1 0 , 0 0 0 M M R player Abed will be representing NA in Seattle this year, pictured above.
After seventy games of the finest Dota North America has to offer the TI 7 regional qualifier madness is over. To the surprise of many, TI 6 runner up Planet Odd didn’t make it. While dark horse of the qualifier, Team Freedom, nearly made it through and certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations. When the dust settled two teams remained, NP and Digital Chaos will advance to the main event. With so much on the line its safe to say there was no saving of strats, so what did we learn from NA qualifiers? (note: some of these lessons while learned from the NA qual, apply to all regions)
1) Digital Chaos able to overcome their ‘history’
Despite having Abed, the highest MMR player in the world, as their mid, DC were not favored to win the qualifier. After winning the Kiev Major NA qualifier under the moniker ‘Team Onyx’ they became known for having difficulty capitalizing on leads and in the lategame, especially in The Summit 7. After a weak 5W – 4L group-stage, Digital Chaos faced elimination in the 4th-5th tiebreaker, but made it to the playoffs and finished strong in the grand finals.
2) Camp mid with a melee pos 4 for the win
With the extra melee creep in mid and the exp given by denies, camping mid is back in style. This time it’s not with Bane or Undying like it was a year ago, and when their lane pressure is no longer needed the heroes being picked/banned are flexible enough to gank sidelanes, transition to a core role, or be given to the offlane player should the need arise for a different position 4 to be picked.
In descending order of North American qualifier win rate/times banned they are: Clockwerk, Nyx, Sand King, Night Stalker
Clockwerk— picked 21 times with a 66.67% win rate and banned 39 times.
Compared to the rest he has several advantages… Hookshot gives huge initiation range without having to farm blink, and a BKB piercing stun.
Rocket Flare allows for risk free lane pushing, vision (especially useful for scouting the Rosh Pit), and blink dagger canceling of enemy initiators ALL from across the map.
At level one he has the flexibility to chose between two viable options, to go for a wrap around kill with Battery Assault or to be annoying with Power Cogs for mana burn.
With all this in a single support pick, who cares if he doesn’t usually survive the Hookshot initiation. He’ll still end up pretty farmed thanks to the insane solo kill potential on other supports when they are isolated going for bounty runes.
Night Stalker— picked 19 times with a 57.89% win rate and banned 37 times.
Like Clockwork, he has the ability to initiate without a blink. The difference however is that Clockwerk has to wrap around or wait until level 6, whereas Night Stalker only needs to wait till night falls at minute 4.
While Night Stalker can cancel a TP with Void, once used he has nothing left to stop one. On the plus side, his long duration silence can prevent the escape of mobile cores in the early game and prevent them from right clicking with a 50% miss chance at night. Once cores have built an item (that he may have forced them into) to remove his silence, he can focus his efforts on the supports.
The vision he provides with Hunter In The Night’s active and with Aghanim’s Scepter is extremely well utilized by professional players and like Clock is crucial for scouting the Rosh Pit. On top of this Darkness reduces the enemy team’s vision, giving his team that much more information compared to the enemy team.
Sand King— picked 34 times with a 50.00% win rate and banned 28 times.
With the most reliable disable of the four, Sand King can sort of initiate without a blink he has a movement speed advantage and the right angle (though buying one is a top priority).
As the game progresses he can quickly push out lanes using Caustic Finale, and get away with it thanks to Sandstorm, Burrowstrike, Blink, and Eul.
Although he isn’t able to provide vision for his team, Sand King is overall a reliable pick that can set up his allies to follow up before an opponent can get anything off… and survive. (note: it could be argued that Sand King indirectly provides vision by pushing lanes)
Nyx Assassin— picked 15 times with a 46.67% win rate and banned 22 times.
At level one Nyx can cripple mids like QoP, Puck, or Lina by spamming mana burn— with no shrine for the first five minutes and without a bottle, their only hope would be to get a regen rune at minute two.
Nyx is quite level dependent for a support, but since he is meant to roam around the map with Vendetta instead of farming it works out. With some successful ganks and/or teamfights Nyx can get the gold and levels to have a huge impact.
Although he can’t scout in obvious sentry areas like the the Rosh Pit without risking death, he can get lots of information running around with Vendetta while finding and setting up for low risk pick-offs.
3) Use Lycan Howl bonus hp to counter Night Stalker ganks
Lycan was only picked four times in the NA qualifier, and won all three of the times it was picked in response to Night Stalker (the fourth game it was picked as a combo rather than a counter). Howl gives 50/100/150/200 bonus hp to all allied heroes, and has double the effect during the night. If Lycan maxes it first and keeps it ready to use, it becomes much harder for Night Stalker to gain momentum in the first two nights. Not to mention that Night Stalker’s Darkness makes it night more often, which Lycan doesn’t mind thanks to the double effect on Howl and being able to scout with Summon Wolves.
4) Team Freedom is the 4th strongest team in NA
Team Freedom came extremely close to taking one of the two North American qualifier spots. Beating the eventual winners NP and DC in the group-stage, an unlikely loss to Team Red forced a bo1 1st place tiebreaker vs Team NP.
The second time these two teams faced off, team NP redeemed themselves and secured the first TI slot. Then in the playoffs Team Freedom beat DC in the winner bracket finals only to lose to them in the Grand Finals.
If anything, Freedom demonstrated that they can beat any other team in NA (aside from direct invite EG). While they may not have made it to TI they certainly won some fans, and hopefully they stay together and next time we get to see Yawar playing against his brother Sumail.
5) Team NP’s greedy passive style wins games
While not the most entertaining to watch, NP seems to have mastered a passive style where they pick multiple farming cores and sit back building a gold lead. The fact they had the lowest average player deaths (2.92 per player per game) of all regions reflects this. With few clashes and often ending the game building a massive lead then getting a crucial pickoff— its not the most flashy, but they have plenty of fans already.
For more stats check out /u/coronaria’s NA Competitive Meta Trends reddit thread. And for some cool infographics check out PohkaDota’s tweet. That about wraps it up, feel free to share what you learned from the NA Quals in the comments.
Featured image courtesy of PGLesports
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