Lower Bracket: Game 1 of NiP vs. EG

Day 5 opened with a lower bracket R2 bo3 between the best NA team and the once best NA captain. EG vs. NiP clash has a special flavor for the fans, so I would consider this matchup a derby of sorts. In the end it seemed that there is a gap between these two teams tier wise. And for NiP to close it, they will have to make big changes in their style, maybe even to make roster changes… Let’s see how the drafting phase went in the first game of this duel:

Draft

First series of bans:

  1. EG ban Tusk

Saksa likes his Tusk. He has 76.19% carrier win-rate on the hero so in every way this ban is good. He already reminded us in the opening series against Fnatic that his Tusk is the real deal. Tusk is useful all around, he has good ganking potential and a good save with Snowball.

  1. NiP ban Oracle

More or less a standard opening ban. Highly valued hero in this tournament for the reasons I already mentioned. EG is 4:0 when they had a chance to play Oracle.

  1. EG ban Pangolier

Another one of the heroes that are held in a high regards in the major.

  1. NiP ban Lifestealer

Also a hero not falling from the top of the most picked/banned list.  Maybe overrated for the first ban phase since it can be countered efficiently in with the hero pool left in the game.

  1. EG ban Doom

Pure respect ban, since 33 plays monstrous Doom. He has 3:1 record on the hero for this tournament.

  1. NiP ban Magnus

For me, the most unexpected ban of them all. Magnus isn’t played that much in the tournament and EG haven’t picked him once. Even when teams picked him in the last 4 days, he only has 25% win-rate.

First series of picks:

  1. EG pick Earth Spirit

We all know by now that ES is Cr1t’s classic. Other than JerAx, Cr1t is by far the most famous player on Earth Spirit. ES can support and gank any lane. With good itemization he stays relevant throughout the whole game.

  1. NiP pick Chen

Chen got his pro-scene rebirth and is once again on the top of the most picked/banned heroes list. His new roll of a lane dominator can force ES to be needed in the lane. So in a way Chen can prevent Earth Spirit’s mobility and impede his ability to gank the middle lane.

  1. NiP pick Ursa

Even though they didn’t have success with the hero in the major yet, they still went for it in the first pick phase. Maybe they were inspired by Chaos EC’s match against Team Liquid or something, I don’t know. But 1st phase picking Ursa reveals a lot and in a similar sense as would Lifestealer, leaves the enemy plenty of picks to prepare their gameplan to counter you.

  1. EG pick Viper

The melee kiting king. One BKB piercing Viper Strike and any hero that relies on mobility is de-facto out of the fight. Viper is also universal mid laner that can win or at least draw, I dare to say, any mid lane matchup.  Add to that his recent pick-rate spike and you have a very good 1st phase pickup.

Second series of bans:

  1. EG ban Rubick

To secure Viper’s ease of game, EG proceeded to ban any hero that  directly counters him in the later portions of the game. Ironically Viper’s own Nethertoxin (Applies brake) is maybe the most efficient counter to the hero. Rubick was traditionally a Viper counter since Viper had only one spell (his ultimate) than Rubick would always steal. Nowadays Rubick is even better Viper counter since it’s most likely he will steal Nethertoxin that Viper’s can spam with a short, 5 second cooldown.

  1. NiP ban Troll

Ursa doesn’t fare well against any kind of evasion. You never, ever, want to build MKB on Ursa, at least not before the first 4 items. Also you don’t want to rush BKB on Ursa and miss out on the early game action.

  1. EG ban Morphling

Similar situations as for Rubick ban, since Morphling can Morph into Viper and use his spells against him. Don’t get me wrong, those aren’t the only Morphling qualities, the hero is one of the best caries in the whole of Dota at the moment, but those were reasons enough for the ban.

  1. NiP ban Terrorblade

I am not sure about this ban. Maybe there is some hidden interaction that I’m not aware of, or something… We didn’t see EG pick Terror blade much, they have one game against Na’ Vi that they lost, and Na’ Vi had Ursa then. Maybe it has to do with the Ursa pick but I can’t find a clear correlation.

Second series of picks:

  1. NiP pick Shadow Shaman

NiP decided to empower lanes even more. Shadow Shaman is one of the heroes with the strongest starting damage in the game. He provides good control and adds to the pushing power, although they had Chen for that too… The reasoning after this pick was that NiP planned for an early game, fast pushing lineup. They wanted to crush the lanes and stomp EG in the mid game for the win.

  1. EG pick Witch Doctor

For EG to defend they needed sustain. Not only does WD provide them with a heal but he is also considered to be good against Chen’s summons because of his Paralyzing Cask. The plan was to delay the push with as much sustain and disruption as possible.

  1. NiP pick Lycan

Even if NiP hadn’t played Lycan yet in this tournament that doesn’t mean we don’t remember 33’s brilliance on the hero from the other events. At this moment EG don’t have a reliable stun on any of their heroes and in that environment Lycan flourishes. He is one more piece in PPD’s push strategy. One thing I was not aware of before this game is how sustainable Lycan can be in the middle lane vs. Viper. Maybe not for the whole laning stage, but at least for the first few levels. I really liked this pick.

  1. EG pick Brewmaster

Brew is one of s4’s most picked heroes ever. Whether EG were 100% sure that they are going for Sven or not, banning Brew certainly helps the plan. Both Ursa and Lycan rely on utilizing their spells in a burst (for Lycan maybe not a burst, but the same concept with Shapeshift), so EG got a hero who can delay them with Cyclone and Hurl Boulder. And on top of that a hero that is a deny pick.

Last two bans:

  1. NiP ban Naga Siren

I mentioned Ursa doesn’t like evasion but Lycan isn’t different, these two heroes just don’t like wasting a slot on MKB. Plus Lycan’s summons, as is the case for all the summons, just don’t have a way of dealing with evasion. EG’s last pick was left for Arteezy’s hero so NiP focused on the carries left in the pool. Since Naga is a natural Radiance carrier and while Song of the Siren is on, Shadow Shaman’s Mass Serpent Ward can be destroyed safely, this was a very good ban.

  1. EG ban Batrider

All of EG’s heroes have a relatively slow turn-rate and every one of them would suffer a lot from sticky napalm. Bat has seen a rise in popularity in this tournament and can be a real nuisance in the lane. Since EG locked their eyes on Sven, yet another one slow turn-rate hero this was a great ban.

Last two picks:

  1. EG pick Sven

I don’t know how much earlier did EG have Sven in mind as the last pick. But them taking Brewmaster for themselves was maybe a sign (Brewmaster’s Dispel Magic is good vs. Warcry). With Warcry they added another weapon to battle the incoming early aggression.

  1. NiP pick Timbersaw

The panel and the casters questioned the decision to pick Timber. I see the reasoning behind the decision to take him – they wanted to put him in a lane against Sven. Timber is good vs. melee cores because Reactive Armor stacks give him sustain on the lane. But the thing is that the enemy has Viper AND Witch Doctor for themselves. These two heroes are made for taking down Timber, Viper with Nethertoxin and WD with Maledict. I would have to agree with the casters that this pick is not optimal enough, and instead of taking Timber they should have maybe went for something like Venomancer.

Gameplay

Even though all around EG had a better lineup, NiP could have won this game. The problem was that their timing window was very short. The push strategies in a clash of the professional teams are always hard to pull off.

I think they also made mistake with the laning. Instead of going for the dual lanes, they could have went offensive tri-lane to help Timber’s early game.

Average game length nowadays is around 30minutes, and this game lasted for about 34. I would recommend watching full highlights, and the MVP for this game was clearly Cr1t on ES.

EG 1 : 0 NiP