A conversation with an Evil Genius

Earlier this month, we ran an article about how Evil Geniuses both dominate and alter the NA playstyle. This week, we got to talk with Arteezy about what it’s like being on the top NA Dota team, dealing with roster changes and, of course, being Arteezy.

ESL: Arteezy, you’re one of the most popular Dota 2 players out there. Between the 2ez4rtz shirts and the huge numbers of fans that will be at ESL One Frankfurt, do you ever let the crowd get to you?
Arteezy: The entire idea of being famous still hasn't exactly hit me - the feeling is still surreal. This will be my first event that is broadcast to thousands of people live: I would normally say the crowd never gets to me but this is quite insane!

ESL: Any crazy fan stories you’d care to share with us?
Arteezy: Nothing really crazy has ever happened to me but one time I was with a few friends walking down a popular street in downtown Vancouver and a random group of guys yelled out "Too easy for Arteezy!" I will be honest, I was really shocked and just waved back at them trying to play it off as cool as possible in front of my IRL friends 😀

ESL: What are your expectations going into a venue as huge as the Commerzbank Arena? Is there anyone on the team who gets especially hyped up by a crowd?
Arteezy: I don't think any of us are affected by the crowd, but that may be because besides Universe, we haven't played in front of such a large crowd before. At the end of the day, any professional player in any game or sport has to isolate themselves internally with the game and exclude all external factors like the crowd.

ESL: You guys crushed at The Summit, but coming into DreamHack you just didn’t look like the same team. What do you think are some of the factors that went into that shift?
Arteezy: After The Summit, my team had gone to San Fran to just chill out at the EG offices/bootcamp while I had to go write my final exams to seal my graduation, which resulted in no practice before the event. It didn't help that other teams that were preparing for this event had most likely watched and studied all our games in The Summit, having the upper hand strategically and even mentally since most of us arrived the night before the tournament. Even though losing a LAN is always saddening, this LAN had all the odds against us!

ESL: Besides the in-game performance decrease, you guys were also missing the support of your sidelined captain Fear. How much did he help you guys in LA? How much did you miss his advice in Sweden?
Arteezy: Fear helped us a lot at The Summit; especially after our rough start in the group stage. He pointed out mistakes that were consistent throughout all our games and highlighted possible fixes from an objective point of view, which absolutely is great to have. His advice was deeply missed and probably been one of the many participating factors in our failure!

ESL: The motivational and inspirational aspect is one thing, the change within the roster another. Mason replaced Fear as the team’s carry with much success so far. How did you manage to incorporate him so quickly and with such a massive impact?
Arteezy: Each of us have known Mason since the early C9DL/NEL days and quickly befriended him, so it was natural for him to just join the team and play with much success. We also have a good idea of what heroes Mason is able to do extremely well on and so we try to incorporate some of them into our strategies.

ESL: Given that PPD’s win rate with Treant Protector is sitting at an impressive .85 in competitive play, do you expect that hero to be banned out going into ESL One and TI4? What’s your favorite pickup in place of Treant Protector?
Arteezy: I think teams will ban what they feel is strong versus them, so it’s a case-by-case basis. I also told PPD to learn Pudge because he can easily replace Tree as his spells are similar.

ESL: When you guys draft, what strategies do you like to build around? Do you typically aim for a certain phase of the game? What does your perfect draft look like?
Arteezy: Our strategies are secret! I always ask for Sniper mid, though - one day I will have my Kardel Sharpeye mid debut! Maybe if I beg hard enough and get the crowd cheering, it will happen. My perfect draft would be three tanky strength heroes and a KotL helping my Sniper kill stuff.

ESL: You guys have a healthy mix of Dota veterans and relatively new players to the scene. How does this dynamic help shape the team’s hierarchy and shot-calling?
Arteezy: Honestly, we just talk and call things in the game when we individually feel it’s necessary - though we do have experienced veterans, we are all capable of identifying situations and making calls.

ESL: What’s it like being the number one team in the entire NA region? Do you guys feel like you have to constantly search for competition outside of NA or are there some teams you like scrimming against in your region?
Arteezy: Being ranked #1 in NA is not something to be too proud of simply because of the lack of strong NA teams. I'd label Liquid and NAR as good teams, of course, with talented players, but the team aspect of Dota isn't completely there. I'd go as far and say North America has some of the strongest individually skilled players in the world. If only Dota was a solo game, eh? We are okay with playing a few games a week if possible vs. NAR and Liquid, but we often scrim against European teams, especially as we are now bootcamping in Sweden.

ESL: Your first matchup at ESL One Frankfurt is against the ever popular Na’Vi. How do you feel about your chances having just recently beaten them at The Summit?
Arteezy: As long as we play to our style and don’t get caught up in the aggressive tone NaVi likes to set, we should be able to beat them! NaVi on LAN is spontaneous and not to be taken lightly - they pull out interesting tactics when the pressure is on.

So there you have it! If you’re going to ESL One Frankfurt, please, please, please cheer as loud as possible for Arteezy’s Sniper mid - maybe, just maybe, we can convince his team! If you’re not headed to Frankfurt in person, make sure to tune in on Twitch.tv to catch all the games.

Also, make sure you check out our other team spotlights as well:


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