Before The International DOTA 2 Championships (also referred to as The International 2013 or TI3), we took an in-depth look at the eight participating Asian teams. Since many of the Chinese powerhouses that participated last year are also in the tournament this year, I was interested to see how they would fare in the preliminaries.
Now that the group stages have concluded, let’s take a look at the Chinese teams’ hero statistics. The statistics are taken from the 113 games played by all Chinese teams including the tie-breaker match between LGD.cn and Dignitas, but excluding the Wildcard match between Quantic and RattleSnake.
Overall most picked heroes
Visage is at the top of the list, and was picked 37 times. Chen and Shadow Demon were both picked 21 times while Nyx Assassin and Rubick were both picked 16 times.
While requiring a great deal of microskills and map awareness, Visage is a great hero that grants excellent map vision thanks to his familiars. Players can scout for runes, pull or block creep camps, or help a teammate without moving his hero from the lane. He is a considerably tanky support, has reliable burst damage, and is very useful in trilanes.
Having a reliable skillset has made Lifestealer one of the most popular picks pre-TI3. He’s one of the heroes that supports can leave alone in a lane in most circumstances and still hold his own. In the right hands, he’s also really hard to lock down. Putting him in a lineup with a mobile hero to Infest in scenarios such as a Puck or a Storm Spirit allows for effective surprise ganks.
Alchemist may be used as a support or as a carry. His passive skill Greevil’s Greed helps in the farming aspect and farming games are one of the things the Chinese are known for. Greevil’s Greed in the hands of DK’s Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei is a legitimate reason to look at the gold graph or gold-per-minute (GPM) table every so often. For supports, on the other hand, Greevil’s Greed helps in earning much-needed gold for support items such as Sentry or Observer Wards, Smoke of Deceit, Gem of Truesight or Dust of Appearance. It is, however, often levelled towards the later stages of the game. Acid Spray is great for pushing towers because it reduces armor although without the damage per second. The big downside for him is that he has very low armor considering that he’s a strength hero.
Dark Seer is one of the most versatile and useful heroes that a team can have in their lineup. He is one of the heroes who can either lane or jungle. The skills Vacuum and Wall of Replica are very useful in team fights and can change the tide of battle if timed right or combined with effective follow-up skills such as Gyrocopter’s Calldown, Shadow Fiend’s Requiem of Souls, Tidehunter’s Ravage or Queen of Pain’s Scream of Pain.
Dragon Knight has been a significant part of Asian DOTA gameplay since WC3 DotA days. His skillset allows for quickly cleaning up creep waves, pushing towers as well as tanking and dealing a lot of heavy damage. Impressive Dragon Knight players in Asia include Team DK’s Xie “Super” Junhao, LGD.cn’s Yao “Yao” Zhengzheng and TongFu’s Zhang “Mu” Pan.
Once Weaver builds an early or rightly-timed Linken Sphere, that’s one of the times when you realize why Weaver is one of the most annoying heroes to go against if left to do as he wishes. He has Shukuchi to render him invisible and lets him move around so he’s really hard to lock down. And when you think you’ve got him, he has Time Lapse to render your efforts mostly wasted. The drawback with Weaver, however is that he needs farm because of his considerably low armor. Weaver is played well by Team DK’s Xu “BurNIng” Zhilei, Invictus Gaming (iG)’s Luo “Ferrari_430” Feichi and TongFu’s Chen “Hao” Zhihao.
Shadow Demon’s Disruption skill may be used offensively and defensively, which is very versatile. Often times, he is used in combination with heroes with skill casting delays such as Leshrac, Lina and Kunkka. The illusions from the Disruption is very useful against heroes like Anti-Mage, Phantom Lancer and Spectre.
Chen is mostly known for his burst heal global ultimate skill Hand of God and his ability to control enemy or neutral creeps with Holy Persuasion. He is great for pushing and is very useful in team fights, but requires great awareness and microskills. While the best Chen players in the world are said to be Na’Vi’s Clement “Puppey” Ivanov and Alliance’s Joakim “Akke” Akterhall, Asian teams have their share of awesome Chen players such as iG’s Wong Hock “ChuaN” Chuan, Zenith’s Nicholas “xFreedom” Lim, Joel “XtiNcT” Chan Zhan Leong and Yao “QQQ” Yi.
Batrider is also one of the best heroes to pick such that he is also part of the top bans. Sticky Napalm is very spammable and significantly affects a hero’s turn rate. His Flaming Lasso is awesome for isolating important heroes.
In last year’s International, Rubick was popularized as a solo mid hero Na’Vi’s Danil “Dendi” Ishutin. After that, the hero then found his place as one of the best support heroes today. The idea with Rubick’s Spell Steal is to get your positioning right so you don’t get caught in the big spells or die before you get to steal them. Also, Telekinesis is one of the most effective ways to catch heroes like Weaver and Lifestealer and put them in a position favorable to your team.
Getting Nyx Assassin to level 6 allows him to hunt squishy heroes. The combination of Vendetta, Impale and Mana Burn is very painful, allowing Nyx Assassin to take care of squishy support heroes. He doesn’t need that much farm and is also ideal for Lifestealer bombs thanks to Vendetta.
Black King Bar (BKB) heroes such as Shadow Fiend and Gyrocopter and heroes with magic-immunity skills such as Lifestealer are not that big of a problem with Bane Elemental. You can easily Fiend’s Grip heroes out of a team fight or hold them down for the kill. Nightmare is also great for isolation and setting up ganks.
Now that we’ve seen the top picks, let’s take a look at how they fared by win rate.
Visage takes the back seat to make way for Chen with 66.6% win rate while Rubick drops to 37.5 %. Although requiring microskills, Chen is excellent for pushing towers early, which grants not only gold, but also a level of map control plus his burst heal and the ability of Test of Faith to send heroes back to base adds to survivability and helps win team fights.
Top Heroes by Win Rate (Picked at least 10 times)
Again with his burst heal, teammate-saving and pushing abilities, Chen once again takes the top spot by hero win rate. Push strats are common in the group stages, as it is expected that teams would not be so keen to share their strategies early on. Familiar clash-important heroes Magnus and Jakiro make an appearance in this table. Magnus’ Reverse Polarity and Jakiro’s Ice Path got significantly nerfed, making them situational picks.
Although Reverse Polarity’s damage got nerfed, it still is able to help win important team fights and change the tide of the game. It works well with high damage area of effect (AoE) skills Gyrocopter’s Call Down and Flak Canon, Queen of Pain’s Scream of Pain. In the case of LGD.cn, they used Magnus in combination with Tidehunter’s Ravage. Timed properly and with the right follow up, Reverse Polarity has the ability to immediately switch the battle to a team’s favor. That is, however, granting that Rubick isn’t able to get this spell and throw it right back at you.
Jakiro’s Ice Path shares the same nerfing story as Magnus. From being one of the top picks, Jakiro became a situational pick. Still, his ultimate skill Macropyre still does wonders in team fights and Ice Path can still lock down multiple heroes at the same time while Dual Breath and Liquid Fire are great when pushing towers and creep waves.
Asian teams towards the playoffs
If the Chinese can pull off quick learning and adaptation from their experience against the Western teams in the group stages, there’s still a great chance for them to dominate. Synergy-wise, I think most Chinese teams should be okay. Invictus Gaming (iG) and LGD.cn, for instance, has not undergone any roster changes since The International 2012. That is unless there are some internal problems that we are not aware of.
The playoffs follow a double elimination format so the teams in the lower bracket can not afford to drop a single game. There are five Asian teams in the upper bracket and three in the lower bracket. The group stages are important, but the main event is where the pressure probably doubles or more. Competing for a prize pool of $2.8 Million USD on the grandest stage of DOTA 2, the teams better bring their A-game or be swallowed up by the competition.
The playoffs will be held at the Benaroya Hall and kicks off on Wednesday, August 7 at 12:00 NN PDT (Thursday, August 8, 3:00 AM SGT). The interesting All-Star Match with mixed players from East and West will also be held at the end of day one while the Solo Match Grand Finals will be held at the end of Day 2. The matches can be watched via multiple livestreams (UPDATE 8/8: Livestream link has been added) or via DOTA TV. The International 2013 is free to watch via DOTA TV. No in-game ticket required. All you have to do is download the Steam client and install DOTA 2 and you’re good to go.
Attendees in Benaroya Hall, however, get to watch the advanced screening of Valve’s documentary Free To Play, which won’t be streamed online. The date when Free To Play will be viewable by the rest of the community has yet to be announced.
For updates, brackets, schedules and livestreams, head over to the official site for The International 2013.
(Editing By Steven Millward, Anh-Minh Do)