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Breaching the Wall
Everyone vs China
About GL, China, and more
With More Pictures
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Grand Finals Recap
Well, it happened. LGD.int came up against iG in a truly epic clash of cultures and gave us a great best of five series last weekend in Shanghai. Indeed, even though Pajkatt's band of brothers were not able to overcome the wrecking ball that is iG, the games they produced towards the end of the series were truly exceptional. In particular, Game 4 was some of the best Dota 2 we have seen all year, and we're thankful that we were there to experience it.
It's not easy dissecting a finals as emotionally loaded as this. As a Western coverage site, we are always conscious that our readers will mostly root for the foreign team (and what a foreign team they had to root for this time!). As a Dota 2 coverage site, we're also aware that iG is the best team in the world, and it follows that they deserve our respect and admiration.
Thus, we're going to bring you our GL Finals Recap in two parts. This first part will focus on the Chinese pro-Dota 2 experience. As you already know, TL Staff Writer George "flamewheel" Zhao covered the event live last weekend. He is back again today to give us a quick personal retrospective of the event. Of course, we also have our regular recap of the games for those of you that missed the series.
The focus of this piece, however, is this exclusive interview with LGD.int #5 Theeban "1437" Siva. In it, he talks about what his team learnt from their experience Chinese Dota 2's biggest stage.
We hope you enjoy this G-League update, and look forward to seeing you again next week in Part 2 of our Grand Finals recap.
Breaching the Wall
This is what the wall looks like. Courtesy of Renjiyun of cnFrag.com
iG vs LGD.int Game 1
LGD.int and their dual roaming style
The first game of the long awaited affair opened much like one would have expected it to. While iG picked safely, as they were uncertain of their opponents strength, LGD.int, in their customary style, came out swinging. The first three picks more or less decided the pace of the game, with iG securing its trilane in these three picks. This trilane consisted of a ultra safe Nyx, Keeper of the Light, and Phantom Lancer, which was a challenge to say the least for LGD.int. Essentially, it was a 4-1 laid out fully in the first three picks just waiting for a response. LGD.int's overaggressive composition of Batrider, Lifestealer, and Enchantress was followed up by Night Stalker and a rarely picked Crystal Maiden. Thus, iG saw even more reason to pick safely with Queen of Pain and Clockwerk.
The games laning phase played out strangely, with LGD.int making the decision to put Lifestealer in the offlane, Batrider in the safelane, and the Night Stalker as a solo. Their customary dual roam style would try and maintain the tempo, but this gameplan was obvious, as iG saw right through it. By using the roaming power and the strength of Night Stalker and Batrider, they sought to completely crush iG in both the mid and bottom lanes before bringing the entire force of their ganking lineup down upon the PL trilane, and allowing the Lifestealer to catch up.
The first few minutes played out as one would have expected them to, with the Batrider getting a blink within 6 minutes, and LGD.int's dual roaming style putting a huge amount of pressure on mid. The dual roam quickly took down mid tower and most of the time Ferrari_430 barely managed to stay in exp range. And then, just when they looked like they were on the verge of snowballing, iG struck. Having read LGD.int's fairly obvious gameplan, iG turned on LGD.int with sudden fury as their supports rotated top. Indeed, therein lay the flaw in LGD.int's gameplan. While their early advantage in the bottom and mid lanes should in theory have allowed them to transition into a strong midgame, the fact that they failed to break iG's trilane was what led to their doom. A farmed PL and an underfarmed, but still effectively leveled QoP took apart LGD.int's squishy supports while their Lifestealer lagged behind without farm.
Once their advance stalled, the tide quickly turned. Despite scoring a seemingly favorable 4-2 exchange in the next major clash, LGD.int was put onto the defensive, failing to stall the PL in any noticeable way as Zhou picked up a double kill, and escaped the exchange alive. The very fact that a lineup like LGD.int's was put on the defensive by the 15th minute, the previously projected time of strength, was a sign of their doom. As iG took skirmish after skirmish, and LGD.int's smoke ganks came up empty time and time again, LGD.int tapped out in the face of a supremely farmed PL armed with drums, diffusal, and heart at 30 minutes, doubling any members farm from the Western hope.
The first game was not a typical game given their lineups. LGD.int's lineup had an extremely low margin of error in which all of its early game goals (win mid and bottom, rotate top and break the tower, then force continous teamfights at an advantage while denying PL farm) needed to be completed by the 15 minute mark. With such a lofty gameplan, a single setback would have meant defeat against the monster that was iG, and it did.
iG vs LGD.int Game 2
Did someone say Reverse Polarity?
The Second game in this clash we saw a much more comfortable iG, while LGD.int was noticeably more nervous. iG had Magnus, Lifestealer, and Lone Druid, which is a trio of tanky cores with strong laning, crushing mid-game strength, and excellent scaling into the late-game. This was met by Keeper of the Light, Rubick, and Weaver from LGD.int. These heroes while strong in their own right, were usually not the "cores" of a lineup. iG's supports, Lion and Jakiro were direct responses to LGD.int's perchant for early midgame aggression and apparent discomfort in hyper-late game situations. Against a lineup that seemed to have no weaknesses, LGD.int found themselves once again picked into a corner upon picking up the Sven and Pugna.
iG once again laned very safe and expectantly, while LGD.int decided to offensive trilane. By placing the Weaver against a Lone Druid top and forcing the issue with an offensive lane, LGD.int would have needed to come out at least even in the slightly disadvantaged 1v1 matchup between Pakjatt and Zhou, while winning their trilane to have a chance in the mid-game. With an advantage, they would be able to leverage the AOE burst and formational strength of Kotl and Pugna to bring down towers and end the game quickly.
However, LGD.int's best laid plans still had the flaw of a far too narrow margin of error. It soon became evident that their offensive trilane had neither the burst to kill YYF's lifestealer, nor sufficient push to pose any threat to the tower. As soon as it dawned on them that nothing could be accomplished, and that they would quickly fall behind as iG's superior trilane gained the level required to actively kill the LGD.int supports, an attempt was made to help top, where Pakjatt's Weaver had quickly fallen behind Zhou's Lone Druid. A low level Rubick lacking in damage combined with a Weaver posed almost no threat to a level 6 Lone Druid, who would promptly turn around and kill the Weaver on the back of a lucky entangle, forcing God's Pugna to TP as Rubick struggled on his own.
This was absolute disaster, with both top and bottom in shambles, even the advantaged match-up mid between God's Pugna and 430's Mag was quickly equalized by the rhythm-breaking TP top. When a hyper-aggressive early game lineup loses all of its lanes, it becomes unable to get up its core mana boots and mek to begin pressuring towers, LGD.int's fate was sealed. On the back of a pair of extremely fat carries in the lifestealer and Lone Druid, iG won teamfight after teamfight as 430 displayed some of the most beautiful reverse polarities in memory. LGD.int were soon demolished.
LGD.int once again picked themselves into a corner with a lineup that required a commanding advantage in the early game, which simply failed to produce any results against a team as experienced and individually skilled as iG. After losing the early game, all that was left were pieces of a lost cause as the plan on which LGD.int had banked everything on fell apart. In the words of 820: "how does one escape the rhythm of the slow death? GG earlier."
iG vs LGD.int Game 3
The wipe that changed it all
LGD.int finally realized that their previous approach, and narrow gameplan, was ineffective against the well prepared iG team. At this point they decided to dig in their heels, and really go for it. The atmosphere inside their booth had become incredibly tense while that of the iG booth had relaxed, as though they had already won. Picking up Rubick and Weaver alongside enchantress against the surprise first pick Chen from iG, coupled with the dual Lifestealer and Lone Druid combination felt slightly more comfortable than the previous game. Against the Puck and Shadow Shaman of iG, however, would be LGD.int's secret weapon. The three cores of Weaver, Beastmaster, and Lycan is one that works quite well on paper against those of iG, as the disables and DPS allow LGD.int to take the fights they want while the mobility and map control let them flee from the ones they did not.
Finally adapting their early game aggression to the game sense and conservative play of iG, LGD.int decided to solidly aim for the lack of AOE in the iG lineup, quickly shredding the pair of towers in the bottom lane. Despite the early game setbacks of the weaver getting nothing, and Zhou miraculously denying both of this towers as he fell back, LGD.int managed to continue their push and destroy the other outer towers. iG's sudden retorts would take advantage of a Beastmaster pickoff just before Mek to force a pair of won teamfights and a quick Roshan. The score at 20 minutes stood at 3-10 for LGD.int, and iG seemed poised to finish the series in 3 quick games.
Just as victory was in sight, iG committed their first major error of the series. An over extension under the pressure of Pakjatt's had iG caught on the wrong side of the river against a Lycan armed with a DD rune. After a 3-0 exchange, a wild Piewolf suddenly appeared equal in farm and greater in strength of either of iG's carries. From that point on it would be iG's gameplan that stalled. Against the mobility of Weaver and Lycan, and the control of the supports, iG found themselves unable to exert the strength of their lineup as the team was dragged from lane to lane.
Suddenly, LGD.int struck with a vengeance at the 30th minute. Catching iG in an unfavourable teamfight and wiping Faith's Shadow Shaman, iG's main source of CC, while Pakjatt's Lycan, armed with Curiass chewed through YYF's lifestealer as the rest of the team surrounded and kited iG into oblivion. In a swift stroke, all of iG's rax were laid bare, and LGD.int seized the day, catching the Shadow Shaman once again just as iG began to mount a defense. LGD.int forced another teamfight in which a victory meant the completion of one of the most amazing 10 minute reversals in fortune since The International.
LGD.int's draft showed, for the first time, innovation and flexibility. The Weaver and Lycans mobility matched up superbly against the lumbering tanks in Lifestealer and Lone Druid. and the understanding of priorities in targets, both in towers and teamfight heroes suddenly brought iG back down to earth. iG was no longer smiling and joking in their booth, and suddenly LGD.int's sword shone brightly, having drawn their first blood.
"For I showed the blade re-forged to him. He is not so mighty yet that he is above fear; nay, doubt ever gnaws him." - The Lord of the Rings
iG vs LGD.int Game 4
The last chance all-in. Was it successful?
The Fourth Game was a clash of wills that tested the players beyond anything since The International. In this final battle we saw both teams true styles manifest. iG reverted to a safe 4-1 on the back of Keepr of the Light, and Phantom Lancer, while LGD.int once again settled for a aggressive push oriented lineup based on Lone Druid and a surprise Juggernaut pick. A trump card pulled out to both pressure the "cancer lancer" mid-game, as well as to put up a fight late-game with a Shadow Demon, a hero that may have been questionable for iG to let through.
For the first time in the series, LGD.int saw themselves in a position to win every lane. Their offensive trilane of Rubick, Shadow Demon, and Juggernaut actually posed a significant threat to any of the heroes on iG while the Lone Druid on safelane is almost an ideal matchup against Batrider. Middle, of course, would be a wash between two, as Pakjatt would put it "c**sucker heroes".
Despite a careless mistake on the part of Pakjatt giving away first blood, LGD.int was indeed able to come out ahead in all three lanes, and Zhou found his farm shut down. LGD.int took their advantage and executed the gameplan almost to perfection. With a battering ram in the form of a spirit bear backed up by the infinite sustain from Juggernauts healing ward slowly cleared the towers off iG's side of the map with inexorable certainty.
Armed with both mek and pipe, LGD.int picked off Zhou at the 25th minute and embarked upon a 10 minute siege of iG's bottom tier 3 tower. With the sustain of the bear and healing ward throwing themselves endlessly against the endless waves of ponies shrouded in light. Just as LGD.int finally broke down the tower, iG committed with sudden fury. In a brilliant teamfight, iG defended their barracks while taking out 4 members of LGD.int.
Suddenly the map was opened up for the Phantom Lancer and all hope of a quick victory disappeared. The next 40 minutes saw a test of endurance beyond any conventional game of DotA. Hundreds of PL's would battle each other across the map, half a dozen Cheeses would appear, and a fully farmed PL would duel for 30 seconds against a 10 item Lone Druid.
The slow, strategic waltz of a pair of teams from the highest calibre with everything on the line, how would there not be ceaseless action and killing. In a situation where a single mis-step can lead to oblivion, the tension of the game invokes a different kind of enjoyment. A sort of tense breathlessness filled with foreboding and anticipation.
Slowly, as though they were the very waves themselves, iG wore the health of LGD.int's outer towers down and everything came to a stop. As rax fell, and lives were exchanged, LGD.int found themselves finally inside iG's base, taking down rax after rax until the waves of PL finally swept them away on the verge of victory.
Probably the most awesome thing you will see all day.
Theeban "1437" Siva is no stranger to us. As LGD.int's #5, he is known for being an integral part of the team's early game dual roam style of play. Here, he talks to TL about the G-League finals, China, and beyond.
What was it like doing that badass intro, yours and pakjatt's seemed the most natural. What do you make of those clips overall?
Haha, I didn't think I would ever do something like that but the G-league guys asked us to do a 15 sec clip of something cool/intimidating towards iG or something along those lines... didn't really understand it, but we did it anyways.
What was it like playing in front of such a big crowd? Did you like the experience? Why?
It was really an amazing experience. I've never had to play in front of that many live people so it was really cool to look out from the booth and see all the people cheering. I really loved what G-league did with the stadium.
The Chinese heavily criticized your draft in game two and lauded the one in game 3, what are your opinions on the lineups your team picked in these game?
We really messed up in a few points of our draft in game 1 and 2 and that's mostly because we expected iG to play in a different way, i.e to play a lot like what they did during the rest of G-League. But they changed their playstyle a little and that threw us off a bit. Going into game 3 we understood their play a little better and we tried our best to keep our head in the game although we were down 0-2. We kept our cool and tried to play as if nothing happened, and it paid off in game 3.
If you guys learnt something from this series, what would it be?
We learned that we need to be much more patient and not rush decisions.
You may have lost the finals but it was to the champions of the world. How does the team feel with regards to being satisfied with your accomplishment etc?
Honestly, we were disappointed in the outcome of this tournament because we know that we could have played better than we did. But iG is insanely impressive as a team and they demonstrated that in all the games. We are happy with how far we have come in this tournament but we will keep on striving towards better results.
A lot of people theorized that the Western world would have a chance to influence even the Chinese meta in the long break before the finals. From the team's point of view, did this happen?
We did take a few ideas from the Western scene and practise them a bit but in the end we didn't end up using any of them. I feel that during a LAN teams will use what they are most comfortable with and what will give them the highest chance of winning the game instead of doing new things, especially since there is so much on the line.
Looking back now, what do you guys think you would have done differently in Game 4 if you played it over?
Even after the game we knew there were so many different things we could have done in many parts of the game that could have resulted in our win, like movement and item decisions.
What are your thoughts on heroes like Kotl, PL, Batrider, and Nyx as they are now? If you could change any(or all) of them, how would you go about it?
I feel that Bat is currently the best hero in the game because of the limitless possibilities of how this hero can gank and the amount of pressure he can place on the map. Nyx is a close 2nd because of how useful all of his spells are and is a really good counter to basically any heroes. I don't feel that KoTL and PL are as strong as Bat/Nyx but together they can potentially become really hard to play against. Regarding Bat/Nyx I think they could use some slight nerfs but I don't feel that crippling these guys is a good idea because they enforce this ganking/fighting style meta and can really punish the split push / turtle kind of Dota.
I think KoTL and PL on their own are okay the way they are because i feel the more people play against these heroes they will find better ways to manage against them. Together on the other hand they do become a really nuisance combo . Another hero that i feel is really strong and could be classed with bat and nyx is magnataur because of how game breaking his ultimate could be.
Name one currently obscure hero who you think will draw a lot of attention this year.
You guys have become extremely popular in China, can you tell us a funny story of something that happened in everyday interactions on the street?
Haha, there are always funny things happening but perhaps it's not appropriate to speak about them.
How is learning Chinese and getting accustomed to the food and culture going?
By now I have gotten really used to the food and culture, but regarding learning Chinese, it's been put on hold for now.
Are you looking forward to Na'Vi coming to China following your footsteps?
I'm definitely looking forward to navi coming to China .
Have you scrimmed much with the upcoming second tier teams (VG's B team, RattleSnake, RisingStars), and if so, what do you think of them?
We played against VG's B team a few game but haven't played against RattleSnake yet. We play RisingStars on a regular basis as we find them to be a really interesting team who like to try many different/new strategies.
Do you think you'll be staying in China past TI3?
There's lots of time till then.
Thank you very much and best of luck in future tournaments. Are there any special shoutouts you'd like to give?
Shoutouts to LGD, Taobao, Razer, Rurutia, Nicholas, all LGD fans and last but not least to my family and friends who have supported me all the way. Hope you will all keep on supporting us and we will try our best to put up a good show every time we play!!!
by George "flamewheel" Zhao from Shanghai, China.
Spot the flamewheel.
In the discussion of
Come Saturday, the media room was packed by 10 AM. At a lot of the Western events I've been to, such as MLGs, IPL3, and more recently, Dreamhack, those granted press passes seemed to still spend a lot of time with the more regular attendees of the tournament. But the guys from uu9, 17173, and other Chinese coverage sites stayed in the media room for the most part, leaving only to grab interviews or to take photos. Being on my own with no other TLers around, I found myself conforming to that mindset. With all the TVs wired up in the media room, I was still able to watch all the games. Plus, there were a lot of people with whom to converse. I wasn't bored at all, though because of my placemen that evening, G-League definitely felt different from every other tournament I've ever attended.
The afternoon brought about a different sort of excitement. LGD.int showed up at around 3:00, and I hurried over to talk to them. The atmosphere was completely different from the rest of G-League. While nervous tension still permeated throughout the arena, in LGD.int's prep room had that air of playfulness that I was more accustomed to. As I walked into the room, I saw Misery passed out on a makeshift bed that had been made with a couple of chairs.
Apparently, Misery doesn't love company.
Pajkatt unblinkingly read a novel. G played cell phone games, moving from chair to chair to cupboard. 1437 and Brax played rock-paper-scissors. Their manager, Nicholas, smiled, cracked jokes, and wandered off to smoke every once in a while.
I ended up staying with LGD.int until the match started. We watched some LoL, and the players discussed some strategy. G wanted to run a pub-style "hide in the enemy's secret shop to first blood" in game 1. Pajkatt suggested baiting iG into incorrect lanes with a surprise Luna pick after locking Lifestealer. Though their tones were lighthearted, I could sense the anxiety and tension behind their words.
That tension came to a head when Zhou, flanked by two tournament officials, came into Int's room to do the coin flip. The way the procedure was explained, you'd think that iG and LGD.int were going to be engaging in a legal battle, not a Dota match. Again, the Chinese take things seriously. Shortly after the sides and picking order were decided, the players prepared to enter the arena proper.
The rest, I suppose, is history. If you're reading this article, you were sure to have watched the games. In the end, iG proved again to the world that Chinese exactitude wins games, and yet LGD.int nonetheless impressed many of us, myself included. iG's solidarity and efficacy are to be lauded, but Int's zany and off-the-wall picks helped keep both the Grand Final as well as the regular season of G-League entertaining.
Generally, coverage pieces are supposed to have some sort of unifying message. Thus, if I had to point to some overarching theme here, I'd say that G-League showed me a different type of tournament. Perhaps the Western Dota world will one day execute tournaments in as professional a way as the Chinese do now. But hopefully, a balance between fun and professionalism can be found. G-League was fun, but the semi-organized chaos of MLG is fun as well. When one starts taking something (especially a competitive video game!) too seriously, he risks slowly removing what attracted him to it in the first place. In the end, the fact remains that Dota is but a game, and it thus follows that the process of watching it should be really, really fun. Here's hoping that the East and the West can learn from each other, and that fun, professional Dota tournaments will become a norm in the years to come!