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Week 14: A Back and Forth Series

That’s it, folks. The regular season is now over! Well, it is for most teams, there are still a few teams that have some makeup games to play over the next week. For everyone else, you can take a breather before the playoffs begin in about 2 weeks, or continue your practice. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at the interesting series played between the University of Tulsa and Robert Morris University. Both teams are set to make playoffs, so this series was about seeding more than anything. A victory would yield a higher seed and easier first round opponent, which made this series still important for both teams.

Watch the whole series here:

Game 1

University of Tulsa – Radiant

PICKED: Ogre Magi, Juggernaut, Lion, Faceless Void, Templar Assassin
BANNED: Slardar, Dark Seer, Axe, Oracle, Venomancer

Robert Morris University – Dire

PICKED: Centaur Warrunner, Vengeful Spirit, Bounty Hunter, Lifestealer, Invoker
BANNED: Ember Spirit, Lone Druid, Disruptor, Underlord, Outworld Devourer

For game 1, Tulsa picked a lineup with lots of right-click emphasis. All three of Tulsa’s cores would be jacked up on Bloodlust, allowing them to farm faster and deal that much more damage in fights. Unfortunately, their only team fight ability is Faceless Void’s Chronosphere and whatever Lion could line up, so this game would be decided largely by Faceless Void’s ability to land perfect Chronospheres. Robert Morris’ draft has plenty of control, damage for days, AND Vengeful Spirit could potentially save anyone caught in a Chronosphere. So long as Robert Morris perform adequately and don’t blindly walk into a 5 man Chronosphere, this game would be difficult to lose.

Thanks largely in part to the rotations of their supports, Robert Morris made it through the laning stage intact. Tulsa had slightly more kills, but any gold disadvantage can easily be overcome with a Bounty Hunter on your team. Invoker was a little underfarmed, but that’s no surprise considering he laned against a Templar Assassin. Centaur Warrunner was extremely underfarmed because he had unnecessarily fed away kills when he could have jungled, but at least Lifestealer and Invoker were OK.

Centaur’s lack of farm and more importantly, his lack of a Blink Dagger, severely crippled Robert Morris for the mid game. Tulsa’s range of initiation as well as Faceless Void’s freedom to move and place his Chronosphere wherever he wanted, devastated Robert Morris for 10 long minutes. It wasn’t until Centaur finally got his Blink Dagger, that Robert Morris was able to stop the bleeding and turn the tides. With Centaur’s positioning no longer an issue, Invoker was able to flex his magical muscles and bring his full arsenal to bear, earning him a rampage at 26:45.

No longer in control of this game, Tulsa tried to shift gears and get BKB’s on their core heroes so they could survive the magical onslaught, but Robert Morris didn’t slow down. On the back of numerous botched Chronospheres, Robert Morris would take game 1, recovering from a very disadvantageous position. Their perseverance impressed me more than their play, which was hardly lacking.

Game 2

University of Tulsa – Dire

PICKED: Invoker, Ogre Magi, Dazzle, Venomancer, Luna
BANNED: Slardar, Lone Druid, Lifestealer, Dark Seer, Ursa

Robert Morris University – Radiant

PICKED: Vengeful Spirit, Nyx Assassin, Bounty Hunter, Mirana, Antimage
BANNED: Shadow Demon, Ember Spirit, Juggernaut, Slark, Axe

This game 2 was really something else. To be brief, Robert Morris’ lineup excelled at killing heroes and that’s it. Robert Morris had almost no team fight abilities, they just had a ton of magical burst. Robert Morris could arguably split push their way to victory, but they’d be hard pressed to do so against an Invoker. Tulsa… Tulsa had an off lane Invoker. Now I’ve tried off lane Invoker myself, and quas wex seems to work alright, but in my “very high skill” and 4K MMR average games, lots of things that shouldn’t work, can work just fine. Andy “Draskyl” Stiles, professional caster and streamer, is actually good at Invoker, has played it in the off lane, and has said, “I’ve talked to several pros that know more than me, and they all say that off lane Invoker just doesn’t work”. But hey, Tulsa captain, coordinator, and drafter, Joe “IceNine” Chilen says that his team has never lost with offlane exort Invoker, so who am I to judge?

I’d like to analyze this game in detail and break down just what happened, why it happened, and what could have been done to prevent what happened, but even our casters–who are both very knowledgeable at Dota 2–were baffled by this game. The short explanation is that Robert Morris’ team tried doing things that they were ill equipped to do, were very cocky after their game 1 victory, and just got sloppy. As much as I’d like to knock Tulsa’s off lane exort Invoker and how awful it should be, they almost certainly would have lost without it.

Tulsa somehow went on to win game 2 in a bizarre throw-fest that is definitely worth watching simply to marvel at how crazy Dota 2 can be. Like game 1, I was impressed with Tulsa’s perseverance and ability to keep their heads in what was a 10K gold/exp advantage at 17 minutes. Unlike game 1, I was not impressed with the skill displayed by both teams. Antimage had far too many “Why are you there?” moments, and I just can’t bring myself to commend a successful off lane exort Invoker. I’m still impressed that it worked; but it didn’t work because of Tulsa’s abilities, it worked because Robert Morris let it work.

Game 3

University of Tulsa – Radiant

PICKED: Vengeful Spirit, Ember Spirit, Warlock, Magnus, Sven
BANNED: Invoker, Slardar, Lifestealer, Nyx Assassin, Lone Druid

Robert Morris University – Dire

PICKED: Centaur Warrunner, Ogre Magi, Silencer, Outworld Devourer, Faceless Void
BANNED: Venomancer, Shadow Demon, Juggernaut, Slark, Axe

As usual, the game 3 draft was a motley of heroes that always get banned and heroes from previous games that either team didn’t want to face again. It’s amusing seeing a series progress from banning Lone Druid in the first phase, to banning him in the last phase almost as an “oh crap, we forgot to ban Lone Druid!” ban. Also par for the course, both teams picked a good balance of damage and an adequate amount of team fight so they could tussle. The only problem that I saw Tulsa having in this game was that their cores all required a certain amount of farm to come online.

I don’t usually go into detail what the lanes started as because usually, they are self-explanatory and fairly obvious. In this game, there wasn’t much to watch in the top and mid lane. Where most of the action happened was the bottom lane, where the remaining heroes battled it out. For Robert Morris, the bottom lane was sunshine and rainbows as their beefy heroes had a great time. For Tulsa, the bottom lane was not an enjoyable time, so much so that Sven ditched it and favored the jungle early on.

Following the laning phase, Robert Morris pushed their advantage and pummeled Tulsa repeatedly, gaining towers and map presence at every turn. Things weren’t always perfect for Robert Morris though. Tulsa still had the ability to land Reverse Polarity into an Empowered Sven and did so once, which resulted in a complete wipe of Robert Morris. Fortunately for Robert Morris, they learned from their mistakes and didn’t blunder into any 5 man RP’s for the rest of the game.

Because of the lead Robert Morris had accrued in the early game and the farm required for Tulsa’s heroes to come online, the game was basically out of Tulsa’s hands. Once Robert Morris decided they had acquired enough farm to decisively end the game, they did so, and Tulsa had no choice but to accept their defeat. Robert Morris win game 3 and the series.

The main thing to take away from this series is that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer. When you allow yourself and your team to believe that you can and will win no matter what, you blind yourself to the factors that could combine against you and that will always result in a bad time for everyone. The regular season may be finished, but that is no excuse to stop practicing and improving yourself and your team. I’ll always insist that one of the main attributes that makes Dota 2 what it is, is the neverending quest to improve yourself.

In the other two series played this week, Purdue University battled University of California Berkeley, and University of Wisconsin Madison fought Carnegie Mellon University.

Berkeley vs Purdue was a long fiery series that went the full three games. Berkeley won the series 2-1 with an impressive showing from their supports.

Wisconsin vs Carnegie Mellon was a rather 1-sided 2-0 victory for Wisconsin. The series was still exciting to watch, mainly to appreciate the might that Wisconsin has to bear.

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