Mineski Pro Gaming League (or MPGL,in short) Season 8 has just concluded, and the entertainment could not have been any better. Spanning 3 days, from Group Stage matchups to the Main Event on September 10-11th, SEA Dota 2 has been relentless. Four direct invitees (Fnatic,MVP.Phoenix,White Fries Gaming,Ehome.Keen) and 6 teams that fought their way through the qualifiers, locked horns for a first place prize of 30,000 USD. Matches being evenly spread out across a series of one-offs, to Best of 3’s, the eventual Grand Final clash saw the best Dota 2 teams that the SEA region has had to offer throw down. And nothing makes this last statement more evident than Execration player Gabbi’s phenomenal Puck play at the radiant offlane, in the 1st of 3 games at the Grand Finals, and Execration’s resident Meepo extraordinaire Abed, and his mind-boggling Meepo plays versus 2 of its most effective hard counters.
All this came to fruition despite massive “Overhauls” across most every notable Dota 2 team across every region, as is the post-TI scenario. The likes of Fnatic and MVP.Phoenix were forced to part ways with multiple core members, some staying within the SEA community whilst others opting to shift to the European scene, while the rest of SEA also saw a few less fortunate members from the “other” teams get involved in match fixing allegations and many famed faces have now been banned from attending future Valve events. Thankfully, MPGL Season 8 showed SEA’s resolve to rise up, and the payoff could not have been any more appetizing.
Talking about the healthy metagame across the whole LAN, scarce can be said to criticize it. From the abysmal trench of irrelevance, Visage has finally poked his ghastly visage(geddit?) into the pro scene, quite similar to the likes of Warlock, Keeper of The Light, Ancient Apparition, Elder Titan, Jakiro and, most notably, Shadow Demon making their entrances into the professional Dota 2 scene in varying degrees. While Shadow Demon and Ogre Magi continue to be either go-to support picks or pre-emptive bans for pro players, through the entirety of the Starladder i-League StarSeries Season 2, Captains’ Draft 3.0 and The International 6, the resultant metagame has been all but stale. Pocket strategies, early aggression drafts, combo-driven teamfight drafts, and many more dominated MPGL, and the best example of the statement would be the return of gradual Outworld Devourer picks. Widely regarded as having been nerfed out of the existing metagame, Outworld Devourer picks now come as both a surprise, and a delight, since the hero excels at turning the tides of well-coordinated skirmishes. Quite similar to the isolated Visage pick, it was also quite enjoyable to note that heroes like Undying, Tusk,Outworld Devourer and Spectre, all brilliantly broken heroes in their glory days, are still competitively acceptable by today’s professional standards.
Coming back to the existing metagame, however, one can easily spot an obvious trend among the best of SEA — Enjoying a 72% pick and ban rate, and a 50% overall win rate across 42 and 37 respective matches, Drow Ranger and Faceless Void are clear favorites of the SEA metagame. Why so? While the former continues to boast a series of monumental increments to her overall playability and impact, with little to no risk involved should the draft willingly aid her in her relentless aggression (buffs to both Precision Aura’s damage and the movement speed slow from Frost Arrows, as also indirect buffs to global Strength figures, the inclusion of invaluable items like Dragon Lance and Faerie Fire, and the fluid build progression from Dragon Lance to a Hurricane Pike for improved utility & survivability), the latter has seemingly transitioned from a physical core to an incredibly reliable initiator and revenge sweeping offlaner, who still can dish out damage quite along the likes of the average position 1 core, all due to the reworking of two of his staple skills — Time Walk had the previously present Backtrack passive incorporated into it in 6.86, while a new active skill called Time Dilation, an AoE spell that freezes the spell cooldowns of all affected units for a given time period, whilst slowing them by 8% of their movement speed per ability cooldown frozen this way. These, and the eventual removal of one half of Chronosphere’s Aghanim’s upgrades, saw the hero adopt a new role, one that could seemingly fit into a very different approach to instantaneous skirmishes, one with both a heavy risk, as also a massive payoff.
Aside from the stable heroes that pros tend to both rely on & revere, previous stalwarts such as Timbersaw, Invoker, Lion, Kunkka, Mirana, Batrider & the like continue to showcase the fact that most every hero in the available pool has its competency readily acceptable, and most every notably popular hero can & will be prioritized in more ways than one, because if it ain’t nerfed to oblivion, why ignore it?
All the events that have thus transpired, however, have automatically led to an obvious spike in popularity for quite a few of the “Prized” picks from the LAN, notably an increase in the number of Outworld Devourer and Meepo picks in lower mmr pubs, which automatically implies a direct effect on the general Dota 2 community across the world. Such implications are always welcome, though not always for widespread goodwill of course(The mana-steals are coming,the mana-steals are coming!).
SEA has always been regarded as the most volatile non-European Dota 2 community, outside of the professional scene, and that stereotypical thought pattern is mostly inaccurate once people take a look at the amazing matches played at Mineski Pro gaming League Season 8; It takes one look at the level of competitive Dota 2 here at the SEA region to notice that dedicated players here are rarely less talented than their European, CIS, Chinese or North American counterparts. In fact, it just emphasises how constantly evolving Dota 2 is as a game, and how similarly we, the players, are as a community & as a really interconnected, albeit dysfunctional, family. SEA Dota 2 is growing at an astonishing pace, and it’s really too big of a pleasure to know that we are always a part of this collective culture. With Team Execration being crowned SEA’s best, Mineski Pro Gaming League Season 8 finally came to a close. And we, the community, wait anxiously for the upcoming Fall Majors as well the much awaited New Journey Update. Happy hunting folks, may your ping be low & your mmr relevant. Peace out.