DOTA 2: ESL One returned for another edition in Malaysia, with 16 of the top Dota 2 teams battling for a share of 400 Pro Circuit points and a $400,000 prize pool. Chinese gladiators Newbee were the eventual winners in Genting and gave themselves a huge boost in their attempt to qualify for The International 8 later this year.
How they made it to the Finals
Newbee were drawn in Group B of the double-elimination playoff stage, where they beat LGD.FY 1-0 then TNC 2-0 before eventually losing to Team Liquid 2-1. Despite this defeat, Newbee still secured a quarterfinal spot in the single-elimination playoff stage as the third-placed team.
Contrary to expectations, Vici Gaming did not offer strong resistance in Newbee’s opening game here as the Chinese outfit sailed through with a 2-0 win. Their next opponents were Team Secret, who proved to be a far tougher proposition. Newbee won Game One but were on the verge of losing the second before patience, composure and mistakes from Secret eventually gave them the victory.
A “curse” broken
This set up the first Finals clash between Newbee and Team Liquid since TI7 and a win for Newbee would be sweet revenge for their defeat in Dota 2’s biggest game back in August. The two teams had also met earlier this season on the stage of the Dota 2 Pit League with Liquid winning 2-0. This time, however, things turned out differently as to the glee of neutrals, the match unfolded into a five-game thriller.
The series started in Newbee’s favour as they claimed the first game in what proved to be an even draft, with the Chinese outfit making the most of enemy misplays in the mid game to claim victory.
Liquid struck back in Game Two though with a Miracle- centered strategy with Terrorblade. While Newbee managed to maintain the balance in the early game, they did not manage to stop him from farming and this cost them the clash.
Game Three started with mind games in the drafting stage as Newbee took three of Liquid’s heroes from the previous game. Liquid tried another single core strategy, but Newbee anticipated this and shut them down early to gain the advantage and win in the mid game with relentless pushes.
Liquid stayed in the series after a short and one-sided fourth game. Newbee did not draft well and were severely punished by Team Liquid’s heavy push line-up, which steamrolled their opponents in the laning stage and continued pressing until they had secured victory.
Both teams proceeded cautiously in the final game. Newbee got their most successful heroes – Naga Siren and Disruptor – while Team Liquid decided to go with a risky Tinker move. The game progressed with Liquid’s attempts at dragging the contest into the late-game being countered by Newbee seeking engagements. In one such instance, the Chinese side won decisively and gained control of the game to end the series in their favour.
What makes Newbee the best Chinese Dota 2 team right now?
Newbee have excellent individual players, but their strengths lie in their cooperation as a team, along with their strategy and hero choices. The pillar of Newbee’s success was the employment of several key heroes – namely Disruptor (10/15 games used), Naga Siren (8/15) and Omniknight (5/15) – that they used effectively to build an early game advantage and, most importantly, to enforce their preferred style of play. Their opponents learned the potency of these heroes the hard way as all three had at least an 80%-win rate.
The team’s playstyle centres around team fights. Newbee feel most comfortable when they battle five-on-five and they try to force this type of fight on their rivals once they have acquired the necessary items. Usually this happens around the mid game when their drafts peak, at a time when the aforementioned heroes are at their most effective.
Newbee also play better when they have secured an early advantage. The team relies a lot on Sccc to win his lane, while the support duo tries every way to make it possible for both him and Moogy. Sccc is generally prioritised and the outcome of the game depends a lot on his farm. Newbee did come back versus Secret in the late game, but this is not their typical style of play.
The two cores of the team are Sccc and Moogy. Sccc is heavily relied upon to make an impact on the game given that he is one of the most mechanically gifted players in the team. A lane winner who combines flashy moves with efficiency, he makes the most impact with playmaking heroes such as Queen of Pain, Tinker or Storm Spirit. Moogy, on the other hand, plays a more traditional hard carry role on carries who are also viable in the mid game such as Gyrocopter (who was his most played hero, four times). Whenever the game reaches the later stages, expectations shift towards him. Both of them are versatile players with wide hero pools and each played 10 heroes throughout the tournament.
Another one who plays a versatility role is kpii – in compliance with the team’s strategy, he is usually handling a team fight core with initiating ability. He played mostly with Omniknight in this tournament – the third staple hero of Newbee’s strategy and as such his job was to ruin the enemy hard carry’s farm in the laning stage as much as possible, while adding sustainability and support with his spells in the team fights.
At its core, the team’s success was arguably forged by Newbee’s support duo, Faith and Kaka. The two most played heroes by the team – Disruptor and Naga Siren – were at the forefront of the majority of their successful battles. The combination of the two is one that Newbee pioneered and implemented throughout the tournament. Both heroes provide excellent team fight capabilities – Disruptor is a great ganker and his ultimate is extremely useful in silencing and containing heroes, while Naga Siren is crucial as an initiator for team fights. He also provides ability for engagement and positioning before the battle like no other hero in the game, as well as safe escape for the team when fleeing when necessary.
The psychological impact of this win could be seen on the faces of the players in the post-game interview, with Faith going as far as to state that a “curse” had been broken. And indeed, with this win, Newbee made a statement that they not only can handle any opposition, but are able to win tournaments of the highest calibre. Cementing their ranking in the China region, they are now firmly ahead in The International 2018 qualifier race with 1635 points (Vici Gaming are the second-best Chinese team with 810 points) and staying on the winning path will surely earn them a spot. Now that they have proven that they can beat the best in the West, the next step for Newbee is to win a Major.