Centaur Warrunner: A pub stomping dream

After losing 200 MMR in ten games, Centaur Warrunner stampeded in and saved me from one of the worst stretches of solo-queuing I have ever had. I went back to a hero I hadn’t played in a while. Centaur Warrunner isn’t the most flashy of heroes, but his abilities and items allow him to get so much done during all aspects of the game. A hero that can tank and initiate with confidence. I hoped this would help the pains I was feeling while playing lately. Messy initiations and teamfights had really stood out to me, but this hero really made an impact on my overall enjoyment and performance in-game.

The Risk of Initiating in Pubs

It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Initiating ganks or teamfights and pubs can be one of the most thrilling/terrifying feelings in DotA. Thoughts like “will my teammates TP in or will they just leave me to farm?” will always haunt you. But Bradwarden the Warrunner will save you!

Centaur is one of the most tanky heroes in the entire game without any items due to a strength gain of 4.3 per level. That’s 86 health added per level. Already starting out with 640 health at level one, Centaur hits level ten and has 1,520 health without any itemsThis allowed me to buy just a pair of Tranquil Boots before rushing a Blink Dagger.

The hero is also essentially the world’s tankiest ward because his daytime vision is 1,800, greater than the 1,600 wards have. This innate vision buff makes early roaming and ganking that much easier.

(Dotabuff)

dota 2, centaur, warrunner, stats

(Dota 2)

Possibly the biggest knock against Centaur is that he has a small mana pool with a high mana stun. But, his level 10 talent gives him +2 Mana Regen and essentially nullifies that. His most useful ability only costs 100 mana anyway.

Not to mention the rest of his talents are also incredibly strong. Adding magic resistance to a natural Pipe of Insight carrier is a no-brainer. A bonus 15 strength grants Centaur 1,290 HP. Gaining a Return Aura in the late game at level 25 is impossible to fight into without some sort of magic immunity.

Skills for All Occasions

By far the most valuable part of Centaur Warrunner’s toolkit is his ultimate Stampede, a global ultimate then once cast provides an arguably broken buff.

(Dota 2)

This buff has no cast point and can be used to initiate, escape, and even save your teammates. Following up an ultimate with a Hoof Stomp is easy to line up and effective.

Enemy heroes have to invest in a Silver Edge against Centaur due to a powerful passive. Return does exactly what you may think. It returns damage to the attacker based on Centaur’s strength. His high strength gain makes him very hard to lane against with this aura and the HP that comes with it.

Centaur’s lack of dependence on items makes him very flexible in-game and you can justify buying almost any teamfight item. For instance, a Pipe of Insight, Glimmer Cape, Aghanim’s Scepter and Lotus Orb all have their use on this hero.

Overall, this hero is in a great place right now while being present in only 5 percent of games, despite a win-rate above 50%. If your looking for a hero to play in pubs in a patch that’s getting old, try Centaur.


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majors, minors, dota 2, 2018, schedule

Majors and Minors: Patching Dota 2’s tournament system

Valve unveils a new tournament structure at TI7

This upcoming season of Dota is going to be unlike any other. This is thanks to a heavy commitment from Valve in the creation of a series of Majors and Minors. A new structure will help propel Dota 2 to the next level of mainstream esports.

Get ready for a lot of Dota

A plan that features 22 organized tournaments of 11 Majors and 11 Minors was announced in Seattle this year. Minors will have a minimum prize-pool of $150,000 USD and the minimum for Majors will be $500,000 USD. These prize pools will then be matched by Valve, but not organized by them. An interesting move by Valve that also makes a lot of sense. By directly contributing resources to the prize-pool Valve is able to heighten the prestige of these tournaments. At the same time, they are placing trust into third-party organizers like DreamHack, BeyondTheSummit and Perfect World to run the events.

These organizers have shown the ability to produce top-notch events and will take a lot of pressure off of Valve and their event production. Valve events have consistently been criticized for their production due to hiccups along the way. Also, this removes the stigma surrounding “Valve Events” being more important than other large tournaments.

Now tournaments are clearly defined as Majors and Minors that contain a brand new point system. Most important is that these points will be the sole factor in obtaining an invite to next year’s International. No more arbitrary invites based on what sometimes felt like complete randomness. Points are given based on a tournament’s prize pool and the timing of the event. Events closer to the International will be worth more points and could provide for some interesting surges by teams late in the season.

An interesting detail to note is that points will be distributed to individual players before being added to a team. While only the points of the top three player point values will be applied to the team value. Roster locks will still exist, but Valve has stated that players will carry points between teams. How will this affect upcoming roster shuffles? Will teams be more inclined to keep a roster together through the season? Could this make dropping players even easier? The bottom line is we don’t know. Keep an eye on this player-based point system as it could shape the scene in new ways this season.

Majors and Minors provide structure to the scene

A season of Dota 2 can be hectic. Months can go by with tier one tournaments happening every weekend, or even simultaneously. Other times can feel void of competitive games. The Majors and Minors system will combat that with a set schedule for the tournaments that is already in place.

dota 2, majors, minors, schedule, 2018,

(Twitter)

This tweet from Team Secret’s Director of Operation, Cyborgmatt, shows a detailed schedule. Something that is already being appreciated by players. In a Reddit interview a few of EG’s players let us know their initial thoughts on Valve’s new system:

“The best thing they did about that is that they laid out a schedule for us, so we’re able to set up bootcamps way ahead of time, so I think that is really important for us.” – Arteezy

 “…If there is an event happening every single week you know, how special does it become? So there’s a couple things that we kind of have to watch out for. It should lead to more money and more stuff coming into Dota, which is good” – Universe

“…it’s pretty nice for the scene I guess, because all of the tier 2 or tier 3 teams are going to have more opportunities to play in tournaments and show themselves.” – Sumail

Dota is a game that is constantly changing. Now the professional scene is seeing a large shift in its structure. The effects will be interesting to see in the upcoming year. Undoubtedly changing the landscape of the competitive Dota 2 scene in ways we can’t foresee. What we do know is that it will be fun to watch!

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Ranking the biggest events in esports

In honor of it being the week of the International, I wanted to discuss the events that have helped legitimize esports. From DOTA to League, all the way to fighting games and Counter-Strike, each game has pushed the scene forward with events that not only grab the attention of esports fans, but even more importantly the general public.

The five events mentioned below have all played an important role in building up their respective scenes. They have not only been great for publicity but have also made careers in esports a reality. They have partially changed the communities in which these events take place. Here are the five most essential events today.

5. Call of Duty World Championships

Activision has made serious strides into making Call of Duty a premiere title within the esports landscape. The creation of the Call of Duty Championship, with prize pools over $1 million, along with the creation of Call of Duty World League, is the support this game needed.

It’s not only given fans more to watch each weekend but also gives them a reason to follow along as the season moves closer to the World Championship. In a short time, Call of Duty has become the premier console shooter and it’s thanks to this.

4. ESL CS:GO

Counter-Strike is different than the other esports. The scene doesn’t have one championship event that takes priority over the others. It’s an open landscape with many different events that offer plenty of payouts.

However, there’s one league that consistently puts together the most competitive and prestigious events. ESL has always been a major contributor to Counter-Strike dating back to 1.6, but in Global Offensive they’ve stepped up significantly. The one other event to rival ESL is Turner’s ELEAGUE which brought in a million unique viewers on Twitch alone.

For this reason, I have to mention Counter-Strike in this discussion. While it doesn’t have a keystone tournament like The International or Evo, the largest events in CS surpass any other event in terms of general interest. ESL is a great example of this, but there’s plenty of other tournaments that also take precedent in this argument.

3. League of Legends – Worlds

League of Legends wasn’t the first game to popularize the esports age, but it’s mostly responsible for the boom in popularity since the creation of the League Championship Series. The LCS has been a major success, in terms of growing esports, and has kept players interested in the game since release.

Continually, the League of Legends season culminates into the World Championships, a month long tournament that brings together all the regional champions. League is essentially the only title currently that has a system that funnels into a championship event. 15 days of competition while a litany of the best teams compete for millions in prizes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and other stadiums.

2. Evo

By the same token, no other event comes close to the history of the Evolution series. Dating back to 1996, Evo has been the linchpin for all the growth in the fighting game community. Evo has single handily brought the underground community into the Mandalay Bay Stadium.

It’s hard to say that any other event matches the intensity that Evo cultivates. Once a player gets on that grand stage, it’s almost a guarantee that something amazing will follow. It’s also the one event that doesn’t require any knowledge coming in because of the simplicity of fighting games. Anyone can enjoy it and more importantly, anyone can feel the hype generated from the world’s most prestigious fighting game tournament.

In spite of the fact that Evo has a significantly lower prize pool than these other events, it’s still considered by many to be the most meaningful tournament for the players. Coupled with the history, an Evo trophy means something more than just a check. It’s a chance to cement a legacy as one of the greats.

The International 7. Photo courtesy of GosuGamers

1. The International

Finally, we reach The International. It’s an event responsible for bringing in a new generation of esports fans. It not only has the highest prize pool in esports, but in a short time has become the most sought after trophy in the entire scene.

It’s a life changing event. The rush of playing for millions of dollars amps up the intensity levels. Even as a fan, the adrenaline begins to pump. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and not one event has been a let down in seven years. Valve’s responsible for making it an event in every sense of the word. It’s no longer just a DOTA tournament, it’s a happening in the Seattle area.


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TI7

The Game Haus’ TI7 Regional Roulette – The Americas

 Welcome to day three of the TI7 regional roulette. Today we are looking at the land of the meme, home of the flame, the Americas.

THE AMERICAS – THE TEAMS

It came as no surprise when Valve announced that fan favorite EG would be receiving a direct invite to the International. What may have come as a surprise, however, was the level of competition in the North American qualifier. For the two North American Qualifier slots Cloud9 and Digital Chaos prevailed over TI6 runner up Planet Odd, and each came close to losing their spot to Team Freedom. On the other hand, Team Infamous stomped all their matches in the South American Qualifier, even against SG Esports who eliminated top seed Team Secret at the Kiev Major. In total, there are three North American teams and one South American team attending and they’re all going to be a pleasure to watch. Let’s take a look at who will be heading to Seattle.

Evil Geniuses – Direct Invite

TI7

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-

 

This is a team built to win TI7, and we already know more-or-less what to expect from them. Arteezy has successfully adapted to playing carry sans-trilane, Sumail is consistently putting out superstar performances, Zai is perfectly suited to this meta, Universe remains the best offlaner in the world, and Cr1t is proving to be a masterful drafter. The question is, what surprises lay in store for them and will they be able to adapt in time?

One thing that is on EG’s side is history. Irrelevant of the players, in the last seven Valve events, EG have finished top four at six of them. EG are a championship team that show up when they need to. Cr1t- and the boys will be hoping to add another trophy to the cabinet. They have the skill, all they need to do is apply it.

Cloud9 (Formerly Team NP) – North American Qualifier

TI7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – EternaLEnVy

Position 2 (Mid) – FATA-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – Aui_2000

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

If you have been living under a rock in the last month, the above picture will confuse you. Cloud9 have picked up team NP for their trip to The International. In what some are calling the most elaborate kick of all time— Eternal Envy has essentially recreated their 2014 lineup with MSS instead of Bone7. Joining them as a coach will be the brains behind Team Freedom, Stan_King. Hopefully he is able to help them step up their game and keep them in the running as long as possible, because there are few things more entertaining than watching Eternal Envy play.

Since replacing 1437 and SVG the team has been showing decent results, taking 3rd at the Manila Masters, 2nd at ZOTAC, and 4th at The Summit 7. An improvement over the past roster for sure, but not enough to warrant a direct invite— now they have a chance to cement themselves as one of the top teams in North America, deserving of direct invites to future Majors.

Digital Chaos (Formerly Team Onyx) – North American Qualifier

TI7

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Mason

Position 2 (Mid) – Abed

Position 3 (Offlane) – Forev

Position 4 (Support) – Bulba

Position 5 (Support) – DuBu

Team Onyx have now been picked up by Digital Chaos after they beat out Complexity and NP (now Cloud9) in the North American qualifier for the Kiev Major. After a last place finish at Kiev, changes had to be made, Bulba moved to support, Forev joined as offlane, and Demon was let go.

Mason is known for his independent carry play style, well suited to making an impact after being left alone while his team plays around their star-player Abed. Now that the pressure is off of Bulba, with the addition of one of the best offlaners in the world, he is able to focus on finding opportunities and making calls for the team. If they manage not to out-draft themselves we might just see them place better than several established teams and direct invites.

Infamous – South American Qualifier

TI7

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Benjaz

Position 2 (Mid) – Timado

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kingteka

Position 4 (Support) – Matthew

Position 5 (Support) – Accel

After stumbling in the Kiev Major playoffs, Infamous kept their safelane duo of Benjaz and Accel and brought in Timado, Kingteka, and Matthew. Up until their elimination from the Kiev Major qualifier Timado had been playing with Team Freedom and showing a lot of promise as a young and up-and-coming player. Kingteka on the other hand has been around for a while and is known as one of the best offlaners in South America, and for intentionally feeding in pubs.

Infamous are going into TI with a distinct advantage, since they are not seen as a big threat they are a favored practice partner of many top teams and those who don’t scrim them will probably choose to focus their study on teams they deem more dangerous. They are the jewel of the South American scene and as a result of the Valve’s decision to hold a separate SA qualifier have been given a chance to come in as the underdogs and show what the region is capable of.

THE AMERICAS – SUMMARY

Of all the regions, the Americas have the most interesting story-lines heading into Kiev. Firstly, it will be C9 vs Secret. Sure Puppy and EE may have moved on from their past disagreements but in the heart of fans the drama is still alive.

Secondly, EG come into the event with questions about the current roster. Results show they can put up a fight against the best of the best, but even top 6 is not a foregone conclusion. Will Arteezy and Zai get that TI win they missed out on when they left EG? Will Sumail and Universe be the first repeat TI winners? Will Cr1t outperform his former team, OG?

Where do you think the American teams will place when it’s all said and done? Let me know in the comments below.

Featured image courtesy of Dotabuff.

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The Game Haus’ TI Regional Roulette – EU

The International 2017 Regional Roulette – Europe

Day 2 of Regional Roulette is upon us! Europe is sending four teams to Seattle for The International. Three of which are established organizations that can threaten any team. The other is a rising team that was able to make it to TI7 from the open qualifiers. Here we go:

Europe Hopes to Continue Collecting Hardware

This past year has been dominated by some of the teams below. Consistently performing at major events throughout the year. European DOTA is surging right now and showing no signs of slowing down before The International.

OG – Direct Invite

OG, dota 2 , international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

Coming in as a favorite is certainly something OG is used to. By now it is no secret that this team can really play DOTA. Aside from last year’s International, OG has finished 1st in 5 of their last 6 events. With

OG, heores, dota 2, international

(Dotabuff)

their victory at the Kiev Major, OG became the first team to win four Valve sponsored events. They have yet to claim the Aegis in Seattle.

One aspect of OG’s game that really stands out is their support play. Jerax is considered one of the best supports in DOTA. At the same time, many agree that his Earth Spirit is the best there is. Thus he is commonly targeted as a first-phase ban when playing against them due to Jerax’s high impact on the mid lane.

Prioritizing ana’s lane has become a priority as of late for OG, especially since he plays such a great Invoker. The hero is very gankable in the early game. Thankfully Jerax and Fly are always roaming the map in hopes to secure his start. Meanwhile N0tail is having the time of his life in the Safe Lane on his signature Visage. OG will look to dictate the pace of their games at the International. Anything besides a deep run in the tournament will be a surprise as they have dominated the recent meta.

Team Liquid – Direct Invite

liquid, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

Look for Team Liquid to continue their winning ways coming off of a reverse-sweep at DreamLeague Season 7. They dropped the first two games of the Grand Final to Planet Odd before winning the next three. Liquid has been absolutely dominant, winning their last five events. Arguably the most complete “team” coming to the International when it comes to their movements around the map.

Beginning with their captain KuroKy, he has attended every International since 2011 and this May he became the first professional DOTA 2 player to reach 900 wins. Overall Liquid’s roster is extremely talented from top to bottom. Many of their core players’ favorite heroes perform at win rates over 50%, such as Miracle-‘s Invoker, MinD_ContRoL’s Dark Seer, and MATUMBAMAN’s Lone Druid. An already potent roster before adding Gh who has been one of the year’s breakout players.

After finishing in the top-ten at last year’s International Liquid looks poised for another strong performance.

Team Secret – Qualifier Record 8-1

 

secret, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

 

 

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – KheZu

Position 4 (Support) – YapzOr 

Position 5 (Support) – Puppey

Secret cruised to the automatic spot during the European Qualifiers. Dropping only one map in the group stage. Many believed Team Secret had fallen off from top-tier status when they had a rough start to the beginning of this year. But with the addition of YapzOr, Team Secret was reborn.

One reason this addition invigorated them was that it allowed Puppey to diversify their drafting. Watching Secret had become pretty predictable in the heroes and strategies they picked. This all changed with access to unique YapzOr supports like Rubick and Sand King. These playmaking supports have helped Secret adjust to the quicker pace of this meta.

Other heroes like Puppey’s Crytal Maiden and Khezu’s Bristleback have also been effective. The other addition to their roster was MP from MVP Phoenix. His aggressive playstyle on Troll Warlord and Weaver are great at split pushing the map and punishing the other team’s movements.

All of these changes make Team Secret a more diverse team. With these changes they are setting themselves up to be extremely competitive at The International.

Hellraisers (Formerly “Planet Dog”) – Qualifier Record 6-3

 

 Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

(Liquipedia)

 

Our final European team comes all the way from Open Qualifiers. Hell Raisers has a roster made up of some extremely talented players. Clearly exhibited throughout qualifiers with their dynamic teamwork in

(Dotabuff)

teamfights. Their captain, j4, is very fond of big ultimates. Seen while they were Planet Dog as one of only a few teams to run a viable Tidehunter. It’s just one of 33’s dynamic teamfighters. He also plays a strong Dark Seer and Batrider.

Another hero has become a problem for the opposition in the MiLAN Nightstalker. j4 has picked this hero for his fellow support 14 times. Winning 11 of those 14 games.

HellRaisers only earnings are from a minor tournament for $500. This was after TI7 qualifiers. Getting to the International is why this team was created. HellRaisers have already put themselves on the map by qualifying for this TI. They have nothing left to prove to the DOTA community and a team with nothing to lose can be a very dangerous opponent.

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dota 2, ti7, ti6,

The Game Haus’ TI Regional Roulette – SEA

The International 2017 Regional Roulette – Southeast Asia

Welcome to our Regional Roulette for The International! We will be previewing each region leading up the start of TI7. We begin with the “dark horse” region: Southeast Asia.

 

SEA Brings its Strongest Ticket to TI7

While the region did not receive any direct invites to Seattle, three teams will be attending through regional qualifiers. Each of these teams could make a run at the Aegis. Let’s get started:

TNC Pro Team – Qualifier Record 8-1

Dota 2 Power Rankings TNC

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Raven

Position 2 (Mid) – Kuku

Position 3 (Offlane) – Sam_H

Position 4 (Support) – Tims 

Position 5 (Support) – 1437

 

TNC Pro Team at the International shouldn’t be a surprise. They finished in the top-10 last year. Knocking off OG (2-0) in the Lower Bracket. Last year they were the “Cinderella” of the tournament, but are considered a major threat at TI7. Placing top-5 at their last 5 events, they are also playing well at the best time.

A big boost for TNC came in the form of their new captain: 1437. His drafting has provided another layer to an already potent team. He is not afraid to reveal their cores early in the draft if they have been winning. For example, 1437 has regularly first-phased the Queen of Pain for Kuku. The picture below shows that this has been extremely effective. Being picked 12 times with an 83% win-rate. Only topped by the Batrider that has been picked 11 times for Sam_H.

dota 2, tnc, heroes

TNC’s Most Picked Heroes with Impressive Win-Rates (Dotabuff)

When it comes to playstyle, TNC loves having the initiation. Picking heroes like Slardar, Legion Commander, Nyx Assassin, and Sand King. All of these heroes are great initiators that become even stronger once they have a Blink Dagger. Their cores have great follow up and damage capabilities to delete heroes after the initiation comes through. For instance, the Raven usually plays a damage dealer like Sven, Drow Ranger, or Juggernaut. While Kuku brings in more damage and follow-up stun with Lina, QOP, or Puck. TNC wants to fight early and into the-game. Allowing space to be created for their farm-intensive cores. They will be fun to watch at the International and have a legitimate chance to finish in the top-5 this year.

Fnatic – Qualifier Record (7-2)

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Ahjit

Position 2 (Mid) – QO

Position 3 (Offlane) – Ohaiyo

Position 4 (Support) – Febby 

Position 5 (Support) – DJ

 

Finishing fourth at last year’s International should have solidified a direct invite for Fnatic. They were the SEA team, but they lost both Raven and DeMoN from their roster after they took a few tough losses. All the while still being a respected team, even though they were no longer the cream of the SEA crop.

That all changed with TI7 qualifiers. Fnatic reasserted themselves as a powerhouse in the SEA scene. Only dropping two maps out of nine. They were the top seed in the playoff rounds and 2-0’d both teams on their way to a spot at TI. Their new captain, DJ, has prioritized team-fighting. Most notably by picking a Witch Doctor 12 times, while also winning 75% of their games with the hero. This has single-handedly brought this hero back into the meta.

ti7, fnatic, dota 2

(Dotabuff)

Another interesting through the qualifiers was Ohaiyo on the Underlord. Ohaiyo has been around for a long time. He has an incredibly deep hero pool and is the only pro who plays a truly impactful Underlord. Fnatic has an 80% win rate on the hero. Which was first-phase banned quite often. Fnatic has an interesting way in approaching this meta. They like to have a strong early-mid game where they can transition early pickoffs into objectives. Once this is done their cores can safely farm and scale into the late game. Their unique pace will make them a tough draw for anyone at Seattle.

Execration – Qualifiers Record (5-4)

dota 2, ti7, execration

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Nando

Position 2 (Mid) – James

Position 3 (Offlane) – Raging Potato

Position 4 (Support) – RR

Position 5 (Support) – LeumiK

This team has been flying under the radar. If you look back at their player history a lot of familiar names pop-up. For example Abed and Tims both used to play for Execration. The team has kept its core and built some intriguing new talent with Raging Potato and Nando both impressing through qualifiers.

Playing at a similar early/mid game centric pace they fit well into the current meta. But, Execration loves to push the tempo even earlier. Their most picked supports are Tusk and Sand King. Two heroes that fight very well both early and often.

dota 2, execration, the international

(Dotabuff)

Probably the most interesting part of this team is their ability to shift playstyles. They much prefer teamfighting and snowballing early. Showing the ability to scale into the late game and pick-off heroes when needed. Picking heroes like Ursa and Lifestealer for Nando. Raging Potato is arguably the best Faceless Void player in Dota currently. He has a 66% win-rate with the hero always seeming to find great Chronosphere positions. Execration impressed through the qualifier. Beating Clutch Gamers and Mineski in three game series that were a great test before The International. Watch out for them to surprise a lot of teams.

 

Overall:

Southeast Asia is sending three very impressive teams to Seattle for The International 7. All of the teams should be competitive in the group stage. It would not be surprising to see them all move on to the Main Event. Their early and mid game focus around teamfighting is very strong in the current meta. Definitely going to be a very fun region to watch.

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DreamLeague Provides an Interesting Stage Pre-TI7

Eli Sherman

 

DOTA 2 fans everywhere have been caught up in the TI buzz that comes after qualifiers. The usual ritual looks something like this: pouring money into your compendium, praying to GabeN for a rare-drop, ogling over the now record prize pool, pub, and repeat! Qualifiers really delivered this year in both excitement and quality. TI7 looks to be another slugfest of DOTA 2. Complimented with a meta that feels extremely even. There is one more LAN before it: DreamLeague Season 7.

 

“There’s No Good DOTA 2 Before TI”

This is a complaint from fans during this perceived “lull” in the competitive action before Seattle. Luckily this statement is no longer true thanks to this weekend’s DreamLeague! Season 7 is no joke either with its 150,000 USD prize pool, including a grand prize of 80,000 USD. We should be seeing some really good DOTA 2 as well as a peek into the competitive meta on the edge of TI7. On the other hand, some would say the quality of games in this DreamLeague final weekend are meaningless and thus will not be taken seriously from teams with The International to worry about. But of the four teams taking place in the double elimination culmination of Season 7 only two are actually going to TI7 (Team Secret and Team Liquid).

Miracle- zoned in during Liquid’s DreamLeague championship run last year (CyBet.com)

Liquid was a direct invite while Secret won the EU Qualifier. We haven’t really seen much from Secret (qualifiers aside) since The Summit 7 a month ago. The same could be said of Team Liquid who last took home the hardware from Epicenter. Both teams looked quite strong in their respective LANs. Again, Secret dominated the EU qualifiers; while Liquid looked elite against a strong EG team at Epicenter. Now we will get to see how they have grown since then, right before the beginning of TI7.

Can Team Liquid Stay Dominant?

Team Liquid has stuck to their guns and continued to run heroes like Lasse “MATUMBAN” Urpalainen’s Lone Druid and Bristleback; Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov’s Dark Seer; and obviously Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi’s impeccable Invoker. They beat Evil Geniuses in four games in the Grand Final as well as Virtus.pro and LGD.FY leading up. Liquid looked in control during these series defeating teams that are all considered contenders for TI7 this year making a strong case for a Team Liquid run at the Aegis. In their match for DreamLeague Season 7 they’ll face off against Vega Squadron who would love nothing more than to take down a TI bound opponent while making some serious money to end their season. So they will definitely be bringing their A-game. With players like Bragen “G” Sergey and Shishkin “Afterlife” Visilii, Vega should not be taken lightly.

Is it Finally Team Secret’s Year?

After some impressive work in the EU Qualifiers a lot of people are also excited for Team Secret’s prospects later this August. Secret only lost one map during the qualifiers and seemed very upset they did not

Team Secret’s Support, YapzOr, doing 18k damage in a match during the TI Qualifiers (Dotabuff)

receive a direct invite. They proved to be very versatile in the current meta flashing their new Support player Yazied “YapzOr” Zaradat who plays some unique heroes like the Bounty Hunter and Zeus. His presence can really be felt in the results Team Secret has had since the addition of YapzOr and Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann in the offlane. During the qualifiers Clement “Puppey” Ivanov was picking all sorts of heroes and strategies. With even an Pyo “MP” No-a Huskar making an appearance. This extremely strong showing from them at this stage in the year is a great sign moving into TI7.

They have shown the ability to play multiple strategies, as well as drafting in a way that allows them to role-swap heroes within the draft to confuse their opponents even more. For some reason Team Secret always finds a way to be relevant in the competitive teams this time of the year. Their opponent from DreamLeague is another team looking to make a statement.

Planet Odd is a team that has surprised many this year. After last year, this very similar roster finished second at TI6. The players then left their former organization who still remains invited to TI this year. Odd had a really strong run at the Galaxy LAN and beat TNC in a very impressive three game series. Though they did fall in the NA Qualifiers much earlier than they had hoped. They will also look to play spoiler at DreamLeague to round out their impressive season.

Overall, DreamLeague Season 7 should provide some top-notch competition. Hopefully we will get a glimpse at some of the favorites for TI7. Who knows what strategies teams might test out before the big tournament.

 

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Stoic Dota

Are Dota players in need of Stoicism? 3 Takeaways for Stoic Dota

Recently I was listening to an episode from one of my favorite podcasts, The Kevin Rose Show, and I was surprised by how applicable the several thousand years old philosophy of Stoicism can be to games of Dota being played today.

The episode consisted of an interview with author Ryan Holiday, who has written popular books about contemporary Stoicism like The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic.

That said, here are my takeaways for us soon-to-be Stoic Dota players:

  1. Distinguish between what is in our control and what is not.

    For example when we’re mad about a teammate’s poor play ask ourselves: is this something I control, is getting mad about this making it better or worse, what could I be expending this energy on instead?

    Chances are that being upset about it isn’t going to improve the situation, and voicing our disappointment is only going to erode cooperation and create resentment on their end.

    We shouldn’t get mad about a missed spell, lost teamfight, or RNG that went against us. To be a good Dota players we have to detach ourselves from the results, focus on what we were supposed to do and whether we did it right.

    “All the information that I have right now says this is a good call, and I know i’m making this call for good reasons, you have to open yourself up to the possibility that you could be completely wrong or that fate could intervene and turn this obvious win into a huge loss and you cant take that home with you and feel like a huge failure.” — Ryan Holiday

  2. Realize the benefit of only focusing energy on those things inside our control.

    Instead of worrying about things outside our control, we can channel this energy into something we do control like our game play or leadership. Speaking of, and this is a bit of an aside, I encourage everyone reading this who wants to be a better in game leader to bind >Sorry to their chat-wheel and when something goes wrong look for a way to take the blame for whatever it is that happened.

    For example, maybe our carry Jugg wasted spin farming and died as a result, we can still apologize for not warning him all missing, apologize for not having placed a a lane ward for him, or apologize for not having TP Scroll ready to try and save him.

    Identifying all these things we could have done better to prevent a bad outcome is useful for improving as a player, and they make for sincere explanations when we take the blame— hopefully protecting our team mates from being flamed in addition to building trust and increasing cooperation.

    “The Duke men’s basketball coach has an expression he uses with his athletes – ‘Next Play’. Whether it’s a bad play or even a great one keep your head in the game and be ready for the next play. Those few moments you spend sulking or celebrating could lead to something worse.” /u/tzussu

  3. See an obstacle as an opportunity to be better, to do more things.

    If we accept that winning or losing shouldn’t be tied to our well being, we can see obstacles as opportunities to bring out the best in our ability— in other words the highest expression of our talent.

    Sometimes we just have to acknowledge that okay I’m in a horrible situation, what can I do for the people around me, what can I do for myself? For example when we’re playing offlane and the early game goes terribly and we have to figure out what we can still do, like standing on a high ground near mid to break smoke, scouting enemy stacks, or ganking before level 6 (with a TP ready in case the lane pushes in to your tower).

    Improving your inner-game takes deliberate practice so it can be very helpful to have a role model. Someone who is overall a good role model of Stoic Dota play and does a great job of focusing on what can still be done in a tough situation is Merlini, so check out his stream and >Don’t Give Up.

    “Ambition is tying your well being to what happens to you, self indulgence is tying your well being to what other people say, sanity is tying your well being to your own actions.” — Marcus Aurelius

Of course there’s a lot more to Stoicism than this, but hopefully it’s enough to help us win more games. Part of what makes Dota interesting is experimenting with different strategies, not just in gameplay, but also in personal mindset and team communications. I find personal development to be a fascinating subject and have thought about writing a series for Dota players where different authors main points are condensed with examples in a Dota setting, so let me know if you like the sound of that.

Featured image courtesy of actionforhappiness.org

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digitalchaos abed PGLesports

Top 5 Things We Learnt from NA Quals

1 0 , 0 0 0 M M R player Abed will be representing NA in Seattle this year, pictured above.

After seventy games of the finest Dota North America has to offer the TI 7 regional qualifier madness is over. To the surprise of many, TI 6 runner up Planet Odd didn’t make it. While dark horse of the qualifier, Team Freedom, nearly made it through and certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations.  When the dust settled two teams remained, NP and Digital Chaos will advance to the main event. With so much on the line its safe to say there was no saving of strats, so what did we learn from NA qualifiers? (note: some of these lessons while learned from the NA qual, apply to all regions)

digital chaos

image courtesy of twitter.com/DIGITALCHAOSgg

1) Digital Chaos able to overcome their ‘history’

Despite having Abed, the highest MMR player in the world, as their mid, DC were not favored to win the qualifier. After winning the Kiev Major NA qualifier under the moniker ‘Team Onyx’ they became known for having difficulty capitalizing on leads and in the lategame, especially in The Summit 7. After a weak 5W – 4L group-stage, Digital Chaos faced elimination in the 4th-5th tiebreaker, but made it to the playoffs and finished strong in the grand finals.

2) Camp mid with a melee pos 4 for the win

With the extra melee creep in mid and the exp given by denies, camping mid is back in style. This time it’s not with Bane or Undying like it was a year ago, and when their lane pressure is no longer needed the heroes being picked/banned are flexible enough to gank sidelanes, transition to a core role, or be given to the offlane player should the need arise for a different position 4 to be picked.

In descending order of North American qualifier win rate/times banned they are: Clockwerk, Nyx, Sand King, Night Stalker
Clockwerk— picked 21 times with a 66.67% win rate and banned 39 times.

Compared to the rest he has several advantages… Hookshot gives huge initiation range without having to farm blink, and a BKB piercing stun.

Rocket Flare allows for risk free lane pushing, vision (especially useful for scouting the Rosh Pit), and blink dagger canceling of enemy initiators ALL from across the map.

At level one he has the flexibility to chose between two viable options, to go for a wrap around kill with Battery Assault or to be annoying with Power Cogs for mana burn.

With all this in a single support pick, who cares if he doesn’t usually survive the Hookshot initiation. He’ll still end up pretty farmed thanks to the insane solo kill potential on other supports when they are isolated going for bounty runes.

Night Stalker— picked 19 times with a 57.89% win rate and banned 37 times.

Like Clockwork, he has the ability to initiate without a blink. The difference however is that Clockwerk has to wrap around or wait until level 6, whereas Night Stalker only needs to wait till night falls at minute 4.

While Night Stalker can cancel a TP with Void, once used he has nothing left to stop one. On the plus side, his long duration silence can prevent the escape of mobile cores in the early game and prevent them from right clicking with a 50% miss chance at night. Once cores have built an item (that he may have forced them into) to remove his silence, he can focus his efforts on the supports.

The vision he provides with Hunter In The Night’s active and with Aghanim’s Scepter is extremely well utilized by professional players and like Clock is crucial for scouting the Rosh Pit. On top of this Darkness reduces the enemy team’s vision, giving his team that much more information compared to the enemy team.

Sand King— picked 34 times with a 50.00% win rate and banned 28 times.

With the most reliable disable of the four, Sand King can sort of initiate without a blink he has a movement speed advantage and the right angle (though buying one is a top priority).

As the game progresses he can quickly push out lanes using Caustic Finale, and get away with it thanks to Sandstorm, Burrowstrike, Blink, and Eul.

Although he isn’t able to provide vision for his team, Sand King is overall a reliable pick that can set up his allies to follow up before an opponent can get anything off… and survive. (note: it could be argued that Sand King indirectly provides vision by pushing lanes)

Nyx Assassin— picked 15 times with a 46.67% win rate and banned 22 times.

At level one Nyx can cripple mids like QoP, Puck, or Lina by spamming mana burn— with no shrine for the first five minutes and without a bottle, their only hope would be to get a regen rune at minute two.

Nyx is quite level dependent for a support, but since he is meant to roam around the map with Vendetta instead of farming it works out. With some successful ganks and/or teamfights Nyx can get the gold and levels to have a huge impact.

Although he can’t scout in obvious sentry areas like the the Rosh Pit without risking death, he can get lots of information running around with Vendetta while finding and setting up for low risk pick-offs.

3) Use Lycan Howl bonus hp to counter Night Stalker ganks

Lycan was only picked four times in the NA qualifier, and won all three of the times it was picked in response to Night Stalker (the fourth game it was picked as a combo rather than a counter). Howl gives 50/100/150/200 bonus hp to all allied heroes, and has double the effect during the night. If Lycan maxes it first and keeps it ready to use, it becomes much harder for Night Stalker to gain momentum in the first two nights. Not to mention that Night Stalker’s Darkness makes it night more often, which Lycan doesn’t mind thanks to the double effect on Howl and being able to scout with Summon Wolves.

4) Team Freedom is the 4th strongest team in NA

dota team freedom

image courtesy of /u/non_clever_name

Team Freedom came extremely close to taking one of the two North American qualifier spots. Beating the eventual winners NP and DC in the group-stage, an unlikely loss to Team Red forced a bo1 1st place tiebreaker vs Team NP.

The second time these two teams faced off, team NP redeemed themselves and secured the first TI slot. Then in the playoffs Team Freedom beat DC in the winner bracket finals only to lose to them in the Grand Finals.

If anything, Freedom demonstrated that they can beat any other team in NA (aside from direct invite EG). While they may not have made it to TI they certainly won some fans, and hopefully they stay together and next time we get to see Yawar playing against his brother Sumail.

5) Team NP’s greedy passive style wins games

image courtesy of PGLesports

While not the most entertaining to watch, NP seems to have mastered a passive style where they pick multiple farming cores and sit back building a gold lead. The fact they had the lowest average player deaths (2.92 per player per game) of all regions reflects this. With few clashes and often ending the game building a massive lead then getting a crucial pickoff— its not the most flashy, but they have plenty of fans already.

For more stats check out /u/coronaria’s NA Competitive Meta Trends reddit thread. And for some cool infographics check out PohkaDota’s tweet. That about wraps it up, feel free to share what you learned from the NA Quals in the comments.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of PGLesports

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The Rise of Crystal Maiden

The Rise of Crystal Maiden: Why cm has become popular and some tips

After a long history of buffs, Rylai the Crystal Maiden (aka CM) has finally become popular and the nerfs have begun. Having reached ‘peak CM’, it feels like a good time to look back and see just how we got here, why she’s so popular, and what to do to play her like the pros.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘how’

If we had to narrow down the emergence of Crystal Maiden to one thing, it would be the change to root mechanics. Making her effective against 17 heroes with mobility spells that were formerly not prevented by Frostbite took her from situational to first pick material. However, even before then she was already becoming quite strong against the rest of the hero pool with constant buffs, most notably:

6.87 Reduced Crystal Nova cooldown to 12/11/10/9. (was 15 seconds three patches prior).
6.84 Reduced Frostbite cooldown to 9/8/7/6. (was 10 seconds two patches prior).
6.82 Frostbite total damage to 150/200/250/300 (was 70/140/140/210).

For level 4 Crystal Nova and Frostbite, dividing the duration by the cooldown before and after the buffs reveals a greatly improved uptime on Crystal Nova and Frostbite from 30% to 50% each (calculations shown below). Another way to see the cooldown buffs is as a 67% increase in the uptime of Crystal Nova AND a 67% increase in the uptime of Frostbite.

uptime maths

Cooldown changes aside, the 6.82 Frostbite level 1 damage increase from 70 to 150 went a long way towards allowing CM to zone offlane heroes despite her slow ms and weak right click. This is right where the recent nerf hit:

7.06d * Crystal Maiden: Frostbite manacost increased from 115/125/140/150 to 140/145/150/155

Increasing the mana cost of Frostbite at level one from 115 to 140 weakened the hero in an area she probably wasn’t meant to excel in while maintaining her strengths. So far drafts at ‘The Summit 7’ have shown this to be a fair nerf, sometimes being picked in the first or second phase and at other times being ignored. The 25 mana increase can be thought of as 6.6 seconds of clarity regen, 13% of the 190 mana provided for 50 gold. In other words each cast of frostbite costs ~7 extra seconds and ~7 extra gold (a grand total of ~37 seconds and ~37 gold worth of clarity regeneration per cast). However since patch 7.06 changed the shrines to start on cooldown, the 25 mana increase is more than mitigated by the reduced regeneration available to the offlane hero being harassed.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘why’

Aside from these buffs, why has Crystal Maiden become so popular? Perhaps it has something to do with a shift in playstyle— from position 4 to position 5.

Crystal Maiden DPS vs important targets

image courtesy of /u/phoenixfire2001

While it’s fairly common knowledge that it can be advantageous for her to pop into the jungle to get a quick level 2 before helping out in lane, people have been getting carried away and trying to play her as a full-time jungle/roam position 4 for years.

It is easy to end up quite farmed, have one’s judgment clouded by some glorious freezing fields, and then become convinced CM is ill-suited to position 5. Not that she isn’t strong with farm, it’s just that in the late game CM isn’t able to do any damage until BKBs wear off regardless of farm. While as a position 5— CM stands a cut above the rest of the options and makes for a remarkably stable and flexible pick that can be taken early in the draft.

Despite her offensive power, it seems she is too immobile to roam effectively as a position 4 without an ability to gap close. Farming alone in the jungle can leave her vulnerable and she is often too squishy to be one of the primary initiators. Instead, professional players have been drafting tanky position 4 heroes that can go in and get things started with a hard stun like Sand King, Earth Spirit, Tusk, etc.

She was the most popular position 5 hero at the Epicenter LAN, and tied for most popular with AA and Dazzle at The Summit 7 LAN despite the nerf. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  • Decent ability to secure a lane by wearing an enemy down with Frostbite and some clarity potions, even though the level 1 mana cost was increased by 25, as discussed earlier.

    image courtesy of /u/dragon_atf

  • Can get vision on highground with Crystal Nova, allowing for more effective dewarding with sentries. At higher levels of play some of the most common observer ward placements are just outside the radius of a sentry placed on a ward cliff, but easily dewarded by a sentry placed on lowground. When it comes to playing the vision game, not being able to easily check high grounds is like playing with one hand tied behind your back.
  • Well suited to playing reactionary because she can secure the lane, then farm pulls while keeping mana up to react with a TP instead of walking around with 275 base movement speed.
  • CM is never in a situation where she NEEDS to leech lane experience, since she can always fall back to the jungle when she is not needed, when it’s not possible to pull, or when its not possible to help the carry. This flexibility makes her a stable pick, and in a stagnant game she can even farm for a midas and turn into a serious lategame threat.
  • Since CM can always pop into the jungle for some quick gold, she is able to buy all the support items without completely halting item progression or worse having to ask for help with obs/sents (this enables your pos 4 to become a core, especially when you consider that Arcane Aura allows the pos 4 to forgo mana regen items and being able to stay on the map/ save on clarities).
  • She compares favorably to other popular pos 5 options: more damage than Treant, shorter cds than Warlock, more reliable than Rubick, doesn’t require +1 to be a threat like Disruptor, harder to counter than dazzle, etc.

Crystal Maiden: The ‘what’

So now that we know how and why Crystal Maiden became so popular, heres what you need to know to play her like a pro:

  1. Freezing Field’s 30% move speed slow is applied regardless of the ice explosions and can enable your team to chase, which is great in those situations where just a little slow makes it possible for your team to catch up in the nick of time.
  2. Wand is invaluable for mana in team fights where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to cast multiple spells. Out of mana mid-fight? Hp getting dangerously low? Wand is your panic button:
    CM 7.03 Patch Notes

    image courtesy of twitter.com

  3. While leveling Frostbite for the insane 3-second duration 6-second cd at level 4 is great when you don’t need wave clear, consider picking up the 2nd point in Frost Nova first since it increases the slow by 50% of the level 1 values.
  4. Speaking of skill builds, remember not to skill level 2 Freezing Field until you have a mana item! Also remember that even though you aren’t going to be right clicking much in fights, the level 10 +60 damage talent is great for farming and dewarding.
  5. DEFINITELY get urn if you want to end early, it can be the difference between your team having to back after fights or taking objectives. Also, the armor is nice and the buildup is convenient, though it’s fine if someone else on the team wants to get it instead.
  6. If your allies already have invis you’re probably better off with Solar Crest or Eul. Solar Crest is a borderline OP item that gives you the tankability to transition into a Blink BKB build. While Eul is great for precasting in fights, buying time when you get jumped, and even though it costs a decent chunk of mana it increases your mana pool which is more than can be said of Glimmer.
  7. When you’re not sure what to get, you can’t go wrong with Force Staff / Blink Dagger though there is probably a slightly better choice that depends on the game at hand.
  8. Freezing field does slightly more damage at the very center and is roughly constant up to a radius of 485, falling off after that. (see image, note this is before magic resistance, top line is old aghs)
    Freezing Field average DPS graph

    image courtesy of /u/currentscurrents

     

  9. If you are a pulling support you can get an extra 66-70 exp by landing the deny last hit on your pulled creep wave, if you’re lazy just make sure you deny the ranged for 30 easy experience.
  10. For some extra coin, stack ancients to spawn the easily killed prowler camps and small dragons, then stand around a corner about 500 range from the camp and cast Freezing Field.
  11. For an ideal start buy tango, 1 obs, 1 sentry, courier, 3 clarities, and a tp scroll — then use the tp to get a quick lane ward down so you can see where they place their obs for an easy deward. After that try to have your carry push every other wave so you can pull the hard camp at 0:53 as much as possible, all the while chugging clarities and spamming Frostbite on the offlaner. Eventually he runs out of regen and goes away, leaving you with a huge hard camp stack to farm.
  12. Watch out for an opposing support with gap close ability jumping when you come up to harass with Frostbite (think Earth Spirit/ Treant/ Bounty/ Riki/ Monkey King).
  13. Consider picking a different hero or jungling against offlane heroes with high base region like Nyx/ Nightstalker/ Batrider who can go even without help.

That about wraps it up peeps, drop your CM tips in the comments below!


Featured image courtesy of entroz.deviantart.com

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