Captains Mode

Learning to draft in Dota 2

Michael J Jackson’s Draft Priorities

Captains Mode drafts are nuanced. There are dozens of aspects to consider, hundreds of heroes, and nigh infinite variation. It’s impossible to think about everything, so here are the fundamentals that I prioritize.

  1. Player Confidence – The biggest thing is having good vibes going into a match, everyone feeling good about the hero they’re playing, high morale, ready to fuck some butts. I make sure we’re all happy by using a give and take method. When I want to pick a 3, I ask my offlaner what he wants to play and suggest a couple heroes that I like. If he chooses a hero that I think is incorrect, I explain my hesitation and see if he likes another hero – if he insists I pick it for him anyway. He has to play the hero, at least make sure he wants to. Continue reading “Michael J Jackson’s Draft Priorities”
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7.06 and Preparing for Echo League S2

Gameplay Update 7.06 has been out for about a week now, so my new stack Five Potatoes (5pot) has been theory-crafting and brainstorming relentlessly for days. At time of writing 7.06b is already out, pulling Sven back to earth and throwing a bone to Broodmom and Wukong, who we’ll still likely avoid.

Preparations for the new season of Echo League have involved trying to leapfrog the 7.06 meta as well as connecting its winners to the hero pools of our new squad. There were a lot of big changes in both the patch and our roster, so I believe it warrants an equal change to how we approach the draft. Continue reading “7.06 and Preparing for Echo League S2”

Echo League Grand Finals: Tilt or Tilt Trying

Link to the vod:

My posse Thanks for Breastsfast played against the juggernauts BRB Buying Abyssal in the Echo League Grand Finals. I won’t talk about the results until after the break; the series is a good watch (albeit long), and the production team does a terrific job. So please enjoy it if you’re interested.

BBA rolled through the group stage and playoffs, entering the grand finals with a convincing 15-2 record (to our 12-3). We seemed to be underdogs from discord chat during hype-week, however the generous pregame panel believed their advantage to be small. Twitch chat strawpoll actually had us as slight favorites.

Coming into the series we’d garnered some recognition for unpredictable drafting, and for the farm speed and play-making of our star offlaner, Verve. BBA had a star of its own, their pos-1 captain, Excasand, who they played around and gave space until the late game was his alone to dictate. Opponents could not navigate the clean execution of their high-tempo four-protect-one dota style. For me the task was clear: get these guys to make some goddam mistakes, get them playing Boobs dota. Continue reading “Echo League Grand Finals: Tilt or Tilt Trying”

Echo League Quarterfinals: We Need Pudge

Last weekend my team Thanks for Breastsfast faced off against the controversial Wards in Base in the Echo League Quarterfinals. A fun series with many different strategies – I think 28 total heroes played over three games. Our big takeaway from the series is that we should tailor our draft plans towards what the enemy team likes to do, rather than brainstorm primarily around what we think would be groovy to play.

Our plan against Wards in Base was essentially to ban split-push counters or preempt them (eg. Silencer to prevent Storm pick), then finish drafts off with some variation of building hitters like Anti Mage, Arc Warden or TA, Morphling. Not much of a theme for this post, but I think the individual drafts are pretty interesting, so let’s break them down: Continue reading “Echo League Quarterfinals: We Need Pudge”

Echo League Sweet 16: Scenario Scoping

My boys in Thanks for Breastsfast move on to the Echo League quarterfinals after a close 2-0 victory over Nicky Cage Fan Club.

We were MMR underdogs this series, so I wanted to put together a pretty comprehensive strategy. Our draft plan centaured¹ around setting up an offlane Chaos Knight to force grouping and boost the output of a carry Morphling or Anti Mage. We felt that this line transitioned well from our initial bans as well as from NCFC’s anticipated initial bans.

Before I break down the individual drafts I thought that it would be mighty swell to do a little show-and-tell, so here is a link to my draft plan for this match. I’m using a new style that we’re going to formally term as Scenario Scoping to sound cool; it’s really just a scratch pad. It utilizes a stream of consciousness that gets as much hero matchup information into text as possible so that we can look for “rug heroes” that tie a draft together. Then we build around those heroes for our Plan A.

On to the drafts: Continue reading “Echo League Sweet 16: Scenario Scoping”

RD2L W3: 7.05 and the Nature of Guys

Last week saw the DAG# trying to find its way after a difficult and convincing series, now here in week three I think we’ve sorted out the direction for the team, including a position swap. From here out we’ll do a lot of playtesting and smaller improvements, but the biggest changes should be in effect for week four.

This week’s match Duck and Goose 1 2 3 went up against Can He Even Carry and split the series evenly 1-1. Let’s do some draft rundowns and then talk about the path forward. Continue reading “RD2L W3: 7.05 and the Nature of Guys”

Bad Ogre Picks (Battle Cup)


Finally claimed a second Battle Cup trophy on a stack we named sideboob. The team mostly consisted of regulars – our Visage, Tinker, and Earthshaker SMEs (rizod, dihy, and snow respectively) – plus okay from reddit league.

Our plan for this go-around was Aba-Shaker-Visage-Tinker if we start with first pick; for second pick we ban Abaddon and grab CM. This was the last night of patch 7.04. I think now with another small nerf to LoA’s strength gain in 7.05, I’m ready to say he’s no longer dota’s premier hero. Still great, but back down to earth, and first pick should open up a lot.

For some reason all three opponents picked Ogre Magi in this tournament. I’m not sure what the deal is here, because he’s been out of the meta for a while (apparently not; this cup is direct evidence to the contrary). My suspicion was that these teams have some lower-skilled players, and they thought a simple beater hero could still have impact. Checked dotabuff, and it does not support my theory. So why do they pick him? Not sure but let’s shit on this hero for three paragraphs:

Continue reading “Bad Ogre Picks (Battle Cup)”

RD2L W2: What are we good at?

Duck and Goose 1 2 3 suffered a tough series sweep last Sunday against the seemingly indomitable Surge Slark Slam, captained by the ever-growing Supra.

In season 10 it wasn’t until W4 that Les Champignons figured it all out, and while it is optimistic to shoot for another 19-1 post W3 record, I do think we can put a good season together – I believe failure would not be for lack of talent. The puzzle to solve with a new team is really this: what are we good at?

Mushroom-stack was all about map control, tower diving, forcing enemy rotations; creating a situation where the opponent just doesn’t have options and is punished from all angles. But that’s not a natural playstyle for the DAG#. So the task is to suss out what is. Let’s look at a couple drafts. Continue reading “RD2L W2: What are we good at?”

Echo League W4: Putting the Echo in it

The weekend marked our last group stage match of Echo League. My boys on Thanks for Breastsfast needed a clean 2-0 to ensure ourselves a playoff spot. We slammed the door shut. We are happy to hear that our opponents, Slick Daddy Club, ended up clinching the playoffs anyway through the wildcard tiebreakers system.

We threw a couple different looks at SDC, did a lot of lane-hiding, tried to exploit specific weaknesses, but mostly we put our guys on heroes they liked and relied on them to make plays. Now that we have a few weeks under our belts we have a better understanding of the style of dota that suits us best and really draft according to that style. Let’s do a draft rundown. Continue reading “Echo League W4: Putting the Echo in it”

Echo League W3: Dark New Offlaners

Thanks for Breastsfast returns after a 2 week hiatus of bye & scheduling problems. In an effort to avoid our week 2 mishap, I took time before this series to develop a scouting report and draft plan for our ambitious opponents, Neko Guntai, who played another two-game series right after the one with us.

We planned a couple openers that outlined the first two ban phases and first three hero picks, accounting for opponent hero pools and their own potential pick/bans. A lot of their selections seemed to be outside their historical zone of comfort, so we didn’t put much stock in their profiles, just banned heroes we didn’t want to see. I’ll talk about the drafts and a bit about offlane choice. Continue reading “Echo League W3: Dark New Offlaners”

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