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Changing of the guard: Dota 2, Evil Geniuses and the next eSports upheaval

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Changing of the guard: Dota 2, Evil Geniuses and the next eSports upheaval

When I talked to Colin DeShong, Evil Geniuses’ chief operating officer, he was in the middle of a hectic week. They had just recently dismissed longtime team member and StarCraft 2 star Greg “Idra" Fields, and they were in the midst of a major promotion with the Papa John’s pizza chain. On top of all that, StarCraft 2 numbers haven’t been strong in a while, and Blizzard’s WCS has not yet proven to be the cure for what ails pro StarCraft.

So you might expect DeShong to be worried about what the future will bring. Instead, DeShong said he was actually feeling optimistic, maybe more than ever before. The reason surprised me: Dota 2 was about to release, and it might be the strongest foundation for an eSports team yet.

“Without a doubt, Dota 2 will be one of the most valuable games to EG in the coming year or two. There's just no way it won't be, and that's true for every team," he said. “There’s no reason why it won’t be a 10 year game. And if it’s a ten year game, that means it’s probably going to become one of the biggest focuses for EG."

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Evil League of Evil Geniuses: How Alex Garfield and Stephen Ellis brought EG into League of Legends

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Evil League of Evil Geniuses: How Alex Garfield and Stephen Ellis brought EG into League of Legends

Evil Geniuses CEO Alex Garfield wasn’t posturing when he talked about his disinterest in taking the Evil Geniuses eSports team into League of Legends. He was so unengaged with League that when he received an email from Stephen “Snoopeh" Ellis last summer, he didn’t really know who Ellis was, or why Evil Geniuses should be interested in his League of Legends team.

A few minutes with Google not only told Garfield that Ellis was the squad captain for one of the best and most prominent western League of Legends teams, but that suddenly he had a “very attractive opportunity" to bring EG into League on terms he could be happy with.

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Evil Geniuses rumored to be getting into League of Legends, recruiting former CLG.EU team

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Evil Geniuses rumored to be getting into League of Legends, recruiting former CLG.EU teamThe Evil Geniuses eSports team has been conspicuously absent from the League of Legends competitive scene, and CEO Alex Garfield told us in December about some of the reasons he has hesitated to move his team in LoL. Now it sounds like Evil Geniuses may be preparing to make its move into pro League of Legends by recruiting the former CLG.EU team, according to a report from GameSpot.

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Evil Geniuses CEO Alex Garfield on managing and marketing a fledgling eSports dynasty

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Evil Geniuses CEO Alex Garfield on managing and marketing a fledgling eSports dynasty

Evil Geniuses are sometimes described as the New York Yankees of eSports, a backhanded sort of compliment that both grants that EG consistently field one of the strongest, most star-studded lineups around, but also that they owe their reputation to their deep pockets. It also suggests that the team’s results are not quite in line with its roster, the old sports morality tale of money being able to buy talent, but not success.

Team CEO Alex Garfield is hardly the kind of owner-tycoon you’d expect to find managing a team of star players and eSports celebrities. He’s reserved and softspoken, seemingly better suited to a graduate seminar room than the dubstep-blasted arenas that eSports call home. He doesn’t aggressively chase media, and he doesn't brag about results or publicly push EG players about their performance. While Forbes recently named the 27-year-old to their “30 under 30" list for “Games and Apps", he’s generally content to work in the background, quietly building the sponsor relationships with companies like Intel and Monster (among many others) that allow Evil Geniuses to pay top dollar for top-shelf talent.

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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review in progress

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor review in progress

Yogscast’s Jingle Jam streams for charity all this December

Yogscast

Yogscast’s Jingle Jam streams for charity all this December

Port Review - Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4

Port Review - Far Cry 4

Port Review - Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

Port Review - Dragon Age: Inquisition

This War of Mine review

This War of Mine

This War of Mine review

Topic of the Week: What's the maximum you'd spend on a game?

Topic of the Week

Topic of the Week: What's the maximum you'd spend on a game?

Grand Theft Auto V on PC will introduce an exclusive range of luxurious new dogs

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V on PC will introduce an exclusive range of luxurious new dogs

Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault review

Company of Heroes 2 - Ardennes Assault

Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault review

Making it in Unreal: How CCP rebuilt the Eve universe in close-up for Valkyrie

EVE Valkyrie

Making it in Unreal: How CCP rebuilt the Eve universe in close-up for Valkyrie

Winners Announced: We've five World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Collector's Editions to give away.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Winners Announced: We've five World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Collector's Editions to give away.

Sports Interactive nerfed real world players for Football Manager 2015

Football Manager 2015

Sports Interactive nerfed real world players for Football Manager 2015

Hands on with Dungeons 2

Dungeons 2

Hands on with Dungeons 2

Human Orbit is the Sims, but in space

Human Orbit

Human Orbit is the Sims, but in space

David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Starcraft II

David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

The best PC games of 2014 so far

Best PC Games of 2014

The best PC games of 2014 so far

The 101 Best Free PC Games

100 best free PC games

The 101 Best Free PC Games

Port Review - Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity

Port Review - Assassin's Creed Unity

Pool Nation FX will be the best pool game on PC

Pool Nation FX

Pool Nation FX will be the best pool game on PC

SkySaga: Infinite Isles is a free to play Minecraft with quests

SkySaga: Infinite Isles

SkySaga: Infinite Isles is a free to play Minecraft with quests

Topic of the Week: What do you want to do in Warlords of Draenor above all else?

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Topic of the Week: What do you want to do in Warlords of Draenor above all else?

Why you should return to World of Warcraft with Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Why you should return to World of Warcraft with Warlords of Draenor

Why we don’t have an Assassin’s Creed: Unity Review

Assassin's Creed Unity

Why we don’t have an Assassin’s Creed: Unity Review

The Escapists Early Access review

The Escapists

The Escapists Early Access review

The Crew: Everything We Know

The Crew

The Crew: Everything We Know

Here's all the spoiled cards coming to Hearthstone's new expansion: Goblins vs Gnomes

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Here's all the spoiled cards coming to Hearthstone's new expansion: Goblins vs Gnomes

How Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void makes your Protoss fantasies come true

Starcraft II

How Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void makes your Protoss fantasies come true

Decoding Overwatch: Blizzard’s best new game since World of Warcraft

Overwatch

Decoding Overwatch: Blizzard’s best new game since World of Warcraft

Blizzard on Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 comparisons:

Overwatch

Blizzard on Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 comparisons: "They're an enormous compliment"

Here's all the new multiplayer units coming to Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Starcraft II

Here's all the new multiplayer units coming to Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Heroes of the Storm's new ranked mode detailed; influenced by Hearthstone

Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's new ranked mode detailed; influenced by Hearthstone

Diablo 3 patch 2.1.2 introduces a new zone, ancient items and Greater Rift changes

Diablo III

Diablo 3 patch 2.1.2 introduces a new zone, ancient items and Greater Rift changes

Feeling overpowered in Overwatch

Overwatch

Feeling overpowered in Overwatch

Overwatch’s heroes look to mix up MOBA and FPS class sensibilities

Overwatch

Overwatch’s heroes look to mix up MOBA and FPS class sensibilities

Blizzard's new game is Overwatch: a shooter with super heroes; including gorillas

Overwatch

Blizzard's new game is Overwatch: a shooter with super heroes; including gorillas

Starcraft 2's final chapter, Legacy of the Void, is a standalone expansion

Starcraft II

Starcraft 2's final chapter, Legacy of the Void, is a standalone expansion

Hearthstone's next expansion is Goblins vs Gnomes

BlizzCon 2014

Hearthstone's next expansion is Goblins vs Gnomes

Blizzard announce Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard announce Heroes of the Storm "closed beta" begins January 13th; new heroes, battlegrounds and ranked play

Interview: Dan Marshall on rewiring The Swindle's steampunk AI

The Swindle

Interview: Dan Marshall on rewiring The Swindle's steampunk AI

Playing With Myself: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Playing With Myself: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Ubisoft’s new games aren't available on Steam in the UK.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Ubisoft’s new games aren't available on Steam in the UK. "UK customers wishing to purchase the game digitally can do so by visiting the Uplay store..."