Notes on the Reshuffle (Warning: LONG)
As you should all know by now, I'm not good at "brief". So when @ThatPhageGuy asked me for some brief comments for HGTV's reshuffle article, I got bored yesterday and wrote up a bunch of notes on the reshuffled teams. A few of them were used in the article which you can find here:
For those who want to read the full set of comments, I've copied them below. The teams discussed (in order) are 5JuNGz, Alliance, NiP, Mnky Bzns, Monkey FF, C9, Secret, Digital Chaos, coL, VP, Empire, VG, LGD, MVP Phoenix, and FNATIC. For reference, here's the Reddit thread with rosters listed:
5JuNGz: They've looked extremely uneven in their first few games, but on paper the talent is definitely there. FATA- was one of the best mids for most of this year and might be the most flexible pro player in that role. Matumbaman had some brilliant games for 4ASC, JerAx's support play was extremely underrated for MVP Hot6 and was a big reason they won the TI5 SEA Quals. Many of the newer teams have picked up at least one pubstar player- here that's Mind_Control in the offlane, which makes me a little nervous as that's the highest leverage role. This will be a good test of Kuro's leadership.
Alliance: The talent is definitely there, but that's never been a problem for this squad. s4 was really shaky at TI5 but I'd be shocked if doesn't bounce back bigtime. The real question for [A] is the draft- they went from one of the most inconsistent drafting teams early on in 2015 to one of the more solid when 7ckingMad joined. I believe Mynuts handled the drafting for BU, but there again you saw a lot of problems with consistency. I wouldn't read too much into their ESL loss though.
NiP: I still feel like this squad is poised for greatness, but once again in the ESL NY Qualifiers they just weren't quite able to break through. Sealkid and Handsken (noteworthy for his Disruptor play alone) are as talented a young support duo as we have on the Western pro scene. Jonassomfan's diverse hero pool in the offlane can be a real strength. Limp has been brilliant at times but inconsistent lately- his smaller hero pool may be hurting him. Era, when he plays well, is a top 8 carry, and he's still relatively young (19).
Mnky Bzns: Maybe the most compelling team storyline-wise. Big Daddy N0tai returning to the mid role that made him famous in HoN. Miracle, who a lot of people are talking about but nobody seems to know how good he really is. Fly was probably the best player in the TI5 NA Quals, and Moonmeander's offlane play has improved tremendously since then. I think in evaluating any of these teams the first thing you ask is not just who's good now but who has the most potential to get better quickly- that's exactly what coL did between the quals and the TI5 main event, and word is Fly had a LOT to do with that. Cr1t is a really solid and underrated support player, very smart in his approach to the game. Again in general, I think a really strong and stable support duo can be huge for new teams who want to have success while they're learning to play together.
Monkey FF: SingSing as a pro player is NOT the same guy you see on stream. I really like him as a player. He was really good at TI4 and I don't like that people have written him off just because FATA- was a better fit for what C9 needed as a team. This roster sees 7ckingMad and Sockshka reunited- don't forget how good these two were together with Quantic/Sigma. Ar1se is naturally the big question mark. His Magnus is of course fantastic, and I like what I've seen from him on TA, but he'll need to be a lot more consistent than what we've seen from him in the past if this team is to succeed.
C9: Probably the most controversial new squad. A lot of people in NA believe Ritsu has SumaiL or Arteezy-like potential but remember that those players' development had a LOT to do with the teams around them. Brax and MSS are incredibly talented but both can be extremely inconsistent. I like 1437 in the leadership role here- he contributed a lot with Secret. There will be a lot of pressure on him and SVG in games to provide stability from the support positions.
Secret: I've always believed EE had the potential to be a top 5 player with the right team around him. He looks at the game differently than anyone else, which can be a real strength, but at the same time has some holes in his game that opponents have learned to exploit. The best case for this squad is Puppey's leadership lets EE concentrate more on improving his own play. I actually think w33ha is going to be really good, my biggest question is personality-wise how he fits with EE. I think this roster has a really high ceiling- it reminds me a lot of Sadboys-EG in that it has a mix of high-upside talent but is really stable 3-5 (Misery was really underrated as a 5 for C9 and I think he'll do fine in the offlane here). Again, the biggest concern to me is whether the personalities here will mesh well enough to survive the growing pains.
Digital Chaos: Here again you see a mix of three stable veterans with two high-upside young players. Yawar, similar to Ritsu, is another inhouse-league sensation that some believe has Arteezy/Sumail-level upside. Bulba is one of the more underrated players out there in my opinion- he and Aui_2000 are two of the smartest guys in the scene right now and I think they give this team a great shot at being ahead of the meta. If you haven't already go check out Aui's interview talking about biryu; that alone makes me really excited about the potential here. I think TC will be really motivated with this squad- he's long been (probably unfairly) painted as an underperformer.
coL: I'm really impressed with swindle and think a lot of his detractors would change their tune if they met him in person. He's got a real passion for the game and the right skills to lead a squad. His individual mechanics need to improve, though, and I see coL struggling a bit in the short term after losing Fly and Moon. Still, Zfreek's play at TI5 was exceptional. I also thought Zyzzy was actually impressively consistent given that they were 5 manning early and often and he wasn't given a lot of time and space to farm.
VP: I actually think this team has a good shot to win the fall major. They split 1-1 with EG in the TI5 group phase. Everybody talks about Secret's collapse at the main event but VP had to play really well to take them out. Also remember VP played in the tougher group and ended up having to face LGD in the lower bracket quarterfinal- more so than any other team I think they could have finished top 4 with a slightly different draw.
Empire: I'm a little worried about roster drama here. They waited until the last minute to lock their roster and Resolut1on didn't play during the ESL NY Qualifiers (the reason given is he was on vacation). Losing yoky is a big blow particularly given he'd handled a lot of their drafting. I'm also really concerned about how this team responds to adversity- they're almost the anti-EG in that respect. They arguably should have beaten LGD in the opening winner's bracket series at TI5 and then came out completely flat and got 2-0'd by MVP Phoenix. There are a LOT more good teams in pro Dota 2 now than there were a year or two ago and to win at LANs you have to be able to come back strong after dropping a game or series.
VG: I still really like this team's chances in the fall major. I think they made the right call keeping fy after tension between him and Hao. BurNing showed flashes of his old form in carrying iG to their only really notable win at TI5. They actually may be the only one of the top four teams from TI5 that inarguably got better in the shuffle- regardless of how you rank BurNing vs Hao you could really see their play decline leading up to TI and during the group phases and I'm told that was mostly the Hao/fy conflict. When you factor in group stage performance it was actually VG, not CDEC, that was the biggest statistical surprise in terms of their main event finish.
LGD: rOtk is a fantastic talent but his leadership style is dramatically different from xiao8, who consistently favored lineups that were easy to execute. As a result LGD was one of the more stable performers up to and during TI5; I think it really helped them that they played a LOT of games in the 'quiet period' before TI when most teams focus solely on bootcamping/scrims. Maybe was arguably the best player at TI if you evaluate performance over the whole event. The cost of this, though, is that he'll have a huge target on his back every time they play. It will be interesting to see how he performs when teams are focused on shutting him down- EG had to change their playstyle a LOT after DAC due to opponents' focus on shutting down SumaiL.
MVP: What you saw from this team at TI5 was no fluke. QO has been one of the most explosive players on the pro scene for the last year and a half or so and is fully capable of carrying this team even against strong opposition. I'm really thrilled we get to see March play at least one more time. His individual play on Spirit Breaker was as solid as we've ever seen from any player on the hero; I lost count of the times I said "he's got to be dead here... noooope". MP is a really good fit for them- he's a steady player (by SEA standards anyway) and is comfortable either in the safe lane farming role or mid. A lot of opposing teams will focus on shutting down QO and being able to shift lanes around is one way to relieve some of the pressure. Febby and Heen are a lot more stable than most of the SEA support combos.
FNATIC: What a difference a few days make. We've gone from a lot of people raising eyebrows over the Chrissy pickup to Godz questioning on Twitter why more Chinese teams didn't make a play for him. I continue to rate Black^ among the more efficient carries in the game. I think his underperforming with Tinker had a lot more to do with their extremely lopsided farm distribution- this isn't a meta where you can have two superfarmed cores and 3 dirt poor teammates and expect to win consistently. Net and Ohaiyo are a great duo; they're both veteran players and play solid traditional supports as well as providing some interesting greedier options such as 4-role Sand King or Nature's Prophet. This squad's biggest issue will be the usual question with SEA teams: consistency. Part of me thinks the best thing for this team's development would be a month or three in a team house in EU or China but of course that's conjecture.