By Kirrin ‘ABalloon’ Holzapfel
The International 2018 (or TI8) started yesterday. Eight teams received a direct invite and another ten qualified from each of the major regions worldwide. This is Dota 2’s largest tournament of the year. Running from the 15th of August till the 25th of August, Group Stage broadcasts will start at 17h30 SAST going on until the 18th of August. Main Stage broadcasts will begin at 19h00 SAST, kicking off from the 20th of August until the 25th. You can check out all the action live in game, watch it on Twitch or YouTube.
There will also be a newcomer channel aimed at easing newer spectators into the game which can be found here. If you want to find out any other relevant information then Reddit has set up this handy wiki for the event.
But what kind of game will we be watching on the main stage this year?
Meta changes leading into TI8
Valve has been working hard at pushing updates for the last six months with a new gameplay patch being released every two weeks. With TI8 coming in such a short amount of time we can see the major changes that have occurred in the last couple months are pushing towards a specific style of gameplay. Gone are the days of AFK jungling and early five man push strats. Valve has shifted the game dramatically – pushing an emphasis on early skirmishes and lane control.
With changes to bounty runes being spawned every five minutes, it has become ever important to be able to win lanes and push towards objectives that secure map and rune control. Changes to lane experience and the effects of creep denies on enemy heroes have made it a much more aggressive meta where pushing your enemy from the lane has much more severe consequences than before.
During the qualifiers we saw teams from all regions emphasise winning strong dual lanes. Support heroes like Chen, Warlock, Disruptor and even Oracle have become central to either bullying out opponents completely, or mitigating the cost of being hurt in lane. There is currently a smaller emphasis on last hitting in the early stages of the game with carries like Spectre and Phantom Lancer looking to help their supports win the lane to secure the gold. Lanes without enemy heroes are simply the best to farm in. Because of all this bullying, there has been a major rise in the pro scene for one specific hero.
Hero meta predictions
Meet Bloodseeker. Going from being nearly unheard of in the pro scene he has quickly risen to become one of the most sought out heroes in the current meta. In a world where hitting heroes and hurting them is central to winning, Bloodseeker thrives. His global buff to damage and speed that benefits him anywhere he is, when enemies HP starts to drop, makes this monster scary to lane against. Coupled with the fact that he is easily able to sustain his HP with lane creeps, this beast seems to have two of the most important traits a hero needs to easily snowballs into an unstoppable force.
Another notable hero that has seen a vast increase in play in the last few weeks is Ursa, running as a fourth or even fifth position support. His ability to trade hits with enemies in lane makes him incredibly strong at bullying others. Equipped with his four second AOE slow, on a five second cooldown, this fearsome bear makes short work of his opponents leaving his allies free to take farm. Needing very few items to be effective, Ursa starts to make impact early in a game where early advantages see huge future gains.
And lastly for top mentions we have the old favourite Crystal maiden. Recent patch changes have seen her showing up more and more with her buff to Crystal Nova damage. With one skill point at level one in Crystal Nova she can deal a whopping 130 damage to two enemy heroes each, amounting to one of the single highest AOE damage nukes at level one in the game. Adding to that is her global mana regen aura, giving all her allies the freedom to use their spells to hurt their enemies more.
Other notable mentions for this year go to Pudge, Weaver and Necrophos – all of which have seen an absolutely stunning increase in pick rates over the last two weeks. So expect to see some exciting hooks this year.
Why TI8 will be the best one yet
What does all this mean for TI8? Valve has created a game that is, for spectators, actually far more thrilling to watch. Fighting begins from the moment the game starts as players attempt to secure bounty runes for their teams. After this initial scuffle, the players split and attempt constant short skirmishes as they try to make their lanes secure, trading for advantages in HP and lane safety.
Just before the 5-minute mark both teams attempt to win a decisive fight to secure at least three of the four bounties. If they have been successful in securing their lane’s farm the supports rotate to lanes that are currently struggling, leaving their won lane to farm freely and gain XP advantages. After the 10-minute marker teams try to use their early advantages to force fights and take objectives systematically, cutting their enemy at the knees until they can safely take objectives like Roshan, and siege high ground.
So what will we be watching? With all these changes Valve has ensured that this year’s competition is going to have a healthy dose of action with lots of room for error to cause major swings back and forth.
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Last Updated: August 16, 2018
August 16, 2018 at 14:27
Suddenly I feel like playing Smite again….