SMM: DK vs. iG

Posted by David "Saguine" Horscroft at 12 December 2011 19:47

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 PhaseFirst Pick Phase

Broodmother | Earthshaker | Invoker Batrider | Lone Druid | Anti-Mage

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.

Lycanthrope | Crystal Maiden Clockwerk Goblin Windrunner Pandaren Brewmaster | Necrolyte

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 PhaseSecond Pick Phase

Shadow Demon | Prophet Faerie Dragon | Ancient Apparition

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.

Lich | Chaos Knight Witch Doctor | Bounty Hunter

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.

Critical Hero

Pandaren Brewmaster

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)
ChinaDK ChinaiG
BroodmotherEarthshakerInvoker BatriderLone DruidAnti-Mage
Shadow DemonProphet Faerie DragonAncient Apparition
Lycanthrope WindrunnerPandaren Brewmaster
Crystal MaidenClockwerk Necrolyte
LichChaos Knight Witch DoctorBounty Hunter
Crystal Maiden DK.longdd (Top)
Clockwerk DK.rOtK (Top)
Lich DK.ZippO (Mid)
Chaos Knight DK.Super! (Mid)
Lycanthrope DK.BurNIng (Bot)
Pandaren Brewmaster iG.Ferrari_430 (Top)
Windrunner iG.ChuaN (Top)
Bounty Hunter iG.YYF (Mid)
Necrolyte iG.Zhou (Bot)
Witch Doctor iG.Faith (Bot)


The Game
Laning Analysis


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.

Important Events
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. .

Panda is currently on 9 creeps, while Clockwerk has 11 and Chaos Knight is on 16. Necrolyte is ahead of everyone with 17 creeps already, while Lycanthrope has one lonely creep kill to his name.

|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.

An early level in Witchdoctor's Voodoo Restoration makes this push far easier, as it drains very little mana in return for a really solid regeneration boost. I always cry a little on the inside when I see Witchdoctor players completely neglecting this powerful heal until the mid-game stages. At level one, it's restores HP at a 2:1 ratio in respect to mana, over an AoE! To compare other heals, Shadow Word and Purification both attain this ratio at level four. Many other healing spells don't even come close!

|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.

This is a great example of a dual-pronged attack by iG: by orchestrating their gank on the top lane they tied up the support heroes from defending the bottom tower, which ended up in it taking a lot of damage.

|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.

It is true to say that, very often, a decisive and forward initiation is good as it takes opponents off their feet. However, in this situation, with so many uncommon picks, there is a lot more to gain by playing defensively and exploiting the mistakes of your enemy rather than risking the reverse by blindly trusting in your supposed strengths.

|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.

Whether Witchdoctor acted as intentional bait, or iG simply made the most of the situation, is unknown. Regardless, they did well to capitalize on DK's actions. This has also exposed a dangerous vulnerability in Chaos Knight: if he decides to commit, he will inevitably be very out of position and at risk due to the nature of Reality Rift. In the future, he should be careful about initiating on any targets that are lower-priority than himself (such as Windrunner and Witchdoctor).


Intentional bait, or unwitting target? You decide for yourself.

|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.

This was a better execution from DK: with Chaos Knight focusing his power on high-priority targets he not only increases the risk-reward ratio, but also assists his escape by taking out key heroes. DK will hopefully learn from these two fights and continue to use Nessaj more and more efffectively.

|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.

While Chaos Knight, again, committed too fully and felt the consequences, Lycanthrope died to a fast teleportation by Necrolyte. A cautionary measure for DK: their opponents have a lot of counter-attacking power, and they must be sure of victory before initiating a fight.

|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.

An interesting thing to note is the way he ran into the tower. This was not an attempt to escape: Clockwerk was well aware how dead he was. However, he was set in placing as much distance between him and his team as possible, to force iG to waste time chasing him instead of counter-attacking and pushing the 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.

While I have said that DK must not over-commit to fights, this is an example of exactly what they need to do. DK's lineup has a lot of targeted killing power, and quick, clean initiations with the odds clearly in their favor allow them to take full advantage.

|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.

Smoke was used to great effect here, to cover up the Scourge heroes as they crossed the river. Since the pass was warded, and due to iG's generally defensive play, Burning was lulled into a false sense of security, which was his undoing.

|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.

Again, this is a matter of over-committing. While Chaos Knight died in the initial foray, Clockwerk should not have chased Windrunner to such a suicidal extent.

|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.

Strategically, I question his use of Storm Panda's Cyclone on Chaos Knight. I believe that he was clearly in retreat and was not an immediate thread. If Lich or Clockwerk had been Cycloned, it is very possible that Gondar would not have died. iG may have even scored a kill on a more vulnerable hero, like Crystal Maiden.

|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.

This fight was lost due to a great initiation by iG. Despite his tankiness, Lycanthrope is still vulnerable to focus fire, and DK running headlong into a ready and rested iG gave them all the opportunity they needed to eliminate key heroes. As the critical hero, Panda is really bringing his A-game, with perpetual Blink-Stomps to disrupt the enemy as well as natural DPS to stand and fight them with.

|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.

This could imply that DK will be focusing on the top lane soon.


The Weird Ward.

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.

Despite having the upper hand right now, iG is wise to back away from Roshan. Getting caught in that tight bottleneck by Lich, Crystal Maiden and Clockwerk would be devastating, and would allow Chaos Knight and Lycanthrope to wreak havoc on whoever was left alive.


|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.

With the two big AoE heroes from DK eliminated, iG can now considering trying to Rosh again. They make a second attempt, but once again the superior map control of DK scares them off. In all truth, I think iG could have killed Roshan without risking their safety. While Clockwerk, Chaos Knight and Lycanthrope were alive, iG has enough DPS to take them out, especially 5v3. The bottleneck is be a lot less dangerous without Chain Frost and Freezing Field.

|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.

DK made a critical error in trying to Rosh while the enemy was still strong. If they had bided their time, and either initiated on iG during another attempt or gone for a team-fight otherwise, they may have dealt a crippling blow to iG. Instead, they have been completely wiped, and are looking very vulnerable right now: the critical hero has really done his job.


Trolling: always better with alcohol.


The teamfight breaks out in earnest.

|31:25| iG consolidates after their victory, and takes the top tower unopposed.

iG really are strong in their position, and if they hold to their course they are almost sure to claim victory.

|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.

DK are struggling to get momentum together, and as such as folding to the pressure that iG is exerting on them. They need to win a decisive gank or teamfight in order to reverse the flow of this game.

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.

DK needs this gank: in order to reverse iG's pressure they need to kill one or two lone heroes before forcing a teamfight. iG, on the other hand, should be spending this time working as a team to keep the pressure on constantly.

|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.

This retreat was wise: DK cannot afford to risk losing Chaos Knight and/or Lycanthrope at this crucial time. However, despite their fast reactions, Necrolyte's Shiva's Guard really assisted in running Chaos Knight down. iG should now go for another push.


"Since when... did purple... hurt... so... much..?"

|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.

This is an interesting change in strategy from DK. Instead of going for teamfights, they are allowing Lycanthrope to push as hard as he can while they attempt to defend. If this is executed properly, iG may find themselves scrambling to protect lanes and losing focus and momentum in teamfights, as shown by Gondar geting singled out and eliminated. Altogether, this is a great strategical choice from DK.

|39:30| iG successfully kills Roshan, with Zhou's Necrolyte taking the Aegis.

In order to react to DK's new strategy, I assume iG is going to try force a final teamfight now, in order to draw Lycanthrope back and ideally bunker-bust DK's base.

|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.


iG busts the final tower right before the surrender.


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.



Team rankings