Universe on lessons learned on Secret: 'It kind of made me realize that you can't just put 5 really great players together and hope it works out'


Despite fierce competition in recent months, Evil Geniuses remain the kings of North American Dota, and much of their success can be attributed to the team's offlaner, Saahil "Universe" Arora, who consistently plays at a high level no matter the tournament.

Aside from a brief stint on Team Secret last year, Universe has spent most of his career on EG.

As EG was preparing to bootcamp for the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017 and the Kiev Major, Universe spoke to theScore esports about the state of NA Dota, what makes EG different from other teams and his time on Team Secret.

Were you surprised at all that EG received an invite to the Kiev Major?

I wasn't really surprised. We won China Top and we won Dota Pit as well, so I wasn't that surprised that we got the invite. I know a lot of people were not sure if we would get an invite, but I'm pretty sure we would have gotten it even if we didn't play well at Dota Pit.

Were you surprised at any of the other invites?

I didn't expect them to invite Wings, but that makes sense as well. It's fine for them to invite Wings since they haven't changed their old roster and they're still playing fine. I think all of the invites kind of made sense. There are arguments to not invite Ad Finem, but they chose to invite them too.

Moving on to the qualifiers for Kiev, are there any teams that you are paying attention to?

Looking at the American qualifiers, I guess Team NP seems to be playing pretty well right now. It'll be interesting to see how they do in the American qualifiers. As for the China qualifiers, I have no idea, I have no clue what's really going on there. Europe, I want to see if B)ears is able to take it. They have some competition in Secret over there, but I personally think B)ears will take it. So I think NP and B)ears are the most underrated.

Speaking of B)ears, they'll also be facing competition from Cloud9 and Alliance. Do you Europe is the most stacked region for qualifiers?

I think NA is pretty stacked too. Europe is always stacked for the qualifiers, but I think this year there's a lot of good NA teams. Those two regions will be the most interesting to watch for me.

How happy are you with EG's performance since the Boston Major?

I'm pretty happy with our performance. We're learning stuff as a team and we're coming together pretty well. We just have to keep honing our teamwork and I think we'll be fine.

Did it take long to get used to Dota 7.00?

It didn't take long. I think it was a good thing for us, because we had some people come from different teams. Like, Artour was on Secret, I was on EG, Cr1t- was on OG, so I think a new patch was a good, fresh start for the team and a way for us to all be on the same page from the beginning of a patch. I think the patch worked out really well for us in that way.

Are there any changes that you'd make to 7.00 right now?

I just don't enjoy playing against Keeper of the Light right now. I would change KotL, the way it worked. Other than that, I don't have many changes.

What makes KotL rough to play against?

It's just annoying for an offlaner. For pubs especially, he just throws Mana Leak on you and there's almost nothing you can do unless you farm up an item. Unless you play like Abaddon or Omniknight. It just makes the game very unenjoyable from an offlaner point of view.

What's your favorite hero to play as right now?

Favorite hero? Let me think... I enjoy playing Abaddon recently. Centaur can be fun sometimes, but just Abaddon I suppose.

What about your least favorite offlane hero?

Least favorite... Probably Slardar. It's just kind of boring. All you can do is stun, try and farm up your Blink Dagger, you can't really do anything fancy.

What do you think makes EG different from other Dota teams?

I think we have really high individual talent on this team. Usually on teams there is some weak spots here and there, but I don't think we have any weak spots individually. It's easier for us to know what went wrong in a game, which sets us apart.

How is Cr1t- as a captain since he took over the reins from ppd?

It's fine. Honestly there hasn't been much of a change for me, personally, from his leadership and ppd's. I think I'm able to do the same things that I did in the previous roster and help out in the same way.

What makes Cr1t- different from ppd? Any noticeable differences?

He's more open to some ideas and I guess he meshes better with certain players on the team, personality wise, than Peter did. Those are the main differences.

Fear retired back in September after TI6. Now that he's the coach for EG, has your relationship changed at all?

Nothing's really changed between me and Fear. He helps out with our drafts mostly and our strategies.

What's he like as a coach?

He gives another outside opinion. Sometimes it's hard to see an outside perspective sometimes when you're playing, and he's there and he's very familiar with the system we have and it's nice to have him around and tell us what we're doing wrong.

Would you say NA Dota is more competitive now than it has been in the past?

NA Dota is a lot more competitive than it used to be. You have Onyx, you have compLexity, you have NP, you have all these teams now. Before it was pretty easy. Back during TI4, TI5, EG was the uncontested team, any team we'd play would just get destroyed. But that's not the case anymore. So teams have definitely made strides and caught up

Which team do you think is the most underrated team in NA?

The most underrated team in NA would be Team NP or compLexity. I think it's Team NP though. I think they're a pretty good team, they just have yet to show it on LAN.

How would you describe each of your teammates on EG?

Cr1t- is pretty logical, Artour is a clown, SumaiL is the flashy guy and zai is quiet.

Some people have called you the anchor for EG. Would you describe yourself as the anchor for the team?

I guess I'm pretty consistent. For every team it's nice to have the player that does the same thing over and over again. It's nice to have players who create space and make flashy moves. I think you need a balance of the two, and that's what I provide to the team.

Going back, do you have any regrets over the past year?

I don't really have any regrets. I know a lot of people think my move to Secret was bad, but I think at the time it really needed to happen. The roster on EG just wasn't working out, I wasn't enjoying playing Dota at the time. So it was really nice to have a nice change of pace on Secret honestly. Our results weren't that good, but I don't have any regrets about making that move. I don't think I have any regrets in Dota.

When you returned from Secret to EG, did you bring anything back with you? Any lessons, any information that you applied to EG?

It was a pretty humbling experience. I think, when I went to Secret, my intention was to make this really good team. I always wanted to be part of the best team, and that's what I tried to do when I went to Secret. It kind of made me realize that you can't just put five really great players together and hope it works out. Being on a team is more than just that, so it made me a little more humble.

How do you recover from losing?

You just have to understand why you lost and move on. You just have to forget losses. I've seen a lot of players who dwell on losses and it makes it hard for them to play the same hero or they just really get some mental block about a particular loss. Like, you play Enigma and you had a really bad Black Hole or something like that, it just dwells with them and you just have to forget losses completely and move on. That's the best way to deal with them.

Have you ever experienced a loss that you found difficult to move on from?

I've thought about our loss at TI6 quite a lot. I haven't thought about other losses other than that as much. TI4, TI5, TI3 was pretty bad too, but TI6 was definitely a tough loss.

Did it take you long to learn that lesson, not to dwell on losses?

It didn't take me that long. I think I've always known it from an early age.

What's a typical day like for you? A perfectly average day.

If things are going well I go to the gym in the morning. Then I come back and we scrim in the afternoon. And then I play some pubs and I go to sleep, maybe a couple CS:GO practice rounds here and there. But that's an ideal day. I didn't go to the gym yesterday but I hope I can continue going.

How long do you practice together in scrims versus how long you practice in pubs?

I think what we do is we either play one or two best-of-threes a day with another team. So we play at most six games of team practice together. And then however many pubs people feel like playing that day, so it could be the same, or more pubs than that or less. Depends.

How are you currently preparing for DAC and the Kiev Major?

As a team, it’s important for us to be in sync going into every competition. The XFINITY Training Facility in Alameda gives us a reliable home base to train together on XFINITY Gig internet which lets us simulate being on LAN. Being together allows us to develop and test new strategies, and overall, get into a good rhythm with each other prior to tournaments. We are playing 10 or 12 hours of Dota a day when training, and having a facility that is so well equipped makes a world of difference.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Universe tells the story of his worst pub experience


Ask anyone what solo queue is like, and most will agree that it can often be a nightmare to deal with. Trolls, taunting and verbal abuse happen frequently, and while professional players may appear to be above it all, they too have to endure solo queue's trials. After all, they're just like us.

RELATED: Universe on lessons learned on Secret: 'It kind of made me realize that you can't just put 5 really great players together and hope it works out'

Speaking to theScore esports, Evil Geniuses offlaner Saahil "Universe" Arora revealed one such horrible pub match, which involved a very persistent Pudge who was upset that Universe picked his hero of choice.

What's the worst pub match you've had in recent memory?

OK, so, I was playing Enigma in my game, and one of my teammates felt like I stole his hero. And he just picked Pudge and followed me around the entire game. And anytime I was getting chased by the enemy, he would hook me back into them. That was the worst pub experience I've had recently.

Was that a long game? Because that sounds absolutely awful.

It was a pretty long game actually, it was like 40 minutes. He just move-clicked on me, and he was just sitting there, soaking up my experience.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Green Bay Packers LB Blake Martinez reveals the 4 NFL players he would form a Dota 2 team with, how Dota has helped him with football

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

On any given Sunday, Blake Martinez can be found tackling ball carriers at the frozen tundra known as Lambeau Field. But in his spare time, the Stanford alumnus turned Green Bay Packers linebacker likes to kick back and relax by streaming Dota 2 matches for charity.

Related: Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

But Martinez's Dota fandom far exceeds loading into a couple of solo queue games a night. In fact, the young linebacker actively follows the competitive scene and, considering that he named the original No Diggity squad as his favorite professional team coupled with the fact that he participated in and helped cast MoonDuckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier Hub, he's far from a casual.

So naturally, when asked which four NFL players he would draft to his Dota 2 team, it came as no surprise that he picked the reigning Superbowl MVP, one of NFL's most fearsome defensive linemen and two of his Green Bay teammates to play alongside him.

"I would pick Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Mason Crosby, and Ndamukong Suh," he told theScore esports.

"Aaron would be our mid laner and shot caller of the game because of his smarts and skill! Also, he would pick up on Dota quickly. Tom would be the support (Position 4) because his vision is so good we would never get caught out and could make plays as Earth Spirit. Mason would be our position 5 support because he would be able to have a ton of time to strategize since all he does is kick at practice. And Suh would be our beefy offlaner/frontliner like Centaur and Axe that no one could get passed. EZ TI win."

Sure, Dota 2 and football are two very different games, but Martinez does think there are some similarities and even goes as far as to credit Dota with some of his growth as a leader.

"I think the ability to communicate and process a lot of information quickly is the two traits/skills that are extremely similar in both Dota and Football! I think Dota has helped me tremendously in just being a better leader for our defense," he said.

Touching on his rookie season, Martinez said he was encouraged by the way his year turned out — he notched 69 combined tackles to go along with one sack, one interception and four pass deflections — and looks to build on last season as he heads into his sophomore year.

"I think it went really well! It sucked to get injured near the end of the season but excited to grow from my rookie year! The way I want to grow is just seeing formations and plays quicker, stay healthy, get stronger and faster, and improve on the mistakes I made as a rookie and just grow from my experiences."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Sean Tepper is the Senior Supervising Editor at theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Conrad Janzen on Dota 2's top-heavy scene: 'I would just love to see more tier 2 support'

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Conrad Janzen, former Cloud9 player manager and current Twitch partnerships team member, has a few ideas.

Appearing on theScore esports Podcast Monday, Janzen spoke on everything from why he thinks The International’s prize pool will break its own record (again) this year, to how Valve can improve the Major system.

When asked about whether the prize pool for TI7 would exceed TI6’s massive $20.7 million purse, Janzen said the company behind Dota 2 would find a way to make it happen.

“If I had to bet on Valve, it’s always going to be more and they’re going to figure out some way to do it,” he said.

“Valve is going to figure out ways to steal money from my wallet every year in the best way possible,” he said. “They do a really good job of providing value and that’s the one thing I think Dota does a really good job compared to a lot of other free to play games as well as just games in general."

It's all about making the existing player base happy, he said.

“They provide a lot of value to their hardcore users, to their regular users and there’s always going to be somebody who’s willing to spend even more than I think I do.”

Janzen also commented on the Major system, saying that although it was overall beneficial to the Dota 2 scene, is isn’t not without its shortcomings.

“It is bad in some ways, I think it does hurt third parties,” he said.

“Obviously last year we saw Boston Major take precedence over DreamHack, and that was a very unfortunate case.” One solution, he said, would be to model things more closely on Counter-Strike’s tournament structure.

“Things I would like to see is maybe make the qualifiers more valuable, make them a LAN event very similar to CS:GO, right? Where you have all these teams coming in so it’s truly international,” he told theScore esports Podcast.

“What Valve is going to have to do in this case is take a step forward and be like, ‘This is an important part, we want to grow Dota as a whole.' So, very similar to the CS:GO system where they have a regional qualifier that mostly takes place online, and then they bring all those teams together to a major qualifying tournament,” he said.

Improving the Major structure would help showcase rising Dota talent that, at least right now, is getting lost in the shadows beyond the Majors' spotlight.

“I would just love to see more tier 2 support,” he said. “I think that’s the big thing we’re missing, is these up-and-coming stars are not getting as revealed as they used to be. In-house leagues, these sort of concepts, have disappeared," he said.

“To have a healthy, growing esport, you’re going to have to support those tier 2 players as well with smaller Cups, smaller tournaments.”

Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

EPICENTER's second Dota 2 tournament announced for June 4-11

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of EPICENTER

EPICENTER: Moscow returns with its second Dota 2 event, slated to take place June 4-11, the tournament organizer announced on Wednesday.

The event will see 10 teams compete for a $500,000 prize pool, with qualifiers being held in the European, CIS, North American and Chinese regions in a similar format to the first EPICENTER: Moscow event.

EPICENTER: Moscow's group stage will be held on June 4-7, while the playoffs will take place at the VTB Ice Palace on June 9-11.

The event will also host a cosplay tournament with approximately $3,500 on the line.

Further details are expected in the coming weeks, such as qualifier dates and invited teams.Team Liquid are an expected invite since they were the champions of the first EPICENTER event.

RELATED: Team Liquid defeat Newbee, win EPICENTER

While this is the third event dubbed EPICENTER: Moscow, this is only the second Dota 2 event, as the previous event was a CS:GO tournament. That was won by the former Team Diginitas roster now part of North.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

by 4d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez isn't just a big Dota 2 fan, he's also an advocate for the game and esports in general among his NFL teammates.

Martinez has been streaming Dota 2 for charity almost every day since mid-February, and he was recently invited to MoonduckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier hub and helped cast dozens of Dota games in the lead up to the Major. theScore esports caught up with Martinez to talk about how esports are perceived in the NFL, how he got into Dota 2 and his plans to pitch the Packers on esports.

How did you get into Dota?

The way I got into Dota was an interesting story because my friends were all playing in our living room my sophomore year of college at Stanford and kept egging me on to play with them but I was so focused on football that I didn’t take up the offer but after a week or so they finally got me to try and I fell in love with the game and was one of the things I do to get my mind off of football!

Do you keep up with Dota during the season? Either playing or keeping up with the esports scene?

I watch Dota 24/7 whenever I am stretching or in the ice tub or any down time that I get from film watching and all other football obligations. Also I only play on our off days because there isn't enough time on a daily basis during the season to get games in! It was tough my rookie year, I didn't play Dota for about 6-7 months.

What position do you play in Dota? Who are your favorite heroes to play?

I mainly play the carry role and the shot caller of my team when I am in solo ranked, but I know how to play all positions since a lot of Dota players like to instantly pick the core roles regardless of skill. My favorite heroes are Storm Spirit, Luna, AM, Earthshaker, and Juggernaut.

What was your worst solo queue experience?

Worst solo queue experience happened about a couple weeks ago, I had a offlane Underlord that went afk farming the whole game (key note was that we were still winning the game without him). Then at about 30 mins the Underlord came out of the jungle with a rapier and fed it to the enemy team and we lost the game. Then I asked him why he did that and he said "I hate Monkey King pickers so I didn't want to win...."

What's your favorite Dota team? Why?

My favorite Dota team was the original No Diggity team that Synderen started, because I love the underdog role in any situation and they proved to everyone how good they are. It was awesome when they made it to the main stage at TI.

If you could play a game with any Dota pro, who would it be and why?

The one person I would want to play a game with would probably be Fata from Bears because I have just heard how amazing of a player he is, and I would just want to learn from his play!

What prompted you to start streaming? Do you find it hard to balance offseason training with your daily streaming?

The main reason I started streaming was because I play this game so much and it is one of my favorite hobbies, so I thought it would be a great way to use it in a beneficial way! That meaning I use it to donate money to the Saint Jude’s children's cancer research program! All the money I make from streaming goes to Saint Jude’s also every 100 followers I get I donate $50 to the foundation as well!

What do you think of the growing interest from traditional sports in esports? Do you think the NFL is going to get involved, given that it's been mostly from the NBA so far?

I think it is awesome how much sports and esports are meshing together! I knew it would happen sooner than later, because every professional sports player plays video games of some sort and the competitive aspect always catches the eyes of the real sports players! I think soon the NFL will get involved, and it is my mission to be the one that gets that to happen as soon as possible! During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring a team in the near future.

Are esports and gaming things that people talk about in the Packers locker room?

A lot of us talk about gaming because everyone plays console games and we have massive tournaments in Madden, FIFA, and UFC, but not too many conversations about esports competitions until I got there! I think every day I got asked "what are you watching on your phone" and I would always have to explain what Dota is, what Twitch is and the grand scheme of the tournaments, prizes pool, TI etc... and after I talk to anyone about it they think it is the coolest and greatest thing so hopefully that is a good start in easing its way into the NFL!

What is the most played game among the Packers' players?

The most played game is probably FIFA, I think there is a tournament in our game lounge almost everyday!

What's it like casting the Major qualifiers? Is casting something you've wanted to do before?

Casting was an amazing, crazy experience because I had no Idea what I was doing, but the people at Moonduck were extremely helpful in teaching me the ins and outs of casting. Also they just made it a fun and enjoyable time throughout the qualifiers. It was always something I wanted to try but never thought I would be able to do!

Jeremy Lin is noted in the community for being a pro athlete with an interest in Dota, he even has a team named after him. Could you beat Jeremy Lin in lane?

Yes I could easily beat Jeremy Lin in any lane or game!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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