For the first time since I began writing Power Rankings, I’ll be doing an update after each week of play for both WED and SUN. I’ll keep the explanations shorter than I would for pre-season rankings (hence why I’ve dropped the “Team Reviews” bit from the title for the updates), so whereas the preseason rankings are more about analyzing the teams and players, these will be more about the rankings themselves. The methodology here will be pretty simple — I have some rudimentary numbers on how certain results affect a drop or rise in rank, and I’ll pair that with some subjective thoughts on the teams as well. The number of teams per tier will stay the same, for the sake of simplicity & consistency.
The first number in brackets indicates a team’s preseason ranking, the second indicates their ranking from the previous ranking update, and the final number is the change from the previous ranking update.
13. Humperdinkers — Neox (8, 13, +0)
Butters — Neox — Viper — Kalimoo — Bernard
Rankings History: 8–11–12–14–16–16–13
What went wrong?: Y’know, it’s hard to fault Neox for trying something a bit creative. It ain’t easy being a high 6k captain in the main season of RD2L, but this…wasn’t the solution. I think in another season, with a different pool of players, first picking Bernard could’ve yielded wildly different results, but as it stands, with the players this team eventually ended up with, there were bound to be some issues — especially role wise. While many in RD2L might perceive Kalimoo as being equally comfortable on both 3 and 4, he prefers playing offlane; despite Butters’ success as a carry in the pre-season Mini, he’s spent more time playing support in team environments; while Neox is undoubtedly a great player, his true strengths can’t exactly shine from the midlane. All of this made for issues that are hard to work on much in the span of an RD2L season — the most notable of which perhaps were their issues with getting much out of lanes. This is most evident in the Butters-Bernard safelane duo, where despite Butters being a decent carry for his MMR, he’s not quite at the level where he can micro an inexperienced player too well. Past that, I get the feeling that a lack of initial success meant the team accepted their fate fairly early, but I think it’s commendable that they decided to just have fun with it instead.
12. twitch.tv/Barguul — Ovidiu (15, 12, +0)
Barg — Elpie — Ovidiu — PAIERS — BooWhoo
Rankings History: 15–12–11–10–12–13–12
What went wrong?: I don’t think anyone will be too shocked when I say that many players on this team made a note of having two off-role players for their cores, but I think the way this “issue” manifested itself was different from what one might have expected. Barg and Elpie both had a fair number of surprisingly good performances, and they — generally speaking — didn’t have issues with getting the farm a more experienced core player might. I think the main way in which that lack of core-role experience surfaced was in closing out games and generally the kind of late-game decision making that most people can only really develop by simply playing out those scenarios in pubs again and again. One of the players I spoke to mentioned something that I feel aligns with that idea as well — this team would oftentimes be the ones to lose a game, rather than it being the opponents winning it. These issues with closing out games would often lead to a fair amount of frustration, and they’d have issues resetting mentally, which would be reflected in people getting a bit quieter than usual. Sometimes, this is the kind of problem that you’d need to chip away at through practice and through becoming more comfortable with each other, and this team didn’t really get the chance to do so, playing fairly few scrims overall. This also contributed to some needed draft style adjustments coming a bit late — and some never coming. With off-role cores, opponents would often focus their bans on the captain and offlaner Ovidiu instead, which steered him into picking his own hero fairly early more often than not, something that wasn’t always ideal, and showed in the team’s laning performance — they tended to have rough lanes in a lot of games, and while they’re probably one of the better teams in terms of their teamfighting ability in the midgame, having issues with both starting and finishing games proves to be just a bit too much.
11. God on Fire — Sakoh (4, 11, +0)
Szajtek — Shnoor — Andmoozl — Ogreboy — Sakoh
Rankings History: 4–6–10–11–10–7–11
What went wrong?: From my conversations with the players on this team, I got the vibe that this wasn’t exactly the best team environment of all time. It’s a fairly…unique combination of personalities, but it’s hard to tell just how much that impacted this team’s performances. On that end, I think something that, considering their fairly decent 7–7 record, might’ve been more impactful is the lack of practice players on the team noted in out conversations; not a lot of practice meant not much opportunity to explore everyone’s hero pools, resulting in occasional draft issues and a lack of confidence on perhaps more standard heroes. I think this also meant that when they did opt instead for comfort heroes, they didn’t have the experience of practicing how they play around them. In the end, this meant that they were (I guess predictably?) very dependent on Szajtek, and while he was able to put the team on his back a fair few times, a good chunk of their wins were mostly in situations where at least one or two other players were on comfort heroes and had a decent game in addition to Szajtek doing Szajtek things — and this happened just a bit too rarely.
10. COCKS IN ROCKS — Reddydas (11, 8, -2)
Polarbear — Valchers — Anderkent — Reddydas — Xyu
Rankings History: 11–7–5–5–7–10–8
What went wrong?: This is (sadly) yet another team where one can’t talk about “what went wrong” without first talking about the FA situation. Losing their initial captain and star player Neon was a fairly big loss — albeit perhaps not for the reasons one might assume. Polarbear’s a capable enough player, and while he might not be a tier 1 RD2L mid player like Neon, he could make for a serviceable replacement. The true issue, in my eyes, is that this is a team with no single consistent shotcaller or drafter. This means two things — there’s the (seemingly pretty common) problem of lacking direction as a team and not always having a gameplan, but perhaps more importantly, when you’re in this situation, all of the work you put into the team serves to improve that collectively and become more comfortable with each other in an attempt to make up for not having an individual shotcaller. The second you lose one of the pieces in that, you lose a lot of that progress. As with a lot of the other teams that didn’t make the cut, Reddydas’ also didn’t get to practice too much, which resulted in some issues with keeping up with the metagame and with their ability to contest important heroes. Consider then on top of that the fact that this team swapped around the in-game drafter multiple times, and you end up in a situation where you don’t really have that comfortable go-to; those baseline drafts that you default to when you’re unsure what to do, ones you develop through practice. With all of that said, I think there’s one more thing worth mentioning here — morale. By all accounts, this team had a rough time with negative results; a lot of quick GG calls and not much discussion after the game, and then Neon’s exit, it all did a number on this team mentally, and they didn’t really do incredibly well with dealing with it and resetting.
9. Smaller brains even slower fingers — Syrphx (7, 7, -2)
Syrphx — Dekait — Falls — Skully — Nappa
Rankings History: 7–3–6–4–5–6–7
What went wrong?: This team’s situation was a weird one. They started off pretty well, winning scrims and officials, getting perhaps even a bit cocky — and it would come to bite them in the ass sometimes. I held this team in pretty high regard for much of the group stage, but they had issues finding consistency; a good part of this might come from not having a dedicated expert drafter, leaving Nappa to fill that role, and while he did okay for a bit, the draft order change, by the team’s account, screwed with them a bit. With that in mind though, I got the feeling from talking to this team that they all did genuinely enjoy it and had fun with it, despite being unable to go out and win some important games.
8. Harbinger (14, 10, +2)
Back to your regularly scheduled programming with the teams that made the cut, we start with Harb. They’ve done a good job to get through in all honesty; while I have doubted them in the past, the foundation of Harbinger and Haraway was always going to be a solid one. I think especially now that we’ve been seeing what went wrong for the teams who didn’t make it, the value of having shotcallers who play a lot of Dota might be something that’s a bit understated in RD2L, and that’s something this team doesn’t lack.
7. Grimmjow (10, 9, +2)
As we await Grimmjow’s tiebreaker against Harb to decide who might have the misfortune of facing the first seed of the other group, this entire matchup is an interesting one; while the teams are fairly different in some regards, they’re similar in others — specifically, I believe Grimmjow’s team also builds on top of a foundation built by Acid and Agnitos in terms of bringing a win condition and in-game direction to the team respectively. I think this team has a very high potential ceiling, albeit one that hinges on the ability of their stars to leash their lower MMRs.
6. Kevin Richardson (6, 3, -3)
Kevin’s team faces a somewhat steep fall after getting swept by rivals T-Reds with others stepping their game up, but I think it’d be unfair to judge their playoff chances too harshly based on a game played with standins. This team is pretty stable, all things considered, but I have the feeling that they might need to pull out something special for playoffs to elevate past just being stable — especially if they intend to make a deeper run.
5. hi5 (3, 6, +1)
There’s inconsistent teams, and then there’s this one. One week they might seem on the brink of falling apart, both mentally and gameplay wise, then the very next they’ll come out swinging with great drafts and dominant play…and I don’t think anyone can ever call which it’ll be until it happens — the players themselves included. Massive props to them for sitting down and working on their issues to turn it around — if nothing else, they’re a great team to follow as a spectator.
4. Maus (5, 4, +0)
Waloo’s back for the playoffs, and I can fairly confidently predict that Maus’ recent slump will be shaken off swiftly…I hope. There’s definitely a reason that this team did as well as they did for so long, but playoffs can be a bit of a different beast when it comes to maintaining composure, and as a team who’s had the occasional questionable moment in the groups, they’ll need to come into next week more focused than ever.
3. T-Reds (13, 5, +2)
Grabbing a 2–0 against Kevin’s team showed us what this team is capable of doing, but doing it consistently is another matter entirely. With the looming and ever-present threat of elimination that comes with the playoffs, T-Reds’ team will need to have a collective sit-down at the drawing board and figure out what they can do about the occasional draft shortcomings. It doesn’t matter if you can decimate teams when two fuck-ups in the draft could be all it takes to get eliminated. That said, they’ve got Mikel putting out some nostalgia-inducing core performances, so they’re always going to threaten teams, draft be damned.
2. Madsen (2, 2, +0)
Y’know, if I was just a tiny bit better at clicking the correct buttons on the draft screen, my team might’ve been rolling into playoffs as easy favorites. Alas, they’re stuck with me, so we go in as the runner-up in the imaginary betting odds, but I think the team’s genuinely good enough that it sometimes might just not matter.
1. Play (12, 1, +0)
Play had a really stale week, grabbing forfeit wins in both divisions. That said, there is still little reason to unseat them from the throne of championship favorites, and their nutty record is a good enough show of that…though whether the pressure of playoffs might hit a nerve or two remains to be seen. God I hope so.
A Look Into The Groups
With the group stage almost entirely having come to a close (and, most importantly, the playoff teams being decided), I’ll use this opportunity to shortly compare the groups and give my thoughts on how they matched up. This won’t be an analysis of the format itself or anything like that — I just want to explore whether some teams might’ve been wronged by it.
Naturally, there’s always going to be some bias at play for something like this, and a parallel-universe Madsen might potentially be in group B, talking about how it was the tougher of the two, but I’ve espoused the view that group A in this SUN season hosted stronger competition, and you better believe I still maintain that. Obviously it’s a purely theoretical comparison, considering that we won’t get to see the bottom 4 teams of each group actually duke it out, but a potentially fun one nonetheless.
Bottom 4 — Group A:
Reddydas [7–7] — Syrphx [6–8]— Bench [5–9]— Cardinalstar [2–12]
Bottom 4 — Group B:
Sakoh [7–7] — Neox [4–10]— Ovidiu [4–10]— Rinku [3–11]
The first thing that jumps out in this comparison is the number of teams with double-digit loss counts by group. Group A only had Cardinalstar with more than 10 losses (though admittedly they had a division high 12 losses…but 4 of which from forfeits), whereas Group B featured three teams (Neox, Ovidiu, Rinku) dropping 10 or more. The implication of this would be either that the other five teams in group B had an easier time of things than their peers in group A, or, when going under the assumption that the groups are relatively fairly balanced, that these five teams are all very strong and established a wide gap over the bottom three. It should be pretty obvious by now that I think the former is closer to the truth, though I will say that the gap, in my eyes, between the very best team in Group B (Play’s) and the rest is a LOT more sizeable than in the other group. I think this was, for a long time, also true for the second-best team in group B (Maus’), though they’ve fallen off a bit in the later weeks.
I’ll start at the very bottom, as it were — while it’s not something that would’ve mattered much in the long run, I think Cardinalstar’s team would’ve definitely had the potential to take games off a team like Rinku’s (which they might have faced in a format more akin to WED’s) — and potentially Neox’s and just maybe even Ovidiu’s (though I think I’d favor Ovi’s team in that hypothetical matchup). Nonetheless, Cardinalstar’s team is the “standout” of group A as the win-feeder team, and I think they would’ve had equally slim chances of qualifying even without groups.
Where it gets more interesting, in my opinion, is when looking at the rest of the Group A teams. I’ll start off by stating that I think both Reddydas’ and Syrphx’s team — and potentially even Bench’s — would’ve had a much better shot at getting to the playoffs in a format without groups. I say this because I think: a) Both of these teams would’ve been able to get wins off the bottom Group B teams that were much harder to get in Group A; b) I would favor both of these teams against some of the qualified Group B teams. That’s where it gets a bit dicey, but I do genuinely think Reddy and Syrphx and their teams could’ve taken games against teams like Harb’s or Grimmjow’s — though the latter especially could prove to be very challenging to certain team compositions.
Were some teams wronged? Potentially — we might never know. It’s obviously impossible to have two perfectly balanced groups, and the 8-team lineup in the playoffs might’ve been wildly different if the format wasn’t group based. I will say that my personal top 8 in a group-less SUN would’ve looked something like Play, Madsen, T-Reds, Maus, Kevin Richardson, hi5, Syrphx and Grimmjow, when taking into account things like roster changes and forfeitts, but this is all purely theoretical and in the meanwhile, we have some very real playoffs to get into.
A Note on Power Rankings Going Forward
As we enter the playoffs, the weekly content while get a bit of a shake up. While I’m not 100% certain how that will manifest, what I can say is that Power Rankings (or whatever fills their content slot) will be fairly different.
I think — and many would agree — that updating power rankings weekly becomes a bit stale, but I wanted to stick to them for the season since I already committed to them, and I’m not one to drop something I start.
However, with the playoffs starting, I think it becomes a bit pointless to compare teams and rank them, so as it stands, this is the last team power rankings of season 20. A massive thank you to everyone who’s been reading them — I always appreciated seeing the numbers afterwards, since rankings were always very time-consuming.
This doesn’t, however, mean that the content rotation is going to get shortened; there will still be a minimum of three weekly pieces until the season’s end, but I’ll be using the platform instead to focus more on talking to teams as they get knocked out and share their stories (though that’s already been the focus of the latest power rankings), as well as working on new content ideas based around the playoffs and the eventual post season.
My writing routine, more often than not, is to take a walk and grab a coffee somewhere. If you want to support my content, you can buy me one of those, but I’ll keep writing as long as there’s stuff to write about, no matter what. I’ve honestly been a bit overwhelmed by the support over the last couple of months, and it’s pretty hard to convey how much it genuinely means to me that someone would go out of their way to express that support. Massive thank you to everyone!
Thanks for reading!