Dota 2: Sunday Night Cup Series — The Finals
Super Sundays, previously associated with Premier League games, have taken a whole new meaning. A couple of weeks ago, our very own Kyle Wolmerans introduced eGamer to the Sunday Evening Cup Series. Mirroring its North American counterpart, the South African SECS (no giggling please) is rather quite self-explanatory – every Sunday, teams play, get points in the aim of being named SECS champion. It is with great joy that I bring you the grand final between Team Immersion and Bravado Gaming.
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— Enchantress (woods)
— Lycanthrope (top)
— Batrider (middle)
— Sven (bottom)
— Crystal Maiden (bottom)
Radiant (Team Immersion)
— Puck (top)
— Warlock (middle)
— Shadow Demon (bottom)
— Luna (bottom)
— Earthshaker (bottom)
From the get go, we see how the intentions of each team vary. Bravado, on the one hand, selected a rather strong and aggressive mid-game line up which would, ideally, look to pick off lonely heroes (Batrider’s ultimate can drag you around and no one escapes a werewolf – ever) and then carry that momentum into fast towers through the pushing power of Enchantress (who can have up to 5 neutral creeps under hero control) and Lycanthrope, who too summons units and, by howling, can make his team hit quite hard.
On the other side of the spectrum we have Team Immersion and their apparent reversion back to the days of yesteryear, when the competitive DotA scene was dominated by ‘5-man’ super-AoE (area of effect, duh) line ups (now you know why they invented Pipe). However, don’t let this fact mitigate the strength of their hero choice which, in my opinion, effectively counters the aggressive play that Bravado was sure to employ. Save Luna, each of the Radiant’s heroes has some way to stop, or seriously hinder, any tower diving or over eagerness that Lycanthrope and Batrider would most definitely partake in. Further, Warlock’s ultimate stuns through Black King Bar (magic immunity for 10 seconds – get with the program people) which is an essential item on both of Bravado’s carries – Lycan and Sven.
The beginning of the game did not start favourably for the boys from Bravado. Anthony “scant” Hodgson, who usually gets the upper hand when it comes to drafts, was at a loss here. The aggressive trilane (Crystal Maiden, Sven and Enchantress in the Radiant’s woods) was easily snuffed by the defensive strength of Fissure (Earthshaker) and Disruption (Shadow Demon) – meaning that scant was exiled back to his side’s own overgrown vegetation and Luna was allowed absolute free farm – while Sven, on the other hand, got none and continued to sulk under his tower. Other parts of the map were far from encouraging for Bravado as Waz_Mac showed why he is considered one of South Africa’s elite players in his dominating Warlock, winning mid-lane comfortably and giving his team a solid base from which to work. When Bravado attempted to go past mid tower at the 7 minute mark, the defensive capabilities of Puck and Warlock’s ultimates came to play as the offensive was squashed, with Team Immersion leaving the fight with more people alive than dead – success!
Our misunderstood wolf too had a difficult time top, with the nerf to his summons (I believe their health points were dropped by about 200) showing as he was not able to output the same amount as harass as Puck (whereas, previously, those wolves would have bitten down hard on that faerie dragon) and was forced out of the lane repeatedly. And Enchantress? She planted some trees, fed the ducks, killed a hero or two but really didn’t make the impact that his team needed (not through any fault of his own, Radiant’s lanes were extremely difficult to gang). An early Roshan by Bravado, at the cost of a Tier 1 and Tier 2 tower, provided some hope but ultimately made very little difference and Team Immersion were sitting pretty on top as they moved into midgame.
To their credit, Bravado do have this innate ability to hang in there, even when all the odds are turned against them. While this game might not be the best example, the dedication to simple things (such as the stacking of ancients as in this game – which Team Immersion stole – so sneaky) is sublime, with many teams getting too caught up with concepts such as ‘meta’ and generally overthought ‘tactics’.
We’re at the 26 minute mark. Luna has Black King Bar and Manta Style; Sven has just used his ultimate and along with his mighty Ogre Axe of Justice (it’s really not that useful just yet), is attempting to bring down a Tier 2 tower (it isn’t happening); Lycan saw the full moon and loped away and Bravado’s two support heroes have just been picked off. Team Immersion proceed to a very comfortable Roshan, which Bravado cannot afford to lose – thus rush headlong into two flaming columns, a string full of luminescent beams. Needless to say, they melted. This game is over.
Dire (Team Immersion)
— Puck (top)
— Queen of Pain (middle)
— Keeper of the Light (bottom)
— Gyrocopter (bottom)
— Earthshaker (bottom)
— Batrider (top)
— Pandaren Brewmaster (middle)
— Phantom Lancer (bottom)
— Rubick (bottom)
— Witch Doctor (bottom)
Game two, and Bravado seems to be sticking with their tactic. Granted, their team fight capabilities are vastly improved compared to game one, namely in the form of Rubick (he steals big ultimates with his own ultimate, meaning he can throw out two enemy ultimates in the space of a few seconds – Dendi’s Rubick in The International 2 was quite the game changer) and Pandaren Brewmaster, who’s primal split means that AoE can mean very little to him. Still, Team Immersion’s lineup is immeasurably stronger.
While Rubick’s strength has been highlighted, it was also be noted that he is in great need of levels in order to reach his full potential. But, who can possibly stand against the destructive force of Keeper of the Light, Earthshaker and Gyrocopter? Keeper is a walking mana-pool (Chakra magic gives people mana) and the spammibility of Gyro’s skills make laning against them near impossible. This aggression was indeed needed though as Phantom Lancer, because he duplicates himself almost at will, gets out of control very quickly and farm massive items in a short period of time. Adding to Bravado’s woes was the fact that Witch Doctor offers very little in the lane phase – his stun deals no damage or requires at least two units for it to be effective; his base damage is low; and his heal requires too much mana for it to be viable early on when simply looking to ‘babysit’ one’s carry.
Brewmaster was never going to win mid, and he didn’t. Not many heroes do against Queen of Pain, but placing a melee hero against her often means that she’ll get free farm and, because of blink, Queen of Pain can very easily maintain rune control and subsequently, help out around the map. Dota can be a vicious circle at times. Unfortunately, I was limited to the VoD when I watched this match, and in typical Noxville fashion – I missed just about every kill in the top lane. It’s not Noxville’s fault – Puck vs Batrider shouldn’t produce kills … shouldn’t. Needless to say, Bravado’s offlane hero had a shocker and died a couple times. When Puck was 3 levels ahead of him, the lane was all but a lost cause.
So remember Rubick’s big play ultimate I told you about? Well, it doesn’t really help when your Rubick only hits level 6 at the 20 minute mark. That’s what an Earthshaker/Gyro/Keeper of the Light lane does to people. It can be rather depressing. Luckily, the time scant spent out of lane was put to good use in stacking a whole lot of neutral camps for the struggling Batrider – what a nice guy.
In many ways, this game resembled the first – Team Immersion dominated lane stage and, due to their superior picks, looked to be on their way to winning the second game and wrapping up the Best of 3 series. Although, Bravado were in better shape than previous – Pandaren Brewmaster was able to pick up his core items without reasonable time (Blink and Aghanim’s Scepter), they had a much more reliable carry in the form of Phantom Lancer who had also fared better than the Sven in the match prior and is, arguably, a stronger carry in general.
A rushed and ill-thought attempt on Radiant’s bottom barracks would give Bravado hope and it gave them time and space to catch up (at least a little) but more importantly, it allowed the Phantom Lancer to complete his Heart of Tarrasque (godly health and regeneration incoming) – a game-changing item as it would mean his illusions would now withstand Team Immersion’s initial AoE barrage. Alas, it would all prove for naught as Team Immersion’s gold and experience advantage allowed them to force (when you have many items and they don’t, you can sometimes afford to do this) themselves into Bravado’s base and taking down both Barracks, severely limiting Phantom Lancer’s future farm and his ability to push multiple lanes at once (the illusions, remember the illusions).
Team Immersion continued to pressure the Radiant’s middle lane, and in a last ditch effort, an over eager Batrider overextended himself and subsequently perished, opening up Roshan for the Dire. With a self-revive up on their ridiculously wealthy Gyrocopter, Team Immersion only needed to head-butt Bravado into submission and claim the title as SECS Champions of South Africa.
I spent a few minutes with Neeran ‘Doppl3R’ Motheeram (long time Durban Dota head-honcho, and Team Immersion drafter) to speak about the games.
Game 1 we felt we out-drafted them as they had a pretty ‘all-in’ strat. Plus, their lanes were very weak. This made it easier for us because we had a death ball strat so being able to win lanes put us in a good position.
Bravado also had a bit of a death ball strat but, purely because they lost their lanes it was very hard for them to impact the game – something which a scant strat would normally do.
Second game we were very happy to get Keeper of the Light. I think this forced Bravado to pick up Phantom Lancer and they wouldn’t have wanted us to get that broken combo.
I’d say the drafts were a lot more even this time wrong, except for the Witch Doctor – I’m not quite sure why scant picked that up.
Once again, early game went really well for us and I felt that we were able to shut down the Phantom Lancer the way we wanted to. When we moved into the mid game, I think we played it a bit too safe and thus allowed Bravado to come back to a degree, which is something you don’t want to do against a Phantom Lancer.
However, in the end I think our overall strat had the components to handle Bravado’s – we had the right heroes to shut down Bravado’s main threats – getting us a good early game lead which we were able to maintain throughout – a little Chinese death by a thousand cuts.
One last thing though – in both games it was shown that Earthshaker > South African Dota. Fissure just too strong (smiles).
And there we have it – a somewhat mediocre finale to what has been an incredibly successful and entertaining initiative. To recap the SECS season, head over to Noxville’s twitch.tv page.