ESL One Thailand: Asia drafts feature TI9 OG throwback

By Kenneth WilliamsSeptember 4, 2020
ESL One: Thailand’s Asian division is giving us a fun look at what international competition will be like once Dota returns to normal. We’ve seen a top Chinese team fall against SEA’s finest and the lesser-known names of the region score upsets of their own. Both scenes developed their Patch 7.27 metagame in almost complete isolation and seeing how the nuances of SEA and CN clash has been fascinating.
SEA teams have been pulling out all the stops for this event in the pursuit of $135,000 USD. Some old techniques have even resurfaced, remixed and reimagined to suit the current metagame. One is a throwback to the most absurd pocket-pick in the history of Dota and the other is a ranked grinder’s nightmare come to life. These are the strats to remember from ESL One: Thailand Asia.

Carry Io might make a comeback

Io has been a popular pick at ESL One: Thailand, with 21 games and a 66.67% win rate worldwide. SEA’s carry players, however, have kept their win rate with the hero at 100%. In a surprise throwback to OG’s legendary run at The International 2019, BOOM Esports carry Randy “Dreamocel” Sapoetra and Galvin "Meracle" Kang Jian Wen of T1 have both been experimenting with Position 1 Wisp. The hero gained 40 base movement speed in Patch 7.27b, making solofarming and rotations more feasible for an independent Io.
SEA-style carry Wisp starts out similarly to Anathan "ana" Pham’s original build. The Helm of the Dominator rework in Patch 7.27 has slowed things down slightly; the average timing for HotD was under 8 minutes with 501 GPM total. The real difference from the OG build is the lack of Aghanim’s Scepter. The more common route is a fast Heaven’s Halberd into a defensive item like Black King Bar or Pipe of Insight. Meracle did go for Agh’s in a 20-minute stomp, but the consensus seems to be that carry Io deals physical damage now, not magical.
Both teams have seen success at Thailand. BOOM is currently in the lower finals, set to battle against Fnatic to reach grands. T1’s dead-last seed in the playoffs didn’t stop them from achieving a respectable fifth place. BOOM seems to value Io’s flexibility, often picking him in the first draft phase and designating him a carry later on. T1 is much more dedicated to the strat, even saving it for the final pick.
Interestingly, SEA isn’t the only region calling back to ana’s Forma de Wisp. North American roster CR4ZY also drafted a successful game of Io for carry player Jonathan "Bryle" Santos De Guia. All three teams seem to be testing the waters, so we could see more carry Io in the near future.

SEA keeps their Dagons casual

Although rapidly gaining popularity in other regions, casual Dagon pickups are becoming a trademark of SEA Dota. The stat-stick is becoming a solid pickup for tempo midlaners and Position 4s in the late game. In combination with mobility items, Dagon-wielders can snipe enemy supports before they can contribute to a teamfight. Despite its thought-provokingly low 45% win rate in pubs this month, Dagon boasts an almost 77% win rate at ESL One: Thailand,
Fnatic’s Djardel "DJ" Mampusti is particularly fond of it. His Grimstroke game against TNC Predator saw him go for it as a late third item to combo with Soulbind. He’s also tried rushing it, getting Level 1 at just 28 minutes on Warlock. Both games were victories for Fnatic, who haven’t lost a game in their lower bracket run. They’re currently set for lower finals against BOOM Esports after an insane mega-creeps comeback in the lower bracket semifinal.
Core players have also found a use for the gat. Fourth-place finishers Neon Esports flexed midlaner Erin "Yopaj" Ferrer’s skills throughout ESL One: Thailand. The breakout player of the event reached for Dagon across several of his core heroes, including Puck, Batrider, and even SEA mascot Tiny. All three heroes are great at pickoffs in the midgame, and Dagon allows them to extend that power spike. Neon’s fourth-place finish came off an excellent group stage record and victory over T1 in the playoffs.
While both these trends are probably a bad thing for anyone grinding ranked, they point toward experimentation and a willingness from pro teams to keep an open mind in the online era. Tier 2 events are where many of the more outlandish strategies first debut. With top teams in SEA reaching for carry Io and casual Dagons, the rest of the world could follow suit.
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