i-League, Star Ladder, Dota 2, The Aftermath

Star Ladder: The Aftermath

Two months passed between the end of TI7 and the start of the TI8 competitive season. Some teams took well deserved breaks, some doubled down on their practice, and some teams broke apart entirely.  More important is how these players and teams adapted to the game of DotA during the break. With the completion of Star Ladder, it’s a good time to take a look at some data from the aftermath, and try to answer this question!

Most Picked Heroes

 The International 7

  • Earthshaker – 71
  • Sand King – 69
  • Batrider – 63
  • Puck – 61
  • Nightstalker – 51

 Star Ladder

  • Earthshaker – 12
  • Venomancer – 12
  • Pugna – 11
  • Earth Spirit – 11
  • Puck – 11

It probably isn’t too surprising that we see some similarities between these lists. After all, Star Ladder and TI7 were both played on the same patch. The reason teams favor these heroes is also fairly apparent.  An Earthshaker with a blink dagger is hands down the best team fight initiator in the game. Puck on the other hand is notoriously difficult to kill due to his elusive abilities. His ultimate and AoE silence make him a great team fighter and initiator as well. But everyone knows this. It is probably more productive to talk about the differences between these lists than the similarities, so lets start with Venomancer.

Showstoppers

At TI7, the venomous tower pusher didn’t even break the top 20 most picked heroes. As a matter of fact, he even received a minor nerf post TI7 when Valve lowered his daytime ward vision. Perhaps teams are just making better use of his versatility. Not only do his plague wards allow him to put pressure on towers early, but they also enable him to farm multiple jungle camps if his lane goes poorly. Poison Nova is a deceptively powerful teamfight ultimate that can deal 1360 magical damage to all heroes hit at level 3. Tools like these allow Venomaner to fill many roles on the team, making him a great comfort pick.

Pugna had some impressive showings as well at Star Ladder, though his win rate was only around 54%. In the matches he DID win, he was a terror. His ability to disarm enemy right click carries with Decrepify should not be underestimated. If he has allied stuns to back him up, Decrepify paired with Life Drain seals the fate of about any hero in the game. Similar to Venomancer, Pugna is also a great pusher thanks to his Nether Blast ability. We can see here again that it’s the hero’s ability to fill multiple roles that makes him so appealing when locking in a draft.

The Aftermath

Image courtesy of dotafire.com

If there was one show stopping hero at Starladder though, it would have to be Earth Spirit. Earth Spirit lost only a single game that he was picked in at the tournament, giving him a 91% win rate. Earth Spirit’s major selling point is his wide array of disables. He does not scale as well into the late game as Pugna or Venomancer, but his group stuns and silences keep him a credible threat through all phases of the game.

But what happened to the heroes that were dethroned from the list since TI7? Well despite the fact that Sand King and Bat Rider were among the most picked heroes, their win rate left something to be desired. Batrider won 48% of his 63 games, while Sand King only won a disappointing 35% of his 69 games at TI7. On the other hand, Nightstalker didn’t make the Star Ladder top 5 because he is still being banned in a large percentage of drafts.

The Aftermath: Conclusion

Though DotA 2 has not seen a new patch in nearly half a year, seeing these lists change somewhat is a small comfort. Even within the same patch, portions of the meta will still shift as heroes fall our of favor.  These microshifts help keep the game feel somewhat fresh, but a new patch is incoming on Nov 1st.  It will be exciting to see how the meta shifts with another round of major changes.  Needless to say, we’ll all be playing a very different game of DotA after that.


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NBA eLeague

The NBA and Take-Two Are Changing esports

The NBA and Take-Two (Makers of NBA 2K) are teaming up to change esports in a major way starting in 2018. The NBA and Take-Two have partnered to create a professional, competitive NBA eLeague.

Traditional sports games have fallen behind in the world of esports. Games like League of Legends, Pokemon, Halo, Counter-Strike and Dota2 have had been dominating competitive gaming and are already paying gamers million of dollars.

The NBA is trying to take a piece of that pie. There is so much money to be made from gaming that traditional sports need to innovate before they get left behind.

The NBA and Take-Two are trying to set the trend for these traditional sports. This bold leap could change the gaming industry like never seen before.

So what exactly will this NBA eLeague be and how will it run?

How Will it work?

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: https://geekiversedotcom.com)

The eLeague, as Adam Silver has called it, will be a professional gaming league run by the NBA and its franchises. Each NBA team will be in control of their own 2K virtual basketball team.

For example, the Chicago Bulls will have the eBulls and the team will manage its roster just as they do for the on-court basketball team. There will be general managers and a salary cap.

All 30 NBA teams will be involved and this season will mirror the real season. Gamers will be paid a salary to practice, train and compete for their respective teams and the only difference is they will be training with a controller instead of their body.

These teams will be through a real draft, similar to the traditional NBA draft. Each team will have five professional gamers on its roster. They won’t be playing with LeBron James, Steph Curry or Kevin Durant but instead they will play with their custom created avatars that they work on to improve.

One area of concern most people come up with is how can they do this if everyone is going to just be a 99 overall player who can do everything? NBA2K has already fixed this issue in their latest version of the game.

archetypes and badges

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:https://www.youtube.com)

NBA 2K17 really wanted to make sure that each player had their own specialty. In previous years a player could make a point guard who could be 6-foot-7 and earn all badges to become the most unstoppable player of all-time.

There are three solutions they came up with to halt this.

The first is with archetypes. For all examples in how this works, we will stick to looking at point guards.

When you create your player you can pick a position. Once you select the position you wish to play, you must pick an archetype. The archetypes for point guard are the following: playmaker, sharpshooter, lockdown defender, shot creator and slasher.

Depending on the type of point guard you decide to become, you will have only five badges you can upgrade. That is the second part of the solution: the number of badges one can upgrade. In NBA 2K there are dozens of badges a player can get that makes them better.

One of those badges is the pickpocket badge. To unlock the pickpocket badge, a player must get a certain amount of steals within a season. The pickpocket badge makes a player more effective at stealing the ball.

As you can see in the picture with the sharpshooter, pickpocket is not one of these upgradeable badges for that archetype. What that means is that the pickpocket badge must stay at the bronze level.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: YouTube)

If the sharpshooter archetype gamer unlocked the limitless range badge then they could upgrade it from bronze to silver then to gold. Once a player has a gold badge they can upgrade it to the hall of fame level. Hall of fame badges allow a player to be great at that skill.

By allowing gamers to only have five upgradeable badges, they have stopped people from becoming players that are great at everything and 99 overall.

The third way NBA 2K17 has made it difficult to become 99 overall is by including park reputation.

Park reputation is a tier system in which can only be aquired by playing at MyPark. There are five levels to each tier. The tiers are as follows: rookie, pro, all-star, superstar and legend.

A player can only get to 95 overall before the game will not let them upgrade anymore. To earn more upgrades, one must reach levels one, three and five of the superstar tier at MyPark. The amount of games and time it takes to reach those tiers is extremely straining and does not come easily.

These three additions have really helped NBA 2K level the playing field and made a game that requires multiple different skill sets, rather than just a bunch of players who can do all. This is something NBA teams will have to look at when constructing teams for their NBA eLeague.

2K HAS ALREADY TESTED THIS

There is a mode in NBA 2K called Pro-Am that allows all these different gamers to take their custom players play in five on five games similar to an NBA contest. These teams become really competitive and are an example of how an NBA eLeague team would look. NBA 2K have already held two major tournaments over the past two years to test how this would work in a legitimate format.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/)

The first one was called the Road to the Finals which took place in 2016. This year NBA 2K held the All Star Tournament which would gave 250 thousand dollars to the winning team Still Trill.

Over two million people streamed the final game, according to NBA 2K, proving that there is a market for competitive traditional sports games. The tournament showed is that these skilled players are capable of drawing a lot of viewers.

There are over 110,000 teams on Xbox alone in the Pro-Am game mode. The teams and players are already around waiting to be picked up by NBA franchises.

Why This Will Change eSports

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: Matthew Hagan)

The potential of this idea is unlimited. Currently, getting the NBA to be involved is monumental for the growth of NBA 2K as an esport. The NBA is the first professional league in the United States to create their own esports league.

The success with the two tournaments that NBA 2K have already run proves that there is huge interest in this game. Eventually the NBA eLeague could expand to more teams than just 30. There could be hundreds of teams in each region of the world. Eventually there could be regional championships that lead to a world championship.

An eLeague allows people who could never play in the NBA a chance to become NBA stars. This includes people who have disabilities and are unable physically play the sport. It doesn’t matter your size, weight, or gender, anybody who is good enough on the sticks can end up being drafted to an NBA eLeague team. That is something that no other professional sport can offer.

This is just the beginning for the NBA and Take-Two. Once the money begins to flow they will realize they need to expand the field. Before you know it there will be an NBA2K Hall of Fame and a list of new NBA eChampions.

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