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:
We scrapped Fishbowl in game 1 when WiB picked up Alchemist fourth overall. Arc Warden and other sustained-damage cores don’t perform very well against Alch; Chemical Rage makes engagements difficult if you can’t pop him early. No cheeky Alch-hate picks in particular, we had two supports already so no dice on the AA (which is quite nice against Dazzle-Alch), and Viper doesn’t really suit our playstyle.
- Wards in Base opens with Dazzle. I don’t particularly love Pudge into Dazzle – he really struggles against minus armor strategies – but at this point in the draft Plan A is still in effect. Boss insisted desperately that he could play other heroes, so I couldn’t help but troll a little bit and act like he couldn’t. Silencer is excellent with Pudge (or any initiator) and fits the plan – in a vacuum I like magic damage and DoTs in this context so this is usually a Veno / Jaki pick for me.
- Verve suggests Morphling for 3rd pick, which I’m feeling. The hero gives us burst / disable, mobility and map presence against the Alchemist, suits our playstyle, hides our roles.
- Terrorblade was a strong choice for Radiant; we really can’t man-fight into it; reduces the impact of Global Silence; shrinks the map to limit opportunities for Pudge to pick people off. They don’t really have catch either though so it’s an easy Sniper pick for me. Outranges the TB, plays really well with Pudge and Morphling.
- Elder Titan pick is a classic Morphling hard counter but seems completely useless into Sniper, feel like WiB could really use a silence, maybe they don’t have a Disruptor / Chickenmage player. Batrider pick is alright but I would probably opt for Clockwerk to hard counter Sniper. Blink-lasso is not reliable enough.
- Sort of lucked into a nut Storm pick here, gives us so much map presence to ensure Alch and TB are not safe to rat; lets us pick off key backliners like Dazzle/ET; Global Silence synergy; very little catch on Radiant. Batrider will have to work overtime.
- A slightly dangerous draft, our lineup is slow to get going and I’m not sure we can 5-man if they sit behind TB with a gold advantage; however Storm-Morph is really strong rat to keep the pressure off, and Shrapnel + Hook are treacherous for high-ground sieges. Without proper Storm and Sniper counters I feel a close game favors us heavily.
Game 2 they banned Pudge, and we scrapped our Plan B opener. Wards in Base mixes it up a lot but actually threw us some of their more common looks here, so maybe said plans were ill-conceived, and we needed to anticipate enemy openers better. Mostly we looked to capitalize on low damage output from WiB’s lineup and outmaneuver them.
- Radiant opens with Io, one of their best heroes. I don’t draft against Wisp often, but I think Mirana, Witch Doctor are relatively normal counters. Leap and Moonlight Shadow make us resistant to relocate; Sacred Arrow and Paralyzing Casks are helpful against Tether.
- We expect Puck to be offlane, so I feel okay slamming Anti Mage 3rd pick here, he can probably bully Puck, and he is good for dodging Tether dives as well as for getting on top of Io in an engagement. We should have guessed the Puck would be mid however, because they ban TA. It may seem early for an AM, but when you (think you) have info on a lane it’s typically the correct spot to fill.
- To the point above we actually should pick our mid fourth here, because with the Batrider reveal we know the Puck is mid for them. Anyway we opt for Windranger offlane, Io counter due to natural vulnerability to Shackleshot.
- I don’t particularly like WiB’s Troll or Clock picks – we have two heroes that can peace out of cogs and the other two are force staff carriers. But we definitely underestimated Tether + Clock at early levels, and Radiant blew us out off early ganks.
- The last pick Ember Spirit felt correct – magic burst for Io and Troll; mobility for Cogs, Tether and Troll again; magic absorption and root for Puck; pushing weakness covered by AM and Windranger – but Stairs was out of practice with the hero and forgot to max Flame Guard.
- I do like this draft overall, I think it plays really well into Radiant’s strengths, but sometimes supports are not ready with teleports and the enemy snowballs hard from lane ganks, and a Clockwerk seems to always have a haste rune.
Game 3 we finally got to put Plan A in motion after a teamfight-slut opener by Wards in Base, conceptually a huge mistake as it plays right into our natural ratting style. We do a little gH-esque role swap, because Verve is our Naga player. Candidly I think WiB lost the draft in phase one – Magnus and Earthshaker may as well be fat melee creeps when Banana makes it through bans.
- We tease Boss, because we only lose when he isn’t playing Pudge. This match we have first pick, and they let Boss’s hero through, so an easy grab.
- Plague Wards are really good. I note several RP and Echo Slam whiffs.
- Dire’s Warlock pick cements our strategy; they are three heroes in and have no way to deal with split push.
- Finally a traditional offlaner for us, Centaur‘s Stampede (and Naga Song) makes it really easy for us to disengage from Chaotic Offering and Doom. The ability to reset along with the vision and blink killing from Naga illusions and Venomancer prevents WiB from playing the game they want.
- We have an awesome set up for Arc Warden now and it seals the draft. I don’t think it matters much but Troll has a hard game here, feels like we have a roster full of kiting tools. Maybe a Legion Commander would do better, lots of stuff to purge; catch for Naga and Arc Warden.
Overall I think our drafts were quite good this series, but the plans were not well devised, since we ended up having to alter them pretty heavily except in game 3. At time of writing this post we’re through the semifinals already, so that writeup is in progress, and I’ll note we were successful in developing more plausible plans that we’d be less likely to abandon. Wish us luck in the Grand Finals!
We’ll try not to next level ourselves by say, drafting a melee mid.
-gg worst captain ever