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Playing DotA at SK, part three: SK.Akke

By Simone 'aShuN' Sassoli
Feb 23, 2008 15:58

ImageJoakim 'Akke' Akterhall is a key player in SK Gaming as he can flawlessly play any hero and task, be it gang or support or even carry, with his experience and capacities as solid as rock. Joakim shares his wide game play knowledge in the third part of this short interview series.

After Jonathan 'Loda' Berg's and Tommy 'toMpa' Andersson's, it is now Joakim 'Akke' Akterhall's turn to talk DotA. Joakim is perhaps the backroom boy in SK Gaming but those who actively follow SK matches perfectly understand how viable he his to the team and how well he performs. He rarely misses an area of effect stun - not exactly easy as pie in tournament matches.

Joakim explains recent changes in the heroes draft, rapid changes involving heroes who previously suffered heavy bans or early pick and who now simply aren't considered anymore.

"People learn how to play versus heroes," he says, "a perfect example is Nerubian Assasin. At some point he was picked very early in the picking and did much in the games but he is easily countered with sentry wards. It's so easy to just put sentries in the lanes so you can see when he's coming.

"If you push versus him only one pack is usually enough, one in the lane you are going when you are moving towards the tower/barracks you want to get and then one near the tower. If the nerubian tries to sneak in, he can be disposed of pretty quick."

Even so, many heroes are always coveted by both teams since the start of the apxl age - Lord of Olympia, Warlock, Queen of Pain to mention some. "Some heroes are simply better than others, and will therefore always stay in the high and top tiers." Yet, an interesting fact is that among those heroes we can find many who are rarely picked early and very rarely banned. We never see a team rushing to pick Rogue Knight while Lord of Olympia is still in the pool, but he's a common second pick in the most of the games. Let's call a spade a spade, the bread and butter heroes are those second pick heroes. They won't win a one on five encounter like a Bristleback with hood and vanguard does but they are the perfect tools of a successful strategy. Their performance usually makes or breaks the game.

There are also underpowered heroes, "mostly those without any stun or blink and bad lategame potential", and imbalanced heroes. The aforementioned Bristleback is according to Joakim the one and only imbalanced hero in the 6.48b field: "with just a few items he has the power to take out a whole team and is the most annoying hero to face right now. Though you can counter him with things like Morphling's ultimate or Obsidian Destroyer' orb effect, which goes through Bristleback's reduction skill."

Arguably an important part of every strategy is influenced by tournament rules. Recently many discussed whether the as old as the hills item restrictions are still required or we could try playing without those limitations. According to Joakim, "the item restrictions are good, the one thing that could be changed is the mekansm since you can only use one per time so it wouldn't really matter if a team had five ^^."

As he explained limiting the mekansm is superfluous and the same probably applies to refresher orb. The refresher was restricted long ago, when the most of the strategies involved heroes with strong ultimates, like Enigma or Leviathan. On the other hand, items like necronomicon and arcane ring probably should keep being limited.

"I remember like 3 years ago, we played in an American league, I think it was CAL, and there was no item restrictions at all - and the mekansm hadn't been changed yet, so you could spam it. We made mekansm on all the heroes, and necronomicon as second item. They got really owned, just by pure abuse. =)"

We didn't have the chance to see three or more necronomicon in the same team for a lot of time now and the limit on arcane ring took place so early that we couldn't see the effects of two or more of them. Many argued that massing arcane rings isn't worth it in any strategy, but would anyone take the risk and remove those limitations, risking to screw up whole tournaments? I wouldn't.

On a different note, backdoor is either banned or allowed by tournaments. In the ESWC DotA rules draft backdoor is allowed, as it is in the upcoming ENADC tournament. The most of the Asian teams are already used to play with backdoor and some of them expect it to be this way in European tournaments as well (it happened during the MYM PriDe match of Minesky against Domain of Pain), yet Europeans are always banning backdoor. "We haven't played with backdooring since, hmm, very very long time," says Joakim.

"Rushing into ones base and backdooring could be devastating to the team if everyone dies, and if you are allowed to backdoor you have to be more careful and see what the other team is doing, so that you don't end up with five of their heroes into your base while you are taking Roshan, for example.

"It works fine right now without backdooring, but I have no idea how it would be without the rule. So I wouldn't complain at ESWC and say that their rules are bad, you just have to change your game play abit, just like you did when you went from -pick to -apxl."

To conclude this brief discussion, I asked Joakim to pick and elaborate a strategy they were practicing lately. He decided to explain a bit more of the push strategy they used a few weeks ago against Meet Your Makers, a strategy that surprised both their opponents and the spectators.

"We have tried many different strategies lately which we will use in the upcoming tournaments, so I'm not gonna discuss anyone of them :). Though the recently successful "new" strategy is the one we used versus MYM some weeks ago.

"We had first pick and heroes like Warlock and Beastmaster had been removed, so we firstpicked Zeus which is a kinda normal first pick. There was Queen of Pain in the pool as well, but Zeus and QoP are quite similar in power and Zeus fit our strategy better. So they picked QoP and something else, maybe Leshrac. We continued our picks with Terrorblade and Pugna and here our picks gets tricky. There is no way, out from these picks, to know if we want to go for push (because of the Pugna pick) or for late game, since we picked Terrorblade and could just keep Pugna as a defender if they want to push (the ward really owns again push).

"We finished our picks with with Chen and Sylla, revealing our true intention. Terrorblade is perfect in this strategy since he is a good pusher and one of the best lategamers in the game.
With Chen's creeps, mekansm and heal, Sylla's bear, Terrorblade's copies, Oblivion's ward and blast and also Zeus' massive damage... that push is really hard to stop :). Those were our thoughts when planning the strategy."

Many claim that the evergreen pushing strategies could reshape the current meta game, in fact many are saying so for quite a long time now. I personally doubt that we'll see every team picking Holy Knight and Lone Druid over Warlock or Beastmaster as long as 6.48b is the stable version, but I think that pushing strategies are and will always be be viable options, especially when you can surprise your opponents. We could say that a pushing strategy is similar to a rush in regular WarCraft III: you're trading your late game potential with a very aggressive early game which is probably unstoppable when unexpected and well executed. Yet there are way too many anti push heroes to simply ban them all and I think a pushing strategy can't be as successful against a team who sees right through it and manages to secure a few aoe heroes.

At any rate, a lot depends on how the 6.50 and following changes will affect the competitive playing.

In the picture: Joakim and Louise 'Bummi' Wahlstrand.

That's it for the third part of this feature and more will come in the future. Also, if you have an interesting question for the SK Gaming players or just a DotA doubt - then ask SK DotA; send me a private message, the most interesting questions will be answered by the players and published here on the website.



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