IceFrog checks in, Spring Cleaning already

A fresh patch is here! Dota 2’s competitive streaming debate got an upgrade last weekend. On Wednesday, the game itself has a new patch.

Relax, it’s not a huge patch. That would be a disaster with the Starladder tournament this weekend. IceFrog himself has decided to change the way Dota 2 patches work.

(Twitter)

For a long time one of the largest complaints around Dota 2 communities has been stagnation. From the grind of being stuck at a certain MMR to extended periods of the same meta. Broken heroes could terrorize pubs for months. But those days have long gone as the last few patches have been great. Almost every hero feels viable and nothing feels game-breaking. Valve’s new investment in the pro scene is starting to permeate throughout the scene.

As a game it feels more balanced than ever, while the pro scene is making it feel more serious and polished. Regardless of opinion on the ESL One “Facebook” thing it is a healthy debate for a growing esport.

This change to the way Dota 2 is patched could really help fine tune the game. While proving a commitment from Valve to continue innovating. Pushing the game to new heights. A “Spring Cleaning” patch is here with many more to come. Let’s take a look.

Quality of life changes

As a whole, the patch seems to revolve around this theme. From seemingly small things like more support for “alt-tabbing” in and out of the game to long hoped for bug fixes like Aghs upgrades showing on hero loadout.

This includes a lot of new and interesting additions. Language-based matchmaking hoping to drive more communication between players, being able to see team-wide TP cooldowns and even six month ban periods. But what was most interesting, off the bat, was the changes to player profiles. Introducing a new level of personalization for Dota 2 players!

(Dota 2 Blog)

You can now show off some of your favorite cosmetics with three featured heroes. As well as easy comparison and more recent match data. Bringing a fresh personal touch for every player.

New items get a dust-off, Heroes tweaked

Some minor changes to Soul Ring and Spirit Vessel recipes are not really too exciting. Minute increase to the price of these items seems inconsequential with all the gold available on the map right now. Meteor Hammer and Aeon Disk probably saw the biggest upgrade when it comes to items. Reducing the damage threshold on Aeon Disk is nice. But, the item still does the same thing. The cooldown rework from 40 to 28 seconds on Meteor Hammer, is major. Put this item on a Dragon Knight with level 6 and you can kiss that tower goodbye.

Heroes themselves remain largely unchanged. A minor stats change here or there. Talent reworks that give some heroes better tools. Like Lion’s mana drain becoming a slow or another half-second on Windranger stun at level 20. Shadow Shaman’s spells take an early game nerf. Pudge’s rot slow finally gets changed, but don’t worry he will still be in every game.

Lycan might finally go back to the unplayable hole he came from thanks to nerfs to his ultimate cooldown. 130 seconds at level 1 completely destroys him early game. It may only be 10 extra seconds, but it could throw off your timings and even make you rethink when you use the ability. Add on that he now has zero base armor. Congratulations on losing your lane.

Somehow Medusa managed to get a buff. You read that right. Her “Mystic Snake” cast range has been nerfed from 800 to 700. But her talents just keep getting better. At level 10 you now choose between +20 damage and 20% evasion (previously 15%). Level 15 still leans towards +30 attack speed, but 20% mystic snake mana steal is really strong as it also means more burst damage to her spell. Medusa’s best talent for a long time has been +800 mana at level 20. Making her unkillable without manaburn. It has finally received a nerf! Down to +700 mana. Which doesn’t feel consequential at all.

 

Small changes that matter

For a while a large criticism of patches in which Valve mainly address UI/quality issues was that none of these changes really affect the game. Well, a large part of this patch can be filed into this category. Though there are a few changes that do stand out. One example being the new indicators for difficulty of camps that are spawning. This is a great change for new players. It will allow newer players to streamline their farming pattern with the help of these new icons. Conversely this does add even more clutter to a map that already displays a plethora of information. Between seeing wards, player icons, towers and rune indicators, the minimap is becoming more and more crowded.

Another useful addition geared towards new players is the “Last Hit Trainer.” A sort of custom game that was probably conceived as a great way for players to warm up while queuing. While being a great idea it is not currently executed well. As you cannot use either spells or items. Really taking away from the mechanics and accuracy of this mode. Being able to complete the mini challenge in this trainer may keep people trying it for some fun between games, but overall without items or spells this is not really a great practice environment. Just not realistic to how you would last-hit during a game.

What would any patch be without making the life of support players a little easier? There have been a few with 7.08. What stands out most is the new ability to pool items during the strategy phase. No more chasing down non-communicative cores to try and give them a tango. No more racing out of the fountain to try and give your offlaner a ward. Those days are behind us, supports. Now during strategy time you can divvy up resources however you see fit! In addition, wards now will not combine in your inventory if another player hands you their stack. Which became a real pain when you would have to then give up all of your wards to give them back one observer. Adding to this is the ability to move items around, disassemble, and even sell items while you are dead. This is a long awaited fix that will really come in handy. As in some games of Dota your best time to make decisions on items is while dead and you don’t have anything else to think about.

Continuing on this theme of death. The courier will now automatically return items to your stash if you called it and then died before the items were delivered. Seemingly inconsequential but now you will never forget to grab those items once you respawn. Aside from avoiding feeding a courier you sent to the Secret Shop.

Overall, this patch didn’t shift the game too much. There were plenty of changes to the games UI. Which will undoubtedly take a little bit to feel an impact. But, IceFrog has committed to an updated patching system to allow the game to progress alongside the blossoming Pro Circuit. Larger changes are sure to come. For now we can be content with a little “Spring Cleaning”.

Featured image courtesy of Valve

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Dota Pro Circuit

Dota Pro Circuit: The standings so far

We’re almost at the halfway point in the Dota Pro Circuit for the season. In these past few months we’ve seen some clear leaders rise to the top of the charts. Others, however, performed worse than most fans anticipated. Though we are still a few months away from the final tally, it’s as good a time as any to analyze the teams seeing the best results during the first third of this competitive season.

Team Secret

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Secret is on a tear that the brand has not seen since the TI5 season. 7.07 might just be their patch. Out of 107 tournament games they have played since 7.07, they have won 74 of them. This massive 70% win rate is more than a little unusual in a game as volatile as DotA 2.

It is also hard to pin down the particular thing bringing them this success. Team Captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov has been known for being a master drafter able to adapt to his enemies over the course of a set. Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard, while a newer member of the team, has shown his prowess in the carry position on aggressive heroes like Weaver, Huskar and Lifestealer. Adrian “Fata” Trink’s ability to engage as Tidehunter, Puck and Brewmaster often leaves enemies scrambling in team fights. There currently do not seem to be any obvious weaknesses in their line-up, or their gameplay.

However, though they are a thousand points ahead of the next team, it could only be a single major that costs them that spot. While this sounds tragic, in the end it doesn’t matter all that much. The only goal of the Qualifying Points system this year is to make the top 8. No one gets special treatment for finishing first vs finishing eighth.  With that known, it is difficult to imagine enough teams passing Team Secret on the leaderboards to take away their direct invite to TI8 even this early in the Dota Pro Circuit. Safe to say, we’ll be seeing them this August in the Main Event.

Team Liquid

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

In many of my articles I have talked about Team Liquid as the TI winning team that hasn’t lost their touch. It is difficult to describe them any other way. Too often we see TI winning teams implode upon themselves shortly after claiming the Aegis. Either they have an immediate roster change, or they can’t seem to find their groove again after a much deserved break. Liquid did neither of these things. They continue to be a force to be reckoned with in any tournament they participate in. Though Liquid have played fewer games than Secret this season, their win rate is actually higher than Secret’s at 73%. More than that, they have placed in the top 3 of every single tournament they have participated in.

More than any individual player, this is a team that moves around the map in a way few others do. This team has been together for so long it feels like they know when someone needs help in lane before they even ask for it. Kuroky may be a solid drafter, and GH might always be where the enemy doesn’t want him to be, but it is how these individual pieces come together that makes this team shine. The next time we see Team Liquid will be at the Galaxy Battles Major in mid July. I’m willing to bet they place in the top 3 there as well. This year’s Dota Pro Circuit is looking bright for them as well.

Virtus.Pro

Dota Pro Circuit

Image courtesy of media.epicenter.gg

Though Virtus.Pro is not a member of the 70% win rate club, their results are still remarkable. Out of 90 competitive games they have won 60 of them, putting their win rate at a nice 67%. Though they were already doing well in the rankings, their recent victory at The Summit 8 provided additional padding to their points. Unfortunately, they did not win as many points for their lineup as they could have since their captain was on hiatus until the end of last year. Regardless they still have an incredible lead over Newbee in the spot below them.

I find it difficult to argue that Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev contributes the most to his team’s success. His hero pool recently has consisted of heavy farming late game heroes like Medusa, Morphling and Razer. Farming aside there is another thing that these heroes are really good at: not dying.  A late game carry’s greatest weakness is getting picked off early. RAMZES, however, is especially smart about the way he moves around the map to avoid these ganks. Despite not being overly aggressive with his farm, he finds enough to pull in the game winning items right when he needs to. Of course his team helps to create space for him to do so, but I’ve seen more popular carries get carried away by the pressure to farm and feed kills.

Don’t even get me started on RAMZES Broodmother games. For those, I have no words.


Featured image courtesy of blog.dota2.com

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Statistics for this article fetched from datdota.com

Battle Passes

Are we past Battle Passes?

Few DotA players would argue that Battle Passes are bad. Though they generally cost real money, they give way more than they take. From unique cosmetics to in-game quests, Battle Passes augmented the game of DotA more than it actually changed it. Players were incentivized with rewards outside of an MMR boost or the simple joy of winning to try things that they might not otherwise try. But where did Battle Passes go? There has not been one since the last International, and it doesn’t seem like another will come until the next TI.

The good ol’ days

Battle Passes

Other tournaments besides Majors used to have compendiums as well. Image courtesy of the Dota 2 wiki.

Back when I began playing DotA in 2013, Battle Passes didn’t exist. Instead, players would purchase individual tickets to view tournaments from within the DotA 2 client. For smaller tournaments, the benefits of purchasing these tickets stopped there. However, larger tournaments began offering incentives to players in the form of cosmetics in order to promote sales. These sales were then eventually used to supplement the tournament’s prize pool, increasing hype for the tournament. See where this is going?

Naturally there was a good side and a bad side to this system. The good side of course was that players were actively investing in the DotA 2 esports scene. The bad side was that in its infancy, there were far too many tournaments to keep up with. Though smaller tournaments might only ask $0.99 for a ticket, larger tournaments would range anywhere from $2.99 – $9.99. When there were a dozen or more of these kind of tournaments a year, it became hard to justify purchasing a ticket for every tournament for all but the most hardcore of DotA fans. Despite this, the cosmetics and rewards gave each tournament their own personal flair and identity. They gave even players that weren’t already invested in the competitive scene a reason to participate.

The way it is

Battle Passes

Valve upped the ante on rewards with their battle passes, going so far as to offer full map conversions like this. Image extracted from DotA 2.

As the DotA 2 scene grew, Valve more or less consolidated the Battle Pass market with the creation of the first Majors system. Nearly each of these majors sold a TI like Compendium that allowed players to track games, complete challenges and quest, make bracket predictions and more. These Battle Passes were sold for $9.99 and remained open for two to three months at a time, nearly covering the whole year. For me at least, these seasonal challenges reignited my enthusiasm for the game time and time again. I was excited to try challenges with heroes I had never played before, and even more excited about getting loot along the journey.

But 2017 saw a massive decline in the number of Battle Passes offered compared to the previous two years. Only two Battle Passes were offered: one for the Kiev Major in January and one for TI7. For contrast, 2016 had twice as many. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything that leads me to believe this number is going to go anywhere but down. The prize pools for all DotA Pro Circuit events with the exception of TI itself appear fixed. Furthermore, the removal of the Valve sponsored Majors that often heralded the coming of a Battle Pass mean there are fewer (read “zero”) tournaments outside of TI where players can expect such a treat.

Did we lose something in Battle Passes?

Personally I would lament the loss of multiple annual Battle Passes. As I’ve already mentioned, they succeed at keeping me and my play group engaged with the game, sometimes just as our interest starts to wane. That said, I see the negatives too. Incentivizing players to play in a specific way for a reward fundamentally changes the game of DotA. Players might not play optimally or take unnecessary risks all in the name of getting one step closer to that “sick set” at the end of a lengthy quest line. As someone who loves watching high level DotA, but has neither the desire nor the capacity to play at that level himself, I play the game for fun. These Battle Passes generally amplify that feeling for me.

Also, has the DotA community lost a bit of its heart with the disappearances of smaller tournament treasures and incentives? I still think that the UI skin and courier I got from watching The Summit 3 back in 2015 is super awesome! It felt great to contribute to something that gave me so many hours of entertainment. Do you feel like we’ve lost something with Battle Passes on the decline, or would you rather they stay as far away from your game of DotA as possible?


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dota 2, galaxy battles, major, tournament

Galaxy Battles II Loses Major Status

Earlier today Valve announced it would be rescinding the Major status of Galaxy Battles II. As well as the qualifying points available at the event. You can read the full statement here. Valve cited player privacy issues as their reason behind this change. While also mentioning that they will be working with tournament organizers to put on another Major. Complete with prize pool and qualifying points.

Galaxy goes on

Intially, it’s obvious that this will hurt fans attending the event most. As many paid for tickets to a Major Dota 2 event in hopes of seeing elite teams battle for points on the Pro Circuit Leader-board. Though Valve was not clear on whether the prize pool would be changed. It is unlikely that Valve would contribute to the prize pool after rescinding its Major status. Without any contribution from Valve there is still $500,000 up for grabs at Galaxy Battles II. Which should still entice teams to bring their best strats to the events. As the scene has shown time and time again how much they value their fans attendance.

Valve cited player privacy issues as their main reason for removing the Major status associated with Galaxy Battles II. Looking around the Philippine’s website for their Department of Foreign Affairs did not provide any information that really stood out. One requirement for Visa that did raise questions was a requirement to submit pictures of the traveler’s passport prior to obtaining a Visa. This may be what Valve was concerned about as Passports contain a lot of personal information and having a tangible copy of one could pose a large potential risk.

Last year’s stage at Galaxy Battles (GosuGamers)

 

Rescheduling a Major could shake the Pro Circuit later on

What is really interesting about this is the timing that will go into scheduling another Major. The Pro Circuit schedule is jam packed this year with a plethora of Dota almost every weekend. Definitley not something to complain about. Though it presents a unique challenge in rescheduling with these specific teams that are going to attend Galaxy Battles II.

Majors carry an insane amount of qualifying points. A team that wins a Minor gains 450 qualifying points toward their total. A team that wins a Major gains 2,250 points toward their total. Finishing first place at a Minor gives players 150 QP each and winning a Major gives 750 QP each. The differences in these is glaring. On the bright side, Valve has stated they fully intend to hold another Major-style tournament to make up these Qualifying points so it is not as if they are completely off the table. Depending on when Valve decides to “redo” this event it could really affect the overall standings for a direct invite to the International. If this tournament was to take place closer to TI it could allow a team who was playing well at the time to grab a huge amount of Qualifying Points in a final push for Dota’s most prestigious event.

While it’s sad that teams will not be jockeying for position in the Dota Pro Circuit in Manila next week. There is plenty of money on the line and matches are sure to be hype. As the fans in the Philippines have gained a reputation as being some of the best in Dota. Surely they will still be in for a great tournament.

Featured image courtesy of TNC Gaming

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Captain's Draft

Captain’s Draft 4.0: The competition

What better way to start off a new year then with a DotA Pro Circuit minor? Even as far as DotA tournament’s go, Captain’s Draft is unique. The tournament gets its name from the game mode of the same moniker. In Captain’s Draft, the hero pool is randomly narrowed down to 27 heroes before picks and bans begin. This randomization forces teams and captains to improvise strategies, as optimal team compositions are not likely available. As usual, let’s take a look at the teams that will be participating in the first Pro Circuit Tournament of 2018.

OG

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Johan “N0tail” Sundstein

Position 2 – Roman “Resolut1on” Fominok

Position 3 – Gustav “s4” Magnusson

Position 4 – Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka

Position 5 – Tal “Fly” Aizik

 

 

 

OG won their first big tournament of the season at MDL Macau following a string of disappointing performances. The four time Major winners have been struggling despite their star studded roster remaining mostly unchanged. Their performance at MDL Macau was like a flashback to their glory days. After ending the group stage at the top of the leaderboard, they proceeded to win the playoffs without dropping a single game. Perhaps their luck is finally turning around.

Vici Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Zhang “Paparazi” Chengjun

Position 2 – Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang

Position 3 – Ren “eLeVenN” Yangwei

Position 4 – Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng

Position 5 – Lu “Fenrir” Chao

 

 

2017 was the year of “almosts” for Chinese DotA team Vici Gaming. Despite performing well in qualifiers, they never seemed to be able to claim first place. Their 3-2 loss against Liquid at the AMD SAPPHIRE Dota PIT League was the closest they came so far this year. Their 0-3 loss to Newbee in the grand finals of the Perfect World Masters tournament was probably even more painful. Nevertheless, these second place victories have put them on the board. As it stands now they still have a guaranteed invite to TI8. We’ll see shortly if they have the versatility to strengthen their position on the leaderboard.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague, Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Secret are now the team to beat. If you can beat Secret convincingly, no other team in a tournament should be as scary (except maybe Liquid). Liquid may have won more tournaments, but Secret has placed well at both Majors so far, giving them a clear point lead. At the most recent of said Majors, Dreamleague 8, Secret even proved that they could topple the TI winners not once, but twice. Two of the three Grand Final games were 60+ minute slug fests, but Secret came out on top in the end. This is the team to look out for this tournament.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague. Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

Position 3 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Rasmus “MISERY” Filipsen

 

Removing UNiVeRsE’s name from EG’s roster for this article proved painful for me. It is hard to believe that such a talented player was performing poorly enough to be removed from the organization. More importantly, removing UNiVeRsE caused massive structural changes to Evil Geniuses as a whole. Fear has taken the mid role from Suma1l, who will be filling in UNiVeRsE’s old offlane position. MISERY will play hard support while also relieving Fear of his captaining duties. I’m not convinced that these moves are the correct ones, but seeing how they play out at Captain’s Draft will prove interesting to say the least.

Minesky

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Kam “NaNa” Boon Seng

Position 2 – Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung

Position 3 – Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang

Position 4 – Anucha “Jabz” Jirawong

Position 5 – Michael “ninjaboogie” Ross Jr.

 

 

 

After a fantastic start to the season, Minesky has all but fallen off the map. After winning PGL Open Bucharest, the team has hardly been seen outside of qualifiers. The last time we saw them was during their disappointing 7th-8th place finish at Perfect World Masters where they failed to take a single game in the playoffs. If they can’t make a comeback here, it may be time to think about roster changes. The team is full of talented players, but something is clearly not working.

Pain Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – William “hFn” Medeiros

Position 2 – Danylo “KINGRD” Nascimento

Position 3 – Otavio “tavo” Gabriel

Position 4 – Heitor “Duster” Pereira

Position 5 – Aurthur “PAADA” Zarzur

Pain Gaming is a new face from the South American scene. If they don’t seem familiar, it’s because they have not participated in any Pro Circuit tournaments yet this year. It is also nearly impossible to analyze this team because they’re brand new overall. This roster was thrown together in early November, and has only played in qualifiers. As pessimistic as it might sound, I would expect Pain to perform similarly to the other South American teams. Historically speaking, South American teams have struggled on the international stage this year. This team’s inexperience together only compounds my reservations.

Team Empire

DAC Empire. Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Airat “Silent” Gaziev

Position 2 – Rostislav “fn” Lozovoi

Position 3 – Andrey “Ghostik” Kadyk

Position 4 – Maxim “yoky-” Kim

Position 5 – Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov

 

 

Team Empire’s frequent roster changes make it difficult to follow their progress as a team. The team’s history on Liquipedia shows players leaving, going inactive, returning and getting signed by other teams all just weeks apart. Former team captain Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod’s departure just a week ago must’ve hit the team hard. Miposhka is picking up the reins, but will the team be able to rally around him? The unpredictability of Captain’s Draft naturally strips away some of the more tenured team’s advantage. They certainly have an uphill battle if they want to secure an invite to TI8 at this point.

CompLexity Gaming

Captain's Draft

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin

Position 2 – Linus “Limmp” Blomdin

Position 3 – David “Moo” Hull

Position 4 – Zakari “Zfreek” Freedman

Position 5 – Kyle “melonzz” Freedman

 

 

I love rooting for CompLexity. It’s cool to see not just one, but two sets of brothers playing at such a high level together. I always enjoy watching Moo play the offlane, especially on heroes like Timbersaw. What I don’t love is the disappointment I feel when they fall short of top 3. After a third place finish at the first tournament of the season, they have not made it to the winners podium. I do believe however that Kyle is a competent drafter. He seems to have the kind of personality that could benefit from the chaotic nature of Captain’s Draft. We will certainly see soon enough.

Captain’s Draft 4.0 will take place in Washington, DC from Jan 4th – Jan 7th.


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Dictating the game through the Offlane

A debate as old as the game itself. Which lane is really the “safe” lane? You’re never really safe during a game of DotA, but each lane has its advantages. In this patch the Offlane is now more important than ever. Mainly responsible for helping to dictate the pace of the game into your team’s favor. As well as dominating the lane in the early game.

Bullying the enemy in lane

With the changes in 7.07 to creeps the focus has moved back into the laning stage. Especially with the new importance of denies. Using these to snowball in the laning stage is an easy way to get ahead in a game. As an offlaner, it’s an incredibly simple way to deny the enemy carry a lot of early gold and XP. Propelling heroes back into the meta that are very tanky in the early game and dominate their lane. Examples of which would be Tidehunter, Brewmaster, and Centaur Warrunner. All of these heroes currently have winrates over 50% according to Dotabuff.

Brewmaster stands out when it comes to lane dominance. Mainly due to the spamability of his “W”. Drunken Haze is one of the best value skill points in the entire game. At level one it slows for 10% and applies a 70% miss chance for 4.5 seconds. While only on an 11 second cooldown. Making Brewmaster an absolute nuisance in the lane as the rest of his skills also provide even more harassment. Using his “W” makes denies even easier as an enemy last hitting with Drunken Haze is going to have a very bad time. Not to mention the manacost of only 25 at all levels. This lane dominance hamstrings the enemy carry in the early game and an early advantage will allow you, as an offlaner, to contribute to support ganks much more efficiently.

dota 2, centaur warrunner, centaur, return, passive

(Dotabuff)

Centaur Warrunner’s passive, Return, is another example of an ability that makes for a miserable lane. For a hero with massive strength gain (4.3) it seems OP that the damage returned off his passive is percentage based. But such is the life of a DotA player. With a Stout Shield in the early game Centaur can easily control the lane equilibrium while forcing the enemy carry into a position much more vunerable to ganks from your supports.

It’s not just when you fight but where

In a game full of small details it is hard to be taking every one into consideration at all times. One of the more important ones is dictating where fights happen on the map. It is very hard to lose a game if you never fight on your side of the river. Usually, what this means is that your team is taking the fight to the enemy. Whether using smokes, deep wards, or just game sense. Initiation is key in teamfights. Initiators are most commonly found in this Offlane role due to their farm priority. Driving our favorite watermelon, Tidehunter, back into the meta.

Another hero who’s Dotabuff has him over 50% in winrate. This is not just because of his general tankiness thanks to Kraken Shell. Tidehunters ability to dictate teamfights is unmatched. Obviously a direct result of Ravage:

ravage, dota 2, tidehunter, ultimate

(Dotabuff)

The cooldown and manacost are certainly not the strongsuits of this spell. A good Ravage can make or brerak a teamfight. It’s almost impossible to miss while also hitting more than one hero as the AoE feels like the entire screen. With this burst damage and a stun of at least 2 seconds, pressing “R” tells your team “OK we are fighting right here and now.” Tide is one of the best heroes for defending towers and turning those defenses into pushes after a great teamfight. At the same time he is extremely tanky during all phases of the game. Never afraid to be on the front lines.

Overall this allows Tidehunter to dictate team’s movements within a game fighting around the ability to take a teamfight whenever this spell is up. All coming out of the Offlane. The game has really turned to Offlaners for intiations. Which is neither good nor bad. Team compositions are best suited if they place this burden on their offlane as their farm priority is then dependent on generating kills and objectives. If your offlane is able to accomplish these, more stars are in your future. Happy pubbing.

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dota 2, universe, evil geniuses

Universe leaves EG and Sumail sounds off

On Wednesday, Evil Geniuses announced that Universe would be leaving the team, along with a few other roster moves. Including a new captain in Misery coming over from Optic Gaming. While also moving Fear to the midlane and Sumail to the offlane. Removing SVG as their coach and replacing him with Bulba. Evil Geniuses has been one of the most stable teams of the past couple years. Especially when it came to roster moves. This change marks a new beginning for those who “bleed blue.”

What’s next for Universe?

Arguably the best offlaner in the game is now on the market. What does this mean for the new Pro Dota Circuit? This won’t affect Evil Geniuses who hold firm with 750 Qualifying Points. Putting them in 5th place as of right now. Only the top three players on each team are able to apply their Qualifying Points to their total. As the rest of Evil Geniuses has 250 Qualifying Points (aside from Misery), their total does not change.

Though this provides an interesting opportunity for teams who may currently be outside of the top 8. Universe comes with 250 Qualifying Points and could provide a nice boost to a team looking to make up some ground in the Pro Circuit. Aside from being an amazing player. Universe has had success everywhere he goes. Whether it was with Team Secret or winning TI5 with Evil Geniuses. This is easily the most interesting player to hit the market since Resolution went to OG after this year’s International.

Peter has some advice for his old team

When the news broke that Evil Geniuses and Universe were parting ways, the community needed time to process it. But not former Evil Geniuses CEO, Peter, who quickly had some words of wisdom for his old organization. Specifically saying that they should have kicked either Arteezy or Sumail, which Sumail did not let slide.

dota 2, sumail, peter, ppd, optic gaming, evil geniuses

(Twitter)

The next day Sumail went on BeyondTheSummit’s “HotCox” podcast to shed a little light on the exchange. “I meant what I said,” was one of his early sound bites from the interview. He went on to discuss his relationship with PPD during his time at EG. Mentioning a time where they wanted Bulba as a coach after the Frankfurt Major, but Peter blocked it. Sumail was also very self-critical and took note of some of his own faults when it came to his practice ethic earlier in his career. As well as mentioning that Peter was a great Captain for them during their TI run. That he was “the best Captain in the history of DotA” over that span. Praising Peter’s ability to synergize their team with ease, with players like Sumail and Aui2000 who require a lot of farm to be successful. Sumail talked about how easily Peter was able to direct their team.

What upset him was being on the receiving end of a lot of Peter’s criticisms. Even mentioning a time where he offered to be the one to leave Evil Geniuses prior to Peter leaving the organization:

“This is how it went down. I decided I would have to leave. I wasn’t suggesting that I should be the one the team should be made around. I offered to leave… But others decided to build around me. If I were that bad of a player, if I had like no respect for the game. Every other player on the team had played for longer than me. They would’ve decided to build around them, but it didn’t work out that way. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you’re wrong…”

– Sumail on “HotCox”

NA DotA fans, make sure to mark the next Optic vs EG match on your calendar. It should be a fun one.

(Featured Image courtesy of PCGAMER)

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Silver Edge

Silver Edge: An argument to Break DotA 2

At its core, playing DotA is a sea of numbers and statistics that wail against each other until a winner is decided. Teams of players try to steer these numbers in their favor through the choices they make. Most players see mixed results, but that is expected. There is so much to keep track of in a single game of DotA that professional players are still learning optimal strategies. Infrequent major patches to the game don’t help that either. But this is not a discussion about all of the mechanics in DotA. Instead, I wanted to focus on a single, relatively new mechanic that, though it has its place, feels underutilized within the game. I’m talking about Silver Edge, and the “Break” mechanic.

An introduction

Valve introduced the Break mechanic in patch 6.84. Before then, there were inconsistencies with how passives were impacted by disables like Hex or Doom. Break became the mechanic that was responsible for disabling passive ability, and greatly expanded the number of passives impacted. It is important to note of course that only hero passives are affected by Break. Item passives like Butterfly evasion can only be disabled by a different debuff, and are unaffected by Break.

The number of abilities affected by break is impressive, and very damaging. Heroes like Slardar and Spirit Breaker lose their ability to bash. Phantom Assassin loses her ability to evade attacks and hide on the mini-map. Bristleback loses his eponymous skill “Bristleback” thus losing his damage reduction and automatic Quill Spray trigger. For these heroes, losing these abilities is a blow to their usefulness in combat, and can easily flip a fight on its head. If the ability is so unique and powerful, why then is it also so exceedingly rare?

Give me a break!

Though Break was introduced in 6.84, no hero was immediately able to apply the debuff until 7.00 when Valve re-worked Viper’s “Nethertoxin” ability. Even then, the small AoE skill only applies Break as long as enemies remain within its radius. You can argue that both Doom’s “Doom” and Shadow Demon’s “Demonic Purge” also apply Break, but only after purchasing an Aghanim’s Scepter, a 4200 gold item that is never seen until the late game.

As I mentioned earlier, the only item in the game that can apply this effect is the Silver Edge. However, at 5500 gold, the item is a massive investment for line-ups that require it. Despite granting +15 to all stats, it’s also not an item many heroes want to naturally build. Shadow Blade, Silver Edge’s precursor, is a sneaky engagement tool, or for squishy characters to escape from ganks. At 2700 gold though, it’s still not a casual pickup. It is also only a stepping stone on the way to Silver Edge.

Under-represented

Silver Edge

Courtesy of Youtube.com, from the Dueling Fates Trailer. See why people thought Pangolier would have Break?

It seems odd that an ability so recently re-defined would have such a minimal presence within the game. While its strength cannot be underestimated, Valve has shown us they know how to balance it with proper drawbacks. Viper is actually the poster child for how more heroes could incorporate Break into their abilities without bringing imbalance to the game. Many people even speculated that Pangolier would be the hero with a built in Break given his trailer. You’ll remember that the trailer showed him cutting the quills off of Bristleback’s bristleback, which seemed as clear a sign as any. His Heartpiercer ability by comparison has been disappointing to say the least.

I really do not believe it would take much to bring more Break into action. Plenty of heroes are primed with abilities that could add a Break effect in exchange for efficiency elsewhere. So far Viper possesses the only non-targeted Break in the game. Perhaps other AoE abilities could incorporate this? It would be great to see a targeted Break added to a non-ultimate ability as well. Maybe the Break wouldn’t take effect until the skill is level 4, effectively helping to balance it.

I do not claim to be a game designer, but I strongly believe that granting more heroes Break-like abilities would increase draft diversity and increase utility in certain compositions. Though it might sound like I’m advocating for adding more noise to the cacophony that is the DotA we all know and occasionally love, more options doubtless make drafting decisions more varied and interesting. If they took the time to create a new special mechanic, it should be more prevalent than it currently is.


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dota 2, seasonal matchmaking, matchmaking, mmr, dota 2

Does the new matchmaking system work?

On November 22nd the DotA 2 matchmaking system was changed. For better or for worse, the new system has partially done away with numerical MMR. In its place is now a badge system that looks to quell the woes of many players who were getting tired of the constant grind. Also looking to boost game quality and reduce the number of account buyers and smurfs. The first week of the Seasonal Ranked system has come and gone in a whirlwind. Instituting a new system is one thing, but is it actually working?

The roller-coaster of re-calibrating

With a new system in place all players were forced to re-calibrate their matchmaking ranking. Resulting in a pub environment that really felt competitive again. During calibration there was a much higher emphasis placed on winning rather than just stacking up kills and items. Cores were showing up to fights and even supports were being picked!

A large part of this can be credited to the structuring of the medal system. Before there was mention that numerical values had been, mostly, done away with. This is because it was replaced by an interesting badge system.

dota 2, seasonal matchmaking, medals, mmr, ranking

(In-game client)

These medals are all tied to numerical MMR values, according to the DotA 2 Wiki, but they have done a very good job of grouping players based on skill. This was a large knock on the previous system as games would almost feel over before they began if one team’s average MMR was much higher than the other. Being the high MMR in a game either made you a target or focus for blame. Overall, the grind for MMR could become a toxic environment with every +/- 25 being held close to the chest.

Initially, the sticker shock of re-calibrating set the community ablaze. Many people were saying it felt like supports were being favored and calibrating in at higher rankings. There are many reasons this could be, probably the most obvious being that a team with a support is much more likely to win than a team with five cores.

What was most glaring were the massive losses some professional players were taking in MMR. Check out Sumail’s surprisingly calm reaction to losing 3K MMR. Well aside from throwing a little shade at his Evil Geniuses teammate, Arteezy.

A slightly less uphill battle

Now the task of climbing through the rankings seems much more doable. Instead of focusing on climbing a full 1000 pts in MMR, manageable goals are tangible with the new badge system. If you calibrate at Archon 2, for example, it’s much more feasible to say “I want to get to Archon 4 by (insert time here).” This can be echoed for all the rankings as players can now focus on climbing within their badge group with stars before transitioning into the next badge.

Your MMR still matters and you can still see it. So for those of you who really care about the number, have fun. But what is interesting is that the badge system takes into account both ranked and unranked MMR. While solo MMR is weighed more. This is a great change. It allows for a player’s ranking to be largely based on their individual skill, rather than who they are stacking with. A sort of regression to the mean for DotA that has deemphasized the grind of climbing MMR. Honestly, this is a quality of life change to those who may not have the time to grind game after game to go up in ranking. Allowing for a fair representation in skill no matter how much time is committed to climbing.

This is not to say the new system is without any hiccups. Losing 3K MMR like Sumail did is probably an issue that needs to be corrected. As calibrating in at Divine 5 does not feel like such a high ceiling. Though it just doesn’t seem to matter that much when you’re already at the highest badge? So far, the new matchmaking system has been nothing but a positive. It will be interesting to see what adjustments are made for the next season.

Featured image courtesy of Dota2.com

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DreamLeague

DreamLeague 8: The competition

The second Major of the competitive season is upon us. Since the last major, the point totals have seen some shuffling, and the game itself has been patched. While Virtus.Pro has been sitting pretty at the top, the 1500 points that are on the line could change that quickly. Of course if Virtus.Pro wins DreamLeague as well, they will further cement their spot in TI8. They’re not the only ones with their eye on the prize though, so let’s take a look at their competition.

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

 

 

 

Liquid has shown no signs of slowing down after a dominant start to the season. Currently they are the only team to have won more than one tournament this season. Liquid continue to prove that they are a team to be reckoned with, and I doubt anyone would be surprised if they were the team to take the lead in the rankings after DreamLeague.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

 

 

Newbee is fresh off the heels of a victory at the Perfect World Masters tournament. It is clear they are not going to let their TI runner-up stigma effect their performance moving forward. Though soul-crushing at the time, they have bounced back well. During the Chinese Qualifiers for DreamLeague, they only dropped a single game. Newbee is clearly the pinnacle of Chinese DotA right now, and we can expect good games from them at DreamLeague.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is looking for redemption after falling just short of first place at the last Major. Fortunately for them, their second place finish at ESL One also puts them at second place on the current rankings leaderboard. Their chances at the Perfect World Masters Tournament was hamstrung by a personal emergency that left them without MidOne, but the gang is back together now and ready to give it their all.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

 

It has not been the best year for Evil Geniuses so far. As it stands, the team has only managed to secure a single third place victory this season. That being said, they pulled it together for the DreamLeague NA Qualifiers, and only dropped a single game. This could be a sign that they are trying something new, or getting more familiar with the patch. The team will definitely have to step up their game if they hope to perform on the main stage. So far though, their chances do not look the greatest.

Fnatic

ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

 

 

Fnatic is the first team on the list without a single Qualifying Point to their name. Though their 7-8th place finishes at ESL One and Dota PIT earned them some prize money, that money will not help them secure a spot at TI. That being said, Fnatic have been looking better and better over just the last two weeks. They achieved first place in both the DotA Summit SEA Qualifiers and the DreamLeague SEA Qualifiers. I don’t know what possibly could have happened to warrant this 180 turn, but Fnatic may just be a real contender in this tournament if they can hold on to this momentum.

Infamous

PGL Open, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Alonso “Kotaro Hayama” León

Position 2 – Mariano “Papita” Caneda

Position 3 – Steven “StingeR” Vargas

Position 4 – Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña

Position 5 – Christian “Accel” Cruz

 

 

 

Not much has been heard from Infamous since their disappointing finish at PGL Open Bucharest. They succeeded in taking first place at the World Cyber Arena tournament in South America last month, but since then they have only been playing in qualifiers. This tells me that my previous evaluation of them may have been true. In the confines of the small South American scene, Infamous are kings on the playground. Unfortunately this does not translate well to success on the world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a team from an underrepresented DotA scene succeed. Everyone can remember how hype Ad Finem’s run through the Boston Major was last year right? It makes me sad to say that I’m unsure if Infamous is the team to bring that hype back given their poor performance recently.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

 

 

The champions of the last Major are back to prove they can do it again. However, their DreamLeague qualifier performance does not exactly inspire the utmost confidence from their fans. They were only one loss away from being tied with OG at 7-7 and forcing a tie breaker. At the same time they recently crushed the DotA Summit CIS Qualifier by beating Na’Vi 3-1 when Na’Vi is looking strong. I have no doubt Virtus.Pro will make the top 4 at DreamLeague, but they need to bring their A game if they hope to win another Major.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

 

 

I could gush about Na’Vi’s return to relevance in the DotA 2 scene for hours. This team has had a rough few years, but things finally seem to be turning around. Fellow Game Haus writer Eli Sherman already wrote a great article on the topic, which echoes many of my sentiments as well. You can find that article here.

DreamLeague Season 8 will take place in Jönköping, Sweeden from Dec 1st – Dec 3rd.


Featured image courtesy of dreamleague.dreamhack.com

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Ben!

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