GosuAwards 2010: Captain of the year

General Linus “Tjernobylbarnet” Staaf
The DotA GosuAwards exist to give recognition to teams and players for their accomplishments spanning an entire year of DotA. Nominees are determined by GosuCrew editors and voting is done by GosuGamers readers. This is the last of the main categories; Captain of the year.

The GosuGamers 2010 Captain of the Year Award

The 2010 GosuGamers Captain of the Year Award is a special award that honours the great thinkers and leaders of some of the most successful teams of the year 2010.

The term ‘captain’ itself does not denote any specific in-game role, but rather refers to the player’s metagame responsibilities; these include drafting, creating strategies, organizational work, and providing leadership. Naturally, the captain is what keeps the team together during a game as well. Although it's difficult to discern from our outsider's perspective how much of an impact a particular captain makes for his team, teams that exhibit traits such as interesting picks, strong laning, and stable and co-ordinated play are the ones most likely to possess a strong captain.

The only guideline we had in place when we created our list of nominees was that that a player needed to have been the primary drafter and strategist for their team in 2010 to have been considered for this award. Aside from that, a captain could be any sort of player, and handle any assortment of in-game roles and out-of-game organizational assignments.

What truly distinguished the players on this list from the rest of the field was their overall influence in the year of 2010. Not only were their teams the most successful, but their strategies and innovations were the most influential in international DotA. The players nominated here are the finest DotA minds the world has to offer, and together represent the driving force of the ever-evolving metagame. While there are too many intangible attributes involved in being a team captain for us to list, the defining characteristics of these nominees are their encyclopedic knowledge of DotA and unrivalled understanding of the drafting phase.

The five players on this list are what GosuGamers considers to be the most ingenious and influential strategists in the modern game, and the most astute drafters of the year 2010.

The Nominees:

Denmark Maelk - Maelk has been around since forever, and has contributed more to the metagame developments of DotA throughout the years than we could hope to quantify. Though seemingly gone are his youthful days of being arguably the best player in the world, his prowess in the strategic aspects of DotA has never waned. His team MYM haven’t been featured prominently in our 2010 awards – due primarily to the team’s lack of 1st place finishes and participation in international tournaments – but their overall successes were very impressive nonetheless, having placed top three in almost every tournament in which they participated.

Doubtless that his return to captaincy is responsible for his team’s 2010 accomplishments, Maelk’s metagame work for his team has certainly been what we consider world-class. As a captain, Maelk is nigh-impossible to out-draft, and is a master of small innovations; certainly no other captain on this list has had to tweak his picking style to accommodate an eight man stable of unique players, as Maelk has. While MYM’s relative lack of dominance and international participation, as compared to others on this list, seems to have been largely responsible for Maelk’s lack of influence in 2010’s metagame, his drafting talent and imagination have given us some of the more interesting variations on standard drafts nonetheless.

China 2009 - The former coach and captain of FTD/LGD.sGty, 2009 was the formidable brain behind one of 2010’s signature teams. 2009 began the year as LGD’s captain and solo-mid – considered to be China’s best solo player, in fact – and saw the team through its invincible era with both his incredible play and fantastic drafts. He worked as the team’s coach after his departure and helped his team make its exceptionally strong showings at the end of the year international tournaments.

However, not only was the legendary solo-mid player largely responsible for his team’s early and late 2010 performances, his influence over the metagame has been unmatched in modern DotA. 2009’s influence was very clear in the beginning of 2010, as his three-core strategy from the previous year became the international standard for drafting. As ESWC approached, 2009’s development of LGD’s “invincible” strategy was crucial to modern day theories of drafting – trilanes and midgame-centric line-ups with an emphasis on laning flexibility and effectiveness through all stages of the game. Before leaving the organization, he helped LGD developed their Beast Master gem tactic, and the denial-of-vision strategy unveiled at SMM 2010. Simply put: we consider 2009 the godfather of modern DotA, and we expect more from him in the year 2011.

Estonia Puppey - Puppey is the inimitable and unforgettable captain of KS.int; in 2010, he presided over the dominating, though ephemeral, existence of Nirvana.int, and the RGC runners up New World Order. Though it seems many have forgotten -- or perhaps have chosen to forget -- Puppey’s accomplishments with his teams in 2010 were in fact very formidable. Nirvana.int took 1st in both GosuCup 2 and Farm4Fame Second Blood; 2nd place in Storm the Front 3, 4th at ESWC, and 2nd in RGC. And through it all, the oft-exalted and oft-derided Puppey was the unquestioned leader of both teams; responsible for his team’s triumphs and failures, and provider of some of the most imaginative and esoteric strategies world DotA has seen.

Certainly Puppey's work in during the KS.int era received its due credit, but his work in 2010 simply did not get the attention it deserved. The strategies he ran with Nirvana.int were completely ahead of their time: his 4v5 mid-game lineups with Merlini on ultra-late-game carry bore striking resemblance to what LGD eventually developed, and what we see to this day. His incredible and creative variation on the minus-armor strat -- turning it into a hybrid pushing strat -- against LGD.sGty in the Razer Global Challenge deserves credit as well. Should he have more opportunities in 2011, we have no doubt DotA's most mercurial mastermind will impress us once again.

China 820 - The winningest captain on this list, and also one of our nominees for Support Player of the Year. While 820 is perhaps not the most visibly innovative captain on this list – the pre-ESWC period is somewhat damning evidence – his development of the EHOME’s late 2010 “invincible” style, in addition his unimpeachable overall drafting, has been absolutely instrumental to the team’s very successful year. Since ESWC, 820’s drafts have almost never failed to secure EHOME’s late game wins, and have always been supremely well-balanced, so as to allow the team to survive almost any sort of early-game onslaught.

EHOME set the post-ESWC trend of all-ranged heroes for laning strength, and gave the world the modern Venomancer pick; their end of the year implementation of Tinker and Phantom Lancer may also have given new life to these once-popular heroes. If any would-be captain should wish to understand the art of late-game victory, he should reference 820’s body of work during 2010, as it is the absolutely definitive source for modern late-game-oriented drafting.

Ukraine Artstyle - One of DTS’s most solid players since ESWC and a fantastic carry/utility player in his own right. Many would consider Artstyle to be 2010’s most-improved player – a steady improvement which seemed to have had taken place alongside his development as a drafter and strategist. Artstyle’s use of heroes such as Dragon Knight, Night Stalker, and Enchantress pales only in comparison to his implementation of said heroes, to form balanced and viable strategies. Most famously, his picks have allowed DTS to bowl over juggernauts like EHOME and Nv.cn with early-game aggression; but more importantly, his understanding of standard play drafting has also brought DTS late-game victories against the likes of LGD.sGty and MUFC.

We credit Artstyle with popularizing Lich during the Razer Global Challenge tournament, as he used the hero in conjunction with Night Stalker to blitz Nv.cn in game one of their series – likely forever searing that hero into the brains of Zhou and company – and also for being the first captain to use Syllabear effectively in a large-scale and international tournament in 2010.

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(co-edited by heikki and Tjernobylbarnet)

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Linus “Tjernobylbarnet” Staaf
<p>Linus Staaf - former operations manager at GosuGamers.&nbsp;Started following eSports in 2009, responsible for the GGnet database 2009-2015. Film and music enthusiast and a firm believer that longer songs are better. Always finish&nbsp;what I sta - follow @Tjernobylbarnet</p>