Season 1 of the ESL ANZ Championship showcased the best Dota 2 teams from Australia and New Zealand.
Athletico Esports alongside Natural 9, Pink and Fox Gaming competed for a share of a prize pool of 10,000 AUD and demonstrated that the local scene has significant promising talent. The eventual winners were Athletico, who received 5,000 AUD alongside the associated bragging rights.
Road to the Finals
Ahead of the event, Water were picked up by Athletico and it was the former side that had qualified back in April.
Athletico were pitted against Fox Gaming in the semifinals of the ESL ANZ Championship and they won Game One through a Broodmother, who despite not having a great laning stage, snowballed alongside the Death Prophet in the mid game and became key to winning the team fights. Grouping up as a five and pushing remained the main tactic for Athletico until the end of the game.
Athletico gradually built their advantage in Game Two but had a lot more trouble against the enemy Bloodseeker. The laning stage was fairly balanced, but the Death Prophet yet again made the difference once the teams started to clash around the map. Fox adopted a four-protect-one strategy with Bloodseeker and for a long period of the game managed to resist. However, their solo core ultimately proved to be insufficient.
Having beaten Fox 2-0, Athletico faced Natural 9 in the Finals, who had overcome Pink rather easily in the other semi.
With both teams dominating their semifinals, there were hopes that the Finals would be a more competitive affair.
Athletico had seemingly the better draft in Game One, with a potent line-up focused around Wraith King backed up by Io, and although the team did not have the best laning stage, the Wraith King was at least able to farm. Athletico built an advantage in the mid game with Queen of Pain rotations and emerged with fewer casualties from each resultant clash. It was this that enabled them to win the game.
There was significant bloodshed and many kills in Game Two, with Athletico going for more of the same with a Wraith King last pick, but this time without Io. They were on top for most of the game, but things turned in the 40th minute when they were wiped out by their opponents. Natural 9 subsequently gained control and managed to close down the game.
Athletico secured Io again in Game Three and paired him with Lifestealer as two core heroes whereas Natural 9 completely changed their draft, choosing five heroes who had been unpicked in the Finals up to this point. Both teams were a lot more cautious in this clash, but Athletico’s gameplan was well executed, with Lifestealer managing to secure early kills and get good farm. The series culminated in a massacre in which Natural 9 died 16 times in the space of four minutes, with this handing victory to Athletico.
How Athletico came out on top
The team have a farming-orientated playstyle, often playing four-protect-one with Splicko in the central role. In the laning stage, the team prioritise his ability to farm and make sure that he is not pressured too much – either by being ganked or bullied in the lane. This is where Matino usually provides solid support, most successfully with Io.
Io’s sustain and boosting abilities form the other half of a successful duo. Splicko handles tanky cores that also offer high damage-per-second abilities (e.g. Wraith King) best and such heroes benefit a lot from Io’s presence through HP regeneration and increased attack speed. Athletico are generally comfortable to absorb enemy aggression as long as Splicko is not prevented from farming and is protected.
Loski’s role is more of a supporting core – he makes rotations to help the lanes in the early mid game, but he is also assisted either by Woglet or Matino. Despite this, Loski is also comfortable being left on his own to contest the enemy mid laner one-on-one. Loski’s rotating is quite crucial to the team getting momentum in the mid game, as often they suffer in the laning stage.
The team can alternate how their supports play. As Matino is normally on Io, he stands in the lane, but he can also play roamers such as Nyx Assassin where he tends to go on the prowl for kills. Woglet is a classic position 5 support, but he can dish out significant damage when playing heroes such as Witch Doctor. In such instances, his presence in team fights also becomes more impactful – his performance in the second game of the semifinals, where he secured 14 kills, is one such example.
The team rely a lot on TEKCOR to initiate favourable engagements in team fights, as well as create as many problems as possible in the offlane for the enemy carry. He is impressive on heroes such as Axe which perfectly fit these two roles as he is a good initiator and an aggressive laner who is potent straight from level one.
Athletico were clearly the better team in both encounters in this tournament. The team are well organised, have a clear role distribution and a strong idea of how they want to play. They also demonstrated that they are one of the top teams in the local scene. With the likes of Newbee’s kpii coming from the region, more established teams could do worse than to look at the players here and see if they can poach any.