Hello everyone !
To begin with, a quick update about team Quantic! We’ll start our TI bootcamp monday in Kiev, in the cyberarena. We are all looking forward to this practice, as we expect a lot from the upcoming weeks. You’ll have further updates once the training actually starts.
As mentioned in my previous article, I will release three draft analysis in the upcoming days, and here is the first one. The aim is to help you, the readers, to understand how top teams think their picking and banning phase, how do they adapt to what their opponents do, etc… I will try to pick very crucial games, such as important LAN events, because that is usually where the drafts are the more solid. The one I picked for this first draft analysis is very interesting, you’ll understand better why during your reading.
“So we will be analyzing the third game of the Starladder season VI LAN finals, ALLIANCE vs ICCUP”
Before we jump into the drafting, a little bit of context for this game, because as you may already know, the conditions for the game (being one game down/leading, being the favorite/underdog) do impact the teams when they decide their strategies. So this is the third game of the grand finals, the huge powerhouse Alliance was obviously favorite going into this series, and they are leading vs iCCup 2-0. They had one game advantage due to their unstoppable winning streak in the winner bracket. Nevertheless, the game that happened right before the one we analyze today was fairly close, iCCup pretty much surprised everyone (even including themselves maybe) by making big plays and pressuring Alliance more than any other team did previously in the tournament.
But enough talking, let’s begin with the draft analysis. Alliance has firstpick
The first four bans :
Here are the first two bans from the two teams. Nothing very special here, all being very standard. Alliance decides to first ban Treant protector, that is used a lot by iCCup. This hero became a top pick in the western scene, and is also used in the eastern one. It first appeared in the western TI qualifier. Their second ban is the batrider, nothing to add here, top pick : strong laning potential, insane initiation potential, and it is also one of resolut1on’s main heroes.
iCCup banned Bulldog’s favorite hero, the lone druid. As well as the wisp, both are very well used by Alliance.
The first four picks :
Alliance grabs Nature’s prophet as their firstpick. It is one of their main heroes, as it fits perfectly with their playstyle, which is to apply map control and capitalize on their advantage by pushing and opening the map to farming. They unarguably have one of the best prophet player in the west currently, Admiral Bulldog. This firstpick shows nothing of their game plan, as this hero is strong in all stages of the game, and can lane basically everywhere.
iCCup answer to that is very fast : Weaver and visage. This requires a little bit more explanation. Both prophet and lone druid causes problems to many teams, especially when they play versus Alliance, because they use those heroes to perfection in the laning phase, thanks to their offlaner player. Indeed, those two heroes are offlaners that can get xp no matter what, by pulling the creeps with treants or with the spirit bear, at the very least, they will deny lots of xp from the opponents support by wasting their time. So considering the fact that those heroes will give their team early game advantage because as offlaners they achieve more, one might think that the solution is to face the trilanes. But the other problem is that both NP & LD are insanely strong 1vs1, and win almost all the match ups. iCCup surely knows that, that is why they firstpick Weaver. They practiced a lot the match up weaver safelane versus Nature’s prophet offlane. That’s their answer to what I just described. They are confident that they can win this lane, and though deny Alliance’s early game confort. The downside of giving weaver this match up is that iCCup will then be forced to send an agressive trilane, and this is why they drafted the Visage. This hero is obviously very good 3vs3, and will secure them the ability to fight any trilane Alliance choses to set on their safelane.
At this stage, Alliance is not sure what iCCup plans to do, so they decide to go for a very safe Puck pick. One of s4’s main heroes, very good against weaver ( nuke damage + silence ), and they keep on showing nothing of their strategy to their opponents.
The second ban phase :
Alliance is still not sure about iCCup’s plans. They then ban the heroes their enemies used a lot during the tournament. Naga Siren and Obsidian Destroyer. The first one doesnt really make sense, it isn’t specially good against puck or prophet, but as I said, it is used very well by iCCup ( who defeated Virtus Pro the day before with it ). OD might be a problem for Alliance’s puck in the middle lane, understandable ban.
On iCCup’s side, everything is way more clearer. They stick to their game plan, and decide to ban enchantress and chen. Again, they are surely top picks for Alliance, but above all, they are the best way to shut down any agressive trilane, especially when they are used by [A]kke (the strongest chen/ench player versus offensive trilanes in the world if you ask me, even when he played for CLG). By doing that, Resolut1on’s secures his team a dominating trilane, BUT, more importantly, he revealed to Alliance iCCup’s laning strategy.
The second picking phase :
iCCup’s answer at this point is not really an answer. They go for a naix. They stick to their game plan, and start revealing their offensive trilane. Instant pick up by Alliance, the Keeper of the Light.Now that s4 have the confirmation that iCCup wants to go agressive (not thanks to the naix, but thanks to the bans), he picks up one of the strongest heroes against this kind of aggression. He is trying to prevent his opponent from pressuring them early on, or bait them into thinking they can.
And the reaction from Alliance is simultaneously VERY smart & VERY risky. They draft the Phantom Lancer. Many reasons for that : First of all he synergizes very well with the kotl. Secondly, it gives them a huge split push potential with nature’s prophet and kotl ( Akke recalling loda everywhere on the map ), and secures them one of the strongest late game line-up in the current metagame. But something more important explains this ingenious move by s4 : he sees that iCCup picked up two of their core heroes, NAIX and WEAVER. Both have close to 0 AOE potential, and consequently can’t deal at all with phantom lancer. And since his enemies look like they want to commit to an agressive trilane, he understands that their ‘fire’ potential will be delayed. (even when an aggressive trilane is succesful, they always achieve less gold & xp then on a safelane). This will secure Loda’s pl time to farm, no matter what happens.
iCCup choses to get a DK, as they know understand they need AOE potential. Although it might be too late already.
Last picks & bans :
The disruptor ban from Alliance is again very standard, iCCup used it succesfully just before that series. Alliance is now very confident in their draft, they know the game will be quite easy if they manage to stay even during the laning phase. The lancer pick was the huge draft changer. iCCup stick to their game plan, and ban the Bane Elemental, a very scary to play against in a 3vs3 match up.
The thing is that, iCCup now fears that phantom lancer carry potential. They understand they dont have much to deal with it in the middle-late game stage. This explains why they all-in the laning phase with the lich pick. Lich is actually awful in the 5vs5 clashes against Alliance’s line up. Indeed, puck can easily escape chain frost bounces, lancer obviously does not care, same goes for prophet and the treants. Whereas kotl should stay very far from his allies anyway ( long range spells ). But the lich should allow iCCup to dominate the lanes, as this is what they need right now, the more time Alliance wins, the more dangerous the game gets for resolut1on and his team mates.
Alliance’s last pick is Rubick, they needed a support that can give them fight potential early on, to win time for Loda to farm. This last pick is a default one, EGM is great on Rubick, there is nothing additional to explain about that pick up. Alliance knows exactly what iCCup plans to do.
The completed draft :
Here is the link to the game, in case you missed it or do not remember it well!
[SPOILERS]Alliance will finally decide, maybe due to the Lich pick, to dodge the 3vs3 situation, and go aggressive, at the very least they will force iCCup to rotate, and waste their time early on. Due to skill mistakes, Alliance will completely crush the early clashes, and win the game pretty convincingly. The draft was still very smart & even from both captains, as I just descrbed.
Here is my little insight, that you can discuss if it pleases you : iCCup shouldn’t rotate their two supports, but only visage or lich on the top lane![SPOILERS]
Anyways, thanks a lot for reading this, I hope you enjoyed. Do not hesitate to give me your feedbacks and remarks, positive or negative, it really helps me a lot. Once again, remember that this blog is nothing but the opinion of a competitive player! You can follow me on twitter, @7ckngMadDOTA, as well as the Quantic team @QuanticDOTA. Cheers!