IntroductionBest Safelane CarryBest MidBest OfflanerBest SupportMost Innovative / Boldest StrategyTeam of the YearMost Improved TeamFuture of Dota 2Best Caster (Voice of Dota)Best NewcomerBest HostBest CaptainMost Influential HeroThe RNG ButtonGame of the YearReveal all categoriesWith 2016 now behind us, we want to take this opportunity to look back at the stunning displays of skill, ingenuity, and not being fired from Valve events (We love you 2GD). We saw the new blood of 2015 demonstrate that they could hold their own against the established veterans as they endeavored to make a place for themselves. We were also fortunate enough to witness the beginning to even more players careers who will surely go on to push the boundaries of Dota 2 even further. 2016 has been a great year for Dota 2 in terms of both games and balance and we believe that 2017, being ushered in with patch 7.00, has the potential to reach even greater heights. Now however is the time for reflection, as we look back over the events that transpired over the course of the last year. Here are the LiquidDota awards for 2016.
Best Safelane Carry
N0tailThroughout 2016, there have been many memorable performances on the carry position. But in taking the entire year into consideration we have decided to give this award to the most consistent performer on this position, our resident flower, N0tail. Forming the team that went on to dominate the majority of the year (excluding the rather poor performance at TI6) OG, the standout quality of N0tail’s play has been his extreme adaptability, and not just in regards to his wide hero pool that is so beneficial for his team. With OG having underwent changes after their struggles in Seattle, him being able to mesh so well with 2 new core role-playing team members in such a short time to the degree that OG took home the Boston Major is an impressive feat to say the least. Being this consistent and always delivering when needed, not only for the majority of the year in which OG had been dominant, but also when in the midst of reformulating the entire team’s play with 3 new teammates, is a stunning achievement that few can boast of.
While N0tail has also often been the target of harsh criticism during OG’s less stellar performances, especially at Shanghai and Seattle, we also have to keep in mind the way OG works as a whole. They strive to enable their star mid laner as much as it is possible for them. The player in the role may have changed, but this fine balancing act of distributing farm, coordinating farming patterns and making necessary sacrifices in other parts of the game has stayed the same, and it has been a key part of the team’s success. Sure, N0tail may not be the flashiest of players on the carry role, but his ability to still eke out the necessary results to close out a game, even if he has suffered from a rough early game as his supports were busy helping the midlane, is simply stunning. There are few players in the top tier of teams that can make so much happen with so little space given to them and N0tail has certainly deserved all the recognition he can get for doing exactly just that.
It is his adaptability and flexibility that has become the pillar of support for OG to lean on, the strength they relied on to make 2016 a year that “dreamt green”.
W33haGoing into 2016, Team Secret’s star mid laner, w33, had all but silenced the doubters and critics who had been wary of his inclusion in the rebuilding of Puppey’s team. With a pair of LAN victories and a Major grand finals appearance under his belt from late 2015, w33 and the rest of Secret put to bed the speculation of a team in decline with a victory at the Shanghai Major. At that moment, joined by his teammates on stage, none could contest that he stood at the top of his field.
But then, something happened. Soggy results between Frankfurt and Shanghai coupled with internal difficulties saw the jettisoning of w33 along with Secret’s offlaner, Misery, from the team following another disappointing finish at Dota Pit season 4’s LAN finals. With the roster lock looming in the near future, the two clung together and helped rebuild another team, this time the North American Digital Chaos. Choosing to come stateside stirred up the critics once again, claiming that DC 2.0 would fall short in the same way mousesports had the year prior.
Rather than fade back into obscurity, w33 and his new team took hold of NA’s seasonal instability and claimed a handful of regional qualifier victories over rivals like compLexity Gaming and Shazam. Despite an early exit in Manila, w33 would rebound to taste a second Valve-run grand finals in 2016: the coveted stage of The International 6. Surpassing reigning champions Evil Geniuses on the way to the final, DC would ultimately fall short to the new Chinese wunderteam in a memorable best of 5 set.
w33’s diverse hero pool is always a delight to see. He stands among those that require a respect ban for his Meepo play, having cut countless games short over the course of the year with his commanding performances on the hero. While they were in style, his play on other favorites like Lina and Windranger (or “w33ndranger” as dubbed by his admirers) were nearly always guaranteed laning victories as well as powerful single target assassins. Most importantly, of course, is w33’s Invoker. A staple hero for mids all over the world, w33’s is no less terrifying as Suma1l’s, Ferrari 430’s, or Miracle’s.
An underdog triumph as well as a comeback kid, w33 has chiseled his place in the compendium of noteworthy mid players the world over. For his versatility, results, and game-turning presence, it is no surprise that we give w33 Mid of the Year for 2016.
UniverseThe offlane has always been a precarious position in Dota 2 as players balance the risks and rewards of trying to get as much out of the lane as possible. There are only a handful of players who are known to “win” the lane and of them even fewer who can do so reliably. Universe is among those very few who consistently perform at a level rarely seen in the offlane. His Dark Seer during the Shanghai Major early in the year brought EG back from the precipice of defeat, and during the China Top 2016 mere weeks ago we saw him close the year out by defeating Wings and Newbee with the hero as well. Universe has a quality that makes him irreplaceable to EG in his ability and stability which is demonstrated at every LAN event the team attends.
Equally impressive to his level of play is the amount of heroes he is able to play at the highest level. We’ve seen Universe make game changing plays from Enigma, Faceless Void, Earth Shaker, Tidehunter, and pretty much anything else he gets his hands on. While his time on Secret this year was a blemish on an otherwise incredible 2016, it was not enough to diminish the incredible year he had with Evil Geniuses. EG made it to the podium multiple times this year at Valve events coming 3rd place at the Shanghai Major, TI6, and 3rd/4th at the Boston Major. Universe played a massive role as the initiator and counter-initiator in many of EG’s wins at a time where players are getting better about not getting caught out of position, making his job all the more challenging. For his exceptional work throughout the year, we believe he is extremely fitting to be named the best offlaner of 2016.
JeraxSupports is always known as the unsung role, where each individual player would get nitpicked at before a decision on the best of the field is reached. Surprisingly for us, there was a unanimous decision that JerAx deserved this particular award the most. As we looked back on the year, we flipped through several other support players to see if there were any, in our opinion, who were more deserving than JerAx and, while there were many similar to him, none quite seemed to have a greater impact on a team in all of its games than JerAx.
Indeed, he has been praised several times for his incredibly flashy plays on staple heroes like Earth Spirit and Rubick but what we’re getting at doesn’t really pertain to that. In just about every game that JerAx has played, there have been common features: early game rotations, forced lane victories and simply mesmerising early game control and presence. He has been widely known to be the one who calls most of the shots, particularly during the early phase of each game, further attributing to the amount of influence he exerted each game.
While the year hasn’t been the best it can be for an outstanding support player like himself, it has nonetheless been a very good year for JerAx: 3 Major Grand Finals, 1st at Epicenter, Top 8 at TI6, 3rd at MDL and Summit 5 among many other top 3 placements throughout the year. To us here at LiquidDota, it could not have been clearer to us how much of an impact JerAx had on Team Liquid after he chose to part ways and further his career with OG. In perhaps the most memorable game as we approach the zenith of the year, it was strongly felt that what kept OG going in Game 3 of the Boston Major Grand Final vs AF was JerAx’s disciplined support Mirana play. Add to that his incredibly consistent and near flawless support gameplay throughout the entire year, it is hardly a difficult task to find JerAx to be most deserving of the LiquidDota 2016 Support of the Year.
Most Innovative/Boldest Strategy
MVP 5 Melee w/ void vs Timbersaw
With each and every patch, the meta evolves again and again. Strategies, heroes and items all bow to the ever changing tide and fall in or out of favor. However, sometimes we will see a stubborn team persist in it’s own way of play, unwilling to adapt and instead daring the game to try and make them change. During 2016, MVP was one such team; their trademark Dota can be summarized as: “They will run at you, run at you again and then run at you some more.”
MVP’s high finishes on LAN early in the year using this approach were a pleasant surprise for us viewers but did not prepare us for what they showed off in Seattle. Diligent as ever, their opponent’s captain Fly had laid out the seemingly perfect plan to counter the Koreans relentless aggression. How in the world would a lineup consisting of Spirit Breaker, Bounty Hunter, Phantom Assassin, Faceless Void, and Dark Seer even work against a lineup that had a Timbersaw as it’s centerpiece?
The resulting game turned out to be just as insane as MVP’s lineup sounds in the vacuum of draft analysis. While at first glance there appears to be close to no synergy at all between DuBu’s picks, especially considering the lack of damage for Chronosphere, the Koreans made it work. Persevering through a rough early game, MVP never doubted their draft and eventually rebounded in spectacular fashion as they proceeded to dismantle OG’s defense, running them over true to their own style, taking the game in convincing fashion towards the end.
While the classic approach of all-out aggression is nothing new to Dota, the way MVP wholly embraced it and put belief in their ability to make their playstyle work against what can be considered a perfect counterplan by OG is the aspect that made us give this award to the Koreans. Being this bold on the greatest of stages in Key Arena and willing to force the game to develop according to your own will, eschewing the idea of some ephemeral metagame and flavor of the month, is the key deserving factor for this award.
EG vs EHOMEIn a year with so many matches, so many great moments and so many hype clashes, the decision to pick one single game was harder than it may appear. But among all those matches, this one stood out not only for the amazing plays, but also because of the intense atmosphere that was felt in Key Arena. We don’t usually get the chance to see a crowd support their favorite teams so passionately, the chants “USA USA” exploded every time Sumail or Fear made a play; on the other hand, with every iceiceice dive or an old chicken Omnislash, an “EHOME EHOME” chant followed up. The energy was all over the place, from the beginning to the climatic end.
The match itself is good enough even if you didn’t get the chance to see it live at Key Arena. With a kill per minute ratio of 1.16, the match was a bloodbath from the very beginning, with no team taking a decisive advantage until the late game. The game was going EHOME’s way as they headed into the later stages of the game with a 20k net worth advantage at 45 minutes. Hopes for EG were low but the young gun Sumail got his hands on what was going to be the game-winning item for this match: a Dagon.
An item usually related to Nyx Assassin, Nature’s Prophet, selfish supports or just troll players, this game showed the superiority that burst damage can have in Dota. Together with the Aghs-Ethereal combo, Sumail destroyed most of his opposition, especially iceiceice’s Timbersaw, and it motivated PPD and Zai to get one of their own. The Dagon Trinity proved to be too much for EHOME, and even if we can count a couple of misplays coming from the Chinese squad, it would be unfair to take away the merit that EG has by overcoming the immense odds and beating mega creeps.
Team of the Year
OGWhile Wings took the Aegis in Seattle, their lackluster performances in Manila and Boston where they finished among the bottom teams in both Majors as well as their absence during the Shanghai Major opened the door for another team to swoop in and claim the title of Team of the Year. While EG have had a phenomenal year and have reached the podium multiple times at Valve events, they fell just short of claiming first place multiple times. OG lead by Fly have been among the best teams in the world ever since their miracle lower bracket run at the Frankfurt Major last year. They came into 2016 slightly shaky as they finished 3rd during MDL and only placed 8th at the Shanghai Major. After another 3rd place at Epicenter, OG would go on to make history. As they raised the trophy in Manila to signify their victory, they became the first team to win two Valve events. Not only that, but each of them were the first players to manage the feat. While The International was not kind to them, they quickly rebounded and with renewed determination went on to win yet another Major, this time in Boston, making them the first team to defend their title at a Major on top of Fly and N0tail becoming three time Major champions.
Throughout the year, OG showed that they held players who were absolutely among the very best in their positions at the time. Miracle was the undisputed king of mid-laners as he, with the help of his supports, dictated the pace of the game and worked in tandem with N0tail to close out games. N0tail himself as the safelane carry was tasked with a unique job, he had to make do with much less farm than most other safelane carries but have just as much, if not more, impact on the game with what he could find. Fly has led OG admirably during the entirety of 2016 and is an invaluable part of the team as he captained two very different squads to Major championships. Despite the changes the team has faced, they remain a top contender against an ever growing amount of capable and skilled teams and for that we award them with Team of the Year.
Most Improved Team
WingsThere is no question that Wings, the team that came from nowhere after a last place finish at the Manila Major, are the most improved team during 2016. Wings made an upper bracket run during TI, becomimg immortalized as the TI6 champions with their incredibly vast hero pools, fluid play style, and unimaginable talent as a team and as individuals. Throw in a little bit of bash RNG going their way on heroes like Spirit Breaker and Faceless Void and the young Chinese squad had a recipe for victory in Seattle.
Not only did they improve as a team as they became familiar with 6.88, but each member became more reliable and responsive as a cohesive unit. Their teamfight coordination was nearly unparalleled by anyone else, and they knew exactly how far they could push their heroes to the limit to get the largest advantage they could out of every lane. While other teams were trying to come up with the optimal way to play the patch and figure out which strategies were most potent, Wings seemed to play whatever they wanted and crushed the opposition with superior mechanical skill.
While Wings showcased how strong they were, their ability to consistently play at that level was sporadic, and in turn is why Wings did not sweep the rest of the awards. For some tournaments they were absolutely dominant and their absolute dominance during those events makes them far and above the most improved team of the year.
Future of Dota 2
Ad FinemThere is no doubt that this is the year that AdFinem proved they had what it takes to be a top team. The origins of this squad can be tracked to London Conspiracy, where Madara, SkyLark and Spartan were teammates for almost an entire year before the players went their separate ways. It wasn’t long however until the Greek boys gathered again under the Latin motto of “To the end” to form what would prove to be one of the big European powerhouses of competitive Dota.
The path was not straightforward; in a not-so-hot start to the year, the squad failed to qualify for any relevant tournament, including The International. Many teams would have given up after these results, but persistence is a fundamental part of Spartan warriors and AdFinem did not disband, which led to an impressive run in the season after TI6. With outstanding performances against the best teams of Europe, the Greek boys earned a well-deserved spot in Boston Major.
This was already a great success for the team and it would be more than enough for most teams that come from a similar background, but the best was yet to come. In what ended in almost the perfect Cinderella story, AdFinem crushed veterans of the scene and beat the odds to reach the final of the last Major played in a 6.X patch.
In the end, OG proved to be too much for the Greek heroes. Their story at the Boston major ended on a bittersweet note, harkening back to mythological tales of ancient Greece. This ending is just another beginning for AdFinem, but with new challenges and changes in the horizon, the Greek squad cannot rest on their laurels just yet.
Best Caster (Voice of Dota)
CapitalistDota 2 has always had great casters, but in the last couple of years the talent has really stepped it up. With so many quality casters available, it can be hard to distinguish oneself as a truly great caster, but Austin “Capitalist” Walsh has done exactly that. Capitalist made his first International appearance two years ago at TI4 and has improved greatly since then. Casting for JoinDota primarily with his partner William “Blitz” Lee, the two did something we haven’t seen much in the Dota scene by casting exclusively with each other as much as possible. After TI6 however, Blitz has retired from casting and Capitalist left JoinDota, leaving him to pursue his own career as a freelance caster and founding member of Code Red.
Capitalist has shown that even outside of his comfort zone with Blitz, he is still one of the best casters in the world. He has the exceptionally rare quality of being great at both play-by-play casting and analysis. Capitalist can easily transition from working the panel, to doing analysis alongside ODPixel, to shoutcasting teamfights with Merlini. He does this while maintaining a quality that can be difficult for specialized talent to match. Cap has also shown something very important, a strong drive to always improve and diversify his skillsets. This drive and work ethic shows in the quality of his casts, helping him to always improve while others might stagnate. All of this makes Capitalist a relatively easy choice for this year’s Voice of Dota.
Best Individual Play
From W33ha’s Invoker at Shanghai to MNT’s Earth Shaker in Boston, the year has been packed with many incredible individual performances from an array of players and teams. We went off the beaten path (just a little bit) and took a look at Gabbi’s MGPL performance on Puck against MVP and were captivated by how much he accomplished with so little. Execration made it’s mark on the scene when Abed took apart compLexity with Abed’s Meepo during the TI6 Wildcards. Gabbi joined them shortly after and proved that he too could stun the audience with his abilities.
An Arcane rune, a wand, and level 1 Phase Shift allowed him to “style over them all”, in the words of ODPixel, as Gabbi fought 1v4 after a disastrous team fight which should have allowed MVP to take firm control of the first game in the Grand Finals. Instead, they were left speechless as the corpses of Radiant’s heroes were left scattered around the fairy dragon. The fight started with MVP taking the tower and quickly bursting down Undying; Sand King’s jump on Febby was thwarted with a disruption from Dubu and he in turn got focused down and died while DJ was chased from the fight leaving Gabbi to fend for himself.
Gabbi manages to kill Reisen while MVP was busy focusing on the Sand King. Then, due to how low Febby was after the Epicenter, Gabbi is able to kill Febby while at the same time dodging two auto attacks that would have killed him with Ethereal Jaunt. Gabbi, realizing he has the chance to live, sells the Blink Dagger he just bought and had in his stash and re-buys it at the side lane shop before once again evading two auto attacks with his Ethereal Jaunt. Gabbi then uses his stick to give himself just enough hp to survive the last attack Dubu manages to throw out; leaving Winter and ODPixel astonished. Gabbi Gabbi Gabbi!
MidOneTruly a rising young star, MidOne easily fulfilled the criterion for newcomer. So what was it that pushed him further so as to be, in our view, the best of the newcomers? An absolutely enigmatic player, he turned up in the scene out of nowhere as we approached the tail end of December 2015, taking up the mantle of Fnatic’s mid solo, filling in the shoes of the legendary MuShi as the latter sought to take up the carry role for the team.
First playing for the team at the Shanghai Major SEA Qualifiers, he proved to be a very formidable player for the team, bringing a diverse hero pool to match MuShi’s as well as incredible mechanical skill with a particularly memorable performance on Nyx Assassin vs MVP. Following the qualifiers, his first LAN was the Major itself, in which Fnatic placed Top 6, even defeating Frankfurt champions OG with very dominant individual performances.
As with many of his Malaysian predecessors, the young talent found himself playing both solo mid and carry at MuShi’s demand, including exceptional performances on Ember Spirit and Phantom Lancer against Alliance and LGD respectively at the Manila Major. Fast forward to TI6, MidOne had shown his capabilities on the international stage, being the first player in SEA to hit 8k MMR while proving a formidable player in the competitive scene. Despite his individual success, his team had a disastrous group stage and started off in the Lower Bracket.
Fnatic’s TI6 lower bracket run was a culture shock for Western fans. MidOne’s sensational gameplay on Storm against Alliance and QoP against Team Liquid propelled the team upward in the placings until DC finally put a stop to their run just short of reaching the loser’s final. There is little doubt that MidOne had been absolutely instrumental in Fnatic achieving top 4 at the biggest tournament of the year. Had it not been for DC’s amazing and utterly unexpected run, there is no doubt that Fnatic would’ve been considered the darling underdog story of the tournament.
Following TI6, MidOne expanded his horizons and moved to Secret where he continued to be a high-impact player despite the team failing to qualify for Boston after falling to both AdFinem and Virtus Pro in the qualifiers. He remained the standout player on Secret towards the end of the year and closed it out with a fitting 1st place finish at the ROG Masters LAN in his home country. In consideration of his consistency and success throughout the year, it is our firm belief that MidOne is the appropriate designation as Best Newcomer 2016.
Redeye’s PuppetHe is smart, talented, classy and handsome. Basically a great improvement to his predecessor in every way, Puppet Redeye hosted not only the sixth International, he also conducted one of the most entertaining and original moments in esports history. Puppet Redeye showed an incredible chemistry with the rest of his panel of experts, leading the discussion like no other host in esports can even dream to do. Not only did he deftly lead the panel, but his perfect transitions to Kaci and Slack’s segments showed a great control over the pace of the show at the highest level.
When things don’t run smoothly during the panel, like when there was a lot of rubbing happening, Puppet Redeye demonstrated great self-control and didn’t give up to the temptation and hence brought the panel back on topic with excellent execution that we could only expect from him.
We hope to see more of this blessing of a host we got for The International, but great things usually don’t come very often, so maybe we will have to make a Christmas wish for that to happen. On a more serious note, Redeye exemplifies what it means to be a great host. He (and his puppet) show great chemistry no matter who is on the panel with him and always manages to be both informative and entertaining. Redeye didn’t just set the bar for being a great host in Dota 2, he made the bar, and for that we award him with best host of 2016.
MiseryThe most influential role of any team in the game that we know as Dota 2, that of captain, is one that is difficult to fully evaluate. However, a certain Danish veteran who has lingered around the scene since MYM’s glory days has proven convincing in our view, bringing misery to opposing captains. With competitive experience spanning 8 years and having played all 5 roles, it is surprising that he never seemed to have as much impact as a captain than he has this year. Add to that the fact that he remains the sole player to have played in every Valve event to date, it certainly seems that his great captaincy of a team is long overdue.
Looking back on 2016, MiSeRy first became captain after being kicked from Secret along with w33 right after the conclusion of DotaPit Season 4, just as the roster lock deadline was drawing to an end. Both players desperate to continue competing for the coming season, they were picked up by SUNSfan to fill the spots in Digital Chaos. Little was expected of this swiftly concocted roster dubbed “EU Rejects + Moo”, but MiSeRy led them through qualifier after qualifier until they finally arrived in Manila for the Major.
There in the groups they made quick work of ESL Manila champions Wings known for their ridiculously unorthodox drafts. Sadly, DC soon fell to 2 other Chinese teams and finished 9th-12th, making for a rather early, albeit expected exit. Move ahead to TI6 AM Qualifiers, and we watch MiSeRy and Co. trump more expectations, beating out coL 3:2 in a brilliant series where MiSeRy’s shotcalling brought them to victory against coL’s well-known Tiny+Io draft late in the game even though they sported a rather mid-game oriented draft.
Despite qualifying for TI, expectations could not have been lower for MiSeRy’s team, but they persisted nonetheless. They forced incredible upsets throughout groups with strong 5-man mid-game peaking drafts. In playoffs, DC found themselves pitted against Wings in the upper bracket where they were subsequently defeated, though not without taking a game.
They began their underdog journey with MiSeRy’s devastating draft in their very first game, controlling the tempo whilst a Naga slowly became the monster that she’s meant to become. DC continued their grueling climb through the lower bracket and eventually met with Fnatic. With a tinge of drafting genius that brought a support Slardar into the meta followed by a surprise last pick Chaos Knight, Fnatic’s run was put to an end. After their match against Fnatic DC came up against the juggernaut of the North American region, Evil Geniuses. Again, MiSeRy’s drafting prowess shone through as he forced ppd into belief that he would be playing against a core Naga, only to pull out a last pick carry Razor seeking to bring a swift end to the game.
TI6 was proven to not be a fluke as despite a lack of competitive gameplay prior to the Boston Major, DC proved to be a formidable force in Boston. The analysts at the event praised DC’s unitary movement under MiSeRy’s firm leadership. A further strong testament to the solidity of MiSeRy’s drafting skill is present in that DC, under his leadership, had an 81.67% winrate in games less than 30 mins, proving stable drafts, gameplay, as well as early game shotcalling. Truly, we have been convinced that MiSeRy is most deserving of being called the Best Captain of 2016.
Most Influential Hero
Alchemist"The Alchemists are coming! The Alchemists are coming!" cried Grand Magus Rubick as he rode his magical staff as fast as he could towards his own fountain. Close behind him, a pair of romping raging giants with a glimmering radiance burn chased up high ground before popping in a puff of smoke. It would be only 20 seconds of reprieve before the next pair of fake purple chemically charged Alchemists come knocking.
Alchemist first broke out into the professional scene in the last days of 6.86 near his most absurdly imbalanced form of the year. Benefiting from recent buffs to Radiance as well as reworks to Greevil's Greed and the introduction of Octarine Core, Alchemist's once-niche role as a fast-farming fighting carry was morphed into something more sinister, a split-pushing scourge that no longer had to worry about a dropoff in strength in the lategame due to a newly-created Aghanim's ability that made him into the DotA version of Oprah.
Even as Icefrog reversed course to nerfing Alchemist in subsequent patches, illusion heroes remained as powerful as ever from Manila to Seattle to Boston. Throughout all of this, Alchemist held the mantle of the most disgusting, most cancerous illusion hero above equally disgusting Luna and Naga Siren. Great at holding high ground with acid, excellent at sharing networth with Aghanim’s, and superb at mercilessly beating down enemy carries while in chemical rage, it seemed like Alchemist was always relevant as a pick either in the middle lane or in the safe lane, and for this reason he is our Hero of the Year.
The RNG Button
Shadow’s Void TI6Game 3 of the TI6 grand finals was a pivotal moment in the journey to Wings Gaming’s victory over Digital Chaos. Having just knotted up the best of five series at 1-1 after a 40 minute game 2 victory, Wings had decided to run back Shadow’s Faceless Void after his 5/1/12 performance in the previous game. To answer this, DC snapped up Moo’s signature Timbersaw: a high armor hero that could outlive a Chronosphere and whittle down Wings’ lineup over prolonged engagements. What they didn’t account for, however, was Shadow hitting the RNG button and taking his carry game to the next level.
It all started with first blood. An early point in Time Lock for harassment turned into just enough damage to help Innocence secure the early kill on Moo. From there, it was off to the races. Breakneck jukes, perfect rotations, fight ending Chronos, and a seemingly endless barrel of bashes to hand out to DC like a suburban mom on Halloween. Shadow wasn’t just satisfied with bashing DC into oblivion either; when Faith_Bian was on the receiving end of a Winter’s Curse, Shadow took it upon himself to bash him twice securing the kill on his own teammate. This resulted in a career highlight of a 20/0/16 record and, most importantly, the win they needed to bring them within one map of the eternal glory of the Aegis of Champions.
Game of the Year
Ad Finem vs OG game 3 Boston MajorA combination of gravity of the contest, the underdog story, the likability of the team, and the quality of the gameplay made the third game of the Boston Major Grand Finals between Ad Finem and OG the Game of the Year. The setting is readily apparent. Ad Finem and OG were contesting the third game of a Dota 2 Major Grand Final. OG had already won two games and Ad Finem was attempting to stave off a quick 3-0 second place finish. It was certainly a high stakes game between the two teams.
The underdog story is entirely based on the pedigree of Ad Finem, an all Greek team that had never competed at the international level, representing a region of Europe that had never competed at the international level. They were surprise qualifiers out of the European region, eliminating more heralded teams such as Team Secret and Liquid for a chance to play in Boston. Not exhibiting the best of form after the qualifiers, Ad Finem was widely panned to exit the tournament in the early eliminations stages. Yet time and time again Ad Finem played exciting nervy games taking two successive tense 2-1 victories over Chinese teams to reach the semifinals, where they dominated Digital Chaos in a 2-0 series.
The best part of the Ad Finem underdog run was how excited, emotional, and likable they were throughout their run. Team captain, SsaSparatan, stood up and celebrated mid-game. After triumph over NewBee, he came out and did a handstand to the surprise and glee of the remaining crowd. Most of all, nothing could match Ad Finem’s support player, MaybeNextTime, call for the "AOU!" chant from the audience to show support for the team in and out of the games.
The excitement was infectious. During the Grand Finals, large swaths of the Wang Theatre crowd pounded their chests and shouted whenever Ad Finem did anything. In appreciation, MaybeNextTime gave the crowd a shout out at the start of the said third game, even as OG ganked him in the river. Despite being an OG fan, I could not help but root for Ad Finem to take at least one game; what a game it would be!
In terms of gameplay, the third game had it all. For twenty minutes, OG looked like they were seeing out a routine snowball victory, but in their overeagerness to finish the game, Ad Finem was able to punish OG diving behind Tier 2 towers and pushing high ground. The comeback wasn't all straight forward with OG hitting back regularly in team fights.
It had massive teamfights with rapid exchanges of hero abilities and items in play and counterplay. Ad Finem lost Roshan fights. Ad Finem won Roshan fights. Blinks, Eclipse, Impale, Eul’s, Shadow Blade, Omnislash, Star Storm, Spell Steal, Echo Slam, all came out in team fights that felt like it could have ended in either team’s favor. The game teetered back and forth, without any predictability. Meanwhile, Madara Luna farmed his way to a Rapier. For the first time in the game, Ad Finem looked like they had a recognizable but risky advantage. At this point, the onlookers had already weathered 30 minutes of high tension play, and the game was building towards its climax.
Just as Ad Finem secured mega creeps, they lost the rapier. The rapier was then recovered and was lost again. Throughout all of this, Merlini openly wondered how the game played out as it did. When Ad Finem went all-in on the OG throne and lost the Divine Rapier the second time to only reduce it to 300 odd HP, shades of the EG comeback against EHOME came into view, since Ad Finem had expended more buybacks than you could count and death timers uniformly read 108. It was at this time, the sole surviving member of Ad Finem, MaybeNextTime, stole forwards on Earthshaker with ShadowBlade and BKB. Whether you stumbled upon realization of the impending play as MNT blinked forward through or when MNT hit the Enchant Totem on low ground or as MNT stealthed up high ground, or you covered up in disbelief and denial like ODPixel even as MNT was hitting the throne, the moment that the throne exploded was incredible.
Writers Tangeng, ShiaoPi, Doctorheckle, Maverick_2009, UberXD, OmniEulogy, Jdc214