TABLE OF CONTENTS
Grand Finals Preview
For A HoN guy
Follow TD3 on
Turn off Focus Mode [x]
The Defense Season 3
Yes, the finals of The Defense are finally just a day away now, and we're here with more content to get you ready for it! European powerhouses Fnatic and Virtus.pro will go at each other this weekend, and with $10,000 up for grabs you can rest assured that the competition will be fierce.
In this second installment of our TD3 Grand Finals coverage, we will take you back to the playoffs with a quick recap from Kupon3ss. Also, if you are curious about the two teams playing in the finals make sure to read our Preview by TheEmulator.
As today's feature, we have an interview with Fnatic's Fly. Tal talks to TL writer Firebolt145 about The Defense, his team and more. It's definitely a must read! (In fact, why don't you brew a cup of your favourite beverage and sit down to read it in Focus Mode?)
Though that's all for now from us here at TL Dota 2 coverage, don't forget to check our Live Report thread, and join us on IRC as we watch the games live!
View the complete bracket on Liquipedia
The Fall of Kings
Na`Vi and Empire were heralded as the strongest teams of the West, the overwhelming favorites for the tournament. Little did anyone know that both of these long time titans would fall and wash away, leaving nothing but memories of their former glory and majesty. What seemed like a pair of infinitely stable powerhouses crumbled.
Virtus.pro 2:1 Empire
This match represented the passing of the torch of CIS power. Twice would one of Empire's signature hero combinations in the Chaos Knight and Wisp be utterly destroyed by Airman’s Gyrocopter, highlighting the hero’s rise to the top echelon of carries. The two action-packed stomps were divided by a long interlude with Empire’s Anti-Mage and VP’s Phantom Lancer in a slow duel to the finish.
Na`Vi 2:1 Empire
The Rivals met not in the expected finals, but in round two of the losers bracket. Neither team was happy about their position and they showed it in a trio of bloodstained battles that may well have been the finals. In the end, the return of Puppey’s Enchantress and Dendi’s virtuosic performances on Queen of Pain and Invoker would be instrumental in Na`Vi’s victory. Empire’s proclivity towards Undying in all three games along with their seeming unfamiliarity with Gyrocopter (who had caused their downfall at the hands of VP) would cause their eventual defeat.
Fnatic 2:1 Na`Vi
Having defeated their main CIS rival, Na`Vi had every right to be confident in their rematch against Fnatic, whom they had defeated days before. After sailing to an easy victory in the first game capped by Puppey’s appearance on Axe, Na`Vi confidently strode into the next games. Fnatic then revealed their secret weapon: Trixi’s farming Furion combined with a pair of three-core lineups. Fnatic pressured Na`Vi's battle lines from every angle until they buckled, with the orchestrated chaos so typical of Fnatic overcoming Na`Vi's attempts at order and control.
And so ends the line of kings; Na`Vi and Empire both fell far short of the finals. Their defeats in TD3 may have signalled their fall from grace; only time will tell whether or not their respective reformations can be a rebirth for these once-giants.
Na`Vi and Empire’s places at the top would be replaced by two unlikely contenders. Both Dignitas and VP, despite being immensely strong, had been in the background of their respective scenes, biding their time.
Dignitas 2:0 NTH
Nobody was quite sure how this match would turn out. NTH’s form had recently been unstable and Dignitas had yet to play a serious match. The result was an unexpected show for the eyes. Dignitas would bring a long forgotten combo in Warlock and Spectre, a pair of heroes recently fixed in Dota 2 and returned to their former strength. The second game would be a surprisingly easy victory thanks to a Dignitas Phantom Lancer that NTH inexplicably allowed to freefarm.
Virtus.pro 2:0 Evil Geniuses
After defeating Empire, VP faced yet another historical powerhouse. Showing that their strength had been in no way exaggerated during their ascendency towards the top of the Western Scene, VP dominated the first game against EG using Chaos Knight and Wisp, combining them with Invoker for absolutely crushing global dominus. VP finished the series on the back of the Gyrocopter that had now become Airman’s trademark hero, and a surprise appearance by Weaver, another long-forgotten hero making a recent resurgence on the back of buffs.
The winners final is far different than what was expected, and deservedly so. Dignitas and VP have proven beyond doubt that they are the new powerhouses of the West.
The lower bracket soon devolved into a free-for-all as the void left by the shifting waters demanded to be filled, where teams would resort to any means necessarily to edge out their competitors.
Team Liquid 2:1 Mouz
One of the defining series’ of Liquid’s career and the final cap in their remarkable winstreak, this was a battle of courage and endurance. The first two games involved a Liquid victory on the back of a global ganking squad followed by a game settled by Black’s freefarm Anti-Mage. However, the third game will remain in our mind, immortalized by deeds and bravery. We look at this game very closely in Recap Part 1.
Fnatic 2:0 NTH
Fresh off their own hotstreak and a victory over Na`Vi, Fnatic came out in force once again. Against an NTH notably off their game due to internal issues, Fnatic’s overwhelming aggression easily sailed past NTH as scores of Track kills and a sundering earth sealed the fate of NTH, yet another victim of Fnatic’s unique chaotic style.
Team Liquid 2:0 Evil Geniuses
Extension of the long-standing rivalry in Starcraft comes once again to the fans of the NA scene. The first game was the Bulba show as an offlane Broodmother managed to tie down EG for so long that the game might as well have been 1 protect 4 while the rest of Liquid picked off stray EG players at every opportunity. The second game showcased a KotL and Brewmaster successfully stalling long enough to allow their Anti-Mage to turn the tide against a shaken EG side.
The Final Chapters
Fnatic 2:0 Team Liquid
The new powerhouses of Europe and America come head to head in the lower bracket semifinals. Fnatic somehow managed to work KotL PL into their customary aggression by combining them with Chen and Lone Druid in an active style. Against a PL based lineup that is up towers and map control in the midgame, Liquid's Furion Tiny dual core strategy found itself powerless to stem the inevitable tide. The second game saw an atypical triple initiation of Magnus, Alchemist and Batrider from Fnatic catching Liquid off guard time and time again. When a Tinker becomes too scared to TP in sight and the Lifestealer begins to turtle, the rest is history.
Virtus.pro 2:1 Dignitas
Dignitas has recently had a penchant for lineups that look innovative when successful and ridiculous when on the back foot. It's hard to not make fun of a paper team with 0 crowd control based on Luna, Visage, and Silencer when they proved powerless and useless against Airman's signature Gyrocopter-based "standard" lineup. Yet a similar lineup from Dignitas would prove quite effective in the second game, where the control and initiation of Beastmaster and Clockwerk backed up the damage from Luna and Visage, allowing them to soundly defeat an almost identical lineup from VP's first game. Yet when BM and Luna came to be banned in the third game, Dignitas would pick another puzzling frail 0 damage 0 aoe low control lineup that was utterly wrecked by VP's Gyro, Brewmaster, and Warlock ult combo. Twice did Silencer appear and twice did the hero prove inadequate when teams picked individual "good" heroes without considering the overall lineup.
Fnatic 2:0 Dignitas
In a game that is perhaps the personification of Western DotA in recent months, both teams would pick a lineup with more than enough wombo combo to annihilate the other team. Black holes, Reverse Polarities, and Call downs of Dignitas constantly clashed with the Eclipses, Illusory Walls, and Macropyres of Fnatic in a game best summed up as a battle of "throw chicken" as the advantages wobbled back and forth like a metronome. Yet after a pair of throws in a row, Dignitas found themselves in a situation where not even a rapier Gyro could save the day against Fnatic's Mega Creeps. After the action-packed first game came a sudden and abrupt end to the series as Fnatic's mid Wisp CK proved itself once again as one of the scariest combos of Western Dota 2, leaving a 1-7 Storm and Dignitas' dreams of their first major victory as the newest entries on the pair's victim list.
Grand Finals Preview
After months of gruelling and drawn out competition, only two teams remain in this season of The Defense. Virtus.pro and Fnatic.EU are set to battle it out in a few days time for the coveted title of The Defense Season 3 champions. With two teams so evenly matched like this you can expect the action to be intense, and with so much on the line, both teams will definitely bring their A-game.
Virtus.pro has had a very tough road to the finals, running into some of the best teams Western DotA has to offer. This Russian powerhouse was once a top Western DotA team, but in recent times they were seen as falling off the scene. Since Starladder Season 4, Virtus.pro has been making a quick climb back to the top, and in the opinions of many, they have reached it once again. After SL4, Virtus.pro went on to attain a 2nd place finish in the Premier League Season 3, only losing out to Empire in the Grand Finals. After that loss, Virtus.pro went on a massive losing streak to Empire, with a record of 10-2 in recent matches. However, this all changed in the winner's round 1 for The Defense playoffs, where Virtus.pro finally got their revenge and took Empire out with a 2-1 victory, advancing to the next round and solidifying their new found dominance in many people's minds. After hard fought victories over Evil Geniuses and Dignitas, Virtus.pro is in the Grand Finals this season, proving that they are truly on the rise to the top of the Western DotA scene.
Fnatic.EU will be a tough challenge for Virtus.pro, and the recent loss of Santa will do naught to help them. Fortunately, they have recently found ARS-ART as a temporary stand-in for the spot Santa was in. If Virtus.pro can find a quick level of cohesion with ARS-ART, they can still be that same strong force, despite not being together for long. On the other hand, they may simply fall apart with this new dynamic.
Fnatic.EU has been completely dominant throughout this season of The Defense. They have been at the top of their game for a while now, showing that they will be a very tough obstacle for Virtus.pro to overcome. Fnatic.EU did not lose a single series in the group stages this season, going 7-0 overall. They got knocked out of the Winner's bracket first round, but quickly bounced back to win everything on their way through the Loser's bracket, only dropping one game against Na`Vi during their run.
Fnatic.EU's current form is extremely tight. Just this month they took 1st place in the DotaHut Invitational, and have been performing decently in the Raidcall EMS Cups. Fnatic.EU has also had no changes recently in their roster, so you can expect them to have a certain level of cohesiveness that Virtus.pro might not have with their loss of Santa. This may not be a game changer, but it's an advantage that they otherwise would not have had a few weeks ago.
Between the two teams, Fnatic.EU seems to hold a slight advantage. They have been more solid in the last four months as a whole. However, Virtus.pro has been rising extremely fast, and it is hard to say whether the Russian team has already reached the level of Fnatic.EU. We will have to wait and see.
Pretty Fly For A HoN Guy
Fly schools yet another noob.
Hello. First and foremost, thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview you. Feel free to introduce yourself in whatever way you want!
It's my pleasure. Well as many know, I'm the captain of Fnatic's EU DotA team. I used to play HoN with the team before we transitioned to DotA over a year ago. I'm 20, from Israel, currently living in Italy for some time. I like to eat healthy (hard to accomplish in Italy!), work out, and watch movies.
You recently beat Dignitas 2-0 in the Lower Bracket Finals of the Defense. Can you tell us a little about what happened in those games?
The games against Dignitas felt pretty good. We were comfortable with the drafts, and I felt as if we had the advantage going into both games. We’ve faced Dignitas quite a few times already, and hence feel somewhat familiar with their playstyle. It felt as if they were not as prepared for the games, and with so much on the line it seemed a bit odd. If I am not mistaken they did have a ringer in those games, Sneyking, which also might have had some influence on the outcome of the games.
How would you weigh up Fnatic's style of play against Virtus.Pro's? What do you think the viewers can expect from the finals?
The last time we faced VP we did end up losing. I do think our playstyle is fine against them. We just have to be a little more prepared. VP usually plays aggressive, with aggressive trilanes or a lot of roaming. I don't like going into a match expecting something from the opponents, because they could easily do something completely different than what you would expect. I think the matches will be very exciting for the viewers to watch, because with so much money on the line both teams should be playing their best.
We're certainly looking forward to it. Regarding The Defense - their tournaments have been around for some time. Some people have begun to say that they feel The Defense’s tournament structure should be changed, claiming that it is too long, or that it has too many teams. What are your thoughts?
I think The Defense’s tournament structure is quite fine. With a lot of money on the line it's okay to have it spread over a longer period of time. One of the things I also like is that you can schedule most games with the opponents and admins, rather than having a default time set - which can cause some issues. So overall, I am quite happy with The Defense!
In the chaos that Dota’s competitive scene often descends into, Fnatic has been one of the most stable teams, sticking together through your transition from HoN to Dota 2. What are your secrets?
We have been playing together for a really long time. Especially N0tail, Trixi and myself. I think we get along really well, and we are all good friends outside of the game as well. That way it's easier to be more forgiving if people make mistakes and in general it creates a more friendly atmosphere.
How did you guys first get to know each other?
I first met NoVa in an amateur clan back in HoN, and together we started making our own team, and we met up with Danijel 'Street' and he supported us in making a team. Shortly after that, we met N0tail in a pub (which he claims he won, though Nova and I won!) and started talking with him about joining us. After a while, the 3 of us, with the help of Street, got into Fnatic, replacing some of the old squad and playing with Freshpro and Trixi. The rest is history. We played against H4nn1 and Era several times when they were on opposing teams - and eventually we started playing together.
Interesting. How do you perceive your team? Are there any particular strengths or weaknesses that you can single out?
I think one of our weaknesses is the fact that right now we don't get to practice as 5 at all, and that is mostly because of me. I am away till mid-May and can not play all the time, hence we lack practice. One of our strengths is the fact that we've been playing together for so long. In a lot of games everything just 'clicks' together and it feels really smooth, but of course because of lack of practice the opposite outcome is also possible.
Looking forward, the G-1 League recently sent your team an invite to their tournament, valuing Fnatic as one of the top teams from the Western scene. They even went as far as to call you guys the 'Continental Kings'. What will you be doing specifically to prepare for your invite to G-1?
I hope I will be able to practice more, depending on when the qualifiers will happen. If it's possible we will scrim as much as we can, and prepare against the teams we will be playing against. As for something specific I can't really point out anything right now. When the qualifiers are closer we will figure it out.
People often say that more teams need to go to China in order to develop further as a team. LGD.int were the first to go, and now Na`Vi are heading over soon. What are your thoughts on this? Does Fnatic have any similar plans in the future?
We did think about it before, but we don't really have any plans right now. As I am unavailable right now, we have dropped the subject and might reconsider it sometime in the future. But nothing is certain. I don't believe you have to travel to China to become the best team. You can practice as 5 in a gaming house and become much better, even outside of China. The one positive thing about moving to China, of course, would be getting practice against the Chinese teams, so you'd be more familiar with them when TI3 comes around. So as for now - no real plan to go to China, but we have definitely considered it.
Now for a few general questions. What are your thoughts on Dota 2 as an E-Sport right now?
I think Dota 2 is heading in the right direction. It seems to be only growing right now, with more tournaments and more players. There are a ton of viewers for the big games, and even when players stream there seem to be a lot of viewers. I think we can only predict a good future for Dota 2 in the E-Sports world as of right now.
Next question: imagine you were Icefrog and you could make one 'fun' change to any hero of your choice. What would you do?
Add another Meepo, just to see N0tail's reaction! He'd be so happy, and suddenly micro would be harder.
Haha, I can imagine that. :D Now describe your teammates using only one word for each of them.
Finally, would you like to give any shoutouts?
Shoutout to my sponsors! MSI, Steelseries, Eizo and Twitch tv. Shoutout to my team, my mom, Yotam and the honey badger.
Well thank you very much for your time, Fly, and best of luck to you and the rest of Fnatic in the finals!
Writers: TheEmulator, Kupon3ss, Firebolt145
Gfx: Shiroiusagi, Hawaiianpig
Editors: TheEmulator, riptide, Firebolt145
Gfx: Shiroiusagi, Hawaiianpig
Editors: TheEmulator, riptide, Firebolt145