By Ben “Noxville” Steenhuisen
Last night saw the two South African powerhouses meet in what was billed to be a “grudge match” following the January shuffle. There seemed to be a lot of playful banter between the players, both in-game (when there was an extended pause due to Doni having some technical issues) as well as in the lobby. The match was a pre-season (that is, pre-DGL) show match, organised by Zoot to get some exposure for the local community, and as an icebreaker for him into the Dota 2 casting world. Zoot is a well-known face in the Quake scene, casting at top-tier events both live and online.
Energy eSports were the slight favourites to win according to Dota2Lounge bets, initially with a 65% bet rate, dropping down to 55% just before bets closed. 16147 people placed 46671 bets on the game, which is relatively close to the amount of bets one would normally see for a professional match in a top tournament.
The first game started off with wide open drafts from both sides. Bravado on the Dire side (with scant as a drafter) went for the first pick Visage, a deadly laning hero that provides both offensive and defensive capabilities that can be devastating with his familiars, especially in fights surrounding Roshan. Energy (with Shanks drafting) went for the Alchemist and Timbersaw, both versatile heroes that can lane in various situations. Bravado grabbed the Clockwerk, a signature Doni hero to seal off the first pick phase.
After Luna was picked up as the 3rd hero for Energy, Bravado quite quickly grabbed Viper, a hero excellent against all three of the heroes revealed thus far by Energy. With scant, Doni and seem on signature heroes, it looked like Bravado’s lanes were beginning to take shape, looking for another support and a carry hero. Energy on the other hand still had options, with safe-lane Luna being the only guaranteed position as Timbersaw could mid with an aggressive trilane, or Alchemist could mid with two supports to be picked. Bravado went for their support first (a Shadow Shaman – no doubt wanting to abuse the Roshan ward trap made popular in recent competitions by s4 from Alliance, which is to be patched in the latest patch – 6.80), in response to a Crystal Maiden which Xera would no doubt play. Energy settled on Mirana; even with that final pick, they still had many laning options. Bravado sealed their deal with just “mid-game good stuff” in the form of a Juggernaut – not an extremely hard carry, but one that can make plenty of solo-kills throughout the game, and can push very effectively with his Healing Ward. Shanks selecting the Mirana told Bravado that the lanes for Energy were definitely going to be a mid Mirana (against their Viper), a top lane Timbersaw (against the Juggernaut and Shadow Shaman) and a bottom (safelane) Luna against Doni on his Clockwerk.
The early game seemed to be a set of trades in which Bravado came off slightly better in most instances. Flarez was relatively untouched in the top lane, able to free-farm on Juggernaut, whereas a lot of pressure came in the bottom lane as Doni was able to harass both Clitsybananas on Luna and Xera on Crystal Maiden. This aggression from Doni led to him getting an early bottle and boots, but he did get picked off by a timely rotation by the Energy players in which Doni almost managed to snag Clitsy before dying. Bravado managed to make some great snipes on heroes and push objectives; during one key fight in the bottom lane, Bravado dropped some players but managed to pull back and take the Roshan whilst the Energy players scrambled to defend their towers. What could have been a turning point in the game for Energy was when they used Mirana’s Moonlight Shadow to initiate on the Shadow Shaman when Bravado were out of position. This led to no wards or disables being used by him, and Energy’s great teamfight spells demolished Bravado five for one as Flarez importantly managed to kill Clitsybananas before dying. Even with Aegis, Flarez was unable to escape and died a second time.
Bravado respawned and regrouped and began a slow push focussing on mid and bot, with Doni occasionally split-pushing top. Ultimately the bottom rax fell after a great hex initiation on Clitsy by Chosen1 (on Shadow Shaman), and he wasted his BKB on almost no health, so even if he could buy back, he couldn’t teamfight. As the second rax fell, Energy called “gg” and game one was sealed up for Bravado.
Game two’s draft seemed to have an obvious strategy from both sides. Energy went for first pick Venomancer, an excellent hero who’s really bounced back into the international meta since his buffs in 6.79. With really strong offensive capabilities, good teamfight potential and both push and counter-push effective wards, it’s a no brainer (Veno was banned in game 1). Bravado’s response was Mirana and Bane, a classic combination of support that sometimes have support/roaming Bane and/or support/roaming Mirana to set up guaranteed maximum distance arrows for easy kills. Energy went for another hero banned in the previous game – Invoker, a hero Shanks himself is very familiar with. With a Lich and Rubick picked up by Energy, they were missing just a hard carry and Gyrocopter was almost a telegraphed pick. Bravado instead had Death Prophet and Weaver, but with their final pick decided on Nature’s Prophet, adding a new large threat that would require precision from Energy to deal with effectively.
Energy had clearly better team fight heroes, provided they could combo them effectively. Lich’s Chain Frost, Venomancer’s Poison Nova, Gyrocopter’s Call Down and Flak Cannon and Invoker’s menagerie of spells meant that any small-area team fight would be hard for them to lose. Bravado had the skill set on offer to play rat dota should they so wish, but also had sufficient spells to stop pushes with Mirana’s Starstorm, Death Prophet’s Exorcism and Nature’s Prophet Wrath of Nature; this meant they were not helpless against Energy’s pushing potential. Bravado managed to use their highly mobile lineup to make kills constantly, taking key objectives after every successful team fight.
Doni and Flarez collectively grabbed 20 of their team’s 34 kills in the game, and part of this was Flarez’s slightly unorthodox item build of Dagon 2 before boots. This, in conjunction with Teleport, and some excellent arrows from scant led to many early pick-offs, especially given the several low-HP heroes in Lich, Rubick and Venomancer. Even though the Mekanism came early from RandomHero’s Lich, no player would be fast enough to heal in the split-second between getting nuked from any random spell like the Death Prophet Crypt Swarm and getting Dagon to death right afterwards.
Energy lost map control relatively early in the mid-game and had to rely on some crucial fights, blowing all their ultimates, just to hold rax. Despite Bravado often coming out unfavourably in these skirmishes, they were getting chip damage on the tier three towers and raxes, and were also containing Energy within their base, allowing Bravado to safely farm the Dire jungle while Energy starved within their base. During one team fight just after Bravado had grabbed Roshan and slapped the Aegis onto Weaver, a costly leap by scant led to him and Chosen1 being caught out by the defenders-turned-aggressors in Energy.
With every successful hold, Energy just became further and further behind, or remained as far behind as they previously were; they seemed unable to start an assault on the gold and experience advantage that Bravado had amassed. The most significant hero for Energy was obviously the Gyrocopter (played by Clitsybananas) and Bravado attempted many times (unsuccessfully) to gank him in the late stages of the game.
Finally they picked him off, forcing him to buyback, and after killing him a second time they had sealed the deal. Bravado took the show match 2-0.
After the game I posed the same question to the two drafters to see how they felt about the match: “How do you feel about your performance tonight? Do you think it was up to the standards you’d like or what key areas you think you guys could improve on?”
I was very happy with our performances this evening and am generally happy with all of our performances so far since we started playing together!
We’re still a very new team and can still learn to understand one another a lot better. We’re also still missing 1 of our players so this sort of progress is necessarily hindered in the meantime.
I feel that our laning early game is pretty good, but we always seem to slip up with movement and control of the map; but the biggest thing was that we made a lot of bad decisions in the mid-game which cost us a lot.
Play of the game
To me, the play of the match was definitely Flarez’s very low HP escape where he managed to juke a large number of the Energy lineup, run from the Necronomicon units, sprout and teleport out.
Last Updated: January 28, 2014