Na’Vi impresses at DreamLeague Qualifiers

The inaugural Dota Pro Circuit is underway and DreamLeague Season 8 is already turning heads, heralding the return of one of Dota’s proudest franchises: Natus Vincere. Taking games off of both OG and Virtus Pro, they clinched a spot in the upcoming Major. A great opportunity to grab some early points in the season. Whether it’s the new patch, roster or something else, Na’vi is back.

Midlane reworks allow Dendi to shine

A large reason that Na’vi has found its way back into relevance is the 7.07 changes to the midlane. The terrain changes to this lane have severely impacted the laning stage. Previously, mid was full of heroes throughout this part of the game. Sometimes with a support almost dedicated to sitting midlane and ensuring their teammate a better start. In many matches this could balloon into a trilane happening mid. But now the extra creep is gone and there is much more space around the tier one towers to position for last hits.

One change that stands out as benefiting extremely high-skilled players is the narrow point at the meeting of the initial creep wave. Dendi and other mechanically gifted mids are able to manipulate the creep wave from high ground. The concept of high ground has always been important in Dota 2, but these midlane changes allow for the best players to exploit it. Keeping the creeps closer to your high ground, as a midlaner, allows you to remain much safer and easily out-lane your opponent. The miss chance along with the vision advantage are enough to secure any lane.

These changes have also driven mid back to a true 1-v-1 matchup. Further compounding the advantage Dendi has over the opponent. A knock against Na’vi for most of their struggle last year was that Dendi could not carry games with the way the midlane worked. Now he can truly exert his immense individual talent in order to snowball out of control.

 

dota 2, ancient apparition, dendi

Dendi with the farm on an Ancient Apparition at 26 minutes (Dota 2 Client)

What have you done for me lately

This year it’s all about the points. That’s what decides who goes to TI. Currently, Na’vi does not have any points in the Pro Circuit. Which is almost certain to change the way they have been playing lately. In their last 11 series, Na’vi is 7-2-2. Boding very well for them with 1,800 points up for grabs over the next 30 days. They will be competing in the MDL Macau Minor as well as the DreamLeague Winter Jonkoping Major.

As a team they have been playing top-notch Dota. Reasserting themselves as a top level team while taking care of business against teams they should beat on paper. Their 2-0 over Virtus Pro came after a hard fought Grand Final in the Dota Summit 8 Minor Qualifier. They did lose 3-1, but proved they could adjust with the result at DreamLeague the next day. They even made a mid Ancient Apparition work.

Na’vi seems to have a pretty good read of where their strengths are within the patch. Their most picked heroes on 7.07 as a competitive patch are Winter Wyvern and Vengeful Spirit. Two heroes that they have helped bring into the meta. Rounding out their five favorite heroes are Enchantress, Viper and Earth Spirit. Hard to argue with a winrate on average of 71.57% across their top five most-picked heroes.

Featured image courtesy of YouTube

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graduated junglers

Preseason: NA’s graduated junglers

After joining the NA LCS in 2017, three former rookies mount their return as NA’s newly graduated junglers. Mike “MikeYeung” Yeung, Omar “Omargod” Amin and Juan “Contractz” Garcia exploded onto the scene in season 7. After an exciting freshman year, these three junglers look to stake their claim on the newly franchised NA LCS. Looking back at their performances the past year, who is poised for even greater breakout performances in 2018? Let’s take a look at North America’s graduated jungler trio as they plot their return.

MikeYeung: From the Ashes

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

MikeYeung made his NA LCS debut in the Summer Split as the jungler for Phoenix1 (P1). Previously a highly rated solo-queue player, MikeYeung erupted onto the NA scene with an arsenal of carry junglers. His signature pick in “Nidalee” stunned the NA crowd and crushed his opponents. Boasting an insane 80% overall winrate on “Nidalee” in summer, this pocket pick was no joke. Following an already impressive debut, MikeYeung travelled to Germany with Phoenix1 to participate in the Rift Rivals tournament, his first international event. Mike shocked his EU opponents with some flashy plays on his patented “Nidalee,” earning himself the Group Stage MVP distinction.

After returning from a strong showing at Rift Rivals, the MikeYeung hype train was in full gear. However, with the jungle meta shifting to control-oriented tank picks, Mike’s champion pool struggled. His star champions, “Kha’Zix,” “Lee Sin” and “Nidalee” could not snowball enough advantages against more useful utility tanks. Due to these meta changes, fans did not see the dominant MikeYeung that most expected. Phoenix1 suffered a steady decline that saw them forced into the summer Promotion tournament.

After ending their summer season early, news surrounding P1’s failure to earn a spot in the new NA LCS began to leak. The question now: where will P1’s rookie sensation go to reclaim his former glory? With the recent runes overhaul in patch 7.22, carry junglers look to make a serious comeback. MikeYeung has an opportunity to showcase his improvement since the Promotion tournament at the upcoming 2017 All-Stars event. For MikeYeung, the sky is the limit. Can the graduated rookie can reclaim his spot atop NA’s jungle hierarchy?

Omargod: Breaking the Chains

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Omargod made his professional debut as a substitute jungler for Counter Logic Gaming (CLG). After internal issues involving starting jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett surfaced, Omar became the team’s starter. For Omargod, the road to NA LCS was a long climb. He first appeared on CLG’s radar at the 2016 Scouting Grounds event. Impressed by his carry performances, coach Tony “Zikzlol” Gray and veteran support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black first-picked Omar as the jungler for Team Cloud Drake. After several fantastic games on carry picks like “Hecarim,” Omargod proved why he belonged on the LCS stage.

After Dardoch parted ways with CLG, Omargod had a huge gap to fill. Dardoch established a name for himself by consistently dominating enemy junglers. But, because of meta shifts in the summer split, Omar found himself mainly on utility tanks. Criticism poured in as CLG struggled to regain their footing in the latter half of the split. Analysts pointed to the recent jungle swap as the obvious reason for CLG’s decline. After falling to Cloud 9 (C9) in the NA LCS regional qualifiers, CLG and Omargod found themselves stuck at home, instead of attending Worlds.

Because of Omar’s shaky performances during the Summer Split, fans have mixed expectations for the upcoming season. However, Counter Logic Gaming is an organization known for the coaching staff’s dedication and loyalty to players. If any coach can bring out the best in Omargod, Zikz is second to none. Now is the time for Omar to free himself of the criticism from last split and prove himself on CLG. Perhaps the preseason meta changes will encourage Omargod to dip into his champion pool and show North America the carry potential that CLG witnessed at Scouting Grounds. After all, rumor has it “Predator Hecarim” is rampaging through preseason.

Contractz: A Carry’s DNA

graduated junglers

Credits: LoL Esports Photos

Unlike the other graduated junglers, Contractz began his journey with Cloud 9 in the spring of 2017. After earning spring Rookie of the Split, Contractz stumbled a bit in summer. In the Summer Playoffs, Cloud 9 dropped out in quarterfinals against a surging Dignitas (DIG). So, C9 spent their time preparing for the regional qualifier gauntlet. There, the squad overcame CLG in a solid 3-1 finish and booked a ticket for China.

At Worlds, Contractz battled the likes of SKT Peanut, EDG Clearlove7 and WE Condi. His peerage became a group of elite, international junglers. Still, the rookie performed fantastically on the world stage. Contractz won over many fans, pulling out picks like “Ezreal” and “Graves” in the group stage. While the other NA junglers struggled against international competition, Contractz held his own against the best. After being the only North American representative to advance past group stages, all hope rested with Cloud 9. Although C9 fell to Team WE in quarterfinals, the roster made a definitive statement to the fans back home. “We are the best NA team here.”

With a great Worlds performance behind him, Contractz looks to dominate in the upcoming split. As carry junglers rise both in power and viability in preseason, is this the split for Contractz to stamp his name as the best jungler in NA? A Top 8 finish at Worlds means the onus is on C9 to reclaim their former glory at the top of North America. With changes coming to NA LCS, Cloud 9 look poised to gun for first place. Of the three former rookie junglers, Contractz may be the one to surpass them all. Still, only time will tell which graduated jungler will break ahead of the pack.

Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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