Table of Contents
Starladder Finals Recap
Na`Vi doing what it does best.
Game of the Week
Na`Vi vs Empire Game 1
Best of Starladder
The games you cannot miss!
Check out StarLadder on Liquipedia
It's Good To Be King
A post-TI2 Na`Vi needed a win, and that's exactly what they got in this season of Starladder, edging out an in-form Team Empire in the Grand Finals to take the series along with the $6000 first place prize. Starting off with a dismal performance during regular online league play, Na`Vi barely made it into the playoffs.
They finished in 7th place in the online segment of the tournament, and it was Team Empire who bagged the $6000 given to the 1st place finisher. Going 10-5 in the face of Empire's stellar 14 - 1 run, on paper, Na`Vi certainly didn't look like a championship team.
One of these events is not like the other.
Then again, Dota 2 isn't played on paper. It's played at LANs, and the Ukraino-Russian boys dominated the one that took place in Kiev. Going 4-0 in their group, and dropping only 3 games on their way to the title, they showed us that they were still the #1 team outside of China.
Step into this final instalment of Team Liquid Starladder S3 coverage, as Kipsate gives you a detailed recap action as it unfolded last weekend. If you'd rather see some in-depth analysis of a single game, join shostakovich as he dives into the Game of the Week. Finally, TheEmulator has plenty of recommended games for the VOD hungry, so be sure to check those out as well.
We hope you enjoy this update. Happy Dota2!
StarLadder Finals Recap
LAN, it is a peculiar thing. We see it everyday, teams perform well online yet they fail to perform offline. They crack under the pressure that comes with playing face to face and a crowd. Na`Vi however is the other way around. Veterans of old they are and while underperforming online no one can dispute their rule when they face others in the flesh. Starladder Finals have ended. The finals were chaotic, brutal and very much enjoyable. In the end Natus Vincere once again proved that they are the strongest team in Western Dota by taking home the title of StarLadder Season 3 Champion.
Group 1 saw Na`Vi take out their competition in swift succession as they went 4-0 in their group. The other teams tried to put up a good fight but Na`Vi seemed almost unstoppable. Virtus Pro attempted a very nice strategy which included a level 1 Roshan, Dazzle, and an allin push with Death Prophet. However, off the back of Xboct's Brewmaster, Na`Vi was able to secure the win with some very nice Thunder Claps. Virtus Pro on the other hand was defeated 0-4 as Empire took a 2-2 score. In the end the teams Na`Vi and Empire faced off against each other in the finals.
In group 2 the 2GD B team took the first place, going 5-1. Earlier in the preview we questioned whether the 2GD B team would fizz or bang. What a bang it was, using tactics that included Undying and Warlock against MYM. Black^'s Tiny play was also quite remarkable as they plowed through their competition like an unstoppable moving mountain.
Moscow Five's performance, however, was perhaps a little disappointing. Despite going 12-3 in the online stages, they failed to perform in the group stages of the LAN, going out out 2-4 while perhaps being the group favorite. Despite this they did win a very epic game against 2GD - after 60 minutes and being down mega creeps they managed to rush the throne. We have to give credit where it is due though, as 2GD and Pulse both exceeded their expectations.
Pulse Gaming, better known as Skånes Elit, went 4-2 while MYM failed to advance with a score of 1-5. Bear in mind that the last matches of MYM did not matter anymore as it was already known that they were not going to make it after the first few matches. MYM was simply outclassed by the competition. The enemy had better team fights, better coordination and better decision making. Pulse also used Tiny to great effect, winning their game off the back of Reesion as it became more known to everyone that Tiny could go toe to toe with other carries lategame, even without Wisp.
The Bracket Stage
Pulse took 1 game off Na`Vi, using Mini's trademark Wisp play to do so. Showing respect to Mini and the hero in general, Puppey swiftly banned Wisp in the next 2 games and Na`Vi took the series 2-1. Empire vs 2GD showcased one of the two heroes that defined this group stage, Pudge. While the 2GD studio lost the 2nd game against Empire against a very farmed Clinkz, Black^ and his Pudge absolutely destroyed Empire. One of the strengths of Pudge is that not a lot of teams practice against him, and Empire was completely caught off-guard. The series went 2-1 with Black^ going 9-3-3 in game 1 and 13-3-22 in the third game, showing that Dendi is not the only one who can play this hero.
Na`Vi vs 2GD showcased some unusual heroes, with Pugna, Clockwerk and Gyrocopter being used. Aside from this, Pudge was picked 3 out of 3 times. In game 1, Na`Vi with Dendi's Pudge cleared space for the Faceless Void to farm. The 2GD's Gyrocopter was unable to outcarry the opposition Faceless Void, and the team soon gave up the ghost. In the second game, Na`Vi took a 10k experience and gold lead. They were up a set of Barracks and Xboct had 600 gpm. At this point the Broodmother by the 2GD studio was useless as he had been effectively shut down by Na`Vi, yet Na`Vi could not end the game. The problem with Na`Vi's lineup was that all the damage they had in the lategame was the Anti-Mage, as the 2GD studio handled Dendi's Pudge quite well. Eventually Black^'s Tiny got too large for Na`Vi to deal with, and after a brilliant performance by Kuroky's Rubick, Na`Vi was wiped in a teamfight and lost the game. Game 3 featured a no-carry Pudge all-in push lineup by the 2GD studio. Unfortunately for Sing and Co, Na`Vi was more then prepared for this as they held the line until they got strong enough to overwhelm the 2GD B team and take the series 2-1. This game also showcased an excellent performance by LightOfHeaven on Clockwerk Goblin.
The following day Empire seemed to have gotten over some of their LAN troubles. Empire clawed themselves back from the lower bracket as they swiftly dispatched Pulse Gaming using a Tiny Wisp strategy in the first game and a Doom Bringer strat in the second. Against the 2GD B team, Empire used Batrider, Disruptor, Undying and Bane to great effect. Scandal went 10-0 with Batrider the first game and left 2GD struggling in a sea of fire. The second game saw the strong midgame oriented team of Empire secure farm for Funnik's Clinkz and eventually Empire beat the 2GD B team 2-0. Nevertheless this is a top 3 finish for the 2GD B team and as such a better performance than the 2GD A team at Dreamhack Valencia. Perhaps a promotion is in order?
In the end it was a CIS civil was once again as Empire faced off against Na`Vi in the finals. Na`Vi came through the winners bracket and as such started 1-0 in a BO5. As we have previously stated 2 heroes were in the spotlight in Kiev, one of them was Pudge. The other one is known as Batrider.
Game 2 was a 53min game where superior teamfight won Na`Vi the game. Slowly but surely Na`Vi acquired small advantages that ultimately won them the game. It was a slowpaced, yet tense game. Luckily the game had a Batrider, which made the match incredibly entertaining. This was us on Teamspeak during that game
Game 3 was very much onesided. Empire attempted a Doom Bringer strategy but they forgot one very important thing - there is a good reason why some teams prefer to ban Pudge against Dendi. Dendi's Pudge went 13-2-12 across 32 minutes. The game was utter dominance by Na`Vi as Empire looked helpless once again in the face of the Butcher.
Na`Vi showed us once more that they are the undisputed rulers of Western Dota. Needless to say however, Empire did put up a very good fight. This LAN is a very good learning experience for them and we expect them to do well in the future.
Congratulations to Natus Vincere, Champions of Starladder season 3!
Game of the Week
The reader might look at the bans and picks and think that nothing unusual is going on here. However there's definitely something fishy in the air. Na`Vi's first bans address the Team Empire we're used to, the team that loves to fight you in your face all the time until you beg for mercy. However, Empire's bans are rare for them: they almost never ban Templar Assassin and Bounty Hunter, according to the dota-academy statistics. You can see that they've seen LighTofHeaveN collecting bounties left and right and came prepared to avoid it. Empire allows Na`Vi to get Dark Seer, and in exchange gets the TL;DR of 6.76 version, Batman and Two-Face. We get to see even more unusual things, like Na`Vi banning Death Prophet, Windrunner getting third-picked despite having lost popularity, and Lycanthrope and Naga Siren being last picked. The Disruptor and Lycanthrope combination gives Na`Vi the opportunity to scout and fish Empire heroes with glimpse if they expose themselves, forcing 5v4 situations.
Even before the formation of lanes, a battle erupts on the bottom lane, with Na`Vi keeping Empire from warding the Radiant jungle and killing both Batrider and Jakiro. Only then are the lanes formed, with Batrider fighting against Dark Seer on the top lane, Windrunner squaring off against Disruptor on the middle lane, and Chaos Knight and Leshrac pitted against Naga Siren and Jakiro on the bottom lane. Lycan and Chen head to their respective woods. It's worthwhile to note that it's also the first time I'm seeing Dendi playing Disruptor.
Empire recovers quickly from the lost fight, getting in a kill on Leshrac, warding the Radiant jungle and moving Chen there, taking control of that region. Leshrac is suddenly without gold to upgrade the courier and Lycanthrope's space is limited. Na`Vi tries to reclaim the bottom lane around the fourth minute, but the exchange is favorable to Empire, that lost only Chen, while Na`Vi lost Lycanthrope and Chaos Knight. At the same time, Dendi wins the mid lane by killing Windrunner. Top lane is even; Na`Vi won the mid lane; Empire won the bottom lane.
Close to the 10 minute mark, Na`Vi goes really aggressive to ward the Dire jungle, but the movement backfires when Batrider lassoes Dark Seer to the cliff, bathing him in oil and leaving him there to burn to his death. Leshrac also dies under the shadow of the bat. The exchanges continues. Na`Vi goes deep into the Dire jungle and kills Chen and Jakiro. On the counterattack, Empire kills Disruptor and Leshrac. Even though Chen was lost, his army is still alive, which allows Empire to push and destroy the mid tower and get once again a small advantage in gold and experience. At this point, 13mins on the game, Naga Siren (81 last hits) is the most farmed hero on the map, followed by Dark Seer (77) and Lycanthrope (50). Chaos Knight has only 31 last hits.
Empire builds a tower advantage by destroying another tower, which gives Batrider his Blink Dagger. A ward placed in the Radiant jungle and the absence of two towers gives Empire the control of that region. Instead of fighting, Na`Vi decide to trade towers. This allows them to recover from the gold disadvantage. Both teams are even in gold, but Na`Vi is ahead on experience.
Starting at the 19 minute mark, we have two massive teamfights. The first explodes in the middle lane and is a narrow 4-4 exchange, with Batrider getting an ultra-kill after seeing all his mates dying in the hands of Na`Vi. The second brews as Empire uses the momentum from the past clash to attempt to kill Roshan. Na`Vi contests it despite losing Disruptor in the beginning of the fight, wiping Empire heroes. Naga Siren is killed one second before having her song once again. It's Na`Vi who ends killing Roshan and getting the Aegis, leading now both in experience and gold.
From this point (22:47), the game enters in a farming period that lasts a couple of minutes. Na`Vi starts pushing the top lane, but Dark Seer goes out of position and gets sniped by Empire. Chaos Knight can't do much with his newly bought BKB because Flame Lasso ignores it. Na`Vi ends losing the Aegis and four heroes on the fight, while Empire loses only two heroes. The game is once again even.
All the exchanges are very even, but Empire gets a small advantage because Dark Seer and Chaos Knight are always being disrupted by Batrider, whose lasso ignores BKB and throws them into Icepath and Macropyre. This allows Empire to exchange their support heroes for Na`Vi's carries and semi-carries. At the same time, 36 minutes in the game, Naga Siren has 297 last hits, while Dark Seer, the most farmed hero on Na`Vi squad, has 142. Because of Na`Vi's decision to share all the farm around four heroes, no hero can follow his or her item progression. Further, Na`Vi didn't find a chance to fish any Empire hero with Glimpse.
Having the advantage, Empire forces the issue on the top lane. They initiate the fight with Batrider focusing on Chaos Knight, and not allowing him to deal all the damage he's capable of. However, this time Na`Vi teamfights close to the Wall of Replica, killing four heroes, but losing the melee barracks. With this advantage, Empire starts camping Roshan, setting their heroes around the pit with Smoke of Deceit, avoiding Na`Vi wards, waiting for them to come. Chaos Knight is caught completely offguard and ends dying under the shadow of the bat, dragged into Two-faces Macropyre. Empire kills Roshan once more. They're behind in experiences, but ahead in gold.
At the 47 minute mark, Na`Vi tries again to push the top tower. Batrider finds Chaos Knight once again out of position, dragging him inside Macropyre and letting him burn to death. This dooms the Na`Vi push. Na`Vi calls the GG.
The main factor in this game was Batrider being able to control Dark Seer and Chaos Knight, not allowing them to fully contribute in teamfights. Only on a few occasions could Chaos Knight freely unleash all his damage potential, and only rarely Dark Seer could land a perfect Vacuum into Wall of Replica. Thanks to that, Empire kept trading support heroes for carries/semi-carries,and slowly built an advantage that they then converted into a victory.
The Best of Starladder
Wisp + Chaos Knight
Lately the Wisp+Tiny strategy has been gaining popularity, as shown by Empire in the online play for Starladder. In the game between Pulse and NaVi during the group stage, we saw a very successful use of Wisp+Chaos Knight in the mid and lategame. While this is not used as much as the Wisp+Tiny combo, it has shown throughout StarLadder that it can be a very solid strategy. Pulse also used everything in their power to deny Dendi this game. First, they banned all four of his most popular Mid heroes, and then they proceeded to dual lane Leshrac+Chaos Knight against his Rubik. In all it was a very strong performance by Pulse.
Dendi and Pudge, Still BFFs
Dendi showing us once again that he is still one of the best, if not THE best Pudge player in competitive Dota 2. After the first two games in the Starladder finals Dendi finally got what he wanted, which was to play the mid lane with his most popular hero, Pudge. You can probably guess what happened next.
The GD B-Team showed everyone a strong performance in game 2 against MYM during the group stage of StarLadder. During this game, Black stood out with his outstanding farming skills as Alchemist, where he achieved 1047 GPM. As one of the more “funny” games of Starladder Season 3, this is a must watch. But seriously, how does Black do it?
The Batrider Cometh
Game 1 of the StarLadder final between Empire and NaVi was very interesting to say the least. They had a great battle of back and forth teamfights, with the lead changing as every minute passed us by. Empire won this game with the help of Funn1k carrying the game as Batrider. See Shostakovich's battle report for a more detailed insight on this game.
A Day in the Life of Pudge
Everyone loves to watch a good Pudge, and during game 3 of GD B-Team vs Empire, we had a very impressive display of Pudge hooks by Black. After seeing this one might say that Dendi may have to work a little harder or his spot as the Pudge king might be overthrown.
The Ultimate Comeback
Game 2 of M5 vs GD B-Team was probably the most entertaining game of the tournament, with one of the biggest comebacks we have ever seen. Throughout the game GD B-Team displayed some incredible Weaver play, ending up with 21 kills, and only 3 deaths. In the end that was not enough, as M5 made a counter push after seeing their entire base Mega raxed, and somehow pulled out the huge comeback by barely taking out GD B-Teams fountain with almost no life to spare on their own heroes.