majors, minors, dota 2, 2018, schedule

Majors and Minors: Patching Dota 2’s tournament system

Valve unveils a new tournament structure at TI7

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

Get ready for a lot of Dota

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

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

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

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

Majors and Minors provide structure to the scene

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

dota 2, majors, minors, schedule, 2018,

(Twitter)

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

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

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

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

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

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dota 2, pangolin, zorro, armadillo, ti7,

What’s to come for Dota after TI7

The International 7 was one to remember…

The International 7 has come and gone. Congrats to Team Liquid on the first ever sweep in TI Grand Finals history! There were some amazing moments, as always, during the entire tournament. Along with the highest stakes of any Esports event.

Kuroky finally secured the Aegis in his seventh TI. The whole team received a shoutout from an investor who knows about hardware:

magic johnson

(Twitter)

Bringing an end to this Dota 2 season does come with some perks. The downtime after TI usually brings a different kind of excitement to the community. One of hope and speculation. Players begin to experiment more with heroes. Trying to find the next pub stomper to raise their MMR.

What’s next for Dota fans?

Everyone has heard the saying: “there ain’t no rest for the wicked”. This could be altered to “there ain’t no rest for the Aegis” when it comes to Dota 2 teams. Not even a few weeks after the tournament and teams were already making big changes.

 

OG’s Ana takes a year off

The community was already buzzing with rumors that Newbee’s Sccc was thinking of leaving the TI7 runners-up for a new squad. Pictures of him at the The International 7 after party with OG’s n0.tail and Fly raised an eyebrow. This followed Ana’s announcement via the team’s Facebook page that he would be both leaving the team and taking a year off from competitive Dota 2. Setting a very interesting stage for Newbee and OG fans alike. Will Sccc stay with the team that gave him his start?

Newbee has been very successful during Sccc’s tenure with the team. A departure to OG would leave a big hole in the Newbee roster. Sccc would also be leaving two players (Moogy and Faith) whom he played with on Newbee Young prior to being called up to Newbee.

OG’s mid lane is one of the top spots available during this roster shuffle. Filling it with a superstar is going to be key for OG after another disappointing TI result.

 

Misery to Evil Geniuses?

One of the best parts of the Dota scene is how active some of the players are in the community. Many will have conversations via twitter, interact with fans or randomly post about the game. The overall level of engagement between players through social media can provide for some interesting theories. Such as this one which was hatched when Misery tweeted out about his casting experience post-TI:

dota 2, ti 7, misery, sumail, eg

(Twitter)

Admittedly, this is a little more convincing than the previous theory on Sccc and OG. Though it is also very possible that Sumail and Misery are just having a laugh at the expense of the fans. Initially this sounded like Sumail moving to Team Secret with Misery. Which was debunked once Khezu and MP left Team Secret while they retained their mid player (MidOne) and both supports (Puppey and Yapzor).

Taking this into account that leaves a return to EG as a possibility for Misery. So far, Evil Geniuses hasn’t announced any roster moves. This roster has been pretty stable since Fear and ppd left it. Adding Arteezy, Zai and Cr1t was the last big move this NA juggernaut made. Maybe this year EG will be the ones shaking the roster shuffle period.

Roster shuffles always provide a lot of hype for the community. Rumors circulate of team activity and fans craft their dream teams. Overall it is wildly unpredictable and always interesting to see where players land. Although, this offseason there is even more going on in-game!

 

The Dueling Fates update

Towards the end of TI7 Valve announced some huge news. They will be adding two heroes to Dota 2 via the “Dueling Fates” update. Most TIs have been followed-up with a gameplay patch that also adds a new hero (most recently Underlord and Monkey King). Valve has been consistently adding heroes to the game, but the “Dueling Fates” update is unique. It will add two shiny new heroes to the game that were not present in the original Dota or Dota All-Stars.

The video shows the first hero, we’ll call him “Pangolin”, moving over terrain with ease. At one point, even curling into a ball and rolling through a creep-wave. Showcasing some interesting mobility and even disarming a creep. The hero then fights BristleBack and cuts off the bristles. Could this be foreshadowing a new “Break” ability? As of today, there are only two sources of “Break” in the game with Doom and Silver Edge. Breaking an enemy hero’s passive has become an extremely useful mechanic in the current meta. Heroes like Earthshaker, Bloodseeker, Anti-Mage, Drow Ranger and Spirit Breaker were all popular at TI7. All of these heroes benefit from very powerful Passive abilities that can currently only be countered in two ways. Creating a new hero with a Break ability makes a lot of sense.

After Pangolin finishes off his intro with a flourish, fans everywhere were jbaited into thinking that was all Valve had in store for us this year. Until the video cuts back to an interaction between Pangolin and a new fairy hero, referred to as “Sylph”. This new hero ends the release video by propelling a ball of light from their lantern towards Pangolin. Not much more about this hero was revealed in the trailer as it was mainly focused on Pangolin’s first scene.

Regardless, this offseason of Dota 2 has a lot in store. The competitive games might be over, but the community is going to have a lot to think about and experiment with. A big roster shuffle always has fans mesmerized post-TI out-of-game. Adding two brand new heroes on one patch will keep us busy in-game.

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TI7

The Game Haus’ TI7 Regional Roulette – The Americas

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

THE AMERICAS – THE TEAMS

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

Evil Geniuses – Direct Invite

TI7

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Arteezy

Position 2 (Mid) – SumaiL

Position 3 (Offlane) – UNiVeRsE

Position 4 (Support) – Zai

Position 5 (Support) – Cr1t-

 

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

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

Cloud9 (Formerly Team NP) – North American Qualifier

TI7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – EternaLEnVy

Position 2 (Mid) – FATA-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MSS

Position 4 (Support) – Aui_2000

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

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

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

Digital Chaos (Formerly Team Onyx) – North American Qualifier

TI7

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Mason

Position 2 (Mid) – Abed

Position 3 (Offlane) – Forev

Position 4 (Support) – Bulba

Position 5 (Support) – DuBu

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

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

Infamous – South American Qualifier

TI7

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Benjaz

Position 2 (Mid) – Timado

Position 3 (Offlane) – Kingteka

Position 4 (Support) – Matthew

Position 5 (Support) – Accel

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

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

THE AMERICAS – SUMMARY

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

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

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

Featured image courtesy of Dotabuff.

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The Game Haus’ TI Regional Roulette – EU

The International 2017 Regional Roulette – Europe

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

Europe Hopes to Continue Collecting Hardware

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

OG – Direct Invite

OG, dota 2 , international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

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

OG, heores, dota 2, international

(Dotabuff)

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

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

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

Team Liquid – Direct Invite

liquid, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

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

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

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

Team Secret – Qualifier Record 8-1

 

secret, dota 2, international

(Liquipedia)

Roster

 

 

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – KheZu

Position 4 (Support) – YapzOr 

Position 5 (Support) – Puppey

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – N0tail

Position 2 (Mid) – ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – Jerax 

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

(Liquipedia)

 

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

(Dotabuff)

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

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

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

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dota 2, ti7, ti6,

The Game Haus’ TI Regional Roulette – SEA

The International 2017 Regional Roulette – Southeast Asia

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

 

SEA Brings its Strongest Ticket to TI7

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

TNC Pro Team – Qualifier Record 8-1

Dota 2 Power Rankings TNC

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Raven

Position 2 (Mid) – Kuku

Position 3 (Offlane) – Sam_H

Position 4 (Support) – Tims 

Position 5 (Support) – 1437

 

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

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

dota 2, tnc, heroes

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

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

Fnatic – Qualifier Record (7-2)

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Ahjit

Position 2 (Mid) – QO

Position 3 (Offlane) – Ohaiyo

Position 4 (Support) – Febby 

Position 5 (Support) – DJ

 

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

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

ti7, fnatic, dota 2

(Dotabuff)

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

Execration – Qualifiers Record (5-4)

dota 2, ti7, execration

(Liquipedia)

Roster

Position 1 (Carry) – Nando

Position 2 (Mid) – James

Position 3 (Offlane) – Raging Potato

Position 4 (Support) – RR

Position 5 (Support) – LeumiK

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

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

dota 2, execration, the international

(Dotabuff)

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

 

Overall:

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

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digitalchaos abed PGLesports

Top 5 Things We Learnt from NA Quals

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

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

digital chaos

image courtesy of twitter.com/DIGITALCHAOSgg

1) Digital Chaos able to overcome their ‘history’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dota team freedom

image courtesy of /u/non_clever_name

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

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

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

5) Team NP’s greedy passive style wins games

image courtesy of PGLesports

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

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

 

 

Featured image courtesy of PGLesports

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