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The Dota 2 International Recap: Groups Stages - The End of an Era

Once again a fantastic weekend for Dota 2 as The International 2014 group stages came to an end with some unexpected triumphs and some unfortunate departures. By now I really hope you’re not missing any of this, but in case you did here’s your weekend recap of Phase II: Group stages.

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Image courtesy of Wykrhm Reddy

Well friends our roller coaster has derailed and descended into absolute chaos as last years champions, Alliance, got knocked out of the competition in the group stages. There was a little bit of controversy surrounding their departure and final games so today we focus on the good, the bad and the not so ugly events of the weekend passed.

The good

This definitely speaks straight to Team Liquid. Team Liquid came from the Wildcard play-ins against all odds. Right off the bat they took down Virtus.Pro and MVP.Phoenix effortlessly and people thought, “okay, maybe VP and MVP weren’t on form”, then came the group stages. Their first game against Na`Vi.US lasted only 15 minutes long and this was all people needed to clarify that Liquid perhaps wouldn’t make it out of the groups especially with DK being their next game. Well, they beat DK… and NewBee, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, Empire, Invictus Gaming, Alliance and Titan. For those readers unfamiliar with these teams I can comfortably tell you that the list includes the top teams in the world and the favourites to win this competition. Hats off to Team Liquid, they played fantastic games of Dota. Unfortunately the games they lost were ones they really shouldn’t have. Losing to Arrow was a major upset as it was Arrow’s first win in the tournament. To put a smile on your face here’s what went wrong in the Arrow game.

Jimmy “Pegasus/DeMoN” Ho doing #JustJimmyThings and throwing the game. Obviously not true but he’s well known for throwing games.

The bad

Oh dear, oh dear, this definitely goes to The Alliance. Brief history lesson: Alliance went undefeated last year during the group stages, play offs and lost their first game in the grand final to Natus Vincere but still went on to win the entire tournament coining their play style of rat dota. Rat Dota refers to being slightly behind and doing things such as back dooring (entering the base with no heroes and attacking the buildings). Here's a video to explain Rat Dota

Last year Alliance had a very specific play style which they execute in almost every single game. It seemed no team could defeat their strategy because they executed it so well. This year, however, the teams had Alliance locked down, knowing exactly what they were doing in every game and shutting down the necessary heroes and players very early on. Alliance struggled this year in Dota 2 with a shift in the meta-game.

Although winning DreamHack Summer just over a month ago their performance this year in The International was poor and I strongly feel it’s time for a roster change. My personal opinion is that Loda needs to retire. What he has done for Dota since the begining can never go unnoticed but I personally feel his time has come. I also feel AdmiralBulldog was never really a great player. He had one hero, Lone Druid, which he played religiously and this gave him his claim to fame but this was risky since the meta changes and I felt his pool of playable heroes was nowhere near that of other off-lane players.

The ugly

Strangely this includes our best and most exciting game but it was the controversy surrounding this game that made it a bit… ugly. Alliance’s last game for the group stages was verses Evil Geniuses (EG). Alliance and Evil Geniuses are both owned by Alex Garfield and with this being the deciding game, whether Alliance would advance from the group stages or not, a large part of the Dota 2 community felt Evil Geniuses were going to throw this game in order for Alliance to move on to the tie breakers. Obviously these are silly tin foil hat conspiracies but then Evil Geniuses picked up Omniknight, a hero which hadn’t been picked this tournament so far and hasn’t really fit into the meta-game of late but was an EG-like hero to pick, so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. Here’s the picks and bans.

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I’ll give a little insight into their draft. Alliance picked up four, if not five of their signature heroes. EGM is easily one of the best Io’s in the world, followed up by s4’s Batrider, Loda on Chaos Knight, Akke on his Skywrath Mage and of course, who would have guessed, AdmiralBulldog on Lone Druid. Again critics were scratching their heads and thinking “no ways, this is definitely a throw incoming” and it seemed that way as the game progressed.

Dota 2 has two very crucial stages. The early game, which includes the laning phase and is extremely important, and the mid game, which is where most heroes start grouping up and pulling their strategy together. We all knew what Alliance wanted to do and they seemed to be pulling it off at around the 20 minute mark, essentially mid game. Here’s a peak at the net worth tab. The net worth tab is comprised of a heroes total net worth which include the gold cost of each item in their inventory and the gold they currently have.

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Above you can see both Loda on Chaos Knight and AdmiralBulldog on Lone Druid are sitting as top two on the net worth tab, which was great for Alliance and their was a glimpse of hope they’d be able to pull this off. They were also ahead in gold at this stage by a sort of considerable margin, which should have increased exponentially if they continued playing the way they were.

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They were also ahead in experience which benefited their heroes such as Skywrath Mage and Io.

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What they weren’t read for was zai’s Enigma which in my opinion turned the game around very quickly.

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A risky gang from Batrider and Skywrath Mage joined by the relocate from Io and Chaos Knight ended in tears as they lost all 4 heroes shortly after.

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This play once again from zai right outside Alliance’s bottom tier 3 tower was the nail in the coffin for Alliance as shortly after GG was called and Alliance were knocked out. So the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists were wrong and EG grabbed the tie for first place and qualified for the main event.

Results

Here’s the final table of results after the group stages.

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Image courtesy of Reddit Dota 2

There were tie breakers to decide who would get which position in the bubble bracket playoff (Phase 3). Here’s how they went down.

  • NaVi and Cloud 9 had 2-1 records across tied teams and NaVi defeated Cloud 9 head-to-head.
    Team Liquid and Titan had 1-2 records across tied teams and Team Liquid defeated Titan head-to-head.
    Alliance, Empire and Fnatic had 1-1 records across tied teams. Alliance and Empire defeated the next team in the standings, Na`Vi.NA, while Fnatic lost, so fnatic finish 14th.
    Alliance defeated Empire in a head to head, therefore Alliance takes 12th, and Empire finish 13th.
    Newbee, Mouz and LGD are all tied for 9th place. Each team will play each other in a Bo1 group to determine 9th, 10th and 11th place. 11th will be eliminated.

Taken from the lovely gentleman over of Reddit Dota 2, read the entire round up here.

The teams above who advanced to Phase 3: Bubble bracket playoffs began their matches last night, but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s round up of Phase 3 I’m afraid.

Heroes

Here's some science for you all, again. Thanks to Kpoptosis, the "TI stat guy" for this analysis. Read the full detail here.

Most relevant

  • Lycan - 97.7%
  • Doom - 91.5 %
  • Razor - 89.%
  • Brewmaster - 89.9%
  • Faceless Void - 71.3%

Most picked

  • Razor - 72
  • Skyrwath Mage - 69
  • Rasta - 61
  • Mirana - 61
  • Doom - 46
  • Tidehunter  46

Most Banned

  • Lycan - 108
  • Brewmaster -75
  • Doom -72
  • Tinker - 67
  • Faceless Void - 55

Lycan, being the most banned hero throughout the group stages, featured in 122 out of the 123 games played. Lycan too strong? The most successful hero during the group stages was Weaver with a 71% (9-4) win to loss ratio while your least successful hero was Lion with a 25% (2-9) win to loss ratio.

Closing

It’s very unfortunate that Alliance were knocked out in the group stages. This has never happened before and it really speaks to the nature of this tournament and what’s at stake here. $10.7 million is what these teams are currently fighting for and if you’ve been following the tournament or our recaps you’d understand when I say the level of Dota 2 this year has surpassed any we’ve seen before. What started out at a great Dota 2 tournament has now transformed into the best and most exciting eSport’s event to date. All the upsets, all the triumphs and all the plays have really spoken volumes for the amount of hard work these guys are putting in. What was your greatest moment from the weekend?

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