Image credit: Lotsalote
He's the most bad-arse tree in video games and the lower bracket finals at this year's International showed everything that makes the hero one of Dota's best.
Team Liquid has never made it to the top four at the game's biggest annual tournament before, but yesterday they triumphed at TI, not least because of an amazing display versus one of the event's best teams, LGD Forever Young. After tying the best-of-three series at 1-1, Liquid steam rolled through the opening minutes of game three with one of the most commanding early leads in Dota history.
But it was Bulgaria's Ivan Borislavov "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov playing as Furion, aka Nature's Prophet (but the cool kids don't call him that), who helped cement the team's victory in the final third. While his teammate, Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi, stomped around LFY's base with his over-powered Terrorblade, dropping opponents and enemy towers left and right, it was some of the third match's flashiest plays from Mind Control that left everyone watching awestruck.
First, he helped mobilize Liquid for early pushes and ganks, cutting off an escape by one of LFY's core players around the two minute mark and helping bring the top tower down before most characters had even hit level five. Then, as the game stretched with LFY playing amazing defence and making Liquid pay dearly for each attempt against the Dire high ground, Mind Control helped halt the other side's resurgence with a clutch sneak play.
Ahead in kills and ready to re-balance the table, LFY went into to the Rosh pit to gain the life-restoring Aegis and some spare gold for the team. With their Terrorblade still dead, however, Liquid weren't in much of a position to contest it and try to force LFY off the opponent.
That's when Mind Control lets Furion do what Furion does best: teleport into the middle of an objective and cause chaos. The only character in the game that can permanently teleport anywhere on the map at a moment's notice, playing against the hero means having to always be prepared.
Smartly, however, Liquid sent in two of their players first as a distraction, one LFY was only to happy to indulge as their own Bat Rider lassoed the Venomancer to bring it deeper into the pit. With vision for Liquid established, Mind Control was able to sprout out of nothing at the exact perfect moment when LFY had just killed Rosh and the Aegis was left sitting on the ground up for grabs. This is every Furion player's dream, and Mind Control made it look almost choreographed.
Every Furion player's second dream is to solo split-push an opponent's base while they aren't looking. Liquid had already done most of the work as a team, but LFY had one building still standing which was preventing their European counterparts from getting the advantage of Mega Creeps (super-strong AI-controlled allies) to effectively end the game. Miracle had tried earlier in the match to destroy the objective himself but was unsuccessful. LFY were doing everything in their power to protect it and even his level 25, six-slotted Terrorblade wasn't enough to take its remaining HP away.
You can't spend the entire third act of a Dota match in the home base, however, and sooner or later LFY were forced to go abroad in search of objectives and team fights. They found one at the top of their jungle too, getting the jump on Liquid and seeming to further turn the tide of a war they'd been loosing for over half an hour. But then they made a mistake.
LFY killed Furion early in the team fight. Battles in Dota move fast and are extremely complex. It's hard enough just using all of the abilities and items you have at your disposal and targeting the right opponents, let alone remaining vigilant about everything else going on around the map. In the heat of the moment, LFY could have been forgiven for thinking that Furion, who immediately bought back after being killed, might teleport back to the fight to try and save his teammates.
He didn't though, instead realising that a better opportunity lay far away back at LFY's base where a last, lone racks had been left unprotected. Teleporting there and immediately laying siege, it took LFY precious seconds to realise what was going on and respond effectively.
One of the team's players was able to buyback after dying and try to respond, but by the time the rest of the team showed up it was too late. Even as they killed Furion a second time, the dye had already been cast. The hero has been a strong pick in recent months, bolstered by the last series of patches to the game, but even outside of the meta his unique attributes, especially his teleportation ability (although making little armies of sapling buddies is cool too), make him not only one of the most fun to watch but also one of the game's most dynamic.
I've spent way too many pub matches picking the character not because I want to win but because I want to have fun, much to my random teammates' frustration. But in the hands of one of the best Furion players in the world, like Mind Control, the hero can make sick plays and win you the game.