Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

Mascots in the LCS

As the world of esports grows, analysts, fans, and sponsors will be looking towards examples from traditional sports for inspiration. They will draw comparisons between the two to figure out where exactly esports are heading. Franchising in the LCS, for example, is one such move towards traditional sports, away from the relegation model League of Legends has become accustomed to.

A somewhat less important, yet interesting topic, is that of mascots. Do teams need mascots? Do mascots belong in the LCS? Will this be part of the scene in the near future? What would their purpose be?

Mascots in Traditional Sports

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Mascots are generally symbolic representations of the teams they tout. From the Phillie Phanatic to Benny the Bull to Big Red, most sports teams have a mascot. These mascots are a physical representation of the team’s name or logo. They are responsible for hyping up the crowd throughout a competition, during slow times, scores, or wins.

It is commonplace for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and hockey teams to have mascots. They are out in the crowd. Part of the live audience experience usually includes getting a hug from or pictures with the team mascot. They sign autographs, and they provide immense brand recognition.

Merchandising around mascots is prominent. Slapping the mascot’s picture or logo onto items makes them collectibles. For example, many NBA fans can recognize Boston Celtics merchandise if it features “Boston” in green letters, shamrocks, Lucky the Leprechaun, or some combination of the three.

Mascots in LCS

The closest example of a mascot in the LCS is Unicorns of Love’s manager, Romain Bigeard. He generally wears a unicorn costume and dyes his hair and beard bright pink to support the team as they compete. Romain is an iconic member of the Unicorns’ team and brand, instantly recognizable.

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

courtesy of Riot esports

There are plenty of opportunities for other teams to create mascots. Between North America and Europe, there are Phoenixes (Phoenix1), Immortals, Foxes, Aliens (Dignitas), Horses (Team Liquid), Ninjas (G2), Rabbits, Cats (Roccat), Giants, and Snakes (Splyce). The other teams’ mascots would be less straightforward, but something like “TSM Titans,” or “Fnatic Falcons” could be a cool way to expand their brand. The mascot can also be incorporated into creating new logos, jerseys, champion skins, and collectible merchandise.

Mascots could also help solidify a team’s fanbase. Many LCS fans get attached to players, rather than the organizations they play for. And since so many players switch teams in between splits and in between seasons, organizations have a hard time keeping a consistent base. For example, Immortals probably gained some fans when they signed their most recent jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and probably lost some fans when Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin left. Introducing a mascot onto the scene may be a small way to retain a fanbase by providing a consistent symbol to rally behind, rather than just a simple logo.

What Could Go Wrong?

Individuals who do not closely follow specific sports or teams may find mascots to be cheesy. It may seem immature to grow an attachment to some guy in a costume who peps people up at sporting events, like a Disney World character. Does esports really want to go there?

G2 esports fan with ninja logo mask

courtesy of Riot esports

Another consideration is the fact that League of Legends is a game packed with fantasy characters anyway. Would it make sense to introduce a G2 Samurai mascot onto the scene when similar characters already exist in the game? This could create some awkwardness or show that it is unnecessary for the LCS scene.

Cosplay, where fans dress in elaborate costumes of their favorite characters, is already a huge part of the competitive League of Legends experience. Bringing in mascots could be confusing or over-doing it. Cosplayers already act as League of Legends mascots, in a way.

cosplayers at EU LCS

courtesy of Riot esports

These mascots could also need to span over several esports. For example, Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, and a few others. How can they create a mascot that makes sense in all of those venues? What if the organization has competitions for different games at the same time? Traditional sports do not run into this issue. Los Angeles is home to several sports teams, but they all have different mascots.

Conclusion

Mascots may not help a team win, and introducing them to the LCS scene may present some complications. But, overall, it could be an interesting experiment. Romain and the Unicorns of Love have proven that it can be done. Other LCS teams have straightforward opportunities to bring on their respective hype men.

A mascot could greatly help organizations solidify their brands by opening up new merchandising opportunities and retaining fans that may otherwise leave the team with a traded or lost player. Possibly the greatest gain from a mascot, though, is pure fun. Imagine the broadcast cutting to a video of a fox mascot hyping up the Echo Fox fans after Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham secures a First Blood. That could be pretty cool.


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Kiev Major Group Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage Preview

The first Major of the 2017 season is upon us and it looks as though it will be amazing. The Kiev Major will take place from April 24th – April 30th. The event will be split into Group Stages followed by a single-elimination main event bracket. Let’s take a look at the Kiev Major Group Stage.

The Kiev Major Prize Pool

The prize pool of the tournament is $3,000,000 USD.

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% TBD
2nd $500,000  16.67% TBD
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% TBD
TBD
place 5 to 16
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

Kiev Major Group Stage Format

For the first time at a Dota 2 event, Kiev will use the Swiss-system format. A format commonly seen at CS:GO events, it will be interesting to see if it creates better seeding heading into the main event.

  • 16 teams are placed in a single group where they play in a Swiss-system format.
    • Four rounds of matches.
    • All matches are played in a Bo3.
    • Opponents will always have the same Win/Loss record.
    • Teams will never play an opponent twice.
  • Round 1
    • Initial eight matches are seeded.
  • Round 2
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Winners of Round 1 (“high”)
      • Losers of Round 1 (“low”)
    • Teams will be drawn an opponent from their group.
  • Round 3
    • Divided into three groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-0 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-1 (“mid”)
      • Lastly, teams with a record of 0-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not played yet from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the lowest seed for the playoffs.
  • Round 4
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-1 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not yet played from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the 2nd highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the 2nd lowest seed for the playoffs.

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017/Group_Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage – Round 1 Thoughts and Predictions

The Kiev Major Group Stage Round 1 Matches

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/wykrhm

Team Secret v VG.J

In the first game of the first round, Team Secret will face off against VG.J. Both of these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack somewhere. VG.J on paper are the stronger squad. However, outside of the second place at StarLadder, they have yet to live up to the hype.

Both Team Secret and VG.J have a point to prove at Kiev, this will be one of the closest series of the group stages. When the dust settles, I think Team Secret will take the series 2-1. Mainly because VG.J have been inconsistent in recent times. This is also Team Secret’s return to the Major’s after missing out on a place in Boston. Team Secret will be the sharper team heading into round one and should take a close series.

Team Secret Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Invictus Gaming (IG) v Mousesports

No series on the road to a Major trophy is easy. However, Mousesports will be feeling unlucky with their round one match-up. Going up against one of the favorites and DAC winner, IG will be a huge challenge for the Greeks. This series will be the first that the former Ad Finem roster has played since the second place finish at the Boston Major. Since then they have changed orgs, failed to attend a single LAN and we have had a series of game changing patches. On the other hand, IG comes into this event in the form of a lifetime. A strong showing at DAC, which would eventually see them take home the crown, has catapulted them into a spot as favorites. IG and Mousesports are at opposite ends of the spectrum and IG should sweep the Greeks 2-0.

IG Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Random v IG.Vitality

In the only all domestic match-up, Team Random will take on IG.V. This series looks to be another close match-up with both teams experiencing mixed form. Team Random, formerly Team Wings, are searching to recover the form they had leading up to TI6. IG.V are looking to establish themselves as a top team. Team Random have the stronger set of players but seem to out mind game themselves in most games. Team Random showed flashes of genius during DAC, but normally it was too little too late. IG.V, on the other hand, showed promise during DAC finishing in fourth place. At DAC IG.V started slowly and for this reason I am backing Team Random to take the series 2-1.

Team Randon Team Wings Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

OG v SG esports

Favorites for the event OG take on newcomers SG in their first group stage game. For SG this series will be the hardest best of three they have most likely ever played. The current OG team are the most consistent team heading into the event. Since November, the lowest placing they have had is 3rd – 4th. Not bad for a team that everyone always rules out. SG will have to pull out a miracle to take the series from OG, think TNC at TI6. OG will come into the series full of confidence and will take it 2-0.

OG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Liquid v Thunderbirds

This series is my one to watch heading into the first round. Two teams who have championship pedigree but are currently having some issues. Liquid are more up and down than a yo-yo. They place first at StarLadder and then finish 9th – 12th at DAC. Liquid are another team that on paper should be challenging for every title. However, for whatever reason, they are struggling to convert talent into ability in-game. Thunderbirds, formerly DC, have struggled since winning ESL One Genting in January. The team has been struggling in-game and out of it. With the team now leaving DC, it is possible that they will make a return to winning ways. Similarly to Secret v VG.J, both these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack. This is a difficult series to call, but I have Liquid edging it 2-1.

Liquid Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Faceless v Virtus Pro (VP)

Kiev will be the first LAN that VP have attended since January. Starting off with a series against Faceless will be a tough test for VP. Faceless come into the event the same as always, dominant in SEA, disappointing internationally. VP come into Kiev with strong domestic form in the last few months. This is series will set the tone for both teams heading further into the event. Will VP choke again, will it be same old Faceless? Faceless are on the cusp of a strong performance. However, VP are the team in form at the moment and I have them taking the series 2-1.

VP Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Digital Chaos (DC) v Newbee

In their first series as DC, the former Team Onyx squad will face off against Newbee. Newbee are one of the more consistent teams heading into the event with a first, second and third place finish in the three events they have attended in 2017. On the other hand, this will be DC’s first LAN event as a team. The nerves will be high for the new squad, especially with the controversy surrounding their move to the DC banner. Newbee are looking to go into the later rounds of the tournament and a strong performance in round one will set the tone. I have Newbee taking the series 2-0

Newbee Kiev Major Group Stage

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

Evil Geniuses (EG) v TNC Pro Team

EG v TNC on paper should be a relatively easy matchup for the North American powerhouse. However, if one thing is certain in Dota it’s that EG always start slow. EG come into the event with questions hanging over the roster. The performance at DAC raised more questions on whether the roster is strong enough to be consistently at the top. On paper EG has one of the strongest rosters in the world, they just can’t seem to click consistently.

TNC come into Kiev in the same spot they always are, underdogs. TNC have had an up and down 2017, which has included winning WESG. Furthermore, TNC have been hit and miss domestically, which is concerning considering the lack of tier one times in SEA. I have EG taking the series but it will be a close 2-1.

EG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Kiev Major Group Stage – Final Thoughts

Every event since Boston has been building up to the Kiev Major. The first Major of 2017 will be hotly contested with at least five teams strong favorites to take the event. Near the top should be the likes of OG, IG, VP and EG. Teams like Secret, Liquid and Thunderbirds have questions to answer moving into the build up to TI7. At the other end, SG esports are looking to capture the hearts of fans as TNC and Ad Finem have done before them.

The new group stage format will provide more consistent seeding heading into the single-elimination main event. Teams that start slow will have the chance to repair things and get a decent seed for bracket play.

For more in-depth coverage of each region check out my Regional Roulette series:

South East Asia

The Americas

Europe and CIS

China

What are your thoughts on the round one matchups? Let me know in the comments below.

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A step in the right direction: Esports to be a medal event at 2022 Asian Games

Esports at 2022 Asian Games

Image courtesy of gamenationsa.com

In a recent announcement, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have began a partnership with Alisports, the sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba. The partnership will see esports be featured as a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, before becoming an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games. The Asian Games is the world’s second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics. This represents a major development in the expansion of esports and may eventually see esports featured at the Olympics.

In a statement OCA president Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah said “The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports,” He went on to say “We look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with their strength and experience in esports.”

The 2018 and 2022 Asian Games will be the testing ground for esports inclusion in major sporting events. Further to this, esports will also be introduced at this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG). Several games will be featured including, Fifa 17.

The future is here, the future is esports?

Audi partners with esports team Astralis

Image courtesy of wwg.com

This announcement is the latest in a long line of advancements for esports in the wider world of sports. With games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive(CS:GO), League of Legends and Dota 2 attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers, it is no surprise that major companies are starting to invest in esports. Recently it was announced that German car manufacturer Audi will be sponsoring high flying CS:GO team Astralis. This was a big step for the CS:GO scene and has furthered back the opinion that it is time for esports to be considered on a similar level to traditional sports. In recent months, there has also been an uptake of professional sports teams picking up various different esports teams. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired long standing Team Dignitas. Whilst Dignitas continue to operate under Dignitas branding, it still evidences a major shift in the opinion of esports.

In a major move for the validity of esports, the University of Utah have also announced that it will begin awarding scholarships to players who make the school’s varsity esports team. It is said that this will be the first scholarship program for competitive gaming for a school in one of the NCAA’s five major conferences. AJ Dimick, the school’s director of operations of esports, told the Associated Press “Esports is growing exponentially in the world and it is, too, on the college scene.” He went on to say “Part of our motivation for doing this is we wanted to help other Power 5 schools and other bigger schools, kind of, see themselves doing it. We hope that us jumping over and getting into this will encourage some of those schools to follow suit. And we think they will.”

The Next steps

As esports becomes more and more excepted by mainstream sports, it may be time to refer to each competitive game in its own merit. Whilst it makes sense when explaining it to people and when grouping together the genre. Things may become difficult as more and more esports appear in general sporting events. For example, back in 2014 Call of Duty(COD) made its first appearance at the X Games. Whilst this was important for the esports genre, it was also important for Call of Duty as a whole. It may be that esports because a category of sports event, in the same way you can have track and field events.

Optic Gaming Esports organisation

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Esports has a long way to go to catch-up with traditional sports, not only externally but also internally. Let’s take a look at fan bases. In terms of traditional sports people generally align themselves with a local team which they will then follow. Often in the esports scene, fans will support a player rather than a team. This is something that needs to be changed as esports grows. One good example of this would be Optic Gaming, who have created a team that people have allegiances to.

Esports is still developing and it take time until it reaches the same level of validity as general sports. One thing that can be guaranteed is that esports is coming and mainstream media will need to be ready for it.

 

 

 

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7.03 Patch Notes Analysis - The Bladeform Legacy Update

7.03 Patch Notes Analysis – The Bladeform Legacy

Following the recent Kiev Major Regional Qualifiers, Valve has released the 7.03 patch. The Blade Form Legacy patch includes the much awaited Juggernaut Arcana, which we will get to later. Similar to 7.01 and 7.02, 7.03 is a minor balancing patch, so don’t expect anything dramatic in the patch notes. The majority of heroes have received minor tweaks, with only a small amount of heroes missing out. Let’s take a look at some of the larger changes and how they may affect the current meta.

7.03 Patch Notes – Major Changes

Rat Dota, Best Dota

Rat Dota Patch Notes

Image courtesy of twitter.com

If 7.00 was the resurgence of five-man Dota, 7.03 may well be the death of it. The new changes to tower armor seem geared towards solo pushing towers.

  • All towers base armor reduced by 4
  • Towers now gain 2 armor per nearby enemy player within a 1200 AoE

Whilst towers have lost four base armor, this will immediately be regained if you have at least two heroes pushing together. With this in mind, a five man push strat would grant each tower 10 additional armor.

The changes to tower armor are a direct buff to strong split-push heroes such as Lycan, Nature’s Prophet, and Broodmother. Will we see a resurgence in rat Dota? Will this be the return of Admiral Bulldog? Is Alliance ever going to be good again? These are all questions that will be answered in the coming weeks.

Please Use Scan.

Since introducing the scan feature into the game, it has remained widely underused. Icefrog has made it clear in this patch that he would really like people to use the feature.

  • Scan cooldown reduced from 270 seconds to 210

Taking a full minute off the scan cooldown will probably have little effect on its usage, considering many players are still unsure of how it works. This change will likely affect the pro-scene as teams can be more liberal in their scan usage.

The King Has Arrived

It has happened, Monkey King has been added to Captains mode. Don’t panic, however, as his addition to Captains Mode comes with a few nerfs.

  • Jingu Mastery buff now has a max duration of 35 seconds
  • Tree Dance night vision reduced from 800 to 400
  • Wukong’s Command duration rescaled from 13/14/15 to 13

The change to Jingu mastery is a welcomed one. Whilst it is still a very strong passive, you no longer have to worry about being one hit killed by a Monkey King hidden in fog. In addition, the change to Tree Dance makes chasing and scouting using the spell a bit worse.

The change to Wukong’s Command is minimal, although the reduced duration may be the difference between a kill and an enemy escaping on 1% HP. Expect to see lots of Monkey picks/bans in the upcoming DAC and Major tournaments.

Video courtesy of youtube.com/noobfromua

So I heard you Liked Support?

CM 7.03 Patch Notes

Courtesy of twitter.com

Playing Support is an art that only the most patient among us can master. Icefrog has decided that he wants to make Supports poorer than ever before.

  • XP required to go from level 1 to level 6 increased by 15, 300 total.
  • AoE hero kill Gold and XP bounties reduced by 10% (including comeback gold and XP)
  • Tier 1 Team Bounty reduced from 160 to 120
  • Passive gold income reduced by 10%

In the last few patches, Icefrog has added functionality to make the games easier for new / lower-skilled players. The changes to passive gold income and AoE hero kill gold and XP will have a severe impact on lower-skilled players. These changes will require Supports to maximize their time more efficiently and focus on stacking and pulling slightly more than rotating.

The changes to comeback gold and XP are welcomed, as in recent patches it seemed as if it was better to be behind in the early game. Whilst 10% is not a huge amount, expect to see a reduction in the number of large comeback victories.

Drums or Helm?

Helm of the Dominator 7.03 Patch Notes

Image courtesy of reddit.com

Drums of endurance 7.03 Patch Notes Analysis

Image courtesy of reddit.com

In 7.00, Helm received a rework, and it suddenly became the best item in the game. Helm became the go-to item for both Cores and Supports, due to its low cost, excellent stats, and making any hero into a better version of Chen. Valve has been redressing this imbalance since the rework.

  • Reduced All Stats modifier from +4 to +2
  • Recipe cost increased from 725 to 800

Whilst the item is still good, at a cost of roughly 2000 gold, it may see considerably fewer purchases than before.

On the other side of the coin is Drums of Endurance, which has received a much-needed buff. The item was nerfed in 7.00, and as a result was very rarely picked up. However, a reduced recipe cost may have made the item viable once again.

  • Recipe cost reduced from 700 to 575

At roughly 1700 gold, Drums is now a much more affordable item for supports or heroes looking to fight early. Players may now be wise to choose Drums over Helm in some cases.

7.03 Patch Notes – Quality of Life

Valve Pleases Everyone?

Patch Notes include new Jugg Arcana

Image courtesy of reddit.com/rdota2

When it was announced that Valve had realized a new patch, many people were surprised that the Juggernaut Arcana was finally released. However, once the dust had settled, many fans took to Reddit to highlight their displeasure with the new Arcana.

Whilst the Arcana has literally no effect on Jugg as a hero, many see it as a status symbol. The set looks like they combined Jugg and Io together in an attempt to please the community. Is it the nicest Arcana? No. Will it make Valve a lot of money? Yes. It’s as simple as that.

The only positive to the Arcana being realized is that they didn’t buff Juggernaut to make sure he is picked more. Reading through the patch notes, the only serious change received for Juggernaut is that his Healing Totem now grants 75 Gold and XP if it is destroyed.

Another New Model

In the 7.00 patch, Valve updated some of the older hero models. One hero that missed out was Jakiro. As fans read through the patch notes, they will be greeted by the changes to Jakiro’s base model that are well overdue.

For a full breakdown check out PurgeGamers full patch notes analysis here

What was the biggest change, and how have your favorite heroes been affected? Let us know in the comments below.

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Desk Host

How Important Is It to Have a Good Desk Host?

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

Image courtesy of r/dota2

The Desk Host Equation

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

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

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

How difficult is it controlling the panel?

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

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

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

Image courtesy of ESL Dota 2

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

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

Puppet Paul as Host of the Puppet panel

The amazing puppet panel at TI6 – Image courtesy of twitter

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

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

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

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

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

Host of the Boston Major - Machine

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

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

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

Host

Image courtesy of twitter.com

 

Changing of the Guard?

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

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

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

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

————-

Check out Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner on twitter

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Pokésports Pokemon esports logo

Pokésports IV: Pokémon Can Put The Everyone In eSports

The eSport For Everyone

Pokémon 20th anniversary logo

With the wide reach of its 20 year old brand, Pokémon not only attracts young and old alike, it gives them all places to play competitively. Currently, officially sanctioned Tournaments are divided into three groupings based on age. Due to this, all ages can compete against like minded fans for glory. Being able to entertain the entire family unit is very important. Just like kids have their favorite Quarterback or Goalie, kids being able to cling to a Pokémon or Trainer is crucial for future widespread success as an eSport.

Other eSports have also tried to reach out to a wider audience. League of Legends, most notably, is being played competitively in High School and College circuits. This type of forward thinking is fantastic! eSports are much more cost effective to pick up for a school then traditional sports. Building a venue and buying equipment can be very costly endeavors. However, eSports provide the same type of team building and competition, but in a much more feasible package. This can especially become appealing for schools such as charter schools and other private schools.

 

Accessible But Not Accessible

Pokémon finds itself in a unique position to exploit these facets of the new and emerging eSports market. One fatal flaw really stands in its way, accessibility. While the Pokémon franchise is totally accessible from a gameplay standpoint, it has a long way to go from a hardware standpoint.

Diagram showing steps to install a capture card into a 3DS

Image courtesy of 3DSHACKS

Fact is, the main series of Pokémon games can only be played on a 3DS, or one of the DS spinoff consoles. This alone means that anyone who is interested in playing Pokémon competitively must invest in a 3DS, even if they have no interest in any other game on the console. Furthermore, the 3DS prevents Trainers from being able to stream or compile otherwise interesting content related to the games without hacking or modding their console. Such restrictions really put a stranglehold on the competitive community.

Contrast that with the ease and openness of most of the popular eSports out there currently. DOTA and LOL both provide play with a free to play PC client, with modest minimum requirements. Pair that with the ease of streaming gameplay and hosting content such as Let’s Plays. Letting passionate fans share their experiences helps to spread the energy of the competitive community. This usually results in new people chasing a dream of playing in the top tier.

 

It All Comes Back To Money

Pokémon tournament trophies.

Image courtesy of Nintendo Life

Promoting a successful sport comes down to one thing, money. Providing enticing rewards provokes competition. This draws competitors, which can bring in viewership, which can then be marketed. Pokémon fails utterly and completely on this point, compared to DOTA’s million dollar prize pools. Such as the DOTA International 2016 where the winning team took home a prize of over nine million dollars. While Miguel Marti de la Torre, who took place at Pokémon’s European International, won a measly five thousand dollars.

That disparity in winnings just cannot stand if Pokémon is to be taken seriously as an eSport. There is no doubt that Pokémon is a lucrative brand, TPCI should open it up and share it with the fans. Maybe turn the World Champion into a figurehead of the Pokémon brand for a year. Let Trainers share their passion with their friends, and just make loving competitive Pokémon easier all around.

In the age of viral marketing, Pokémon’s place on such a restricted console really hurts it. Couple that with a lack of substantial rewards for the work it takes to compete and it is not hard to see why so many shun competitive Pokémon.

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Pokémon Squirtle giving a thumbs up

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Link’s Return to LCS

Welcome “Back” To Summoner’s Rift

In an unexpected move, Team Liquid has signed CLG’s former Mid laner, Austin “Link” Shin, as a substitute. They announced that they intend to play both Link and starter, Goldenglue, throughout the split.

The last time we saw Link it was with CLG Spring Split 2015, coming off a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Team Liquid in the first round of the playoffs.

Shortly after Link announced his retirement with the “donezo manifesto”, in which he brought out CLG’s team environment to light. Most infamously, he called out star AD Carry Doublelift, for being a selfish and poor teammate and mainly blaming him for the failure of CLG.

Link, himself, received a lot of hate from the community when Machinima’s video series, “Chasing the Cup” seemed to show his inability to mesh as a teammate. In the series you witness everyone’s tempers flare, as the team seemed to be regressing from its hot start.

Link refused to duo que with his own Jungler, Dexter. This seemed to translate to a lack of team chemistry on the LCS stage. His own work ethic was questioned even by the community. It seemed like Link was playing more Hearthstone than League of Legends outside of scrims.

During his time in the NALCS, most people would have rated Link as a subpar LCS Mid Laner. He was never known as a flashy playmaker or a main carry, but he was a consistent performer. He played what his team needed and was the main shot caller for CLG.

When C9’s Hai went down with a collapsed lung, they called upon Link to sub for them in the All Stars tournament. He held his own against legendary Mid laners like Faker and xPeke. For the most part, he played the role of shot caller well. Thanks in part to him, C9 was able to take games off of OMG, Fnatic, and TPA. This allowed them to get to the semifinals of the tournament. He praised C9’s team environment in his donezo manifesto, in compasrison to CLG’s.

Second Chances

Link gets a second chance with a fresh roster and under a new organization. Team Liquid has been around for awhile but just hasn’t found the right formula for success just yet. Obviously, he’s still been playing the game at a high enough level to be picked up by a new team.

Others on social media have noted that he had been playing Dota 2 at high level as well. It does raise the question of if being away from the professional scene for such a long time will be more beneficial or hinder his play starting out.

Photo courtesy of Gamurs.com

It seems Team Liquid is emphasizing a better team environment this split, parting ways with Dardoche. They also let go of head coach Locodoco and every player on the team seems hungry to improve off of last split.

They look to be modeling CLG in having five players that are all friends outside of game. Will they truly utilize the six man roster or will it be more like C9’s support situation last season?

If Link is able to play better with the other four members than Goldenglue, I don’t see why they wouldn’t eventually make him the starter. It will be up to Link to prove he belongs in LCS once again.  

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

ESL One Genting

ESL One Genting 2017 Dota 2 Preview

In just a couple of days. the 2017 Dota 2 season kicks off with ESL One Genting. The tournament will take place from January 6-8th and is hosted at the prestigious Arena of Stars. For the eight teams competing in the tournament, they will be hoping that they can take home the first tournament of the year.

ESL One Genting Format

The tournament will be played in two stages. The first will be a group stage consisting of two groups, each with four teams. They will play each other in a double elimination format until two teams are left from each group who will proceed to bracket play. As with all ESL Dota 2 tournaments, bracket play will be single elimination. Meaning anything can and will happen. As a fan of the unpredictability that single elimination bracket play brings to competitive Dota, I am excited to see what the teams have in store for us over the weekend.

ESL One Genting Prize Pool

ESL One Genting boasts a $250,000 prize pool, which is a large amount considering it is possible to win the tournament only playing four series. The prize pool is broken down as follows:

  • 1st Place – $100,000
  • 2nd Place – $50,000
  • 3rd Place – $25,000
  • 4th Place – $25,000
  • 5th – 8th Place – $12,500

ESL One Genting Teams

Eight of the top teams will arrive in Malaysia, all with aspirations of winning ESL One Genting. The winners of the last ESL One event, OG, are not attending the event so a new champion will be crowned over the weekend. Lets take a look at who is fighting it out to be ESL One Genting 2017 champions.

Group A

Virtus Pro (VP)

 

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Solo

Position 5 (Support) – Lil

Heading into the Boston Major, VP was touted by many, including myself, as firm favorites to win the event. Unfortunately for VP this was not the case, Evil Geniuses (EG) defeated them, resulting in a 5-8th finish.

With ESL One Genting just round the corner, VP will be desperate to avenge their failure at the Major with a dominant display over the weekend.

Prediction:- 1st in Group A

VP are famed for playing a chaotic style, combine this with their niche picks (Phantom Assassin / Weaver supports) and a single elimination tournament, I foresee VP performing very well and taking home first place in their group.

Fnatic

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – InYourDream

Position 2 (Mid) – Mushi

Position 3 (Offlane) – Ohaiyo

Position 4 (Support) – Febby

Position 5 (Support) – Yamateh

Following disappointment at the Boston Major, Fnatic made the decision to drop three players from their roster. Leaving Mushi and Ohaiyo to look for three players in time for ESL One Genting, but they managed to pull it off. Fnatic announced their new roster on January 4th, a mere 36 hours before their first group stage game against heavy favorites VP.

Fnatic will be hoping that they do not regret leaving it to last minute to finalize their roster for the event. Instead they will be hoping to benefit from taking the time to select the correct players for each role.

Prediction:- 4th in Group A

Unfortunately, I think that Fnatic have decided on a roster too late. The team will not have had a chance to play together very much, and at this level of Dota, skill is not enough to win a series, let alone a whole tournament. ESL One Genting has come too soon for this Fnatic roster, and I expect that they will be hoping to use this tournament as a chance to bond as a team.

Newbee

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Uuu9

Position 2 (Mid) – Sccc

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kpii

Position 4 (Support) – Faith

Position 5 (Support) – Kaka

Newbee is currently one of the two best teams in China, the other being Wings Gaming, and will be hoping to assert their dominance on the international stage at ESL One Genting. Following a very disappointing 9 – 16th finish at the Boston Major, they bounced back in the recent Dota 2 Professional League Season 2 to finish first in the all Chinese league. They will be hoping that they can start 2017 with a bang.

Prediction:- 2nd in Group A

Combine the brilliance of Mid lane player Song “Sccc” Chung with the reliability of the rest of the team, Newbee are one of the favorites to take the tournament. Although I have predicted them to finish second in the group, it would not be a surprise if they nabbed the top spot from VP.

Team NP

 

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Aui_2000

Position 2 (Mid) – Eternal Envy

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – SVG

Position 5 (Support) – Rose aka 1437

Fan favorites NP boast an International winner, in Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling. Aui, along with Shangai Major winner Jacky “Eternal Envy” Mao, will be hoping to lead NP to the ESL One Genting crown. Having formed in September 2016, NP will be hoping to build on recent performances and get the teams maiden first place finish at ESL One Genting.

Known for his insane plays and almost reckless abandon, EE will be hoping that the solidity of the four other players on the team will propel them to glory. Team NP are on the cusp of the elite Dota 2 teams, and they will be hoping that 2017 is the year they join the elite teams.

Predictions:- 3rd in Group A

Unfortunately for Team NP they are in the harder of the two groups and up against the likes of Newbee and VP. I believe that they will finish third in their group. If NP can start hot and catch other teams in their group by surprise, I think that they may have a chance at making it to bracket play. As heavy fan favorites, the Dota 2 community will be willing NP to greatness. Whether they can achieve it or not, is a different question.

Group A Predictions Recap

  1. Virtus Pro
  2. Newbee
  3. NP
  4. Fnatic

Group B

Digital Chaos (DC)

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Resolution

Position 2 (Mid) – w33

Position 3 (Offlane) – MoonMeander

Position 4 (Support) – MiSeRy

Position 5 (Support) – Saksa

DC recently finished second place at The International 6 (TI6), a few days later and to the surprise of many they made a roster change. They dropped fan favorite David “Moo” Hull and replaced him with David “MoonMeander” Tan. After a good showing at the Boston Major, finishing 3rd/4th, DC will be hoping that they can start the year with a victory at ESL One Genting.

In many people’s eyes DC have a roster with the ability to take the Dota 2 scene by storm, although they have yet to realize this potential. Will ESL One Genting be the start of a great 2017, or another bump in the road to greatness?

Prediction:- 1st in Group B

Being placed in the same group as the TI6 champions could be both a blessing and a curse. DC will be looking to avenge the defeat they suffered in the finals of TI6, and I fully believe that they will be able to at ESL One Genting. I expect them to finish top of their group, although they will be fighting it out with TI6 champions Wings Gaming.

Execration (XctN)

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Nando

Position 2 (Mid) – Gabbi

Position 3 (Offlane) – Dj

Position 4 (Support) – Owa

Position 5 (Support) – Kimo

2016 was a massive year for XctN. They have shown themselves to be one of the best teams in the South East Asian (SEA) region. However, 2017 started with uncertainty, XctN lost two players and were left searching for replacements. With the addition of Fernando “Nando” Mendoza and Joshua “Owa” Dela Serna, they will be hoping that they can continue to improve in 2017.

XctN will be hoping that their Mid player Khim “Gabbi” Villafuerte can make the same stylish plays in 2017 that he made in 2016 (Click here to see Gabbi’s amazing Puck play at MPGL in September).

Prediction:- 3rd in Group B

The difficulty with an eight team tournament is that you are inevitably going to face extremely tough opposition in the group stages. Unfortunately for XctN, this is the predicament that they find themselves in. Being grouped with the first and second place teams from TI6, Wings and DC respectively, means that their chances of making it out of group B are slim. I do, however, hope that they can prove me wrong as they are an exciting team to watch.

Wings Gaming

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Shadow

Position 2 (Mid) – Blink

Position 3 (Offlane) – Faith_bian

Position 4 (Support) – y’

Position 5 (Support) – iceice

2016 was a rollercoster year for Wings, which saw them achieve six first place finishes. This includes taking home the Aegis of Champions at TI6, and also winning ESL One Manilla in April. Many expected them to challenge for the crown at the Boston Major, however this was not the case. They achieved a disappointing 9 – 16th placing, followed by another disappointing finish at China Top 2016.

With the groundbreaking 7.00 patch still relatively new, Wings will be hoping that they can use their highly unpredictable play style to achieve a good placing at ESL One Genting.

Prediction – 2nd in Group B

Expect Wings to make it through their group relatively easily. In my opinion, it is a straight fight between Wings and DC for top spot in Group B. Wings have the skill and team play to win the entire tournament, however their most recent performances have been lackluster to say the least. I expect Wings to finish 2nd in the Group, but they may prove me and many others wrong.

WarriorsGaming.Unity (WG)

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

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ahjit

Position 2 (Mid) – NaNa

Position 3 (Offlane) – KaNG

Position 4 (Support) – Ahfu

Position 5 (Support) – Wenn

WG are one of the best teams in SEA, and at the Boston Major they shocked many people by battling to a respectable 5 – 8th placing. WG are somewhat an unknown entity in the international Dota 2 scene. Apart from their performance at the Boston Major, they have mainly played in SEA based tournaments where they have seen great success.

Prediction – 4th in Group B

WG are going to suffer the same issues as I mentioned in relation to XctN. Their group has two of the best teams in the world, who have the potential to win the entire tournament. I expect WG to be fighting it out with XctN for the bottom two places in the group. There is always the chance that WG could potentially catch DC or Wings off guard, but I find this highly unlikely.

Group B Predictions Recap

  1. Digital Chaos
  2. Wings Gaming
  3. Execration
  4. WarriorsGaming.Unity

ESL One Genting Final Thoughts

7.00 has reinvigorated Dota, and I am excited to see some of the best teams in the world play on the new patch. With the ability of teams like Virtus Pro and Wings Gaming to make almost all the heroes work in some way, I expect to see a weekend of world class Dota

In terms of my overall event predictions, I think that Virtus Pro will take the whole event, with Digital Chaos finishing second.

1st Place – Virtus Pro

2nd Place – Digital Chaos

3rd / 4th Place – Newbee / Wings Gaming

5th / 6th Place – Team NP / Execration

7th / 8th Place – Fnatic / WarriorsGaming.Unity

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7.01 Patch Notes Analysis

The Changing Faces of Dota 2

Maybe it’s the way of Dota, but every time I think I have a handle on the meta, Icefrog changes his mind and releases a new patch.

After playing Dota for two years I thought I had the hang of it. Then Icefrog released 7.00. December 12th 2016 will go down in the history books. The new patch was released and the Dota 2 community descended into a panic.

 

cm-panic

Image Courtesy of www.reddit.com/r/Dota2

 

Nine days later and we are presented with another patch, 7.01. Let’s get into looking at what the mighty Frog has served up for us this time:

Patch Overview

This is a minor balancing patch that is mainly focused on tidying up the User Interface (I am sure Reddit will love that), and balancing some of the more overpowered heroes and Talents. At first glance it looks like most of the heroes are in a pretty good place in terms of balance, apart from Gyro (he is still awful).

The Winners

Photo Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Broodmother – The sultry Brood Mama gets some love from the frog once again. Her passive Incapacitating Bite has been reworked, the percentage slow has been increased to 14/24/34/44%. This is a pretty good buff to late game Brood, although it wont change much for the early game.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Meepo – With the addition of the four Bounty Runes, why not make it so that one hero could potentially pick them all up at the same time? Well, with the new Meepo change he can now do this. Meepo clones can now pick up Runes, which will make dominating the mid lane rune battle even easier.

 

 

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Natures Prophet – After the 7.00 patch release, Prophet players may have been left disappointed with the new level 25 Talent “Spawn six extra Treants”. For most, this was just not good enough. The community was disappointed and valve responded.

Prophet’s new level 25 Talent is now “2x Treants HP/Damage”. Now reaching level 25 on Prophet will give you a real boost in pushing power. Combining this Talent and Aghanims upgrade and we may begin to see Prophet making a return to the meta

The Losers

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Visage – As part of the 7.00 update, Visage’s familiars received a massive buff. They were given a Hit Point (HP) value, rather than requiring a certain amount of hits to kill. This change saw the win rate for Visage spike and move from a very low 44% up to 51%.

I think that Visage was maybe a bit too overpowered following the 7.00 patch, and so did Valve. Following the 7.01 Patch update, Visage’s familiars now have 300/500/700 HP rather than 500/750/1000.

Personally, I think Visage has been hit really hard in the patch update. His win rate has dropped from 51% to 47%, and this will probably continue to drop down to about 45% in the coming days.

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

Monkey King – The newest hero on the block, and the first hero in Dota 2 that was not in the original Dota. The 7.00 release saw the first appearance of Monkey King, and within hours the community wanted him nerfed.

Every game that was played since the release of 7.00, Monkey King was either picked or banned. He has shot to the top of the popularity rankings on Dotabuff.

Valve took note, and they have tried to make it easier to deal with the Monkey in the early game. As such, Boundless Strike’s critical strike has been rescaled from 200% crit to 140/160/180/200%. This change, coupled with Jingu Mastery counter duration being reduced to 10 seconds, will mean that Monkey King will be easier to deal with in the early game.

Image Courtesy of dotabuff.com

The Shop – With the 7.01 update, Valve also changed the User Interface (UI) for the shop. The change didn’t quite hit the mark, leaving the community confused.

Reddit did not take kindly to the change and we all know that the louder reddit shouts about something the quicker Valve responds. I expect that the Shop UI will receive some attention from Valve in the near future.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts on the 7.01 Gameplay patch

This was a minor balancing patch which has allowed Valve to scale back some of the more overpowered heroes, whilst trying to show some love to the slightly weaker heroes of the meta.

In the coming weeks, the meta should start to take shape and the pro teams will start to identify the better heroes of the patch. Dota is in a very interesting place and it will be nice to see where the new patch takes the game.

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Broodmother Tips

The huge, disgusting Black Arachnia the Broodmother is one of the most unique Heroes in the game. Her playstyle is such that it can lead to her winning the game very early while also possibly becoming a big liability.

Broodmother is known for her combination of strong lane control and pushing skills. Left unchecked, she can take objectives fast and easily. Countering her isn’t too difficult; using her full potential though is something not many players actually pull off.

First, let’s look at a few common mistakes to avoid when playing Brood:

-Plainly obvious, but don’t pick her too early. Certain picks can counter her completely. The ideal scenario is to last pick her. Other than that, wait until a counterpick won’t fit easily in the enemy lineup. We’ll go through details about this later.

-Don’t fully commit to a push too much. You don’t always have enough space to do that. If there’s 4 Heroes missing, you can expect you’re going to be the target; as Brood, you’re a very high priority kill.

-You don’t have to solo push/farm for the whole duration of the game. A mistake I personally make all the time, so I can assure you, it’s worth it to join some fights here and there if you can’t take towers fast.

Now, let’s see some tips to take your gameplay up a notch.

-Bring Sentry Wards with you from the start so you can deward the enemy’s wards. No need to ask your support, you can buy them yourself; they’ll be more important than most starting items. Generally, you’ll want to start with Sentries, Tangoes and Soul Ring Recipe. Be mindful of where there can be Sentries and eat them with your Tangoes, or destroy them with your spiderlings.

-Always keep one half of your webs in impassable terrain,especially during the laning stage. That way you won’t ever be zoned out completely even if you have 2 enemy supports getting true sight constantly. You also use your Spawn Spiderlings from safety to keep up your farm.

-Get a few levels before you start bullying people out of the lane. You’re not very strong early on. The ideal case would be a level 4-5 with a Soul Ring.

-Be versatile when you’re at a disadvantage. This is perhaps the most important tip I can give. There will be times where you won’t have enough space or a very good matchup. If your spiders keep getting killed, use them to farm woods or scout, don’t just feed them. If you’re facing something like an Axe or Dark Seer, try putting some webs behind and away from their tower and farm there. If the supports are getting dusts 24/7, stay in fog, stack some spiderlings without letting them die and bully the supports away. And of course, consider starting at a different lane to gain yourself some time.

To wrap this up, a few things to keep in mind when picking Brood. As we said before, the best would be to pull off a last pick when you can see the whole enemy lineup. That won’t always be possible, so to evade your greatest enemies (Axe, Dark Seer, Timbersaw, Bristleback, etc) you generally need to look at the enemy cores and whether such a pick would fit in or not. If, for instance, they’ve already picked a woods Hero and their carry, getting an Axe to counter a Brood is possible, but it also means their carry and support would have to pull off a dual offlane. This is a painful choice you can give them; maybe you’ll get a counterpick anyway, but screwing their whole lineup over just to deal with a single Hero can be totally worth it.

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