WE vs. iG
WE faces off against a historically superior iG in this matchup. While WE is by no means a poor team, especially by international standards, iG has come from winning streak after winning streak. Time to analyze how and why WE laid these titans low through a combination of insane aggression, surprise picks and clever countering.
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|The Pick/Ban analysis|
|First Ban Phase||First Pick Phase|
WE has the first-ban. They decide to go with a reliable Invoker ban. Against Ferrari, this ban is very wise. iG respond by removing the Clockwerk Goblin from the pool. WE then takes out Lich. Weaver and Syllabear are then removed, which takes out two very powerful mid-game heroes. Against Zhou, banning Syllabear is very wise so as to prevent early chaos. iG removes the powerful Shadow Demon from the pool.
As their first pick, WE snaps up Batrider. This is an arguable choice, but still a strong and aggressive one. iG answers this with Windrunner and Vengeful Spirit. These picks are both strong and versatile. WE completes their picks with two support heroes: Venomancer and Earthshaker. Venomancer--through his wards--brings a strong pushing component to any team. The Earthshaker pick also saves WE a ban, as SanSheng is well known for a very strong Earthshaker. In light of this pick, iG's next choice seems strange: Broodmother, who will need to watch out for WE's Earthshaker. This Brood pick also implies that Zhou and DDC will try exert some early pressure on their lanes to force WE onto the back foot.
|Second Ban Phase||Second Pick Phase|
The second ban phase sees WE ban AA and Visage, and iG removes Lycanthrope and Spectre from the pool. With the current AoE heroes in the pool (Earthshaker, Windrunner and Batrider) Visage would have a permanently maxed out Soul Assumption. The AA ban could be to deny iG another strong solo laner, which would allow WE to jungle two other heroes in today's common strategy. Removing Spectre reveals that iG wants to have the strongest carry on their team, while Lycanthrope is a very common Chinese ban due to his latent DPS, versatility and jungling power.
With the first pick of the second phase, WE takes the Storm Spirit. While Storm has fallen out of favour in China, WE's FnTY is known to play an very good SS. This is a very solid confirmation that WE will be aiming for early-to-mid domination. iG responds by picking Enigma, gaining a strong ultimate and a good jungler who can bush with Venge. WE then surprise picks Balanar, the Night Stalker. iG now needs to select a hero who can keep NS down, and they pick Rexxar. Their laning becomes very clear in this, which reveals an intended 3-solo-2-bush strategy. However, one would question whether Beastmaster is the best counter to a solo mid Balanar.
|Even with the obscure Balanar pick, I feel that WE has outpicked iG. Not only has iG revealed their laning strategy, but WE have kept theirs hidden. Furthermore, Balanar's lengthy silence cancels Broodmother's Web Invisibility, and his high damage output is enough to take out support heroes by himself. iG could probably have chosen a stronger solo mid, such as Doom (who would be able to harass Balanar in lane, as well as destroy Storm in teamfights) or Necrolyte (whose tankiness and team heal would help offset the AoE damage provided by Earthshaker, Batrider and Venomancer). At the moment, Rexxar is ill-suited to combat Batrider, and is not likely to be able to prevent a solo Balanar from farming. However, it is important to note that his stun is widely considered to be a solid counter to Storm Spirit. iG, however, have far more potential late-game, which puts pressure on WE to perform early.|
An important aspect to iG's lineup is the Enigma pick, when paired with the Beastmaster. Enigma works best as a follow-up initiator; after Rexxar's Primal Roar has initiated a teamfight, Rexxar himself will draw fire which should allow Enigma to get a solid Black Hole off. However, since four of WE's heroes have some form of interrupt, Enigma will need to get an early BKB up to ensure a full ultimate.
In conclusion, both lineups are fairly aggressive, and as such we can expect a very action-packed game from these two Chinese teams.
|As expected, iG lanes Rexxar solo mid, Broodmother in the top lane, Windrunner in the bottom lane and Enigma in the jungle. Vengeful Spirit roams, and gets her experience by jungling part-time with Engima. Since the first four could easily be predicted, WE decided to counter this by sending Batrider top, Balanar mid and Storm Spirit bottom. |
The goal of the Enigma-Venge dual roaming is to both open up three solo lanes, and offer gank support to the lanes. This threatens both top and mid for WE. Vengeful Spirit will, however, has to be careful not to steal gold and levels from Enigma, and she will have to roam by herself for some time to ensure that Enigma gets both the experience and farm he desperately needs.
WE's setup has revealed the central part of their strategy: allow Balanar to get early levels and farm before the first night, while Storm Spirit and Batrider keep things together on the side lanes. Batrider is an apt counter for Broodmother, with heavy AoE he can use to tear her Spiderlings apart. Since Windrunner is a far stronger and more versatile laner than Storm Spirit pre-level 6, FnTY will have to be very wary for incoming ganks, especially with the dual stun that the roaming Vengeful Spirit supplies. Whether iG is set to strike at the heart of this strategy and exploit it's weaknesses is still to be seen.
|From the get-go, it seems that WE had the upper hand. In my opinion they did well to counter iG with their picks, and having kept their laning strategy in the dark they came into the game with the element of surprise. A huge aspect of this game is that every move iG made, WE seemed to be one step ahead and ready to counter them. iG sent Rexxar mid: WE countered with an early gank to free up Balanar's lane. iG tried to pressure the top lane with Broodmother: WE counter this with an aggressive Batrider and a roaming Earthshaker. iG perpetually lagged behind WE, and by the first night they had put no pressure whatsoever on the Balanar. This bit back with a vengeance when SYCar's Night Stalker slashed through their ranks time and time again, throwing them onto the back foot.|
What I find surprising is that, in my eyes, iG did not do much so as to counter this. A possible route would be, during the first night, to turtle in larger groups. This would allow the Broodmother to farm, as well as limit the kills Night Stalker got. With his brutal speed, ganking NS at night is difficult, and as such iG needed to go onto the defensive: something they failed to do effectively.
Games like these, with more unusual picks such as Night Stalker, are like arms races: when one side is on top, the other side has to battle to not only equal it, but better it. WE very quickly got to the top over iG through picks, and in their desperation to return to power iG slipped up on their positioning, their counter attacking and their reaction to and application of pressure.
Congratulations to WE: they fought hard, played expertly, and I believe that they definitely deserved to win this one.