After a disastrous time at the Stockholm Major, North American Dota 2 powerhouse Evil Geniuses (EG) announced on Monday (30 May) that they would be welcoming back Israeli captain Tal "Fly" Aizik.
Fly, who left Southeast Asia-based Talon earlier this year, will take over as the team's position 5 support player from Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka, who was removed from the roster on 25 May.
Fly served as EG's captain from May 2018 to November 2021, during which time the team had one of the most dominant stretches in its history.
The Israeli captain led the North American powerhouse to Top 3 finishes in six Majors as well as a third place finish in The International 2018 (TI8) and a Top 6 placement in TI9.
During the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) season, Fly led EG to back-to-back Major finals but only managed a 9th-12th place finish in TI10.
The team revamped its roster ahead of the 2021-2022 DPC season by signing Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko to replace iceiceice and coaxing two-time TI champion JerAx out of retirement to replace Fly.
Following his departure from EG, Fly moved to Southeast Asia to lead Talon Esports.
However, Fly's leadership was not enough to get Talon out of Division II of the Southeast Asian regional league, causing the Israeli captain to leave as a free agent back in January.
Meanwhile, EG's revamped roster had a rollercoaster season. The team only managed a third place finish in the Winter Tour regional league for North America before placing second in the Winter Tour Regional Finals behind TSM FTX.
The squad bounced back during the Spring Tour and took first place in the league, earning them a spot in the ESL One Stockholm Major.
Despite a promising showing during the Spring regional league, EG crumbled during the Stockholm Major.
The team went winless in the first day of the group stage and finished with an abysmal 2-10 record, leading to them exiting the Major in last place.
EG's awful showing in the Stockholm Major highlighted major issues with its roster following Fly's departure. In a livestream shortly after the Major, position 4 support player Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen said the team "f***ed up" when they brought in JerAx and Nightfall.
“We just had something lacking on this team that nobody could really bring. More than anything it was me, [Artour "Arteezy" Babaev] and [Kanishka "Bulba" Sosale]’s fault because we should have realized what we had on the last team and what we needed, and made sure we had a complete team,” said Cr1t.
Cr1t then went on to say that JerAx was booted from the team because they "definitely needed something to change".
"I think [JerAx leaving] was just the most straightforward solution. It's because we need somebody on the team that’s an actual captain and we don’t have that right now with the players we have, which is what I think is the biggest problem," added Cr1t.
EG now has an actual captain, not to mention one that is already very familiar and successful with most of the roster, with Fly's return.
With their current 552.5 DPC points, EG are 14th in the DPC point leaderboard — and on the outside looking in when it comes to the race for direct invites to TI11, which will be held in Singapore in October.
The team still has a good chance to earn a direct invite if they have a strong showing in the Summer Tour regional league and on home ground at the Summer Major in Arlington, Texas in August.
However, the road ahead is looking rough for EG.
The team is no longer the most dominant force in North America with the rise of TSM FTX, who finished the Stockholm Major in second place.
Other challengers in the region are also on the rise, including a revamped Quincy Crew under the captainship of German veteran Adrian "Fata" Trinks.
Fly and EG will be looking to reclaim their place as the top dogs of North America once the Summer Tour regional league kicks off in June.
Evil Geniuses Dota 2 roster:
Artour "Arteezy" Babaev
Abed "Abed" Yusop
Egor "Nightfall" Grigorenko
Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen
Tal "Fly" Aizik
Kanishka "Bulba" Sosale (coach)