My eyes drifted southwards, heavy with the knowledge of so many teamfights, burdened by the weight of so many ganks. The brilliant back and forth of EG vs iG. The utter devastation of LGD against Orange. The incredible prescience of Zenith’s Iceiceice with every Sunstrike against CoL. I had to sleep. I didn’t have 3am spectatorship inside me. It was just a game too many.
But I’ve now seen Na’Vi against DK. I’ve witnessed the games. I know who’s going through to the Semi-Finals, and who’s been relegated to the Loser’s Bracket. I know what this evening will look like, and I’m already fidgetting in my seat. It’s going to be big.
Normal rules apply. Watch the games here, or read my breakdown below.
Na’Vi won last year’s International, and they’re going into this tournament as the maligned favourites, after a lacklustre performance in the preliminaries, leaving with with an unfavourable matchup, but still in the Winner’s Bracket. DK, on the other hand, performed above what anyone expected, coming out strong and surviving in the same group at LGD.
First game, then. Na’Vi grab Tidehunter, Anti-Mage, Broodmother, Leshrac and an Queen of Pain for fan-favourite Dendi. That’s a lot of push, and a lot of damage, relying incredibly heavily on Tidehunter to make the teamfights happen, and to catch enough of the enemies in his Ravage to ruin any chances of a response.
So DK go with Luna, the carry that won it for iG. Chen, Venomancer, Tinker and Windrunner bring up the rear to support, adopting a similar structure of carry defense that both iG and LGD have championed the whole way through the tournament.
Except, well, DK aren’t iG, and they’re definitely not LGD. Na’Vi, despite their less than stellar performance in the preliminaries came out incredibly strong, grabbing 3 kills before the two minute mark, and five before the five. And when you’ve got an Anti-Mage and a Queen of Pain on the team, getting any sort of snowball started is only going to get worse. You can capitalise on any mistake with your blinks, and stay alive by getting the hell out of there.
Which is pretty much what happened. Na’Vi got a ‘GG’ by the 25 minute mark, netting themselves a first win and doing it looking incredibly confident. DK would have to counter with a strong set of disruption, otherwise Na’Vi’s teamfight was only going to dominate them again.
Second game. DK grabs Morphling, the staple hero of the International, before following up with Earthshaker, Nature’s Prophet, Windrunner and Pugna. Pugna isn’t the most popular hero, but that AoE nuke he’s got is scary, to say the least.
So Na’Vi go with Lycanthrope, I think for the first time in the tournament, as he’s almost always banned. Then there’s Sand King, Enigma, Leshrac, and, in a bit of a surprise, Dendi on Puck. That’s an incredible amount of teamfight with Enigman’s Black Hole, Sand King’s Epicentre and Puck’s Coil. Stun’s all round. Pretty sure DK were shuddering right about now.
And, from the start of the game, it looked like Na’Vi were going to have another quick GG on their hands. Grabbing some early kills, getting Lycan the kills he needed, and using Puck as a constant harass on Pugna, DK were on the back foot from the start. Only they started to push back, creating an environment where Na’Vi couldn’t quite play the way they want to. Their team was almost entirely geared towards an incredibly strong mid-game, which meant that, as the game headed into the 20 minute mark, they should have been dominating.
Except, somehow, they weren’t. Pugna was constantly spreading them out, and Earthshaker was doing what Earthshaker does best, forcing them out so that they couldn’t focus properly. It was only around the twenty five minute mark, when DK grabbed Roshan only to be completely outplayed in a teamfight, losing three heroes, that Na’Vi started to look strong again. They even managed to grab a Tier 2, making up for the Roshan loss.
But they didn’t capitalise. As if some line of communication wasn’t quite there in the team, Na’Vi didn’t come together into a team that could push as hard as they needed to, and when a teamfight at the half hour mark went DK’s way, they grabbed Roshan again, leaving Na’Vi with nothing to say in response.
When the game headed into the forty minute mark, there was a massive teamfight on top lane, BKB’s flying left and right, everyone giant and gold. Only DK’s giant gold men beat Na’Vi’s giant gold men, leaving them with nothing to do but drop the GG, and head into the third game.
Na’Vi just lost in a long game, to mistakes that they were making, and heading into the third game they had to bring themselves together into a team. Puppey, their captain, grabbed Lycanthrope again, followed by Anti-Mage, Beastmaster, Leshrac and Dendi on Rubick.
DK, on the other hand, decided to mix things up. They grabbed Naga Siren, Venomancer, Brewmaster, Enigma and finally Dazzle. Dazzle is such a hard support that you rarely see him being played in competitive matches, and to see someone who requires teamfight, when Na’Vi are doing so well in teamfights, is a statement of intent; they’re not going to let Na’Vi relax into anything.
15 seconds in the score was 2-0. Puppy’s Lycan headed into the north jungle, and ran straight into a DK ambush, wiped straight out before Leshrac came in to try and save him, only to be wiped out himself. Then Anti-Mage came in, trying to net one kill for Na’Vi, only for Dazzle to drop a brilliant Shallow Grave on Brewmaster, keeping him alive and forcing Anti-Mage to run in case of death.
So DK came out strong, but Na’Vi were far from done, grabbing 4 kills by ten minutes, and tilting things back in their direction. With Anti-Mage and Lycan, they were playing a waiting game, delaying until they were in a position where they can properly wipe out DK’s entire team.
The only issue is that DK weren’t willing to let that happen. Fifteen minutes in, Na’Vi were down three towers, and while they still had one kill on DK, that wasn’t exactly doing a lot to negate the gold imbalance, instead forcing them to lose map control, blind in a forest full of fangs.
Moving into the mid-game, Na’Vi started to take control, grabbing kills and towers, leaving DK in a position they really didn’t want to be in, forced to defend and defend and defend, surrendering towers in favour of staying alive, knowing if they pushed forward they’d be utterly destroyed.
Twenty three minutes in, Na’Vi grab Roshan, giving Lycan a second life and proving why he’s banned so very often. Then, as DK head to the top to push, Na’Vi went straight down the middle, grabbing both Tier 2 and Tier 3 towers, before winning a beautiful team fight, blasting down almost every DK hero, forcing buybacks that could not stop that momentum, instead just feeding that war machine that charged down the middle lane.
Anti-Mage gets an ultra-kill, and DK just buckles. Na’Vi are headed to the Semi-Final, while DK head to the Loser’s Bracket.