MANGO's Monday MOBA report: MLG Columbus and DOTA 2 edition
Last weekend was a pretty busy weekend in genre of MOBAs, with two large tournaments happening on the same weekend. IEM Cologne for League of Legends, which featured some of the best amateur challenger teams along with some of the top teams in each region. MLG Columbus, a DOTA 2 tournament, featured 8 of the top teams at the moment, including TI3 Winners [A]lliance and TI3 Runner-ups Na'Vi. Along with other fan favorites such as the new DK and upcoming Speed Gaming, MLG Columbus was slated to be a great tournament.
Shifting gears from The International 3 and setting onto the road to TI4, we jump into another powerhouse international tournament, with eight of the strongest DOTA 2 teams having a showdown this weekend with a prize pool of $130,000 on the line. I am, of course, talking about MLG Columbus. After two days of brutal pool play, which saw some classic matchups such as Na'vi vs Alliance take place, we were left with four teams to play out the semi finals: DK at the top with a 7-1 record, Sigma Int, a surprise to many in second with a 6-2 record, and then Speed Gaming and the people's champion Na'vi rounding out the top 4 with both of them at 5-3.
Starting with Na'vi vs DK, both teams being longtime powerhouses in the DOTA scene, this was the first time many US viewers were exposed to the neo-DK which saw a giant change of the guard after TI3, adding in a completely new roster outside of Burning, team captain and perennial lord of farm. Grabbing up the 1v1 king iceiceice (lover of hot chocolate) as their offlaner, Mushi: proud owner of one of the largest and most diverse hero pools in the entire scene, and the powerful duo MMY and LaNm of former EHOME fame. This "Neo-DK" team has the making of a juggernaut and has already been slated as an early competitor for the TI4 crown.
He really does love his hot chocolate
Na'vi, on the other hand, retain their runner-up roster from TI3 which consists of Funn1k, one of the most solid offlane players the game currently, mastermind support player Kuroky of Rubick fame (check out his signature set in the DOTA 2 store!), the brawniest carry in the world Xboct, the wunderkind prodigy Dendi, and to round it off, the hound-master Puppey, who makes sure to keep a tight leash on latter two of his highly talented roster.
After getting into the semi-finals by the skin of their teeth (like usual), Na'vi starts off the series against DK with a pretty curious draft that included support Alchemist, Medusa and mid Windranger against a powerful early composition from DK that included Wisp and Gyrocopter. Game 1 was a fairly dominant performance by DK, who simply bullied Xboct's Medusa into a hole early that he never really recovered from. Despite Na'vi's long winded stall that had a few moments of hope, Game 1 was a fairly painless victory for DK.
Game 2, however, was a completely different story. On a whole other level, there is two words that can summarize this game properly: Divine Rapier. An 85 minute classic which ended with 3 Divine Rapiers on Na'vi, words don't do this game justice.
If you ever doubted that a Gyrocopter had the ability to carry nuclear weaponry, this game will change your mind.
If you missed this game, it was an International match in terms of both the playmaking and the general atmosphere of the game. This game is one of the ages, right up there with Na'vi vs Alliance Game 5 at TI3, granted for much lesser stakes.
Unfortunately, it looked like the Na'vi gas tank was on empty in Game 3 after the Game 2 slugfest. After jumping out to an early lead once again, DK on the back of Burning's Luna and Mushi's Outworld Devourer, push Na'vi out of MLG with another, Game 1 style convincing win over the people's champion.
On the other side of the bracket, you have Speed Gaming, missing one of their main players in Bone7 due to Visa issues, and Sigma Int, the new kid on the block with some familiar faces in 7kingmad, FATA and Sockshka. After Speed Gaming's abysmal 0-3 start to the tournament and Sigma's relative youth teamwise compared to the other, more established teams in MLG, this matchup in the Semi-finals was a longshot to say the least. But, that's why they play the matches instead of just theorize them.
Game 1 was a slugfest from the start, with 12 kills in the first 10 minutes of gameplay. Pieliedie, the support player of Speed, had some very powerful Ancient Apparition ultimates throughout the game. Combined with Singsing's super aggressive Clockwerk play, they were hitting Sigma hard and fast with that duo's powerful mid game ganks. As the game progressed, the bootless Weaver played by EternalEnvy aka EE-Sama simply got bigger and bigger, becoming a late game monster. But the real issue that faced Sigma this game was the substitute, Arteezy, who came in like a replaceable part for Speed Gaming and was simply a monster in Game 1 on his Elder Titan. After a demonstration of late game bottle tactics by Eternalenvy, Speed Gaming took the Game 1 victory.
Another close game, Sigma and Speed went toe to toe in Game 2 for nearly as long as Game 1, sticking to their Outworld Devourer and taking away the playmaking Clockwerk from Speed Gaming. "Shoot arrow, hit arrow" tactics from Singsing and amazing play on Templar Assassin from "the natural born killer" Arteezy allows Speed Gaming to squeak by Sigma Int. in another close, nail-biter of a game.
The final skirmish of the game featuring a RRRRRRREFRACTIONNNN
After two hard games for Speed against Sigma and a barn-burner set against Na'vi for DK, what could these teams possible have left for us in the Grand Finals? A lot.
After calling out for Bone7's strength, Eternalenvy and crew settle in to Game 1 against the juggernaut DK, a team on a mission to win their first lan event with their new roster. Another International quality game, Game 1 rivaled DK vs Na'vi Game 2 in terms of raw hype and memorable moments in the game. A hectic scramble to end the game, multiple crushing Earthshaker ultimates from LaNm that were probably felt on Mars to save the game, and Burning buying more BKBs HIMSELF than are normally bought in an entire game are just a few highlights of this insane game. Oh, there was a rapier being passed around too. Here's the VoD of this one guys, I can't do this game justice with my writing.
EternalEnvy's Doom may have been the most armored thing to exist in DOTA 2. Just another crazy thing that happened in Game 1.
Game 2, while still a good game, paled in comparison to Game 1. Featuring EternalEnvy's signature "Blinkz", or Clinkz with a blink dagger, Game 2 was a brief reprieve from the 9 round classic that was Game 1.
If Game 2 was a reprieve, Game 3 was a return to Game 1 levels of tension. EternalEnvy, showed that his custom Blinkz build was not a fluke and got by with a little help from his trusty friends. That help being Arteezy's Outworld Devourer, SingSing's sticky fingers on Clockwerk grabbing Rapiers, and the MVI (most valuable item) Force Staff. Speed Gaming was able to pull it out in the late game and man-handle DK in this deciding close game, with EternalEnvy refusing to be denied his victory in the series. There was no mercy to be had this day, especially for DK, who fought admirably but ultimately could not overcome Speed Gaming's tenacity.
Possibly the best weekend in DOTA 2 since TI3, MLG Columbus is everything that DOTA and MOBA fans love to see: A real celebration of the game in both the level of gameplay and the passion of the fanbase. The $50,000 prize pool that was expanded to over $130,000 by the fanbase itself purchasing items, for instance. The MLG production value, especially their "Turtle Beach Team Chat", which allowed the fans to be patched into the banter of their favorite teams LIVE as the games were happening was an amazing idea that more LAN events should mix into their presentation in the future.
It's fair to say that sometimes people get a little stressed when playing for high stakes, so you'll have to excuse Puppey's NSFW strategy talk.
MLG Columbus is the beginning of a promising #RoadtoTI4, one that is sure to include more tournaments with classic games such Na'vi vs DK Game 2 and Speed vs DK Game 1. While I used to cringe at the sighting of MLG organizing a tournament, after this week I have nothing but love for how they pulled off this Tournament. Congratulations to Speed Gaming and best of luck to all the other teams who attended in their #RoadtoTI4, you have millions of fans waiting for your next matchups!