The lower bracket seems like a strange place for a match-up like Evil Geniuses and Wings Gaming to happen, but in the first round of the Dota 2 Asia Championships bracket, both teams found themselves on their last leg in a best-of-one match. Back against the wall, both teams turned to oddball strategies, leading to one wild ride of a match.
The draft stage, where each team picks and bans heroes from a pool of over 100 characters to compose their team lineup, was normal to start. As the game commenced and carried on though, it was the Panda Brewmaster and Invoker combination on Wings Gaming that raised some eyebrows.
Panda Brewmaster’s ultimate splits him into three separate, fully controllable pandas representing the three elements Earth, Wind and Fire. These pandas have their own grooves and specialties, but it’s the Earth’s that is important: the Earth Panda does 300 per cent damage to buildings. Combine this with Invoker’s Alacrity spell, which massively boosts attack speed, and you have this exact moment below, where Brewmaster can rush down a set of barracks and escape with little worry.
This strategy, alongside a few rough teamfights for Evil Geniuses, swung a game that was mildly in its favour to one that was vastly against it. Wings’ Doom was locking down Artour “Arteezy” Babaev’s Spectre at every turn with his eponymous ultimate, and Zhou “bLink” Yang’s Invoker was easily controlling every large-scale fight.
At this point, it was time for Evil Geniuses’ strategy to kick into gear. The Monkey King is a recent introduction to Dota 2, the first hero that didn’t originate in Defence of the Ancients, and was recently added to the competitive mode. Despite being a carry, some teams have been experimenting with him in the support role, particularly Evil Geniuses.
In the hands of EG’s Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg, Monkey King was both an effective roaming support and a game-winning hero. Monkey King’s ultimate creates a circle, surrounded by copies of himself that attack enemies inside. Though they do less damage than the real Monkey King, they still apply any effects he might have from items, so his Desolator (which removes armour with every attack) and Abyssal Blade (which has a chance to stun with every attack) can run over the team and set his own up for an easy win.
At this point, EG had been rebuffed from Wings’ base several times, so smelling blood in the water, the team keeps the pressure on. Within four minutes EG is putting the enemy ancient in check, and Wings has to respond. Once again, Wåhlberg’s ultimate, combined with Puck (who was having a great game in the hands of Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora) holding Wings down with an ultimate of its own, Evil Geniuses secured the win against the champions of The International 6.
After the game, Dota stats man Ben Steenhuisen noted on Twitter that Wåhlberg’s game was fifth-highest all-time in Monkey King stuns (he also holds the second-highest spot as well). When you see a bunch of players in your pub games playing Monkey King support this coming week, just remember to thank Evil Geniuses.