Team New League Who Dis — Season Review
Roster: Madsen © (1), Neon (2), Raikiri (3/4), Yunai (3/4), Holy Harry (5)
Second time in a row I’m writing one of these much earlier than I would’ve liked to, and let me tell you, it never feels great.
A lot of the time when my teams would underperform, I’d feel like there hadn’t been an earnest attempt at working on the issues we’d have. For better or for worse, this isn’t something I’d say was true of this team. I think we did try to tackle the issues we’d had, but ultimately I’d attribute our early elimination to a combination of not really having the time to uproot some of the bigger problems (and consequently having to resort to larger changes in an attempt to make it work), as well as a fair bit of individual underperformance (mostly on my part, but I’ll get to that). In hindsight, I think the one thing we maybe didn’t really try much was focusing on playing for ourselves, rather than against opponents, if that makes sense — I think there were a few promising glimpses when we focused on comfort and playing to our strengths, rather than trying to execute things that might be objectively good in Dota’s current state. Then again, it’s very hard to know whether this would’ve improved things at all, seeing as we did lean into that idea a bit more later into the season and it didn’t necessarily do that much, so who knows. I do feel like we played a lot worse when our confidence wasn’t really there, and that probably shined through in the series we got eliminated in.
That being said, I don’t really regret picking the team I did. While we may have had a few internal struggles — almost all of which I’d chalk up to differences in approach — I personally feel like I came out of the season having learned a fair bit, despite an early exit. I’d say we definitely had great moments, and when things were working it felt pretty great. My initial sentiment of it being a fairly close division and every team being able to win against every team still holds; for us, I think that came through in going to a game 3 in every group stage match, and most of those series had us losing winnable games.
1 | Madsen ©
I’ll be honest, I was a bit of a dead weight. I’d considered that this outcome might’ve been fairly likely when putting together the captain list for Div 1, seeing as I was essentially on the border of the top 40, but in the interest of just sticking to preferences for the trial season (rather than focusing more on balancing by doing a captain hunt) I thought it’d be fine.
Now, I’ll keep it a 100, I don’t think I’m an awful player for my MMR. I think I can do perfectly fine up to like a certain level of play — but the high 5k-low 6k level of Division 1 is beyond that level. I think it’s pretty hard to get away with a (non-sandbagged) low 5k core in that environment, and I felt that pretty hard. In particular, I think playing above my skill level served to highlight my weaknesses moreso than usual, and that materialized in my poor laning, occasionally questionable itemization and, perhaps more than anything else, bad map movements being exploited. On the flip side, the things I’d say I’m fairly good at — playing active, pushing advantages, making aggressive plays — got punished more than I’m used to.
There’s a stark and jarring contrast that I never really got to experience next to one another between the games I’d play on Tuesdays and Sundays for Clarity (in a high 5k-low 6k environment) and the games I’d play on Wednesdays for RD2L (in a high 4k-low 5k environment), especially in terms of how mentally strenuous and engaging the former is, and how much less mistakes are punished in the latter. Obviously, that kinda goes without saying, but it was interesting to play both concurrently.
Overall, I think I feel pretty ready to be a very solid Div 2 player, but need to improve significantly before I’m really ready to try to dent Div 1. The nice part is that my weaknesses being highlighted this season gave me very clear goals to strive towards moving forward, and I’m fairly keen to get on that in the offseason.
2 | Neon
It’s pretty evident to a lot of people who watched our games that the outcome of those games hinged on Neon popping the fuck off — which, to be fair, he often did. It’s a bit unfortunate that Neon and myself have a fairly similar playstyle, in terms of propensity to farm (or, well, lack thereof) and in that regard I don’t think we’re the greatest of fits. This isn’t exactly something I can blame him for, since it’s more expected of the mid to play like that than it is of the carry, so he’d often end up having to work around that, and would often bear the brunt of the pressure to make things happen when the sidelanes didn’t have a great time — which was, er, most games.
Neon’s been steadily improving for a while now, in large part due to playing on a more dedicated team outside of the league environment (which was a big part of why I wanted to pick him), but I feel like this has the somewhat unexpected downside of him being a bit quieter than expected; I think he’s (very reasonably) used to playing around a lot of very skilled and vocal players, so he can quite comfortably sit back and focus on his own game, and not bother too much with actively contributing to drafts and the overall state of a match. However, considering he was alongside Yunai the best player on the team, I feel like he might’ve needed to contribute more in that regard — though I can definitely see him getting by just fine in a slightly different Div 1 team, so who can say.
Overall, I don’t have that much more to say about Neon. He has a great hero pool, plays his game very well, and is generally fun to play with. Top tier streamer as well. Too horny for Euls on Morph.
3/4 | Raikiri
Raikiri was, alongside myself, probably the one who struggled the most in the team. I’ll preface his section here by saying I don’t really doubt that he’s able to play to the level his MMR suggests — especially in light of his performances in an SEA tournament he’d been playing alongside Clarity, where he seems to be doing very well. I’ll mention as well that he’d miss the occasional scrim due to it, but he was hardly alone in having other obligations, so that was fine.
From my perspective, the odds were stacked against him in a couple of ways. The first and foremost issue is his ping — with a best case ping of, what, 170ms to EUW (with it often getting far higher), the game becomes significantly harder to play, especially in a higher skill environment. For context, I’ve played NA events in the past and I consider 130 to 140ms the absolute maximum threshold of playability, and even then you really need to get used to it, especially in a core role. Obviously he’s played EU events in the past, so he’s grown accustomed to it, but much like what I talked about in my own section — in terms of a higher skill division highlighting weaknesses — is also true here. This was essentially the crux of why Yunai and Raikiri would go on to switch roles during the season.
Past the ping issue, I’d highlight two more factors. Everyone’s playstyle is dictated to a large degree by their pub experience, and I do think there’s a bit of a difference between what Raikiri’s used to in SEA and what’s being played — and how it’s being played — in EU. I can’t comment much on the specific differences, since my SEA experience boils down to waking up at 4am to play a 230ms game on Dubai servers for some random event half a decade ago, but having played an okay bit of NA it becomes fairly easy to spot differences in meta and playstyle, even at our skill levels, and I think he was fairly aware of this, mentioning the need to get acclimated to EU by playing some pubs early into the season.
The second point, in comparison to the regional differences and ping, is one I think Raikiri himself could’ve had more influence over — he’s very quiet, to the point that I’d describe him as timid in communication. You’d only really get to hear him when you’d specifically prompt him, or occasionally in fights where he’d provide info.
All of that being said, as a captain to Raikiri the player, he’s fairly responsive and friendly and is down to sacrifice his game for the team, which showed through in accepting a role switch to a non-comfort role. I think he did a decent enough job as the 4, given the circumstances, and I took that as a sort of testament to the fact that at the end of the day he is still a 6k player whose fundamentals are where they need to be to achieve that feat.
Overall, while I’ll maintain that Raikiri is a fine teammate, he’s always going to have to face challenges that others won’t when playing in EU, and I’d say every future captain needs to keep this in mind.
4/3 | Yunai
While I may have been the one to draft the players, create the lobbies and make the team Discord fancy, Yunai was — by just about every metric — the actual captain of the team. He handled drafting, served as the primary shotcaller, and bore the brunt of the pressure to think through ways to solve problems in the team — and this was essentially why I drafted him. I struggle to think of many ex-teammates who were as passionate about Dota as Yunai was and is, and the extent to which the strives to constantly improve is genuinely fairly inspiring (on some watching-the-Speed-Gaming-MLG-Columbus-documentary-to-hype-yourself-up shit).
I think it’s then appropriate to segue that massive positive into what I’d say is my primary qualm with Yunai; despite improving as fast as he’s been doing, the Yunai experience often boils down to his way or the highway. I’d attribute this largely to his ambition to be the one who handles it all in a team, and this holistic approach to captaining in a team game takes the form of — what I’d consider to be — a much too controlling result. One nitpick I’d heard about him even before this team was that he’d insist on being the sole shotcaller ingame, but then not necessarily be constantly vocal, leading to a lot of empty space in the comms and nothing really happening.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I agree wholeheartedly with the mantra that it’s better to do the wrong thing together than to do the correct thing individually and leave your teammates hanging, but I think this ambition to essentially micromanage every aspect of a game as complex as Dota would be impossible to achieve for the best players to ever touch the game, and even moreso for someone still adjusting to fulfilling that.
All of the above might amount to me painting a fairly negative image of Yunai, which is very far from my intent — but I try to remain as objective as I can; to that end, Yunai brings a fuckload of positives that I don’t think you’ll actually get from anyone else. He’ll pour over his teammates’ replays to help them improve, he’ll be the one to speak up and try to influence change. Despite what I’ve said above, he’s very open to having a discourse and doesn’t struggle to accept that he’s wrong on something. He’ll never really flame people, and what someone (myself included) might perceive as him being tilted is oftentimes just him being frustrated at himself. I can’t really think of a single issue we’d ever had with his individual performance as a player, and he won’t hesitate to do whatever the team needs. You’ll invariably get something from playing on a team with Yunai (and for whatever it’s worth I’d yoink him again in a heartbeat — given that I’m tryharding and not just fucking about, which I feel is probably antithetical to his being in a competitive setting).
I don’t really know what my bottom line is here, to be honest. I guess I’d primarily say that Yunai should be less hard on himself when he can’t do it all by himself, and to consider steering away from the insistence on handling everything — or if he’s truly dead set on doing so, to try to really embrace it and talk a lot more and walk his teammates through the plan he’s calculated in his head as it happens, rather than laying it out once or twice and hoping people can stick to it.
5 | Holy Harry
I guess Harry and me just work better as rival captains than teammates, considering neither of our two attempts at making the latter work really panned out.
Admittedly, the one notable constant between those two attempts is that we never really got to make great use of his primary strength — his shotcalling ability. Where the first team we were on together saw him in just about every role except the one where he can really focus on shotcalling, this one was more of a too many cooks situation — in hindsight, I’m unsure whether dragging Harry onto a team with a predetermined primary shotcaller was the play, particularly because I don’t really think Yunai and him were ever really going to gel, and I think this frustrated them both to some extent, as their approaches to a fair few things differed (both in terms of gameplan and general team stuff).
In-game I think my main takeaway from this season is that Harry doesn’t necessarily excel playing 5s that sort of dance around the fights and pop in to get their spells on cooldown, and instead tends to play better on tanky aggressive supports who can trade favorably both in lane and in midgame fights, forcing opponents to make decisions on how hard they want to commit for the 5. Some of our best games saw Harry play stuff like Tide, Ogre or his regularly-banned Clock, though now that I’ve said all of this, I’m unsure whether this is a trait of Harry’s or a result of laning with me.
In any case, end of the day it’s still Harry and I love Harry to bits — but like they say, if you love someone, set them free, so I’m gonna chill from dragging him onto teams together (at least for a while) and focus instead of further widening the gap in our rivalry (I’ve got 8 wins to his 5 right now, just for the record). Sorry for yoinking you away from the Monday EU4 sessions for scrims!
Cheers for the season, boys — despite the result I can’t complain, as I got to play with people I wanted to and learned things along the way.
Thanks for reading — and good luck to the teams still in the running!
(This message sponsored by the Dodgy Dan team fan club — redeem us please!)