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Guide to drafting. Applied to TI7 Grand Finals: Game 1.

September 28, 2017 by JetenGesfakke
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Drafting

Includes the game 1 draft of Liquid vs Newbee TI7 final analysis applied to the tips below.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS: The latest episode of Valve's series "True Sight" has some insight on this draft as well, from the actual teams. This was obviously written up before true sight came out, so it will contain some different insights.

Rules of thumb

  • Draft a hero with a disable early on. And by that I don't mean Warlock ult.
  • Make sure you don't screw yourself laning wise. There's 2 major ways to do this:
    • Drafting a versatile hero early on.
    • Don't get lost in synergizing and countering too much, it will make you lose sight of your lanes.
  • You want at least some kind of AOE nuke. To avoid split pushing, but also to avoid most cheese heroes like Broodmother, Meepo, etc.
  • Have at least some mix of physical and magical damage to avoid being hard countered by items like Pipe of Insight, Black King Bar, Assault Cuirass, Vladmir's Offering, etc.
  • Draft a strategy, but don't go over the top. Drafting a line-up that can only do one thing is often a bad idea.

There are ways to work around some of these rules, but in most games you'll want to follow them.

First ban phase

Things you want to achieve


  1. Get rid of heroes that are strong, versatile picks in the meta and that you're not willing to draft.
  2. Preferably also matching the first criterium, ban heroes that counter the strategy you wish to execute.

Heroes



In the current meta (7.06), these are some common first bans:








Earthshaker



Nyx Assassin




Night Stalker



Keeper of the Light
Does everything except hit towers. Great ban if you want to play a Deathball/Teamfight, Split push or 4 protect one strat and if you don't want to play against a turtle line-up.


Same as Earthshaker but even more annoying to push against once he gets Aghanim's Scepter. Less teamfight oriented so you could probably get away with a deathball strat.


One of the best gankers in the game and also provides ridiculous amounts of vision. Ban if you want to pick Keeper of the Light and if you want to play a ganking or big teamfight line-up.


Great turtle hero that can also give their core constant mana and later on ridiculous sustain in pushes with agh's. Ban if you don't want to play against a 4 protect one or a turtle line-up.

Applying this to the draft



Liquid ban



Newbee ban



Liquid ban



Newbee ban






Night stalker



IO




Earth Spirit




Earthshaker
Very strong pick that also counters one of Liquid's most picked heroes in the tournament: Keeper of the Light. Very straight forward ban and one that you should go for if you're Liquid 9/10

Has always been one of the strongest heroes in the game in coordinated teams. Next to Keeper of the Light this was the other big GH hero this tournament. You can possibly ignore Io if you're drafting with and against randoms though in pubs.


Staple hero of Newbee.kaka. A strong first pick with a lot of cc. Could possibly mean liquid is looking to pick heroes that hate to get kited.


Very strong meta pick throughout the tournament. Provides great amounts of cc. Could mean Newbee is looking for heroes that hate to get kited and/or 5 man push.

Important to note is that Newbee let Keeper of the Light slip (just like LFY before them) as well as Nature's Prophet (which arguably netted Liquid the previous series against LFY).

First pick phase

Things you want to achieve (in order of importance)


  1. Keep your strategy hidden and lanes open. Can be achieved by picking heroes that can fulfil different roles in a game depending on farm priority, items or lanes or simply just from their skills.
  2. Pick the heroes you want and fear will be banned in the next phase or picked by the other team instead. Importance wise interchangeable with #1.
  3. Get at least one disable.
  4. Get some sort of wave clear.
  5. Get a mix of physical and magical damage.
  6. Get a hero duo that combo's well. Especially if you have 2nd pick. On the other hand, if you have the 4th pick, you might want to try and counter that combo off the bat.

Often you can't achieve all of the above in this phase. It's up to you to determine what you find more important (but mostly you want to prioritize top to bottom).

Heroes



Heroes that fit (almost) all of the above in the current meta (7.06)


Of the ones above, here are some examples of hero duos that work well:

Applying this to the draft


Liquid pick




Newbee pick




Newbee pick





Liquid pick










Nature's Prophet




Nyx Assassin




Bloodseeker






Slardar
As mentioned before, it won them the series against LFY the very same day. Newbee had barely any time to prepare for it (as opposed to Keeper of the Light who Liquid had run the entire tournament).
High priority pick for Liquid specifically that is also versatile in giving them both push, vision through Nature's Call and global presence to teamfight (a rare, if not unique, combo).


A top tier pick that fits all 5 of the single hero criteria mentioned above. Also a big counter to Liquid's signature Keeper of the Light, possibly keeping them from picking it.


A hero that Newbee personally prioritizes very highly, picking it in every game in the previous series vs LFY. Gives them wave clear and a combination of magical and physical damage.
Downsides might be that this is a dead giveaway if Newbee wants to run a pickoff strat.

Has a disable, which they would heavily lack after their first 2 picks if they picked e.g. Keeper of the Light. Meets the 6th point above in that Slardar is great vs both Bloodseeker and Nyx Assassin. Both are melee heroes, which makes Slithereen Crush easier to land.
He's a great counter initiator against ganks because of it and can also stand and fight thanks to his high HP and strong manfight. Also a support, which means Liquid keeps their strategy completely open.

Second ban phase

Things you want to achieve


  1. Figure out heroes that are essential to the enemies draft in the next phase in positions they left unfilled and ban those.
  2. Ban heroes that will counter your draft and especially your core heroes. This may seem easy but you also don't really want to give up your plan unless you think the hero you'll pick can't be countered in any other way.

Heroes


Often this phase will target core heroes because you don't want the enemy team to pick 2 comfortable heroes with you only having one pick left after that to counter both of them.

Applying this to the draft


Newbee ban






Liquid bans








Newbee ban









Huskar





Tidehunter



Axe








Venomancer
A cheese hero that does 3 things amazingly well: win the lane, wreck magical damage cores, survive through Armlet of Mordiggian toggles or specific supports. This shows that Newbee might be looking to rely on magical damage to kill heroes.
It also shows that they might be willing to run those heroes against anything other than Huskar though (for instance Viper, Anti-Mage, etc).

Liquid decides to focus the offlaners in this phase, more specifically tanky offlaners with great teamfight initiation.
This makes sense because if Newbee got those heroes, the follow up from Blood Rite and Impale can be huge.
The fact that they ban STR offlaners might also mean they're not looking to draft more armor reduction, so they would have trouble to take those heroes down.
A third thing that can be drawn from this is that they don't seem too afraid of the huge ganking potential the first 2 picks of Newbee have. This means Liquid might be looking to run a tri core and/or deathball/teamfight line-up.


(before the Axe ban from liquid.) A hero that, when run as a core, has great magical (+ physical) damage. The main thing this hero does well is kill heroes over time and deathball,
which might mean Newbee isn't looking to draft any healing to counter this. Newbee is probably also scared of trading kills because when they gank a Venomancer, they are likely to die to DoT combined with rotations from Nature's Prophet.

Second pick phase

Things you want to achieve


  1. Synergize with your own picks. Compliment the strategy you wish to draft
  2. Fill in the gaps in draft essentials you had after the first 2 picks.
  3. Counter the heroes/strategy the enemy seems to be going for.

Heroes


You want to find heroes that you definitely want in your strategy and that also perform well against the tactic the enemy seems to be going for.
Meanwhile you want to be on the lookout for what general strong heroes are still in the pool.

Applying this to the draft


Newbee pick







Liquid pick











Newbee pick








Liquid pick






















Crystal Maiden







Lich











Batrider










Lifestealer
Another hero that is incredible at ganks, especially early game. Given the nerf to the jungle in recent history, she needs to get succesful ganks though to stay relevant.
The aura is also something to keep in the back of your head when you see this pick. There is Crystal Nova to turtle with, although its range is very short.

A hero that excels at countering exactly what Crystal Maiden wants to do. Keeps the lane close to your tower, which makes it incredibly hard for a hero as squishy and slow as Crystal Maiden to gank
and basically ensures one core gets all the farm he needs at all times. Liquid hereby also secure they have a well balanced support duo in one that's fairly greedy ( Slardar), needing succesful ganks to get farm
and one that can be dirt poor and still relevant. Nyx Assassin, Bloodseeker and Crystal Maiden are also heroes that need levels, which they will get less of with Lich on the map. Basically an anti-greed pick.l get less of with Lich on the map. Basically an anti-greed pick.

Another greedy hero that needs ganks to work. With Nyx Assassin, Crystal Maiden and Batrider picked, Liquid know that Nyx Assassin is a support and Crystal Maiden is a position 5, which is a very greedy, gank heavy support duo.
Newbee are pretty much all in on this right now and Liquid have already capitalized with Lich. Batrider can also slighly push out lanes with Flamebreak and Firefly though.

Has a vehicle in Slardar for the Infest bomb and is incredibly hard to gank (since he can just Rage TP out even when Ruptured). Also a tanky front liner to hit towers, which Liquid were missing from their draft.
Liquid's game plan is still unclear at this point since the Slardar Lifestealer might make you think they're going for ganks as well in mid game, the Nature's Prophet makes you think they'll push and Lich makes you think they might go for a more late-game oriented strat,
keeping a carry other than Lifestealer safe in the early game.

Final ban

What you want to achieve (in order of importance)


  1. Figure out what position the enemy is still missing a hero in.
  2. Figure out what their tactic is and what their draft is lacking to round that up.
  3. Ban a hero that will counter your game plan.

In most cases, you'll be able to achieve either #2 or #3 (or one of those only half), which is perfectly fine because there shouldn't be one hero that does both in a lot of cases anyway.

Heroes


Pay special attention to picks that are easily countered early in the draft, but absolutely wreck if not countered, especially if you don't have the final pick. Examples of such heroes are:


If you're short on strong AOE nukes and/or heroes with illusions/clones/summons.

If you're short on nukes and/or lockdown, preferably AOE.

If you're short on physical damage and/or lockdown.

If you don't have stuff to deal with tanky illusions/doubles.

If your draft is not aggressive enough in the early game.

If you don't have any silences.

If your lanes and/or mid game are weak.

If the enemy has a lot of squishy nukers.

Applying this to the draft


Newbee ban



Liquid ban


Morphling



Queen Of Pain
Newbee seems very afraid of a hard carry that gets free reign to farm and later in the game to kill. Makes it clear Newbee is going for a lot of early game ganks and finishing in mid-game

Strong ganker (which is Newbee's clear game plan), but also good at pushing out lanes and teamfighting. A lot of burst, something Newbee might be lacking right now.

Final pick

Things you want to achieve


  1. Break the game. A good final pick will often make that hero seem like he's completely broken because it was picked with and into the best possible heroes.
  2. If you have the very last pick, this gives you an opportunity to draft a strong lane counter for the enemy core (often a mid hero).
  3. Surprise your enemy. If you kept your draft very open, you can often draft a complete surprise hero, even possibly switching up lanes and roles.

Applying this to the draft


Liquid pick



Newbee pick


Troll Warlord



Lina
Completely catches Newbee off guard by completing Liquid's deathball strategy.
Compliments Liquid's tri core line-up with 3 heavy right clickers that will eat through towers after a succesful gank from Nature's Prophet or Slardar.

A great counter against Troll Warlord because of her range, ms and strong nukes. Gives Newbee the combo to nuke down enemy cores with their gank heavy line-up. Great tower hitter later in the game.

Final thoughts on the Newbee vs Liquid draft

When all is said and done, here's my thoughts on the draft.

Liquid


Line-up



Tactic


Pick offs into Deathball

Mistakes I think were made


  • Night Stalker ban. It might have been a bait ban to make Newbee think they were going for Keeper of the Light and no deathball line-up, but the ban seems weird. I would have banned Nyx Assassin here instead.
  • The second phase bans were too obviously aimed towards heroes that can stop a deathball and it was very clear they didn't fear ganks. Newbee failed to pick up on this though, so this wasn't a mistake as such.
    I personally feel like they should have banned a less obvious and more meta turtle/initation hero here like Sand King.











Things Liquid did really, really well


  • Ban Earth Spirit. Amazing anti-deathball hero that arouses no suspicion when you ban it since it's very meta and picked up often by Newbee.
  • Hide their strategy until the very last pick. Apart from the bans in the second phase, Liquid gave literally 0 clear tells to Newbee as to what their strategy would be.
  • Pick Nature's Prophet as a first pick. Even though it's not a versatile laner in most cases, liquid decided on drafting this hero for the amount of ways in which it can be played.
    The hero can gank, push, split push and teamfight all in one and Newbee had no idea how to deal with it.
  • Ban Queen of Pain: Newbee were not short on disable so Lina is just a poor man's Queen of Pain in this game, although Queen of Pain does not push as well, but that's the only reason I can see why Newbee would prefer Lina. I'm pretty sure they didn't.
  • Last pick Troll Warlord. This is THE perfect last pick. After the hero is picked, it dawns on you that Liquid have been building up to this hero and this specific strategy all along. Lich can help him out in lane,
    Troll empowers your other 2 right click cores as well and turns a ganking strategy into an incredibly strong deathball one.

Newbee


Line-up



Tactic


A LOT of early game pickoffs resulting in Liquid losing all map control.

Mistakes I think were made


  • They never realized what Liquid was going for. And as long as they didn't know what Liquid were doing, they didn't draft versatile enough.
  • They broke a rule of thumb: Don't be overly invested in a certain strategy. This cost them dearly.
  • Ban Earthshaker: If you're going for a gank line-up, I'm not sure what an Earthshaker ban is going to do. Even though Liquid didn't pick it, a Keeper of the Light pick would have made a lot more sense here.
  • 2nd pick Bloodseeker: Newbee got really far doing this, but I still think Bloodseeker is too much of a one trick pony to warrant a 2nd pick. As is evident from Liquid just deathballing him.
  • 3rd pick Crystal Maiden: This is a giant tell that your draft is going to be gank heavy and very greedy (as is often the case with gank line-ups). To do this on the 3rd pick gives Liquid a lot of leeway again to deal with it,
    which is exactly what they do with the Lich pick to secure their lanes and later the Troll Warlord for the deathball.
  • 4th pick Batrider: Same problem. They come to the 4th pick and realize they need something to destroy Nature's Call? Newbee is heavily losing sight of their own draft and focussing very hard on countering specific enemies here.
    All the while assuming they will be able to gank enough in the early game.
  • Morphling ban: Again, a clear tell that Newbee had no idea what Liquid were doing.

Things Newbee did well


  • Nyx Assassin is a great first pick. The hero can gank, teamfight, harass, etc. Imagine if Liquid got this instead of Slardar.
  • Ban Huskar: Given what Newbee were going to draft next, this would have wrecked their line-up. It would have also fit Liquid's mid game heavy draft.
  • Ban Venomancer: Can be annoying for Batrider to use Blink Dagger with him around. Also works well in Liquid's line-up. Versatile hero that was picked a fair amount.
  • Pick Lina: Good vs Troll Warlord in lane, Great depush and semi-good turtle. It was just too little too late at this point.











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