TI4 FINALS : Vici versus NewBee / Pre-analysis as they both defeated Evil Geniuses

Hello everyone ! So it’s bee a while since I last had the time to write blog posts, I really missed that. Nothing has changed, in the way that I don’t necessarily have more time, especially this week-end… =D

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But the International is just too amazing, it inspires everyone, me included. We’re a night away from the huge clash between Vici Gaming and Newbee, our two finalists for this fourth edition. As you may surely know, I am one of the panel analysts of this year’s tournament, and we will obviously be discussing a lot of things about the upcoming game, we’ll try to cover as much as we can. But I still feel like trying a different approach, and I would never get enough time to actually do that thinking process live. This is why I actually decided to give it a try here and write it down. When team A goes against team B, you usually want to compare them, their players, the heroes they use, their playstyle, etc… But there is another way to actually try to predict the outcome or the interesting points of the match up : it is to compare how they acted when they had to same the same opponent. In that specific case, both Vici Gaming and Newbee had to face EG in a best of three format, in respectively the lower and the upper bracket. I want to try to analyze those two clashes in order to point out what might be the deciding factors for this year’s TI4 final. 

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So let’s start off with reminding all the drafts of the overal 5 games :

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For both match ups, EGvNB and EGvVG, I will try to give a rate for every criteria, between Low / Medium and High.

 

How did NewBee play versus Evil Geniuses :

Pushing potential ( Medium )

I will highlight that again later on in my analysis, but the first thing that has to be mentioned, it’s that as well as VG, Newbee always made sure they went into those matches with decent pushing potential. It was not an all push line-up, far from it. But they had both Death Prophet and Nature’s prophet. This allowed them to capitalize on every right move they did, by taking down towers early on, and securing themselves some very needed map control. It looked like they thought that being able to deny EG some farm on the map would be really important. 

Teamfight potential ( High )

So that was defenitely the main factor for NewBee against EG, their teamfight potential always looked kind of scary. It you look at it, they secured themselves the DoomBringer twice, as well as heroes such as DP, Shaker or even Brewmaster. Let’s remind that EG is a very greedy team, but they usually aren’t afraid to take fights early on. Relying on their very high individual skills, they do not give up on towers easily. Additionaly, ppd always makes sure he finds the right balance between their teamfight potential and their late game presence. So it defenitely looked like NewBee did not consider at all the split push option, or the all in-option. They always made sure they would be able to take 5 on 5 fights without necessarily being snowballing on EG. They did not put the pressure on their shoulders, they wanted an even draft at all stages of the game.

Laning presence ( High ) :

It can safely be said that NewBee’s biggest answer to EG was their laning presence, and how they actually decided to set up their lanes. Using lich twice reveals that quite well. They also went for a very active nature’s prophet early on, with a roaming shaker. NewBee is then a team, and we had seen that from them before in the tournament, against NaVi especially, that emphasizes a lot on the laning stage. They want to secure themselves good lanes no matter what. They also looked to try to get good 1 versus 1 mid setups, which also is part of having good lanes.

Late game potential : ( High ) 

They always made sure they have a strong late game presence, choosing the Naix/Doom and then the Specter/Doom was actually a safe option for them, as they would made sure they could actually compete with EG’s late game potential.

Applying pressure ( Medium ) :

This is surely directly linked to the previous criteria, but still, NewBee looked really calm in those games. They did not rush, did not take useless risks, or try high risk / low reward moves. They waited the right items, the good timing to actually capitalize on their lead. They did not bruteforce, they acted very patient and smart. Their game plan was clear from the start of the game till the very end, it was calculated dota. Even with a 1-0 lead, they made sure their specter would risk nothing going into a fight before pushing high ground.

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How did Vici Gaming play versus Evil Geniuses :

Pushing potential ( High ) :

I could only put high, but it was actually INSANELY HIGH. Vici went all-in push, if that exists. They surely had backup plans, but their pushing potential was just huge, in both games. They looked to favor that style heavily versus EG, which is, let’s remind it, a team that looks very scared when they are able to play their game with no pressure from their opponent.

Teamfight potential ( Medium ) :

So i’ve decided to put only medium to that because having a strong teamfight means to have it at all stages of the game, not only early on. Vici did have really strong fighting, but it was not throughout the whole game. They did not looked scared at all by EG’s scary fighters. They drafted some counters, to make sure they were not completely outpicked, but it did not look as a priority for them at all.

Laning presence ( Medium ) :

Here again, thanks to their heroes, Vici had decent laning presence, not to say pretty good one. But once again, it was not their priority. For instance, we saw them pick a DK after a Viper pick, favoring the hero even though they knew he would have a really hard time on his lane. They were obsessed about slowing down EG’s safelane, where the most important heroes are. It was about them shutting down EG with rotations than them securing themselves good farm, like NewBee would have done. 

Late game potential ( Low ) :

In one sentence : Vici did not care much about their late game potential.

Applying pressure ( High ) :

Here again, High is an euphemism. The pressure they applied on EG was just terrifying. They did not let them breath even for a second. They kept the rythm extremely high, to make sure the game never went in EG’s favor. They took down tower after tower, forcing fights even when they had some key spells on cooldowns, or some items just about to be bought. It did not matter, they did not go for the zero risk, but for the big plays, and they tried to force EG to do many mistakes. Because one good thing about pressuring h24,is that you let no time to your opponent to get ready to defend, and it is always hard or impossible even to avoid mistakes when you are rushing everything you try to do.

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So what about VG versus NewBee :

To sum it up, here is what is going to be really key in that final.

VG, as usual, will be looking to play extremely aggressive, and take down towers as fast as possible. They will try all they can to force NewBee to do mistakes, to reposition wrong, or take the fight when they actually can’t. The downside for rOtk’s squad though, is that as we saw earlier, NewBee’s play is very cautious. They can be very agressive as well, especially with players like Mu and Yao, but it always is calculated aggressiveness, 100% calculated aggressiveness. Although this looked to be the main asset of VG going into that lower bracket, it might be their biggest weakness againsts NewBee. 

Another very important point is the laning presence. VG always assesses that they will find openings, no matter what. They run roaming supports, do not get me wrong, they are disgustingly good at rotating early on, but if they actually end up not finding any opening, it can hurt them a lot. NewBee, as we saw, emphasizes a lot on the laning phase, they want to make sure they get their farm and important items as soon as possible, they do not take necessary risks. 

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On the other hand, If NewBee do try to go for the 0 risk game, where they take fights only when they feel like they can, they will have to give away a lot to Vici Gaming, and especially towers. This is a very risky play, considering the fact that VG is, hands down, the best team of that tournament at breaking the enemy’s base.

After analyzing those key aspects of tomorrow’s match, it is almost impossible for me to pick a favorite. I would say that, taking into account what happened so far, NewBee has the best chances, although I personally found VG more impressive. As we saw throughout that analysis, the deciding factor will definitely be the first fights for the T1/T2 towers, and it is most likely going to be Vici Gaming trying to grab those. NewBee will be defending, and it will all come down to these clashes.

Obviously, this is only theory crafting, and a million different reasons could make that series completely different from what I just described. But as far as I am concerned, this is most likely going to look like what you just read.

Anyway,I hope you enjoyed reading this before tomorrow’s match, and that it kept the hype really up, as it is for me right now. Remember, this is nothing but the opinion of a professional player. 

You can follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/7ckngMadDOTA, Cheers!

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New Facebook page, where all the topics will be discussed !

Hello everyone. 

I freshly started my own facebook in order to make the interactions with the readers easier !

https://www.facebook.com/7ckngmaddota

Cheers!

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Welcome to SIGMA e-sport !

Hello everyone! Today’s article is a bit special as it is not in-game oriented. The time has finally come to reveal what have been going on with the name of the team, the sponsor that will support it and what is the aim of the project I am going to describe. Goodbye to Flipmouztic or to Quantsidouz, and welcome to SIGMA E-sport !

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As you probably know already, the majority of the players in the competitive scene have been around for quite some time now, few years at least. Their conditions have evolved, that makes no doubt, DotA 2 and e-sport are taking the right path, but there is still a very long way to go. Before I get into further details, I strongly recommend a book written by  T.L Taylor, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT : “Raising the Stakes: E-sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming”.

Throughout my career in e-sport (DotA 2), and although it’s far from over, I’ve already had many bad experiences. Do not get me wrong, the DotA 2 community is probably the best one when it comes to sportsmanship, fair-play and solidarity, this is by the way the main motivation behind the Sigma project. But the truth is that players, but not only them, news writers, staff workers, content producers and to a certain extent fans, deserve way better than what is offered to them today.

This observation is obviously general and shared by the large majority of the DotA 2 community. A lot of great people work hard, every day, to make everyone’s life better and to help the DotA 2 community to become even greater than what it is right now. All the initiatives from ValvE, the innovations from tournament organizers, the actions taken by e-sport celebrities (casters, professional players, graphic designers, interviewers etc…) represent a huge step forward, but unfortunately it feels like there is still a lot of work to do.

I’ll share here several facts, very representative of what’s going on backstage, to help everybody understand why we have been working on Sigma with so much dedication and commitment.

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To think that professional players have very consequent incomes is completely wrong. Indeed, even though the cash prizes look huge (great figures are marketed: $25,000, $80,000, etc), in reality, being a professional player is really tough. You basically have two options: win or die. Very successful teams, top 1-2 get decent salaries and good amount of the cash prize, as sponsors always take a very consequent cut.

For the others, it’s a whole different story. The salaries are in average of €350 a month, which force player to work / study aside. If you consider the number of hours of official matches, the practice, the interviews, the events, a pro player get maybe between 1 & 2 euro per hour ‘worked’ (because this is indeed a work), which is absolutely ridiculous.

I don’t want to go into much details, but just a few facts so everybody can have a quick look at the reality of competitive DotA 2 currently : unpaid cash prizes after 6 to 8 months of negotiation, extremely low salary, pressure of result, no control of the personal image and communication, very restrictive contract clauses etc etc… Everything is changing, thanks to all the great people that are aware of what’s truly going on. Sigma want to be, and will be an actor of this change.

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So today we announce finally what is SIGMA E-sport. The aim of this new company is basically to offer the players the opportunity to finance themselves directly. Here are the most important values of our company :

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Because a sponsoring structure is worth nothing without the players and those who support them, SIGMA will work on developing and multiplying the interactions between fans and players. The web offers many different opportunities in that regard; innovative ideas are currently being developed. For once, the sponsor’s growth will directly impact the player’s future and conditions. Moreover, it is needless to say that since the success of Sigma will depend of the community’s support, thus, the team’s development will only be decided by its own supporters. I really want to emphasize the fact that this project is different from others in the sense that this is not only business, this is also sport.

 

There will be two divisions, the International one, and the French one. The international team will of course represent Sigma in all the major events, online or lan, while the French team should be seen as the ‘academy’ team.

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Sharing knowledge, experience and motivation will allow both teams to boost each other’s and meet their expectations. We want to be involved in the change, want to help the community to grow and to preserve its values and what makes it so special. 

Like every company (organization) Sigma has to run its business in a profitable way to secure the sustainability of the sponsor’s activity. One can achieve that without selling his soul to the devil, and with the total preservation and respect of its own values. I really want to emphasize that point as a shareholder of the company I will be involved in Sigma’s management and will actively participate in every decision that will be made. In that sense, Sigma is new because it is run by the players themselves. 

“This new company is founded by a private investor, which is also a Dota fan and an occasional player. He is fully supporting the E-sport value I described above “

The expectations are very high and consequently there is a lot of work to do. Thanks again for the support; it has always meant a lot to us. 

 

Because we love E-sport, because we love DotA 2, please join me in welcoming SIGMA Σ-sport and its teams. 

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sigmadota2

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sigma.esport

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Itembuilds at a Competitive Level, the Decision Making Process

Hello guys!

You can find my latest blog post on this link :

http://2p.com/2904114_1/7ckngMads-blog–Itembuilds-at-a-competitive-level-the-decision-making-process-by-i7ckngMad

Topic is  : Itembuilds at a Competitive Level, the Decision Making Process

 

Enjoy your read, cheers!

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How to snowball in a DotA2 competitive game?

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Hello everyone ! So it has been a while since the last article, but from now on I will be publishing on a more regular basis. Indeed, and as you probably noticed, I had a lot of stuff to work on with the introduction of Sigma. It is actually still under development, and the announcement will soon be made. There also was ESWC, and the MLG Columbus invitation. Long story short : there is a lot to come for Sigma and everyone that supports the team in the upcoming weeks.

 

Nevertheless, today’s article will be in-game oriented, as I know this is the kind of content most of the readers are looking for. I decided to highlight a very interesting topic when it comes to DotA 2 strategies, I have actually been asked via tweets (@7ckngMadDOTA) many times to discuss that subject :

“How to ‘snowball’ in a competitive game?”

Before I get into the details of that question, I’ll just briefly give some context. The term snowballing is used in DotA when it comes to try to increase consistently and significantly your advantage, as a team, on the opponent. The snowballing obviously ends when you are able to end the game, either by destroying the enemy’s throne or by forcing their ‘FF’ call. The mechanism is quite simple, it is about outfarming and more generally outmoving the enemy thanks to the advantage you acquired during previous phases of the game.

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Although this might seem quite easy and natural for newcomers, DotA players perfectly know that in actual fact, it really is not. The reason behind is the following : the more advantage you earn, the more map control you get, the more opportunities you get, and thus the more chances to do mistakes you have. Here is by the way a very good way to differenciate top teams from ‘unexperienced’ teams, as it is a double-edged sword kind of situation : top teams will be able to apply pressure everywhere on the map and to asphyxiate their opponents, whereas unexperienced players will just find in this situation a way to multiply mistakes and give away their advantage. I will seize this opportunity to finally say what I think about the famous ‘throw‘ trend… I know it’s been very funny and it helped to prettify many casts/games, but there is no such thing as ‘throwing’ a game. First of all is it a real lack of respect toward the opponent to say that a team threw away a game, indeed, playing from behind is probably one of the hardest thing to do. And secondly, this article will explain how difficult it actually is to snowball and to never, at any point, relieve the pressure you apply on your opponent.

“They had that game, but they just threw it”

To start off with this explanation, you should know that there are, amongst all the top teams, snowball specialists! Agressive teams by nature fit perfectly to that description. Watch Na`Vi play and you will quickly understand what ‘applying pressure’ means in DotA : ganks everywhere, towers falling one after the other, a completely black map for their enemy, etc. One thing that has to be mentioned, though, is that snowball always starts from an advantage you have on your opponent, whether it’s in terms of G&E (gold and experience), or just because you have a superior draft.

 

Map control :

So the first aspect and probably the most important one to ‘snowball’ properly is the map control. By map control I mean remove the enemy’s wards by getting a gem or by purchasing sentries. The idea is simple : your advantage allows you to buy more counter-wards then what the opponent can afford, therefore you should have a stronger map control. If you are leading in-game, that means that the enemy can not afford to take a 5vs5 upfront teamfight, so playing with a black map makes it extremely difficult for them, because whenever they get caught out of position, the others can’t really back-up as it would mean the risk to take a fight (indeed, they do not see your position on the map and do not know if it constitutes a bait or not). Gem should be the first reflex, and unlike what people usually think, the sooner the better.

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Outpush lanes :

The second major aspect, in my opinion – and I want to take time to highlight it because it goes again what I usually see from teams – is to outpush lanes permanently. Indeed, there is absolutely no need to control lanes, even if you think it denies farm from your opponent (and it does!). The reasoning once again is simple : you have the advantage and consequently you probably pushed more towers than your opponent did. When you outpush your lanes fast, your creeps will walk toward their base until they find themselves in front of a tower. They will grant you vision, map control ( ability to tp with bot, etc), but more importantly they will force your enemy to defend their towers and outpush (their turn now) the lanes. This will, naturally force them back on the map and extend your positions. Additionally, during the time they waste farming under their towers, you have all the space in the world to think of what you want to do. It can be many things :

- Prepare a gank or a dive under a tower ( they are split since you outpushed all the lanes )

- Outfarm them by farming your jungle & their’s

- Do roshan

- Smoke yourselves and force a fight.

Permanently outpushing lanes is, I hope you understood it, the key to pressure your opponent and apply map control. It is also the best way to deal against split push, not even the best actually, but just the only one.

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Force teamfights :

It brings me now to the third aspect that I mentioned, ‘forcing fights’. If you are able to pressure them on the map, it means that the enemy is dodging the 5vs5 clashes, because it is very unlikely they can win one. So of course, you will be looking to force fights. This is one of thoughest thing to do in DotA, and to be completely honest I am still trying to figure it out. It is hard because forcing a fight requires to be minimum 3-4, maybe even 5, in case they do decide to take it. The problem with it is that they can then split push you as much as they want since you are more or less visible and showing what you do. There is of course the smoke of deceit, it’s the best way to force fights, but it’s limited, so my reasoning exludes smokes. From my perspective, there are several ways to force fights. The best one is probably your pushing ability. The faster you push, the harder it is for them to avoid fights, as they will just lose their barracks if they do so. Another very clever way to force fights is to control the opponent’s jungle. The first step in order to secure the enemy’s jungle control is to take their t1 tower safelane. This is why you often see teams gathering for this tower, and most of the early game / mid game action is determined on that zone of the map, it’s usually the game-breaking clash. (To be completely honest it is also because it’s one of the hardest tower to defend). There are other ways to push in that direction, of course, but since it is not the main focus of the article, I’ll leave it here.

 

 

Respect between teams :

I want to add another aspect, as important in my mind. This one is less concrete though, and maybe harder to explain. I’ll try my best. First of all you have to understand that in a DotA game, the respect or by opposition the lack of respect between the two teams is crucial and will largely impact the game played. For instance, a random team against Alliance will probably think twice before they try anything, and have way more pressure on them than what their opponent actually apply. It is natural, but it will inevitably distort the match. The same is happening between top teams, for the one that are known for their agression, and the more passive ones. It’s also a very key factor of success in LAN events, the ability to force your opponent to respect you, to over-respect you if I can say so. How do you achieve that ? Well, you basically have to go for gamble moves. When HVOST wanders alone in the enemy jungle, and forces back his opponents because he made them think that there was more than only him, he is achieving an insane amount of map control. This is something you usually don’t see as viewers or spectators, but trust me, the opposing team feels it. So of course, he will get picked-off once in a while, and it might cost his team a lot ( a roshan, a tower etc), so at the end of the day the aim is to do it as smartly as possible, and to minimize the risks. But the reward is way higher than the loss of a hero, no matter how important he is to the game. Another type of gamble is the fake-dives, this is really important. Forcing tps will bring your opponents to lose map control, by definition. You know you can’t kill, but you act like so. It can even be a shadow demon support rushing on the opponent’s carry under his tower and instantly going back when he was able to force a tp. He can be on his own, as long as they do not see what’s behind him (in that case, nothing).

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Outfarm the opponent :

As a conclusion I would like to remind you the most important thing : the aim of all this map control is to OUTFARM your opponent. Agressive teams are actually very greedy, they pressure their opponent in order to extent their positions and to outfarm them, until they are strong enough to break the base. This is why over-agression is always bad, and not even worth it. Snowballing requires a lot of control and thinking, even if it doesnt look like it. A logical article to follow that one would be ‘ How to break the base, to go high-ground ? ‘ Because that is also insanely tricky …But well, all this is what makes DotA so interesting, and us so passionate about it, right ? 

 

 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the reading. Thanks for all the support you show for the team and myself, it means a lot. Once again, more details will come on SIGMA and hopefully it will create a movement, that’s the aim. I’ll keep it unclear on purpose for now. Remember, these articles are nothing but the opinion of a professional player. You can follow me on twitter @7ckngMadDOTA. Cheers!

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The support role II

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Kieeeeeeeeeeeeeev ! So we made it to the Starladder VII Lan finals yesterday with different standins. It feels good after the disappointment of Minsk (although the event & the people there were wonderful). FATA- will hopefully be ready to play again soon, and then we can finally continue building this team. Playing with standins, even with top-class players, is always different. The motivation just isn’t the same, and the coordination is in almost all the cases very poor.

The Support Role:

So the article today, as mentioned in the previous one, will highlight once again the Support Role in competitive DotA2 games. I will try to go deeper in the analysis this time around, but it should be obvious to everyone that it is impossible to cover everything, it has to be step by step, article after article as the subject is immensely large. The first thing to emphasize is that there are different ways to play support. It’s not about finding a hierarchy between them; they all have their advantages and all highly depend on the playstyle of the team the support player plays in. A very quick example of that would be supports like EGM or Akke that prioritize their team mates situation and shutting down the opponent. Whereas other support players, undoubtedly as skilled and talented, like ARS-ART or Goblak will rather focus on getting early levels and farm, in order to have more impact in the mid-late game.

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So as you probably understood, in this article I will share my vision of supporting, which I of course believe to be the right one, else I wouldn’t play the way I play…

The importance of early game:

First of all, the most important, the absolutely crucial phase of the game for support players is the early game. It has to be clear in everybody’s mind, really. Early game defines the pace of the game, at least that is true in the current meta-game. I can’t think of a team that emphasizes more on mid-game line-ups than on laning stage & early movement, 95% of the game are decided in the beginning of the match. My explanation is that the Gold & Experience vision helped DotA to change. This is a topic that has been discussed in previous articles by the way.

Playing support is about being able to adapt your positioning and decision-making fast and live. Therefore, everyone will easily understand that the best asset of a support player is his experience playing support, but not only. A support player has also to understand, at least equally, the other roles. A very basic example is the following: a rotation to gank the opponent’s mid-laner will never be successful if you have no idea of the runes / lane push timings.

The search for gold & experience :

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Well, this has to be an important point of focus. If we follow the logic, in order to have the strongest early-game impact, the faster you get levels & start gold on supports: the better. But this is true to a certain extent. Indeed, the main enemy for support players is the clock. Every second is important. Try to stay passive 1-2 minute as a support and you’ll quickly understand that unless you pull out big plays, you are out of the game. The art of supporting is being able to, with minimal means, have a huge impact. But let’s go back to what I started to explain about using your time correctly. Concretely: getting level 3-4 with jungle pools is kind of fast, it will take more or less 2 minute of your time, maximum. Getting level 6 is actually way harder, simply because of the way experience scales in DotA. My personal advice would be to never keep on pulling and stacking after level 4, it’s really a waste of time, and it is only justified in few cases.

Decision making:

As a support player, you will be, or should be, setting the rhythm of the game. The main aim is to force your opponent to play your game. Then you will probably ask, how do I know what is the right move, the right strategy? Well, it’s obviously a hard question. You have to keep on analyzing what path the game is taking at a specific moment. You should also have beforehand analyzed both draft, and draw conclusions on those.
Let’s suppose that the opponent is running a 4 protect 1 strategy. You then understand, as well as your enemy, that if you manage to pressure their 1, you will push them out of their comfort zone, and force them to react to your in-game decisions. You will then have to make the plays, as a support, and it requires no farm/experience what so ever. I will prove it, because this is something support players need to integrate, the desperate search for xp & gold is a waste of time in 95% of the cases, and as I pointed out earlier, time is your main opponent. So I am a support, very low level, and I want to pressure the opponent’s carry who already got solid farm, and is additionally protected by his two support players. What can I do? One reaction could be to keep on stacking, try to get level 6, or blink dagger/w-e. Well, one way, but that is just one amongst others, would be to single pull, stack two waves and then pressure the opponent’s offlane towers. This will force their supports to rotate, defend, and will weaken their safelane. This required nothing but an analysis and a decision following it, it is doable with boots, without boots, with ultimate or without.

The point I am trying to make is actually simple, supporting is about macro-vision, not micro. Once you understood that, be aware that you are on the right way, and your support play will improve. There is nothing wrong with making bad decisions, you learn from your failures. What is, though, really problematic for a support player, is the incapacity to take decisions.

In-game sense and anticipation:

Another aspect of support play I want to highlight in this article is the following : the capacity to anticipate your opponent’s movement is probably the strongest asset for a support player. Indeed, attacking succesfully your opponent is always good : take a tower, gank and kill a solo-laner, force a teamfight and win it, etc… But what’s even more impactful on a game is to react properly and punish agressive movements. You basically achieve two things at the same time, not only you proceed to win a fight, or kill heroes, but you also force them to waste all the efforts they put into what they attempted. I could also add to that the fact that proving to your enemy that you can easily read his decisions is also huge. It will most likely dissuade him from trying risky moves, which is always good. The respect that exists between the two teams is a huge factor in DotA, whether you fear, underate or just dont know much about your opponent changes your gameplay completely, and some players (the most experienced ones usually) know really well how to use that to their advantage. But that will have to be the topic of an upcoming article!

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Reaction vs action:
    Back to the support role, reacting is even better than acting. It is also way harder to put in place, because it is always a gamble. It is important to analyze the risk and the reward. High risk and low reward actions should be banned from your play, especially when there is a lot at stake. The mindset of your opponent is very important because it directly influences their decision making. When I mentioned the respect between the two teams, it’s the exact same situation.
For the next article I will analyze one of my games, and explain the decision-making for the first 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how interesting it can be for you readers. Later on we’ll get to the mid-late game phase.  Remember, this is nothing but the opinion of a professional DotA2 player. I hope you had a nice read, see you for the next article!
Cheers!
PS : you can follow me on twitter, @7ckngMadDOTA. Do not hesitate to share feedbacks and comments.

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October 2, 2013 · 8:18 pm

The support role

Hello Everyone !
 
     Many things happened since the last article, fortunately. The team’s results are very satisfying, as you may have noticed. The practice is going really well, the atmosphere is great, and we are all looking forward to what we can demonstrate in the upcoming weeks. The highlight of this week was of course the very controversial ending of our match versus Alliance in the StarSeries season VII. A few words on that topic…Do not blame the admins’ decision, as they made sure beforehand that both team were completely fine with it. One thing you have to know is that the SLTV staff is, if not the fairest, one of the fairest staff in the whole scene as they always make sure their decisions make sense when it comes to the in-game part. Their deep game understanding is a real guarantee in that matter.
 
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    The crash was of course very unfortunate. To be brutally honest I think we deserved to win that game, as everyone could see we controlled the game completely from the very beginning, putting huge amount of pressure on Alliance. But well, when you face the strongest team in the world, one slight mistake and suddenly what was a stomp in your favor turns into a very close game with them having the better late-game. This is what makes them so strong; even one mistake is too much. Moreover, the last fight was clearly in our favor, as they had no buybacks and our position and spell casting was about to give us a clear win. In the end it doesn’t really matter that the game is going to be replayed. Indeed, Alliance is clearly a way stronger team than what we are the moment, the comparison isn’t even relevant. But we were able to pressure them, and to maybe take a game from them, which isn’t a surprise at all for us. We know that the potential is here for us to compete with the very top on a regular basis. So we are already looking forward to the next game, and will try to repeat the performance, and not only once.
 
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     Now that this is sorted out, I can finally jump into today’s topic, which will be ‘The Support role’. As you probably guessed, this topic is immensely large, in particular for me. Nevertheless, I will try to structure it through different articles, but in that one I would just like to highlight or deny general facts about the support role in competitive DotA. I will not fall into the very standard trap that compares the different roles and rank them. Every role is brutally crucial in DotA, the support is as important as the carry, the individuals shouldn’t prevail on the team, etc etc.
 
     The difference between tier-1 teams comes mainly from their support players:
 
On that part, you can really trust my experience, and share your questions to any tier-1 player. We basically all played in different rosters, tried different players, build different teams, some were successful, some weren’t. And the conclusion is almost always the same: ‘the support duo’ didn’t work out, or the support players weren’t skilled enough, or even the team chemistry just wasn’t there. Do not get me wrong, I am not comparing support players with core players, all roles require the same amount of skill, game understanding and experience. This conclusion is actually very frustrating when you try to build a team, but it explains itself. I’ll give the main reasons :
 
-          Let us assume that I want to break into competitive DotA. I’m skilled and have good in-game sense. In order for me to succeed, I need to find a way to shine and attract other players’ attention. I can choose between two type of roles, the ‘Cores’, they are given the farm and the experience, and they end up having more impact than the other heroes on the game. The second role is the support role, where the major part of the action is actually in the in-game calls, or little details like warding, positioning or spell execution, best case scenario being a low amount of death and decent assisting. (Please note that a good support is not necessarily a support that never dies, that is completely false. A good support is a support that dies only for good reasons). I will obviously choose the ‘Core’ option, and that is completely natural.              
We all experienced the painful match-making games where the team coordination just isn’t there, and playing support suddenly feels like a waste of time. Well, players naturally tend to play core. The consequence of that is that finding an excellent solo mid, carry or offlane is actually very easy at a pro level, because they simply outnumber the support players. But finding an excellent support player, whose game understanding & skill can compete with the top support players, is insanely hard.
 
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-          The second main reason why supports are crucial factor in pro games is that they are responsible for the early game action in most cases. When two very strong teams face each others, the early game rotation is decisive. Indeed, the strongest teams are also the one to do the least amount of mistakes. So when they secure an advantage early on thanks to their support’s rotation, they usually rarely drop it. This can end up with a very one-sided game. A quick and quite standard example would be : Offlaners are woods, Mid-laners are both playing well on their lane, and carries are barely missing a creepkill. Team A’s supports decide to rotate mid and get the firstblood on the opponent’s laner, whereas Team B’s supports failed their rotation few mins ago. This can be decisive, and all came down to the supports and their decision-making.
 
     Those are two reasons I could easily think of, there are many others obviously. The cores basically reward the support players for their early game plays by carrying them through the mid-late game. The supports somehow ‘create’ the conditions of the core’s success and well-being during the game.
 
     The role is also very ungrateful; this doesn’t need to be explained. If a teamfight happens, and a team crushes the other one thanks to good warding/vision or to a clutch swap/nightmare (or anything else), what will be seen and remembered at the end of the day is the naix crushing the enemies and getting a rampage. The hero pool is wider for support players, and every game is completely different. One game requite passivity and intense stacking, the other requires early game rotation and aggressiveness. Sometimes the support has a 3k gold net worth in 5 mins, and sometimes he can afford boots at the 12’. Playing support is about being able to read, LIVE, what particular turn the game is taking, and being able to ADAPT to it. This is precisely why support players are, in 99% of the cases, also the in-game leaders.
 
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    If I happen, for instance, to watch an Alliance replay, I will 90% of the time follow Akke & EGM. And it should be useless to mention that I watch it as a team captain, and not as a support player. I’m not interested into the mechanics, but into Alliance’s decision making. And it doesn’t matter if it is actually made by the supports, what matters is that it is readable in their movement, and only there. They set the pace for the game. This is valid in early game, of course, but not only. But that would be too long to describe.
 
     In the next article I will describe in further details the support role, the positioning, the attitude required and some specifics to know in order to play an ‘efficient’ support. What should you aim for? How to achieve it? If, as a support player, ending up with a positive score do not necessarily mean that I did well (and vice versa of course), then how can I know whether I played a good game or not?
 
    I’ll try to answer those questions in the next writing, this one aimed to give you guys an idea of my opinion on the very large ‘support topic’. I hope you enjoyed your read.
Please always remember that this is nothing but the opinion of a professional DotA2 player! Feel free to drop your comments.
     You can follow me on twitter and show your support for those articles @7ckngMadDOTA. Cheers!

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