Dota 2

Break the Metagame: 09/10/2021

Hello again, this is Clairvoyance, a former coach currently on the sidelines. I had no plans to post anything during TI, but after staying up till 5AM EST to watch the EG/OG series live and waking up hours later to watch more DotA, I feel impelled to share at least, what I have seen to be the "best play" of the tournament thus far. As such, the post will be short and less organized but I promise it will be worth a read.


Moves like these are why OG won multiple Internationals.

https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1171680355?t=1h35m42s ~2m 30s sequence roughly

To preface, I would not have thought about this move if I were in OG's position in this game. In fact, while I don't listen to much casts or talk to many players outside of my moderate circle, I am confident when I say that this sequence probably didn't seem extraordinary to 99% of people. But for me, this is simply what OG does, that makes them champions. I'm not here to brown-nose though, so allow me to simply break down why.

This sequence above, begins with EG pushing the enemy safelane tower pre-10 minutes, a staple opening in most DotA games with a zoo offlaner(Lycan). Void is particularly weak vs Lycan early as he has no AoE to deal with wolves' presence and potential stun rotation (Ember), so all of this is standard until OG decide to bring numbers to contest. In the end, EG get what they want, and the price they pay(Lycan) is small if you consider Abed's well positioned remnant and SumaiL's lack of position (dead T1, team leaves in vision and he's on an island) resulting in a dead king moments later. Notice how Abed was dragging the mid wave to delay an OG follow-up after they were stuck at top, positioned to take the bounty and possibly the bottom rune, but went for the bigger prize (Void). Notail tipped him for this high skill sequence.

Immediately after, Saksa (Tusk) pings mid and likely is in unison with the rest of OG with the DD rune on Gyro – push mid, they're showing 3 top. Ember has no resources, Ursa is showing bottom. Add the catapult spawn on top and this tower becomes more free than America. Again, standard stuff. But the one colossal distinction which I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN at least 15 other teams in this tournament would not follow suit on, is the move thereafter.

10:35 In-game – start paying attention from here. Tusk begins to leave to pressure bottom and find Ursa, who just showed at bottom and disappeared into the woods. Where can Ursa be? Team is top, he's not mid, he's obviously in bottom jungle. Saksa, being the good natural 4 pos. player he is, wants to set up the natural transition to bottom – get vision of where they want to be (enemy safelane jungle), kick out Ursa who is weak and deny him farm, push bottom T1 for free, two towers down as a result of the entire top lane sequence in the last minute. Take enemy woods. Natural.

10:41 – Saksa pings the (likely) location of Ursa. He starts running at the isolated Ursa, he wants him gone, stop him from farming. But Topson is not budging. The strongest hero on the map at this moment, the DD Gyro with full resources and an Io, wants to take another wave and then… Go top? At 10:46, you can see for a moment that even Ceb (Io) begins to drift towards bottom for a moment, only to end up following Topson towards the triangle, then to top, where the supports of EG remain stranded.

Look at this sequence till 11:05. Look at Topson. DD Gyro. Runs straight by the ancient stack he sees with DD. Granted it's a 2x and he only has 1 point in Flak but the point is he has his eyes set on the prize – kill and pressure. Nice OG ward below the T1 tower in the woods planted earlier before the EG push. He then takes out two sentries and an obs as he is charging in to ward and deward. How many mid players would do this? Skip the ancient stack with DD, max rocket/missile before even 1 point in Flak, giving up guaranteed freefarm, space and even a tower, just to force pressure. Even now, I still believe all of this was the wrong move – giving up bottom as Tusk shows himself leaving, chasing into an EG lineup of the less valuable heroes (3,4,5) and yet, somehow and some way, look at what happens next.

11:05 -> 11:55: The fight.

Pay attention to the position of all the heroes on the map in this sequence. This fight begins with no reliable initiation stuns, just a buffed Gyro with Io walking in and going for the easiest target first (Silencer). They kill him, then turn eyes to Lycan, a glorified creep without ultimate. Tusk – nowhere to be seen, went the natural path to bottom. Ember – resetting after top, gathering resources to join the fight. Void – farming, as he should be; however not bottom where he wants to be freefarming and taking tower, but top woods near where he just died, where Lycan likely can bully him out anytime – simply because his team and vision are there right now.

And Ursa? Makes a critical mistake, either getting baited by team or baited by sequence to jump first into the fire, hurting his carry potential and denying his own freefarm which Saksa made moves 30 seconds ago to naturally prevent. If you're playing a carry and you're freefarming, there are very VERY little things worth giving up that freefarm for in the first ~12-15 minutes of most games. And I know Arteezy, and I know if we talked about this after the tournament he would have never wanted to make this move. To a lesser extent I know Sumail, and despite chrono being up, I don't think he wants to be here either. Hell, I've provided evidence above that even Saksa and possibly Ceb, didn't have this fight in this position, infront of the Radiant T1 top as their priority.

And yet, despite the concepts or science of it all, Topson wills his way into this position and finds a rather weak EG, unable to contest him. But what should have been the death of Silencer and maybe Lycan turns out to be a massive 5v5 which ends with a huge OG momentum swing, all because OG and Topson decided that he wasn't going to allow EG to be happy playing standard – Lycan chilling in enemy woods, supports camping him to alleviate pressure as he steals space, Ursa slowly transitioning towards triangle and continuing to scale. In the end, this sequence netted OG 2k+ gold and a ton of EXP, but most importantly, a massive shift in momentum where what would otherwise be an even game, almost looked like EG were ready to break any moment, especially considering Ursa's position in this game at this moment – non-existent. OG just have an uncanny way of drawing mistakes. And the result is that all of EG feel bad now and bottom lane has been empty for a full 1m 30s. That's crazy.

If you know me or read my prior posts, you know I can go on endlessly and as I type, even more things come to mind. I want to elaborate on how the Io/Tusk lane vs Ursa and choice items (mask rush) would not stop the choice of burst initiation from Tusk + ASPD hitter combo with Io being one of the best – the ~6min Holy Locket from Ceb the offlane Io enabling Topson and basically the entire team to do the things they were doing / wanted to do. Like what other team would even think of this?

The great Chronos by king, the power of Wolf Bite and the imbalance of spending 4k gold to turn any hero in to Lycan for what feels like forever, Icex3's constant vision and presence with zoo micro, Abed keeping the entire game together by himself at times, the weakness of this Ursa build at TI with Skadi or early mask over phase/treads for lane competitiveness, the power of Tidehunter / LC as mentioned in my prior post, as well as the changes in the meta with the biggest surprises (MK everygame, overrated) and the most expected outcomes (such as China being dominant this time, looking to hold 3 of the top 4 this year), endless list. But the event is far from over and I'd never stop talking with all this DotA happening, so for now I hope I can leave you with the above sequence and why I felt these types of moves that might go against the grain, sometimes if you enable it with all your might, it might take you to the next level.

TI is just one of many tournaments of the year. It's everything for most people in the competitive sphere, including myself when coaching a roster, due to the sheer prestige of the life-changing money. But over the years I've come to really not feel this way. I don't think it's my passion waning, I just think there's more to life than one particular annual tournament. Ceb once said something like everyone just chokes at TI and that's part of why the OG magic is real at this particular event. They won twice partly because they know how to take advantage when the stakes are higher, by keeping it natural for themselves. They spam chat wheels and even do so when they feed, and tell themselves they've basically won even if they've just lost. They turn delusions into a reality and while it sounds bad, doesn't everyone do this to a degree in their everyday lives? I'm certainly not one to judge.

OK, that's enough for now. As always, thanks for your perusal and I hope you enjoyed. The TI hype is real and perhaps in the coming days, based on reception, I may post more analytical thoughts about the games.

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