StarLadder I-League StarSeries Season 3 LAN Finals Preview

As we move further into the year, the tournaments are coming thick and fast. Next up is the StarLadder season 3 LAN finals held in the Shanghai International Gymnastics Center. StarLadder will take place February 23rd – 26th and will showcase some of the best teams in the world.

StarLadder Prize Pool

The prize pool is $300,000 USD, split as follows:

Place $ USD Team
1st $135,000 TBD
2nd $60,000 TBD
3rd $37,500 TBD
4th $22,500 TBD
place 5 to 8
5th-6th $15,000 TBD
7th-8th $7,500 TBD

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StarLadder Format

The teams will be split into two groups, each containing four teams. The group stage will contain a double-elimination bracket with the top two teams advancing to bracket play. Bracket play will be a four team single-elimination bracket, with the semifinals being best of threes, and the final a best of five.

The Teams

Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

Wings StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

Wings have been missing from the competitive scene since ESL One Genting. After facing troubles with visas, they missed out on Dota Pit, meaning they have had very few games on the new patch. Since winning TI, Wings have not reached the heights that were expected by many fans.

Wings will be hoping to put in a good performance to try and secure an invite to Kiev. Considering the talent on show at StarLadder, Wings have a tough task ahead of them.

Prediction – 5th / 6th

Wings placement will rely heavily on the group that they are placed in. However, they have failed to impress since TI and will struggle to make it out of the group stages. They will be hoping to kick start their year with a decent performance to give them some momentum heading into the Kiev Major.

OG – Direct Invite

OG StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

For some reason there seems to always be questions surrounding the ability of this OG team. Having proved at both Boston and DotaPit that they are one of the best, if not the best, team in the world, they will be hoping to impress at StarLadder. As winners of the Boston Major, they are guaranteed an invite to Kiev, so they hope to silence the critics once again with an emphatic display.

Predictions – 1st Place

OG have the pedigree and ability to win this tournament. Coming off the back of a second place finish at DotaPit, OG will be looking to step it up a level and finish first. Also, as EG are missing from the event, OG will feel confident with their chances.

Team Liquid – European Qualifier #1

Team Liquid StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

StarLadder will be the LAN debut for the new Team Liquid and they hope to start it off with a victory. Liquid will be coming into the tournament on the back of an impressive 12 game win streak. They hope that an impressive performance at StarLadder can secure them a direct invite to the upcoming Kiev Major.

Prediction – 2nd Place

Liquid are on an upward trend, however they will eventually cross paths with OG. Taking the W against Fly and the rest of OG may be a step too far for Liquid, but it will be good for the team to get some LAN experience together.

Team Secret – European Qualifier #2

Secret StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

This is the second major tournament that the new look Secret have competed in as a team. The first, DotaPit, did not go as planned. Secret ended up finishing in a disappointing 5th / 6th. Having displayed good promise early in the tournament by beating DC, they eventually fell in the losers bracket. Secret hope to prove that they can still be one of the best teams in the world. StarLadder provides them with teams they should beat 70% of the time.

Prediction – 4th Place

With Wings and DC both looking fragile, Secret have a real chance at finishing strong in this event. However, with the likes of Liquid and OG also competing, a top three finish may be just out of reach. This will be the chance for Secret to gain some momentum heading into the Kiev Major qualifiers.

Team VG.J – China Qualifier #1

VG.J StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Agressif

Position 2 (Mid) – Freeze

Position 3 (Offlane) – rOtk

Position 4 (Support) – fy

Position 5 (Support) – Fenrir

This will be VG.J’s first venture into international competition. The squad is stacked with some of the best players in China and will be expected to perform well on home soil. Mid player Liu “Freeze” Change is a relative unknown in the international scene and hopes to put his name on the map at StarLadder.

Prediction – 3rd

VG.J posses some of the best talent in Chinese Dota currently, and with Wings misfiring and Newbee not at the event, VG.J are China’s only hope. With four veterans of Dota, this team has the makings of a world beater. The only question is whether they can realize their potential or fall by the side.

iG Vitality – China Qualifier #2

iG.V StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Paparazi

Position 2 (Mid) – Sakata

Position 3 (Offlane) – InJuly

Position 4 (Support) – Super

Position 5 (Support) – dogf1ghts

iG.V are a small fish surrounded by blood thirsty sharks. Similar to Elements Pro Gaming at Dota Pit, they are slightly out of place. As they have been playing together for nearly a year, they hope to possess an advantage over some of the newly formed teams. Having failed at Boston, they have been relatively quiet. This is also their first appearance on the international scene.

Prediction – 7th / 8th

Dota games are not played on paper. This is the thing iG.V will be relying on heading in to the tournament. They are on home soil and will be hoping that the crowd can push them to victory. However, they are against several strong teams and will be hard pressed to mount any serious challenge.

Digital Chaos – America Qualifier

DC StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

In the last six weeks we have seen the two sides of DC. To go from dominating the field at ESL One Genting to finishing last at DotaPit is not good enough. DC are coming into the event in a weird place. They managed to qualify for the event beating NP in a playoff. However, a few weeks later they failed to qualify for DAC, losing to NP in the finals. They hope to make a comeback and put in a solid performance at StarLadder to secure an invite to Kiev.

Prediction – 5th / 6th

DC look out of sorts since ESL One Genting. The nature of the victory may have lead them to slack a bit heading into DotaPit. However, it is nearly time for the direct invites to Kiev to be announced. DC hope that they can reignite the fire of ESL One and put in a solid performance for the tournament.

TNC Pro Team

TNC StarLadder

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Position 1 (Carry) – Raven

Position 2 (Mid) – Kuku

Position 3 (Offlane) – Sam_H

Position 4 (Support) – Tims

Position 5 (Support) – ryOyr

TNC are used to being the underdogs, so this time around will be no different. They are the second best team in SEA, after Faceless, so this will be a tough challenge for TNC. With Faceless likely to receive a direct invite to Kiev, TNC will be able to use the tournament as a warm-up for the Kiev Qualifiers. TNC hope to catch a few teams off-guard using their unpredictable play style.

Prediction – 7th / 8th

TNC are a difficult team to predict, considering the unpredictable nature of their play. They will be hoping to use this to their advantage and upset a few teams and achieve a decent finish.

StarLadder Final Thoughts

Team Liquid makes their return to international competition at StarLadder, and hope to return with a bang. Standing in their way is OG, the silent assassins that know how to win and win often. OG look to be the favorites for the event, but Liquid have the potential to win. Looking through the rest of the teams, VG.J and Secret have the potential to challenge in the later stages of the tournament. TNC and iG Vitality look to be the weakest of the teams, and will be hoping that they can cause a few upsets and end up with a decent position.

Overall Predictions:

1st Place – OG

2nd Place – Team Liquid

3rd Place – Team VG.J

4th Place – Team Secret

5th / 6th Place – Digital Chaos / Wings Gaming

7th / 8th Place – iG Vitality / TNC Pro Team

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What We Learned From the DAC Regional Qualifiers

The Dota 2 Asia Champsionship (DAC) 2017 qualifiers are in the books. The qualifiers for SEA, Europe, CIS, and Americas took place February 3rd – 13th and saw some of the best teams fight it out for one qualification spot per region. The competition was fierce, the games were amazing, so lets take a look at what we learned from the DAC regional qualifiers.

DAC Regional Winners

South East Asia – Faceless rise to the top

DAC Faceless

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Team Faceless have managed to secure themselves a spot at DAC after conquering the SEA region. Having failed to qualify for StarLadder, the team will have been heavily focused on securing a spot at DAC. Finshing with a record of 5-1, Faceless only dropped two games throughout the qualifiers in a 2-1 loss to WarriorsGaming.Unity. The stats speak for themselves as Faceless finished 11-2 in terms of map count.

Faceless will be looking to build on both Dota Pit, where they finished third, and the DAC qualifiers. After losing to WG.Unity, Faceless are without a loss in their last six games, and with a month to DAC, they hope to continue their undefeated run.

Faceless may finally be reaching the potential that they showed when originally forming as a team. With Kiev on the horizon, Faceless hopes that their performances can secure them a direct invite to the next major.

Americas – Team NP advance with No Problems


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Similar to Faceless, NP had fallen just short in the recent StarLadder qualifiers. They have been keen on writing their wrongs, and progressing to DAC. NP will be able to look back at the DAC qualifiers and see that they managed to progress from one of the most difficult Americas qualifying stages in recent history. Team NP finished with a 5-1 record, losing only to DC in the semi-finals. However, they did not let this loss dissuade them, and would eventually sweep aside DC 2-0 in the finals.

NP seem to be a team that perfectly sums up “so close, but yet so far”. They are a team that is constantly fighting against the enigma that is Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao. EE is probably the most exciting player to watch, simply because you never know if he will make an amazing play, or fail. Having the ability to wipe a team and also die solo to Roshan means that his teammates are sometimes fighting an uphill battle. But with all this in mind, NP are still among the best in the world and will hope to show that at DAC.

Whilst a direct invite looks difficult due to being in the same region as EG and DC, NP hope their recent strength will carry them to a decent placing at DAC, and eventually Kiev.

CIS – The start of a new Empire ?

DAC Empire

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When the Dota Gods give you lemons, you need to make that sweet Dota lemonade. That is exactly what Empire have done in securing their place at DAC. With VP experiencing connection issues (we will come to this later), CIS was open for the taking. Cometh the hour, cometh the Empire. Rated by many as the second best team in CIS, Empire did not disappoint. Winning all of their games and finishing 10-4 in map count will give Empire confidence for the future. The squad benefits from possessing one of the best Meepo players in the world, meaning that a ban is almost a must. This was evident in the qualifiers, as Meepo was banned in 12 of the 14 games, and picked up by Empire in the other two.

Empire have also displayed strong mental toughness as they nearly fell at the last hurdle in a close final series against Effect. Being down one map and at a 6k networth disadvantage, things looked bleak. However, Empire was able to turn it up a gear and take control of game two to tie the series at 1-1. Game three was an easy enough game for Empire as they controlled from the early stages, and eventually closed the game out after 31 minutes.

Empire have been missing from the international scene and hope that DAC will provide the launchpad they need.

Europe – Are Liquid back ?

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Now here is a name fans haven’t heard in a while. Prior to the StarLadder qualifiers earlier in the month, Liquid had been missing from the pro scene for two months. Whatever they were up to in that break has obviously worked wonders for the team as a whole. Liquid have yet to lose a game since their return, that’s 12 games without a loss. Teams will have to start taking note as Liquid look to be in terrifying form. Adding Maroun “GH” Merhej seems to have tied the team together, and they are displaying impressive form heading into an important couple of months.

Liquid hope that with a few more impressive performances, they may be able to secure themselves a direct invite to the Kiev Major and avoid the difficult qualification process. Currently, Liquid are looking like one of the best teams in the world. They have several competitive games in the new patch under their belts, and look to translate that success to the major stage.

DAC a Perfect World ?

With the winners covered, let’s take a look at some of the other notable things that happened during the DAC Regional Qualifiers.

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VP not connecting anymore

One of the most notable events of the qualifiers was that VP have not qualified for DAC. All bad puns aside, this was completely out of their control. The team suffered connection issues in both of their games, leading to them being disqualified after some long delays.

Another casualty of the DDosS attack was their Dota 2 Manager, Andrey Kvasnevsky, who took the blame for the bootcamp choices made for the tournament.

Having not competed in the StarLadder qualifiers and missing out on DAC, VP will likely have to qualify for the Kiev Major. Hopefully they can reconnect as a team and mount a series challenge for a spot at Kiev.

A worldwide crush

Slardar DAC

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Often is the case in Dota that different regions develop slight nuances in the meta. Currently, however, there is one mainstay in every region. Slardar was the most contested hero in the whole qualifiers, being picked or banned in 200 games. In comparison, the next highest is Ember with 150 picks or bans. Slardar also has a very strong 56% win-rate. Expect to see more and more Slardar in top level games.



B)ears DAC

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B)ears start with a roar

DAC was the first showing for new team, B)ears. The qualifiers were a baptism of fire, and B)ears rose from the fires of war to finish in a respectable second place. Possessing some of the best talent in the world, including talented position four Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat, B)ears hope to build on DAC. Heading into Kiev, B)ears will likely be a favorite to qualify from what is expected to be a tough qualification region.





If you missed any of the qualifiers, check out some of the best plays from the qualifiers below.

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7.02 Patch Update

The Winners and Losers – 7.02 Patch Notes Analysis

As expected, Icefrog has released the 7.02 patch for Dota 2. The patch is a small balancing update that focuses mainly on buffing and nerfing hero talent trees. There have also been some changes to the map to keep the balance between Radiant and Dire. Let’s get into it and see who the winners and losers of the 7.02 patch are.

The Winners of the patch

Balancing both sides of the coin

Dire Patch

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Prior to the release of the new patch, there were several reasons that Radiant had an advantage over Dire. Icefrog has taken steps to return the balance by making a few quality of life changes.

* The following abilities cause neutrals to temporarily not draw aggro: Meat Hook, Telekinesis and Toss
* Added more trees for TP cover around the dire towers
* Swapped the dire secondary jungle ancients and medium camp spots (and improved spawn boxes/stackability)
* The Dire ward spot to the left of the Ancients no longer gives vision over the rune area infront of Roshan
* Slightly adjusted the dire secondary jungle bounty rune further back
* Reduced spawnbox size for both Dire hard camps
* Shifted down the spawnbox for the ancient camp (formerly medium camp) in the Dire secondary jungle (so a high ground ward does not block the camp)
* Fixed a rare case where Dire ancients could be stuck between trees when spawning

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A lot of these changes are minimal and focused on balancing the scales between the two sides.

Same hero new play style

WR Patch 7.02

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Windranger has been missing from the meta for a long time. Icefrog decided to bring her back from the dead with the next patch.

* Powershot damage from 120/220/320/420 to 180/260/340/420
* Powershot cooldown from 9 to 12/11/10/9
* Windrun slow AoE from 300 to 325
* Windrun manacost from 100 to 75
* Level 10 Talent from +15 Damage to +25% Windrun Slow
* Level 15 Talent from +16 Intelligence to +20 Intelligence
* Level 15 Talent from +200 Health to +40 Movement Speed
* Level 20 Talent from +12% Magic Resistance to +20%
* Level 20 Talent from +12% Spell Amplification to +15%
* Level 25 Talent from -5s Powershot Cooldown to -6s

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These changes seem to point to a more support focused Windranger which may reinvigorate the hero. The change to Powershot will mean that an early point in the skill will allow good harass potential in lane. The changes to her talents seem to point her towards a more support focused play style. Expect to see support Windranger coming to a pro game near you.

Who needs a Midas

Doom patch 7.02

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Doom is another hero that had been missing from the meta for a long time. This may start to change, as with his new changes he may become more viable, and is already seeing some more play in competitive.

* Level 10 Talent from +8 Intelligence to +80 Devour Bonus Gold
* Level 10 Talent from +150 Health to +250
* Level 15 Talent from +6 Armor to +15 Scorched Earth Damage/Heal
* Level 15 Talent from +15 Movement Speed to +20
* Level 20 Talent from +65 Damage to +35 Doom DPS

“Courtesy of”

Doom’s talent tree received a massive rework as part of the patch, something that he really needed. The main addition is the new level 10 talent +80 Devour Bonus Gold, which effectively gives Doom a built in Midas once he hits level 10. This will really allow Doom to transition well into the mid / late game. It seems as if Icefrog is trying to refocus Doom around his skills with the changes to his talent tree. As a result, Doom has lost some of his right click potential and will have to be careful during fights.

Returning from the shadows?

Bounty Hunter

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Bounty was a hero that had been severely affected by the 7.00 patch, so it is nice to see Icefrog giving him some attention. Still, nobody is going to buy Aghanim’s Scepter on him no matter how much they buff the upgrade.

* Scepter now also increases Shuriken Toss ministun duration from 0.1 to 0.75
* Level 10 Talent from +15% XP Gain to +20%
* Level 20 Talent from +100 Damage to +120 Damage
* Level 20 Talent from 8% Spell Amplification to +75 Shuriken Toss Damage
* Level 25 Talent from +20% Evasion to +25%

“Courtesy of”

The change to the Aghanim’s upgrade makes sense, however it will more than likely not increase the amount the item is picked up. The 20% XP gain at level 10 will help Bounty get his levels faster, something he desperately needs. The addition of +75 Shuriken Damage offers a welcome choice against the +120 Damage. Whilst most people will pick up the additional damage, in higher level games the extra Shuriken Toss damage will see a lot of attention. Bounty may see some more play, however he still is in need of a more considerable buff to make a return to the meta.

The Losers of the Patch

Balance in all things

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The nerfs to Ember will not be a surprise to anyone who has played the game recently. With a high pick and win rate, the hero was teetering between great and broken.

* Root now disables Activate Fire Remnant
* Level 10 Talent from 15% Spell Amplification to 12%

“Courtesy of”

Now whilst two changes is not dramatic it is the nature of these changes that is important. Firstly, having Root disable Activate Fire Remnant makes sense, but will now allow another way to lock Ember down and stop him from jumping out. Secondly, the change to the level 10 talent is a welcome one, that reduces the heroes power without completely destroying the hero. Ember will likely still see a high pick and win rate in higher tier games and will likely receive heavier nerfs in an upcoming patch.


Is No Bear LD still within range ?

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Lone Druid definitely deserved a nerf and Icefrog agreed. The Druid had become a mainstay in higher MMR games, with a strong win rate.

* Level 10 Talent from +200 Attack Range to +175
* Level 15 Talent from +65 Damage to +55
* Level 20 Talent from +7 Spirit Bear Armor to +12
* Level 20 Talent from -50s Respawn Time to -40s

“Courtesy of”

The changes to LD are minimal currently, but may see him become a more situational pick rather than consistently picked. Reducing the additional attack range provided by the level 10 talent was a needed change, and will mean that it is possible to close the gap on LD in fights. In addition, reducing the damage provided to LD from his level 15 talent will be a welcomed change. Similar to Ember, the changes are needed, but are still arguably not enough.


Who needs Ion Shell

Dark Seer patch

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Dark Seer has been a mainstay of the competitive meta for the last six months. Icefrog may have just ruined that for everyone. With a long list of changes, will Dark Seer ever be the same again?

* Movement speed reduced from 300 to 295
* Ion Shell manacost from 70/90/110/130 to 100/110/120/130
* Level 15 Talent from +90 Damage to +120
* Level 20 Talent from +25 Intelligence to +75 Vacuum AoE
* Level 20 Talent from +12 Strength to +10% Cooldown Reduction
* Level 25 Talent from +12% Cooldown Reduction to +25 Strength
* Level 25 Talent from +70 Ion Shell Damage to +80

“Courtesy of”

The biggest of all these changes is the change to Ion Shell. Dark Seer is a hero that benefits from pushing towers in the early game through the use of Ion Shell. This has changed with the mana cost of Ion Shell being increased, meaning that early game Dark Seer cannot simply spam itl in lane whenever it is off cooldown. Dark Seer will now need to be conscious of last hitting rather than leaving that to the Ion Shell. The talent tree also received a rework, which overall is a nerf to Dark Seer. If you like to play Dark Seer, it may be time to find a new hero, as Icefrog has decided to punish him and may do this again in the future.

Icefrog has sent him back to the Underworld

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Having been recently released into Captains Mode, it is not a surprise to see Underlord receiving the balance hammer from Icefrog.

* Movement speed reduced from 305 to 290
* Atrophy Aura Damage Reduction from 10/20/30/40% to 4/16/28/40%
* Level 15 Talent from +200 Health to +35 Movement Speed
* Level 20 Talent from +100 Cast Range to +125
* Level 20 Talent from +50 Attack Speed to +60

“Courtesy of”

Icefrog decided that the early game of Underlord was too good and has decided to reduce the Atrophy Aura Damage Reduction. The change now means that for the damage reduction to be beneficial, it will now require two skill points, which will possibly change the skill build moving forward. Whilst he will not join Arc Warden in the new hero dumpster, expect Underlord to receive some nerfs in upcoming patches.

Other changes of note in the patch

* Shrines are now vulnerable after a T3 tower dies (same as the Shrines inside the base), rather than after all T2 towers die

* Sentry Wards now come in packs of 1 for 100 gold (instead of 2 for 200)

* Added Lycan to CM

* Observer Wards now have a Fog of War simulator to show you the area the ward will reveal (taking into account trees and terrain height)

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For a full breakdown check out Purge’s Livestreamed reactions to the new patch here –

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Fnatic stong logo

Mushi Leaves Team Fnatic, What’s Next?

A few weeks ago we discussed what was going wrong with Fnatic and the potential next steps. The one thing that fans would not have expected was for them to part ways with Mushi. Arguably one of the best known players in the world, Mushi was a big part of Fnatic from early 2015. Fnatic are now left with Ohiayo and Febby looking for three. Let’s take a look at what’s next for the SEA powerhouse.

A Brief History of Fnatic.Mushi

Fnatic Mushi

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Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung’s Team Malaysia were picked up by Fnatic on June 4th, 2015. This would be the start to a long relationship between the two parties, looking as if it would never end.

During his time with Fnatic, Mushi captained the team to an outstanding fourth place finish at The Internation 2016. This was potentially a highlight of his career, and things were looking good following TI. However, this turned out to be wrong; things would slowly begin to fall apart. The signs were there, and the cracks began to show.

The Cracks Begin to Show

Fnatic on True Sight

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As mentioned in the previous piece on Fnatic, the True Sight documentary really exposed some of the issues in the team. The documentary seemed to cast Mushi in a very dim light, something that has been argued about since the first showing. It was difficult for new players to become adjusted to the team as they were in awe of Mushi. The fact that neither new player could speak up to Mushi eventually caused the roster to fall apart, and would result in them not qualifying for the Boston Major. After failure to make it to Boston, the roster would eventually disband, leaving Mushi and long term partner in crime Ohiayo to start again.

The Beginning of The End

ESL One Genting

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ESL One Genting was a low point for both Fnatic and Mushi. Fnatic would have had no expectations heading into ESL, but they looked lifeless as they were swept aside. Things had to change heading into the StarLadder and DAC qualifiers. Unfortunately for Fnatic, they did not. After a disappointing showing in the StarLadder qualifiers, they pulled out of DAC in hopes of resolving the current issues plaguing the team.




A Life After Mushi

In the previous Fnatic article, we believed that there was still life in the roster, with a few additions. Fnatic obviously disagreed; parting ways with Mushi seems like a crazy decision. Fnatic are now left with long term member Ohiayo and newcomer Febby. Whilst both these players are very talented, the future of Fnatic does not look bright.

With the DAC qualifiers nearing an end, fans should expect some roster changes in the near future. Due to the brand of Fnatic, they will have the power to attract top players to the organisation. However, the current talent in SEA is limited to a few teams that have established successful rosters. It seems as if Fnatic will have to scrape the barrel for talent in hope of qualifying for Kiev.

Is Europe The Way Forward?

With the dropping of Mushi, there have been rumors that Fnatic may be changing SEA for EU. Whilst this may seem unlikely as the organisation have backed current players Ohiayo and Febby, it is not beyond the realms of possibility. The newly formed B)ears team would be an ideal candidate. The roster is currently without a sponsor and have made a great start to life in the DAC EU qualifiers.

The rosters consists of:

  • Feras “Feero” Hroob
  • Adrian “FATA-” Trinks
  • Lee “Forev” Sang-don
  • Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat
  • Adam “343” Hussein

Fnatic have previously ventured into the EU scene, so the thought of them doing so again is possible. Picking up the B)ears squad would be a strong move, but the organisation may be reluctant due to their ties with SEA.

Final Thoughts

The Fnatic of old has crashed and burned. It’s now up to Ohiayo and Febby to rebuild the SEA powerhouses back to their former glory. Can this be done? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, the road ahead will not be easy. With the backing of Fnatic, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure that everyone wishes Mushi the best moving forward, hopefully he can find a team and continue to play at the top level.

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DAC Logo

Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017 Regional Qualifiers Preview

Most fans will remember Dota 2 Asian Championships 2015 (DAC) as the breakout event for superstar mid laner Syed “Sumail” Hassan. After taking a break throughout 2016, it was announced that DAC would be returning to our screens in March 2017.

The qualifiers for the event are scheduled from February 3rd-13th and are being split into four different regions (the China qualifiers have already been completed):

AmericasAmericas DAC (one qualification spot)


SEA (one qualification spot)


Europe (one qualification spot)

CIS DACCIS (one qualification spot)

DAC Format

Teams will be split into two groups of four teams, playing a double elimination format with all games being best-of-three. The top two of each group will then advance to a double-elimination bracket with the winning team booking themselves a spot in the LAN finals in March/April.

Americas DAC Qualifiers

Eight of the best teams based in North and South America will take part in the online qualifiers for a spot at DAC. The teams will be fighting it out for one spot, and with such a stacked field the competition will be of the highest level.

Having finished second at TI, third/fourth at Boston, and first at ESL One Genting, many would have expected DC to be given a direct invite to the event. This was not the case however. They have instead been thrown to the wolves that is the Americas regional qualifiers. Joining DC fans can look forward to seeing the following teams:

Group A

  1. DC
  2. Wanted (PPD’s team)
  3. Complexity Gaming
  4. Team Freedom

Group B

  1. Team NP
  2. SG e-sports
  3. Infamous
  4. Team Onyx

What to expect

With the StarLadder qualifiers wrapping up, it’s straight from the frying pan and in to the fire for most of these teams. Of the eight teams competing, six of them competed in the StarLadder qualifiers. Team NP, DC, Complexity, Team Onyx, Infamous, and Team Freedom will be hoping that they build on the events of StarLadder.

Ones to watch

Heading into the qualifiers, Team NP and DC look like they will be competing for the top spot, as they have done for the majority of the StarLadder qualifiers. If you are looking for an underdog, both Team Onyx and WanteD have the ability to give the more established teams a run for their money.

With Abed finally joining up with Team Onyx, they hope to take advantage of the easy group and progress to the playoffs where they stand a good chance of qualifying. WanteD are an unknown quantity, but with a roster captained by PPD, good things can be expected. WanteD are unfortunately in a group with DC, Complexity, and Team Freedom so progression will be difficult. Fans will be hoping that PPD can prove he is still one of the most formidable drafters in the world and draft his team to victory.

Image courtesy of

Prediction – Team NP

Dark Horse – Team Onyx

SEA DAC Qualifiers

The teams in SEA are beginning to rise in power. With TNC winning WESG and Faceless finishing third at Dota Pit, the future looks bright for the region. With five of the competing teams possessing the ability to finish in the top spot, there will be some stiff competition. The only sour note hanging over the qualifiers is that they are missing Fnatic who pulled out of the qualifiers due to team issues. Fnatic have been placed by Next Generation, who will be hoping to seize the opportunity.

Group A

  1. Team Faceless
  2. Signature.Trust
  3. WarriorsGaming.Unity
  4. Next Generation

Group B

  1. TNC Pro Team
  2. Rex Regum
  3. Mineski.GGNetwork
  4. Execration

What to expect

The recent StarLadder qualifiers saw TNC finish one point above Team Faceless. Having seen the top spot be decided by a point will give fans a taste of what to expect. Faceless will be hoping to avenge the disappointment of narrowly missing out in the StarLadder qualifiers.

Ones to watch

TNC have had a very good start to the year, winning WESG and also qualifying for StarLadder, so they will be coming into the qualifiers in form. Being one of the more consistent teams in the region, they will inevitably mount a strong challenge for the number one spot at DAC. Trying to stop them will be Team Faceless. Faceless have been hit or miss in their time together and fans are hoping they can continue their strong start to 2017.

On the flip side, Execration recently showed cracks in the StarLadder qualifiers, finishing a disappointing sixth out of eight possible places. Possessing some of the more talented players in the region, they should kick into gear for the DAC qualifiers and be a serious challenge.

Image courtesy of

Prediction – Team Faceless

Dark Horse – Execration

European DAC Qualifiers

The teams competing in the European qualifiers all posses the ability to gain qualification, and challenge at the main event. This must be the most hotly contested qualifying groups in recent history. Teams in EU have a right to feel hard done by. These qualifiers will also be the first time that B)ears has played together.

Group A

  1. Ad Finem
  2. B)ears (FATA’s Team)
  3. Natus Vincere
  4. Team Secret

Group B

  1. Team Liquid
  2. Ninjas in Pyjamas (Formely January 25th)
  3. Alliance
  4. Cloud9

What to expect

Group A is the group of death. Any of the four teams that are in the group have the ability to qualify for the main event. This will be the first showing of FATA’s team B)ears who seem to be the weakest team in the group.

Group B contains the 35k God Squad, Team Liquid. Liquid secured a spot at StarLadder with a dominant qualifying run. Liquid hopes to dominate StarLadder and rise to prominence once again on the world stage.

Ones to watch

Any of the teams in this qualifier could easily qualify for the main event. Team Liquid look to be the favorites based on recent results, but the new Navi roster looks to be gelling well. Navi v Secret in round one of the groups is an ode to a team gone by, but may shape the rest of Group A.

Having been picked up by NiP, Synderen’s team hopes to take advantage of a slightly weaker group to make it into the playoffs and cause some trouble. It is just unfortunate that there is only one qualification spot available, as a handful of top tier teams will fail to qualify.

Image courtesy of

Prediction – Team Liquid

Dark Horse – Ninjas in Pyjamas

CIS DAC Qualifiers

Virtus Pro will be celebrating DAC’s decision to host CIS based regional qualifiers. Containing only a handful of challenges, and several tier three teams, VP will be looking to take advantage. Standing in their way is Vega Squadron and Team Empire, who can both cause trouble.

Group A

  1. Virtus.Pro
  2. Effect
  3. Team Spirit
  4. LQ

Group B

  1. Vega Squadron
  2. Comanche
  3. Team Empire
  4. F.R.I.E.N.D.S

What to expect

If you are hard pressed for time, missing the CIS qualifiers might not be the worst idea. A region that has a huge difference between the top and bottom teams will often provide uninteresting games.

VP should capitalize in the qualifiers if they perform to their potential, something that is easier said than done.

Ones to watch

Virtus Pro are the favorites and should dominate the qualifiers. The main challenge will be from Vega and Empire. VP struggled at Dota Pit, so Vega and Empire may be able to capitalize on some of the cracks. However, VP should kick back into gear and steam roll the qualifiers.

Vega and Empire have unluckily been grouped together in Group B. Should both of them make it out, they will be hoping to cause an upset over strong favorites VP.

Image courtesy of

Prediction – Virtus Pro

Dark Horse – Team Empire

Final Thoughts

Whilst the qualifiers are set to showcase some of the best Dota in the world, the lack of qualification spots may eventually limit the main event. Europe especially will be feeling the strain with eight of the best teams in the world competing for one qualification spot. For the teams that do not qualify, it will be a good opportunity for teams to prepare for the Kiev Qualifiers which are fast approaching.

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Fnatic stong logo

What’s Wrong With Fnatic Dota 2?

Fnatic is one of the most recognizable names in all of esports. Their Dota 2 side however is currently on a downward spiral that seems to have no end. Having tried and failed to replicate the success at TI6, what’s next for Fnatic?

Fnatic at TI6

Fnatic at TI6

Fnatic team at TI6
Courtesy of

Lets rewind the clock back to August 2016, the month of The International. Things are looking good for the team, a solid roster and good performances see them going to TI confident they can surprise a few people. Fnatic surprised even themselves when they managed to finish in a very respectable fourth position.

After a disappointing group stage, Fnatic found themselves in the losers bracket from the get go. After winning a best of one against Escape Gaming, they faced off with former winners Alliance, who the defeated them with relative ease 2-0. They then faced up against Team Liquid and MVP Phoenix, defeating both teams 2-0. Fnatic were finally defeated by Digital Chaos who would eventually finish as the runner up.

The team performed above most people’s expectations and took home a whopping $1,453,932. After such a strong performance in the tournament, the future looked bright for the team. However, as is often the case in competitive Dota, roster changes can and will always happen.

August 19th 2016 will be a sad day in the history of Fnatic, as it is announced that Dj has official left the team to go back to the Philippines. Now, whilst one change is manageable, things went from bad to worse when it was announced on August 24th that both MidOne and 343 were leaving the team. From finishing fourth at TI to having a roster with two official players in less than two weeks. Things looked bleak.

All clouds have a silver lining

In the weeks following the departure of more than half the team, fans were worried as the future looked bleak. However, on September 6th, Fnatic announced their new roster for the Boston Major.

Fnatic at the Major

Courtesy of

It was announced that Raven, eyyou, and DeMoN would be leaving TNC Pro Team and joining Fnatic. This was a big statement from Fnatic, and the future started to look bright.

The team seemed to be gelling well and the results were started to come, and with Boston on the horizon things were looking up for the team.

True Sight revealed the cracks

Fnatic on True Sight

courtesy of

Valve True Sight documentary series gave fans an insight into the struggle teams face on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the series showed the struggles that the Fnatic team were having. New additions Raven and eyyou were struggling with standing up to the legend that is Mushi.

The documentary showed that the team was struggling and qualification to the Major looked increasingly unlikely. Fnatic eventually crashed out in the qualifiers and never made it to Boston, spelling the end for the team. On November 28th, Fnatic announced they had parted ways with Raven, eyyou, and DeMoN, leaving Mushi and Ohaiyo looking for three again.

We have a tournament in three days, better announce a team

Fast forward to January 2017, it has been two months since Fnatic has been on a world stage, and ESL One Genting is around the corner. Fnatic had been invited to the event, and with only a few days until the tournament, no roster had been announced.

Fans clamored to find out information regarding the new roster in the lead up to the tournament. Finally, on January 4th, a mere three days before the tournament starts, Fnatic announce their roster.

Fnatic logo

courtesy of

Dota2: Roster Update


— FNATIC (@FNATIC) January 4, 2017




Full Roster

Yee Fung “Mushi” Chai – Mid/Carry

Muhammad Rizky “Inyourdream” Anugrah – Mid/Carry

Chong Xin “Ohaiyo” Khoo – Offlaner

Yong-min “Febby” Kim – Roaming Support

Ng “YamateH” Wei Poong – Hard Support (Stand in)

[Taken from]

Announcing a roster three days before a major tournament has panic written all over it. Needless to say things did not end well for Fnatic as they crashed out on day one, and the experiment was a failure. They say when it rains it pours, and this seems to be the case for Fnatic at present. Just five days after announcing the new roster, they had to make more changes.

It was announced that Inyourdream would have to leave the team for family issues. Combine this with YamateH only being a stand-in and Fnatic were left with half a squad once again.

So what’s the plan now?

Fnatic entered the StarLadder qualifiers with practically a pick-up team, and as expected failed to qualify. Having been invited to the SEA regional qualifiers for the upcoming DAC qualifiers, it was announced that they would not be participating and taking the time to identify the correct roster. This was definitely the correct decision as they are yet to find a solid roster and are currently plummeting into uncharted territory.

Things are not all bad though. Throughout all of the issues, they have managed to hang-on to both Mushi and Ohaiyo, and with the recent addition of Febby they have a core roster that has potential. The focus needs to be on taking a break from the international scene to rebuild themselves in the regional scene first. With the amount of talent currently in SEA, it will be difficult for Fnatic to rise back to the top of the pile.

Can Fnatic be reborn?

Fnatic still posses the ability to be a formidable team on the world stage, and it is important that the current players do not lose sight of this. The main problem they will face is that a lot of the teams in SEA have solidified rosters and are unlikely to release players for Fnatic to pick up. Roster changes currently look unlikely as the Kiev Major is scheduled to take place in April.

Courtesy of

Fnatic will most likely have to pick up two relatively unknown players in the hope of rounding out their squad ahead of the qualifiers for Kiev. All things considered, it may be better for Fnatic to wait until the inevitable roster shuffle that will follow Kiev as they may have the option to get more recognized players.

Whilst they may be down, Fnatic are by no means out. The next couple of months will be a real testing time for both the players and the organisation. But should they make it through the trials and tribulations, they will grow as a team.

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Dota PIt

The Good and The Bad: Dota Pit Season 5

With Dota Pit in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the event. From great games to time delays, Dota Pit definitely had some good moments, some bad moments, and some moments in between.

The Good – Dota Pit

The Grandest of Finals

Dota Pit Grand Finals

Image courtesy of

Having matched up in the Winners Finals, EG swept OG aside in emphatic fashion, finishing the series 2 – 0. Fans may have been worried that the Grand Finals would follow the same suit, but this was not the case. The Grand Finals went the full best of five, with OG being up 2-1 going into game four. EG managed to turn it around, mainly due to Arteezy’s excellent Lone Druid play. The series showed that OG and EG are still the teams to beat, even on a new patch. Demonstrating some amazing plays throughout, teams will need to be wary of these teams moving forward.

Le Balanced Fire Spirit

Image courtesy of

After seeing mixed success at ESL One Genting, Ember made a resurgent return at Dota Pit. He was the most picked hero in the tournament, being picked 16 times and boasting a massive 81% win rate. Some teams have tried to counter the rise of Ember by picking up Invoker. This was very unsuccessful however. Invoker was picked up six times in matches against Ember, only winning one of those games. The Veil build-up allows Ember to be active early, a problem he suffered with in previous patches. In a meta that seems to be leaning more towards magical damage, the current Ember Veil combo seems to be here to stay. Teams will need to start finding ways to defeat this build.

Team Faceless show their true faces

Image taken at The Summit 6. Courtesy of

Many people did not expect much from Faceless at this event, myself included as I had predicted them to finish 7th / 8th. Faceless managed to mount an impressive losers bracket run through the perilous best of one matches. Facing off against EG in the first game they played will have left Faceless fans fearing the worst. In fact, Faceless put up a valiant fight against EG, winning game one, but eventually losing the series 2-1.

In their losers bracket run, Faceless defeated DC, VP, and IG before eventually falling to OG in the losers bracket final. It can be argued that the best of one lower bracket games did work in Faceless’ favor, but the conditions were the same for every team.

Faceless proved that they can be contenders on the world stage with a strong third place finish. They will be hoping to build on this into the SEA StarLadder qualifiers.

Who needs Sniper when you have Lone Druid

Image courtesy of

The addition of Talent Trees has opened up new ways to play heroes that for the longest time have had the same item build-ups. Lone Druid is one of the heroes most changed by the new Talent Tree options, which has brought forward the possibility of focusing more on building up items on LD rather than his bear. At ESL One Genting, LD was only picked once, and that was in a game that Wings Gaming went on to lose.

In this event, however, he was picked six times, all on the last day, and boasted an impressive 83% win rate. LD was completely ignored on days one and two of the event, and was only picked up by both EG and OG. With the dominance that EG primarily were able to show with the hero, expect to see LD appearing in more and more pro games coming up.

The Bad – Dota Pit

Schedule, what schedule?

Image courtesy of

Whilst the games at Dota Pit were great, managing to actually play them seemed like a bit of an issue. All three days suffered from delays, with the largest delay being a whopping four hours during the Grand Finals. The amount of delays for an event of this caliber is simply unacceptable. As a fan watching, it was unbearable at times, listening to the same playlist over and over on the Dota Pit stream. It definitely deterred people from watching the stream. The effect on the players was easy to see at the trophy ceremony, with the members of EG looking visibly exhausted when accepting the trophy.

What a difference two weeks makes

Image courtesy of

Two weeks prior to Dota Pit, Digital Chaos took home the first place finish at ESL One Genting. Many people predicted DC to finish in the top three at Dota Pit. This did not happen, however. Following a disappointing day one, DC was eliminated from the tournament, finishing 7th / 8th. Being knocked out on the first day definitely hurt DC. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back from the event. Fans may argue that the format definitely played against DC, as they never really had a chance to get going. However, in the games they did play, DC looked out of sorts and a completely different side to the team that finished first at ESL One Genting.

That little something missing

Image courtesy of

Over the last couple of months, Dota fans have been treated to the best of the best in terms of desk hosts, with both ReDeYe and Machine proving that they are among the world’s elite hosts. Dota Pit however had neither of these names, and instead had KotL Guy and Sheever sharing the hosting duties. Now whilst I like both Sheever and KotL Guy as analysts / commentators, I felt that they did not make the best fit as hosts. This goes back to the recent discussion I had with ReDeYe, where he explained that sometimes it is detrimental if a host has extensive game knowledge, as they may dominate discussion. This was something that did happen on a few occasions during the event.

As a fan, I hope to see both ReDeYe and Machine attending more Dota events in the future. I also hope to see both KotL Guy and Sheever return as analysts / casters.

Best of ones are probably not for the best

Image courtesy of

After waiting until two days before the event to announce the format, there was a lot of speculation among fans. However, Dota Pit shocked a few people by announcing best of one games for all the lower bracket games, including the lower bracket finals. Many people are fans of the best of one games as they can provide some of the most interesting matches in the tournament. From a viewers perspective, the best of one lower bracket games missed the mark, as fan favorites DC were eliminated straight away after falling into the lower bracket.

The scheduling of the days also seemed to be a bit bottom heavy, in that the majority of games were played on the last day. Normally the games per day reduce as you move through the tournament. Dota Pit opted for the opposite strategy. For the players that made it to the final day, the scheduling must have been extremely tiring. Combine this with the heavy delays, and Dota Pit was probably not the best tournament to compete in.

HONORABLE Mention – Dota Pit

Bringing the hype like no other

Image courtesy of

It was announced that the stage host of Counter Pit, aka E-sports Hype Guy, would be hosting Dota Pit. He did not disappoint, from the first event to the last, he put a ton of effort in. Even after a massive four hour delay, he still attempted to hype up an exhausted crowd to cheer until the end.

Dota Pit Final Placings

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $62,937  45% Evil Geniuses Evil Geniuses
2nd $34,965  25% OG OG
3rd $25,174  18% Team Faceless Team Faceless
4th $16,783  12% Invictus Gaming/Invictus Gaming Invictus Gaming
place 5 to 8
5th-6th  0% Team Secret Team Secret
7th-8th  0% Elements Pro Gaming/Elements Pro Elements Pro
Digital Chaos Digital Chaos

“Table courtesy of”

Final Thoughts

Although there were some great games at Dota Pit, the heavy delays made this an event to forget. Overall, due to the heavy delays and awful stream playlist, Dota Pit Season 5 Finals is getting a Report and some time in Low Priority.

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Bounty Hunter

Sunday Hero Spotlight – Gondar the Bounty Hunter

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

Bounty Hunters Lore

Bounty Hunter

Image courtesy of

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

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


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


Shuriken Toss

Bounty Hunter Shuriken Toss

Image courtesy of

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Damage – 150 / 225 / 300 / 375

Mana – 120 / 130 / 140 / 150

Cooldown – 10

Track Bounce Range – 1200

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

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

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


Image courtesy of

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

Move Slow – -15% / -20% / -25% / -30%

Attack Slow – -15 / -20 / -25 / -30

Duration – 3

Cooldown – 12 / 10 / 8 / 6

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

Shadow Walk

Image courtesy of

Damage Type – Physical (Pierces Spell Immunity)

Duration – 20 / 25 / 30 / 35

Fade Time – 1.0 / 0.75 / 0.5 / 0.25

Bonus Damage – 30 / 60 / 90 / 120

Cooldown – 15

Mana – 65

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

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


Image courtesy of

Speed Radius – 900

Bonus Speed – 16% / 18% / 20%

Bonus Gold for Self – 150 / 250 / 350

Bonus Gold for Allies – 40 / 80 / 120

Duration – 30

Cast Range – 1200

Cooldown – 4

Mana Cost – 65

Track is dispellable.

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

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


Bounty Talents

Image courtesy of

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

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

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

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

Skill Build

Popular Skill Build. Image courtesy of

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

Play style Suggestions

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

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

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

For the best example of an excellent Bounty Hunter, check out this Youtube link to highlights of Maybe Next Time (MNT), widely regarded as the worlds best Bounty, playing for Ad Finem.

Suggested Items

Image Courtesy of

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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Desk Host

How Important Is It to Have a Good Desk Host?

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

Image courtesy of r/dota2

The Desk Host Equation

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

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

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

How difficult is it controlling the panel?

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

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

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

Image courtesy of ESL Dota 2

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

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

Puppet Paul as Host of the Puppet panel

The amazing puppet panel at TI6 – Image courtesy of twitter

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

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

The book Paul is referring to is his free e-book “Talking Esports” which can be found here –

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

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

Host of the Boston Major - Machine

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

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

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


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Changing of the Guard?

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

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

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

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


Check out Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner on twitter

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Dota Pit

Dota Pit Season 5 Event Preview

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

Dota Pit Format

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

Dota Pit Prize Pool

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

Dota Pit Teams

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

Elements Pro Gaming – Replacing Wings Gaming – Direct Invite

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Position 1 (Carry) – Swiftending

Position 2 (Mid) – kole

Position 3 (Offlane) – Mitch

Position 4 (Support) g0g1

Position 5 (Support) – LeBronDota

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

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

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

Digital Chaos (DC) – Direct Invite

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Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

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

Tournament Prediction – 2nd Place

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

OG – European Qualifier #1

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Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

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

Tournament Prediction – 1st Place

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

Team Secret – European Qualifier #2

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Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

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

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

Tournament Prediction – 5th / 6th

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

Virtus Pro (VP) – CIS Qualifier

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Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

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

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

Tournament Prediction – 4th Place

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

Team Faceless – SEA Qualifier

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Position 1 (Carry) – Black^

Position 2 (Mid) – Jabz

Position 3 (Offlane) –iceiceice

Position 4 (Support) – xy-

Position 5 (Supprot) – NutZ

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

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

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th

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

Invictus Gaming – Replacing Newbee – Chinese Qualifier

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Position 1 (Carry) – BurNing

Position 2 (Mid) – Op

Position 3 (Offlane) – Xxs

Position 4 (Support) – BoboKa

Position 5 (Support) – Q

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

Tournament Prediction – 7th / 8th Place

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

Evil Geniuses – American Qualifier

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Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

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

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

Tournament Prediction – 3rd Place

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

Dota Pit Final Thoughts

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

Overall Predictions:

1st Place – OG

2nd Place – Digital Chaos

3rd Place – Evil Geniuses

4th Place – Virtus Pro

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

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

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