmed, n0tail didn’t, and in the end the opponent still won. OG has 210 points per player this season, all three from three Minors with Resolut1on.
Winter came, and OG won all the qualifiers they participated in, but that was partly because the qualifiers were so weak. OG’s results were 7-8th at ESL One Katowice 2018, and 9-11 in Bucharest Major. Fly could not find an effective way to help the team. However, n0tail and fly are not the ones leaving OG, but Resolut1on. The team coach was 7ckngmad replacing the carry but it didn’t work.
Last June, OG announced that Fly and s4 were leaving the team to replace Fear and MISERY at Evil Geniuses. EG’s new lineup won the right to participate in TI8, partly because SumaiL returned to the mid position. Currently, it is too early to talk about the merits that Fly contributes to the team as captain.
Cybersport spoke to Fly earlier in the year to better understand the captain’s role:
There are many different ways to be a captain in Dota. For me, by default I am the captain. I feel like my teammates respect me and my decisions. Not only in the game but also in real life, in terms of training methods and the way we treat each other. I think it has a lot to do with personality. Many people have the natural qualities to be leaders, many others do not.
According to Cybersport
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