Evil Geniuses has long had the ability to attract elite Dota 2 players, but the 2020 signing of Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang was a bit of a surprise.
iceiceice joined Evil Geniuses as its starting offlaner in November 2020, replacing Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev. So how did that signing come to pass? WIN.gg spoke with Evil Geniuses to get a rundown on how the team came to be and what it’s been like for the team.
“It was basically a situation where RAMZES felt like he wanted to go back to playing carry,” Evil Geniuses captain Tal “Fly” Aizik said during media day at The International 2021.
“We weren’t able to play with each other for a long time, The International was delayed, everything was up in the air, and then RAMZES decided that this is what he wanted to do. At the time, we were happy playing with RAMZES but he felt like he no longer wanted to play offlane,” Fly said.
The urge to move to a carry role isn’t surprising for RAMZES. The Russian player has spent the majority of his career in the one position, with overwhelming success including winning five majors. Unfortunately for RAMZES, there was little chance that he’d be able to pry EG star player Artour “Arteezy” Babaev out of that spot.
RAMZES666 departed Evil Geniuses in November 2020 after only playing with the team at five events. The release of RAMZES666 didn’t pan out especially well for him, as he spent much of the 2022 Dota Pro Circuit season inactive before joining Natus Vincere at the start of a controversial and disastrous series of roster moves.
The departure of RAMZES666 left a hole at the three position for Evil Geniuses. While iceiceice had never competed in the western Dota 2 scene, he was seemingly one of the top picks for the offlaner position.
“After that we had time to figure things out and I think everybody on the team respected iceiceice as a player so he was definitely one of the first players we thought about. So we approached him, got to talk a little bit, and it seemed like it would work out well for us. And I think it has,” Fly said.
Though success at The International is often seen as the primary barometer for success in Dota 2, Evil Geniuses has looked quite formidable with iceiceice. The team reached the grand finals of the WePlay AniMajor and the ONE Esports Singapore Major to take the top spot in the Dota Pro Circuit. Evil Geniuses’ run at TI10 didn’t start in ideal fashion, but the team looked excellent in its playoffs debut against Elephant.
While one might expect the pivot from Asia to North America might be a jarring one for some players, iceiceice noted that it’s not all that different from playing with the Southeast Asian teams he’s previously been a part of. Both of those regions are quite different from China, however.
“In China, you stay and live together and just grind matches…in Southeast Asia it’s kind of chill, you’re not expected to stay with each other,” iceiceice said.
That said, there is one main difference between competing in his home region compared to North America. He’s not quite accustomed to American cuisine quite yet.
“I guess the main difference is food. When I was in China you had to have rice every day but in North America you only have it sometimes,” iceiceice said as Fly and his teammates chuckled.
Judging from the discussion, the camaraderie for Evil Geniuses seems to be there. But as Fly himself knows, the power of friendship is no match for the urge to hit the reset button after a disappointing placement at The International.
Evil Geniuses is currently sitting in the lower bracket and will have to make a big run if the squad hopes to claim its second The International championship.