Breaking down Secret's draft of MDL final
Game 4: The last game of MDL Finals
The drafting phase
The final series had four games in which the drafts revolved around only 33 heroes but the surprising thing was that both teams repeated only a few heroes among all of their picks. Chen, Keeper of the Light, Tusk, Dazzle, Io and Ancient Apparition were the most banned throughout the four games. Clockwerk was the most picked hero and Gyrocopter was the most contested. The final series of this tournament was definitely one of the most interesting ones as both the teams had unique drafts.
In the final game, Secret drafted for a strong early and mid-game while they decided to go for a team-fight heavy line-up with high healing abilities. Empire drafted for team-fight with many disabling abilities.
The fourth pick of Empire, Bane was a great one because Secret had very few disabling abilities or any disablers against BKB. The last pick of Secret was Witch Doctor as they decided to go for a line-up which has high damage against BKB. Normally BKB is a great comeback item that can win a team fight easily, but Secret’s idea of Witch Doctor was very smart as they surely wanted to shut down Empire in the mid game and leave them no hope for late game.
The last pick of Empire, Leshrac, was not necessarily a bad one but as I described in my previous article of EHOME vs CDEC, Gyrocopter needs a durable companion or a support with good healing abilities.
Coming to the fourth game, Secret was up by 2-1 and needed just one victory to win the series. In this game Secret decided to synergise all its heroes for early to mid game dominance. Empire had a good draft to fight but they relied heavily on Gyrocopter as he was the only hero as front line tanker and with high right click damage. With no healer on Empire’s side, Secret had an easy strategy: Focus and kill gyro to win the game.
Breaking down the major areas
Empire had a huge advantage in terms of disables which was the very weakness of Secret. Empire had Gyrocopter’s Homin Missile for stun and ultimate for slow, Leshrac’s Lightning Storm for slow and Split Earth for stun, Clockwerk’s Battery Assault, Power Cogs and Hookshot, Rubick’s Telekinesis and any disable spell he can steal from the enemy and finally Bane’s Nightmare and Fiend’s Grip. Secret only had Keeper of the Light’s Blinding Light and Witch Doctor’s Paralyzing Cask.
Empire would certainly destroy a target they would focus on and Secret would have a very hard time in locking down a target.
Secret had a good advantage in pushing as they had Shadow Fiend, Queen of Pain and Keeper of the Light as pushers whereas Empire had only one such hero in Leshrac. In terms of defending. Keeper of the Light is a good counter to Leshrac as he can clear the creep waves very fast, making it difficult for Leshrac to push while getting hit by the tower. Empire also had good wave clearing abilities from Gyrocopter, Leshrac and Clockwerk that would help them delay Secret’s push.
Secret had Queen-of-pain as a good split-pusher and Empire had Leshrac. But Queen-of-pain is better as she has good escaping abilities and Keeper of the light is a good anti-split-pusher as he can recall an allied hero to defend or recall a hero to safety if he is split-pushing.
Empire drafted for a line-up heavily dependent on items and it helped Secret to take advantage of the mid-game where they had all they needed to put pressure.
Gyrocopter relied heavily on items as he was the only source of right click damage and a front line tanker of the team. Even Clockwerk needs good items to tank, whereas the supports of Empire relied on dagger because two main cores of Secret were ranged heroes and using abilities on them from afar would've been difficult. Empire also needed a BKB on Gyrocopter and Bane to make their team fight stronger.
Secret also relied on few items such as Aghanim’s Scepter on Keeper of the Light and Witch Doctor and BKB on Shadow Fiend, though they were less gear-dependent than Empire.
Secret had a strong balanced draft whereas Empire lacked heavily in certain areas. The biggest problem for Empire was that they didn’t have a strong front-line tanker. This problem could have been solved if they drafted for a healing support but they didn’t. Moreover their cores didn’t have good escaping abilities and it is difficult for supports to execute their abilities if carries can’t stay in the fight for even ten seconds.
Empire had a tremendous advantage in disables, followed by advantage in early and late game stages, damage by nukes, low ultimate cooldowns and counters. Secret had a huge advantage in individual strength and minor advantage in push and defense, item dependency, execution and bonus skills. Surprisingly Empire couldn't take an advantage of a draft with 78% advantage as they failed in holding their mid-game whereas Secret had a big disadvantage in terms of disables but still managed to put pressure with all they had.
The first option with Empire was to make Gyrocopter more durable. Gyrocopter was their only source of right-click damage in the draft but durability is a bigger problem than damage because they were being initiated upon by Secret. Gyrocopter could have bought a Satanic instead of MKB because Secret didn't have any evasion item such as Medallion or Butterfly. Having +25 Strength from Satanic would have helped Gyrocopter to withstand QoP's and Shadow Fiend's ultimates. This would have given Empire's supports enough time to use their abilities instead of retreating.
The second option would have been difficult to execute as Secret had ways to counter it. Nevertheless Empire had a chance to split push and delay the game as their late-game draft was stronger when Gyrocopter would have high durability and good damage dealing items. They surely would have lost 4-5 deaths of Leshrac while split-pushing but it would have given Gyrocopter enough time to farm an extra item and that was all they needed.
The third option was to play aggressively and take the fight to the enemy. At the 23rd minute of the game we saw Empire playing doing just that, ganking Secret's jungle. At this time Shadow Fiend was leading the networth chart at 12000 followed by Gyrocopter at 9000 and Empire managed to kill four enemy heroes while losing only one. This shows that Empire had the ability to win a team fight and had heroes suitable for an offensive strategy.
The last option was to play super defensively and fight at the high ground. At the 33rd minute of the game, Leshrac and Rubick made questionable plays as they went close to the enemy without any backup and gave away two deaths for nothing. Just to minutes later Gyrocopter decided to move out of the base to farm a creep-wave and Secret spotted this mistake and bursted him down within seconds. This caused chaos in Empire as Leshrac went close to the enemy in spite of having no escaping ability. Successfully Clockwerk saved Leshrac and Gyrocopter had to buy-back as they lost both the supports. But Gyrocopter made a big mistake by engaging Shadow Fiend while his entire team was retreating and there was no one to back him up. Even his BKB was on cooldown. Hence the mistakes made in last four minutes of the game caused Empire to lose the game instantly. They could have played a bit more defensively and organised a good high-ground defense.
Team Secret must be admired for executing their draft efficiently as they didn't let the game reach late-game and shut-down Empire in the period when they had advantage.
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