Ad Finem: Enter the Lions
Who is Ad Finem?
Winners of European qualifiers for the Boston Major, Ad Finem have been trying to earn a spot at a Valve tournament for quite some time now, but they’ve always been one series away from the big stage. At the Manila Major, where only the regional qualifiers winners advanced into the main event, they were defeated by Team Empire in the grand finals. They almost made it to The International 6 finishing third when only the runners up got to play in the Wild Cards. But, as they say, 'third time's a charm' and Ad Finem rampaged through the Boston Major qualifiers, winning the bracket without dropping a single game.
As one of the very few teams to exit the 2016 Fall Shuffle without any roster change, Ad Finem upset both Team Secret and Team Liquid who were regarded as main favorites to qualify at first Major of this competitive season. If we think that to some extent Ad Finem are one of the main reasons for Puppey’s first missed Valve event in six years, and at the same time, they are the ones denying Miracle-‘s chance to participate in his fourth consecutive Major, then their qualifiers performance can be regarded as one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Achievements post 2016 Fall Shuffle
9-12th BTS Europe #4
7th DreamLeague Season 6 League Play
5-8th FACEIT Invitational
5-6th Northern Arena BEAT Invitational
4th Dota Pit League Season 5 European Qualifiers 2
3-4th ESL One Genting 2017 European Qualifiers
2nd The Summit 6 European Qualifiers
1st The Boston Major 2016 Europe Qualifiers
The five Greeks are a rather unique phenomenon in the scene. Although they’ve been playing with the current roster for a year now, the team being formed on the 4th of December 2015, Ad Finem have never been one of the top tier one teams. In fact, their only premiere events through the entire year were WePlay Dota 2 League Season 3, The Summit 5 and the recently finished Northern Arena BEAT Invitational where they got invited as replacements for Team Liquid.
But, regardless of their underwhelming results, Ad Finem have earned themselves a special spot in everyone’s heart. From tournament organizers, to commentators, players and Dota 2 fans in general, everyone is attracted by this somehow atypical squad. So, the next question would be:
What makes Ad Finem so special?
Their first strength is an impressively long history together. Ad Finem may have been formed last year in December, but the core of the team goes way back to early 2014 when there was a small Greek squad named Agressive Minds from which only Omar 'Madara' Dabachach and Giorgos 'SsaSpartan' Giannakopoulos have stuck together. Harris 'SkyLark' Zafeiriou entered the picture in November 2014 when London Conspiracy made a return to Dota 2 with a full Greek squad. In the post TI5 shuffle LC dropped the entire team but three of the former members continued to push further and created Golden Boys. This is when Verros 'Maybe Next Time' Apostolos joined the mission and the entire Ad Finem roster as we know it now was rounded by the addition of Dmitris 'ThuG' Plivouris on December 2015.
The nearly three year history together for SsaSpartan and Madara (Support and Carry respectively) is something very precious these days, when most of the teams mix and match every few other months. And for those who got to know them more closely, their amazing friendship and good vibes regardless of the situation are contagious. Ad Finem’s strength lies exactly in this incredible power of staying positive, in their mutual trust, but above everything else, in their extraordinary friendship. They are a tight group of extremely talented players fighting, as their team name says,"Till the End".
How is this impacting Ad Finem’s games?
Ad Finem like to call themselves 'The Lions', while the community will often refer to them as 'The Greek Gods'. The former term describes their ferocious play style, their aggressiveness when cornered and their ability to keep fighting against all odds. Ad Finem’s incredible tenacity is their biggest strength and their biggest enemy at the same time. While everyone expects them to play aggressive through the early-mid game, almost nobody expects them to defend their own high ground outside the base, or to contest a Roshan kill after a team wipe, yet they are doing it most of the time.
Some might call it lack of discipline, lack of experience against stronger teams or even madness, but the fact of the matter is that Ad Finem’s drafts are built to emphasize these kind of high risk/high reward plays and they like to push the heroes’ limits. Although this is their first Valve event and they aren’t what we can call a "familiar face" at LAN events in general, all five Ad Finem players are already known for strong individual plays and their signature heroes.
Pre-TI6, Madara was one of the best Slark players in the the European scene, ThuG is often targeted with respect bans on Outworld Devourer and Death Prophet, SkyLark is famous for his ability to win his lane and for being one of the best initiators on heroes like Dark Seer, Beastmaster or Batrider and Maybe Next Time might as well call himself 'now you see me, now you don’t' as he is famous by now for his annoying and effective roams on Riki or Bounty Hunter. SsaSpartan, Ad Finem’s captain, is a truly deadly weapon on Disruptor and makes stunning Houdini moves when he is playing Io.
Ad Finem in numbers:
Win Rate: 46.96% in 66 matches
Radiant Win Rate: 44.68% in 47 matches
Dire Win Rate: 52.63% in 19 matches
Most picked heroes:
Playing and enjoying playing together for over a year, the five Ad Finem boys are a loud and exuberant team, but they don’t need to exchange too many words to plan and execute a team fight. Their synergy, their sense of anticipation and trust in each individual’s capability of taking the best decision give them the edge when fighting big names who shuffle rosters.
In the past three months, Ad Finem developed several pushing strategies and they often run aggressive trilanes that are bound to bring them the early game advantage on which they have to capitalize very fast or else there is no chance of surviving late game scenarios. This made them rather predictable and most likely they will have to come up with new and surprising underdog moves if they are to keep upsetting the favorites in Boston.