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.
Our new lineup looks like this:
- Snow (promoted from B)
- Doobs (previously 1)
The glaring omissions are of course Verve-God and Boss-chan, who have both moved on to find greater glory in the newly buffed Division A, while the rest of us shoot for a title more appropriate to our skills in the also-buffed Div B.
Verve was the wild card of our drafts, hiding our strategy all the way up until our heroes showed up in their lanes. The unsung hero, Doobs, takes over Verve’s role. He has different tastes from Verve, but we’ll still look to capitalize on his rapidly expanding hero pool and use his oft-weird hero to throw off enemy captains.
Boss gave stability to the treacherous first-pick hero, shrugging off all manner of counter-picks (or just hooking them anyway) so that the rest of us could see more context before selecting our own heroes. Diaspora brings a much larger hero pool to this position, so instead of Pudge spam we’ll start with a wide array of planned picks in hopes that other teams will have trouble banning anything relevant.
Pinktops and Snow again bring a lot of new heroes into the mix, and with some shared favorites among the group we’ll keep enemies unsure of who is playing what, reminiscent of our flex Mirana in the S1 grand finals.
- Open Flexible. We’ve identified a number of heroes that can not only fulfill multiple roles, but that most or all of us enjoy playing. Heroes like Silencer, Mirana, Venomancer, etc. work at all levels of farm priority, and we can establish good lane match ups across the map. Not only do we get more options in phase 2/3, we can also pick multiple flex heroes and keep all our lanes hidden.
- Exploit the Bans. Last season we had smaller hero pools overall and very little overlap. This season, with a new focus on flexibility we can use bans as context to a much greater degree, allowing us to deliver Haymaker picks earlier on, with smarter blocks and foundation heroes that are harder to answer. To take a contrived example, if the enemy team bans Abaddon, Lich, Terrorblade, Sven, they expose the draft to minus armor and will have a much harder time answering something like a 3rd pick Slardar or Dazzle.
- Drop the Hammer. If we successfully control the draft from the get-go, we can push opponents into corners, so that our counter-picks at the tail end of the draft are that much more effective eg. last season’s early Pudge picks often prompted Slardar-LS responses, setting us up to punish with Drow strats. In game 5 of the grand finals, a 3rd pick Timbersaw prompted an Ursa response, which in turn set up our league winning Naga pick.
There’s too much to cover, so I’ll just bullet out three aspects that I think are of particular interest to drafting.
- Winning your lanes is much more important. Denying was buffed, shrines start on cd, and the jungle was nerfed. We hope our new focus on flexibility will pay off when trying to guess our lane match ups. Lane dominators have increased win rates across the board – Razor, Viper, Qop of Pain, Ogre Magi, Lich, Huskar etc.
- Buffs to small items. Urn, Soul Ring, Bracers, Force Staff, Aether Lens, Atos all improved. Combine that with an emphasis on lanes, and we should see a lot of early peak heroes.
- Major buffs to ganking. The need to disrupt these strong lanes; nerf to shrines; nerf to buyback; nerf to creep vision; doubled jungle spawn rate; extra runes in the late game – all point to larger advantages to teams that can initiate and get pickoffs around the map. SB, Clock, Riki, BH are totally nuts right now. Slardar, QoP, Huskar are back. The map just has so much more stuff to do now, taking control of it is the best (maybe only) path to victory.
Here’s a failed experiment we tried against one of the likely Division B contenders (part of last season’s 2nd place Spicy Thieves) – definitely felt good about the Chaos Knight roaming pick, but offlane Winter Wyvern + carry Windranger felt underwhelming. I rather like Bane, but not in phase 1 unless we are pairing it with Kunkka or Mirana.
This scrim we ran the other day against a promising Division C team features what I think will be a relatively common look for us, however the pick order will change to show our more flexible heroes at the start – I’d prefer an opener like Windranger-Viper into that Spacecow.
This draft from last Saturday’s Battle Cup is quite close to what I picture for us, however I definitely see Riki and / or Venomancer ending up in core positions sometimes. I’m showing a lot of Viper picks lately, extending back to the Grand Finals. I used to think green-bat was situational, and perhaps indicative of our meta. The hero seems to show good results, and his public winrate is up to solidly above average, so perhaps we’ll look at him more at pick three or even two.
I believe that our drafting approach will benefit Five Potatoes and fit the current state of Dota. But there’s a limit for everything – I wouldn’t go all out on lane strength for fear of a turtle strat KotL or Wyvern beating us by itself. And I don’t think maximizing flexibility is so important that I’d pass up an Ancient Apparition into first pick Alch or Huskar. Perhaps the better thing to say is staying flexible applies not only to our heroes but to our strategy as well.
While we look to compete for the Div B crown I’ll also be coaching my friends’ stack Riggity Riggity Rekt in Div C – so I’d like to rehash the point that metas are different on every stage. Flexibility, lanes, and ganking may be the focus for us on 5pot, but they are not necessarily the keys to victory for RRR. Similarly I wouldn’t expect that copying say, OG, would work out for our teams either. I think we’d just next-level ourselves trying to first pick Naga / Alch.
-gg worst captain ever