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.
Our plan-A opener consisted of Pudge roam, Lina 1, Spectre 3 with situational 4th and 5th picks, swapping lanes and roles if warranted by NG’s picks. We had a plan-B opener that would trigger off certain bans by them but didn’t end up needing it.
- In game 1 their KotL, Dazzle response to fp Pudge isn’t bad, but we can be pretty sure that they’re their 4, 5. These supports are pretty defensive so we can probably expect play-making cores that are enabled by said supports. We don’t love Lina into that style so we pick up an Axe to put a stop to any shenanigans (also he is the classic Dazzle counter).
- Enigma is our dark new offlaner from game 1 – he actually sees a lot of play offlane at higher levels; he just doesn’t see much play overall (a few DAC LAN finals appearances, all manned by S4). He is picked seldom enough that I feel comfortable recommending that captains pick him more – a lot more. I think maybe only Centaur is better right now in the offlane. It’s mostly a synergy pick here, as Darchow works best as a secondary initiator, and we have two amazing primary initiators. Even just sprinkles on top of a call or dismember will do a lot of damage and zone out potential counter-play. Anyway we do maintain some lane flexibility, because we are not opposed to a pos 1 Axe.
- With Axe jungle and Pudge roam, we need a carry that can solo a lane, and Clinkz fits the bill. Additionally provides a lot of damage and siege to complement our disables, and typically builds silence, which we also lack.
- Tinker is bursty and can teleport to eidolons.
- Overall I think it’s a favorable draft that makes it tough for Radiant to find engagements that they want.
- In game 2, Neko Guntai actually snags Lina in the first phase. Can’t say I like this hero into Pudge very much, but it’s meta and maybe they have a plan for the Pudge already (in retrospect I don’t think they did).
- We still love offlane Spectre into Dire’s opener, so we pick a little bit of meme-global, a little bit of counter-pick in Silencer. A strong pos 4 and good set up for our third pick.
- Ember is typically favorable into Spectre, but the offlane version doesn’t have trouble against it so we lock it in. I’m a big fan of the concept; take a really strong hero and figure out how to make it work in other roles. Verve did the testing, I just use the results. We essentially abuse the buffs to dispersion and boost Spectre’s resistances; hood armlet blademail enables her to dish out much more damage than she takes.
- Doobs has been discussing with us the rapid expansion of his hero pool – ironically in this draft he vetoes four suggestions before we settle on his flawless Weaver.
- We’re expecting NG’s strongest player to man the Ember Spirit, so we grab the likeliest counter we can muster with Invoker. I don’t think they gap close on Kael’thas very well, other than Ember who will lose his flame guard to tornado.
- Overall this lineup gives us a lot of map control, which puts Bristleback, Lina and Jakiro in a tough spot, as they prefer engagements with clear cut front and back lines.
There has been so much talk lately about how offlane is much easier than it used to be, that it’s the “new safelane” even, but as drafters I don’t feel like we’ve been treating it that way at all. Centaur, Abaddon, Axe, Slardar, Underlord, and now Magnus dominate the 3 position; very safe, very standard; normalcy continues.
Now, I’m not sure that this offlane regularity has anything to do with sheepishness or dishonesty on the part of captains; it just happens that a whole slew of offlaners are overall really jacked heroes right now. So why branch out? Well, there do exist great heroes in other roles, so if we’re serious about the demise of the “hard lane”, it’s time to send new position-3 heroes down in the hole. There’s also the advantage of lane masking, which can cause enemies to ban the wrong roles or sink harder counters into lower priorities heroes.
The opposite could be said too of course – if standard offlane heroes are so strong, we could send them to other lanes as well. Still, I don’t think we next-level ourselves by say, straight up drafting five offlaners (or do we? …may actually be a legit strat).
-gg worst captain ever