Posted by David "Saguine" Horscroft at 17 October 2011 16:48

China's IG.Y goes head-to-head against Malaysia's MUFC in this contest of strategies. Will IG.Y's heavy early push prevail? Or will they lose their race against time and get destroyed by a farmed Antimage from MUFC? With some very entertaining carries and semi-carries such as Lycanthrope, Syllabear and Pugna, as well as some interesting role-contests between Chen and Enchantress, this is definitely a game to watch. Read on!

The Pick/Ban analysis
First Ban PhaseFirst Pick Phase
Shadow Demon Clockwerk Goblin Obsidian Destroyer
Invoker Windrunner Batrider

From the get-go, strong solo laners are removed. Shadow Demon is possibly the most powerful hero currently in the pool. Batrider, Windrunner, Invoker and Clockwerk are all powerful AoE heroes and strong solo laners. The Obsidian Destroyer ban is largely a respect ban, though he does make the occasional appearance in the competitive scene (primarily from MUFC).

Lich Vengeful Spirit Lone Druid
Beastmaster Anti-Mage Crystal Maiden

Both IG.Y and MUFC pick important heroes in the first pick phase. IG.Y goes with two solid supporters (Lich and Vengeful Spirit) along with Syllabear, who is an intensely strong carry with powerful pushing capabilities. MUFC takes Antimage as their central carry. In this version, he has proven his strength time and time again. Beastmaster also provides a solid solo to MUFC. The Lich and Syllabear pick are indicative of a pushing strategy on IG.Y's side, while the Antimage pick is an indication that MUFC wants to endure until the late game.

Second Ban PhaseSecond Pick Phase
Broodmother Nerubian Weaver
Faerie Dragon Earthshaker

In the second ban phase, IG.Y removes two powerful mid-game carries from the pool: Broodmother and Nerubian Weaver. Nerubian Weaver is possibly one of the strongest mid-game carries. The combination of Antimage and Weaver on a single team would also provide a huge amount of mobility for a single team, which would make MUFC very hard to destroy early. Puck and Earthshaker are removed by MUFC, removing two powerful roamers from IG.Y's grasp. Puck is a very powerful counter to Antimage with it's long silence and initiation range, and huge mobility.

Oblivion Holy Knight
Lycanthrope Enchantress

The final picks are very interesting. IG.Y selects Pugna and Chen, and in doing so they free up their laning setup. They currently have a strong bush hero, as well as three solid solos. MUFC, on the other hand, selects two powerful heroes: the heavy mid-game carry Lycanthrope and semi-carry Enchantress. Lycanthrope has recently become a very powerful pick, as he provides high DPS, solid map control and strong pushing capabilities. Enchantress, is a complete doppelganger of Chen. Both provide a team heal, both provide a slow, and both can roll out of the bush with a posse of high-level creeps. They even both provide a large amount of pure damage to their team. We can expect that a large part of this game will be based on which of these two gains dominance.

Critical Hero
Lone Druid

It is this strategist's opinion that IG.Y's Syllabear is the critical hero for this game. In picking Antimage, MUFC have forced IG.Y to make a choice: either they must pick another hard carry and hope to take Antimage on late game, or they must end early. It is not only up to MUFC to survive until the mid-game, but the onus is also on them to delay Lone Druid's peak for as long as possible. If Syllabear is successful, MUFC will find themselves in a world of pain, and if Syllabear fails early-game, IG.Y will not be able to withstand the onslaught of semi-carries and the late-game Antimage.


The real question here is whether MUFC can stick to their target. Very often, when a team picks a hard carry, they force their opposition to race against the clock in order to end before the late-game. However, MUFC have placed themselves in a bit of a conundrum. With only one support hero, they will be hard pressed to survive the early game. Furthermore, with three semicarries, they need to ensure optimal gold distribution without sacrificing efficiency. They will be very powerful late game, but they need to play very cautiously and cleverly in the early game, or else they will get thrashed by IG.Y's early-mid lineup.

From the get-go, IG.Y threw their plan on the table. A lineup centered on a Syllabear is almost always aimed at flooring towers early. This isn't surprising: the biggest strength of the Lone Druid is destroying towers in a heartbeat. Adding Pugna and Lich to this mix not only gives IG.Y some devastating magic damage, but also provides large armor potential as well as additional damage to towers. Even Chen and Venge are geared towards early domination: Chen with his army of beefed up creeps, and Vengeful Spirit with her solid roaming skillset. IG.Y have a huge advantage early-game, and their plan should be to make the most of this so as to weaken MUFC's mid-game, which is when they intend to finish. Starting lanes are likely to involve Chen in the jungle, with Syllabear taking a solo lane (middle, or bottom) protected by Vengeful Spirit. Pugna will probably tend towards taking the middle lane, which leaves Lich to take the short lane by himself.

As mentioned above, MUFC may have made a crucial error in their picks. With three semi-carries in the pool, as well as the exceptionally late-game oriented Antimage, they lack support heroes and suffer from farm availability. Although they have to make way for Antimage to farm, Lycan and Enchantress both require decent farm to be effective. Even Rexxar requires a certain amount of gold. They also have three melee carries, and even though Antimage and Lycanthrope are highly mobile, they run the risk of being torn to pieces by the ranged early-game damage of IG.Y. They also have two heroes who excel in the jungle. Despite this, however, MUFC has a very strong selection of heroes. Should they survive the early-game without losing too many towers, mid-game will be a turning point for them. Their other strength is the large amount of map control they possess, in the form of summons from Beastmaster and Lycanthrope. During the mid-game they will be able to re-establish dominance, which is exactly what they want, as it will allow them to extend the game into the late stages where they will crush IG.Y. To start, however, it is highly likely that Rexxar will take the solo mid lane. Antimage will probably take the long lane, top, and will be protected by the Crystal Maiden. This leaves either Lycanthrope or Enchantress to take the bottom lane. While Lycanthrope can actually solo a lane solidly, IG.Y has enough AoE to kill his wolves before they manage to last-hit anything. As such, I predict that Lycan will take the bush while Enchantress will attempt to hold the short lane.

Lone Druid Vengeful Spirit
China IG.Y Malaysia MUFC
Shadow Demon Clockwerk Goblin Obsidian Destroyer
Invoker Windrunner Batrider
Broodmother Nerubian Weaver
Faerie Dragon Earthshaker
Anti-Mage Beastmaster
Lone Druid Vengeful Spirit
Crystal Maiden
Oblivion Holy Knight
Lycanthrope Enchantress
Lich iG_Ch_Y
Lone Druid iG_Yyf_Y
Vengeful Spirit iG_830_Y
Oblivion iG_ChuaN_Y
Holy Knight iG_BenZ_Y
Anti-Mage MUFCSharky
Beastmaster MUFC_Kyxy
Crystal Maiden MUFC_Net
Lycanthrope MUFC_Nick
Enchantress MUFC_Ling

The Game
Laning Analysis

As expected Pugna and Rexxar will battle it out mid. This lane favors Pugna slightly, since he has a decent base damage and a tremendous damage increase per level. Nether Blast is also a great way of harassing and taking creeps, which is only helped by Pugna's great mana regen. However, Beastmaster should have rune control due to his animals. This lane is also a dangerous one due to both teams having a support with a disable, and a heavy jungle-hero, and as such both players will have to play cautiously and control creep equilibrium carefully to avoid being ganked.

Antimage and Crystal Maiden have taken the long Scourge lane, top, and are going to be laning against IG.Y's Lich. Although Lich is a very solid solo hero who can both deny experience and harass effectively, the presence of Enchantress in the bushes is going to put a lot of pressure on him. It is highly likely that the Antimage will get some farm in the early game. However, it will be easy for Lich to leech experience, which in turn will allow him to get level in his powerful AoE spells early. I also predict a level or two in Frost Armour, which could be invaluable in IG.Y's clear pushing strategy.

Against my predictions, MUFC sends the Lycanthrope bot. There are multiple possible reasons for this: either they predicted that Lich and Pugna would go top and mid respectively, which would allow Lycan to farm without feeding the lane with his wolves early. Banehallow is also far more tanky than Enchantress, and will be more likely to survive ganks from what will probably be an aggressive bush. However, it is very likely that Syllabear will win this lane. As a summon, Spirit Bear gives the Lone Druid the power to last hit very effectively from early levels. His range will also allow him to harass Lycan or possibly try kill his wolves. Unless Lycan puts a lot of micro into this lane, he will probably leave it with minimal farm, while Syllabear will be free-farming. This is actually something MUFC should avoid at all costs, since Syllabear is the cornerstone of IG.Y's strategy.

Finally, both Chen and Enchantress are taking the jungle. It seems as though Chen will be accompanied by Vengeful Spirit, adopting the 3-solo-2-bush strategy that has become a common sight in the current metagame. This means that both side lanes will be very dangerous, with the top being tricky territory for the Sentinel and the bottom lane being a hazard for the Scourge. A large part of this game in the early-to-mid stages will depend on how well Enchantress cancels Chen out. Fortunately for MUFC, the fact that Enchantress is bushing alone will keep the Lich back. Unfortunately for MUFC, the presence of the Vengeful Spirit and the Chen in the Sentinel bush means that Syllabear - the critical hero - will be very difficult to gank.

Important Events
Early Game - 0:00 to 10:00

An important thing to note, straight from the start, is how cautiously Syllabear hides in the trees by the tower before creeps spawn. Even though MUFC has very limited disable and slow, Syllabear is very squishy early game. By hiding in the trees, the Lone Druid ensures that his day won't be ruined by a Smoked party of heroes.

Also note how Lycanthrope sends his wolves out to scout as soon as possible. While the wolves will not dispel Smoke of Deceit, they still provide both a deterrent and a form of map control. It may even be wise of Lycanthrope to use his wolves to deny creep camps, which will hurt Chen's jungling greatly.

0:15: In the strangest strategic mishap I've ever seen, Lycan leaves his lane after a few seconds of creep blocking and goes to the Scourge jungle. MUFC seem to have realized the grave strategic error they have made.

While Lycan can now get more farm, MUFC have set themselves on a collision course with a very farmed Syllabear. Unfortunately for them, there is very little they can do, since Syllabear is well protected from the bushes with the Vengeful Spirit and Holy Knight. I think, even this early on in the game, MUFC is feeling out-picked and on the back foot.


Enchantress and Lycan learn the value of sharing, due to poor forethought from MUFC.

1:52: MUFC score a masterful first blood on the Lich, top. This kill was a perfect example of premeditation and flawless execution. Note how the Enchantress sends her dominated Troll around the side. Such a unit might slip by unnoticed on the minimap. It was then simple to catch the Lich by his tower, and net an early first blood.

At the same time, IG.Y has killed MUFC's courier, and shortly after kill the Rexxar. Even though Vengeful Spirit died, it is an amazing tradeoff: not only does Pugna have level dominance now, but Rexxar has lost his bottle to Pugna. This is an example of sloppy play my MUFC, which is surprising since they pulled off that surgical gank top.

4:07: Lich dies again, to Crystal Maiden. This stops the harassment from Lich, which relieves pressure on the Antimage who is starting to really feel those Frost Novas. However, IG.Y are really sticking to their plan well: Syllabear, who has been farming 100% uncontested so far, has almost twice the number of creep kills Antimage has.

5:25: MUFC change their plans a little and decide to reverse the pressure onto IG.Y by rushing the top tower. They reduce it to nothing while Lich can only stand and watch. One can argue that Lich should have used his Nova to draw creeps away from the tower. However, there was a very real risk of getting killed if he did so. The tower falls to Antimage.

Despite some poor decision making and less-than-professional play from MUFC, they have also had some great moments. This decisive change in pressure is just what they need to regain some early dominance. If they continue to push, IG.Y will have to decide whether to defend (which takes Syllabear out of his element) or tower-race. While they will win the tower race, this will take pressure off the other lanes and allow MUFC's semicarries to farm up further. In order to even up the pressure, IG.Y retaliates with Syllabear taking the bottom lane tower at 6:12.

7:15: IG.Y's reaction to the loss of their first tower is not going as MUFC expected. Instead of getting together and pushing hard, Syllabear makes use of his empty lane to take a second tower, a minute after his first. MUFC have now lost two towers and will need to actually focus on this bot lane before they get raxxed.

To be fair, MUFC react very quickly to this threat, eliminating the Syllabear with a very swift gank. Yyf should not have stuck around on half HP after that tower dropped, and he paid for it at 7:45. However, one can argue that it is not entirely a loss: the reduced pressure on the other lanes allow Lich to continue harassing Antimage, while the remainder of IG.Y take the middle tower.

9:23: Another surgical gank from the top lane kills Lich again. Antimage now has two kills. Interestingly enough, MUFC has more kills than IG.Y. This can be attributed to MUFC turning the aggression onto IG.Y while they are weak and isolated. This is why pushing strategies are weak to ganking: when heroes are caught by themselves they tend to die very quickly.

Just as interesting is the way that Lycan has reversed the push on the bottom lane, harassing Syllabear extensively. Chen reacts quickly, however, and Lycan is forced to flee in his Wolf Form.

Due to the increased map movement, ganking and tower pushing, this game has made the transition into the mid-game stage. Although IG.Y have been sticking to their strategy, MUFC is looking a lot less shaken-up than they should be. This part of the game will pit the semicarries against each other, and we can expect to see IG.Y attempting to finish soon.

Mid Game - 10:00 to 26:25

The mid-game phase begins with a slight lull. The critical hero, Syllabear, currently has Phase Boots, and 2300 gold ready. Even though he has died once, the free lane from the start treated him very well, and he currently has 47 creep kills. He is clearly going straight for a Radiance. Lycanthrope - Syllabear's main competition currently - is equipped with a Vladimir's Offering along with Power Treads. Currently, he out-DPSs Syllabear, and can probably take him on 1v1. Antimage, on the other hand, is looking very threadbare. He will need to pick up his farm so that he can help his team during this mid-game, should they need it. IG.Y should really not be allowing this lapse in action to occur: they really need to start pushing as a team in order to win.

12:08: Spidey-senses save Syllabear from a gank. However, this type of aggressive play is what MUFC needs from their semicarries, in order to keep IG.Y on the defense. Therefore, even if they didn't get the kill, it is definitely a worthwhile attempt.

12:19: IG.Y take advantage of the enemy heroes in the bottom lane to take the top tower. While it is definitely a good idea for them to seize the opportunity, one has to wonder what they are waiting for.

In my opinion, they may be waiting for Lone Druid to get his Radiance up. With 3,400 gold, he is very close to his Relic. However, IG.Y has a strong pushing lineup, regardless of whether their carry has Radiance or not. I believe it would be more strategically wise of them if they were to push now and have Syllabear earn his Radiance during the pushes. This would put their heroes back into the roles they excel at, and keep them on the path to victory.

13:00: MUFC takes Roshan uncontested, with the Aegis and last-hit both going to the Lycanthrope. They are cleverly abusing their summons and their map control in order to take this opportunity. The Aegis on Lycanthrope is very big: if he does not throw it away carelessly, it should prove very important in a teamfight. This adds more pressure to IG.Y, and it seems like MUFC's strategy of applying pressure through their semicarries is working for them.

13:30: IG.Y comes mid with four heroes. They look like they are about to go for a split-push, with themselves mid while Syllabear applies pressure bot. However, they must be incredibly cautious. Not only does Lycanthrope have Aegis, but MUFC have massive vision and map control on their side of the river. IG.Y seems to be pushing mid with four heroes. In this way, either MUFC has to defend mid, which allows the Syllabear to farm, or MUFC takes the chance to go for Syllabear, which will allow IG.Y to slam the middle tower. However, if IG.Y are not cautious in their positioning, they could easily lose 4 heroes to a multi-pronged attack from MUFC.

After some posturing from MUFC, IG.Y realize (possibly wisely) that this attack is very risky, and they pull back. While this decision is, in itself, wise, they need to also realize that they are fighting against the clock. 14 minutes is by no means late, or even far into the mid stages of the game, but MUFC is rapidly getting stronger and more capable of defending themselves.


Notice how two of MUFC's heroes are waiting in fog, right under IG.Y's nose. This demonstrates the value of map vision when pushing.

15:00: IG.Y moves towards the mid tower again. Since their only Scourge ward went down, they have even less map control now. They fall back rapidly again, only to have MUFC capitalize on this by chasing down the Chen. Even though Chen escapes, IG.Y loses their Vengeful Spirit in the ensuing teamfight, putting the score to 7/2 to MUFC.

A speedy buyback from the Venge allows IG.Y to counter-initiate at their tower stopping the sudden push MUFC have produced. Once the final skirmishes between Antimage and IG.Y are over, Syllabear arrives on-scene with his Radiance up. This is a critical moment in the game, and if IG.Y does not go all-out from this moment on, they run a very real chance of losing.

As a side note, marvel at the skill behind the death of Enchantress. Instead of dying, she amazingly managed to suicide instead. This was done by dominating Rexxar's Quilbeast immediately after it released a missile. The missile killed Enchantress, but since the damage came from a unit she owned, the kill became a suicide. Masterful!


Suicide: the Dota Way.

16:05: While MUFC have regrouped, returned to the fountain or split to another lane, IG.Y follows through and finally takes the middle tower.

17:35: IG.Y take another tower uncontested, in the top lane. MUFC no longer has an outer tower remaining.

MUFC seemed to be hanging around in the bush, as if they were considering whether or not to initiate. Their decision not to do so was a wise one: away from the safety of their base and without having the bonus of attacking downhill, it is very possible that they would have been torn apart by AoE from Syllabear, Pugna and Lich. In conceding the tower, they have given themselves time to regroup closer to base, and (hopefully for them) ensure they do not lose the base tower and raxes.

With his Radiance up, Yyf has no trouble repelling a push generated by Lycanthrope. Futhermore, Lycan has lost the ability to confidently fight Syllabear 1v1.

18:30: Antimage attempts to bait IG.Y into a Smoke-gank by aggressively farming the bottom lane. He almost succeeds, but due to a poor choice of route from the Lycanthrope IG.Y smell a trap and play more cautiously.


Chen sees the lurking Lycan, alerting IG.Y of danger.

19:30: IG.Y have grouped together mid. They need to get the rax now in order to keep victory within their reach. They still lack line of sight in the enemy territory, but fortunately the combination of Lich's Frost Armour, Pugna's Nether Ward and Spirit Bear's Radiance make initiating upon them fairly risky.

IG.Y manages to bait MUFC out of their base, where they use their superior damage to take the Aegis from Lycanthrope. IG.Y uses the following pause to harass MUFC some more with the Spirit Bear, and after a quick Force Staff from Pugna the Rexxar is taken out. Unforunately, the Pugna dies with him, taking out a high source of AoE damage for IG.Y. Lycanthrope gets caught in the crossfire and is damaged severely, and after Rexxar falls he is taken out too. IG.Y have done well to choose these heroes to focus on: while Antimage may be the primary carry for MUFC, Lycanthrope and Rexxar provide a huge DPS boost to the team, allowing them to defend pushes effectively. IG.Y now have a golden opportunity to seize....

21:10: ... which they do, taking the middle ranged and melee raxes while killing Enchantress in the process. This is exactly the break they need to assert full dominance again: things are looking bleak for MUFC.

22:47: IG.Y takes the top base tower while MUFC scrambles to defend it.

A clever tactical play comes in from Lycanthrope as he sends his wolves on a mission to specifically kill the Nether Ward. However, IG.Y still has a lot of momentum, as well as high armor from Lich. Because of this, they cannot initiate on them, even as they are running around in their base. Rexxar gets killed due to a Nether Swap taking advantage of his loitering. In the blink of an eye, Enchantress follows suit, and IG.Y take the top raxes.

23:47: The massive early-game DPS of IG.Y is shown as they decimate Lycanthrope and Antimage, in quick succession, after which they dive for the bottom base tower. Antimage and Lycanthrope buy back; Antimage using his mobility to dive in, while Lycanthrope uses his ultimate to attack Lich from the other direction. This attack is executed haphazardly, but with fantastic results: IG.Y is divided for the moment, and Pugna and Vengeful Spirit both perish rapidly. Immediately after this, the raw DPS of Syllabear comes into play, destroying the Crystal Maiden and allowing Lich to kill Enchantress before the Lone Druid dies. Right now this battle looks like a cross between World of Warcraft and "American Psycho": dead heroes lie everywhere.

In total, everyone except Rexxar and Lich died during this fight, while Lycan remains alive after his buyback. Unfortunately for MUFC, Syllabear buys back and dives in to secure the final rax. IG.Y loses Pugna, but MUFC loses their final set of raxes at 25:45.

26:25: IG.Y takes the throne, defeating MUFC before the game moves to late-game.


The Lone Druid shares a high-five with his Spirit Bear after winning a decisive battle mid.


All in all, this was a fairly good game. The core of MUFC’s loss wasn't necessarily bad play, but inconsistent play. Their greatest mistake was leaving Syllabear alone completely in lane for about 10 minutes: this alone might have cost them the game. Their second big mistake was that the Enchantress took up too much farm from the Lycanthrope, who really could have used a free bush for extra farm. However, at the same time they made some brilliant decisions. Switching up their strategy with more early aggression really put pressure on IG.Y to respond, which was instrumental in allowing Lycanthrope to catch up and enabled him to control the mid-game better than he should have. IG.Y won because they were consistent: sure, they never denied themselves with their enemy creeps, and they did not mix up their strategy with unexpected aggression, but they played consistently well and managed to outplay MUFC on most levels due to this fact.

When it comes to consistent play, in 99% of cases it will triumph over inconsistent play, even if that play has moments far more brilliant than the consistent play does. Why? It's simple: DotA is a game that can turn around in seconds. Blink, and you'll miss an entire teamfight. For this reason, relying on the brilliant side of your play is hugely risky, while keeping it simple and making sure everything is part of the plan is far safer. Considering they played against a team that has been playing fantastically since its inception, MUFC can definitely take pride in this game. IG.Y, on the other hand, can take just as much pride in taking home a victory in the smart, decisive and entertaining style that I hope to see more and more often in DotA.



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