SMM: DK vs. iG
Two of the most arguably powerful Chinese teams meet in the SMM Playoffs. With Burning behind a Lycanthrope and Zhou playing a Necrolyte, we have two of the most famously talented carry players fighting it out. To spice up the mix, we have Pandaren Brewmaster and Gondar on iG while DK picks... wait for it... an unprecedented Chaos Knight.
|The Pick/Ban analysis|
|First Ban Phase||First Pick Phase|
In a flash, the heavy guns are taken out. Antimage, Broodmother, Syllabear and Invoker feel the ban-hammer. Antimage has been one of the big carries of this version, while Broodmother, Syllabear and Invoker all have huge mid-game power. Batrider is a great solo laner and ganker, and Earthshaker is a fantastic support hero.
DK, with the first pick, takes the Lycanthrope. In the Chinese scene, he is known for his versatility and high-impact DPS in the mid-to-late game stages. iG then takes Windrunner, who is a great semi-carry with a stun, and Pandaren Brewmaster, who has a huge team-fight presence due to his ultimate. His Drunken Haze is also a good counter to a hero like Lycanthrope. Crystal Maiden and Clockwerk bring solid disables to DK. Finally, iG opposes the Lycanthrope pick with their own Necrolyte, who is a great soft-counter to DPS heroes like Lycanthrope due to his heal and the commonly-acquired Shiva's Guard.
|Second Ban Phase||Second Pick Phase|
Surprisingly, Shadow Demon survived the first two phases. He is, however, removed along with Puck, Furion and Ancient Apparition. All these heroes are similar in that they are glass cannons who provide levels of disable along with decent complementary DPS and team-fight power.
Curve balls come flying in the final phase. Although Witch Doctor and Lich are solid support heroes and strong laners, Gondar is very uncommon, and Chaos Knight is totally unheard of in the competitive scene. Gondar has been played as a roaming semi-carry, who provides massive ganking power in the early-to-mid stages, and solid carrying DPS from the midgame forward. Chaos Knight is unheard of, but with a solid stun (average of 3 seconds at a range), decent ganking skill (700 range movement displacer) and solid pushing power, it will be interesting to see him in action.
The critical hero of the match comes down to either Chaos Knight or Pandaren Brewmaster. Both heroes provide a curve-ball, and whether they are played to their fullest potential or not will have a great effect on the game. However, in the end, I have decided to label Pandaren Brewmaster as the critical hero. Which Chaos Knight will always risk being unpredictable at bad times, Pandaren Brewmaster can take this game by storm (and earth, and fire) if he gets his core up quickly. If Panda can dominate in the mid-game, iG will be poised to take their victory in the late-game with their Necrolyte.
With fresh picks like this, it is very difficult to state that a team has outpicked another. In my own opinion, both teams made a mistake in not taking Shadow Demon, who is arguably one of the most powerful heroes of this version. However, in comparing the two teams, we see that DK may be at a slight disadvantage due to all their DPS being tied up in melee heroes, while iG has Windrunner and Necrolyte in the mix. Both teams also have a decent amount of disable, but iG will be able to use theirs more effectively. In DK's favor, however, they have a Lich to counter the melee DPS of both Gondar and Panda, as well as more dedicated support in the form of Kel'thuzad and Crystal Maiden. With this support strength, DK should have an advantage in the early game. Both teams will try to take decisive leads during the mid game and should be aggressive as a result. If Lycanthrope gets his core up, DK will probably be on top in this stage, which is why iG's Panda needs to farm up quickly and play well to counteract the powerful mid-game wolf. If the game continues past this point, however, the late-game potential of Necrolyte and Gondar, complemented by semi-carrying power of Windrunner and Panda, will be very difficult to beat. Concerning the lanes, I would predict that Lich would take the solo lane against a Windrunner, mid. DK needs their Lich to get some levels in his nuke, and iG is lacking multiple solid solos to take the middle lane. DK will most likely send their Clockwerk to solo top, while Lycanthrope handles the jungle. This will leave Crystal Maiden and Chaos Knight to run a potentially aggressive lane bot. iG's lanes are harder to discern, and may be inefficient in terms of farming. As I see it, there are two real options: iG takes an older 2-1-2 laning style, placing Witchdoctor-Panda in the short lane and Necrolyte-Gondar in the long lane. In this strategy, Gondar will probably start roaming at level 3, freeing this lane up for Necrolyte. The other option is that iG runs a triple-lane bottom, with Panda, Gondar and Witchdoctor all providing a very oppressive lane for the Chaos Knight. Both teams should also be commended on their great synergy. iG sports mass heals from Witch Doctor and Necrolyte, which gives them lots of pushing power as well as teamfight strength. Along with this, they have long ranged initiation and a great blend of slows and disables for pinning a hero like Lycanthrope or Chaos Knight down. On the other side, DK has great movement disables and slows in the form of Clockwerk Goblin, Chaos Knight (Reality Rift) and Crystal Maiden, all of which make ultimates like Chain Frost and chasers like Lycanthrope all the more deadly.
|SMM Playoffs (Round of 8)|
In what seems to be rapidly becoming a habit, I managed to predict the lanes almost entirely wrong. I get none of the lanes right at all. Someone remind me why GosuGamers still keeps me? In the top lane, we have Windrunner and Panda facing off against Clockwerk and Crystal Maiden. If played properly, iG has the upper hand here, with longer potential disables and more ranged damage from the Windrunner. The Clockwerk, however, ensures that DK really shouldn't lose this lane. It is also very likely that Crystal Maiden will start roaming very early on, especially due to iG's.... ... Gondar solo mid. Yeah. I know. I thought so too. iG have pitched their Gondar in a solo lane against what was going to be at least a Lich, but now seems to be a Lich-Chaos Knight dual lane. Suicidal? Maybe. With his Windwalk he won't die early, but with Lich's harassment power coupled with CK's Reality Rift are going to make this a very uncomfortable lane for the Bounty Hunter. It is very likely that the Chaos Knight will have all the free-farm he needs early game, and I am quite excited to see how he builds himself. Finally, we have a Witchdoctor-Necrolyte combination going against a solo Lycanthrope. Unlike Gondar, Lycanthrope can actually hold a solo lane capably, using his wolves to last hit while remaining at a safe distance himself. Amusingly enough, this strategy was exhibited regularly by Lycanthrope's nemesis in this game: Zhou. Against two ranged heroes it may be difficult for Burning to get many last-hits, even with his wolves, but this is not a lane he is likely to die in. Necrolyte has high farming potential here, and should do his best not to squander it.
|Early Game - 0:00 to 13:00|
|03:30| iG seems to be battling in their top and middle lanes. Despite having a lot of ranged power, Windrunner cannot prevent Panda from taking a lot of harassment from Clockwerk and Crystal Maiden. In the middle lane, Chaos Knight is getting free-farm as he and Lich skilfully keep the creeps away from Gondar's tower. Bottom lane, however, is going badly for DK, with Burning's wolves proving largely ineffective at last-hitting. .
|04:20| iG takes advantage of their bottom lane domination and gun for the tower. Lycanthrope is utterly helpless to resist, and it falls to iG without incident at 4:50. DK tries to push the top tower in response, but have far more troubles against two heroes than iG did against one.
|05:40| Gondar is involved in a first blood, and surprisingly, it isn't his own! He wisely leaves his lane at level 4 to start roaming, and helps iG kill Crystal Maiden top. At the same time, Necrolyte and Witchdoctor continue their crusade bot, reducing the tier two to approximately ⅕ HP. DK sends Chaos Knight to assist this lane, but iG senses an incoming attack and withdraw for now.
|08:00| This game is going through a bit of a lull, with both teams playing coyly. Necrolyte and Witchdoctor can't seem to decide whether to commit to the bottom lane, and in the end back off and go mid, while Lycanthrope takes to the jungle. Lich and Crystal Maiden both meander around while Gondar and Windrunner pull creeps top. Both teams seem to be waiting for the other to make a decisive move to act upon.
|08:45| DK finally makes a move, initiating on the Witchdoctor. A stun, a Rift and a Nova later, Witchdoctor dies to Lich, but not before dropping a Maledict on Chaos Knight. This sets up Chaos Knight for Gondar and a Hasted Necrolyte, who quickly take the kill and get out before Lich can get his nukes back. Necrolyte escapes... barely.
|09:50| DK takes out Necrolyte, showing the strength of Chaos Knight's arsenal combined with Lich's nuking power. His natural tankiness allows him to escape despite being Maledicted and taking tower hits.
|10:30| Panda feels the wrath of Lycanthrope and Chaos Knight working in sync. Unfortunately for DK, Panda's natural tankiness, as well as some regeneration and support from the Witchdoctor, not only allows him to escape, but lets iG take kills on both gankers.
|12:05| Crystal Maiden and Chaos Knight break their Smoke by straying too close to a group of iG heroes in the jungle. They get nailed by a flawless Cask from Witchdoctor, and both take a Maledict to follow up. Crystal Maiden dies as Clockwerk comes to DK's aid. Although his distraction allows Nessaj to escape, he dies in the process: a valid trade-off. iG ends this incident by denying their top tower.
There is a lot more action now, compared to the lull of the early stages. Chaos Knight is taking it upon himself to gank with his team, resulting in fascinating consequences, while iG seems to be playing a defensively aggressive game by capitalizing on DK's mistakes. Due to the increased stakes, this game is making its move into the mid-game phases, where we can expect a lot more ganking, pushing and some key teamfights.
|Mid Game - 13:00to 33:30i] |
At the start of the mid-game phase, iG seems to have the upper hand. With seven kills to DK's three, they have more farm and more pushing power right now. However, DK's Lycanthrope has been quiet for the most part, and could potentially swing things DK's way once he gets his core up. Chaos Knight, with 49 creeps, hasn't indicated any big items for the future, although he may be going for a Janggo based on his Bracer. Pandaren Brewmaster, with 40 creeps, has 1,400 gold at the ready, and may be going for either Blink Dagger, or Aghanim's Scepter. With the mid-game just beginning, item builds are generally fairly vague and incomplete.
|13:10| Sticking to their style, DK initiates on an unprepared Necrolyte in the top lane, killing him while his allied Windrunner was helpless to stop them.
|15:00| There is another lull in the game as Lycanthrope, Chaos Knight and Pandaren Brewmaster farm up. Panda finally gets his Blink Dagger and uses it to great effect in an almost instantaneous gank on the Lycanthrope. iG quickly rallies to defend the middle tower, which has come under attack.
|16:20| DK continues to put pressure on the middle tower, and manage to lure an attacking iG into the path of a very destructive Lich ultimate. Unfortunately for them, Necrolyte and Mekansm quickly dissipate the damage of this ultimate, allowing Necrolyte to respond with a fatal Scythe to Chaos Knight. Clockwerk then chases Windrunner a little to far, and falls to the damage of four heroes.
|17:25| Panda hastily tries to use the upper hand iG has so as to initiate, but is taken by surprise by Chaos Knight and Crystal Maiden. This forces his team to initiate in with him, resulting in the death of Gondar.
|18:20| DK uses their momentum to take the bottom Scourge tower. Once it is taken, iG move in to slow their push, initiating upon them through Shackleshot, Panda's Blink-Stomp combination and a Casks-Maledict combination from Witchdoctor. The effect is very abrupt: Lycanthrope's health is destroyed and he is killed by Maledict while he runs away. Clockwerk attempts to chase Panda, but dies to iG. Crystal Maiden is then hunted down and killed, leaving the teamfight 3:0 to iG.
|21:40| Lycanthrope is ganked and killed blindingly fast. As DK's main carry, he needs to be more careful about where he is in relation to iG's gankers.
|22:10| I really question DK's ward in the high column, top lane. While there is little doubt that this is a very strong warding spot when Scourge is pushing top, DK has shown no inclination to do so. This ward does little to protect the middle lane from surprise initiation.
24:15| iG takes the middle tower uncontested. DK was probably wise to not fight for this one, due to the knowledge that Panda and Necrolyte both have their ultimates ready and waiting. DK should rather wait to lure iG out and then strike when they aren't prepared.
26:50| After a moderate lull, iG attempts to slay Roshan. However, the superior map control of DK scares them off, as Lycanthrope's Wolf discovers the attempt.
|27:20| iG swiftly moves from Roshan to the middle lane, under the cover of Smoke, and ganks the Lich. Crystal Maiden is then run down in the follow-up.
|28:45| DK, having scared iG off, now tries to come if for their own Rosh attempt. They are successful! Almost. Some bold play, as well as clever surveillance through the use of Powershot and Track, allow Panda to blink in, last-hit Roshan and steal the Aegis. Using the momentum of this victory, iG clashes with DK. Lycanthrope is focused and dies while Chaos Knight and Crystal Maiden take out Necrolyte. Crystal Maiden dies soon thereafter, as she is both vulnerable and in the heart of the teamfight. Things then start going very badly for DK: Clockwerk and Chaos Knight get disabled and killed by Panda, Gondar and Windrunner, while Witchdoctor chases Lich down across the map.
|31:25| iG consolidates after their victory, and takes the top tower unopposed.
|33:05| iG continues with their momentum and takes advantage of DK being spread over the map so as to take the second middle tower.
Due to the flow of this game, the pushing of the teams and the focus on team fights, this game has reached its final stage. In order to secure a victory, iG must continue on their current path of decisively counter-initiating and taking advantage of DK. Since Panda is now carrying Vladimir's Offering, Janggo, Treads and a Blink Dagger, and Necrolyte has his Shiva's Guard, iG is very farmed currently. In answer to the magic damages iG has to offer, Chaos Knight has equipped himself with a Pipe of Insight; however, this has failed to have any notable effect on the teamfights so far. If DK wants to win, they need to make sure their next teamfight really counts.
|Late Game - 33:30 to END |
|35:00| Both teams waste significant time in attempting Smoke ganks, neither of which bear any fruit.
|36:30| Lycanthrope and Chaos Knight attempt to gank Necrolyte top, but turn heel and flee the moment iG starts teleporting in. Despite their quick retreat, the slowing power of Shiva's Guard reduces Chaos Knight to a crawl, and he is picked off.
|37:20| iG make use of Chaos Knight's death, and destroy the second top tower for Scourge.
|37:45| iG pushes the top lane while Lycanthrope races against them in the middle one. Both towers fall simultaneously, and iG takes DK's top rax soon thereafter. Not to be outdone, Burning then secures a second tower, while Gondar falls moments later to a pursing DK team.
|39:30| iG successfully kills Roshan, with Zhou's Necrolyte taking the Aegis.
|41:20| iG commit to a final push, to end it all. They manage to take the first tower before the mother of all teamfights lands on them. However, DK's Lycanthrope seems to constantly switch between targets, leaving a Windrunner and a Witchdoctor running around causing havoc on low HP. Necrolyte's Aegis is used up, followed by the deaths of Lycanthrope, Lich, Windrunner, Chaos Knight, Witchdoctor and finally Clockwerk. iG rush into the base 3 against 1, destroy the melee rax and land two consecutive kills on iG's Crystal Maiden. DK surrenders, bringing a fantastic game to a close.
This was a fairly epic game. I should know, because I think I broke a sweat while watching it. Then again, it might just be due to the fact that South Africa in the summer is warmer than Lina's pants. What really made this game a pleasure to analyse was the prevalence of unorthodox picks; primarily that of the Chaos Knight. I really think that Super! may have hit the nail on the head with his build: despite losing, Chaos Knight seemed to play a solid role in initiating ganks and teamfights. With a Janggo and a Pipe, he becomes a core teamfight starter and aura carrier, while his natural tankiness allows him to survive the initial wave of damage. All credit to the victors, however: iG managed to consistently outplay DK in this game. The biggest crux of the matter was that DK were over-eager with their unorthodox picks, resulting in them being over-committed to many ganks and teamfights and consequently suffering far greater losses than they should have. It was this that allowed iG to seize advantage after advantage until DK broke under the pressure. If there is one general rule to take away from this game, it would be this: any new picks must be approached with caution and carefulness, rather than to assume strength and then under-perform. To both teams: this was a fantastic game! Both iG and DK should be proud of this match.