Few captains in Dota 2 have the privilege of being renowned for their drafting skill and shotcalling. Even fewer have been at the center of multiple victories on a single team. So, when Tal “Fly” Aizik announced the end of his tenure as captain for OG Dota, many were wondering what it’d mean for his future. Something drastic seemed like a matter of time; after all, the team’s performance had fallen off since their multi-Major victory streak from 2015 through 2017.
Thankfully for fans, he has little to worry about. In his new position with Evil Geniuses — yes, that Evil Geniuses, of North American fame — the team already achieved a high mark: second in their group at The International, only below last year’s champions, Team Liquid. They take on Team Secret in their first match of the TI8 playoffs this week.
We caught up with the European captain on North American territory to ask about his new team, being in America and who he feels is their biggest threat.
TFC: Canada is one of your home countries, right?
Aizik: I was born in Canada, but I lived most of my life in Israel.
TFC: Cool, so technically Dota 2 is in one of your home countries. How does it feel to be back representing, in a way?
Aizik: In a way, yeah. It feels good. I definitely like the change coming to Vancouver in Canada as opposed to Seattle. I think it’s more unique, and I also had some good and bad memories from Seattle, so it’s a nice change.
TFC: You’ve only been on EG for a few months but you’ve already made it to TI and you’re in the upper brackets. What do you feel is clicking for the squad so far?
Aizik: I feel like me joining EG was a very natural change. I’ve played with Cr1t- and S4 before — we came together after all [Editor’s Note: as teammates in OG Dota]. And then Suma1l and Arteezy, I definitely felt like I kind of know them because we’ve been playing against each other for a very long time. So, the transition was very simple. I felt like we didn’t really need much to understand each other and get good synergy. It felt really easy.
TFC: On the same line of thought — Suma1l and Arteezy are kind of known by fans for being extraordinarily skilled but being high risked. How has it been coming into the team as a captain and working with them?
Aizik: I came into this team pretty opened in terms of what I wanted to bring in. I wanted to listen to them first: See what they liked to do, what the coach likes to do, and work off of that instead of pushing my own ideas, because they had already been together for a long time, and they’ve had success. They also had some rough times. So, I think I brought a lot of balance between everything and tried to find the middle ground for their ideas.
TFC: So, now you’re going to be facing Team Secret, who finished fourth in the Dota Pro Circuit. What are your thoughts on your matchup with them?
Aizik: Playing Secret — they’re definitely a unique team. I think they have a lot of interesting ideas that people have been doing in this tournament. They have their own way of viewing the game. So, it’s hard for me to say how the games will go. All I’m going to say is that I think we’re going to focus on ourselves more and see how we can do and push our own strategies instead of falling into their game. Which I think is where they excel when people play these kind of like “Secret games.” That’s what we call them.
TFC: North American Dota is kind of treated separately in terms of like meta and competitive nature. Coming from Europe, what differences have you noticed?
Aizik: I definitely think NA teams have a different view compared to Europeans also in terms of playstyle. Each team now is comprised of players from different regions so things are starting to mesh and mix. So, it’s not like NA is just NA anymore. So, mostly what I can say is that the NA comps are very different; they’re very awful. Occasionally good. But not the best. I definitely enjoy Euro pubs more so far.
The NA competition now is very high in terms of the teams. I think there are a lot of good NA teams and skilled players in the region. They all have their own little ideas that they push.
TFC: Something completely different real quick — do you still have a workout regimen?
Aizik: I do. I workout pretty much every day. I don’t really have some sort of schedule or anything. I just do what I feel like or what’s available sometimes. Every morning, I still work out.
TFC: Cool! Has moving to EG and America changed that, because of resources or anything?
Aizik: No, didn’t change anything. I always find a way to do something even if nothing is available I’ll find something. It helps me in my morning routine and I usually feel better about the day.
TFC: Anything else for your fans?
Aizik: Just thanks to the fans for coming to cheer for us and support us — and I hope to hear some chants in the Rogers Arena.