Bounty Hunter

Sunday Hero Spotlight – Gondar the Bounty Hunter

Welcome to the second Sunday Hero Spotlight. This week we will be taking a look at Gondar the Bounty Hunter. Bounty Hunter has the potential to be a menace in the early game, and can provide vision of enemy heroes through the use of his ultimate.

Bounty Hunters Lore

Bounty Hunter

Image courtesy of dotafire.com

“When the hunted tell tales of Gondar the Bounty Hunter, none are sure of which are true. In whispered tones they say he was abandoned as a kit, learning his skill in tracking as a matter of simple survival. Others hear he was an orphan of war, taken in by the great Soruq the Hunter to learn the master’s skill with a blade as they plumbed the dark forests for big game. Still others believe he was a lowly street urchin raised among a guild of cutpurses and thieves, trained in the arts of stealth and misdirection.

Around campfires in the wild countryside his quarry speaks the rumors of Gondar’s work, growing ever more fearful: they say it was he who tracked down the tyrant King Goff years after the mad regent went into hiding, delivering his head and scepter as proof. That it was he who infiltrated the rebel camps at Highseat, finally bringing the legendary thief White Cape to be judged for his crimes. And that it was he who ended the career of Soruq the Hunter, condemned as a criminal for killing the Prince’s prized hellkite. The tales of Gondar’s incredible skill stretch on, with each daring feat more unbelievable than the last, each target more elusive. For the right price, the hunted know, anyone can be found. For the right price, even the mightiest may find fear in the shadows.” [Courtesy of www.dota2.com/hero/BountyHunter/]

Overview

Bounty Hunter is a Melee Agility hero, that has a built in escape and is capable of nuking down enemies quickly. In competitive games and higher MMR brackets, Bounty is often played as a roaming Support due to his ability to move around the map unseen. In the lower skill brackets, it is often common to see Bounty in a farming position.

Skills

Shuriken Toss

Bounty Hunter Shuriken Toss

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Damage – 150 / 225 / 300 / 375

Mana – 120 / 130 / 140 / 150

Cooldown – 10

Track Bounce Range – 1200

Bounty’s first skill is his main nuking ability. Shuriken Toss is a unit target ability that, upon connecting with the target, also applies a mini stun. It is often used in conjunction with Bounty’s ultimate, Track. Shuriken can be used to interrupt channelling abilities, including TP’s.

When a Tracked unit is within 1200 range, the Shuriken will bounce to them, causing them damage and applying the min stun. As such, when Bounty is trying to chase down a target, it is often common to throw the Shuriken at a non Tracked target so that the Shuriken will bounce to all the other Tracked targets.

Aghanims Upgrade – Shuriken Toss will bounce twice on each hero that is affected by Track.

Jinada

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Critical Damage – 150% / 175% / 200% / 225%

Move Slow – -15% / -20% / -25% / -30%

Attack Slow – -15 / -20 / -25 / -30

Duration – 3

Cooldown – 12 / 10 / 8 / 6

Bounty’s second ability is a passive that grants him the ability to crit and maim every 6 seconds when maxed. This skill allows Bounty to deal sizable damage out of nowhere early on in the game.

Shadow Walk

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Physical (Pierces Spell Immunity)

Duration – 20 / 25 / 30 / 35

Fade Time – 1.0 / 0.75 / 0.5 / 0.25

Bonus Damage – 30 / 60 / 90 / 120

Cooldown – 15

Mana – 65

Bounty’s third ability allows him to fade into the shadows and become invisible for a certain amount of time. When attacking an enemy from Shadow Walk, Bounty will deal bonus damage. The bonus damage will not be included in the calculation for Jinada’s critical strike.

Shadow Walk has a fade time, meaning that it is possible to get an attack off as Bounty fades into invisibility and then attack again whilst invisible to get the bonus damage.

Track

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Speed Radius – 900

Bonus Speed – 16% / 18% / 20%

Bonus Gold for Self – 150 / 250 / 350

Bonus Gold for Allies – 40 / 80 / 120

Duration – 30

Cast Range – 1200

Cooldown – 4

Mana Cost – 65

Track is dispellable.

Bounty’s ultimate is a Unit Target that marks any enemy heroes. This will provide True Sight of any Tracked heroes to both Bounty and his allies. As well as providing True Sight, Track will grant bonus gold to Bounty and any allied heroes near the Tracked enemies when they die.

Track provides bonus speed to Bounty and his allies when they are near tracked enemies.

Talents

Bounty Talents

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

At Level 10, 54% of players choose to take the +15XP Gain instead of the +157 Health. This is likely because Bounty prefers to have levels, and due to his play style, should not require the additional health.

At Level 15, 62% of players choose to take the +40 Attack Speed over the +15 Movement Speed. Interestingly, this seems as if it is the wrong choice, as the +15 Movement Speed talent has a 52% win rate in comparison to the 49% for the Attack Speed.

At Level 20, 73% of players choose the +100 Damage over the +8% Spell Amp. Most players choose the extra damage as it works in conjunction with Jinada, allowing Bounty to Crit for more damage. The Spell Amp talent has a +3% higher win rate in comparison to the Damage. This may come down to the lack of people picking the talent, or it could be that due to Shuriken Toss being a Magical spell and some players building Dagon, it can synergize well with Bounty’s skill set.

At Level 25, 65% of players choose the -5s Jinada Cooldown over the +20% Evasion. This choice seems straightforward in that if players are reaching Level 25, they will likely benefit from the 1s Jinada Cooldown. This will allow them to deal massive damage from right clicks alone.

Skill Build

Popular Skill Build. Image courtesy of Dotabuff.com

This is the generally accepted way of leveling up skills on Bounty Hunter. Choosing to max Shuriken Toss, followed by Shadow Walk, and then Jinada. This is generally the most common way to level up Bounty, as Shuriken Toss can provide good burst damage early in the game. Jinada is left until last as it does not generally show its value until the late game.

Play style Suggestions

Bounty is generally played as a roaming four position Support, who has the ability to cause great havoc in the early to mid game. As a Bounty Hunter, it is important to pressure the lanes where possible. Rotating often has its benefits and can often force Supports to buy counter vision to see the rotations coming.

If possible, rotate to between the Mid Tier 1 and 2 towers to have a chance at killing the Courier in the early game, which will provide your mid player with an advantage.

Getting Level 6 on Bounty is pivotal to being able to use him to his full potential. If a team is behind, a few Track kills can change the tide of a match.

For the best example of an excellent Bounty Hunter, check out this Youtube link to highlights of Maybe Next Time (MNT), widely regarded as the worlds best Bounty, playing for Ad Finem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LIQbxrtJ8c

Suggested Items

Image Courtesy of Dotabuff.com

When playing Bounty in a Support capacity, players will tend to pick up Arcane Boots, and then progress into Mekansm, followed by Guardian Greaves. This is generally because Bounty is happy to be an aura carrier who focuses on building utility items to help buff the core heroes on his team.

In pub games, it is common to see Bounty players rushing either Dagon or Desolator. Dagon provides great burst potential in combination with Shuriken. Desolator provides good damage, and also armor reduction, both things that Bounty can benefit from if focusing on right clicking and using Jinada to its full effect.

Final Thoughts

Reply from MNT regarding Bounty Hunter in 7.xx Patch.

Whilst MNT might think that Bounty is still viable in the current patch, the stats speak to the opposite. Currently, he only has a 46% average, which is below average. As MNT mentions, the addition of the Backpack has increased the ability for players to carry vision based items whilst not losing inventory space.

Bounty can be played in situational games where the enemy heroes are susceptible to early game aggression. In his Support capacity, Bounty eventually becomes more focused on providing Track vision / gold whilst also giving beneficial auras to his team.

Bounty may receive some buffs to bring him back into the Meta, but for the time being he is more of a situational hero.

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Position Selection highlighting Jungle

The Most Important Position in the EU LCS

There are five positions on a League of Legends team: Top, Jungle, Mid, AD Carry, and Support. But, have you ever wondered which position is the most valuable? Which position brings the most to the table? Which position is the most crucial? While analyzing data surrounding EU LCS roster swaps in the off-season, I came across some intriguing patterns. These patterns suggest that not all positions are valued equally. Namely, Jungle is the key role.

You can tell a lot about an LCS team’s priorities based on its roster changes in between Splits. One team may choose to keep a star Mid laner, while another may choose to try a rookie Support. Some teams keep an entire starting line-up. Some teams start over from scratch and replace every player. If you look at all of the roster changes as a whole, you will begin to notice some fascinating trends.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of veterans and rookies across each position for the 2017 EU LCS rosters, and how many roster changes occurred within each position in the off-season (as well as the ratio of veteran to rookie players accounting for the changes):

Veterans Picked Up Rookies Picked Up Total Changes Total Starting Veterans Total Starting Rookies
Top 1 3 4 6 4
Jungle 4 3 7 7 3
Mid 2 2 4 8 2
ADC 3 3 6 6 4
Support 1 4 5 5 5

For the purposes of this analysis, I am classifying a “veteran” player as any player who has participated in one or more Splits in the EU LCS. I am classifying a “rookie” player as any player who has not participated in any EU LCS Splits. Therefore, any imported players who will be playing their first Split in EU are classified as rookies (for example, Sin “Nuclear” Jeong-hyeon).

Pertaining to the Jungle position, there are two things to point out about this chart. Firstly, the most player replacements happened in this position. 70% of teams changed their Jungler between Summer and Spring. This indicates that many teams were disappointed with their Jungle performance and needed a change in that position specifically.

Secondly, of the seven replacement players, only three are rookies. Compare that to one half of ADCs and Mids, three out of four Tops, and four out of five Supports. Even though many rosters are changing their Junglers, they seem to have disproportionately less faith in rookies and new imports at that position. Many Junglers from last Split simply switched to a new team, rather than retiring, moving to a different region, etc.

Why did so many teams choose to change their Jungler? What about that position made it a priority for so many rosters? Here is a box and whisker plot showing the KDA distribution of EU LCS players by position:

(Disclaimer: the following data only includes players who participated in 12 or more games for the same team.)Junglers represented the widest range of KDA last Summer.

We can see that Junglers occupied the largest range of KDA last year. Some of the highest overall KDAs were Junglers, but also many of the lowest. They had an abnormally low median KDA of 3, 21% lower than the median of all players. This means that there is a large divide between the top 25% of Junglers and the bottom 75%. Half of the Junglers had a KDA between 3 and 6.8, while the other half were between 1.9 and 3.

For a different perspective, I divided all players into tiers based on average KDA last Summer. Players with the top 10 KDAs are Tier 1, top 20 are Tier 2, etc. I then graphed a distribution of each role based on KDA Tier:KDA distribution by role

Besides the huge skew of ADCs to high KDAs, the distribution that stands out is the Junglers’. They are the only other role with more than one player in Tier 1, less than two Tier 2, and less than two Tier 3. It is also the only position with more than three Tier 4 players. Jungle’s line starts high, dips low, then rises high again. That dip, between Tier 1 and Tier 4, represents the divide between excelling Junglers and those under-performing. They generally occupied the high end and the low end of the KDA distribution.

How does this information pertain to the off-season? We can imagine that those three to four Junglers in Tier 1 and 2 would be heavily contested. Teams who have them want to keep them. Teams who do not have them want to incorporate them. The Jungler in Tier 3 is somewhere in the middle, but the Junglers in Tier 4 and 5 should be dropped.

Here is a list of the Junglers from last Split accompanied by their Tier Ranking and KDA:

Trick 1 6.8
Trashy 1 6.2
Jankos 1 4.7
Spirit 2 4.7
Maxlore 3 3.3
Shook 4 3.2
Move 4 2.8
Amazing 4 2.6
Mightybear 4 2.6
Gilius 5 2.5
Memento 5 2.4
Airwaks 5 1.9

Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun, Jonas “Trashy” Andersen,  and Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski were all Tier 1. All three of their teams qualified for Worlds last year. G2, Splyce, and H2k retained them in the off-season. Lee “Spirit” Da-yun barely fell into Tier 2, and mutually parted ways with Fnatic. Then there is a drop off from 4.7 KDA to 3.3. All other teams either dropped or swapped their Junglers. Many teams then picked up one of the dropped Junglers, due to their veteran status.

This analysis shows that the top-tier teams have top-tier Junglers. And those top-tier Junglers are significantly ahead of their low-tier counterparts relative to other positions. Since there is such a variance between good Junglers and bad Junglers, many teams prioritized the role in the off-season. Worlds-qualifying teams kept their Junglers, while all seven other teams incorporated new players. Many of these new players have played at least one EU LCS Split, showing a lack of faith in rookies for Jungle in particular.

In conclusion, I argue that Jungle is the most important position in the EU LCS. There are so many variables that go into the role. Junglers contribute to ganks, lane pressure, neutral objectives, and vision. Oftentimes, viable Jungle champions dictate the meta.

Riot Games has placed a lot of focus on Jungle gameplay. The developer completely reworked the camps, implemented Plants, and adjusted Smite in the pre-season. Lead Gameplay Designer, Andrei “Meddler” Van Roon, recently shared Riot’s thoughts about the state of the game. Simply stated, “We believe jungler influence over game outcome is too high.”

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Russell Westbrook’s Triple-Double Season, Better Than The Big O’s?

Averaging a triple-double is no small feat. Oscar Robertson is known for being the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. Russell Westbrook is trying to make history by becoming the second player ever to do it this season. Both are great players and deserve recognition, but Westbrook’s season is more impressive than Robertson’s. Here are the reasons why:

Minutes Per Game

The minutes played per game shows a huge gap between the two players. Robertson averaged a staggering 44.3 minutes per game during his triple-double season in 1961-1962. Westbrook is averaging about 10 less minutes per game at 34.6.

Russell Westbrook (Photo courtesy:thebiglead.com)

Scoring isn’t an issue for either player, as both could get to 10 points with ease in their allotted time (Robertson averaged 30.8 points, Westbrook averages 30.6 points). These extra minutes allowed Robertson to rack up his assist and rebound numbers that Westbrook doesn’t have the opportunity to (Robertson averaged 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists, Westbrook is averaging 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists). Give credit to Robertson for being able to play that much, but overall he produces less stats per minute than Westbrook (including turnovers sometimes).

NBA stat gurus look at what players can do per 36 minutes on the floor. Westbrook’s stats would go up and still be a triple-double with the extra time to get to 36 minutes. Robertson would have come up just short of a triple-double had he played 36 minutes per game. The Big O would have grabbed just enough boards at 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, but would have fallen short in his assist numbers with 9.2.

Now, from what the average fan knows about Russ, he would play all 48 minutes if allowed to, but that isn’t how the NBA works anymore. If they played the same amount of time on the floor, so far, Westbrook has Robertson beat.

Shots Attempted Per Game

This stat is surprising. Shortly after the shot clock era started (1954), in the 1961-1962 season, more shots were attempted per game than are now. In that season there was a league average of 107.7 field goal attempts per game, per team. This season, teams are averaging 85.4 field goal attempts per game.

Oscar Robertson (Photo courtesy: cincinnati.com)

As mentioned, this doesn’t really matter in terms of their scoring, but again this gives Robertson more access to assists and rebounds. With over 20 more attempts per game, Robertson has more chances to have teammates make shots off of his passes and has a better chance to rebound more.

In Robertson’s era, he made a rebound on 5.8% of shots attempted per game (average shots per team attempted x2, rebound average per game divided by the first number). Westbrook has done better, rebounding on 6.2% of shots attempted per game, while playing less minutes (giving him less opportunity to rebound the complete number of shots attempted in a game).

For assists, Robertson’s Cincinnati Royals averaged 105.2 shot attempts per game, while he averaged 11.4 assists per game. He assisted on 10.8% of the Royals shot attempts. Westbrook on the other hand has 10.4 assists per game, with the Thunder averaging 86.3 shot attempts per game. His number comes out to 12.1% of assists out of the Thunder’s shot attempts. Considering the field goal percentages of the teams are very similar at around 45%, Westbrook again is outperforming Robertson.

The more shots per game affect how many possessions a team has. Once again Robertson would fall short of a triple-double if his team had 100 possessions per game with 9.9 assists averaged per game, while Westbrook’s stats would improve.

Average Height and Weight

It is really tough for guards to average more than 10 rebounds per game. Players’ heights and weights haven’t changed as drastically as a lot of people would think, but they have changed. The average height has gone up about two inches from the time Robertson had his magnificent season to now. As for average weight, it has gone up around 16 pounds in that same period. 

Robertson was listed at 6’5″ and 205 pounds during his playing days. Taking the average height in inches from the graph above (1961), the average height of an NBA player was 6’4″. He actually had an edge on most players in the league rebounding-wise. His 205 pounds was also above the league average, giving him an advantage.

Westbrook stands at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. With the average height of the league being around 6’6″ tall, he has to fight for his rebounds. He is also well below the average weight of NBA players in today’s game, meaning he has to rely on his freakish athletic ability to jump and fight for rebounds.

With Westbrook battling among the trees for rebounds and Robertson being taller than the average height of his era, Westbrook’s rebounding numbers, though smaller in number, are more impressive.

Conclusion

Westbrook has a long way to go, 38 games to be exact, but as his stats stand now, his season is more impressive than Robertson’s. If he can finish out the year healthy, he will go down in history as having the best all-around individual season of all time.

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The Best Wide Receiver of All Time

The best fans of any sport know stats don’t tell the whole story. Stats play a huge role in judging which players are good, bad, or legendary. If stats were the only thing to judge a player by then the man who scored the most points in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, should be the best right? Most would answer that with a no. Well if stats don’t determine who the best of all time is, maybe it is championships that determine the best of all time. Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships, but you won’t find any basketball fan who thinks he is the best of all time. It is a consensus that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever.

(http://www.thedailybeast.com)

How about in baseball? What do you use to determine the best baseball player of all time? Do you go by home runs or strikeouts? Do you look at how many championships a player has won? Is Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds the best baseball player ever?

How about in football? How do you determine who was the best of all time? Is it how much you ran for, threw for, or how many yards you caught passes for? Or are championships how you determine who the best of all time is?

(Detroit Lions-Associated Press)

There is no way to definitively determine who the best of all time is, it’s subjective. That is why there are sports debates about who the best is. Stats and championships don’t tell the entire story, which is why the eye test is so important when judging sports. Circumstances, such as teammates or coaches, affect who the best ever is as well.

There are issues with the eye too. A 13-year-old can’t possibly have seen how great Barry Sanders was without watching the film. Players from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s don’t have a lot of film on them to show people growing up now how great they were. When you bring stats, championships, circumstances, and the eye test all together, then it is possible to determine who the best really is.

So with all that said, who is the best wide receiver of all time?

 

Who Most Would Say

(Mandatory Credit:) Jed Jacobsohn /Allsport

No matter how old you are or how long you have been a fan of football, if someone were to ask you who the best wide receiver of all time is, who would you answer? Jerry Rice, without hesitation. Nobody even thinks about it because it has been the answer for such a long time. How could it not be Jerry Rice? Rice had one of the greatest careers in NFL history. He played for 20 seasons in the NFL. Rice is a 13-time Pro Bowler, a three-time Super Bowl champion, and a Super Bowl MVP.

Six times Rice led the NFL in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Rice still holds recordings for most receptions all-time (1,549), most receiving yards all-time (22,895), most receiving touchdowns all-time (197), and most all-purpose yards all-time (23,546). Perhaps the best season of Rice’s career came in a shortened 1987 season. In just 12 games, Rice finished with 65 receptions, 1,078 yards, and an astonishing 22 touchdowns. That is impressive to say the least. Rice has the stats, the championships, and the eye test as good as anyone in history. He also was always in the best of circumstances.

(AP Photo/Al Golub)

Rice came into the league with an established two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback, Joe Montana. He played with Montana from 1985 until 1990. Once Montana was gone, Rice began catching passes from another Hall of Fame quarterback, Steve Young. From his rookie season in 1985 until 1998, Rice was fortunate enough to play with these all-time greats. Towards the end of Rice’s career, he caught passes from both Jeff Garcia and Rich Gannon. These quarterbacks were good as well.

Jeff Garcia was a four-time Pro Bowler and in his two seasons with Rice compiled 6,822 yards, 42 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. Rich Gannon was also a four-time Pro Bowler and in his three seasons with Rice compiled 9,791 yards, 59 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. Rice has never had an inadequate quarterback and was blessed to play with two Hall of Famers in his career.

Jerry Rice is one of the greatest players of all time and this is not to take away from his greatness. His stats are remarkable and are a testament to his longevity. There is just one receiver who was a better football player and had he been fortunate enough to have 14 seasons with Hall of Fame quarterbacks, such as Rice, he would be unequivocally considered the greatest receiver of all time.

 

Who is Really the Best WR of All Time?

(http://www.footballsfuture.com)

To describe the best wide receiver of all time, one would say he was, “straight cash homie”. That’s right, Randy Moss was the best receiver to ever set foot on the gridiron. He was so great his name became a verb. Anytime someone out-jumped a defender for a ball, the saying was, “he got mossed.” It takes a special kind of greatness for the world to turn your name into a verb like that.

Moss ranks 15th all-time in receptions (982), third all-time in receiving yards (15,292), and second all-time in receiving touchdowns (156). The stats are pretty remarkable over a 15-year career. He also holds the record for most receiving touchdowns in a single season with 23. Statistically speaking, he has been one of the best of all time. As far as championships go, Randy Moss never won a Super Bowl. It is one of the major accomplishments missing from his career.

The eye test is one of the areas Randy Moss excelled at above all. The man could flat out burn anybody and had some of the best hands in NFL history. This video shows how Moss revolutionized the game and became a defense’s worst nightmare.

Moss has the best eye test of any receiver in the history of football. His explosion, hands, and speed are unmatched. As mentioned before, one of the biggest flaws is the fact that he never won a Super Bowl. Moss was also rarely in a good quarterback situation. In his rookie season, he had both Randall Cunningham and Brad Johnson under center. The following year in 1999, Jeff George took most of the snaps. There was a bit more stability from 2000-2004 with Daunte Culpepper, but once Moss was traded to the Raiders, the instability continued.

(http://www.sacbee.com/sports/article31643531.html)

In Moss’ two seasons with the Raiders, he had three quarterbacks: Kerry Collins, Andrew Walter, and Aaron Brooks. Before ending up with Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2007, Moss had played in the NFL for nine seasons and had seven different quarterbacks.  To compare that with Jerry Rice’s first nine seasons, Rice only had two quarterbacks. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

Moss only spent three seasons with a quarterback of the same caliber as when Rice had Montana and Young. In those three seasons with the Patriots, Moss played in 48 games and amassed an amazing 422 receptions, 3,765 yards, and 47 touchdowns.

 

Better Circumstances

(http://gifsoup.com/view/4485570/randy-moss-td.html)

This makes you wonder, what if Moss had 14 seasons with Brady, a Hall of Fame quarterback like when Rice had with both Montana and Young? Moss didn’t play as long as Rice so it is hard to speculate. How about if Moss just had seven seasons with Brady? What would his all-time numbers look like then? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that after Moss left Minnesota he went straight to New England and finished his career there for seven seasons.

His stats after leaving Minnesota were 574 receptions, 9,142 yards, and 90 touchdowns. Moss averaged 83 receptions, 1,255 yards, and 15.7 touchdowns with Brady. Over 7 seasons, based on what he averaged with Brady for his three years in New England, his career stats would have finished with 1,155 receptions, 17,927 yards, and 200 touchdowns. Those numbers are absolutely ridiculous to think about.

(https://www.pinterest.com/pin/573646071256029480/)

Now for the sake of more argument, let’s say he spent 14 seasons in the NFL with Tom Brady, similar to Rice’s 14 seasons with Montana and Young. Moss’s career stats would be 1,162 receptions, 17,570 yards, and 220 touchdowns. The receptions and yards don’t change significantly, but the touchdowns sure do. 220 is unthinkable and Rice finished with 197. Had Moss spent more time with a Hall of Fame quarterback, more people wouldn’t hesitate to call Moss the best of all time. Longevity also really helped out Rice’s overall numbers as well. 20 seasons is a long time and it is rare for a player to last that long in such a violent sport.

The stats don’t tell the entire story of who is really the best. Super Bowl trophies tell the story of how a team did, not an individual. Looking at the eye test, and given the circumstances Moss had to deal with, it is clear to see that he truly was the best wide receiver of all time.

 

 

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

 

Spring Watchlist 2017: ROCCAT, Misfits, H2k, and Fnatic

Another year of professional League of Legends is upon us. It is time to reflect on Europe’s end of 2016, adjustments in the off-season, and discuss the possibilities for 2017. With the introduction of a two-group format and 10-ban system, it is difficult to predict how the Spring Split will go. Established organizations changed rosters, veterans retired, and an up-and-coming Challenger team joined the LCS.

Unsurprisingly, G2 and Splyce decided to retain their entire starting rosters. None of the other teams seem prepared to challenge these two for group dominance. Unless the new pick-ban phase exposes unforeseen weaknesses, we expect these two teams to stay at the top. Ideally, they have taken time to address flaws affecting their abilities to compete internationally since the World Championship.

On the other hand, Origen seems to be the only team that did not catch a break in the off-season. After a 9th place finish in the Summer Split last year, the entire squad dissipated. Origen’s pick-ups each appear to be a downgrade from their respective predecessors. Bringing on Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert as AD Carry is an improvement from Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez, but he is not playing at the level that Origen will need. Max “Satorius” Günther, Yoo “NaeHyun” Nae-hyun, and Aleksi “Hiiva” Kaikkonen will all be rookies from Challenger scenes. Kim “Wisdom” Tae-Wan has more professional experience, but not enough to carry this roster. The floor is low on this team, and we expect that they will round out the bottom of Group B.

All remaining teams have room to rise and fall in the ranks. Some storylines will be more exciting than others, but following this season should be interesting, to say the least. Based on 2016 results and pre-season decisions, there are four teams I will be watching closely. These are the teams I see having the greatest influence on shaping their group standings.

Can ROCCAT get higher than 9th place?

courtesy of Riot eSports

ROCCAT had a horrific 2016. After finishing 9th in the Spring Split playing in the Summer Promotion tournament, ROCCAT fell to 10th last Summer. They did maintain their slot in the LCS in the Spring Promotion tournament, as well. They replaced every member of the team in the off-season except mid laner, Felix “Betsy” Edling. Betsy actually saw decent performances last year, despite being on a bottom-tier roster. While many analysts are having conversations about top-level teams, ROCCAT has been able to fly under the radar this off-season.

ROCCAT have added Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren (Top), Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian (Jungle), Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss (ADC), and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in (Support). Phaxi and Wadid are relatively unknown entities. Phaxi was a substitute for Dark Passage in TCL, while Wadid was a substitute for SBENU Korea in LCK. We can only speculate at this point what they will be able to do against other players in EU LCS. The language barrier in the bot lane is the only concern that can be raised.

Meanwhile, Maxlore saw passable performances on Giants last Summer. He averaged a 3.2 KDA, 73% Kill Participation, and +2.7 CS above his opponents at ten minutes. These figures put him slightly above Jonas “Memento” Elmarghichi from last Split. Vitality benched Hjärnan, ROCCAT’s new AD Carry, last Summer after a solid Spring Split performance. He ranked 3rd in KDA, 4th in Kill Participation, and 3rd in CS Difference at ten minutes among all ADC’s. He will be replacing Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi who was consistent in both Splits, despite ROCCAT’s low rank overall.

I find myself wondering if ROCCAT can actually pull it together and get themselves out of this 9th-10th place rut. Origen and Giants both appear to be just as shaky as what ROCCAT has put together. Misfits are new to the pro scene and lost two key players in the off-season. I am keeping my eyes on this new ROCCAT. They could get a few wins under their belt and avoid the Summer Promotion series this year. They could end up in last yet again, but everyone loves an underdog, right?

Are Misfits ready for LCS?

courtesy of Riot eSports

The only newcomer to the EU LCS this Split, Misfits qualified in the Spring Promotion tournament. Touting a 90% win-rate in the Summer Season, this team has many analysts speculating how they will stack up. Challenger teams in the past made serious waves when entering the scene, such as Origen and G2.

However, the situation with Misfits is a bit different. Firstly, there are major formatting changes that were not in place when they were playing last year: the two-group league and the ten-ban system. Challenger teams historically have less coaching and support staff available. Major strategic changes can disproportionately affect them. Secondly, Misfits is not maintaining their same roster coming into 2017. Neither Origen nor G2 kept their qualifying roster when entering the LCS, but their replacements were obvious upgrades at the time. Origen brought in Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. G2 brought in Kim “Emperor” Jin-hyun and Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun.

Meanwhile, Misfits will be replacing Marcin “SELFIE” Wolski and Kim “Wisdom” Tae-Wan with PowerOfEvil and Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon. SELFIE and Wisdom had the highest average KDA during the Summer Season in Mid and Jungle. They both maintained high average CS Differences at 10 minutes, 10.5 and 6.7, respectively. On the other hand, PowerOfEvil finished with the second lowest average KDA last Summer and averaged 1.7 CS behind his opponent at ten minutes. KaKAO spent 2016 in the Chinese Challenger scene with Wan Yoo, who finished 13th out of 16 teams. Over 24 games KaKAO averaged a 3.69 KDA, which placed him 18th of 36 Junglers with three games or more.

PowerOfEvil and KaKAO have both shown moments of promise, but their recent performances are not reflective of high skill. If Misfits want to make an impact, they will need their remaining players to continue to play at the top level, while incorporating PowerOfEvil and KaKAO seamlessly. Barney “Alphari” Morris, Steven “Hans sama” Liv, and Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun will need to maintain lane dominance against tougher lanes. This team does have a high ceiling, but these roster changes will need to prove themselves fruitful.

Can H2k play as well without FORG1VEN, Vander, or Ryu?

courtesy of Riot eSports

Many did not expect H2k to be the highest finishing Western team at the 2016 World Championships. H2k managed to make it to the Quarterfinals and finished 3rd-4th overall. It seemed like all of their players were on a whole new level, particularly AD Carry FORG1VEN and Mid laner Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook.

Looking at FORG1VEN’s KDA throughout 2016, it bottomed out in the Spring Playoffs at 3.8. This was preceding his announcement to step down as H2k’s starting ADC. After his unsuccessful stint with Origen, FORG1VEN returned to H2k for the tail-end of the Summer Split. He averaged a 14.5 KDA over five games in Week Nine, and carried the team to a 3rd place Playoff finish. His KDA during Summer Playoffs leveled out to 5.9, then boosted to 7.9 at Worlds (1st among all players with more than two games).

Ryu’s KDA followed a similar trajectory throughout 2016. He averaged 2.9 in Spring Playoffs, up to 3.8 in Summer Split, up again to 5.8 in Summer Playoffs, leveling off at 4.0 for Worlds (5th among 17 Mid laners with more than two games). His pressure became noticeably greater among international Mid lane competition. His synergy with Jungler, Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, also seemed to be smoother. Only one other Mid-Jungle duo had a higher First Blood rate (among players that played more than two games).

But these two carries, along with Support Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan, are not part of the roster for 2017. Will the momentum of last year continue, or did it fizzle in the off-season? H2k picked up Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun, and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho to fill Mid, ADC, and Support. Febiven has proven himself to be a top-tier European Mid laner. He should be able to step in without issue. However, Nuclear and Chei are Korean imports, which could prove to be dangerous. Other experiments in this roster style have been middling at best, such as NA’s Team EnVyUs. On top of that, Chei’s last team, Jin Air, declined throughout last year, and Nuclear’s last team, SBENU Sonicboom, disbanded altogether after they failed to re-qualify for the LCK last August.

Jankos and top laner, Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu, are experienced, high-pressure players that will hold their own against the rest of EU. However, this H2k roster is radically different from the successful team of last year. The coaching and support staff will need to pull these pieces together if they want to maintain the same level of competitiveness.

Will Fnatic bounce back with a rebuilt roster?

courtesy of Riot eSports

Fnatic’s 2016 was tumultuous, especially when compared to expectations coming out of 2015. They had achieved 3rd-4th at the 2015 World Championships and won five out of their last six EU LCS splits. But everything began to decline after Fnatic announced that Top-Jungle duo, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, would be leaving the team. Then they reported that team captain, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, would be departing. Fnatic rebuilt, finished the Spring Split in 6th place, and fought their way to a 3rd place finish in the Playoffs. After replacing a couple of players between Spring and Summer (including bringing back YellOwStaR), they still finished the Summer Split in 5th place. H2k immediately eliminated them from Playoffs. With the Championship Points tallied, Fnatic did not qualify for the 2016 World Championships.

2017 has started with even more changes. Only the AD Carry, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, remains from last year. Fnatic brought on Paul “sOAZ” Boyer and Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider who played as the Top-Jungle duo for Origen last year. Rasmus “Caps” Winther joins from Dark Passage after helping them win the TCL. Jesse “Jesiz” Le returns as Support after operating as an Assistant Coach for Immortals throughout 2016.

This roster has a lot of combined experience. But will it be enough? SOAZ and Amazing might have helped Origen finish 3rd-4th in the 2015 World Championships, but they fell throughout 2016. SOAZ appeared particularly weak in the Spring. Amazing was lost in the Jungle in the Summer. Jesiz has not played a professional match in more than a year. Most EU LCS fans are probably pulling for Fnatic to do well in 2017. While this line-up’s ceiling is quite high, they could also finish middle-of-the-pack.

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Desk Host

How Important Is It to Have a Good Desk Host?

With ESL One Genting 2017 in the books, fans had a chance to see Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner return as Desk Host, following his absence from the Boston Major. Seeing ReDeYe back on the panel made many fans happy, including myself. ReDeYe seems to bring the quick wit, humor, and flame that he is well known for, whilst also displaying good game knowledge and being able to add to the discussions when required.

Image courtesy of r/dota2

The Desk Host Equation

Watching the panel at ESL One really reminded me of how important it is to have a good desk host, and how difficult it must be to balance the different members of the panel. However, I have never been a host, so I could not possibly hope to answer these questions. Instead, I decided the best person to ask would be the master himself, ReDeYe. Here are his responses:

How important is it to have good game knowledge when hosting a panel?

It’s important to understand the game and its mechanics, enough to be able to answer suitable questions which promote discussion, but it’s actually more important to understand the players, teams and history alongside. You don’t need the depth of an analyst or a commentator and in some cases it actually hurts a desk host because they want to put their opinions into the mix too (something a good host shouldn’t really be doing, but instead promoting the stars on the panel to shine).

How difficult is it controlling the panel?

Depending on the personalities involved. Some want to speak more than others and some have stronger opinions to air. The idea host balances this and ensures reasonable distribution of time for everyone to shine, but always balances what’s going on in their ear from the producer who generally drives the show format and will often be talking to the host on a regular basis asking them to move on from a subject for example. It takes skill, tact and understanding when it’s right to cut across someone in order to move the show forward, it’s not always a perfect science.

How much time do you spend preparing for each event that you are attending?

It varies drastically on a number of variables. For a game I don’t know very well, it could take weeks of playing, viewing vods or demos and learning the community. But for a game I am comfortable with, it generally takes about 20 to 50 hours of prep, watching vods and understanding meta changes, team movements, recent picks and bans or strategy changes. But then when we have a run of events in a row, it actually takes very little prep as you are so deeply embedded in the game you already know most of this. For an event like TI, you are basically preparing all year through your events attended, watched, and keeping up to date with the memes 😉

Image courtesy of ESL Dota 2

What has been your favorite Dota event that you have hosted?

TI6 for sure. We managed to pull off something special in the biggest event of all time, puppets, fun, serious, great mix of talent, amazing games, movement of the desk around the venue and outside, historic broadcasting from the top of the needle, draft desk, Purge’s weather segments, great commentary, and we were super well looked after by Shannon and her team at the event and the hotel throughout the time we were there. It was as close as I’ve come to enjoying a perfect event.

Puppet Paul as Host of the Puppet panel

The amazing puppet panel at TI6 – Image courtesy of twitter

What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a host?

Study sports hosts, learn how they introduce questions, transition to other segments or breaks and develop your own style. Try doing it on Twitch by hosting other channels and putting your voice over the top. Study esports hosts and read the book!

The book Paul is referring to is his free e-book “Talking Esports” which can be found here – http://redeyehd.co.uk/talking-esports-a-free-book-on-esports-broadcasting/

Apart from yourself, who is your favorite host for any event?

I really like Machine and I think he’s got a huge career ahead of him. He’s still young and raw and yet already better than I was with the same level of experience. For stage, I really love the Korean guys, they just put so much energy into it!

Host of the Boston Major - Machine

Machine hosted his first Dota event at the Boston Major – Courtesy of gosugamers.net

What do you normally do during games / when you are not on screen?

I watch the matches! We have to watch them all in order to be able to deliver great post game segments and understand how the tournament is panning out, but we’ll also chat with other talent alongside, have something to eat and get the dreaded make-up topped up.

Host

Image courtesy of twitter.com

 

Changing of the Guard?

At the Boston Major Dota events, fans were shown a glimpse of the future when Alex “Machine” Richardson was chosen by Valve to be the host. Seeing as the last time Valve chose to invite someone other than ReDeYe, things didn’t end so well, fans may have been anxious.

However, the history of the Shanghai Major did not come back to haunt Valve, and Machine slid into the panel and never seemed out of place. He was able to control the panel, participate in discussion, and also bring that British wit that fans are used to.

Fast forward to ESL One Genting and ReDeYe was back again on the panel. The interesting thing was that the similarities between ReDeYe and Machine were easy to see, maybe due to them both being British or both spending time working as a host for CS:GO events.

Overall, Valve and the Dota community are split for choice with both ReDeYe and Machine proving that they are among the best in the business. Let’s hope that the great hosting and top quality memes continue into 2017.

————-

Check out Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner on twitter

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Championship Sunday)

(USA TODAY Sports/ Matthew Emmons)

Championship Sunday is finally upon us. The Saturday divisional round games had the playoffs looking rather boring through six games.

The Falcons and Patriots both won easily and excitement had been missing from the playoffs.

Sunday told a different story. Dallas and Green Bay played an instant classic. Heading into the fourth quarter Dallas trailed 28-13, but scored 15 straight points to tie the game at 28. Eventually, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers held on for a 34-31 victory thanks to a 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby as time expired.

In the AFC, the Chiefs scored a touchdown with 2:43 remaining and missed the two-point conversion to tie the game at 18. In the end, the Steelers won the game 18-16 and the difference was the two-point conversion that failed.

That leaves four teams remaining in the chase for the Lombardi Trophy: Green Bay, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and New England. The championship games should provide plenty of excitement in determining who will eventually be the Super Bowl Champions. It is time for Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks.

Last Week: 2-2

Regular Season: 148-103-2

Playoffs: 5-3

Overall:153-106-2

 

NFC Championship

(https://www.pinterest.com)

Green Bay 38 @ Atlanta 34: Not many people had predicted that the Falcons would be hosting the NFC Championship this season, but here it is in January and the NFC Championship game will be in Atlanta. The Falcons have the best scoring offense in the NFL this season (33.8 points per game) and Matt Ryan is on a tear. Atlanta is on a five-game win streak and went 5-3 at home. The Falcons are hot, but their opponent is even hotter. Green Bay has won eight straight games and is averaging 33.6 points per game over their last five.

This game is going to be a shootout, but who will win? Aaron Rodgers is clearly the best player in the game today. The hot streak he is on can’t be ignored. In the eight-game win streak, Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns and just one interception. The lack of turnovers by Rodgers is resulting in wins for Green Bay.

A game of this magnitude favors the players who have been in this situation before. The Packers have been here before and the Falcons have not. For that reason, the Packers will edge out the Falcons and play in Super Bowl LI.

 

 

 

AFC Championship

(AP Images)

Pittsburgh 27 @ New England 30: The amount of success these two teams have had in the 21st century is unbelievable. Since 2000, the two franchises have combined for 25 playoff appearances, 17 conference championship appearances, nine conference championship wins, and six Super Bowl wins. It doesn’t get much better than this.

The Steelers have faced a much tougher road than the Patriots have in the playoffs. These two teams match up well with one another. The Steelers monster offense was held out of the end zone against the Chiefs. It took six field goals to win and that will not be good enough against Tom Brady. Without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, New England has still found ways to score.

This game could go either way, but with the game taking place in Foxborough and having the great Tom Brady, the edge has to go to the Patriots. New England makes just one more play in this one to set up a Brady versus Rodgers Super Bowl.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

 

 

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2017 College Basketball Bracketology January 18

The NCAA Tournament is just two months away, which means teams are starting to make their final push to be invited. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played, but as it stands now, here is the latest college basketball bracketology:

College Basketball Bracketology

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Dota Pit

Dota Pit Season 5 Event Preview

Dota Pit Season 5 is the third major tournament of the 2017 Dota year, if you include WESG. The tournament will take place from January 20-28th and will be held in the Spaladium Arena in Split, Croatia.

Dota Pit Format

Dota Pit will be played in a double elimination bracket that will take place over the three days. All upper bracket games will be best of three apart from the Grand Finals which will be best of five. It was also announced that the lower bracket games will all be best of one! Best of one brings a huge amount of unpredictability and means that making a lower bracket run in the tournament will come with very high risks.

Dota Pit Prize Pool

The prize pool for the tournament was announced as being $125,000 and would be increased through the sale of in-game tickets and cosmetics. The most recent prize pool announcement was for $136,345. At the time of writing, the distribution amounts have yet to be announced.

Dota Pit Teams

The tournament has been hit with two teams pulling out, which has added two challengers into an already stacked field of teams. With ESL One Genting Champions Digital Chaos being joined by the likes of OG and EG, fans should be in for a treat with some top quality games over the weekend. So who is descending into the pit to try and win the event:

Elements Pro Gaming – Replacing Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Swiftending

Position 2 (Mid) – kole

Position 3 (Offlane) – Mitch

Position 4 (Support) g0g1

Position 5 (Support) – LeBronDota

Most people may have been surprised when it was announced that EPG were selected to replace Wings Gaming, who could not attend due to visa issues. However, they did nearly qualify for the event after losing to OG in the final series 3-2. EPG will be hoping to catch some of the teams by surprise and the format may work in their advantage. This is also a chance for EPG to prove themselves among the biggest teams in the world.

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

EPG has what it takes to catch a team by surprise and due to the best of one lower bracket format, its possible that they can take a game and end up finishing 5th / 6th.

Digital Chaos (DC) – Direct Invite

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC are coming into this event hot, practically on fire. Off the back of an amazing victory at ESL One Genting, the team now have their first LAN win. DC will be looking to build on their first success and carry that forward into Dota Pit. The difference, OG and EG are both returning to this tournament and did not take part in ESL One Genting. Fans will be hoping that DC can continue their fine form at the start of 2017 with another victory at Dota Pit.

Tournament Prediction – 2nd Place

This tournament will come down to a battle between DC, OG, and EG. The three powerhouses are almost interchangeable at the top of the pile and it will be interesting to see how the weekend pans out.

OG – European Qualifier #1

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

Dota Pit signals the start of 2017 for the Boston Major champions. This will also be their first competitive outing on the 7.xx patch. OG had several questions surrounding the team heading into the Major. Could s4 work in the offlane? Could Ana fill the space that Miracle- had left? How would the team manage following the roster changes? OG answered all of these questions in resounding fashion at the Major by winning the event in dominant fashion. OG will be hoping that they can continue the success of Boston and get their year off to a great start.

Tournament Prediction – 1st Place

OG have shown that they are a team to be feared. This will not be an easy tournament for them to win, but if any team can , it will be OG.

Team Secret – European Qualifier #2

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

Dota Pit brings about the return of Team Secret. Having failed to qualify for the Boston Major, and amidst a dispute with former players, Team Secret looked in a bad position. The last event that Secret competed at was the ROG Masters in November, where they finished first.

With a new look roster, and hoping to make a resurgence in 2017, Secret will be hoping that they can impress the Dota community with a high finish.

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

Similar to EPG, Secret are somewhat of an unknown quality. Fans will be hoping that this will work in their advantage and that the format of the tournament can help Secret show that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Dota scene.

Virtus Pro (VP) – CIS Qualifier

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

VP are heading into Dota Pit with a point to prove. After failing to win both the Major and ESL One Genting, VP will be looking to prove to the world that they should still be considered one of the worlds best Dota teams.

VP, however, looked out of sorts at ESL, often times making confusing plays, something they are not normally known for. Lil recently tweeted that quick cast on Earth Spirit (one of his favored heroes) was bugged – https://twitter.com/LilJke/status/818737760668413952. How much of an impact this had, nobody can really tell.

Tournament Prediction – 4th Place

Based on their performance at ESL One, VP did not look like the same team that we considered favorites to win the Major. VP will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of ESL with a strong performance over the weekend.

Team Faceless – SEA Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

Faceless are one the strongest teams in the SEA region. How much you can read into that is another question. Heading into the Major, fans were interested to see how the SEA powerhouse would match up with the world elite. The answer to this questions was shown pretty quickly. Having finished 9th – 16th, Faceless were left disappointed.

Fast forward to Dota Pit and Faceless seem to be re-establishing their dominance in SEA, and will be hoping that they can quiet the doubters with a high placing.

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th

Recently, it seems as if Faceless have been rotating positions depending on the hero being played, with Black often playing the four position Pudge, and xy- playing in the Carry role. Seeing as this worked out so well for Team Liquid at the Major, Faceless may be in for a tough time at Dota Pit.

Invictus Gaming – Replacing Newbee – Chinese Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – BurNing

Position 2 (Mid) – Op

Position 3 (Offlane) – Xxs

Position 4 (Support) – BoboKa

Position 5 (Support) – Q

Time has not been kind to IG. They have had a dramatic fall from grace since their victory at The International 2012 (TI2). The team has been going through a period of transition, but may be starting to find their feet on the world stage once again. Having recently qualified for the Dota Asia Championships (DAC) with a perfect record in their group, they will be hoping to use that experience at Dota Pit.

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th Place

IG are not among friends in this tournament, they are not in China and they are the small fish in the middle of the ocean. On the plus side, expectations will not be high for IG and they may be able to catch a team napping, especially in the best of one lower bracket.

Evil Geniuses – American Qualifier

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

Dota Pit will see EG’s first real foray into competitive Dota on the 7.xx patch, not including the show matches at Chine Top.

Recent games have seen Arteezy playing a large amount of Meepo in his solo games. Seeing as Meepo had decent levels of success at ESL, it would not be a surprise to see EG turn to Meepo in an attempt to progress in the tournament.

Tournament Prediction – 3rd Place

Although they have not played in any tournaments since the release of 7.xx EG are still a team to be feared and should make it to the later stages of the tournament. With a few surprise picks they may even finish higher than predicted.

Dota Pit Final Thoughts

EG and OG make their return to competitive Dota, and following the high level of play shown at ESL One, this tournament seems set to produce some amazing highlights. Overall, any of the teams predicted in the top four have the ability to take the tournament, but the quality of OG should win through on paper. But we all know Dota is not played on paper.

Overall Predictions:

1st Place – OG

2nd Place – Digital Chaos

3rd Place – Evil Geniuses

4th Place – Virtus Pro

5th / 6th Place – Elements Pro Gaming / Team Secret

7th / 8th Place – Invictus Gaming / Team Faceless

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Morphling

Sunday Hero Spotlight : – The Mighty Morphling Power Ranger

Welcome to the first, of hopefully many, Sunday hero spotlights. In the first spotlight, we take a look at Morphling. Morphling is a Ranged Carry with a versatile skill set, which makes him a force to be reckoned with.

Morphling’s Lore

Morphling

Image courtesy of reddit/r/dota2

“For dark eons the comet circled. Held in thrall to a distant sun, bound by gravity’s inexorable pull, the massive ball of ice careened through the blackness between worlds, made strange by its dark journey. On the eve of the ancient war of the Vloy, it punched down through the sky and lit a glowing trail across the night, a sign both armies took for an omen. The frozen ball melted in a flash of boiling heat, as below two forces enjoined in battle across the border of a narrow river.

Thus freed from its icy stasis, the Morphling was born into conflict, an elemental power at one with the tides of the ocean, capricious and unconstrained. He entered the fight, instinctively taking the form of the first general who dared set foot across the water, and then struck him dead. As the motley warriors clashed, he shifted from form to form throughout the battle, instantly absorbing the ways of these strange creatures–now a foot soldier, now an archer, now the cavalryman–until, by the time the last soldier fell, Morphling had played every part. The battle’s end was his beginning.” [Courtesy of www.dota2.com/hero/Morphling/]

Overview

Morphling is an incredibly powerful hero when given the right amount of farm. He is a Ranged, Carry, Disabler, Durable, Escape, Nuker. Morphling is generally played as a Safelane Carry, but has previously seen play in both the mid and support roles. Morphling has a very unique set of skills that make him capable of bursting down one hero, whilst also being incredibly difficult to lock down and kill.

Skills

Waveform –

Image courtesy of dota.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Damage – 100 / 175 / 250 / 325

Mana – 140 / 155 / 160 / 165

Cooldown – 11

Morphling’s first skill is Waveform. Waveform is a point target ability that can be used to cause good damage or to provide mobility. Waveform can be used to disjoint projectiles, meaning that it is a useful tool for Morphling to escape most dangerous situations. Whilst using Waveform, Morphling is invulnerable and cannot be clicked on. Morphling can also use items whilst in Waveform, which can be helpful for getting the jump on an opponent.

Adaptive Strike –

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Base Damage – 100

Damage Min AGI Multiplier – 0.25

Damage Max AGI Multiplier – 0.5 / 1.0 / 1.5 / 2.0

Stun Min – 0.25

Stun Max – 1.25 / 2.25 / 3.25 / 4.25

Cast Range – 600 / 700 / 800 / 900

Mana – 100 / 90 / 80 / 70

Cooldown – 10

Adaptive Strike is a projectile that moves at 1150 speed. Upon hitting the target, Morphling’s stats are checked to decide whether to apply the max damage or max stun. Adaptive Strike also applies a knock-back between 100 – 300 units. Adaptive Strike has massive burst potential and is a major part of the shotgun build.

Morph (Agility Gain)

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Toggle ability

Mana per second – 30

Points per shift – 1

Shift rate – 05 / 0.25 / 0.125 / 0.0625

Bonus Agility – 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Agility Morph is the first of the two different Morph abilities. This skill is what makes Morphling so interesting to play. With the ability to Morph his Strength stats into Agility, he has the ability to increase his damage and armor, but also reduce his HP in a short space of time. Most people will start off with more focus on Agility, as this is his primary attribute, and only use the Strength side when Morphling is being focused and needs more health to survive.

Morph (Strength Gain)

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Toggle ability

Mana per second – 30

Points per shift – 1

Shift rate – 05 / 0.25 / 0.125 / 0.0625

Bonus Strength – 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Strength Morph is the second Morph ability. Morphing to Strength will increase Morphling’s HP, and in most cases is used when Morphling is at risk of dying. Strength Morph makes Morphling very difficult to kill, as it can be toggled on whilst Morphling is stunned.

Replicate –

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Duration – 30 / 45 / 60

Replicate Damage – 80%

Replicate Damage Taken – 100%

Cast Range – 700 / 1100 / 1500

Mana Cost – 25

Cooldown – 80

Replicate is Morphling’s ultimate, and it allows him to make a clone of any hero on the map, apart from himself. Replicate has the ability to pierce spell immunity, and has a lot of different uses. The main use is that it allows Morphling to be extremely mobile, and unless he is stun locked, give him a get out of jail free card.

Morphling has the ability to push a lane by himself and send the replicate with his team. Once a fight starts or Morphling no longer feels safe, he can then jump to his Replicate at the cost of 150 Mana. If Morphling dies, then his Replicate will expire

Aghanims Upgrade – Hybrid

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Duration – 20.0

Mana Cost – 200

Cooldown – 60

Hybrid works in the same way as Replicate, apart from the fact that Morphling now has the ability to use all of the copied hero’s non-ultimate abilities. Morphling rarely ever picks up an Aghanims Scepter as it does not fit into his item build.

 

Talents

Image courtesy of r/dota2

At Level 10, 70% of players chose to select the +8 Agility talent instead of +200 Mana. The main reason behind this is that Morphling is a very stat reliant hero and will often spend the majority of his time in fights auto attacking.

At Level 15, 63% of players chose to select the +25 Attack Speed instead of 12% Cooldown reduction. Again, this is because Morphling wants to be able to dish out as many auto attacks as possible in the shortest amount of time; increasing his attack speed will allow him to do that. In higher MMR matches it is common to see the 12% Cooldown reduction talent picked up.

At Level 20, 77% of players chose to select the +40 Damage instead of the +25 movement speed. This is because by the time you reach level 20 on Morphling, he may already have Boots of Travel, which provide +100 movement speed. Having the additional + 40 damage suits the Morphling toolkit more than the movement speed boost.

At Level 25, 75% of players chose to select the +400 Waveform Range over the +30% Replicate Damage. The reason behind this is that Morphling does not tend to use Replicates for damage purposes; instead they are positioned in a safe area of the map to allow Morphling to escape safely from most situations. The Waveform range means that Morphling has even more mobility, and gives him the ability to stay on top of heroes that he may be chasing.

Skill Build

Shadows build against Newbee. Courtesy of dotabuff.com

This was the build that Wings.Shadow went in Game 2 of the ESL One Genting semi-finals against Newbee. He focused on maxing both Morph and Waveform. He took the points in his Ultimate at the appropriate 6 / 12 / 18. Adaptive Strike is generally left until last as the skill is mainly used in conjunction with the shotgun build.

In terms of talents, Shadow followed the majority of people, opting for +8 Agility, +25 Attack speed, +40 Damage and +400 Waveform range, at levels 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 respectively.

Suggested Items

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

According to Dotabuff, the most picked up item on Morphling is Linken’s Sphere, followed by Ethereal Blade. The reason that Linken’s is nearly always picked up is that it provides the things that Morphling loves.

Linken’s gives Morphling +15 on all stats, + 15 Damage, 6 HP regen, 150% Mana regen, and the ability to block a targeted spell every 13 seconds. It seems as if Linken’s was made specifically for Morphling and is a must in the majority of games.

Ethereal Blade is the second most picked up item on Morphling. This is because it gives him two things. The first is stats; from E-Blade he gets +40 Agility, +10 Strength and +10 Intelligence. The second, is E-Blade’ s active ability, Ether Blast. Ether Blast launches a projectile which converts the target to ethereal form. Whilst in Ethereal Form, the unit takes 40% more magic damage and is immune to physical damage.

E-Blade is the main component of The Shotgun combo, which has the ability to wipe out most heroes in the game. Firstly, you Waveform in, while Waveforming E-Blade your target (before you Waveform through him, for the increase damage), and instantly Adaptive Strike him. Use your ult to get out afterwards. Doing this will often eliminate one hero straight out of the fight, giving your team the advantage.

Counter Picks

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Morphling is an extremely mobile hero that has great escape. He is, however, vulnerable to a couple of things in Dota. The first is burst damage of the heroes on the list of bad matchups; both Meepo and Techies appear. This is not a coincidence, as Meepo has the ability to use Poof and cause extreme burst damage, capable of killing Morphling before he has the chance to Morph Strength. Techies also provides a similar problem with the use of his Mines, which provide heavy burst damage and stop Morphling from escaping.

Secondly, Morphing is weak to heroes that can lock him down before he can Replicate away. Anti-Mage is an effective counter against Morphling for a couple of reasons. AM has the ability to burn through Morphling’s Mana, making his effectiveness in fights dramatically reduced. Also with AM’s Spell Shield, it reduces the effectiveness of the shotgun combo that Morphling relies on.

It is important for players to remember that switching up item builds can in some cases reduce the effectiveness of the counter picks from the enemy team.

Final Thoughts

At the moment Morphling is in an interesting place. Hypothetically he is still as strong as he was last patch. The main difference however is that games are ending before Morphling has time to come online. As a hero, he generally starts to peak at around the 30 minute mark. In this patch, games are ending at that time, meaning that games are often ending before Morphling gets a chance to make a big impact.

If a team draft around him correctly, Morphling has the power to 1v5 the entire enemy team. At present, Morphling is very much a niche pick that fits into certain lineups. It seems as if this will continue moving forward. Morphling also has the ability to punish lineups that are lacking lock-down and will often be picked up in pro games for this exact reason.

Let’s hope that the Mighty Morphling Power Ranger begins to see some more play in upcoming tournament games.

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