A Busy Month (Brief)

Disclaimer: So much has happened in the last month that I need to significantly summarize my post.

I’m way behind on my content here in this blog, and it’s because of my tight schedule. Workload in the office was too much as we had to clear our immense backlog, and I’ve been participating in gaming events in the weekend — be it as a writer or as an organizer.

In that regard, I was tasked to act as the Dragon Nest GMPGL 5-9 temporary head marshal last September 21 since my boss was sick. To be honest, everything that happened was all too hazy; I was running around the net cafe to assist players; I was coordinating with marshals from nine other branches; and I was watching the games to use for my write-up’s content. Nonetheless, I interacted with players more than I would as a trainee. Deciding on the go and addressing unforeseeable problems was a challenge that I was glad to overcome as well. Delays and lags were standard as with the previous DN GMPGL tournaments. In game issues were so problematic that we finished the tournament at 4:30 AM (we started at 1:00 PM in the previous day)! Here’s my recap for the event.

Then last Sunday, I assisted in the DotA GMPGL 5-9 Class A and Class S tournament, which was new to me since I am designated to Dragon Nest. Of course, DotA has been my staple game for many years now, so I had the enthusiasm to join. The pressure permeated throughout the day though, as we were dealing with the top teams in the scene. You had to watch their games carefully and assist them promptly. Missing out any detail can spell controversy, and I certainly didn’t want to be a part of that. Our team didn’t encounter too much problems though since the players already knew what to do. And by 10:30 PM, we already crowned a champion. Congrats to Wrath of Olympus, by the way!

There are other things that I’ve done in the tournament, such as taking pictures, handing out freebies, and compiling information for the MPGL Year End Awards. The whole day was exhausting, but you forget all of that when your boss tells you that you’ve done a great job. The games were highly competitive as well (I have the replays with me and I’ll share them when I can), so being on the sidelines wasn’t a bore at all.

All of my efforts weren’t wasted though, as I was informed that my previous blog post is going to be published at Tweak Magazine and that it won a prize from MSI – Steelseries. Had a chance to play GTA V as well and I’m about to apply for grad school in the following days. My brother just got a place on his own, and its only a matter of months before my mom comes home to the Philippines. And finally, my girlfriend is in Singapore right now for work, and she said that the trip has been successful. I’m thankful and proud for the opportunities she’s been having as of late.

All right. I’m out! Thanks!

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Inside Eyes: The MSI Beat It! Overdrive Reloaded

I’ve been involved in the eSports industry for quite some time now, but the MSI Beat It! Overdrive Reloaded is actually the first mall event wherein I got an inside scoop. To summarize the event, I call it insane. For a clearly-defined meaning of the summary, here’s what happened over the weekend.

I arrived at 8:00 AM at the event area on day two. I was assigned to handle Dragon Nest and was ready for the flock of players that will come in less than three hours. Seeing that I don’t have much to do yet, I snagged some pictures; the then-empty area actually had a different vibe coming off of it. It seems that the computers are luring me to turn them on and use them to play. Didn’t do it of course. 😛

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I also felt some pride and joy that the tournament gaming gears are what I use at home. I guess I can confirm that I made that right choice in buying my gears from Steelseries!

As I surveyed the area, I chanced upon the Riggers’ booth at the posterior portion. I am immediately in awe of the outrageously modded tower cases that were being paraded. Equally awe-inspiring are the parts that were used to build the rigs. My favorite had to be the Spyder, the Dragon Stryker, and the Project Angel Mini.

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The Dungeon Stryker is the house of that Gundam.Image

Minions working hard inside the Project Angel Mini.

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The Spyder looks very much like an Arachnid that it can start walking on its six legs.

Of course, the moment of silence was gone, as people started to flood the area at around 10 AM. I immediately went to my post and started to attend to the players. The ghost town that was the SM Annex Event area turned into a sea of gamers waiting to play in their respective tournaments and spectators viewing the tournament-under-the-spotlight.

MSI Beat It King Jeremy

Before I knew, the games were already in full swing. And in case you didn’t know, six games headlined this year’s MSI Beat It!. They were: Avatar Star, Dragon Nest, Starcraft 2, Mercenary Online, CS:GO, and Dota 2. The Assault Fire qualifiers were also played in the event area, but it wasn’t included in the list of games that MSI hosted.

What I love about eSports in general is the passion that spectators show in every game. One move sends a roaring cheer from the crowd that either makes or breaks a gamer’s focus. I was thrilled to have seen that from the viewers of the event. I was particularly happy with the Dragon Nest and Mercenary crowds. You could say that these games were the least anticipated titles pre-tournament but the fans proved otherwise.

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The members of ANBU from Mercenary Online proudly displaying their banner.

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The members of ANBU cheering for their fellow members in exaltation. 

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The focused look of the DN 1v1 participants says it all.

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The DN 1v1 first runner up and champion.

Aside from the games in the entirety of the event, celebrities, gamers and non-gamers alike, were present. Fnatic’s H4nni and Trixi were there throughout the three days and didn’t grow tired despite the hundreds of photos they took with fans. They participated in the first game of the All-Star match, wherein they both went to opposing teams; and in the two versus two match against Julz and Jo Tan. They lost in the two versus two match, but their Mirana-Pudge duo put on quite a show for the fans. H4nni was also the fifth man in Team Bimbo in the show match against Student’s League champions FEUISBACK.

MSI Beat It King Jeremy Fnatic’s H4nni and Trixi striking a pose with a fan.

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 They then went up against…

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We were also lucky to witness Miss Donnalyn Bartolome’s beauty, wit, and charm. I can honestly say that she is passionate on what she does. She was all out in her performance numbers (and she performed A LOT) and even let her fans into the stage even though they can’t enter the premises. In fact, she was so busy attending to her fans that I couldn’t even get close to her to take a picture! Nonetheless, here is a clip of her performance of Bruno Mars’ Treasure together with some of her fans.

Another guy that I was impressed with is Eri Neeman, popular to many as Boy Back Up. He made the mall event completely entertaining with his stand-up jokes and his funny interviews with viewers and gamers alike. He also did well in highlighting the games even though there were so many of them. He even introduced H4nni and Trixi to the Pinoy Dota culture by teaching them some Pinoy trash talk.

Here’s a small sample of what he did last weekend.

What I really enjoyed looking at in the event area, despite the myriad of side activities that took place, are the computers and laptops. Steelseries had their own booth in the area. Obviously MSI showcased their powerful PC that no geek could resist. When I think about it, it’s amazing that we’ve come so far that laptops can already play high-end games. If I recall correctly, the Racing Sim booth ran on MSI’s top tier laptop. It used three screens, which was virtually impossible a couple of years ago!

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Steelseries was also a monster in handing out freebies and prizes to everyone. All of the champions received gaming gears from them that they can use to push their game into new levels. There was even one lucky lady who won a Steelseries Bundle by just texting a promo code!

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Getting gaming gears worth 12k for free? I’d take that any day!

Despite the crazy schedule and jam-packed crowds, the winners were awarded and prizes were given away. Here are the winners of the above-mentioned tournaments.

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Starcraft 2 Champion: Pacific.Steelheart

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Dragon Nest Champion: Kai Iledan

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Avatar Star Online Champion: CN Gaming

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Mercenary Online Champion: ANBU 1

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CS:GO Champion: TNC Gaming

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Dota 2 Champion: Dreamz2Ledion

I could go on and on about the side events and the games that were held in those three days, but it will take me forever to highlight each of them. What I can say is that MSI brought gamers and tech-enthusiasts closer. They also opened our industry to those who don’t know or don’t understand. And for that, I give MSI, Steelseries, and the other sponsors that made the event possible a huge round of applause. There were some setbacks and unforeseen problems, but everything was well worth the effort. If you missed the event, that’s okay because I am certain that MSI Beat It! will be back next year, and it’s going to be bigger and better! I can’t wait!

The Steelseries Siberia V2 Full Headset

I had a chance to purchase The Secret Shop’s Steelseries Bundle last July. The promo included the Kinzu V2 Mouse, the Shift Cataclysm Keyboard, the Qck Mousepad, and the Siberia V2 Full Headset. If you missed the promo, don’t fret. The Secret Shop has released yet another bundle, this time from Razer, available at P9,999. Check this link for more info.

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The Steelseries Siberia V2 Full Headset

Steelseries’ reputation in making exceptional gaming peripherals have broadened in the past years. Their promise of providing the best keyboards, mice, and headsets has always delivered, and now, they’re back with the Siberia V2 Full Headset — an upgrade of the Iconic Siberia headset series. The Siberia V2 packs a powerful 50mm audio driver that amplifies game music and ambient sound effects. This means that footsteps, explosions and other sound effects that aren’t normally noticed can be heard without much effort.

The Steelseries Siberia V2 Full Headset is readily available in tech stores around the metro. At the time of writing, it is priced at P4,999.

Product Specs

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Image taken from Steelseries’ website.

Out of the box

The packaging of this product is superb as expected. The product came with the headset, a 2 meter extension cord, and a pamphlet of Steelseries’ products. I’m surprised to discover that the box came with no stickers, but it’s not a huge deal since I had three more.

Look and feel of the headset?

The headset is light and you can carry it without problems at all. Also, the 2 meter extension cord makes it easy to use at any distances. It has a glossy finish and is made of plastic, though it doesn’t feel cheap. Mine has an orange finish, making it an attractive desk piece. Although I don’t bring it outside too often as I feel that it may attract unwarranted attention.

The Siberia V2 has two support beams: The foam piece on the inferior side adjusts to any head size. When I first saw it, I thought that it may break easily, especially the wires attacked to it. But after a month of usage, the wires have proven to be sturdy and flexible. The support bar on the superior side is the one that actually keeps the earpieces together. It’s made of plastic wires that are both flexible and sturdy, which is perfect for long hours of usage.

The highlight of the headset is its retractable unidirectional mic. It’s made from flexible wires covered with a plastic sheet, which is consistent with the headset’s flexible and sturdy nature. You can keep the mic hidden if you’re not using it, thereby protecting the piece and clears some space for your face when you’re not talking to anyone.

The earpieces, despite being made from leather, are really comfortable and fit perfectly with my ear. They do get warm after wearing the headset for a considerable amount of time, and I can feel the draft entering my ear upon removing the headset.

One thing that I love about this headset is that you don’t need to adjust the headset every so often.  I can wear it for hours when gaming without feeling any discomfort.  The foam piece that I mentioned previously is a huge reason to that. It’s light weight also comes into play in this aspects. It is true that you can actually forget that you have the headset on when you wear it for several minutes.

The passive noise-cancellation lives up to expectations, as I can’t virtually hear anything aside from what’s playing on your device when you have this headset on. This is great for indoor use, but again, not so much for outdoors (especially when you’re travelling in the city or anywhere that requires you to pay more attention).

Sound Quality

Sound quality is extremely clear on gaming. I testify to other tester’s remarks that you can literally hear your character’s footsteps while being surrounded with other sounds. The mic is very clear as well and doesn’t overwhelm the background music when you’re chatting with someone. I do have to make a note about the unidirectional mic for first-time buyers of this kind of headset though. When you speak into the mic, you’ll only hear your voice on the side of the microphone (in this case, it’s in the left). When you record your voice and play it back, you should hear your voice on both earpieces. It got me a little startled when I used the headset for the first time, so there you go!

The sound quality remains superb when playing music as well. I mainly listen to rock and other music that falls on the genre, and this headset is so clear that you can conveniently single out the different instruments playing in the background. As for movies, sound quality is not as stellar, but it’s still good.

I almost forgot to mention that there is a control piece for the volume halfway through the cord. It also functions as a mic switch that you can easily slide to toggle on and off. It’s a standard for most headsets nowadays and has no extraordinary function, but it’s still noteworthy nonetheless.

One thing I noticed is that the bass tends to be loud on some occasions, so you might be surprised when you suddenly hear loud explosions when you’re playing you’re game. It doesn’t happen too much though.

Gaming Impact

I bought this headset mainly for gaming. The noise-cancelling features and sound quality really help me to be immersed with the game I’m. I tested the product on Dota 2 and Dragon Nest. For Dota 2, assessing enemy actions and feeling the map became easier as the then-inaudible sound effects are now ambient. For Dragon Nest, the game’s graphics become chaotic at times, so you have to rely on sound to guide your movements. The Siberia V2 delivers on that end, as I can easily hear the sound of my animations.

The mic as I’ve mentioned is very convenient to use, and little background noise leaks when I’m talking to my team mates. The headset has made audio communication much easier for me as well. I can easily bend the mic to accommodate my mouth for clarity and volume.

And finally, the form factor wins it all. The headset is extremely comfortable in long gaming sessions, save for the leather earpiece that becomes warm after prolonged use. And as previously mentioned, the headset fits into any head size and there are times that I forget that I’m wearing it.

Final Thoughts

The Siberia V2 Full Headset is truly one of the best, if not the best, headsets that you can find in this price category. With an SRP of P4,999, you already have a gaming headset that is stylish, easy to use, and durable enough to handle your intense gaming sessions. Or if you are simply an audiophile, this headset is more than enough to satisfy your earbuds. 4.5 out of 5.

Pros and cons

+ Lightweight and easy to carry

+ Retractable and flexible unidirectional mic

+ Voice is clear with little to no noise leaks

+ Passive noise-cancelling features allows you to focus on your game

+ Fits in any head size

+ Amazing reach with 1m cable + 2m extension cord

– A bit bulky when bringing outdoors

– Earpiece leather gets warm after some time

– Bass gets too loud at times

Supports and Carries

What made Dota 2 loved by millions is that the game play continues to revolve despite being boxed in a uniform AI mechanic and a restricted hero pool and item selection. I’ve been playing the game for almost eight years now (7 in Dota 1 and 1 in Dota 2) and have seen the game evolve from a “kill all then push” fiasco to a mental warfare that requires precise tactics and vehement executions.

As Dota 2 emerges to be a legitimate competitive sport, pro teams serve as a beacon of light for hopefuls wanting to reach the grandest stage of them all. But the disparity between supports and carries is so huge for the majority that most players find themselves frustrated and rage-quitting, forever cursing Dota 2 as a “shitty game.”

Combining all these thoughts in a melting pot, I’ve come to ask myself, “Is Dota 2

The machine runs with perfectly-placed cogs, each with its own purpose.

Like many eSport titles, players have their roles each game. There are many sub-hierarchies and nomenclatures, but you’re basically either a support or a carry. Simply put, supports work on the sidelines and take one of the team as carries build their items and level to carry the game to victory. In Utopia, there is synergy between the two, and no role overshadows the other. But when you play in a pub game wherein your team mates are hungry for the limelight, the synergy is broken. Everyone picks the hardest-hitting hero, goes to his lane and farms his items, and comes out in the hopes of wiping the enemy team and their base. When it goes well, the hero with the most kills and items is the hero. When it goes sour, well, the one who has the most deaths has thrown the game.

The long-standing feud between carries and supports.

There is this one thread in Dota Cinema that I read a while ago. The gist is that the topic starter was so tired with his team making fun of his poor standing when the game ends, which is inevitable because he plays support. To add more flame, his team mates are his friends and it seems that he’s abandoning them because he’s so tired of being mocked despite taking the bullet most of the time.

I can very much relate to the man because I’m a support player in my team as well. We had a similar lineup: 4 carries and a lone support. Our games were atrocious and we berated each other hard, up to the point of animosity. Still, we kept on playing and eventually, we started to adjust to our own roles. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Perhaps it was subconscious: I was always adamant when I talk to them not everyone can play carry and Dota 2 is not a kill contest. We watched replays together too, and everybody just got on to the same page. We have yet to try our skills in a tournament setting, but I’m positive that we’ll do fine, if not better than our expectations.

Story time over. Back to the man. If he wants to keep the team and not suffer as a support, I believe having a sit-down talk with his team members is his best bet. This is to lay out the objectives he has for the team. If his friends are only playing for fun but he wants something more, it’s obviously not gonna work. Spamming rage on chat won’t do any good if the other end does not take you seriously. If there’s no compromise, it’s best to find another team, but keep the friendship intact. Yes, Dota 2 isn’t merely a video game. Still, ending friendships because of it is unacceptable.

What is Dota 2 for you?

I’ve always known Dota 2 as a team game, if it’s not evident in this blog post. Many won’t have the same opinion as me, as they might think that Dota 2 is played for the kills; played for the exciting clashes; or played for cosmetics to be featured in their steam profiles. One thing holds true however: if you are not in sync with your team mates, then you’ll find yourself badmouthing everyone, which obviously happens in pub most of the time.

If you want to go pro, then by all means, do it. But make sure that you can justify your decision and will clock in the hours to get in the stead of the world’s top players. You can’t just want to be a pro player; it takes years of training — alone and with a team — before you can even get recognized. And honestly, the eSports industry, in its juvenility, is a hard avenue to traverse. Time will only tell whether your efforts will pay off or you’ll realize that Dota 2, or being a pro gamer for that matter, is not a career for you.

If you only play for fun, then that’s swell. That is the purpose of video games anyway. They are mediums of sources and entertainment. But don’t expect that your team mates will make the game-breaking plays you so often see in whatever tournament you’re watching. They’re most probably playing for fun as well, and there’s simply no way that they will follow your orders.

Play hard and keep safe! I’m out!

The Alliance vs Natus Vincere: The International 3 Grand Finals Recap

Hooks were thrown; streaks were rolled and ended. When it’s all said and done, only one team will take the Aegis home and the $1.4M that comes with it. Here’s what happened between the clash between the two European behemoths: The Alliance and Natus Vincere.

Game 1

Weird is only the word can describe Na’vi’s draft. They showed no true carry in their line up and only relied on their heavy nuking spells to have some semblance of aggression in the first few minutes. Visage, Vengeful Spirit, and Venomancer took the aggressive trilane and went for an early push. S4 was prepared though, and drafted a defensive and fairly standard lineup for The Alliance. Admiral Bulldog on Nature’s Prophet was obviously the sacrificial lamb that took on Na’vi’s trilane, in which he did well as he didn’t die and stalled the top tier 1 tower long enough for EGM on the Wisp to reach level 6. He was with Loda on the Gyrocopter on the bottom lane against Funn1k on his Bounty Hunter. On mid was S4 on his Clockwerk Goblin against Dendi on the Batrider — a matchup that favored Dendi heavily.

What was thought to be a one-sided laning stage in favor of Na’vi didn’t turn out well for them. Akke on his enchantress got the farm and creeps he needed; EGM didn’t have to divide too much experience points as he was only with Loda on the bottom lane. S4 kept on harassing Dendi and held his own on mid. And Admiral Bulldog recovered despite being starved of farm and got his Mekansm 10 minutes in.

A couple of pickoffs by the Wisp-Gyrocopter got The Alliance the gold and experience lead they needed. There was no looking back at them as they were already sacking Roshan at 12 minutes. Na’vi tried to counteract, but The Alliance’s AoE and nuke spells in the form of Calldown, Nature’s Wrath, Spirits, and Clockwerks, Cogs, Rockets, and Hooks gave them the damage they needed to wipe Na’vi out in the jungle.

Na’vi’s seemingly experimental lineup tapped out just 15 minutes into the game.

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Game 2

Down 1-0, Na’vi returned to their usual standard lineup. They drafted Wisp held by KuroKy, which didn’t fare well against The Alliance in their previous meeting. They coupled it with Puppey’s Enigma, and XBOCT got a hard-hitting carry in Alchemist. Dendi and Funn1k handled Batrider and Bounty Hunter yet again for more lockdown and bonus gold.

The Alliance seems to have switched roles to Na’vi when they secured Venomancer and Visage for Akke and EGM respectively. Completing the trilane was Loda on the Specter. Admiral Bulldog was allowed to free farm on the neutrals though as they abandon the bottom lane.

The game started extremely well for Dendi. At two minutes in, he picked off S4 on the Beastmaster two times in the price of a Wisp despite Admiral Bulldog and Akke’s backups. XBOCT’s free farm enabled him to grab a four-minute Hand of Midas, and Funn1k kept on harassing The Alliance on the jungle.

The streak kept on extending for Dendi, and even the supports on Na’vi’s side continuously found pick offs to stack up their lead on the charts. By eight minutes, Dendi already had his blink dagger; The Alliance’s support were pretty much food at this point. They kept on diving into The Alliance’s jungle and abused Bounty Hunter’s track and Wisp’s relocate. At the same time, XBOCT was accruing more gold while finding kills. The Alliance was constricted in their jungle and moved as a group, with the exception of Loda who kept on farming to resurrect his team.

Na’vi killed Roshan at minute 17, and instantaneously relocated to the top lane to kill Loda. They had full map control and The Alliance can’t get out of their base anymore without fearing the Wisp-Alchemist relocate combo. At 19 minutes, Na’vi was already knocking on The Alliance’s tier 3 tower. Na’vi’s damage output overwhelmed The Alliance who didn’t have the means to stand against XBOCT who was item-locked at this point.

Na’vi struck back in game two and crushed The Alliance in 20 minutes, evening the series 1-1.

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Inching for a comeback, The Alliance drafted S4 his signature hero, Batrider, and Admiral Bulldog got his trademarked Lone Druid. Ogre Magi came through for The Alliance, forming a lineup that could take Roshan down at level one. Completing The Alliance’s lineup is Loda on Mirana and EGM on Lina.

Na’vi went with what worked for them in the previous game, with Wisp and Alchemist. This time, however, Dendi was playing as the Wisp and KuroKy was on Rubick, a hero that he had so much success with in the past. Na’vi punched Visage on Puppey and Razor on Funn1k as the final tickets to their lineup.

The Alliance already had a taste of what a free farming Alchemist can do, which prompted them to have an aggressive trilane to match Na’vi. Dendi was left on mid to contest with Admiral Bulldog. The Wisp mid meant that he’s going to get his Relocate much quicker, which put Na’vi in a good position to start their ganks early. Despite dying to the Lone Druid, Wisp got a double kill on his first relocate on Lina and Mirana at the bottom lane. This forced The Alliance’s support to rotate to the top lane, opening the bottom lane for XBOCT to farm. The relocate gank kept on bringing some kills for Na’vi and The Alliance can’t respond because of their low levels.

The game went passive for a couple of minutes, largely due to The Alliance’s hidden map positioning to mitigate Dendi’s relocate ganks. Na’vi pushed the bottom two tier 1 tower and transitioned to the top lane to push. The Alliance grouped up in retaliation and scored a hook-lasso kill against Rubick, giving them a boost to destroy tier 1 mid.

Both teams huddle on mid but there was no engagement despite Loda hitting his arrow on Razor. The Alliance denied the tier 1 mid tower and immediately went for a smoke gank. Na’vi was ready though and turned the clash to kill Batrider and Lina in anticipation. They pressed on to push the tier 2 mid tower and did so without casualty. Both teams used the off-engagement time to farm for much-needed items: Heart of Tarrasque for the Alchemist and Radiance for Lone Druid.

Na’vi decided to go for Roshan that became a window of opportunity for The Alliance. S4 drags XBOCT away from the pit. Dendi tried to save him but the Radiance burn was too much for him. The Alliance went into a five man wipe and killed Roshan afterward, but not without Dendi attempting to steal the Aegis in which he failed to accomplish. The Alliance backed away with the Lone Druid dead and the Aegis in the pocket of Mirana.

Both teams looked to take map control away from each other. The Alliance pushed the top lane; Na’vi pushed bottom. The Alliance got the better hand, as they were clearly the better pushing team with the bear and Bloodlust on their side. They crushed all of Na’vi’s outer towers on the top lane and backed out unscathed.

The Alliance transitioned to the bottom lane and destroyed Na’vi’s tier 2 tower. Na’vi’s steadfast push into the tier 3 mid caused them to go back and defend. Na’vi destroyed the tower; The Alliance focused Razor down but couldn’t do it easily. Still, they forced Na’vi outside of their base wiped them again despite XBOCT scoring a triple kill. Na’vi kept on forcing The Alliance’s exposed Na’vi’s mid barracks, but a missed relocate placed Na’vi into a bad position that wrote more deaths to their paper.

The Alliance earned a Roshan kill and defended their base successfully until they had a bad fight in the river wherein Ogre Magi and Lina were picked off. Na’vi were quick on their feet and secured the first barracks of the game in the mid. Another clash on the top lane secured Na’vi a kill on S4 and put them in the position to push another set of barracks. XBOCT was too tanky at this point and continuously charged to the front lines, slicing any Alliance member he saw. The Alliance couldn’t bring him down despite dishing out every damage they can; Na’vi secured a mega kill in the process.

As a move of desperation, Admiral Bulldog purchased a Divine Rapier for his bear. The Alliance charged into the mid lane for a final push, but KuroKy’s lift on the bear rendered it useless. The Alliance was forced to tap out at 47 minutes. Na’vi earned a 2-1 advantage over The Alliance. This was the first time that the Swedes were behind in a series in The International 3.

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Game 4

Na’vi was determined to put the nail on The Alliance’s coffin and didn’t go for any risky lineups or plays. They immediately went for the Batrider, the Alchemist, and Puck. The former two have been instrumental in the team’s success. The same goes with Puck, being Dendi’s most played hero. KuroKy got his hands on Rubick yet again, whose lifts and lasso steals from last game immensely disarmed The Alliance. Puppey’s Bane would be their last pick that formed a formidable aggressive trilane for Na’vi.

The Alliance went back to their draft in game one with their Wisp, Nature’s Prophet, and Gyrocopter combo. They went for more aggression in this game though with Crystal Maiden as their hard support. The Alliance picked Nightstalker for S4 — this is the hero’s first appearance in the tournament — and looked to gank Na’vi non-stop.

The game started with a first blood on S4, which was easy for Na’vi because the hero has no escape mechanism. The Alliance answered by pushing tier 1 top, something that they had done well in the series.

Seeing that the enemy was busy farming, Na’vi pushed the bottom lane and got a tier 1 in the process. Na’vi’s push to the second tower was the beginning of their nightmares with images of S4’s Nightstalker. A teleport scroll from Loda followed by his Calldown disintegrated Na’vi, and The Alliance’s global presence and nighttime intimidation started to show. They picked off Na’vi anywhere on the map, which opened the map for the Gyrocopter and the Nature’s Prophet to farm. They got an Aegis for S4 before 14 minutes into the game: The Alliance is on an encore of their dominating performance in game one.

The game’s heat started to fizzle a bit around the 16 minute mark as The Alliance were waiting for the second nighttime. Na’vi was farming in group and waiting for their enemy to react, significantly reducing their efficiency. The Alliance, on the other hand, was free to split push, gank, and do whatever they desire on the map.

The Alliance pushed Na’vi’s tier 2 mid tower but was denied by Dendi. It wasn’t a loss for them though as it only paved an opportunity for another Roshan kill at 23 minutes. Afterward, The Alliance cruised to Na’vi’s top barracks and was very clear on their intent to make the mid barracks their next victims. Na’vi had some firepower left in them though. Funn1k’s Flaming Lasso that targeted EGM on his Wisp disrupted The Alliance’s team fight and they managed to fend the team off, while popping Loda’s Aegis and subsequently killing him.

At 31 minutes, The Alliance were almost ready for the final clash against Na’vi. They had all the items they need; even purchasing a Black King Bar on the Crystal Maiden for the highest damage possible. They kill the third Roshan at 33 minutes and was arming up for the final push of the game. XBOCT pushed the tier 1 top for some momentum, but it was an acceptable loss for the team.

Na’vi was at their final stand in their tier 3 mid. At this point, Loda had Satanic and buy back available and S4 had Cheese and buy back as well. Funn1k couldn’t engage as he was silenced by S4 and Admiral Bulldog was anticipating his blink with his Scythe of Vyse. Na’vi tried to fight with a back stab from XBOCT that killed The Alliance’s supports. Meanwhile, Loda and S4 were hammering down on the entire Na’vi squad. Na’vi went for a four man buy back, but all effort was in dire as the Gyrocopter and the Nightstalker had all the health and damage they required.

The Alliance evened the series 2-2 and forced a deciding game five.

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Game 5

Both The Alliance and Na’vi went for the most basic standard they could think of, and the draft was extremely similar to the present games, with the exception of S4 going for Puck and Dendi being assigned to the ultra-aggressive Templar Assassin. The Alliance finally gets the Wisp-CK combo online.

Completing Na’vi’s lineup was Puppey’s Enigma, KuroKy’s Rubick, Funn1k’s Batrider, and XBOCT’s Alchemist. Over on the side of The Alliance, they went for Akke on the Crystal Maiden and Admiral Bulldog on the Nature’s Prophet as the final character for the Swedes.

As expected, the game started in flames as Loda and EGM tried to draw first blood on XBOCT’s Alchemist at the borrom lane. They drove him under his tower, but XBOCT’s jukes turned the attempt into a first blood going in his way. Admiral Bulldog teleported to assist and got the kill in a hard-earned hide and seek in the tier 1 tower. They went for another kill at XBOCT and succeeded much more easily this time, but EGM perished under the Alchemist’s Acid Spray.

The bottom lane served as a graveyard for heroes until The Alliance’s trio rotated to the top lane. Meanwhile, Dendi was so far in front of S4 in experience and gold. To put S4 even lower, he was killed by an early black hole as his Illusory Orb was cooling down. Once again, The Alliance pushed the tier 1 top early, leaving XBOCT alone in the bottom lane. This would change soon however as EGM already reached level 6 and immediately set the Wisp-CK combo in motion.

Funn1k got his dagger 10 minutes into the game and blink lasso on the Crystal Maiden at the mid lane. Na’vi seemed to get the better end of the engagement, but a relocate on the rear of Na’vi earned Loda a double kill. Dendi was on point with his Meld strikes though and continuously punished The Alliance for ignoring his hero. As the clash ended, S4 and Loda bought back and managed to bring Dendi down.

The Alliance pushed the tier 1 mid which started another scrappy clash. They disengaged in the end with some casualties on both teams, but Na’vi was grouped up above the dire river again before long. A misplaced relocate gank separated The Alliance apart and Na’vi got the better positioning. Dendi scored a triple kill as The Alliance was backing off.

A huge clash that went for at least three minutes in the Roshan Pit soon took place as The Alliance positioned themselves for a Roshan Kill. Loda used Phantasm in the low ground and initiated on KuroKy. A one man Black Hole from Puppey halted Loda to do more damage and the heroes from The Alliance’s side started to fall one by one. Roshan’s health was dropping quickly as well through Dendi’s massive hits. EGM manages to kill Funn1k as he was hovering with low health. Still, Dendi was finishing Roshan off. In a miraculous move, Admiral Bulldog teleported into the pit. Coupled with S4’s Illusory Orb, they stopped the Templar Assassin’s Beyond Godlike streak and stole what could’ve been the Aegis that cost them a million dollars. The Aegis went to S4 and The Alliance saw an opportunity to push the bottom lane. They broke the tier 1 and tier 2 towers.

The 25 to 29 minute mark saw the calm of the storm as Dendi completed his Daedalus. Admiral Bulldog finished his Scythe of Vyse; Loda his BKB. Na’vi pushed the tier 2 tower at bottom, and The Alliance responded by a kill on Funn1k in the radiant jungle.

The second Roshan was up in 31 minutes. S4 was picked off near the pit and The Alliance didn’t want to contest without the Puck. Na’vi immediately went for high ground. At the same time, Admiral Bulldog was split pushing in the top lane and Loda and EGM relocated to the bottom lane to add more pressure. Na’vi was teleporting back, but a crucial Dream Coil by S4 cancelled the TP spells of three Na’vi players.

Admiral Bulldog kept on pressuring the tier 4 towers and even bought a Necronomicon for more push power and possibly a backdoor move. Loda, S4, and EGM in the meantime where stalling Na’vi.

Despite the two lane advantage of The Alliance, they wouldn’t force the push until the third Roshan respawned in 41 minutes. Na’vi grouped up to take the Aegis and Cheese and picked off Akke in the process. Loda, EGM, and Admiral Bulldog were already setting up a push on top. As Puppey was teleporting to base, he was hexed by S4 who was near the pit. Dendi was using his TP scroll as well when S4 once again landed a critical Dream Coil that cancelled the spell.

Na’vi attempted to defend their base with all their might, but Loda and S4 were already pummeling down the Ancient. Na’vi succumbed to The Alliance in an intense 43 minute game.

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The Alliance finishes their legendary run in The International 3 as the champions! They take the Aegis of the Champion home and the $1.4M that comes with it. Na’vi settles again for second place and takes home $600,000.

Personal notes:

I’m so glad to have been a part of this momentous event in eSports history even though I’m only watching at home. The amount of skill and dedication these players put out is truly admirable and only marks the growth of video games as a medium of legitimate sports.

Until next year!

The International 3: It All Comes Down to Two Teams

16 teams down to two. It has been five games of intense matches between the best teams in the world, and let me tell you, it was a culmination of talent, competition and pure passion. But when the dust settles, we get what we want: The International 3 Grand Finals between The Alliance and Natus Vincere. The match is in a best-of-five format. And with the nature of these two teams, sick plays and all-out aggression is in the horizon.

Western Dota is on the apex yet again.

Last year, we saw iG topple the western scene when they ran with the TI2 championship. They rolled out post-TI2, bagging consistent victories for at least three months, only to lose their form in April and the months thereafter. That is where the western Dota scene started to shine. Alliance securing the G-1 league and Na’vi winning the Alienware Cup — both of which held in China and against top Chinese teams — are the perfect example. Now, we see these two teams in their final stretch to determine who’s the best among the best.

The Alliance looks unstoppable.

Let’s face it. The Alliance are the clear favorites to win TI3. They’ve been winning heavily pre-TI3, and their form in the tournament is a feat that won’t be match in the immediate future. They won the group stage in a perfect 16-0 record and went on a rampage in the main event. They only lost to DK once, which is almost negligible. They pummel Na’vi 2-0 to earn a ticket to the grand finals and send Na’vi into the loser’s bracket against Orange.

Orange Neolution E-Sports transforms in the tournament.

It goes without saying that Mushi is a powerhouse (an extremely overused adjective for him) in the Malaysian Dota scene. They had always fallen short in the international competitive Dota atmosphere though, but all of that is now gone in the wind. Dropping immediately to the lower brackets against Na’vi is already a deep hole to get out of, but they went on an impressive run. They fall to Na’vi again in the lower bracket finals in a series of matches that is one for the books. And despite exiting the tournament in third place, they proved that Malaysia and Southeast Asia is a force to be reckoned with in Dota 2. Taking home over $280,000 isn’t bad too.

Na’vi’s chance for redemption.

Na’vi is the first millionaire Dota 2 team with their win in TI1. They lost to iG in TI2 and their performance were rocky late 2012 to early 2013. A roster change gave them a fresh breath of air, but their form didn’t completely hold up after a few months. They were unstoppable since then; now they’re back for another shot in another International championship. If they succeed, they will be the only team to have TI titles under their belt. The $1.4M is a stellar incentive that when won could make them the richest professional gamers in the world.

The grand finals is about to start in a couple of minutes. Watch it in the stream or view the game in the Dota 2 client.

I Won’t Shoot at Cats Anymore

Okay, the title seems morbid, but I didn’t kill a cat. I may have caused its death, but I’m not entirely sure until today.

Flashback to 11-12 years ago.

I was about ten years old at the time and toy guns were the in thing for rowdy young boys. These toy guns shoot plastic pellets, and while they’re mostly not fatal, they pack a hard punch. I “accidentally” shot my palm once; the pain is like a sting only that it’s itchy and lingers on your skin for hours.

ImageThis is a BB gun, a more powerful version of the pellet gun.

When my dad bought my toy gun, he cautioned me not to use it on any living creatures. He drew some targets to have something to play with, but shooting immobile objects was very boring. It was not long before my bloodlust (I say that very loosely) was welling inside of me and my love for the hunt soon took over. I started to play war games with my friends and would go home every night with tons of rashes due to the pellets. This went on for a couple of weeks. Before I knew it, toy guns were already part of our lives as young commandos.

Everything changed in one rainy morning though. Seeing that we can’t play in the bad weather, I did some practice shootings alone. I obviously got bored and looked for something to hunt. And then there it was… a cat hiding under our car. It was fully grown, sleeping under the cold metal chassis of the vehicle. Its peaceful slumber meant scat to me and I fired a shot. I hit him on his thigh, which caused him to scurry away. I didn’t chase the cat though; I just went inside our house and watched T.V.

After a few hours, the sky was clear again. That also meant that it’s time for another session of war games with my friends. As I was going outside, I noticed something lying near the canal beside our gates. It was the cat I shot before, wet and shivering. Tears involuntarily poured from eyes and my knees shook hard — they were almost jerking. The slight minute of despair turned into panic. What can an eleven year-old do to a dying cat? I called our helper and asked her to do something. She was dumbfounded as well. I wanted to bring the cat inside our home in the hopes of reviving him but our helper forbade me from doing so, citing reasons that revolve around germs and rabies. I made a final attempt however and brought him milk and some bread. It feels silly to think about it now. Alas, all hope was lost and the cat succumbed to the cold streets of Cavite.

That moment gave me nightmares. I cried every night for two weeks. A cat died in my own hands.

The questions arise.

“Am I really a cold-blooded murderer?”

“What if I kill an animal again? What if I kill someone next time!?”

And with the questions came the justifications.

“No, a shot to the thigh couldn’t have killed a cat. It must be the harsh weather.”

“The pellet didn’t really hit the cat. I missed. I’m innocent.”

And since that moment, I decided not to touch pellet guns anymore or get near to cats for that matter. I still remember what happened when I see real or toy guns. No, sir, I won’t shoot cats anymore.

Linking this post to the Daily Prompt.

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