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This weekend is all about DreamHack Winter, which is happening right now in J nk ping, Sweden. There's top-quality Dota 2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, and more to be watched: so much that you'll have a hard time keeping track of them. Don't worry, though! Thanks to the magic of 'doing lots of esports in the same building', you can listen to a bit of CS:GO casting while watching Dota.
Here's what's happening.
A spread of international Dota 2 talent compete for a share of $150,000 at DreamHack. Frankfurt Major champions OG are taking part, as are ESL One New York winners Vega Squadron. The majority of this bracket is taking place today, Friday the 27th—but the lower bracket finals and grand finals are both taking place tomorrow. Play starts at 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT/05:00 PST) and you can watch it all on Twitch.
It is guaranteed to be very Dota: but will it be as Dota as 2013, when the finals took place during a Darude concert?
No. That is impossible.
$250,000 on the line in a single day. After Thursday's group stages, four surviving top-flight CS:GO teams will play the semi-finals and finals on Saturday. Between Team SoloMid, Virtus.pro, Fnatic and Ninjas in Pyjamas there's a huge amount of talent on display here. Play starts 14:00 CET (13:00 GMT/05:00 PST) and you'll find the livestream here (and also in the background of the Dota stream.)
Running throughout the weekend, this is an open tournament with a $40,000 prize pool. It'll start with a Swiss format (no eliminations, players earn points to determine standing) followed by an elimination bracket. Anybody can enter, but they'll be up against some of the best players in the world—including Worlds champion Ostkaka. Watch on the official streaming site.
The competitive scene is still developing around the changes brought in by Legacy of the Void, so this tournament is one of your best opportunities to see new strats in action. Rob Zacny wrote this article earlier in the week about changes you're likely to see, but find out for sure this weekend as a roster of European players (plus invited Korean greats) click on stuff really quickly for $50,000. Play is ongoing, with the remaining matches taking place tomorrow from, you guessed it, 14.00 CET (13.00 GMT/05:00 PST). Once again, the place to be is the official streaming site.
Dreamhack is a premier stop for the Capcom Pro Tour as it continues its journey around the world. A share of $250,000 is on the line, with 32 players in contention from all around the world. A great opportunity to see some top-quality Street Fighter—and get excited for next year's SF V. Group stage play begins on Saturday at 11:00 CET (10:00 GMT/02:00 PST) and continues until the end of the day. Watch it here.
Believe it or not, there's something happening this weekend that isn't happening in Sweden. Melborne, Austria will host LoL's first-ever Wildcard tournament in order to determine which teams represent the Wildcard regions at the All-Star Event in a couple of weeks. The format is pretty unusual: each region's All-Star team is assembled by player vote and play will take place across multiple mode, including standard 5 vs. 5 Summoner's Rift, 1 vs 1, and a player-voted mode. Play started on Thursday and runs through to the end of Saturday. Here's the stream.
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!
Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2 and wizards in general. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
The game has run long, as pub games tend to do. It's relatively even—maybe you're ahead a little, maybe they are, but the thing just won't seem to end. At this point, you probably have about a 50% chance of winning: and really is going to be up to chance, unless you ask yourself a simple series of questions.
Here is how you don't lose this Dota game.
You are going somewhere, because clicking on the ground is a pretty good idea in Dota 2. Where are you going, though? Are you going to your jungle? Are you going to the Roshan pit? Are you going to their jungle, or to lane? Regardless of the answer: why are you doing this?
Here are some bad answers to this question:
Here are some good answers:
It's all very good to make solid right-clicking-on-the-ground decisions, but these can still become bad decisions if you choose to horde all of that wisdom for yourself. Why not share your plan of action with the rest of your team? This is why we call them 'a team', and not 'four assholes'.
You may think that they're four assholes, but this is one of those rare instances where thinking it makes it so—and making it so will lose you this game of Dota 2. Sharing your plan will result in one of two outcomes:
There's nothing you can do about that second one, but the first one is pretty important.
If you're going alone, then you've done something wrong. You've either forgotten to tell your team about where you're going, in which case go back a step, or you've told them and they've called you an asshole and you've decided to go anyway. This may make you feel like a strong free independent Dota player, but it is also probably going to get you killed and lose you the game.
It's dangerous to go alone. Take this. It's a teammate. Or an asshole. It doesn't matter. Just don't go anywhere you don't have really good vision without somebody else. This will either prevent a disaster, or at the very least mitigate the blame for a disaster.
You really should definitely have a teleport scroll. You do not need a Town Portal Scroll if you have Boots of Travel. There are no other exceptions. Not even for you, Nature's Prophet. Not even for you.
Mouse over your gold counter on the right hand side of the screen, near the shop button. See all that stuff that pops up? One number is incredibly important: the green number (presuming that it's green. If it's not green, earn gold until it's green.)
This number tells you how much gold you have. You might think that you've got much more than this, but you don't. You see, all that other gold is reserved for the buyback that you definitely need. You need that buyback more than you need the item you're thinking of buying. You might think "I don't really need buyback". Don't have that thought. Eradicate that thought. That thought will make you lose this game.
You don't look convinced. You think that second Daedalus is going to ensure that, when the smoke clears, you emerge as the 'kills guy'. You're wrong. You should save for buyback.
You can buy things, but only using your surplus. If your gold count says '1898' but the green number reads '86', you may purchase items that cost less than 86 gold. May I suggest a Town Portal Scroll.
Do you know what's a pretty good item? Daedalus. It's worth 5520 gold. That's a lot of gold!
Do you know what's a really good item? All of your current items, plus your hero and all of their stats and abilties. That's worth every single piece of gold that you've spent in this entire game plus all of the experience that you've earned. Do you know why? Because all of these things are worth zero gold when you are dead, and only regain their value when you come back to life.
Buyback is the button that makes you come back to life. It's a very important button. Save for buyback.
YOU: I thought we just spoke about this! We have wiped and nobody has buyback.
TEAMMATE ONE: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.
TEAMMATE TWO: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.
TEAMMATE THREE: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.
TEAMMATE FOUR: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.
YOU: I should not have bought this extra Daedalus.
It's not fine.
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!
Inferno can be a tricky map to defend unless you understand it. To that end, start by learning the call-outs —the names used to describe each part of the map. This guide by Froosh and collaborators is a very useful resource to bookmark. Keep the Inferno image open in a tab as you work through the rest of this article.
There are two major chokepoints that you want to control: middle and top of banana. If you manage to keep the terrorists from pushing past these points until the end of the round you are likely to have gathered enough information to be ready for the final aggression.
At first glance this may seem simple, but if you have played a couple of games on Inferno you know that this isn't the case. One reason for this is the long rotations between the two bomb sites. As a consequence, you will have to slow down the terrorists.
Always prioritize smoke grenade, then two flashbangs. If you have money left you should go for an incendiary unless you plan to go for double grenades in either banana or middle to do some initial damage.
Having identified the problem, it's time to defuse it. In order to have a successful CT half you have to make the most of your utility grenades: don't throw away a flashbang for no reason.
You want two guys to cover mid. Preferably one on arch side and one truck side. These guys will be your impenetrable wall. They will use their smoke grenades to ensure the terrorists won't be able to take over mid (at least not without begging for mercy when the rotation from B joins the party.)
You can use a flashbang to let your teammate peek and maybe even get a kill. If that player finds terrorists about to push mid he mustn't panic. Instead, you should just put down a smoke screen. Generally the player on the arch side should use his smoke first. That way you will still have smokes left on A if the arch player has to rotate to B.
The third player on A will make sure your opponents don't take control over apartments. This guy will be the James Bond of your team: the secret agent whose aim is to go for sneaky plays and catch the terrorists off-guard. If you have a smoke up in mid, the truck side player can support him from boiler stairs and let him hide in bedroom.
On the next page: control bombsite B, plus when to buy an AWP.
On this site I like to have one highly confident player go a little more aggressive and peek angles. The other person gets to be the annoying devil who will make sure the attackers are so flashbanged they couldn't find a crater on the moon.
The first player can take a peek from the corner at the top of banana and try to spot terrorists. If they go for a fast push he can call for a smoke from the support player. If, on the other hand, he can hear them further down in banana or just wants to take a more aggressive peek, his ally can either flash over the roof or in front of the car as shown below.
If the guys on A need help it's best if the support player rotates if he has used his smoke already. Remember, clever use of utility grenades is what wins you rounds.
When the terrorists decide to commit to B they will almost always smoke off CT spawn. By this time it's likely that one of you will find yourself behind the grey cloud of death, but have no fear! Now you have two options. Either that player rotates around the construction site to spools or you can go for the ballsy play and flash pool so that the player from CT side can push the smoke and catch the enemies with their pants down.
You have won a couple of rounds in a row and you find yourself with an abundance of cash. It's tempting to go back to the hotel and have a drink or two. Maybe buy something nice for you and your friends after a long day of combat. But no, now is not the time. There's still a war to be won. Instead you pick up the AWP.
Let's say your AWP player decides to peek banana and he ends up getting a kill. Then he can fall back towards CT spawn, lay down a smoke screen and switch positions with the guy on arch side on A. Often the terrorists will opt out and rotate back to mid, just to find themselves getting killed once again by the same AWPer. Note that this is a risky play and you should only use it once or twice.
Even though nothing can replace good communication and smart positioning you will have to mix it up a bit every now and then. After all, you don't want your opponents to read you like an open book. This is the time to use the card up your sleeve.
This flash from inside the corner on arch side is one of my favorite flashes in the entire game. Simply line up your crosshair with the line on the wall, flash, wait, and pick up some free kills.
Another high risk, high reward play is to let your support player hide behind sandbags. Peek banana from your usual corner and when you see a terrorist, just back off, call for a flash and then the two of you can spray them down.
Go to the 'Watch' tab. Then 'Your Matches'. Select the game you want to watch and click 'Download'. That replay will now appear in your 'Downloaded' tab. Click 'Watch on GOTV'.
Some of these things are easy to do and will help you win more games, whereas some things will take more time to master. Watch your replays (take a look to the right for instructions) and pay attention to what the enemy team did. Should you have rotated earlier? Later? Just remember, practice makes perfect: if at first you don't succeed, buy a defuse kit and try again.
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!
Warning! Spoilers follow for the Dota 2 Frankfurt Major.
This was a fairytale ending. After seven fiercely-fought games across the lower bracket final and grand final, OG have become the first winners of a Dota 2 Major. They ll take home $1.1m.
Formerly known as (monkey) Business, OG picked up a sponsor late and arrived at the tournament through the European qualifier. Unlike the most of the teams they faced on the road to the final, they weren t invited. They also failed to qualify for the upper bracket during the group stage, meaning that they had to take the longest possible road to get here, facing elimination at every step of the way.
Yesterday, they surprised the world by taking out talented Chinese squad EHOME. That won them a spot against EG this morning: this being (mostly) the same EG that won the International only a few months ago. The resulting contest was thrilling: a confident start for EG giving way to two amazing games by OG. In the first, they snowballed off the back of a Tiny-Alchemist combo that they ve run before. In the second, they struggled a little against a North American squad that was intent to dodge fights and farm. In the end, however, OG managed to clinch victory through a succession of amazing plays by relative newcomers Miracle- and Cr1t- as well as Heroes of Newerth veteran MoonMeander.
That s how they got to the final: but they final was something else. After the EG match, MoonMeander described Secret s legendary captain, Puppey, as the end boss of the Dota scene. OG s raid was approaching its final phase. Defeat here would still be an incredible achievement for a qualifier team. Secret's fans gathered on one side of the arena floor, OG s on the other. I don t think anybody expected a showing quite as convincing as the one OG delivered next.
Game one, embedded above, was a stomp. A virtuoso turn by Miracle- on Invoker (a fan-favourite hero who has only made a few appearances at this event) completely shut down Secret. Dota has been through phases in its life where clutch skill was ultimately not enough to trump macro-scale strategy. This match bucked that trend, as did many of OG s other performances: they pressed on through nerve and bravado, a little like the scene s original darlings, Na Vi.
Game two was a sixty minute-plus epic, but similarly impressive. Secret put up a fierce resistance, but they couldn t overcome one of the best support pairs in the world in OG s Fly and Cr1t-. All that crazy aggression from N0tail, MoonMeander and Miracle- was translated into victories by phenomenal defensive play. Watch through to the end to see Secret s plans fall apart as first Cr1t- and then MoonMeander deliver perfect performances on Tusk and Earthshaker.
In game three, Puppey s reputation as a drafter asserted itself. He locked out the defensive supports that had formed the basis of OG s victories and pulled out an unorthodox draft including Wraith King that seemed to take OG off guard. This was one-sided the other way. Puppey has a reputation for ultimately winning series when he draws a bead on his opponent s weakness: despite their two game advantage, a 3-2 result in Secret s favour didn t look impossible at this point.
In game four, OG once again found their preferred defensive options banned or picked. This gave them access to often-banned hero Doom, however, as well as Miracle- s signature Shadow Fiend. Their solution to the absence of Tusk, Winter Wyvern and Dazzle was ingenious: they used Doom s Devour to pick up Frost Armour from a jungle creep and stacked this with Lich s own Frost Armour to create absolutely absurd damage mitigation for their core heroes. They surrounded this with Cr1t- s brilliant Rubick and N0tail s Brewmaster. Together, they were able to use Shadow Fiend as a battering ram: threatening barracks early and maintaining the pressure through setbacks.
Having seized map control early, they outmaneuvered Secret and forced errors that lead them to the Ancient and, ultimately, the championship. As the pyrotechnics settled down and they began their post-match on-stage interview, something happened that I ve never seen in years of covering Dota LANs: the OG side of the audience surged forwards, invading the stage and mobbing their heroes. Forgive the dodgy camera phone photo: this is one of the best endings I ve seen to one of the best tournament runs in the history of the game.
In a press conference afterwards, N0tail emphasised the role of trust in OG s victory.
What is most important in Dota is the things that are outside of the game he said. You are five individuals that have to try to act as a single unit. For you to achieve something close to a single unit, you have to be able to trust each other. To trust each other, you have to like each other. There are a million factors outside of the game. To be good at the game is not enough to win a tournament, or even get top three. That s what I really like about the game.
Somebody like Miracle-, he s so talented. But without his niceness, his genuineness, the reasons we like him, his talent wouldn t be used and we wouldn t be able to achieve what we achieved today. I value it more than anything.
Imagine if every Dota player felt that way.
Right as the grand finals of the Frankfurt Major are about to start, Valve have announced the details for the next premier Dota 2 tournament. The Shanghai Major will take place from March 2-6 in the Mercedes Benz Arena in, you guessed it, Shanghai, China.
No details on the prize pool yet, but it d be sensible to assume $3m: exactly like the Frankfurt tournament. Teams will have a while to change their rosters in the interim between the two Majors.
It s likely that this will replace the Dota Asia Championship. DAC was one of the original inspirations for the Major programme, and it d make sense for Valve to treat this as the defacto championship for the region. Given that Chinese Dota has suffered in Frankfurt, we ll have to wait and see whether the scene can bounce back on home territory.
On the penultimate day of the Frankfurt Major I sat down with caster Austin Capitalist Walsh to talk about the state of Dota 2 casting and analysis, his own perspective on his work, and the stage of the game in general. This has felt like a really strong tournament and a healthy period in general for the game—but there s always more that can be done.
Capitalist works for JoinDOTA as a commentator and is known for his double act with frequent co-caster Blitz, his hair, his energy levels, and his 6K MMR. You can arrange those things in any order of priority you choose.
PCG: How have you found this event, compared to TI?
Capitalist: Compared to TI there s a bit less hype, because there s not as many people coming to the event. Obviously Saturday will be packed, or that s what I anticipate anyway. Because it s a very long, drawn-out event and it s not the biggest event of the year it s hard for people to come in on weekdays and stuff like that. It hasn t been as hype, but I think it s still been really enjoyable. I m looking forward to having three of these Majors a year because I think it gives me a lot more experience—it gives everyone a lot more experience. Just from a casting perspective it s always good to do LAN events, but being able to work on the panel has been a lot of growth for me, and for everyone.
I think panel is the Dota scene s most lacking point right now. We re not very good at panel compared to other e-sports or other sports in general, and I think that s something that the Majors will definitely help out on. It s a very small number of events that get this many panels with this many people. MLG, right, we did a panel with three people—there s not much to go on, I d say it s not that good of an experience compared to a premier tournament like ESL One New York or the Majors.
PCG: Specifically then, what does that experience translate to in terms of your casting?
Capitalist: I think I ve done a lot more research because I was out of my element when it came to the analyst desk. I did a lot more research going into it. I usually do a lot of research, but this time I was looking for different things. I was looking for anecdotes about the players. I was talking to the players more about how they felt they were going to do, etc. More of the time when I talked to them before it d be about strategy, how they felt the patch was, stuff like that. General game knowledge that I thought was more applicable. But panel work is like who works in this matchup against this matchup , where in casting you don t care so much necessarily.
PCG: It s already happening.
Capitalist: Yeah. The game has started, you don t have to talk about it during the draft, you cover the action as-is.
PCG: The Dota scene feels pretty analytical, even in e-sports where most people are pretty analytical. Do you think that s changing? Is it becoming more about stories and anecdotes, as you say?
Capitalist: I think that s where we should be going. I think that we are too analytical. Obviously, the hardcore nerds that are going to show up on Reddit—they re always going to be like, we want more analytics, we want our analysts to be able to predict every single draft pick that comes up but honestly it doesn t make for a very entertaining stream. It s not very good entertainment value. I think that the TI panel was a bit lacklustre in that regard: they put four intensive analysts on a panel and there wasn t that much to go on.
I mean, Redeye… do you remember 7ckngmad waving the white flag to Pyrion? That was the only schtick that came from it. Redeye was leaning into them and the analysts didn t know how to react.
PCG: Well, Paul can be brutal.
Capitalist: Paul can be brutal, right, but the banter is supposed to be what creates entertainment value. That s an easy and cheap way to do so and the analysts weren t prepared for it. I think that the people like me and say, Purge, we re decently good at analytics and we need to get better in that regard and still provide energy and banter and that stuff. I need to get better at that. While people like Winter who are incredibly good at analytics need to get better at bringing more energy and more banter to a desk. I think both sides need to come together and be better.
We re not really good enough to do better, yet, so let s find another way.
PCG: Both Valve and a whole bunch of other organisations have tried different things to make Dota accessible. This is the least accessible game on the planet. It doesn t get any less accessible than Dota. I think it was 2GD that said that humour was ultimately the way to achieve that. Would you agree with that?
Capitalist: I would agree with that. The Smash community is amazing, right? A lot of it is because they have these huge personalities and they bring a lot of personality to those casts. Even in an intense match they have these moments… WOMBO COMBO, HAPPY FEET —that shows up everywhere, right? Those kinds of moments that the fighting game community creates, they re what bring in the average viewer. The game is somewhat easier to follow—certainly easier than Dota—but I also think that they do that much better than the Dota community does.
I d phrase it differently: humour is the easiest, cheapest way to get somebody interested in Dota.
PCG: But cheap s not necessarily bad, right?
Capitalist: Not at all, not at all. I was talking about this earlier. There was a Mineski vs. OG game, right? Everybody on the panel had OG, including myself, but I changed my prediction to Mineski because I felt it was an easy and cheap way to create a different dynamic on the desk. One person opposing three other people s thoughts. It s not that you can t create interesting dialogue with everybody choosing the same thing, but that s why I mean easy and cheap . We re not really good enough to do better, yet, so let s find another way.
PCG: Maybe efficient is another way of saying cheap .
Capitalist: Yeah, true.
PCG: But one of the things that s really positive about the Dota scene at the moment is how international it is. Mineski is a good example, a story that writes itself because nobody expected them to do quite so well. Do you think it ll stay that way? Is Dota trending towards one-region dominance, more of a mono-narrative like League? I like this plurality at the moment—it feels really strong.
Capitalist: I like it too. The one thing that s concerning right now is that the Chinese scene has been falling off so much and I don t know if any of the weaker regions are going to rise up. I m not sure if North America tier two and three is going to get good enough, I m not sure if South America and Southeast Asia are going to be good enough to stay in the international scene. That s concerning for me, because it started with The International —it s supposed to be every country, that s the original idea. I do think that creates the most interesting dialogues and it gives us the widest viewerbase. It s fun that way. It s a concern to me that China has been suffering. But I think it ll keep a pretty strong variance.
I think that China is going to realise that getting new players is going to be important. They can t just have the old dogs constantly. I think that shows in teams like CDEC, very clearly. EHOME is a great example of relatively newer players, and the strength of them over the more established players.
PCG: Do you think there s anything structural that needs to change about the scene more broadly? The Majors are one step towards offering bigger payouts more regularly to the top teams, but Dota s not… Valve are the opposite of Riot in a whole bunch of ways and offering salaries to players seems totally off the table. Would the scene benefit from that kind of stability?
The mid matchup is supposed to be the most mechanically skilled players facing off one-on-one against each other.
Capitalist: No… I ve had some minor complaints about the way that Valve run things in the Dota scene, but I think they recognise that TI was essentially too big of a tournament, in a way, that it was taking up too much. They also saw the success of the CS:GO Majors. Implementing the Majors into the Dota scene was the best thing they could have done. It s the best way to feel Valve s impact. I don t think we should have a Riot system where Riot is controlling everything, and every broadcast is Riot-sponsored… I don t think we should go that route. I just want to let this year play out, and see how the Majors go, before I d suggest anything else.
PCG: From my perspective, this feels like a really good patch for spectators. Do you agree, and which way would you like to see the meta shift?
Capitalist: Okay, one really good thing about this patch is the variety in heroes. We have a pretty good variety in the pool, there s not too many examples of really overpowered heroes. Doom is the best example of an OP hero right now, and teams will leave him out of the pool entirely sometimes. In that case, balance wise, the game is in a really great place. I do think that there are certain things that 6.86 might be able to bring in, that would make the game a bit more interesting—for example, the mid matchup. The mid matchup is supposed to be the most mechanically skilled players facing off one-on-one against each other. That s no longer the case. It s about stacking, dual-laning, rotations etc.
For example, the Puck-Queen of Pain matchups that we used to see in older patches, they were amazingly fun to watch. We don t see that anymore, because the mid matchup is no longer one on one. It s no longer as gank-heavy. Your midlaner is often times your carry, so you can t afford to have someone like Puck who doesn t scale well. If they do try to make the midlane experience a bit more about that kind of matchup, that d be more interesting—but that s a very finicky system to go to, it s hard to say how implementing stronger midlane play would affect other parts of the game. Are supports going to be garbage-tier again, would they only buy wards—that kind of thing. You never know what s going to happen.
PCG: Thanks for your time!
Everybody expected a lot from EG vs. Team Secret. A faceoff between them was one of several hotly-anticipated conclusions to the International 2015. The rise of Chinese underdogs CDEC put paid to that notion at the time. Today, however, the latest iterations of these two western powerhouses duked it out with a slot in the Frankfurt Major grand final on the line. These are players who have history with one another, and these two teams are considered to be evenly matched.
Even so, I m not sure that anybody expected a series quite as good as this. The best-of-three was incredibly intense, and game one was easily one of the best games this year (if not one of the best ever.) We re talking kill-counts that even out every time one team pulls ahead and gold/experience graphs that look like a sine waves. Even matchups can end up passive, or they can turn out to be one-sided after all. This was neither. This was two of the best teams in the world matching each other, then matching each other, then again, and again, until something finally gave. Completely extraordinary Dota.
I d be really surprised if this match doesn t go down in history. For that reason, I m not going to spoil it here. Put aside an hour and watch game one, embedded above. Then, watch games two and three: you can find the links here, just scroll down to the upper bracket final (it s all spoiler-free). If you ve got any interest in competitive Dota, you need to catch this one.
There s a decent chance that EG and Secret will clash once again in the grand final tomorrow. That ll be a best-of-five. If it s as good as this, I don t think the crowd in Frankfurt will be able to cope. Don t miss it: tune in at 14:30 CET/13:30 GMT/05:30 PST and prepare to watch history happen. Again. The official stream is available here.
It s another stacked weekend in the world of being incredibly good at computer games for money. Coming up tomorrow we ve got high-level Dota 2, Smite, CS:GO, and League of Legends. With the majority of the year s World Championships now done, this is the beginning of the next year of regular season play. If you needed proof that competitive gaming is only getting bigger and bigger, consider that the amount of money on the line this weekend would have set a world record just two years ago.
Saturday will see the final stages of this official $3m Dota tournament play out in Germany. The lower bracket final will begin at 10:30 local time (09:30 GMT/01:30 PST) to be followed by the grand final at 14:30 CET (13:30 GMT/05:30 PST). At the time of writing, either Team Secret or Evil Geniuses will snag the upper bracket grand final slot. The loser of their match will face either EHOME or OG for the final place. This has been an amazing tournament so far, with lots of different regions and playstyles represented at the very top. You can watch the games on Twitch or on the official Dota 2 streaming site. Don t miss it.
This weekend, the world s best Smite teams will battle for a chance to compete in January s World Championship. The North American and European Championships are running alongside one another, with the third place and wildcard matches taking place on Saturday and the two grand finals on Sunday. This is a young and dynamic competitive scene and a really exciting game to watch: thoroughly recommend checking it out, even if you only tune in for the finals. The show begins at 10.30 EST (15.30 GMT/07:30 PST) on both days, and you ll find the Twitch stream right here.
Seven international invited teams plus one qualifier (from last week s iBUYPOWER Cup) take part in a brutal two-day single-elimination bracket. This promises to be top-flight CS:GO with a healthy prize pool, and a good opportunity for US fans to watch games on their own time for the first time since, er, last week. But it s normally less common, honest. Play begins at 19.40 PST on both days, which is 22.40 EST. This creates a bit of an issue for European viewers: Saturday s games will begin at 03.40 GMT/04.40 CET on Sunday and Sunday s at the same time on Monday. That s only fair, mind. Watch the action here.
As Worlds 2015 fades into memory, rekindle your enthusiasm for competitive League this weekend. As with CS:GO, this is a single-elimination bracket: but unlike CS:GO, the teams ere assembled through a vote in China, Europe and North America plus a single invited KeSPA team, Jin Air Green Wings. The tournament runs concurrently with the CS:GO, so see above for times. Click here for the Twitch stream.
Jessie Christy "JessieVash" Cuyco has been playing with Mineski for years, although he was absent from the team from November 2014 to March 2015. He plays a versatile support role, playing successful games on Tusk, Winter Wyvern and Undying over the course of the Frankfurt Major.
Mineski were one of the standout underdog success stories of the Frankfurt Major group stage. Having won the Southeast Asian qualifier, the Filipino team arrived in Germany as the top seed for their region and the only country representing the Philippines. In the group stages, they then managed to clinch 2-0 victories over both Alliance and EHOME that surprised everybody—even, apparently, them. This earned them a space in the upper bracket, and when their SEA counterparts Fnatic were eliminated by OG in the first round of lower bracket games they became the sole representatives of their scene at the Major.
Their fortunes at the main event haven't been as good, however. They faced a tough matchup against tournament favourite Team Secret in the first round of the upper bracket, which they lost 2-0. They then lost 2-0 against OG, as the latter continued their dream-ending streak through the lower bracket. Nonetheless, this was an impressive run. Like the Peruvian team Unknown.xiu, Mineski's success testifies to the fact that Dota is a truly international esport, with talent able to break through even in regions that lack the resources and training infrastructure of North America, Europe, and China.
A day after their elimination, I sat down for a chat with Mineski support player JessieVash.
PCG: What's the feeling like in the team at the moment, and for you personally?
JessieVash: It's good. We're still lacking in our practice schedule—we can't practice in the times we want. In the Philippines the teams are... in some practice games, they're not taking it seriously. That's the only problem for my team. We can't practice at the next level.
PCG: You had a really good group stage. How did you feel through those games?
JessieVash: I don't know, that day... we won straight 2-0 Alliance and 2-0 EHOME. We didn't expect to win against even Alliance, it was a surprise. But really we just played our game the way we want, the heroes where we are comfortable.
PCG: What happened coming into the main event? Did you feel more pressure?
JessieVash: Yeah! [Laughs] So much pressure. You can see in the game, the draft, in how we played—it gave pressure to every player on my team.
PCG: Did you feel intimidated by Secret at all?
JessieVash: In the Secret game, we had a chance to beat them. Really, the experience gap—how to end the game when we're the one who has the advantage—we still can't end the game to win.
PCG: That comes back to practice, right?
PCG: Many people, myself included were happy to see an SEA team and a Filipino team in the upper bracket at the main event. Did you feel any additional pressure because of that? Representing your country and your scene?
JessieVash: For me, I always like to represent the Philippines at the biggest events. For Kuku, this is only his second time getting to represent the Philippines.
PCG: This feels like a good patch from a spectator's perspective. How does it feel as a player? Are you happy with the metagame, with the heroes you're playing?
JessieVash: Yeah, but maybe that's why Europe is the one who has the meta now. They always draft some YOLO heroes—strength heroes. In Southeast Asia they play basic—two long-ranged supports. Here, we can see Secret picking four offlane heroes.
PCG: Support Tiny, yesterday.
JessieVash: Yeah, that's why they could pick Huskar—their opponent didn't expect them to pick the Huskar in the last draft. That's the experience gap again I think, for Puppey.
PCG: You did very well against a European team, however—Alliance. Was that different?
JessieVash: I'm not sure if Alliance are still in the top. I see them losing every game... before they played the Majors, they were winning. I think "Alliance is back!" already. I don't know what happened in the Majors games. Even in our game, it wasn't so hard to play against them. I see their skills and I felt that the team could match up against them.
PCG: What about OG? They were much more of an unknown.
JessieVash: In the OG games, we were really pressured by how they draft, how they play. They always pick Miracle- heroes that can carry them if anything happens. Even when they're losing early, we can't win the game.
PCG: We just saw exactly that, right? [This interview took place right after OG vs. Virtus Pro.]
PCG: Personally, then, which game did you most enjoy?
JessieVash: EHOME, I think. EHOME could be the number one team in China, I think. We played against them, I didn't expect to win even one game. We won 2-0!
PCG: Thanks for your time.
Tonight s upper bracket series between Vici Gaming and Team Secret was crazy. These are two of the world s best teams with some of the very best individual players, and even so the standard was extraordinary. After a close first game that Vici ultimately took command over, Secret brute-forced a 2-1 result in their favour through a mixture of bravado, cheese, and whatever the opposite of tilting is. I'd strongly recommend watching the whole series: the VOD isn't available at the time of writing, but here's the Twitch link anyway.
I don t want to talk about the whole series, though. I want to talk about this:
Gfycat from this thread by redditor /u/handofskadi.
This is one of the most next-level things I have ever seen a Dota player do. It is also, I appreciate, almost completely impenetrable to somebody who hasn t invested time into this strange, brilliant game. For me, it s a reminder of why Dota is so extraordinary and why—despite looking like other games in its ostensible genre—it remains completely unique.
The player you re watching in the gif above is w33 from Team Secret. He s controlling that blue archer lady with the green trail, running back and forth at the top of the stairs. That isn t actually his hero—who is elsewhere—but an illusion of his hero, a duplicate that looks exactly like him but can be controlled separately and has next to no health or damage potential. The semi-transparent dragons and sea monsters and swordsmen running past amount to the entirety of Vici Gaming. Got it? Okay.
At the very highest level of play, the probability space of a given Dota game begins to narrow out. There are very rarely optimal decisions that a player or team can make, but there are certainly logical ones—strategies that teams might be expected to deploy, anticipate from their opponent, and so on. One example of this revolves around the use of Smoke of Deceit.
Every team has a limited (but regenerating) supply of Smoke of Deceit that they can purchase for gold. Using it grants every ally in an AoE a limited period of invisibility, and unlike regular invisibility Smoke of Deceit can t be detected by Sentry Wards or Gems of True Sight. Instead, Smoke invisibility breaks when the user enters a certain radius from an enemy hero—the hero themselves, mind, not any of that hero s pets or illusions or allied creeps.
Good players learn to anticipate a Smoke of Deceit and avoid it. If the enemy is behind or there s an important objective they need to take and they re all suddenly not on the map any more, it s a good time to play safe. Very good players learn to anticipate the direction that a likely Smoke of Deceit attack will come from and avoid that specific area—again, it s a matter of understanding the probability of certain decisions. The best players can anticipate both the timing and direction of a Smoke and actively play against it.
w33 did all of that and then some. He not only anticipated the timing and direction of Vici Gaming s Smoke of Deceit use, he derived a way to do the impossible: to prove without doubt that it was happening long before Secret were in any danger, to reduce the chance that his judgement was wrong to zero.
See, Smoke of Deceit isn t broken by running past enemy units, but the heroes it renders invisible are still physical objects in the world. They still block unit pathing. When w33 found an Illusion rune and spawned two copies of his hero, he used one of them in a completely unique way: he sent it into the enemy jungle, to the top of a flight of stairs that Vici were likely to pass through if they attempted a Smoke of Deceit attack. He then gave the illusion multiple queued movement commands, forcing it to run back and forth at the top of those stairs multiple times. Then he kept an eye on it.
The moment Vici Gaming pass, covered by Smoke of Deceit—that s the transparency effect—they re not revealed by the illusion. But they do cause the illusion s pathing to momentarily fail. It hitches as it hits first iceiceice s Tidehunter and then Fenrir s Winter Wyvern, proving that something has obstructed it even if that something is invisible. You see w33 s green map pings come out shortly after: Vici Gaming are here, and they ve used Smoke.
It s genuinely brilliant, and it s only possible because Dota 2 is fundamentally a game about systems rather than fixed rules. You might come up with rules to help you learn, and rules help you understand the metagame, but the moment somebody decides to break them—when they reach back past the rules to the systems that support them and twist them to their benefit—that s when you get real Dota. And that s why all of the Dota people you know are freaking out about a transparent blue archer momentarily hesitating when it bumps into a half-invisible watermelon man. Esports!