Clinton “Fear” Loomis is a Dota legend. One of the stars of Valve’s critically acclaimed documentary Free to Play, Loomis has been playing Dota professionally for nearly a decade. Months before this year’s International, Valve’s $11 million dollar super tournament, this icon was sidelined by an arm injury. Eager to take advantage of his encyclopedia-like game knowledge and experiencem, Evil Geniuses gave him a position as the squad’s coach.
His coaching must be working. Evil Geniuses is in the top three of The International, with $1 million of prize money to their name already. They will face the one team to emerge from the lower bracket tonight in a match that will determine who reaches the grand finals and who competes in a match worth nearly $4 million.
We sat down with him for a quick interview about his new role as coach of Evil Geniuses and what he thinks of this year’s International.
Daily Dot: If I had to take a guess, I’d think this would be a bittersweet year for you. Last year Evil Geniuses didn’t play at the International—they fell short in the qualifiers. This year the team has been looking great, but you’ve been sidelined by an injury. How does it feel attending an event this big and not being able to compete?
It definitely feels really weird. I’ve gone and played at almost every event. But the injury did happen, and I’m just happy to be here. Not being able to go at all would have been devastating. Being able to come as a coach and help the team still means a lot.
Is it frustrating playing such a big role in the formation of the current squad and having to watch them play? The rhetoric that was used to describe the last two Evil Geniuses lineups is that these players were all hand-picked by you.
It’s frustrating building a team and then not being able to play in the end, but injuries happen in every single sport. There’s nothing I can do about it but try and make the best of it and make a difference by being a coach.
You’re one of the older and most experienced Dota players. You’ve been around forever. The EG squad is actually very young. How much does your experience in the Dota scene, and then just being an older guy, play into your role as a coach?
I definitely think my experience has helped them out a lot, especially with the younger players. Universe is really experienced too. PPD is older and experienced in his own way. Even though he hasn’t been in the Dota community very long, he knows what to do as a captain. But Zai and Arteezy—the younger kids—they need more guidance on what to do in a lot of situations. I like to think I bring a lot to the team in that way and just help them out as much as I can.
The EG performance thus far has been interesting. In the first series versus DK you guys just shred them. Then in the games versus Newbee you really struggled to sink your teeth into the series. How did the team deal with that loss? Was it strange being so dominant in the first series and then falling short in the second?
It’s weird for us when we win convincingly and then lose immediately after. We don’t take losses very well. We need to win. This is a team that needs to win. If we lose we definitely play worse the next game, probably more so than many other teams. I think that it affected us a lot after we lost our first game. Our draft was good, it was mainly just bad play. That carried over into the next game. We just have to win. If we take losses it makes things very hard for us.
You started your International with that interesting Ursa and Enchantress pocket strategy. Do you think from here you have to play standard and to your strengths or do you think this event requires teams to cook special things up?
I think in this meta it is best to come up with what you called pocket strats, I guess. You need something unique, something that people won’t expect, and that is what works best.
You guys get to watch all the teams compete before you play. Do you think that’s going to help a lot before you go into your next match?
Oh yeah, definitely. The more you get to see from other teams, especially at this tournament, the better. The background knowledge you had on all the teams before this tournament is no longer relevant because everyone had such a long time to boot camp. It was like a month where no one played in any tournaments for the most part. Everyone came up with new strategies. The more we get to watch the less strategies they’ll have and the more we’ll know about them.
Screengrab via Valve