The pre-TI shuffle rears its ugly head once again. After Team Secret announced Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora’s unexpected departure on June 9th, Evil Geniuses have officially confirmed UNiVeRsE’s return, earlier today. In addition, according to the announcement, Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling has been let go and replaced with Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg. This is the second time within one year that Aui_2000 is removed from Evil Geniuses.
The unexpected pre-TI shuffle affecting the usual suspects – Team Secret and Evil Geniuses – was set off last week, when Secret’s Team Director, Kemal Sadikoglu, took to Twitter to announce Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora’s departure to EG, in the middle of the Manila Major. Team Secret has since sought out a replacement: former EG player Kanishka ‘Sam’ “BuLba” Sosale.
Team Secret and Evil Geniuses are not the only affected teams. According to EG’s announcement, Ludwig “zai” Wålberg has been brought on to fill the 4 position, with Clinton “Fear” Loomis taking the 1 position. zai had taken a year off after The International 5, to finish his studies. He resurfaced in March, when he stood in for No Diggity in the EPICENTER Moscow Open Qualifiers. On May 23rd, zai assumed the support role on Kaipi.
DotaBlast sources have confirmed that Neta “thecoon” Shapira has left ProDota Gaming to replace zai on Kaipi. However, with one week left until The International 6 Open Qualifiers, nothing is set in stone and Kaipi have yet to make any official announcements. ProDota Gaming are currently trying to finalize their lineup in time for the Open Qualifiers.
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling finds himself in a difficult situation once again, as he has become the sacrificial lamb discounted for the common good on The International shrine. According to Evil Geniuses, the decision to let Aui_2000 go for a second time within one year did not come easy, and the Canadian player will be compensated appropriately “for the lost time and opportunities that this situation takes from him”.
This was without a doubt the hardest part of the decision to move forward with these changes. Kurtis is a great player and a great person, and he deserves better than to be removed from the same organization twice within a year. That’s not how we like to do things around here, and it’s not something we’re at all proud of or take lightly. After discussing the situation with him extensively, we’ve come to a good resolution that will compensate him appropriately for the lost time and opportunities that this situation takes from him. It’s about as happy an ending as you could hope for in a bad situation. We’re parting ways on good terms, and we wish him the best.
— Evil Geniuses statement
As the shuffle unfolds, both Evil Geniuses and Team Secret are facing serious criticism. The two organizations seem to be trapped in a player-swap time loop, triggering constant feelings of déjà vu. While there is plenty of blame to share, we shouldn’t lose sight of what is really going on. The International 6 is getting close and teams are trying to maximize their chances by seeking out the cream of the crop in terms of players, in full awareness of the consequences.
Following the roster changes, both Evil Geniuses and Team Secret have violated the roster lock requirements and are no longer eligible for direct invites to The International 6 or The International 6 Regional Qualifiers. In compliance with Valve’s roster lock stipulations, both teams are now forced to take the long, quivering road to TI6, through the brutal best-of-one Open Qualifiers.
As far as TI6 goes, we’re making these changes with the full understanding that in doing so, we will forfeit our direct invite to the tournament. In just a few days, zai will be joining us in the United States, and we will begin preparing to conquer the TI6 qualifiers and defend our title. This will undoubtedly be a difficult process, but we’re excited for the challenge and we hope that you’ll be there with us as we restart our journey back to the top – this time, on the long road, but with the right players and people in place.
— Evil Geniuses statement
The International 6 Open Qualifiers will be kicking off June 21st, with the Regional Qualifiers right afterwards, on June 25th. Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, Kaipi, and ProDota Gaming are expected to register for the Open Qualifiers in their respective regions. Aui_2000’s plans remain undisclosed for the time being.
Evil Geniuses new roster:
Clinton “Fear” Loomis
Syed Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg
Peter “ppd” Dager
Team Secret new roster:
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov
Jacky “Eternal Envy” Mao
Johan “pieliedie” Åström
Kanishka ‘Sam’ “BuLba” Sosale
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev