Shanghai Major 2016 – Team Analysis
With the Shanghai Major qualifiers out of the way, it’s a good time to analyze how the qualified teams match up to the other teams in the main event. We first look at the top two teams from the American Qualifiers: CompLexity and Team Archon.
CompLexity Gaming (CoL)
Complexity first made noise at TI5, where they pulled a constant stream of upsets in the group stages, defeating NaVi, MVP.phx, Fnatic and Cloud 9. Even though they had a rough outing against EG and VP after the group stages, they showed great potential against both teams. Against VP, they lost a razor close 2-1 series which just didn’t go their way. Against EG, even though they lost 2-0, I felt both games they actually should’ve won if it weren’t for some tactical errors and bad item choices by them.
Regardless, after TI5, due to some roster changes with MoonMeander and Fly transferring to OG (previously known as Monkey Business), they’ve been having very limited success. Recently, with the addition of NiP members Handsken and Limmp to the team and old school HoN player Chessie who was previously with Complexity back in the HoN days, they’re starting to pick up some key wins to regain their confidence.
At the moment, they’ve proven themselves to be clearly better than tier 2 teams like Elite Wolves, Power of Friendship and pretty much any team that’s not in the top 20. Complexity is definitely at top 15 team for sure, although they’ve been performing quite poorly against the top 10 teams of the world as we recently saw at Starladder 13. They have only been together for about two months and it will take some time before they’re able to work in sync to compete with the top tier teams. Will there be enough time from now and the Shanghai Majors for Complexity to come through as the underdog and pull some upsets just like they did at TI5? It’s such a short period of time, but I believe it is enough. Lets take a look at what makes CoL so successful as a team and what causes them to fail.
CoL’s Aggressive Playstyle
The thing that makes CoL so fun to watch is that they always bring an action packed game by picking very aggressive ganking heroes in both the laning stage and mid game. You usually see them pick up one or two aggressive supports to roam around the map (such as Vengeful Spirit, Bane, Disruptor and Chen). For their cores, they usually go for the standard Gyrocopter, Lone druid, Death prophet and Invoker.
Whenever their laning stage goes well, the game usually ends up being a stomp where they’re able to group up and take towers with having heroes such as Beastmaster, Chen and Lone druid. If the enemy decides to split push them, they do a good job at punishing them for being alone since their line up always has high gank potential.
When the laning stage doesn’t go well for them, they go for pick offs with their ganking oriented team to try and gain a gold lead so they can start their momentum, though they may struggle against 5 man line ups. CompLexity does have some weaknesses in their playstyle and most notably, their aggression can lead to their downfall. Let’s take a look at some examples:
CoL vs. DC Game 1
You can watch the game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNZ-00Xzh5c
As we can see from the image above, DC drafted an extremely defensive lineup consisting of two defensive supports: Winter Wyvern and Dazzle. In addition to that, they have Nature’s prophet, a hero that’s great at counter ganking by being able to teleport anywhere on the map. On the other hand, compLexity drafted two extremely aggressive supports: Chen and Tusk who are able to roam around and get kills from level 1-3.
Now, it’s common that defensive supports beat aggressive supports by thwarting all their gank attempts and making them fall off later on the game, however, this only applies if the support can be there to protect the core when the gank happens. In this situation, since there are two defensive supports, at least two lanes are protected all the time so trying to gank is like playing Russian Roulette with a 2/3 chance of being killed (this is excluding factors such as TP rotations and wards from both sides). Add in a Nature’s Prophet to every gank attempt and then ganking doesn’t seem like a great idea.
Now, I’m surprised at how compLexity approached this game. Instead of focusing more on farming for the early portions of the game, they played very aggressively and attempted constant ganks. Almost their entire offense was shut down during the early stages and all three of DC’s cores had free farm whilst complexity’s heroes struggled. Every time they tried to gank, it resulted in them dying due to nature’s prophet teleporting in whilst their prey was protected by the dazzle or wyvern. For a perfect example of this watch the video at 18:45 youtube time / 6:33 dota timer.
The whole early game, I just watched complexity throw heroes at DC and just dying constantly or wasting their time. This resulted in a level 3 Chen at 10 minutes who was at the bottom of the net worth charts despite being a position 4. What the Chen should’ve done was farmed his items, get an some early items like a buckler and then pressure a tower without overreaching for ganks. This is something Alliance is very good at doing: if they don’t see gank opportunities, they’ll mildly pressure the lanes to ensure their cores get farm, then take early towers (in particular, the offlane tower).
Meanwhile, over-aggression seems to be a trend whenever I watch complexity play. Sometimes I see them have a great draft, but throw away their early game by diving too far into towers and then having the enemy team snowball afterwards. Having aggressive supports doesn’t mean you need to get kills – this is a common misconception. You definitely shouldn’t be aggressively looking for ganks against a super defensive line up. Instead, just farm up the position 4 support, because, having aggressive supports alone will mean the enemy can’t play aggressive otherwise they’ll die.
The only time gank opportunities arise are when the opponents give them to you – usually by overextending (especially during split pushes). The few success compLexity had was when DC tried to split push and stayed too long at the towers and coL did a great job in capitalizing.
Past the 10 minute mark, the game starts to change and it becomes easier to gank with aggressive supports for a few reasons:
- It’s just easier to gank with higher levels and ultimates being available
- Perhaps some tier 1 towers have been destroyed so there won’t be TP rotations
- Players start pressuring towers, and this means they are overextending, resulting in easier ganks
- The rotations usually involve more heroes
This was exactly what happened in this game. When the laning stage has passed, things were looking pretty good for DC with their early gold and exp advantage. However, compLexity immediately went for some 4 or 5 man pick offs, getting some crucial early kills on the Lone Druid. I actually felt the game could’ve went different if DC started 5 manning at around the 10 minute mark and avoided getting picked off since complexity lost their early game.
Regardless, complexity did a great job at punishing DC’s every attempt at split pushing and constantly found pick offs all over the map. After the first one or two gank attempts, DC lost their chance at grouping up to take towers, as complexity had closed the gap in gold and exp lead. Split pushing was the only way they could retain map control and farm, but every time they went out alone, compLexity would be there to gank them. After constant pick offs, complexity were able to gain a lead and win a downhill game from there.
The thing I really like about complexity is that they’re very good at ganking after the laning stage. I’ve seen them successfully pull off some crucial ganks against top tier teams like EG, Secret and VP so yes, complexity are very capable of destroying top tier teams if they don’t overreach for ganks and allow the enemy to snowball too much.
In this game, AUI 2000 did so much on the Bounty Hunter and it’s definitely the main reason they won this game. Early game, he would roam around, pressure lanes and get some early kills. Along with that, a bounty hunter can negate early offensive potential to an extent by providing his team with intel of the enemy’s locations. Even if he doesn’t, just having a Bounty Hunter in the game can make supports hesitant to roam.
In team fights, AUI 2000 would also deal a lot of hero damage from doing a shuriken toss to multiple units due to track and this turned out to be devastating for CoL. With that said, I feel like I have to mention there were two other factors that costed complexity the game:
1. A bit of bad luck with the double damage rune spawns, getting the bounty hunter some crucial kills early on. Also a couple of ganks that didn’t go there way (e.g. invoker surviving on like 30 hp and clockwerk being able to barely walk past an ice shard trap that seemed to block him in).
2. CoL’s over-aggression caused them to lose 3 heroes at a crucial moment after they took mid tower. Watch the video at 22:47 to see what I mean (11:47 Dota time). You can argue they were baited by Bulba, but had this not happened, there’s a high probability that they would’ve won their next fight which was really close and the game would’ve been dramatically different.
This isn’t the same Team Archon that played at TI5, but they are the members of a previous team known as Team FIRE. Having their fair share of adversities, Team Archon were initially expected to participate in the main qualifiers of Frankfurt Majors, but after replacing one of their members, they were forced to play in the open qualifiers where they lost to Team DileCom. Not many people expected them to qualify for the Shanghai Majors, but they’ve been playing very well and shocked a lot of people by not only taking DC’s spot, but by coming first in the qualifiers.
In contrast to compLexity’s preference of early game ‘death ball’ style lineup consisting of heroes like Chen, Beastmaster, Death Prophet, Team Archon places an emphasis on strong team fight: heroes like undying, witch doctor, Timbersaw, and slardar (though there are exceptions like Lone Druid). Even though they lack the ability to destroy towers fast, their mid game potential can be devastating to deal with when they’re core items are up (meks, blinks etc.)
Team Archon seems to be more comfortable with picking aggressive supports, especially bane and tusk than defensive supports like dazzle. We’ll see them pick up a witch doctor to counter a hero like Chen and Beastmaster with the cask bounces, or against line ups that don’t pressure lanes early (forcing the witch doctor to be under leveled from rotations and possibly deaths).
I think there are a few heroes that can give Team Archon problems and they are the ones that can pressure them very early on: Chen (being able to put a lot of pressure on lanes and take early objectives before mek timing), Spirit Breaker (once again, can pressure lanes very heavily by being able to move from lane to lane quickly), Natures Prophet (same reason, being able to pressure all lanes with his global presence / counter gank when Archon gets too aggressive) and finally Broodmother (I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more teams picking brood against Archon, as I’ve seen many games where brood would’ve been a great pick that can punish them for not having a good counter or picking too greedily or both).
You might also question: what about a roaming venge or a roaming bounty? Would those heroes give Archon problems? My answer would be: Many aggressive heroes can be dealt with easier since there’s less push + tower diving potential compared to a Chen, less pressure + tower diving potential compared to a Spirit Breaker. However, I’ve seen DC utilize disruptor extremely well against them by punishing heroes that are out of tower range with glimpse.
We’ve seen Team Archon deal a roaming Bounty Hunter quite well by drafting tanky heroes:
Archon vs. Complexity Game 1:
Even though the game was close, they had a very comfortable early game and wasn’t pressured much by the bounty who scored 0 kills since their heroes were all so tanky. Only Invoker wasn’t tanky, but that means there was only one lane to focus their protection on.
An example of how Team Archon’s early game can be shut down is during their match against DC:
Archon vs. DC Game 2:
Due to the pressure of Chen and Disruptor, Team Archon lost their laning stage going 2-6 in score. Since they were unable to get their crucial timings (e.g. blink on TA/slardar or mek on undying), DC were able to pressure very early on, getting a crucial tier 2 tower 11 minutes into the game to gain control of Archon’s territory. After AUI got his mek, they took at rax at 16 minutes and won an easy game. I expect pressure heavy teams like Alliance and EHome to match well against Team Archon whilst it will be interesting to see how they perform against more defensive teams like EG.
With all this said, if I had to choose which team would perform better at the Majors, I’d say compLexity, despite losing to Team Archon and having a poor performance at Star Ladder. I’m just not totally sold on Team Archon yet and I think that’s because their hero preference doesn’t match the current meta: the meta defined by Alliance at Star Ladder 13 which entails the deathball style compLexity uses. I’d definitely like to see compLexity use Chen and possibly Enigma more often since they have a great player, ZFreek for those heroes. Although I’m not sold on Team Archon, anything can happen within these next 1-2 months and I’d love it if they can prove me wrong.
All in all, I’m excited to watch this event, especially with the return of Alliance and possibly LGD along with the return of OG (the winners of Frankfurt Majors) from a well earned hiatus.