PC Gamer

Photo credit: ESL

The long road to next year's International begins in earnest with the Frankfurt Major, but ESL One New York was the first chance to see the world's best Dota 2 teams play the latest patch with serious money on the line. Given how much was going on this last weekend in League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, you'd be forgiven for missing the best bits.

An unlikely escape: Team Secret vs. Fnatic

Watch the entire match here.

Team Secret shook things up on the tournament's first day by picking Bane, Necrophos, and Io. The unconventional trio paid off quickly, drawing first and second blood in just over a minute. Unfortunately, this left the latter two heroes stranded between a forest and enemy territory. Their opponents, Fnatic, sent the heavy-hitting Spirit Breaker bounding across the map to capitalize on their vulnerability.

Necrophos and Io didn't stick around to let him. Rather than trek around hostile towers and heroes they went through the forest. Necrophos consumed the first tree with his last restorative Tango. Io, meanwhile, knocked down the rest of the offending foliage using his ability to pull himself towards his ally. It was a move that had to be executed just right. It was, keeping Fnatic from what should have been easy revenge.

Luna drops the moon on Slardar: Virtus Pro vs. Invictus Gaming

Watch the entire match here.

Luna's ultimate ability, Eclipse, is a tricky thing. Its destructive beams of moonlight are devastating, but the way it selects its targets at random can be frustrating. Of course, that's not an issue when there's only one target in range.

Invictus Gaming had just lost the latest in a string of bad fights with Virtus.Pro when they chased Luna into their own jungle. Luna, played by VP's Illidan, was in no condition to fight. She had just a sliver of health after the successful battle. Slardar, played by IG's Rabbit, was just the opposite. He was freshly respawned and looking to get absolutely anything in return for his fallen comrades.

Maybe that's why he made such a severe mistake. By chasing Illidan up into the jungle's high ground Rabbit lost sight of his opponent. This gave Illidan plenty of time to line up the perfect ult. With just the one target, Eclipse chewed through the desperate fish-man like he was slathered in tartar sauce.

Elder Titan says no: CDEC Gaming vs. Team Secret

Watch the whole match here.

At ESL One New York, Team Secret picked the lesser-spotted Elder Titan. More than that, they actually won. Convincingly. The match wasn't exactly borne on the shoulders of team captain Puppey's actions through the hero, but he had his moments. Moments like the one depicted above.

Using his stomp, Puppey put his opponent Shiki to sleep an instant before he would have destroyed a middle tower. Puppey denied him the satisfaction (as well as gold and experience) by demolishing the structure himself. That's when Team Secret's w33 appeared. Taking advantage of Puppey's lengthy setup, he shackled Shiki to a nearby tree and together the two annihilated the CDEC Gaming player.

The whole exchange was over before the tower's rubble cleared, but Elder Titan proponents will likely point to it for weeks to come.

Windranger gets tossed into jail: Vega Squadron vs. Team Secret

Watch the whole match here.

Io and Tiny is a combination with enduring popularity. The former is the wheelman, the latter is the muscle: the two complement each other perfectly. Case in point: the first game of the ESL One New York grand finals.

It was a sight audiences have seen a hundred times, but with a twist. Vega Squadron's Io teleported his partner nearly on top of Team Secret's Windranger. The classic one-two punch followed. Tiny first stunned, then tossed his prey to a nearby ally. As always, the damage was enormous, but there was a chance, however small, that Windranger could have escaped. That is if the third party hadn't been Clockwerk, who snapped her up in a whirling prison of cogs almost as soon as she landed.

Anti-Mage can't catch a break: Vega Squadron vs. Team Secret

Watch the whole match here.

Anti-Mage can be hard to catch, thanks to his ability to blink at will. That's doubly true in the case of a player  as experienced with the hero as Team Secret's EternalEnvy. Trapping him takes determination. Vega Squadron's Mag seems to have that, at least.

After he caught EternalEnvy farming Vega's side of the map Mag blindly harpooned himself to the already fleeing burglar. This canceled EternalEnvy's attempt to teleport home, and gave Mag's teammate Solo time to enter the fray. Together they dropped Anti-Mage to just sliver of health, but it didn't end there.

EternalEnvy blinked away again—this time to higher ground. Not about to lose him, Mag fired himself upwards using Force Staff. Unfortunately, he overshot and went right past his quarry. Still not giving up, he summoned a row of cogs to push Anti-Mage back towards Solo. Just one push away from toppling over, EternalEnvy used the last of Anti-Mage's energy to hop away a final time—into the waiting arms of an ally with a healing item.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

Custom Games

Every Saturday, we ll highlight a Dota 2 custom game that is fun, playable, and relatively bug-free. To find a custom game, go to the Custom Games tab in Dota 2 and enter the name as we ve provided it in the search box in the top right—in this case, Hardcore Ninja.

I m a lone juggernaut, my fingers poised over the keyboard as I blink around the map. Death could come from around any corner, and it ll come quickly. Fortunately, my two remaining opponents are in exactly the same position; the eyes of their dead team members fixed on them just as mine are on me.

Hardcore Ninja bills itself as a PvP Battle of pure reflex , but it s more than that. A round lasts between 30 seconds and a minute, five players on each team controlling juggernauts equipped with four abilities and a quelling blade. My first ability, Deflect , makes me invulnerable for 0.7 seconds. My three other spells are slightly reworked versions of Blink, Magnus s Shockwave and PA s Dagger. The latter two, of course, are instakills. First team to 15 rounds wins. That s it, apart from a final flourish: scoring a kill resets all cooldowns.

One of the enemy juggernauts blinks on top of me, startling us both. I blink away to the other side of some trees, earning us both a brief respite—but now we each know where the other is. A blown shockwave skims past me, giving me the confidence to poke my head around the corner and fire off my own. He deflects, but by this point my blink s off cooldown and I teleport behind him with an auto attack queued up. He falls just as his friends dagger is about to bury itself in my chest. I blink again, attempting the same trick as before. He deflects, forcing me to do the same as our attacks bounce off each other. Luckily for me I ve still got a dagger in the bank, which I throw at point blank range before he manages to get his shockwave off, winning my team the round. The whole fight probably took about three seconds.

A game of Hardcore Ninja captures the best bits of Nidhogg and Samurai Gunn, using the threat of instant death to imbue every moment with tension. This fits perfectly with the round based structure from Counter-Strike, generating those gleeful stories of one person managing to overcome an entire team on their own. It s fun being that guy, sure, but rooting for your own last surviving team member from the side-lines is almost as good. Even when the roles are flipped, watching a skillful player pick apart a team is rewarding in and of itself. It s fundamentally a game about looking cool in front of people, which ticks all kinds of boxes for me as a mid player.

Sure, it doesn t have the complex teamfight interactions you see in Dota proper or some of the more expansive custom games, but it doesn t need them. One of the problems I ve found with other custom games is that the fun is behind a learning curve akin to actual Dota. Introducing new systems, new abilities and new items may create depth, but it also results in the need to learn a whole new language in order to compete. Ninja s simplicity does away with that: someone who s been playing for 10 seconds will be as clued up as a player who s invested several hours. There s still plenty of depth to be found with the few ingredients it gives you. For every death that comes randomly from a stray shockwave, there s an intricate duel where anticipation, trickery and finesse are key.

At the moment there are just two maps, and one of them is far superior to the other. It s a small arena with clumps of trees that leave players obscured from each other most of the time, weaving in and out of the copses into clearings where an encounter is more likely. Playing around with sightlines adds a whole new element to the game, where one juggernaut can leap at another only to melt back into the shadows as their attack gets dodged or absorbed. The second consists of a grid of pillars and next to no fog of war, which robs matches of the tension that provides.

For the most part, the game s streamlined in such a way that suggesting potential improvements is tricky. Working in the disjoint from Manta Style, which needs impeccable timing, would allow for even more impressive plays and raise the skill ceiling yet higher. However, that would mean either adding a whole new ability or replacing an existing one, which are nicely balanced as they are. A timer to end the occasional frustrating match where one player just hides would be a welcome addition—or better yet, a shrinking arena. Ninja does suffer from the unavoidable problem of early leavers that affects every custom game. Here, at least, that s somewhat mitigated by how short each match is. Besides, some of the best moments emerge from being outnumbered.

At its best, Hardcore Ninja is a purification of some of the elements that most appeal to me from Dota proper. It s a 15 minute battle of pure mind games, juking, dodging spells and landing skill shots. For players who focus on heroes which rely heavily on such techniques, it s excellent practice for the main game. It s also a good way for players to try out a high damage, low health playstyle without the pressure and responsibility that comes with an actual game of Dota.

On its own terms, Hardcore Ninja nails the feeling of being both deadly and fragile, just as a Ninja should be. Go check it out.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

Esports goes full throttle this weekend as the month-long climax of League of Legends begins in Paris. The group stages of LoL's European tour takes place over the next two weeks, the first of four stops that also includes London, Brussels and eventually Berlin for that spooky Hallowe'en Grand Final. In fact, almost every major esport has a top tier showdown this weekend, and with BlizzCon's European qualifiers in the mix, more than half are only the build up to massive global championships at the end of October. It's a busy month, so let's get started right with some sincere GLHFs for the following tournaments.

ESL One New York 2015

The first chance to see many of the world's tier 1 teams meeting outside of their own regions since The International. A lot has changed since then, with team rosters frantically scrambled about before September's lock-in date to be eligible for Valve's new Majors format of quarterly tournaments. Quarter-finals begin with Secret's almost unrecognisable new team (save for the remaining Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov) taking on Fnatic at 08:00 PDT/16:00 BST on Saturday, with Evil Geniuses going against Vega Squadron at 17:00 PDT/01:00 BST. Semi-finals begin on Sunday at 08:00 PDT/16:00 BST and the Grand Final Bo5 kicks off at 14:00 PDT/00:00 BST. You can watch it all on ESL's official Twitch channel

Hearthstone: EU Road 2 BlizzCon HWC 2015

Europe's top card slingers meet in Prague this weekend for the final stage of qualifiers for this month's BlizzCon World Championships. Group stages run Saturday between 03:00-14:40 PDT/11:00-22:40 BST and you'll want to keep your eyes on pretty much any matches coming out of Group A. Maverick, Ostkaka, ThijsNL and Hoej are all excellent and highly entertaining duelists and will ensure some exciting matches before the semi-finals on Saturday evening and final playoffs on the Sunday. You can watch it all on Blizzard's official Hearthstone stream.

Heroes of the Storm: EU Road 2 BlizzCon HWC 2015

Ever the shrewd business people, Blizzard are also holding the Heroes of the Storm EU Championships-cum-BlizzCon Qualifiers at the same time in Prague this weekend. They've even given them the same acronym to save on letters, how thoughtful. It's the final hurdle for European teams before all of the world's best meet in Anaheim at the end of this month, so there's some guaranteed fireworks. Heroes action begins earlier than the rest of Blizzard's stable as the group stages started this morning and are running up until 11:00 PDT/19:00 BST today. Semi-finals begin at 08:00 PDT/16:00 BST on the Saturday, with the second three hours later at 12:30 PDT/19:30 BST. The finals fall to the Sunday at 07:00 PDT/15:00 BST, joining Hearthstone and WoW finals in one glorious Blizzard blowout. You can see all Heroes matches on Blizzard's official stream.

League of Legends: LCS Worlds Group Stages

The European tour of this year's final showdown for League's top teams kicks off in Paris this extended weekend, beginning Thursday. The group stages are split over this week and the next, in a double round robin format, so there's plenty of chance to see a specific match-up. The seeding system means there'll be no clashes of each regions top talent just yet, but the skill level of all the qualifiers is so high that there's still plenty to tune in for. This weekend's offerings include Origen vs TSM (08:00 PDT/16:00 BST) and iG vs Cloud9 an hour later on the Saturday. Sunday provides a chance to see TSM take on Chinese first seed LGD (05:00 PDT/13:00 BST) and C9 take on EU first seed Fnatic (08:00 PDT/16:00 BST) in day of the American underdogs. All available on pretty much every streaming solution known to man, including TwitchYouTube, and Azubu (and six other Chinese ones if you're feeling exotic).

CS:GO: PGL Season 1 Finals

Twelve teams whittled down to just four, including Fnatic, TSM, Team Liquid and Virtus.pro, will fight it out for the PGL Championship title starting today with VP vs Liquid and Fnatic vs TSM. Today's semi-finals decide who will be playing for survival on Saturday and who for their spot in Sunday's Grand Finals. The loser's bracket elimination kicks off early on Saturday at 12:00 BST, while the winner's final runs three hours later 15:00 BST. Sunday follows the same schedule with the last chance of making it into the top two for a shot at the $40,000 grand prize coming before the Grand Final at 15:00 BST. You can watch it all at www.twitch.tv/PGL.

PC Gamer
Art above by Matt 'ningyee7' Lau. Click here for his DeviantArt page.
Three Lane Highway

Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2 and wizards in general. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here

Last week I wrote about the attitudes that can hold people back from improving their Dota 2 game. This week I want to return to the topic of communication from a different angle. When you're playing solo, trying to build a rapport with your team is one of the most difficult things to do but also the most important. It's hard, in part, because it's easy to ignore: to believe that if you just keep your head down, stay quiet and play then nothing bad can happen. This is an understandable approach, but not the ideal one. Team chat is there for a reason.

Actually talk

This is the first step, and something I have to keep reminding myself. Taking the first step and being active in team chat makes it easier for other reasonable players to step forward. Everybody's been burned in Dota at one point or another, and everybody considers staying silent just to avoid the flames. In my experience, you're far more likely to be matchmade with other reticent chatters than you are with genuine assholes. As soon as you establish that you're not a dick, you'll find out that lots of the people on your team aren't dicks either.

Something simple like "which lane do you want?" during hero selection makes it clear that (a) you're willing to cooperate and (b) you're invested enough in the game to start strategising. This promotes good behaviour in other people, and—if at least a few of your teammates feel like you've got their back—shields you against rage from the minority later on.

I find that the positive impact of being vocal increases if you're willing to use in-game voice, but it's completely reasonable to avoid it. If you worry that you'll have a bad experience if other players hear your voice, use text: it's still a huge benefit, and there's no reason to make yourself uncomfortable.

Give compliments

'Well played!' is one of the most useful commands you can place on your chat wheel. If somebody does well, say so. If somebody does really well, call them out specifically—"gj tusk". This makes people feel respected and, as a consequence, they're more likely to regard you positively. A few players are arrogant enough to respond to "wp" with "yep", but they're in the minority. If you manage to achieve a reciprocal "wp"—where they compliment you as you compliment them—congratulations! You've made a friend and, if things get rough later on, your team is less likely to tilt and throw.

As somebody who plays a lot of position five in ranked, my favourite approach is to congratulate our midlaner every time a mid gank goes well. It doesn't matter if they played particularly well or not: if the kill happened, it's an opportunity to form a bond. That bond will be extremely helpful later on, as blame tends to fall on either the midlaner or support when things go south. If you're willing to back each other up, it can hold the team together.

Explain, but never get personal

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to respond to insults. Anybody who says 'noob' without irony isn't worth responding to: it can be fun to simply send a '<3' their way, but this tends to make them angrier. Most of the time, you can completely ignore name-calling.

It gets more complicated if a player is actively accusing you of doing something you didn't do. For example: in my last solo ranked game, a rough midgame left me underlevelled. As a position five Rubick against Silencer, I was struggling to survive the opening moments of each teamfight and as a result I wasn't picking up enough XP. This is definitely my error and something that fell to me to fix.

As the enemy was knocking on our tier three towers, however, our carry decided to blame me—claiming that I'd ruined his game by hanging around in lane soaking XP and become underleveled as a result. This was flat-out untrue, but our offlaner decided to agree with him anyway. Rather than get personal about it, I pointed out that I'd ganked mid twice, stacked our jungle, and pulled—that time in-lane accounted for a very small part of my early game. Because I'd established a decent relationship with our midlaner (see above), he backed me up. The carry didn't press the point any further, I got a handle on my dying-too-much problem, we turned the game around and won.

Always suggest actions

It's a very good idea to frame everything you say as a suggestion. "We need wards" is bad; "I'm going to ward" is good, as is "come with me so you can place wards safely." Similarly, "Lina invis" is okay: "Lina invis bot, get back" is better. If you express yourself in a way that is both detailed and clearly communicates the action that needs to happen, that action is more likely to happen. As a bonus, it becomes harder for bad-attitude teammates to complain that they weren't give enough warning about an incoming gank, too.

The exact opposite of this approach is context-free pinging. Pinging is, a lot of the time, meaningless—or it's exactly as meaningful as Lassie barking. You might figure out that little Timmy has fallen down the well eventually, but Timmy would probably be better of if Lassie could, you know, talk. Much as "Timmy down well help" is more quickly understood than "WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF", "Tusk shadow blade DD rune mid" is better than PING PING PING PING PING PING PING.

Suggesting action is also a good way to start turning a game around when the team has started to tilt. Staying calm and useful means saying "defend together" rather than "just back pls"; "lets go deward rosh" beats pinging the Roshan pit helplessly.

When other people suggest action, and those actions are a good idea, don't just silently comply: if you let people know that you're on your way, or that your teleport scroll is on cooldown for another 10 seconds, you create better understanding and a stronger sense of cooperation. This, again, makes people feel like their suggestions are being respected. It's respect, at the end of the day, that holds teams together and wins matches.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer
Image: Armor of the Stalwart Soul loading screen by Chiz.

Given that Dota 2's entire character roster is available to everybody, all of the time, learning new heroes presents a daunting challenge to new players. Talking to people who are just starting out on the long road to being halfway-competent-maybe at Dota, a question I've heard a lot is 'how do I choose who to play next?'

In this series, then, I'm going to shine a light on heroes that new players may miss. In particular, I'm looking for heroes that have a higher-than-average win-rate (calcuated using DotaBuff) but who wouldn't otherwise be considered a major part of the current metagame. Champions of pub Dota, in other words, heroes you might not see very often in the hands of top players but who you might get a kick out of as you take your first steps into ranked.

We re going to alternate this series with our Dota 2 Q&A, Game Is Hard , on a bi-weekly basis. This gives us more time to set up interviews and gives time for new hero trends to emerge.

Let s get to business.

What does Omniknight do?

Omniknight is a strength melee hero most commonly played as a support. His abilities emphasise protection: even his most powerful damage spell is deployed defensively.

Purification is a powerful single-target heal that, in addition to restoring health, does a large amount of damage in an area immediately around the target. This is pure damage, which broadly speaking means that it ignores armour, magic resistance, and spell immunity. Omniknight can cast it on himself, allied heroes, or creeps. In ideal scenario, you ll always be getting maximum use out of both of its components: using it to prop up a beleaguered ally while also doing significant damage to their assailants. You ll put your skill points into this first.

Repel grants spell immunity and 100% magic damage resistance to a single target. This is exactly the same as the defensive item Black King Bar, which most carries won t have built until the midgame. Repel is great for ensuring that your carry doesn t get stunned into oblivion during a teamfight, or for shielding yourself while you use a teleport scroll to escape. It can also be cast on enemies to prevent them from receiving beneficial effects, but bear in mind that spell immunity is more often a help than a hindrance: if in doubt, Repel an ally. You ll put skill points into Repel second.

Degen Aura slows the movement and attack speed of enemies within a radius of Omniknight. This gives him a little bit of scaling potential in the late game, as attack speed becomes more important, but you wouldn t want to put skill points into it too early. Generally speaking, it s more important for Omniknight to survive long enough to use his other abilities and items than it is to be close enough to the enemy for Degen Aura to be useful. In certain one-on-one situations, however, the movement speed debuff can be used to get Omniknight slightly ahead of the enemy in order to line up a self-cast Purification.

Guardian Angel is Omniknight s ultimate. For a fixed duration, allied units in an area around Omniknight gain immunity to physical damage—i.e, auto-attacks and certain spells. If upgraded using an Aghanim s Scepter, Guardian Angel gains global cast range and also affects buildings—effectively acting as a second Glyph of Fortification. Guardian Angel has a massive impact on teamfights, effectively nullifying the impact of auto-attack happy enemy carries. In pub games, particularly at the beginner level, players tend to be pretty bad at playing around ults like this one. If you re tired of being rolled over by Sniper, Guardian Angel renders him entirely useless for its duration.

Why Omniknight?

Dota 2 tends to shy from traditional fantasy stereotypes—or at least they re rarely presented without a twist of some kind. Omniknight looks like a paladin, sounds like a paladin and—for the most part—plays like a paladin. The twist here is a relatively subtle one: despite the crusader knight imagery, angelic guardians and god-rays, Omniknight actually worships a cave-dwelling Elder Thing that may or may not have created the world by chance while trying to hide from space monsters. As you do.

He s been sat in the middle of the popularity charts for a long time, now, despite a consistently high win-rate—greater than 60%. Let s break down some of the reasons why this might be.

He s almost always played as a hard support

This contributes to both his winrate and his unpopularity. As a wise man once said: nobody wants to play support, but everybody wants to win. As a defense-oriented character, Omniknight doesn t offer the multi-kill potential that most players chase. On the other hand, picking him communicates a rare desire to cooperate with your team—and it s this, most of the time, that wins games.

He upsets aggressive players

Omniknight is powerful in pub matches because he punishes players that don t think twice before committing to an attack. This accounts for a lot of players. When somebody is diving in pursuit of an easy kill, a well-timed heal, burst of magic immunity, or team-wide protection from regular attacks can all turn fights on their head. In a game that is often about snowballing momentum, Omniknight acts as a human stop sign: and he doesn't need much by way of items or levels to do it. A well-timed Guardian Angel can keep a losing team in the game for a long time.

He acts as a safety net for allies

The inverse is also true: when your own allies are too aggressive, Omniknight is good at making sure that they don t pay too much for it. Repel acts as a free Black King Bar, granting on-the-fly magic immunity to carries who are dead-set against building defensive items for themselves. This doesn t mean they shouldn t build defensively, of course, but it s hardly unusual for pub players to go for more damage over more survivability: Omniknight patches up that gap, whether they like it or not. The key here is that Omniknight himself has to play carefully, even if his allies aren't: make sure you're where you need to be to deliver that clutch Purification, but don't die for it.

He is everybody s dad

To put all of this another way: Omniknight is great in pubs because he acts as a moderating influence on what tends to be an immoderate form of Dota. Your job is to stand on the sidelines, dampening enemy aggression and preventing your teammates from hurting themselves too badly. If you can keep a cool head, he s relatively easy to play: an effective Omniknight is one who reliably gets the most out of a single Purification, a single Repel, a single Guardian Angel. That means walking the tightrope between waiting for the right moment and becoming too hesitant, which is something you ll only improve with experience. But you d be surprised at how many games can be won by a single player acting responsibly, defensively, and putting their team first: Omniknight s 60% winrate isn t an accident. He isn't flashy, but if you enjoy winning games from a position of control on the sidelines, you'll get a kick out of him.

Items to consider

As a support, you re going to spend a lot of time buying Observer and Sentry Wards as well as the Courier and its flying upgrade. Mana and mobility are both important to Omniknight, so Arcane Boots are a priority. His abilities mesh well with a Soul Ring, and Force Staff lets him reposition within a fight and escape more reliably (something he otherwise lacks.) He s a natural Mekansm carrier, which transitions naturally into Guardian Greaves, and his Aghanim s Scepter upgrade can be game-winning. You might also consider picking up helpful aura items on him, like Vladimir s Offering and Drums of Endurance. If things are going extremely well, consider a Refresher Orb, Shiva s Guard, or Scythe of Vyse. Essentially: this is a team-focused hero. Build with your team in mind.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

Last week saw the arrival of Dota 2 s much anticipated 6.85 patch. You can read the full set of accompanying notes here, but unlike other patches released after The International, 6.85 doesn t rework Dota 2 at a fundamental level. Instead, it has numerous tweaks that focus on the micro aspects of Dota. This is likely due to the proximity of The Frankfurt Major, with open qualifiers starting on October 6th. 

Despite the lack of sweeping changes, like the bounty rework made in 6.82, these smaller patches can still have substantial effects on the metagame. Take, for example, patch 6.83, which made Sniper s haunting laugh a common occurrence when he was picked in every single game. With that in mind, here are six of the biggest changes in 6.85.

1. The top tiers aren t as top anymore

Photo Credit to DotaBuff

Just about every hero used heavily at the top of professional play has received some sort of nerf. The immediate effect has been the plummeting of win rates, as DotaBuff gloriously shows. What s important is that none of these changes have ruined the design of any character. Leshrac can still do ridiculous damage, but Lightning Storm doesn t give him a free win in middle lane. Storm Spirit continues to excel at both zipping and zapping, but he lost some laning prowess and requires even more careful mana management. These heroes are not in some sort of unplayable fail state, but they no longer overwhelm other heroes in very obvious ways. These slight nerfs may have huge implications in upcoming tournaments, and have already had very visible effects in non-pro play.

2. Techies were nerfed

In what may be the best news of the decade, the reign of Squee, Spleen, and Spoon has been curbed. Techies are unable to enter lane as a short-range burst caster, a major issue in professional play. Gone are the days of laying down a single mine to wave clear, and farewell to the 1200 damage burst combo that was supported by heroes like Tusk. Additionally, melee heroes can clear all mine varieties with a quelling blade, giving every hero in the game a way to destroy troublesome mines. However, Techies weren t nerfed in a way that stops their forest traps, and hapless players will still find themselves blown to smithereens. Remote Mines weren t adjusted, and the Land Mine nerfs are irrelevant in successful multi-mine traps. As a matter of fact, Techies are even better at placing Land Mines because...

3. Techies art possibilities have been dramatically buffed

One of the major changes to Techies was the removal of a Land Mine cap, which was previously 20. In terms of gameplay it means that Techies players can draw out games to an even greater extent with higher usage of Land Mines during slow parts of a game. So a theoretical Techies game can be even more arduous than before. In terms of art, it means that that there s a new placeable object to help round the color palette normally used in-game. Dota 2 pseudo-pixel art has reached the next level.

4. Terrorblade might actually be scary again 

Terrorblade received tweaks across his skillset, and his in-game presence has changed dramatically. Reflection, a spell that produces replicas of enemies, gained a large area of effect at the cost of a weaker slow and slightly longer cooldown. Prior to this patch, Reflection was kept at rank one and was only used as a short-range slow in skirmishes.Now, for the first time in years, Terrorblade has a spell with noticeable teamfight utility and it scales into late game. Additionally, Terrorblade received numerous quality of life buffs to make him more comfortable to play. He s a bit less clunky and his illusions don t get left behind when he transforms. The major disappointment this patch is that his lore hasn t been updated, and he s still a weird demon that went to Double Hell.

5. Undying had a scaling flip-flop

Similar to Terrorblade, Undying received a rebalancing instead of the nerf that many popular picks felt. His Tombstone summon has had a total reversal in survivability, now taking hits to destroy instead of having decent HP and the powerful structure armor type. At level one a tombstone will have difficulty surviving as it can only withstand three hits, but in endgame fights, when carries have massive damage numbers, a max rank tombstone still takes seven hits. He also received an Aghanim s Scepter upgrade to his Decay spell, losing the rarely considered damage amplification it provided to his ultimate. The upgrade steals more strength, and Undying gains 190 HP when he hits a single hero with Decay. If the enemy team clumps up he can receive as much 950 HP with a single cast on a 4 second cooldown. Undying has a very direct and effective late game presence, something he hasn t had since the release of Dota 2.

6. There are still changes that have unknown implications

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, are the numerous subtle changes that came with the patch. Item adjustments, smaller hero buffs, these many small changes will take time and deep investigation to truly understand. For example, siege creeps can now be targeted like a normal lane creep in regards to spells, though they have high magic resistance. On its own this may not seem like a major change, but Helm of the Dominator was buffed to always give dominated creeps a minimum HP of 1400. Combine the two changes and ridiculously beefy siege creeps might have a role in 6.85 s meta. This is just one small possibility in the wide array of potential Dota changes, and it will take time for the hidden gems to surface. The latest overpowered build is just waiting to be discovered.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

lurppis played CS 1.6 professionally for eight years for teams such as wings, roccat/69N-28E, EG and WinFakt with team winnings exceeding $350,000. Since ending his playing career in 2012 he has stayed active in the CS:GO scene as part of the media.

The competitive Counter-Strike scene is at its peak. There s more talent than ever in pro CS, which means that in order to pick the best players in the world you need clear, specific criteria. To make this ranking, a player must have competed in a number of top tier events—no player can be awarded top ten status for simply being incredible online. Almost by default, that means the player will be on a top team as well, which is the case for everyone on this list. I also decided to use roughly the past six months results for statistical comparison, with obviously more emphasis on recent performances, as they are most likely more indicative of these players current form.

Before we dig in, let s first take a look at some of the big names who barely missed the cut of being in the top ten. Recent fan favorite Nikola NiKo Kovac did not make this list because he has not performed at enough events yet. Richard shox Papillon came close, and in Titan he might regain the kind of role that will allow him a spot on the list, but currently he must be left out. Finally, NiP s Christopher GeT_RiGhT Alesund s Dubai performance was incredible, but it is not enough after six-plus months of, for him, average play. You could also have made a case for Rene cajunb Borg, who has been TSM s second best player for a long time, and like shox and GeT_RiGhT, boast a strong individual track record at the majors.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

10. Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub

France | Team EnVyUs

In late 2014 and early 2015 kennyS was arguably the number one player in the world as the game s most dominant AWPer. Despite playing on a team barely in the top eight, he constantly put up performances that allowed Titan to compete with all of the world s best teams, and even score some strong tournament finishes. Since the AWP update he hasn t been as dominant, and it is possible the limited, in comparison, role he has on EnVy will never allow him to regain the top spot. Even through these changes, Kenny remains one of the world s best.

Photo via HLTV.org

9. Tyler 'Skadoodle' Latham

USA | Cloud9

While fans go crazy about shroud s exciting flick shots, the true star of Cloud9 and the player who makes the team who in the summer was a legitimate threat to contend for titles go, is Skadoodle—one of the world s best snipers. He s the best North American player—at least until Hiko fully returns—by far the most consistent player on Cloud9 and the team relies on his strong play more than anyone else s. It s possible Skadoodle will climb the rankings in the future, but his team must regain top form to do so—competing in North America won t help him here.

Photo via HLTV.org

8. Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev

Ukraine | HellRaisers

Easily one of the most explosive players in the world, s1mple—the third AWPer so far on this list—has been outside of the spotlight since he left FlipSid3, seemingly out of the blue, after the team was knocked out of ESWC. Some of the statlines s1mple put together while playing in a tactical, but not very skilled F3 team are absurd. Once his ESL ban is up and he matures a little, he will become the number one player in the ex-CIS region, and you can expect him settle much higher in this ranking once he reaches his peak—he s still only 17.

Photo via HLTV.org

7. Robin 'flusha' Ronnquist

Sweden | Fnatic

flusha was the best player in fnatic for a long time, and his overall performance throughout 2014 was incredible. This year he has taken a backseat in the team while his teammates have shined brighter, but one must not discount his impact in fnatic s wins either. For one, he has the best stats overall across all the CS:GO majors to-date, and he is one of just three players ever to three majors—and one of five to win two. He has nearly perfected the passive playing style as a rifler, yet is still capable of flashy highlights when needed. flusha could conceivably be the best player on almost any team, but he has practically accepted a smaller role to ensure his team keeps winning.

Photo via HLTV.org

6. Freddy 'KRiMZ' Johansson

Sweden | Fnatic

No one could have predicted the breakout performances KRiMZ had in late 2014. He was a role player on the successful LGB team, and had been without a team before fnatic picked him up last summer. That KRiMZ went onto have some of the best individual performances on that team is truly remarkable. He was not a player who caught a hot streak and went with it, his nearly flawless fundamentals, especially with the M4A1-S and AK-47, allowed him to elevate his level of play almost overnight, and what s more, he s stayed up there for a year now. A cornerstone in the world s best team s success, and easily one of the best players in CS:GO.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

5. Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski

Poland | Virtus.pro

Due to the way Virtus.pro is structured, a lot of the time their players go without the same kind of celebration that top players in other teams enjoy. There is no clear superstar in the Polish team, and at times all five of their players have good enough games to receive MVP awards. In any case, over the long haul the best player in Virtus.pro, and the most important one as well, has been Snax. He is an extremely versatile player, a part-in-game-leader, and probably the game s trickiest player. He was the MVP of ESL ESEA Dubai Invitational, the second-best player all-time at the majors, and you can bet any time he plays that well Virtus.pro will go deep in tournaments.

Photo via HLTV.org

4. Vincent 'Happy' Cervoni

France | Team EnVyUs

Happy might be the first in-game leader in Counter-Strike s history to have the kind of success individually that he has had. He gets criticized by many—including me—for baiting his teammates at times, in a fashion that almost looks like he s padding stats. In any case, he is the best player on EnVy, who have been a top three team for most of the past year, and has become the game s best lurker after GeT_RiGhT s decline. He can AWP, lead the world s best team, and play with just about every weapon out there. Happy is almost a complete player, and that kind of versatility is especially valuable.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

3. Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovacs

Slovakia | Natus Vincere

The lone Slovakian player—but the fourth main AWPer—on this list has been among the world s best since 2012, but aside from the brief period when his Virtus.pro team took down NiP, he did not enjoy the kind of success or fanfare that he likely deserved until Na`Vi broke through as a top tier squad in May 2014. Since then he has probably been the biggest carry in a top five team. Simply put, Na`Vi often lived and died with GuardiaN s performances. Lately he has gotten more help with the addition of flamie, but make no mistake—GuardiaN has been the most important player, on a team that was recently ranked second-best in the world, for a long time.

Photo via HLTV.org

2. Nicolai 'device' Reedtz

Denmark | Team SoloMid

It s safe to say that device has finally arrived. The Dane was championed as the next generation s f0rest or GeT_RiGhT by Thorin a long time ago, and it seemed only his nerves were holding him back from becoming an absolute force in the Counter-Strike world. Well, now he is one—device has been the best player on TSM while the squad has racked up multiple international wins and even more top three finishes. Much like peak-f0rest, he can both AWP and rifle at an elite level. No longer is he the player who goes MIA in big games and needs to be pulled across the finish line. The best player in the world s second-best team, device deserves the second spot in this ranking, and could easily edge his way to the top in the future.

Photo via HLTV.org

1. Olof 'olofm' Kajbjer

Sweden | Fnatic

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been actively following the scene. Currently—and for a while now—the king of Counter-Strike has been fnatic s olofm, the player who has been the brightest star in the world s best team—ever—and has effectively broken through as perhaps the game s only superstar despite having three other incredibly skilled teammates. olofm has lived up to all the promises, and more, of the LGB days. Often he has been the difference between a top-three finish and another championship, and there is no player as scary in CS:GO currently as olofm having a good game—and other teams can surely testify to that. He is probably the game s most versatile player—able to play both passively and aggressively on both halves, and handle every weapon, both rifles and snipers, at an elite level. Enjoy it while it lasts, because we do not get to enjoy players like this too often.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer
Picture credit: Sebastian Ekman

The fall esports season begins in earnest this weekend, as many games return from their post-summer hiatus and shuffled team rosters settle into place. Qualifiers for a number of massive upcoming tournaments, including CS:GO s final major of the year, are mingled in with the first medium-stakes chance to see some of the new teams in action on a brand new Dota patch. There will also be some last ditch efforts to make it to next month s BlizzCon, and the action all kicks off today.

Whether you re in the mood for Brazilian god-on-god action, or some European wizard fumbling, there s something to suit all your pro gaming needs this weekend. Here s what we ll be watching...

StarCraft: 2015 DreamHack Stockholm Open

Unusually for an esports event, DreamHack Stockholm ran much of its course during the week, meaning most of the event is already over. However the StarCraft finals are being played on Friday night, and for one player they mean everything. Being the last event awarding WCS points before BlizzCon, there is a chance for Ko HyuN Seok Hyun to sneak his way up from 18th place into the invited Top 16 of WCS rankings. A win today and he ll relegate Jung FanTaSy Myung Hoon, whom he defeated yesterday to make it to the quarter-finals. You can see if HyuN makes it on the official DreamHack StarCraft channel from 10:15 PDT/18:15 BST with the Grand Final at 13:30 PDT/21:30 BST.

Counter-Strike: DreamHack Cluj-Napoca Qualifiers at DreamHack Stockholm

The CS:GO tournament at DH Stockholm is carrying on for another day, at least, so you can expect to catch a bit more of the action if you do something ridiculous like work during the week. The last remaining spots for DreamHack s next tour stop, Romania s Cluj-Napoca, are up for grabs and there are still a few familiar names waiting to snap them up. FlipSid3, Copenhagen Wolves and Dignitas, to name a few, will be playing Saturday from 03:05 PDT/11:05 BST until the final match at 12:05 PDT/20:05 BST. You can watch all that on DreamHack s official stream.

Counter-Strike: Gfinity Champion of Champions

More CS:GO for the top tier teams already invited to Cluj-Napoca as Gfinity holds a four-team invitational. Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Virtus.pro and EnVyUs play a short three-game bracket with the semi-finals on Saturday morning beginning 02:30 PDT/10:30 BST, and the Grand Final at the same time on Sunday. If you re up in time to catch that, you can see it on Gfinity s Twitch stream but VODs will surely be available for late birds.

Nanyang Dota 2 Championships: European Qualifiers

After last week s Chinese Qualifiers, it s the Europeans turn, as almost every hot new roster shakes their tail feathers on the road to Nanyang. This weekend should be especially exciting as Dota s latest patch today means we ll see the clumsy evolution of a new meta before Frankfurt s Major next month. Saturday plays host to Kuroky s 5Jungz squad in a semi-final matchup against the Swedish Ninjas in Pyjamas at 11:00 PDT/19:00 BST, and a loser s bracket elimination between Team Empire and Vega Squadron before that at 09:00 PDT/17:00 BST. Sunday will feature the result of today s matches (Na`Vi versus (monkey) Business, and Alliance versus Monkey Freedom Fighters) at those same times. All can be watched on the BTS Twitch channel.

SMITE Brazil Gaming League Season 2

A chance to see the finale of Latin America s toughest competition this Saturday, as the teams with one remaining game in hand compete in the last week of SPL s Brazilian league. There s only one game to look out for here, and that s the clash between current first and second place in the table, INTZ esports and Keyd Stars. INTZ, formed of SWC 2015 fifth-placers We Love Bacon have a slight advantage over Keyd who were penalised by one point at the beginning of the season for a late roster change. You can see that match play out on x5TV Saturday at 14:00 PDT/22:00 BST

Hearthstone: Abios Grand Tournament

Lastly, a small $5,000 pot Hearthstone tournament with a surprising collection of stars should wile away the time until next weekend s European Road to BlizzCon. Names to watch for include current world champ Firebat, and European hopefuls ThijsNL, Ostkaka and Hoej. It s a single elimination event, which should provide some tension, though stakes are fairly low. More importantly it ll be a good chance to see what decks the European hopefuls are playing with before their BlizzCon qualifier showdown next week. Round of 16 matches start at 08:00 PDT/16:00 BST on Saturday, with the last at 14:30 PDT/22:30 BST, and the finals continue Sunday from 08:05 PDT/16:05 BST until the Grand Final at 15:40 PDT/23:40 BST. You can see them all on AbioTV s Twitch channel.

Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

Valve has released patch 6.85 for Dota 2, ahead of the upcoming Fall Major tournament. After announcing the changes would be minor balance tweaks until a bigger patch planned for after November s Frankfurt showdown, it s uncertain whether Dota's master of balance Icefrog is familiar with the word minor .

To name just a few of the changes, Siege Creeps are no longer buildings and are now targetable by spells (albeit with an 80% spell resistance). Gone are the days of supports being able to flash clear an entire wave and then spend the next four days auto-attacking a catapult.

Also blending the spell-immune buildings rule is Ogre Magi s Bloodlust, which can now target towers to increase their fire rate and somehow cause a hunk of magical rock to grow in size. There are many other hero-specific changes too, the most interesting of which—as always—is the new Aghanim s Scepter upgrade.

Batrider has been blessed with an upgraded Lasso ultimate when he purchases the 4200 gold item, which now chain lassos another enemy hero within 400 radius, while doing 100 damage per second. Old Bats hasn t been seen much in the latest patches, compared to his almost 100% pick rate at TI3, so maybe we ll see a resurgence of the grab n run strats of yesteryear.

Other global effects of 6.85 s arrival include summoned units being immune to being purged, meaning Warlock s Golems can t be countered by a Diffusal Blade and neither can Necronomicon units. The in-game shop also appears to be having a sale, as a number of recipes and items have been reduced in price by up to 25%—in the case of Town Portal scrolls, which are down from 100 to just 75 gold. YES! 75 gold!

As an attempt to address the current HOT HEROES in the meta, Icefrog hasn t done too much nerfing. Queen of Pain s ultimate, Sonic Wave, has had a slight damage bump, and Tusk has 1 second less to hide away from spells in his snowball before he is forced to roll on a chosen target. But the real damage has been done to Leshrac—the jump distance and damage of Lightning Storm is reduced—and Techies.

The suicidal bombers mines no longer explode when they are destroyed by wary enemy heroes with truesight, who can now also chop them down with a Quelling Blade or Battle Fury for 10 gold a pop, just like wards. The proximity-activated Land Mines also cannot be stacked directly on top of one another for maximum damage, and their damage is down by a massive 50%. Good night, sweet goblins.

For all the minutiae of Dota 2 s changes, you can visit the blog page. We ll have a more in-depth breakdown on the meta later in the week.

PC Gamer

If there's one universally acknowledged truth held among video game marketers, it's that people who play video games also like trance music. So it makes sense that Darude the Finnish trance producer who's 'Sandstorm' went belatedly viral last year is currently working on a custom sound pack for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Darude announced the news on Reddit, where Counter-Strike fans (or Darude fans, I can't be sure) were generally positive about the news. 

Others had some useful suggestions.

The producer didn't indicate when the sound pack would release, though that's him working on it at the top of the page. It's to help promote his new album Moments, which released in August. 

To jog your memory, here's 'Sandstorm'. If you don't need your memory jogged, just watch the video anyway. Thanks for the heads up, Kotaku.


Search news
Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul   Jun   May  
Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
2010   2009   2008   2007   2006  
2005   2004   2003   2002