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The Forgotten Ones

By Anzal 'InvokeLIkeNP' Muhammad
Oct 2, 2012 19:36


ImageWith the conclusion of The International 2012, there have been noticeable changes in the pick and ban pattern since the first Dota 2 tournament. Lets try and clarify the reasons behind the downfall of certain heroes that played a large part in Na'Vi's success last year.

Background
It can rightfully be said that there are no correct or incorrect ways to play Dota. There are just clever and stupid ways of playing it. There has always been tough competition, doesn’t matter if it is a competitive match or a pub game. Dota is much like a game of chess. Each move has to be carefully planned in order to succeed. We have witnessed numerous competitive games that have surpassed all our expectations through mind blowing strategies, surprises and comebacks. The entertainment level is always at its best and each game leaves the fans craving for more.
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Dota is also highly addictive due to its depth, excitement and enthusiasm of a team game. Individual skills and smartness go hand in hand and are probably the biggest elements of a successful game. As the game progresses, teams are forced to take action against moves that are undeniable like the pushing power of Tinker and Prophet. We also have to keep an eye out for possible ganks from the jungle. We have to track down and kill an enemy carry like Anti Mage, a hero when given the farm is almost impossible to kill. We have to gain control of the map through effective warding and pushing down towers. In the end, the team taking quick advantage of its opponent’s mistakes wins.
However, even killing a squishy hero like Crystal maiden becomes difficult when you do not have the right set of heroes. The picks and bans stage of a captain’s mode game is a very important part of winning. Each time a new map is released; the gameplay shifts in the favor of certain heroes. Some are banned in every game as their existence is feared. Some heroes are generally more productive than others. And then there are heroes who seem to have so much potential but are not picked for one reason or another. Why are they left aside? Why do teams ignore such potential?

The Metagame
Recent versions of Dota brought about great changes in the metagame. Long gone are those days when heroes like Medusa, Alchemist and Visage were being utilized. Much of Dota that is being played today is based upon aggressive push and gank oriented lineups. Teams look to build an advantage from the very beginning, trying to create a huge gold advantage through effective ganks and pushing down towers, leaving their carry hero to farm freely. The ever increasing farming gap together with perfect map control becomes difficult to overcome and inevitably the game ends in favor of the attacking team.

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Today, many games end with a small scoreboard

Ancient Apparition: End of ice age!?
Ancient Apparition is an intelligence hero that possesses high range and strong semi-spammable spells. Initially, it was picked as a solo mid hero by CN Invictus Gaming , known as CCM back then. Since then it was quickly absorbed into the competitive scene. Nowadays, it is being played as a ganker or support. Having global range, a large area of effect and the ability to instantly kill multiple low hp targets, its ultimate Ice blast is one of the most devastating spells in the game. Ancient Apparition saw a lot of action during the first International but was barely touched this year. A possible con for Ancient apparition is the failure to cast an accurate ultimate. Ice blast is also deemed useless when it is underleveled. Against a team with a lot of level and item advantage, it is hard to cope up and Ancient apparition is left purposeless. Almost all the support heroes being played nowadays have a couple of skills to bring down towers as well, something which Ancient Apparition is not good at.


Earthshaker: Back to the earth!
Earthshaker is a melee, disabling hero commonly played as a ganker and initiator. Apart from being an offensive disable, Fissure can be used to block escaping enemy units or save an ally from its pursuers. As the game advances, Earthshaker’s role shifts to being an initiator. His finishing move Echo slam deals a colossal amount of damage, often killing more than one hero and disabling every unit in a 500 unit radius. If chained with Fissure and Enchant totem, the total disable lasts for up to 4.75 seconds.
Although he plays a crucial role in teamfights, Earthshaker’s biggest weakness is the slow casting time for Fissure and Enchant totem. When targeted, he often gets killed even before casting anything. Efficient warding also reduces the chances of getting killed as one can easily spot a stalking Earthshaker. The use of items like pipe and mechanism is a nightmare of all AOE heroes and Earthshaker is not an exception. Pipe will not prevent any disable but it blocks a large part of the damage dealt. Even though he carries a Blink dagger with him, long range spells, vision and activation of pipe prevents Earthshaker from diving in. Not surprisingly, teams are able to comfortably deal with Earthshaker now.

Faceless Void: Time grinds even mountains to dust!
Faceless is one of those heroes who did not see much action in both the tournaments. Carry heroes that deal tones of damage are a backbone of any lineup. Void is a potential carry that is able to initiate as well as chase down enemy heroes. Void’s ultimate Chronosphere stops every unit in a large AOE giving a lot of time for him and his allies to annihilate the enemy. Void works great with heroes like Sand king and Lich and turns into an absolute beast in the late game. Even though he is such a monster, Void has significant weaknesses as well. Without his ultimate and his farm, Void has absolutely no influence of his own and teams are able to make great use of this disadvantage. Backtrack and Time walk cover well for his low health points and mana but he requires a lot of protection and has no lane domination power of his own. To me, his ultimate is arguably the most risky spell in the game and outside his ultimate, he is of no value. Unlike Void, his counterparts like Anti Mage and Morphling are able to achieve much more than him in half the time. He becomes more productive after the 30th minute mark, which is usually a point at which a game is considered over. The current playstyle favors early push and ganks leaving Faceless void on the sidelines.

Mirana: Who spoiled that shot?
Mirana was a key hero behind UA Natus Vincere 's success at The International 2011, mostly soloing the long lane. Being highly versatile, she can be played as support as well as a carry. The first thing that comes in my mind regarding Mirana is her arrow. An arrow hit from a long range stuns a target for up to 5 seconds and deals a decent amount of damage, thus favoring most ganking situations. Adaptation is the main reason why Mirana was chosen over other semi carries or gankers. She has an excellent escape mechanism in the form of leap and an ultimate that supports both ganks and escapes. She is extremely useful in all stages of the game but deprivation of farm, counter warding and prediction of ganks are the key reasons why Mirana has has vanished into the shadows.
Being a strong semi-carry, Mirana doesn’t really require a lot of farm during early-mid game but becomes item dependent during the late game. Having vast knowledge and experience, it is expected for the players to have foresight of all circumstances, hence it is not too hard for them to dodge arrows or avoid a 5 man gank under Mirana’s ultimate.

Night Stalker: Devil by day, demon by night! Not enough?
Balanar was also one of the top tier heroes at The International 2011. Image Teams were reluctant to face Balanar users like UA Ivan 'ArtStyle' Antonov(in picture). Night stalker is a unique hero in terms of his skills that are affected by day and night. He becomes extremely powerful during the night and with little help he is able to kill almost every hero, often diving past towers to do so. Speed, strength and overall damage are the pillars of his success and nothing is safe from him during the night. His powers mount up faster than most of his rivals and it is very hard to stop him if he gets his basic inventory. However, Night stalker’s powers are just limited to the night and he can be slain easily if he is caught off guard during daylight. At night, it is almost impossible to get away from a rampaging Balanar but as we have seen, he is often counter ganked through mass teleportation and spectacular positioning of his opponents. If he gets killed more than once during the night time, his powers are greatly reduced and he requires a huge amount of farm to get back in shape.

Spectre: Can no one understand me?
Spectre is a very promising hero in sense of farming. Once Spectre gets Radiance, she becomes the meanest carry hero to deal with. She blocks all kinds of damage, is very good at chasing and the best part? While Spectre maybe a carry hero, her ultimate can setup a global gank and convert it into push as well. Nothing can hide from Spectre’s Haunt. She also deals incredible amount of damage to targets that are alone. Not only this, Haunt creates panic and confusion amongst her opponents, letting her allies make quick use of fleeing enemies. She also turns into an absolute tank during the late game and there is little her adversaries can do to stop her. But Spectre is even weaker in lane than Faceless void and requires a lot of time to farm her items. Being a mammoth in the late game is ironically a shortcoming itself, as Dota played nowadays is all about lane dominance and pushing.

Weaver: Deadly but fragile.
Weaver is the ultimate hit and run hero of Dota. It counters its fragility with a shot of invisibility and maximum speed. It is extremely difficult to confront an invisible hero with semi-permanent haste. Weaver also sends forth a horde of beetles that stick to its foes, reducing their armors, cause damage and induce panic in their ranks. Weaver is also able to maintain the element of surprise with its signature move Time lapse which sends Weaver back in time, returning its position, health, and mana to what it was 5 seconds ago. During the laning phase, Weaver is comparatively much weaker than most heroes and has huge mana pool issues. With the purchase of sentry wards, dust or even a gem, Weaver is caught and killed with ease. A major reason for the decline of Weaver is also due to the rise of other competitors of the same role like Bounty hunter, a hero much more capable in lane as well as dealing damage.

Why? Why not?
Being released to the teams just a week or two before the first International, there was little time for the players to practice and perfect Dota 2 and its incomplete catalogue of heroes. The key reason behind the success of these heroes at The International 2011 lies within the tiny roster itself. With the eventual release of heroes like Lycanthrope, Templar Assassin and Rubick, the disappearance of these heroes was eminent. During The International 2012, most teams were wise to select heroes that would make an impact in a battle and be flexible enough to push, hence the use of typical support heroes like Ancient Apparition, Earthshaker and Lich was least favored. Unique and versatile heroes like Leshrac, Dark seer and Invoker were seen everywhere due their ability to fit well in most situations and deal tons of damage. One thing common about both the tournaments is the use of jungling heroes which is another reason why convectional support heroes were not seen.
But perhaps Rubick is the most eye catching hero of The International 2012. The idea of casting Ravage on Tidehunter and his allies is just plain epic, and we saw a fantastic show of skills by the hands of players like UA Daniel 'Dendi' Ishutin. It is still unclear why Naga Siren suffered such a huge setback. All the teams feared her so much and she was the second most banned hero at The International 2012, second only to Lycanthrope. But when summoned, she did not live up to her name and had a win rate of only 37%. There were also a handful of games in which Faceless Void and Spectre could be good options, but they were not chosen.
There are countless Dota players around the world but only a few dozen of them get to play at The international. Not only do they entertain us, they teach us new ways of playing this game. Personally I would be extremely happy to see the return of Ancient Apparition and Night Stalker. But what matters the most, above all is the results. Other heroes have accomplished so much recently and it is unlikely that we will witness a comeback of these heroes for a long, long time.

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Sources: Dota academy, Dota 2 wiki(Naga and rubick art),
Team dignitas website, Gosugamers Dota 2 section


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