“Back-to-back” TI champions

I haven’t written a blogpost in a while, and I for sure did not foresee myself write one in such conditions…
Where to start really?
I just managed to take a week off, trying to force myself to realize what just happened, but I am quite certain I was not successful in doing so.

OG TI9 Ceb

We won TI again.
We broke yet another curse, and this time it was one that I also believed was nearly impossible to break, at least certainly not in the way we did.
There are so many things that make this whole achievement quite unreal and at this point it is almost as if people were talking about someone else, about another team.

There is so much that I want to share with you guys, and it will probably require several blogposts. I want to tackle the 8/9 season, TI9 itself, the future, and many more things. One step at a time though, and in this one I will probably stick to the hottest topic : our TI9 back-to-back title.

Let me start off by saying that for this year’s TI, there was a lot of attention and content being created around our team, therefore I am sure you guys will be able to, throughout the year, get a very precise understanding of how we ended up winning TI9. I’m also very excited to go through it again, later this year. This experience is so intense that you barely get time to really understand what is going on, you just go with the flow and wake up once it is all over.

TI9 was completely different from TI8, that’s for sure. The overall level of competition was much higher, just like every year. The fact that it happened in Shanghai also brought a new factor to the equation : having the crowd cheer against you is a very special experience obviously. The way the metagame developed ( or should I say refused to develop ) was quite unique this time around. And the list goes on…

There is only so much I am allowed to publicly share, so I’ll have to double check what I write. For those who follow me since the beginning of my career, you know how much this frustrates me. One day, I’ll be able to give back as much as I want to. But as for now, I’ll just stick to whatever does not give my competitors a better chance of beating us!

TI9 teams :

Generally speaking though, TI9 was incredibly competitive. I truly think that there was no team, out of the 18, that couldn’t compete for a high-end finish. Back in my days, you always had a decent number of teams that clearly had no chance of threatening the top contenders. These days are long gone. It’s great for the scene but quite scary for the participants.

This brings me to tackle a topic that is very important to me. Competition is cruel, and TI being the most competitive tournament of the season makes it also the cruelest. Every year, you get 85 losers ( 17×5, spared you coaches and staff that also get heavily affected ), and only 5 champions. Society happens to give winners all the attention and credit whereas losers basically disappear, back to the shadow. Now that I am on the winning side of things, it’s easier for me to say that I find it quite unfair. Basically all the teams that attended TI9 have sequences they can be proud of, sequences that should be talked about post-event. You could even extend that to teams that were on the edge of making it to TI. So much hard work, dedication and time investment. It’s easier to grind when you know your chances of getting something in return are high. As far as I am concerned, my real heroes are the ones that dedicate all their time and efforts to their dream of winning TI, without knowing if they will ever get close. All they have is faith.

I often hear/read things like : « the level of a team is the level of their weakest link », when in fact I look at it very differently. To me, the level of a team is the level of their best showing. I would also suggest you guys apply that philosophy to how you see yourselves as players. Your potential equals the best DotA game you ever played, and that means you are surely much more talented than you actually realize.

Shanghai, and the TI9 crowd:

TI9 Crowd

I would like to say a few words about the crowd, and the way the teams were treated in the arena. I know that a lot of online fans were quite offended by the crowds approach to the games in the arena. People went under the assumption that the fans in the stadium blindly cheered for Chinese teams instead of cheering for good DotA. My experience was actually quite different, even though I understand where that impression came from ( after watching twitch clips of the games ).

DotA is absolutely huge in China, it’s been huge there for more than a decade. Fans share history with their teams, it’s much more than just casual support, at this point, it’s personal. They assimilate the success of the team they root for to their own success. Just like in traditional sports, it is a very common thing. Therefore, they try to help their team in whatever way they can. Even though I personally do not look at it this way, I do understand where they are coming from.

For instance during our series vs LGD, we even got booed while exiting the arena, right after we’d just lose game 1. This was the first time I’ve experienced it, and to be honest, it was quite rough. At the same time, after we won the series, hundreds of Chinese fans were waiting for us backstage to congratulate us and show great sportsmanship. A lot of them even had LGD outfits. This goes to show that it isn’t about trying to hurt or disrespect the team they don’t support, but rather trying to help their team in any way they can. Without entering the debate about whether or not this is a good way of doing it, I just wanted to share that experience to give you guys a wider perspective of what the experience was like over there in Shanghai.


OG as back to back TI champions:


I now want to take a closer look at what this TI9 title truly means to us.
Ever since I started playing, I always looked at winning TI as the ultimate goal. We reached that one last year, and it was absolutely amazing. Back then we had already proven ourselves we could become the best team in the world. Nevertheless, there was always a challenge above the TI title. A challenge that was so far up that even thinking about reaching it felt delusional : winning TI twice, back to back.

Becoming the best team in the world is hard, but what is even harder is to maintain yourself in that dominant position. In DotA, it has never really been achieved. Every time a team entered TI as clear favorites, they always ended up crumbling to the pressure. The only exception to that might have been Alliance in TI3. When it comes to defending champions trying to double their achievement, no one ever got close enough.

I think this has a lot to do with the lack of psychological preparation in DotA, and I even want to say esports in general. When you study the greatest athletes in sports, the ones that were able to maintain themselves on the top of their fields, all they really talk about is the mental part of what they do. Being able to reinvent yourself, to keep challenging your habits even though you are already the best at what you do. Being able to rebuild the same fire you had when you went for it the first time, dealing with the public pressure and the expectations everyone around you have for your team. All these things put together ( and much more actually ) make the task very hard to fulfill.

I can only assume that in traditional sports, athletes have an entire staff helping them out with that. They also have the previous generations of champions helping them understand the challenges and traps that lie ahead of them. In DotA and esports, we have to write that book ourselves. We basically have to figure it all out on the spot, by ourselves. As for the past champions, the first generation of dominant players is still actively competing, and if they aren’t, they are still thinking about building their own paths and careers.

I am not even mentioning the part where you actually have to keep being the best team in the world, above all sorts of competition, while having every single one of your moves gets dissected and studied by the opposition.

OG TI9 champions
Despite all that, we did it.

I read some crazy statistic about us not having lost a single series on TI main stage in two years, and it sounds insane.
I’m at a point where I can’t even think of a harder challenge. It almost feels like we’ve finished DotA. I am sure that feeling is temporary, and it will sooner or later get pushed away by new goals. Nevertheless, I am happy to enjoy it while it lasts.

Words cannot describe how proud I am of my team. We had to overcome so much together, and we grew a ton. I had dreams of the perfect roster, a line-up that would have all the skill, game understanding and camaraderie you could ever ask for. We’re even better than what I pictured, and we’ve proven it once again. Most importantly, we did not lose our connection to DotA along the way. We are true DotA lovers, and we are still able to enjoy the game as much as we need to, in order to give it all our time and energy. This game taught me so much about myself and about the world. This game got me to meet and connect with incredible people from all around the globe. I am so incredibly grateful for all of that.

Now is time to enjoy the fruits of our hard work. I want to thank everyone at OG who made this crazy achievement possible. Every single one of you was essential in this success. I want to thank my five teammates for being the best companions I could ever ask for. I want to thank my friends and family for believing and supporting us, through highs and lows.

Last, but surely not least, I want to thank OG fans for being the backbone of our story. You made all of this possible because you believed in our vision. We are grateful for the way you treat us. We know we have your support no matter what, and it makes us invincible.
This is your win as much as it is ours, so once again, thank you.

Thank you




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Changes to OG…

Well… I am sure that after such an announcement, you guys probably have hundreds of questions you would want to ask us. If you were not ready for what just happened, be assured that neither were we.

This news came as early as yesterday, and it was a big shock for us. I have witnessed and experienced similar situations throughout my DotA career, but this one definitely has a different taste to it. If you’ve been following me, this takes me back to Sigma.int days.

My OG Jersey is just a couple meters away from me, and I can’t stop staring at this very logo. Two Red Bull’s facing each other. One for the will to win, and the other for the ability to face defeat. An “O” for optimism. As in OG we have always fought losses and setbacks with optimism. An optimism that we built through believing in each other, and through trying to be the best teammates we could, on a daily basis.

Last, but not least, a “G” for Greatness. As what we have built and overcome together is nothing else than great. Respect, trust and dedication have always been our core values. Through the highs and the lows, through major wins and TI disasters.

Up until today, I truly believed that we would always give these things priority over anything else. But for some people, the will to succeed sometimes has to come first. As they aim to seize what seems the best option for themselves. My way of doing things stands at the very opposite.

Indeed, I look at success like a very capricious and unpredictable thing. It never shows when you expect it. It tests your patience, your will and your loyalty countless times before it even starts thinking about rewarding you.

You only get the success you deserve once you are actually ready to give it up for other things. Whether it is for friendship, or being truthful to your own moral principles, through thick and thin. At least, this is the way I like to look at things. This is what helps me find the strength to compete against all odds. It’s much more than DotA, it’s a way of life.

But I have digressed a lot. What matters is that I understand, and I have already forgiven.

To Tal and Gustav,

You guys have been amazing teammates, and I will always cherish the memories and achievements we share together. I would be lying if I said I was not feeling a great disappointment. Nevertheless, I wish you guys best of luck and many future successes. The journey, at the end of which we would have won a TI together, brutally comes to an end. But the end of a journey marks the beginning of a new one.

After the rain comes the sun, right?

Today’s sunshine has been more beautiful than ever. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible people, and be assured that we shall build OG back up, back to where it’s meant to be.

To all the OG fans, bless us with your trust, your support and your passion. Together we will build something beautiful. A lot of challenges are coming our way, with TI qualifiers.

A lot of battles are to be fought, and we will be on the battlefield, ready to win every single one of them.

For now, it is time to recollect. This is an opportunity to rebuild healthy foundations, and we shall seize it.

Once again, thank you for your invaluable support. It means everything, and we will make you proud OG fans.



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Last season, New season, TI7…

It’s been quite a while since I wrote something about DotA… If you’ve been reading me before, you are probably not going to believe it. Nevertheless, it is nothing but the truth. As much as I enjoy coaching OG, there are things that I’ve had to give up along the way. Not allowing myself to share publicly my thoughts and impressions about DotA is a part of that sacrifice. As much as I miss casting, writing articles or just casually joining some shows/interviews, I must make sure I keep what I know about the game for myself and my team. To be fully transparent, it goes heavily against my nature as a person, but I’ve come to learn that competition gets rough, and since my direct competitors act this way, not respecting it would just put me and who ever I work with at a heavy disadvantage.

Now that the reason for my non-writing has been clearly detailed, let’s jump to the ‘writing-again’ part, which is a lot happier. I just felt like sharing my reflections about my last year with OG, as well as what’s next for me this season.

Picture from cybbet.com

Picture from cybbet.com

Plans & Coaching :

I will start off with my plans, on the short-term. I will keep coaching OG. I did consider different things moving forward this year, i.e. my different tweets in early September. There’s a simple reason for that: I am constantly looking for new challenges. As a coach last year, I’ve proven to myself that my ideas about DotA were valid and good enough to impact the most contested tournaments. Last season was amazing. The post TI6 shuffle left me quite skeptical. Although I respected everyone’s decision after the huge TI disappointment, it looked like we’d have to build everything again from scratch, since we would be bringing in three new players.

Coaching, especially when I started, was a quite ungrateful position. I was very lucky to work with players that truly made up for that with the respect and the general relationship they built with me, but still, from a very personal perspective, coaching remains an ungrateful role for now. As many other coaches, I am before anything else, a true competitor. That is to say: a player. When you coach, you must accept to let go a lot of the control you thought you had as a player (whether you truly had it or not does not matter). You won’t be playing the game, and you can work as hard as you want to increase your control on the games that are going to be played… it still ends up being what it is: you’ll never have any direct control over things.

«Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on».  Eckhart Tolle

Letting go is not an easy thing when you’re so passionate about DotA. I’ve learned to accept it, and it has help me grow a lot as a person. Back to the last season with OG, I’ve decided to stay because I believe in justice and fairness in life. It felt like Fly and N0tail really did not deserve ending up with a 2-man roster after TI6. It’s funny how TI always puts everything in question. It’s just a god damn tournament, and it shouldn’t mean that much to anyone if you try to look at it clearly. Winning or losing means the world to players, and that feels wrong. I say that and at the same time it also means everything to me, just trying to be the devil’s advocate here. Either way, I’ve decided to stay and help them rebuild something stable and successful, and successful it has been. The new additions, ana s4 and jerAx, ended up fitting amazingly well with what we already had going.

Last season was truly amazing to experience, and for that I am very grateful to everyone in my team. For this season, I am again looking for new challenges, and that’s why I gave myself the right to, for the first time in my career, look at other opportunities for myself. I considered playing, for instance. Although the ‘know your coach place’ kind of lines don’t get to me at all, it still messes with my competitive obsession. I end up thinking, why wouldn’t I try to prove myself I could make it with playing instead of coaching. After reflecting a lot on all that, there’s still a lot for me to learn as a coach and keep improving. Setting standards when it comes to that role is quite exciting. I do believe you get rewarded in life for making the right choices, and I welcome this new coach-drafting thing as a reward for my decision this season haha. It is a true blessing to now be able to participate in drafts. It is, with no doubts, the part of the game that interests me the most.


I have had so many talks with people about the eventuality of coaches being involved in drafting phases, or even allowed in-game. Even though it has always been of my wildest dreams, I’ve never actually allowed myself to say I was in favor of that. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to DotA, I love the game as it is and I am sure that like many of you, I have a hard time welcoming big changes. Even though, as far as I can remember, I have always ended up liking all the changes that has been brought to the game. Now that this one happened, I just accept it and embrace it. It will help increase the level of the drafts, strategies and even overall gameplay.

Competitive system :

Before I get to the first purpose of my article, I would still like to add slightly to the competitive system for this season. I was very happy to hear about the minor/major system, as I think it is a great step forward. Nevertheless, I am quite worried about the qualifier/invite system that goes with it. Haters will probably seize this opportunity and call me subjective, as my team failed to qualify for the first major. Had we been invited to these tournaments, and we will most likely end up being invited to some of them, my opinion remains the same. The competition should be as fair as possible, and only results should get rewarded. With the current state of things, it is a lot more about contacts, reputation, fan-base and other differents. I do not deny their importance, I am just saying that their weight compared to the result-based system is too big for my taste. I don’t have a way to fix it, or make it better, it is not my job and I would be awful at it. But facts remain facts, I do think that the system is flawed. It has been brought up by other persons to this day, I’ll just add my name to that long list. The qualifying system also make taking a break after TI and a full year of traveling/competing not viable anymore. A bit of insider OG info there, you can tell that several weeks of break are having a huge impact on the beginning of the season… as you end up having to play very important games early in September… there’s no time to rest after TI anymore.

The International :

As I don’t want this to be too long to read, I’ll attempt to be brief for that last point of discussion. I just wanted to share some thoughts about TI and being able to come up with a rational explanation for the set-back. I am becoming a specialist in TI failures. As you can notice, I also call it a failure, although, realistically, it is not. And don’t get me wrong there, if you’re OG fan, do not think we are giving ourselves an easy time. It is quite the opposite, and we need to lighten the mood in order to be able to move forward, because that is what matters now. It’s just that the International just weights too heavily in player’s minds. I do think that the level of DotA played at TI is amongst the lowest throughout the year. I say that and I might get a lot of flames because of it, but that is nothing but my opinion. You have absolutely every right to disagree with it. The pressure and the stakes are too high. The lack of balance in the season makes TI a win-or-die tournament, it has always been the case. When it comes strictly to DotA, it makes the overall TI level quite low, except for the very late stages of the tournament. You basically have 15 teams choking, and 3 teams playing good DotA. I am obviously pushing it a bit, but the bigger picture still looks the same.

At the same time, it is the beauty of it. As a spectator, it is what makes me enjoy TI the most. That tension is like nothing else. I am not saying this should change, I am just stating facts.

new season

Another year, another season. I am looking forward to how the game will develop, what teams will bring to the table and to all the wonderful people I might meet this year, through the game that we all love and play.

Couple resolutions for this year that I’ll be applying, if you think they might also help you…. Keep working hard and giving your everything to achieve your dreams. One thing though, don’t lose yourself along the way: remember the reasons and your original motivation, whatever it is that you were seeking. Do not go away from certain values, you’ll need them to succeed anyway : Respect, humility, self-discipline etc…

Don’t mind me :

This also makes me think of something I do want to write, even if I know what answers or comments I will get. This is for the people that spend a lot of time flaming or criticizing players through social medias or reddit (the latter not being social/media xP). I hope you realize that, unlike other traditional sports, in DotA, players are very close to their fans. Your opinions matter a lot to them, and even though a hate message might not mean anything, hundreds of them end up having an impact. Whether it is directly, or because it has an impact on people around them, people they truly care about, people they listen and trust. What will naturally happen is that a distance will be put between players and fans, as it is in traditional sports, so that they can truly focus on the game. They’ll miss the support, that matters a lot and has even more impact, but they’ll avoid the social media bullets. I personally think it’s a shame it has to be that way. I am just sharing thoughts, this won’t change anything, but still. We all have goals we pursue in life, and we all hate being talked down or discouraged when we’re in the process of trying to be successful. So, what’s the point? This is a blow in the waters, like they say. Still feels good to put it out there.


Either way, hope the read wasn’t too long. Remember this is strictly my opinion, you’re more than welcome to disagree and share your thoughts about it.

Take care everyone.



NB: If you want to react to this, you can drop comments here but the best is still Twitter & Instagram, I am the most active there.

Twitter : https://twitter.com/7ckngMadDOTA / Insta : https://www.instagram.com/7ckngmaddota/


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The non-DotA part of DotA – Insights on TI6 

Hello everyone ! I finally got some time to sit down and write an article I have been dying to write. A lot of things happened since I published the last one and thus I have plenty to write about. I want to do something slightly more special this time around. Indeed, I will obviously write about DotA; but I really want to emphasize the non-DotA part of DotA, if that makes any sense.

 Before I jump into the specifics, I want to share a bit about what happened in the last few weeks. As many of you, I have been coaching OG for quite some time, and I will continue doing so. This year’s TI outcome was obviously a huge blow for all of us. The team was performing very well pre-TI, wining the Manila Major, ESL Frankfurt, finishing second at the Summit 5, etc… The thing is, TI is a very special tournament, and I will try to help you understand in which ways this tournament is very unique. We learned it the hard way, but well, as long as we learn, I’m personally happy. I like to approach competition in a certain way : you got to convince yourself that, eventually, you will succeed. You just have to learn and improve enough to get there. So when you look at things this way, you understand it is just a matter of time before you achieve what you dream of achieving. Losing is learning – if you learn how to approach losses – and learning means getting closer to your objective.

At the end of the day, we all are very well aware of this fact : competition has the highest highs and the lowest lows. As I hinted earlier, facing defeat again and again is a winer’s quality. It is the only road to victory.

Let’s get started. We all felt it at some point in our “Dota adventure”, wether it was in a pub game, during a casual talk about the game with friends, or when the biggest match of your career just ended : DotA is not only about DotA. When you start realizing it, a whole new world suddenly appears in front of you. It is very obvious that skill, communication, synergy and teamplay are crucial. Nevertheless, there are other things that come into play – that actually make the real difference. You often hear teams say that what will matter is ‘if they can bring their A game’ or that they can ‘only lose to themselves‘, the reason for that is because they understand that a lot of different things can actually prevent them from performing. I like to think that the best game you ever played determines how good you are at DotA – wether it is as a team or individually. But there are a lot of factors that usually interfere with your pure gaming abilities. That ‘best game’ occured because you dominated – wether it was on purpose or not does not matter – these ‘outside’ factors.

I could list all these factors, as I’ve learned one after the other, year after year : The ability to focus on the game, your mindset when you start competing, the team atmosphere, the pressure, etc… Every TI is a lesson about DotA. TI5 was about teamspirit, trust and respect. Coming into TI6, all the teams, especially the favorites, had that lesson in mind. But this time around, something else happened. A newer lesson was learnt, and the price for it was paid by the top contenders.

Four teams were arguably the favorites to win TI6 before it started : Liquid, Wings, OG and Newbee. Obviously other teams were good enough to win it all, but it is a fair statement to say that on paper, their past results made them look weaker than the four I mentioned above. I do not believe in coincidences, and the fact that three out of four of these top teams completely crashed during the tournament is not a coincidence. Liquid, Newbee and OG crashed during TI, exactly like Secret did before TI5. I’ll come back on Wings slightly later. Let me tell you what happened at TI6 in one word : “Pressure” happened. The pressure that tournament puts on players’ shoulders is immense, it’s the good old win or die situation. These three teams, from both an outside and inside perspective were playing games not to win them, but to avoid losing them. The difference might seem minor, but it is actually decisive. Wining groupstage games, or first rounds of playoffs does nothing for these teams, because they had convinced themselves beforehand that they were deserving to achieve top 3 at TI6. So wining was just something normal, indeed, they were the better teams after all. Nothing to win, everything to lose, game after game.

picture from thescoreesports.com

The pressure is huge, everyone stares at you, waits for you to show weaknesses. How can they be blamed for that ? They are just hoping for a better show. On the other side of the river, the teams these ‘topdogs’ are facing are fearless. They are just happy to be here, they are grateful, they came to play DotA and to enjoy themselves while doing so. Obviously they are also here to win, but they approach one game after the other. They take enough time to enjoy every single inch they fight for. They have nothing to lose, and they will give it all in order to win. They do not think about the grand finals, or the title, never. They have that ‘fire’ going for them. The same fire that once made the top teams become top teams – unfortunately for them, it is long gone.

Rewatch the series between OG and TNC, and take enough time to study both teams movement and decision making. You might end up feeling the difference between a team that wants to win, and a team that does not want to lose. It is massive, and as unfair as it might sound, it is game-losing. DotA is not only about DotA, and acheving dominance is about mastering the ‘non-DotA’ factors, like in every traditional sports. Now you might argue that Wings were one of the best teams pre-TI, yet they won it all. Well, take a closer look at their run. Manila went horribly wrong for them, they collapsed like OG Liquid or Nb did at TI. So they probably humbled themselves before TI6. Losing groupstages would mean that their performance would be even worse than Manila, so they played with immense pressure. They struggled, they lost many games, and played very poorly. But sometimes pure individual skill and a bit of luck kick in, and even though you do not perform well, you still end up in the winer bracket. At this point, they already did better than what they achieved in the previous Major. It is crucial, because it relieves the pressure. They suddenly grow wings, they are happy with themselves, and they approach one game after the other, they know there is nothing to be lost from losing. They became another team, and that is what controling pressure does for you.

There are defenitely many ways to deal with pressure. I guess the easiest approach is to humble yourself, truly. I do believe that certain players need that arrogancy to express themselves. Confidence is very important, and the border between confidence and arrogancy is very thin. So there must be other ways to deal with pressure. There is a lot to learn from traditional sports, because there are ‘team sports’ in which favorites always come back to win tournaments. The biggest difference is the mental preparation these guys go through almost on a daily basis. I believe this type of coaching is a very logical step for professional DotA…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your read. Remember, this is nothing but my opinion. Feel free to leave comments on the website or just message me on social medias, I’ll be happy to discuss these matters with you.

Twitter : @7ckngmaddota

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Filed under General DotA 2 knowledge

How to practice & improve as a support player ?

            Hello everyone  🙂 ! Just came back from Dreamleague, and I have to say I really enjoyed casting games over there. The casting crew and the production were really nice and easy to work with. The overall ‘production value’ was quite high, the experience was just chilled and fun! I wrote that article during my spare time there, and on the way back.
This article is going to highlight a role in particular, the support role. I have always played support, and although I often get to try other roles/heroes, it still remains my favorite position. Playing support is about embracing the strategy you or your captain designed. It’s about being smarter than the opponent support, it’s about anticipating how they want to play the game, it’s about reading their minds.

The topic of today’s article will be rather simple : How to practice and improve, as a support player ?

This is a question I have been asked plenty of times. Answering in a sentence or two is actually impossible. I will try to give a lot of inputs in that article, share what I do to practice supporting, and hopefully you guys find the answer you were looking for.

Team practice :

Obviously, the first type of practice that comes to mind is the team practice. Play with your team, and create the conditions of a real match. Scriming other teams can only be useful. You get to see how people react to your plays, your warding, and you also get to watch the replay of the opposing team’s supports, which can sometimes be very helpful. Practicing in those conditions is going to require that you stay very focused and most importantly stay away from laziness. You have to think about what you do, and how you do it. You have to try everything that comes to your mind, to innovate. It is always a better idea to push your limits during ‘fake games’ than during an official. It might just not be a risk you’re willing to take on behalf of your team the D Day. There is not much to say about team practice, it is rather obvious.
I want to jump to the second part of my article, which is definitely the one that you will find the most interesting.

Individual practice :

There we are, individual practice. This is definitely the most important part of practicing the support role. Let’s start from the most obvious, to the least obvious.

mmr dota2

Solo games :

So first of all, you go for games in which you practice your mechanics with the heroes you play. You get used to the range of your spells, the way they interact with other spells/items, you try itembuilds, you get to know the damage you can deal, the position you need to have in fights, etc… In other words : you try to improve your mechanics and your knowledge of the hero in question.
There is more that you can do when you just play solo games, of course. You can practice your warding/dewarding. Warding depends on two mains things : the playstyle of the opposing players/teams, and the strategies/heroes they are running. Some players, for example, are aggressive by nature, thus their warding will be completely different from a very safe team. The same reasoning applies to strategies : if they run a line-up that relies heavily on getting Roshan, they will obviously ward differently than if they would be running a 4 protect 1 type of line-up. It is important that you keep those two aspects in mind when you try to analyze someone’s way of warding. Last, but not least, the real-time situation. Indeed, do not underrate the importance of that. Often you ward just because a fight was about to happen, and by observing that, you can’t get any intelligence that will be useful outside of that precise game. It is very important for you to learn how to make the difference between ‘reactionary’ warding or rotations overall, and ‘strategical’ ones.

Replays analysis :

This part is probably more important than the solo games. I would say than the solo games are useful to secure the basics, but looking at replays Is truly what will start to make the difference. You can either analyze your own replays, or others. When you look at your own replays, it is mainly to get more detailed information about how the opposing team reacted to your support plays, or to understand better what you did wrong/right. Obviously it is also very important to ask yourself what could you have done better in that game. The classic reaction is usually that if the game was won, there’s very few things to look at, but that is completely false. You can win a game although you played horribly, and vice versa. As a support, it is very important to understand what your role exactly is, what are the limits of your role.


Let me take an example : if you played really well, pressured the midlane for instance, and allowed your midlane to really dominate his matchup. The safelane was secured as well, and overall early game was a great success. Nevertheless, your team lost the first big fights, and the game got out of control extremely quickly. You might have that tendency to, if you get to play that type of game again, try to get a bit more farm or space. That is just a mistake. It will only reduce the quality of games you play. It is important to know the limits of what you have to do. The rest usually comes down to your core’s decision making, or your team calls. Trying to do too much will actually get you to neglect the basics. You often see supports trying to get 25 kills in 10 minutes in early, forgetting the very basics that are warding, being ready to counter-gank etc…
The most important part of replays analysis is definitely the analysis of other players. Replays are like a gold mine, it is the access to people’s brain and geniality, so why not use it? Look at replays, try to understand what they do, and replicate how they do it. Obviously, once you understood it, you need to try to replicate it, and do it until you’re confident you mastered it. But this is probably the best way of improving as a support. Don’t copy everything, every player has his weaknesses, try simply to spot his strengths and adapt them to your way of supporting.

General practice :

This is the last point I will tackle in this article, and probably the one you’ve never heard of yet. Is it something I use a lot in order to improve as a support player, and it really helped me so far. I called it general practice, so what do I mean by that ? Well it is quite simple : it is to try to increase your general knowledge of the game. Practicing other roles, other heroes, so that you can understand them better, and thus, counter them better. Whenever I feel like I lack knowledge about a certain hero or playstyle, I actually practice it on my own to make sure I understand it to perfection. Let’s take spectre as an example. You’re a support player, and you keep facing spectre. The best way for you to learn how to counter spectre is to study spectre players, or play it yourself. By playing spectre a decent amount (until you’re good at understanding how the hero works and what he needs), you will realize many things about the hero, his strengths and weaknesses. For instance : spectre is a very slow farmer. You played spectre yourself, and you actually wanted to fight all the time, you were pinging your team “Haunt : READY” because you were dreaming of getting that roaming support kill. You realized how crucial your manta was, or you started going for easy targets in fights. You abused the manta ‘one shot’ move, where you just spot a hero that’s a bit far from the others in teamfights, in desolate range, and you always jumped him first with manta activation. Long story short, you know all there is to know about spectre.


So next time you play support against spectre, you are going to mess with him like never before. You won’t give him the kill he desperately needs, you will place the ward where you know you would farm with spectre, etc. It is also a great way to practice support roles, learning more about other roles. You’ll only be able to help your midlaner effectively if you understand his match-up, the timings, etc. Same goes for the support duel in a game. If you do not want to get completely out maneuvered by the opponent Tuskar, or Bh, you need to understand how that hero is played. Because if you don’t, even if you are the best spirit breaker in the freaking world, you will get outplayed. There are several ways to approach that type of practice, either you play the heroes yourself, or you watch good players playing them, or last, you discuss a lot with your team mates, ask them many questions about what annoys them when they play that hero, what helps them a lot, what are their timings, etc.

If you manage to keep all that in mind when you play support, you will be very effective, and improve very fast. It requires a lot of work, and focus, but it is doable. Also always keep in mind that it is better to practice effectively two hours, while you are still focused and in good shape, than to just play 10 hours in a row, being tired and lazy. Quality > Quantity. When you feel like your plays are becoming a bit sloppy, just chill, or go watch a replay.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your read, and most importantly that the article helped you in your tough support life. If you’re a core player, you now understand the amount of things a support has to take into account before being effective. Remember, this is nothing but my personal opinion/experiences. Cheers!

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

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The importance of preparation in competitive DotA2 “How teams approach decisive matches”

Hello everyone! First of all, I would like to mention that I am really happy I found the time to start writing new articles. I got a lot of suggestions for potential topics, and I will probably tackle most of them. For the one that follows, I will be writing about the importance of preparation for very important matches. Enjoy your read, and feel free to share your feedback after you are done!


                Over the past few year, the competitive DotA2 scene never stopped growing. The competition is obviously tougher, a lot more players play the game and as a direct consequence the overall ‘level’ is now higher. The number of tournaments also increased by a significant margin, which means that it gives less time for the professional players to prepare. They are on the road way more often than before, so the amount of time that they have to practice is becoming smaller, although the competition is higher than before. A problem then occurs: What is the most efficient way to prepare big tournaments and big games?


To try to give you as much insight as possible on that matter, I will split my analysis in two stages: the first one will highlight the general preparation, i.e. the mindset of the team coming into that match, what did they focus on mainly. The second part of the analysis will focus more on the drafting part, what is the general thinking process behind it.

Let us start with the general preparation.

General preparation :

A common misconception is to think that the priority for teams is to prepare specifically against their opponent, it is generally not the case. Many reasons can explain it; we will go through all of them later. A very important thing to understand is that the first, and probably the biggest challenge for a drafter/captain is to be able to “use’, to their maximal potential, all his players (himself included). The first and absolute priority for any team before a big event is to prepare themselves as a team, regardless of all the potential opponents. Indeed, there could have been a new patch, a roster change etc.. As a consequence, the team has to find its own playstyle, a playstyle that seem effective, but more importantly a playstyle that allows the players in the team to bring their A-game. When EG switches Fear to position 4, their playstyle and their drafts changed drastically. They started running unconventional junglers such as Doom Bringer, Beastmaster or Nyx Assassin.

fear bm1

During the practice sessions before the tournament, teams are then going to try what they theorized and adapt it until it works. Again, this process has nothing to do with the opposing team. It is a process that could be done even without opponents. Playing versus another team is just a way to make sure what they came up with is reliable, and can be used against the teams they will face in big tournaments. They can then see how equally skilled players react to their strategies, how do they counter it, etc… This is also the reason why most of the top teams refuse to play against teams of a lesser level. Once the team is satisfied with the playstyle, and the strategies they built, they can start looking at their potential opponents. Please note that a strategy is not necessarily a composition of five specific heroes. It is usually more vague, rather like: running a playmaking hero mid, so that he creates space for the carry, or pressuring the offlane heavily in every game, to drag attention away from the greedy jungler. They have to come up with different possibilities when it comes to drafting, as they cannot realistically expect to get all the heroes they planned to get.

Drafting versus your opponent :

This part is probably the most interesting one. What you should remember from the general preparation is that every team came to the tournament with a precise idea of how they want to play, and what they want to draft. Some teams, that did not practice beforehand, have a different approach. They play the first games relying only on their confidence, they are confident they can win games although they aren’t prepared, and learn ‘live’ from the other teams, build their playstyle game after game. That was typically the approached of Secret 1.0 ( with Zai, Arteezy etc… )


But let us take a more concrete example of a big game, a LAN tournament final. Most of the time, what you need to acknowledge is that team did not get time to prepare specifically for that match. Indeed, they have been busy with the rest of the matches they had to play before they got to the finals. At best, they got one or two days to prepare before it, at wrost, they played the previous match a few hours before. The good news is that a final is never less than a bo3 or a bo5, so both teams will be given the chance to adapt during the match when it comes to drafts and strategies. Obviously, teams know each other’s players and favorite playstyles, so they do have some sort of information. You play versus Puppey, you know Chen is part of the equation. You play against Bulldog, Nature’s prophet and syllabear are most likely to be picked.

bulldog np

This is when the mindgame starts, it is the drafter’s job to find the perfect balance between countering your opponent, and making sure you are building a strategy that keeps you and your team in your comfort zone. Every drafter has a different style, every team has a different drafting style. Some teams will favor countering and forcing your enemy out of their comfort zone over assuring themselves a stable draft. Others will completely ignore you, give you all the heroes you want if they can trade it for something they really feel comfortable playing. It is a matter of playstyle. Personally, I think that making sure you stay in your comfort zone is the best way to approach drafting, at least it should be your priority. I changed my mind over the past few months, as the first style used to be my favorite.

Often, both teams actually favor the same heroes, because of the current patch and its metagame. This is when both captain might know in advance which heroes will be the most contested ones. Firstpick usually becomes extremely important. Another situation is when you do not really have the choice but to ban certain heroes against certain teams/players.


Many semi-professional teams just focusing on counter-picking their opponent, without having the bigger picture in mind. It is the main difference between top drafters and others. The art of drafting really relies on finding that perfect equilibrium, reading what your opponent is trying to do, countering him while securing yourself a stable and balanced draft, that your players are comfortable playing.

This takes me to my last point, the growing importance of coaches and statsmans. Indeed, as I explained, time lacks for team to prepare specifically against their opponents. Usually it is the coach’s or the statmans’s job. He did researches and stats about the opposing team, and briefs the captain before the match. That is what they usually like drafting, those are their most successful heroes, here is what people usually ban against them, etc. Obviously there are cases in which teams are very well prepared, but I would actually say that the outcome is usually worse than adapting live. Indeed, preparing yourself too much for a specific team might push you to tunnel vision, and do what you thought would be good against them regardless of how they draft on the D day. Overthinking it is never a good idea.

I hope you enjoyed your read, feel free to share feedback by droppig comments, or write me on Twitter & Facebook. Remember, this is nothing but my opinion 🙂



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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

5 x 6

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. 

téléchargement  VS 405-list  VS  300px-Vici_gaming_large

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

Sans titre Sans titre2



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.


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.


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. 


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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