Tundra Esports Knocked Out of OGA Dota Pit, What Happened?
After winning ESL One Fall against arguably one of the best Chinese teams in Dota, everyone agreed that Tundra Esports was a dark horse in the European scene that could upset the rigid hierarchy that was established by Team Secret, OG, and Team Nigma. Outside of those three teams, the European region for Dota looks lackluster, and Tundra is an exciting squad of hopefuls that’s taking games off everyone. Their performance at The International European qualifiers showed an effective, creating drafting style that surprised opponents and the execution of players like Sneyking and 33 were often the highlights of any analysis of their play. ESL One Fall showed they understood the new patch better than other teams, but it seems like everyone’s now on the same page in regard to the patch’s meta, which may have taken away Tundra’s biggest competitive edge. Now, Tundra Esports see themselves taking 3rd place at the OGA Dota Pit. What happened?
Tundra Esports vs. Team Secret – OGA Dota Pit Lower Bracket Finals
After losing 2-0 to PSG.LGD in the upper bracket, Tundra was knocked down to meet Team Spirit, who clawed their way to the lower bracket finals from the first lower bracket match. Team Spirit fought grueling matches against Fnatic and T1, with T1 being the most decorated team in Southeast Asia right now. Tundra and Spirit meeting in the lower bracket would be their third encounter this year after the Epic League in March and their most recent encounter at the group stage of ESL One Fall. The match was favored for Tundra, but a few key issues swung both games over to Team Spirit.
While I may not be the best Dota player out there, I’ll try to break down issues that I feel kept Tundra from winning. Even though OGA Dota Pit isn’t the most important tournament in Dota right now, each tournament offers the opportunity to learn something new. It’s how teams prepare for bigger tournaments and bigger challenges; it’s why even the smallest tournaments can cause a ripple effect and influence some of the top teams, or even the game itself.
Support Gyrocopter and Lane Supports
Support Gyrocopter gets drafted for FATA a lot. Before the latest patch, this hero would usually be played as a safelane carry, and still is, but Tundra have been instrumental in deconstructing several heroes and making them viable in any role. They’ve done this before with midlane Keeper of the Light, but it hasn’t been as common as the support Gyrocopter. Opponents who see Tundra draft the Gyro typically have to make a 50-50 guess as to whether the hero is being played core or support, and it seems that Spirit’s response has been to stop worrying about the Gyro and focus on sustainable lanes instead.
Gyro’s role as a lane support is to use his range and stats to bully the offlaner and support. His range allows him to contest enemy creep pulls and his Rocket Barrage ability can harass nearby enemy heroes and chunk them for a solid portion of their health. If played aggressively, Gyro can easily mow down enemy supports with Missile and Rocket Barrage and net kills for himself or his carry, securing the lane and an experience advantage. By the mid-game, Gyro can farm using a combination of Rocket Barrage and Flak Cannon, turning into a semi-core that can farm items like Veil, Solar Crest, and Spirit Vessel to boost his team’s survivability and damage.
Spirit neutered the support Gyro by drafting Dark Willow and Bane. Bane’s base stats and buffed Brain Sap make him a great lane dominator, as he can tank damage, deal damage, and heal himself. Against Gyro, it doesn’t matter which target Gyro chooses to pursue as Bane’s Nightmare grants friendly units one second of invulnerability, thus nullifying at least 33% of Rocket Barrage’s damage. Dark Willow’s skillset offers a lot of control in terms of how enemies can approach her and her lane partner. Her ability Shadow Realm makes her untargetable for a total of 5 seconds, which is 2 seconds longer than the duration of Rocket Barrage.
Without easy targets to kill and snowball off of, Gyro isn’t as impactful in lane. Seeing as how FATA typically supports the safe lane, Spirit accompanied Miwa’s Dark Willow with offlaners that could farm reliably under pressure and had retreat options. That’s why we saw Collapse on the Sand King and Magnus.
Oh yeah, Collapse.
Collapsing the Opponent
Collapse played out of his mind against Tundra. Even in the first game when Tundra had a strong lead, Collapse was able to create openings for his team that lead to kills for TORONTOTOKYO and Yatoro. Both Collapse and Yatoro must be esper twins, as the two coordinate unconsciously to create some of the most beautiful plays we’ve seen leading up to The International. Regardless, Spirit’s reliance on Collapse to play heroes with high playmaking potential has paid off, as he will be the first player to initiate and put the enemy on the backfoot.
Tundra assumed that an even or won lane for the safe lane meant that Collapse would remain ineffective all game, so they went in on Spirit’s safelane a couple of times to secure kills. A combination of greed, wanting to shut down Yatoro, and ignoring Collapse’s late-game impact led to Tundra fumbling their lead and opening themselves up for Collapse’s precise initiations. Early in game 2, Tundra dove into Spirit’s tier-two tower and lost two supports trying to confirm a kill on Yatoro. This gave Collapse plenty of time on his own to farm safely and set himself up for the midgame.
While poor decision making and positioning can explain nearly any loss, it’s important to see how the enemy capitalizes on these mistakes. In this case, Tundra felt like the mistakes they made in order to secure kills on Team Spirit support heroes and Yatoro were offset by skiter’s secure farm and explosive carry potential in the late game.
Relying too much on skiter would also contribute to Tundra’s loss.
Skiter Skates By
Skiter’s performance as a safelane carry is really impressive, and he made himself look golden during the European qualifiers for TI. His performance with Tundra at OGA Dota PIt has been equally commendable, but there’s a big difference between the heroes he’s been playing on the new patch versus the carry heroes of patch 7.29.
Skiter’s ability to secure farm and create comebacks for his team is exemplary carry gameplay. It should be studied as a standard for players who want to elevate their play in the safe lane. However, where Tundra skiter fell short during OGA Dota Pit has to be in his execution of heroes outside of his comfort zone.
Tundra drafted Faceless Void for skiter in the first game as a response to the teamfight Spirit was aiming for with Magnus and Monkey King. While things went well during the first twenty minutes of the game, skiter’s decision-making with Void was impacted by the breakaway plays of Collapse and TORONTOTOKYO. Void’s itemization lacked damage and skiter accidentally used Chronosphere on his teammate during a pivotal fight.
During the second game, skiter neglected to purchase BKB on Slark as the game neared the 40 minute mark. His decision in purchasing Diffusal Blade would be understandable if his team had a more decisive advantage, but in this game it ended up being rather ineffective during the mid game when his team needed to win fights the most to prevent Yatoro’s Magnus from coming online with his Silver Edge.
There were other mistakes that Tundra made during this game that are worth noting, such as 33 getting caught behind the tier two tower mid and getting picked off. A lot of Tundra’s misplays came from their overconfidence and not treating Spirit like worthy opponents.
Tundra Esports still has a lot of promise, but their loss at OGA Dota Pit felt incredibly uncharacteristic of them. However, they still have the potential to shake up the European scene post-TI and in the incoming season. There’s no doubt that they’ve already influenced other teams with their creative drafts and we’ll see teams experimenting with things like mid Keeper of the Light and support Pangolier. The Tundra squad should be proud of their achievements and the impact they’ve made this patch.
Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more promising plays from Tundra soon. If any changes happen to the DPC, it’s possible that other teams in Europe and North America will have a reason to take notice of them and consider them viable challengers to the top 3 in those regions.