I freshly started my own facebook in order to make the interactions with the readers easier !
I freshly started my own facebook in order to make the interactions with the readers easier !
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 !
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.
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.
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 :
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.
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.
You can find my latest blog post on this link :
Topic is : Itembuilds at a Competitive Level, the Decision Making Process
Enjoy your read, cheers!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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 :
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.
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!
As specified, the team is yet ‘unsponsored’. Updates will be published probably in a couple of weeks on that topic, as all the players are still under their respective contracts
Hello everyone! As you may have noticed, this year’s competitions started a few days ago. It will be intense as all the teams are now eager to win and prove the world their skill and dedication. Whereas in Asia the doubts are still very present concerning what truly happened in Seattle in August 2013, in Europe the mindset is definitely changed. Indeed, the myth about the Asian teams being one step ahead the western ones got completely demolished by Alliance’s performance in TI3. Every competitive European DotA player already played with/against or knows very well the Swedish crew: where they come from, their level of skill and game understanding, their DotA background and past results…. And even though they have been crowned kings because their skill was way above everyone else last year, people do know they are not untouchable. And this is one of the main motivations of the scene right now; the model of success brought by the Alliance allows all the other players to identify themselves in it. It is the usual: ‘If they were able to do it, why wouldn’t I?’ To be honest, the top-1 position isn’t comfortable at all. Indeed, by becoming the best of the best you also become the favorite target of every other team.
I usually stick to the in-game aspect, but for today’s blogging, I will be mainly writing about the team, or what remains of it, and the on-going projects that are related to it. First of all, allow me to do a little bit of background analysis with what actually happened during and a bit before TI2:
The mTw episode:
Sockshka, Funzii and myself have always aim for nothing else than the top level. mTw was built to achieve that goal, basically. Unfortunately, and that is what’s common between all the team I have been in, we started playing together pretty late: around march 2012. Back then, NaVi was dominating the scene with an indecent ease. No team had been able to win them whatsoever, whether it was online or offline. They crushed everybody at TI1, of course, ESWC, Starladder(s) etc… It was actually me and Socks who decided to form that team and to contact SyndereN & Kebap-. We did try many other players, but this line-up looked to work. We tried to find the right balance between in-game skill and good team atmosphere, which we definitely succeed in, at first! So we started to practice, hardcore mode. We knew perfectly we had the skill & game-understanding required to compete with top teams, and to qualify for the International II. In a matter of two month we became a force to reckon with in Europe, as we won many online tournaments, and amongst those the TI Western qualifier. But the goal still wasn’t achieved. Indeed, it has always been very frustrating for us to witness matches between the dominating teams and the other high level teams. There are always openings as even the best make mistakes, and plenty of those. They are beatable with the right strategies and proper execution. Obviously it is easier to say than to do, but still. That is a factor of motivation for us. We understand their weaknesses, and also often understand that their opponents do not, and that is the cause of our frustration. After our win in the qualifier, we knew dreamhack was coming, and started to prepare for it. That is actually the biggest achievement for mTw, in my opinion. We were the first to defeat NaVi in a lan situation, when we won DreamHack summer 2012, But what comes next is a bit sadder, as full of hopes we went into TI2 and got completely destroyed. Indeed, forming a team only a few months before such events is very dangerous, as when problems appear, you do not always get the time to solve them, assuming there is a way to solve them. That time around, it was because of a very bad team atmosphere (I’m not even sure we went into TI2 as a team to be honest). Anyway, that year we learnt that team bonding was at least as important as in-game preparation and strategies.
Quantic Gaming :
After the big disappointment that has been the international II, we collectively decided to take a break from competitive DotA ( Funzii, Sockshka & myself that is ). This brings us to the mont of april 2013 basically, when, keeping nevertheless a close eye on the pro scene we came to the same conclusion we had in 2012 : the overall level of play has insanely increased, but the dominating teams and the metagame they instored hold many weaknesses… We then had to find the right players and avoid, this time around, the mistakes of the past year. This is why we decided to approach Silent & Goblak. We knew Empire was going through troubles, with the departure of Funn1k and the very bad shape of the team. Those two players were (and still are) skilled, smart and experienced. But one of the most important thing was that they both played in teams with very bad mindset & atmosphere during important events, Darer & Moscow5 at TI II. They basically had the same experience we had on mTw so we knew that we would all, as a team, make sure it doesn’t happen again. But again, the come back was made few weeks prior to the western qualifier, and about 2-3 month before the International III. The road to Ti 3 was exactly the same, we rapidly grew and started wining, we eventually qualifier to Seattle by placing 2nd. At this stage, the top team was Alliance, they had just come back from China where they dominated the G-1 tournament. We were able to defeat them in the groupstage of DreamHack 2013, but lost to them in the grand finals on a 1-2 score. That team building was very different, as we had almost no practice games before all those events, it was quite the opposite of mTw. We favored the drafting and team bonding over anything else, and it worked out to a certain extent. Unfortunately the tournament in Seattle showed us that it wasn’t enough, once again, and the approach had to be more serious. The drafting at TI was awful, and the youth of the team made it so we had no plan B.
The frustration was really big after TI III. We proved ourselves many times we deserved a spot, not only in the top 16 teams in the world, but maybe even higher than that. Every year something different comes up and forces us to learn from our mistakes. I would say that some team are relatively new, and although they play a bit “shaky”, good conditions a bit of luck allow them to place decent in huge events. Whereas others have to go through all the possible mistakes in order to secure their spot. We lost because of low level of plays, we lost because of the lack of team spirit, because of the lack of practice, because of individual attitudes… I feel like there isn’t much more reasons to lose anymore… It might be time to start wining on a regular basis. So here it what’s up today :
We built a team of 5 skilled, experienced and hard-working players. The open-mindness and the personal stability are the most important criteria for this long-term project. As you may have noticed, the practice starts now, unlike other years, no more 2-months-before-event-come-back. This will offer us the time to practice our teamplay like never before, to optimize the drafting and possibly change (once again!) the meta-game, and last but not least, to face any slump the team is going to go through before important events. That’s the aim, I obviously would never claim that I am 100% sure we will make it, that would be being arrogant & cocky, a behaviour I really dislike. But I am confident we can achieve that goal, else why would I even be involved?
Our line-up will be the following :
Brian “MaNia” Strandby
Mikkel “miGGel” Berg
Adrian “FATA-” Trinks
Titouan “Sockshka” Merloz
Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs
I wanna seize this opportunity to give a very special shoutout to Funzii, our mate but more importantly our friend! He decided to retire from competitive DotA and DotA in general. I wish him the best of luck, and thank him for all he has done during the past two years, he is very unique as player.
You will have to wait a bit more concerning the sponsorship, as it is still being negotiated at the moment. I’ll give updates as soon as we take a decision. Once again, I emphasize the serious of this year’s project. We will aim for nothing but top level plays and strategies, and I hope we can manage to offer the viewers some great DotA. Every team aims for that, but for once we’ll handle things differently, by starting off right now.
I want to thank Goblak & Silent for Quantic , we are still very good friends, and I can’t emphasize enough on how much I was impressed by their in-game sense. I really wish them the greatest success with their future DotA-related projects!
The next articles will of course be in-game related, that is what they are meant to be anyway. But I felt like I had to clarify the situation once and for all, as we already started playing official matches, in EMS cup one which we won, and with our second STLV day. We are not hungry for results yet, the more wins the better, but we have a very long-term vision on this team building, we will take it step by step. So arm yourselves with patience, and I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed. For all the Quantic-spirit fans, we are still Quantic. We will obviously keep thinking out of the box if it’s needed. Thank you all for the support, it really matters a lot.
PS : you can also follow me on twitter, @7ckngMadDOTA, and see you in the next matches =), Cheers!!