Dota 2

My thoughts on EG’s biggest issues [Warning: Long Read]

I've been an EG fan ever since they acquired the SADBOYS roster with PPD, zai, Universe, Arteezy and Fear. I have watched every tournament that they have played in since then, across all rosters.

Here are my thoughts on the issues with the team:

1) The drafting is too predictable.

I'm not here to argue whether EG's drafts are good or bad. They are much smarter than me when it comes to DotA. All I am saying is that the drafts are predictable.

Everyone knows what they're going to pick. If 2K MMR Redditors know what they're going to pick before they even pick it, then the top-tier players and coach on the other team obviously know it too.

Knowing what EG is going to draft even before they draft it puts the other team at a huge advantage. They can tailor their draft around being ready for EG's staple picks because they almost certainly will be picked in every game. This gives them a huge advantage in a game where the difference between the top teams often comes down to which team has the better draft, as the skill gap is minuscule at best.

2) Lack of versatility.

The players on EG all have immense hero pools. This gives them the flexibility to draft whatever heroes are the best for the current game. It's a huge advantage. Just ask Shiki, who famously couldn't play Leshrac back when it was broken.

But EG doesn't take advantage of their players' immense hero pools. In fact, they limit themselves to hero puddles.

If I didn't know any better, I would honestly believe that the players have some sort of mental block where they don't think that they can perform well on anything other than their comfort picks. So they just pick them over and over.

I have seen countless drafts where EG passed up an optimal hero pick to fall back on a comfort pick that was sub-optimal. And their skill level is so high that they absolutely could have picked the optimal pick and performed well on it.

3) Is it Bulba's fault?

Bulba often gets a lot of criticism for EG's drafting, seeing as he is the coach of the team. Those in the NA scene know that Bulba has a reputation for being married to his ideas, if he thinks something is strong, then he will pick it over and over, even if it loses.

There's something to be said for sticking to your guns and trying a different execution with the same draft, and Bulba wouldn't be the first to employ that strategy, but there's gotta be a middle ground between "let's try this draft again but with a different execution" and "let's draft Storm Spirit five games in a row in the Grand Finals."

Under PPD, EG would often get off to a slow start, but once they saw what was successful, they would adapt it for themselves and start picking it.

Current EG's insistence on sticking to their staple/comfort picks throughout the duration of a tournament also show a failure to adapt to the meta. Whatever strategy they entered the tournament with is the same strategy they're going to leave the tournament with. Saving strats for TI? Jokes on you, we've only got one strat.

As for whether this is the fault of Bulba, or Fly, or the entire team, it really doesn't matter. Because either one of two things is true:

1) The predictable and one-dimensional draft ideas are Bulba's

or

2) Bulba doesn't stop the players from constantly picking predictable and one-dimensional drafts

Either way, he's an ineffective coach.

While EG has seen plenty of roster turnover since Bulba was hired as coach, he has remained. At a certain point, you need to replace the coach simply to shake up the voices in the room, even if you believe that the coach is smart.

We see this in sports all the time. Even the best coaches eventually lose the locker room and need to be replaced. As the saying goes "all coaches have an expiry date."

4) Playing around Arteezy as the sole win condition.

I believe Arteezy is a talented player. At his best I view him as a top-five carry in DotA. But it has become abundantly clear that playing around him as the sole win condition is not a tournament-winning formula.

Those in the NA scene know that Arteezy's preferred playstyle is to be the big bad carry with all the farm and serve as the main win condition for his team.

Many EG fans will tell you how much more relaxed and confident they felt when the game was in Sumail's hands as opposed to when it was in Arteezy's.

When Sumail chose to leave the team because he wanted to play position 1, Arteezy said that he was excited to play with Abed because Abed is egoless.

When Ramzes left the team, Arteezy also noted that he felt that he would get more farm now because Ramzes was a greedier position 3 player.

Abed, despite being one of the most skilled mid players in the world, is one of the only superstar players that would willingly give up their spotlight (and farm) to let Arteezy be the sole win condition on EG.

The result over Abed's tenure with the team has been a playstyle of "Abed dominates the early game, which creates space for Arteezy to farm so he can carry the game."

EG is trying to turn Abed into Topson, but the issue is that Arteezy cannot be Ana. And the reality is that Abed is much closer to someone like Emo in natural playstyle than to Topson.

Abed, who was once known for playing farming mids that served as the main win condition for their team, transitioned quite seamlessly into space-making mids like Ember Spirit and Puck, using his incredible skill to snowball from his lane and create havoc all over the map, giving Arteezy space to farm.

However for those paying attention, there has been a clear trend for EG in which games that Abed snowballs from the mid lane and takes over the map, while also scaling in farm, overwhelmingly result in EG victory. Many times the games are won before Arteezy even has a chance to come online.

This playstyle however, is not intentional by EG. It just occurs in games where Abed absolutely pops off. They have not shown a willingness to defer to Abed as the win condition in almost any scenario.

Using the eye test, Abed is the clear superstar of the team. He should be made the win condition in at least in some of the games. Arteezy is an incredible laner and has shown prowess on fighting carries like Bloodseeker and Razor. Why not have him play a utility carry sometimes and let Abed be the most farmed hero on the team, especially if he's playing something like a TA or Lina? Not to mention that the power spikes of a fighting carry and a snowballing mid laner line up almost perfectly in many scenarios.

5) So if EG has such a problem with drafting and an issue with their "all-in-on-Arteezy" playstyle, why have they finished second at the last three Majors?

Skill.

They are insanely skilled. All of them have an argument for being top 5 in their position in the entire world. Cr1t and Abed are both likely top 3 at their respective positions.

Many of EG's victories simply occur from them out-skilling and out-executing their opponents. When they start to run into issues is when they get deep into the tournament and the remaining teams can match or exceed their skill. And that's when their predictable drafting and playstyle catch up to them.

If EG could get out of their own way on the draft floor, and be more flexible in their playstyle, there's no question that they can win a Major and even TI.

For players as talented and smart as they are, I'm honestly shocked that they haven't come to this conclusion themselves.

I believe it would be a disservice to the players to break up this roster without first trying out a new coach. Someone to bring them a fresh perspective, new ideas, and most importantly, someone who isn't afraid to challenge their ideas and encourage them to be more flexible.

Unfortunately, we may never see this roster reach its full potential before breaking up, depending on the results of their lower bracket run.

To close, here's a two-year-old clip of VP's coach comparing EG's drafting to Puppey's drafting.

Some things never change.

Source

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