Team dusk fanclub 2003 — Season Review

Roster: Madsen © (1), Ligbank (2), MannlyMann (3), Quack like a Duck (4), Nyk (5)

This was a bit of a trainwreck, wasn’t it?

Right off the bat, I’ll be honest in saying I don’t have much to say here from a more generalized point of view. There’s not much I’d particularly highlight regarding the team’s playstyle, overall fit, or anything like that, as most things I’d go over through something like that belongs in individual player reviews in this case — we just didn’t play very good Dota; it was very slow, very random.

I suppose the one single thing that’s worth saying here is that this was essentially my fault as my approach to this season’s player draft was…suboptimal. I could’ve almost certainly drafted a better team, particularly in the sense that attempting to play things safe by picking a low MMR player in the 3rd round to get around having the last overall pick created a lot more problems than it solved. In hindsight, I’d likely opt for more balanced lanes / a more balanced tricore to make sure there’s someone able to create plays in the game, sorta no matter the gamestate.

I should note in no uncertain terms that I don’t really blame any of my teammates in particular. I don’t think any of their shortcomings are especially unreasonable. I don’t know that anyone really felt super motivated to face the rather gargantuan ask of fixing all our issues over a couple weeks, myself very much included. There was essentially a silent agreement to just play things out and move on — or at least it felt that way.

Player Reviews

Nyk is a very lovely fella — genuinely one of the most friendly people I’ve met through the community (and someone I massively enjoyed hanging out with at ESL Hamburg a couple years ago). I picked him with the intent of essentially securing my own lane with a high MMR 5, the idea being that we’d then have two great lanes for our farming cores and go from there. This wasn’t how things functioned in practice, but that’s not exactly Nyk’s fault — we won the absolute vast majority of our lanes (even if it occasionally didn’t feel that way), and in general I got what I expected from him in the lane.

I think I griefed Nyk a bit by picking him; the way games tend to go nowadays often sees the 5 playing with the 3 and 4 for a bit as the laning stage breaks down while the cores do their own thing. This, I think, is where shit tended to hit the fan on this team. I feel like Nyk thrives a lot more when he just needs to listen to calls and execute around commanding voices in the team, but our MMR setup across these roles meant that he had to be the one dictating what happens in the aforementioned part of the game, and he was a bit lost when it came to doing that. Admittedly this is something that’s hard to blame him for, as there’s just simply a significant MMR gap that meant he was unsure what to expect from Quack and Mann in these scenarios, and (atleast I felt like) a lot of the things that he (or myself or Ligbank, for that matter) took for granted demanded more microing than any of us was able — or, honestly, willing — to do.

I struggle to come up with much to say about Quack that I already didn’t when reviewing his performance on our RD2L team last year:

My main criticism of Quack (excluding things that come up because he’s just inexperienced which is perfectly valid and isn’t a big deal) is that he’s fairly hard to play around due to an…esoteric hero pool in both the roles we ran him in (3&4), as we couldn’t really rely on him to take up more traditional heroes (especially in the offlane, like a Mars or whatever), so he’d end up playing things that were more his style like Void Spirit, Visage or Ember. This isn’t inherently bad, but is not something I think really works in the context of the main season, and there’s a good reason that a lot of players in similar predicaments end up being forced to pick up heroes they might not find as fun, for consistency purposes. It’s worth also noting that he’s very very quiet and not super fast to respond to directions but the latter is pretty natural.

The main point to repeat from the above is once again the hero pool bit; Quack still tends to have a very strong preference for the weird, fun heroes, rather than, well, good ones. I’ll be honest in saying that, at some points, this “preference” would come off as putting personal enjoyment of heroes waaay above the needs of the team: prompting Quack about his willingness to play a hero that fits into the draft and was placed high on his self-posted hero pool tier list would often (and by often, I mean in the majority of games) lead to a disappointed groan, followed by the suggestion to pick something like Ember or Void Spirit instead.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s perfectly acceptable — and preferable, even — to vocalize what you want, rather than to just sit there and play something you don’t want to, and at the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of the drafter to make a decision on whether or not to pick the “fun” hero, so that’s not Quack’s fault — though, again, I think he’s likely the one teammate I’ve heard offer up by far the most resistance to a suggested hero.

This wouldn’t necessarily be an important point if there was a great reason to just pick those heroes, past enjoyment. While I obviously have no intent of flaming Quack for not performing well against players who have thousands of MMR on him, I think you have to be very prepared for lanes to go awful, and I’m not sure Quack always was — I felt like he’d occasionally be surprised or disappointed at Void/Ember 4 not working out well.

Now, this has been fairly negative segment thus far, so I should note — I enjoy talking to Quack and he’s a lovely guy whom I share many interests with, and I still maintain that this approach of his I’ve described is likely to bear fruit against more evenly matched opposition (note the trophy next to his name from the last Clarity Divisions season), but for it to work in format like Linear, he’s gonna need to learn to either get more out of his heroes, or embrace picking Lina and rightclicking the enemy carry. I think it’s also fairly clear that he does have a wish to improve, and is very open to advice and coaching, which I do think he can benefit from based on the occasional glimmer of cool plays.

Mann is probably the person I have the least to say about on this team; I don’t know that there’s much sense in harping on things like being out of position or not always pressing buttons too well when talking about a lower MMR player, especially in the context of a mixed MMR format. I don’t know that he plays very much Dota in general either; his recent activity was always fairly sparse whenever I’d check what he’d been playing in hopes of finding some direction for our drafts, and I do feel like that rust was a factor in some mechanical/responsiveness issues. He’s perfectly fine as a teammate; friendly, communicative, responsive — just had the misfortune of being dragged into this pretty unfortunate season.

Fair warning, this is bound to be a fairly long segment, since there’s a decent bit to say, so I’ll lead with the tl;dr:

Ligbank underperformed very, very significantly on this team, in terms of individual play (relative to what he’s very obviously capable of), but also in terms of being the one to elevate his teammates as the best player on a team. However, I do also genuinely believe that the former is largely a result of lacking motivation (due to not getting what he might expect from the rest of the team) and of essentially overcomplicating matters for himself, rather than just taking games at face value as the dominant force he very easily could be, and the latter is something I think it’s hard to fault him for, as it’s not entirely fair to expect someone to put in the mental effort required to lead a team of 4 much worse players (and, I should note, lead in practice here mostly means micro). It’s not unreasonable, but it isn’t entirely fair either.

Now, I’m not really equipped to delve into why he didn’t perform as expected gameplay-wise. I can only say that it has to be a mental thing, but he’s the only one who can really analyze what it was exactly that happened — and even then it might be hard to nail down. I honestly can’t blame him for this; these things happen, and it’s hardly an indictment of his Dota ability — he’s still an extremely good Dota player.

What I am, however, very well equipped to talk about is his attitude and approach to the team. Ligbank has a (sometimes nigh suffocatingly) negative and defeatist attitude, which mostly manifests in this very constant expression of “I don’t care, it doesn’t matter”. If and when he effectively gives up on a game, it’s not very worth trying to drag him out of it. He very rarely attempted to take full control of the comms, and when he did it would be outlining rough guidelines for plays (which, to be fair, generally seemed sound, and were just never really executed well due to the team’s gameplay issues unrelated to him).

At some points I’d get the impression that he felt explaining things or vocalizing decisions was beneath him since everyone is too bad to really “get” what he’d say otherwise. This’d be reasonable in terms of not wanting to go on about/dwell on something that isn’t super important in the moment, but on the flip side he’d have a tendency to explain why things we’re doing are bad or what we should’ve done during a game as it goes on afterwards, and if you total it up it feels like there were more of these hindsight analyses than actual calls; overall just coming off as somewhat smug/holier than thou, just waiting for games to be over to catch up on drama elsewhere instead.

So, I suppose, my point here is that while I don’t think the best player on a team is necessarily obligated to try to lead or micro teammates or lift spirits and whatnot, I felt like Ligbank — at least on this team — actively detracted from the team atmosphere, though I do believe this is less of malicious conscious decision and more a byproduct of not really caring much overall. He’s never really outwardly toxic, never really goes off on anyone or flames them, for as much as that’s worth. Admittedly I do get the impression that he does genuinely feel bad about not playing like he can and beats himself up over it, which he shouldn’t — everyone has an off season eventually. Some people have a bunch — speaking of which…

I think my performance this season does well on the glance through Dotabuff test but becomes a bit worse if you watch the games, and then particularly so if you were in them. Play wise I oddly sort of didn’t do the good things I’d do in other teams or even in pubs and ended up being very passive; I think I only had a few games where I really pushed my advantages and created tangible pressure (and those were mostly in scenarios where my hero made doing so extremely simple and very independent of the state of the map, which is just a convoluted way of saying “I played a Jugg game where they didn’t have any spin TP cancels”).

This generally meant I didn’t really have the impact I needed to have as a higher MMR player, and it additionally slowed down the game in a team that played at a snail’s pace. I’m unsure how to break this down; I felt like gameplay issues that I suffered from a lot more in the past and had since gone a long way in addressing resurfaced in this team — most people who know me know that I’m traditionally a fairly active carry player (though lately I’ve been dabbling more in traditional 1s — not unlikely that this had something to do with my play here), and generally have few issues running at people and doing shit, but whether it be a mental thing or not really having faith that I could get away with playing and posturing more aggressively due to whatever it is that’s happening with the rest of the team, I’d often find myself playing some super uptempo hero (I’m talking like, Razor/Viper) but being confined to questionable parts of the map. Honestly, I think this is largely because the laning stage didn’t really break down in the ways that I’m used to, and I’ve grown to use this as a sort of cue to move into certain parts of the map — and I really needed to call for these rotations to happen, rather than just adjusting to whatever pretty bad thing was happening.

That said, where I more significantly underperformed was on the leadership front; it’s not much of a secret that I’m heavily influenced by team atmosphere, and I did very little to positively impact the fairly downtrodden atmosphere we had. While I’ll admit that a part of it was simply being a bit intimidated by having a very high MMR player on the team, leading to not being very confident in trying to make calls (which I essentially never did, to the massive detriment of the team), it’s hardly an excuse since this was something I almost entirely imagined and not a result of anything that actually happened. I think I was generally just in my own head a lot, and just defaulted to very safe farm and play in general, which is the opposite of what this team needed in most games.

I realize that the idea of me playing mid and moving Ligbank safelane was one that circulated a fair bit. While I’ll admit that there’s a decent chance that would’ve improved the team, I honestly think that at this point I would’ve just done worse than I already did if I had played mid. Full disclosure, there was also a bit of selfishness here; I wasn’t particularly keen on moving away from carry while playing it in two other teams and while climbing a fair bit in pubs on it, even if it might’ve been better for the team.

At that point this team is built around an average mid 5k carry and an underperforming/unmotivated 7k mid…so it isn’t very difficult to see why things fell apart. Unluck.

Thanks for the season fellas, good luck to everyone still in the running!

Clarity League Content Writer | Main Over at medium.com/@Maadsen | Buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/madsen03