Evil Geniuses‘ comeback bid was not enough as a CIS mainstay hoisted the trophy in Columbus on Sunday.
Team Empire, consummate bridesmaid of the Eastern European region, plied strong drafting and potent support play to upset the North American favorites and claim the Major League Gaming joinDOTA Season 1 championship. The victory was a major coup for a squad whose days at the top were quickly shrinking in the rear view mirror.
The best-of-three final was a back-and-forth affair as the European and North American sides traded games. Game two nearly went the way of Evil Geniuses, despite Empire’s Juggernaut sprinting out to a massive early lead.
Game three, however, was all Empire as Evil Geniuses’ unique pick-off composition put the players in disadvantageous laning match-ups. The resulting deficit was more than enough for the Russia-based side to develop three separate threats and out-muscle the North Americans for the tournament crown.
Evil Geniuses found itself in an uncharacteristic position, finishing fourth after a round-robin group stage. This result forced the team to play three best-of-three series in a single day, a schedule that unquestionably affected the team’s final series as decision-making in critical moments suffered.
Still, Empire looked strong from the beginning of the tournament to the final bell. For a team that’s seen cornerstone players bolt for more established sides, the win is nothing short of validation of its ever-rising form.
Photo via Major League Gaming, Enrique Espinoza