Mind wars: PSG.LGD vs Evil Geniuses WePlay AniMajor grand finals draft analysis
An attempt at analyzing the drafts from the three games of the WePlay AniMajor grand final between PSG.LGD and Evil Geniuses.
PSG.LGD finished third at the ONE Esports Singapore Major and secured a direct invite to TI10, but instead of taking their foot off the gas pedal, they upped their performance to come back stronger at the WePlay AniMajor in Kyiv and secured the top prize with a 3-0 demolishing of Evil Geniuses in the grand finals.
It wasn’t just the grand finals though; PSG.LGD looked a level above all others right from the group stages. As PSG.LGD and EG head for a well deserved break, we attempt to analyze the drafts from the three games of the grand final. A lot of brain power goes into drafting as the draft can make or break a game and teams put a lot of thought into every single pick and ban. While we can’t understand in detail the thought processes that occurs in the brilliant minds of the players and coaches, we can perform some basic educated analysis for the drafts, as to why certain heroes were picked and banned.
Stats before the grand final of the WePlay AniMajor
Total games played: 131
Total heroes picked in the tournament: 100
Most played heroes
Puck (59 games, 33 wins, 55.93% win rate)
Mars (57 games, 26 wins, 45.61% win rate)
Dragon Knight (44 games, 27 wins, 61.36% win rate)
Ancient Apparition(43 games, 24 wins, 55.81% win rate)
Snapfire (38 games, 20 wins, 52.63% win rate)
Puck (38 games, 24 wins, 63.16% win rate)
Most banned heroes
Broodmother (87 games)
Viper (76 games)
Templar Assassin (74 games)
Ursa (67 games)
Timbersaw (64 games)
Nyx Assassin (64 games)
PSG.LGD hero stats
Total games played at before the final day: 22
Games won: 17
Win rate: 77.27%
Heroes played: 45
Most played heroes: Phoenix (7), Leshrac, Axe (6)
Total games played before grand final: 28
Games won: 17
Win rate: 60.71%
Heroes played: 50
Most played heroes: Lion (14), Terrorblade (9), Puck (7)
Before we begin, here’s a current look at the ban and pick order for Captain’s Mode. Bans are 2-3-2 and picks are 2-2-1.
Right off the bat, Evil Geniuses banned Nyx Assassin, an unusual candidate for a first phase ban. The possible reason for it was XinQ’s performance on the hero in the last game against T1 – he was extremely effective in breaking nearly all enemy smokes and conveying a lot of information for his team. Their second ban was Doom, a hero not so popular in the initial stages of the tournament, but who’s potency was displayed by PSG.LGD and T1 in the last days of the Kyiv Major. It also offered flex potential for mid or offlane. PSG.LGD banned Broodmother and Puck, signature heroes for iceiceice and Abed respectively.
EG opened with Lion, the most picked hero of the tournament and their most played hero as well. Both, Crit and Fly had played the Lion throughout the event, and it left a few options open going ahead in the draft.
PSG.LGD responded with Phoenix and Axe. Phoenix is a hero that has been doing very well this meta and at the Kyiv Major, had a 65.71% win rate in the 35 games it was picked. The Chinese team ended up having a 100% win rate on the hero (8 games, 8 wins) at the end of the tournament, showing how comfortable they were with it. The second pick was PSG.LGD’s signature hero of the tournament – the Axe, which could be played either by Ame or Faith_bian. It’s not everyday that a hero is equally effective as a safelane carry or an offlaner, but PSG.LGD knew exactly how to make it work in either role. Phoenix and Axe form a great combo as well. Axe’s call can be followed up by Sun Ray, which keeps healing Axe and damaging enemies to get them to the Culling Blade threshold as quickly as possible. It was a bit strange that EG didn't do it, but it probably signaled they had a counter in mind to it.
EG picked the Timbersaw, which was the Axe counter they had in mind. Timbersaw shreds through strength heroes, thanks to Whirling Death stealing stats.
PSG.LGD banned Storm Spirit, Ember Spirit and Terrorblade, continuing to target Abed with the first two bans and respecting the high win rate EG had with Arteezy on the TB. EG continued to target the mid lane as well, taking away NothingToSay’s comfort picks, Leshrac and Death Prophet. The man played Leshrac in all three games against T1 and did quite well on it. The last ban was Ursa, a hero that just demolishes Axe and can even get out of Berserker’s Call with Enrage once he has an Aghanim’s Scepter.
PSG.LGD picked Razor, which serves as a great counter to Timbersaw. Andrew “Jenkins” Jenkins mentioned on the panel how Razor can link Timbersaw and keep following him due to his high movement speed while Eye of the Storm keeps reducing his armor, nullifying Reactive Armor. The Razor pick also ensured EG would not pick a Templar Assassin, the most contested hero of the tournament. They followed the Razor up with Hoodwink, who has had a gread redemption story this Major in the position 4 role, thanks to buffs to her Bushwhack. Bushwhack works great with Axe’s Berserker’s Call – either Call into Bushwhack or Bushwhack into Call – both combos work well as long as there is communication between the players.
EG picked Clockwerk for Fly, which was slightly confusing. His best heroes throughout the tournament were Lion and Ancient Apparition, one of whom they already had the other one was available. It was perhaps to block off a Razor following the target on whom Static Link had been used, or maybe had something to do knowing what they wanted for their cores. Their fourth pick was a Lina, who is a good hero to target Phoenix’s Supernova, thanks to her Fiery Souls and is also a hero that does well against Razor in lane. Additionally, with Lion and Lina on one team, EG had the two highest damage nukes in the game, which gave them the ability to blow up a target right at the start of the fight with Finger of Death and Laguna Blade.
EG banned Spectre and Drow Ranger, two carries Ame is known for playing. EG went to pick a Nature’s Prophet, and Spectre can find him in the trees with Spectral Haunt and go through Sprout when he is trying to make an escape. At this point in the draft, EG were expecting the Axe to be a position 3 Axe played by Faith_bian. PSG.LGD banned Faceless Void, who has great synergy with Timbersaw and Lina, and Arc Warden, which is a hero Arteezy is known to play and could have been a possible cheese strat.
EG rounded their draft up with Nature’s Prophet, a hero Arteezy had played to success in the previous part of the tournament, most notably in the second game against Team Nigma. Clock did in a way, synergize well with Lina and NP, as anyone caught in the Cogs would face the wrath of these two ranged damage dealers.
PSG.LGD last picked Sand King, showing at the very end that they intended to play the Axe in the position 1 role. Sand King had Burst damage, which is necessary against Timbersaw. He is also one of the best tower defenders with Sand Storm and Burrow Strike, which counters the NP push with Treants. Finally, Sand King can Burrow Strike out of Power Cogs and can Burrow Strike inside NP’s Sprout, stunning the hero attempting to escape and providing his team vision inside.
Both teams started with the same initial ban, but EG changed their second ban to Phoenix, having been burnt by it in game 1 (pun very much intended!).
PSG.LGD picked Enchantress, a strong laner that can be played as position 4 or position 5. EG responded with Viper, a flex pick, which can go either in the offlane or the mid lane, and counters Enchantress in a way, because Nethertoxin breaks her ultimate, Untouchable.
PSG.LGD showed their carry early on in the draft, picking Terrorblade. EG picked Earth Spirit, a hero which isn’t doing too well in the current meta. But Crit is one of the best Earth Spirit players Dota 2 has seen, and it provided a means to silence the Terrorblade and take him down with magic damage.
PSG.LGD went all in on banning the Terrorblade counters in phase two – Naga Siren, Phantom Lancer and Dark Seer. EG banned out Templar Assassin, which was the tournament's most contested hero but had surprisingly gone unnoticed in game 1. Lion and Clockwerk the two remaining EG bans, Lion being a tournament favorite, strong meta disabling support and Clock being a counter to Nature’s Prophet, who EG picked again in the third phase.
EG picked Ancient Apparition and Storm Spirit, doubling down on their magic damage strategy, which is what Terrorblade does not want to face.
PSG.LGD picked Brewmaster and Shadow Shaman, hinting that they were looking to go for an all push death ball lineup (Brewmaster’s Earth brewling does obscene amounts of damage to buildings). Because the Lion was banned, the Shadow Shaman also served as the next best disabler against Storm Spirit.
PSG.LGD stuck to their last phase bans of Faceless Void and Arc Warden. Void had synergy with this EG draft as well – the Time Lock damage is magical and is amplified by AA’s Ice Vortex, not to mention TB’s armor having no mitigation against it. Also, Chronosphere is a surefire way of landing an Ice Blast. EG banned Invoker and Lina, although it is hard to pinpoint why. Invoker is a good tempo controlling mid and a Quas Wex Invoker can make enough space for Terrorblade to come online while playing a four-protect-one lineup. Also something Wings Gaming did in their prime days – use Alacrity on the Earth brewling and watch it decimate buildings. Maybe Bulba knew about it and wanted to prevent it?! Lina can follow up on Shadow Shaman’s lockdown and burst down any hero, and she can also destroy trees with Light Strike Array, which counters what EG picked last, Nature’s Prophet.
PSG.LGD completed the death ball lineup with Death Prophet. They had four heroes which could push towers at an insane rate, and team fight losses would be costly for EG.
EG went for the Nature’s Prophet once again, which was possibly a combination of Arteezy’s comfort on the hero and a plan to play faster than the opposition and end the game before TB became a big threat.
The first set of bans in game 3 was the same for both teams as in game 2.
EG went for their most picked hero, Lion. PSG.LGD replied with Axe and Mirana. Berserker’s Call into Sacred Arrow is a good combo for a long lockdown. Mirana is also XinQ’s most played hero over the last three patches (from 7.27 to 7.29), so it was also a comfort pick. EG closed out the first pick phase with a Templar Assassin, who had taken the Major by storm. Having the last pick in the first pick phase, they could pick it and ban counters to it in the second ban phase.
EG did exactly that; they banned all mid heroes which can be potential counters to Templar Assassin – Razor, Leshrac and Viper. PSG.LGD banned the Timbersaw, which is a counter to Axe. The other two bans were Tidehunter and AA, which were comfort picks for iceiceice and Fly.
PSG.LGD picked Death Prophet for NothingToSay, and the AA ban made more sense with that pick. AA’s ultimate, Ice Blast, is a major counter to DP because it stops healing from Soul Siphon as well as the heal when the ghosts from Exorcism come back to her. They also got their hands on Winter Wyvern, which is a TA counter. When TA blinks and meld strikes a target to burst it down, a quick cold embrace can counter the initiation and TA can find herself in no man’s land.
EG got Tusk for Crit, a hero that can counter Axe. If Tusk has a Blink and is well positioned, any heroes that get caught in Berserker’s Call can be saved with a quick blink and Snowball. Their second pick of the second phase was Venomancer, a hero notorious for being a thorn in the side of heroes like Axe, who need to blink to initiate. Well placed Plague Wards can keep halting initiation attempts and can also provide information on the enemy’s angle of approach. Veno is also a natural Spirit Vessel builder, which works well against Death Prophet as well as Winter Wyvern’s Cold Embrace.
EG banned Spectre, which is an Ame comfort hero, and the Phantom Lancer, who is a Terrorblade counter. PSG.LGD banned Ursa, which is an Axe counter and Luna, a hero Arteezy is known for and with TA, can dominate the early game and end it before the half hour mark.
Evil Geniuses picked Terrorblade, which was not unexpected, knowing EG’s success with it in the Major. PSG.LGD were ready for it and picked the Naga Siren, which like the PL, is a Terrorblade counter. TB cannot deal with the illusions and the Naga illusions with Diffusal Blade take out all of TB’s mana, taking Sunder out of the question. In hindsight, EG might be wishing they would have banned Naga Siren instead of Spectre.