It hasn’t been an easy few years to be an Alliance fan. With the glorious peaks of the TI3 era long in the org’s past, Alliance has fielded many new rosters in the hopes of recreating the prowess of their iconic Swede-stack. Unfortunately, none of these rosters lived up to such high expectations, and the org has failed to qualify to several Internationals in recent years. However, in the lead up to TI10, things are beginning to firmly fall into place for Alliance.
Things really started to look up for Alliance at the beginning of this year’s Dota Pro Circuit. Alliance emerged towards the top of the European Upper Division; widely seen as the most competitive region of that season, locking in a qualification to the Singapore Major and a comfortable 300 DPC points. When the time came to return to LAN events, Alliance were expected to perform strongly alongside their fellow European teams: Team Secret and Nigma.
The reality was that Alliance, flopped out hard at the Major with an incredibly underwhelming 13th place after failing to win a single series in the group stage. With nothing to return home with aside from a handful of draws, the triumphant rekindling of Alliance seemed to have fizzled out already.
Season Two: Driven by Spite
Come season two, expectations were reset to Alliance being a middle-of-the-pack competitor. Most of the DreamLeague talent had little faith that Alliance would compete in the top half of the division; Capitalist even predicted them falling into relegation territory at 7th place.
Alliance entered season two as underdogs, and even after a strong first season, were tasked with proving themselves once more. Alliance leapt headfirst into season two with the toughest matchups coming their way week after week. In the first three weeks of the league, they faced Team Secret, OG , Nigma and Team Liquid one after another. And beat every one of them.
Somehow, it was Brame, one of the EU region’s weaker teams who stopped their streak. But even so, with only two series left to go, Alliance have bested the strongest competition in the region. And they are now armed with the guidance of their new coach, Peter “PPD” Dager.
Even if Alliance somehow lose to both Tundra and Hellbear Smashers, they will at the very least secure a wildcard spot at the next major. But with a season like theirs, why should Alliance consider the safety of a wildcard spot? Their eyes should be on the golden ticket of first place, and a spot in the next Major playoffs.
But how did Alliance suddenly rise to the top of the toughest region in Pro Dota? I’ll tell you.
The Limmp factor: What W33 couldn’t be
One of the major keys to Alliance’s success recently has been the unwavering stability of midlaner Linus “Limmp” Blomdin. Limmp is a unique player, his playstyle is rarely seen in most midlaners. We rarely consider midlaners as a foundation of a team; they are usually the flare, spice, and driving force that springs off of stable members of their team to seize victory. Limmp however, plays a slow and steady style of mid. If you looked at his hero pool, you could easily mistake him for an offlaner; half of his matches are on Dragon Knight, with his other picks including Tiny, Mars and Sand King.
But by playing these resilient, self-sufficient heroes allows Limmp to hold out against almost any kind of pressure. Even after hard lanes and high pressure, Limmp can contribute to the win thanks to the innate utility of his hero pool. You can often see Limmp proudly wear a poor KDA, and still come out on top. When he’s 2-6 as DK, or 1-4 as Mars, he’s often already accomplished his goal of drawing enough attention away from his true core; Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov to reach his power spikes and end games.
The playstyle we see from Limmp is highly reminiscent of what we saw from Aliwi “W33” Omar during his time with Nigma. Playing a role similar to an offlaner, with a restrictive hero pool, both of these mid players aimed to weather immense pressure and create space until their hotshot carry was ready to steal the show. Limmp, however, seems to be having more success than W33 did. Maybe his hero pool is more suited to the job than W33’s Viper and Batrider, or Alliance as a team are just better suited to pull off this play style. But what we can see, is this playstyle is setting Alliance well on the road to TI10.
We’ll soon see if Alliance can secure the number one spot with victories in their next two series. You can catch the details of every game, as well as seeing who may be joining Alliance at the Major using our event hub.