The Dota 2 season is already underway, the many crazy roster moves suggest this could be one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in recent memory. Rather than give you our own thoughts, we wanted to bring in an outside expert, and immediately contacted our favourite commentator Darren ‘KillerPigeon’ Elmy, a man with an overview of the scene who could really give you the top-down, “Pigeon’s-eye” view of the proceedings.
Which team are you most excited to watch this season?
There's plenty of teams with unique and intriguing angles, but I think even after the initial announcement at the start of the season I still find myself excited to see what Alliance can do with Fata now in the position five role. I always find it exciting when we get these straight-out-of-left-field role changes, you usually see these players bring a whole new perspective to the role and the hero pool that was previously held as typical - combine that with a new patch that's introduced large changes to the game and I'm excited to see what Fata shows us. Outside that the rest of the team are incredibly mechanically gifted players that I think with some time and flexibility could easily become a team to be feared.
Which team are you most confused about prior to the season starting?
I think maybe LGD would be the biggest surprise for me, not because they should change their roster, but that they didn't. I think when a team gets pipped at the post twice in a row like this frustration can set in and we often see teams jump the gun or begin the blame game. Most people are going to be confused by this saying “they're getting top 3 at TI” but you have to understand that to a competitor who dreams of winning TI it doesn't matter if you get a 2nd, 3rd, 8th or 12th place finish, you're still not the winner.
I think it really speaks to their faith in one another that they're trying again with the same roster, minus the coach of course, because sadly the standard right now is all too often the coach is the first casualty of shuffles. Other side mentions would probably be Hippomaniacs parting ways: the bro-mittment is dead. There’s also Gambit and the radical changes that in fairness seem to be paying dividends.
Which org had the best shuffle, and which had the worst in your opinion?
In comparison to their previous line-up I'd probably have to go with Beastcoast for best, I think the new team meshes a lot better than the former did and has more potential with their configuration. Worst goes to Mineski - I can't think of any more painful example than having a 9th-12th TI team and then having everyone leave and no one to replace them with.
Where would you like to see SumaiL end up in a dream world, and where do you think he’ll realistically end up playing this season?
In an ideal world for SumaiL, Icefrog buffs Techies and Storm Spirit, then you get the TI5-winning squad back together and retcon their memories, so they don't remember whatever reason they broke apart.
In the real world, however, he has two choices: either he's going to have to try and build a team around himself – which won't be easy and likely he won't have the best choices on the table available to him. I'd say it's the move he should be making while his name and skill is still seen and proven. Choice number two is he just finds something else to pursue until teams start to get complacent and begin shuffling out players. Ana's proven you can take long breaks from Dota and still come back at the top of the game, so I'd honestly say there's no harm with him chilling for now and maybe pursuing other avenues.
How will EG do post-sumaiL?
We’ve seen a few initial teething issues but EG should prove a formidable force given some time. I don't think there's any member of that squad that people would question the individual skill of, the question in people's mind should be whether the individual players will be able to mesh well and work in unison. I think it's going to be interesting, especially watching Ramzes evolve in the three position. His ability to follow team direction and be the gap filler in their drafts and playstyle will likely be key to EG’s success.
Are there any players you’re looking forward to seeing this year, particularly new faces?
I think gpk is the obvious choice. This kid is like a new coming of Dota, watching him play his laning phases is an incredible eye-opener – he has a deep understanding of the limitations of his heroes and clearly likes to play on the higher end of the risk/reward ratio. It's going to be interesting to see how that style develops with time, as it's one we've seen in the past and usually the players tend to calm over time and become more prudent.
Personally, I'd love to see him keep that hyper-aggressive, almost cocky lane presence, but you have to be aware that a lot of good teams have a mid that understands his style, and in many cases has been that type of player himself. In fact, more so than that, many a team has four other members that will look to exploit your flashy and aggressive lane style.
Also, epileptick1d comes to mind as a guy who has a lot of potential and is clearly working hard to shake off his pub mentality. Usually these pub stars struggle at first because they have to change the way they've conceived Dota for a long time – for them it's basically been a bit like playing 1v9, as you focus on how you individually can win the game yourself and what it's going to take.
Obviously, this doesn't work in a team and instead you have to learn to flex around your teammates and figure out when a different member needs to be enabled, and who that is. I think moving him off his comfort heroes such as Naga and Phantom Lancer has helped a lot in this regard, those two heroes are perfect examples of 1v9 type heroes where you get sucked into your own game where you can't trust anyone else.
Throwing him on Drow Rangers and Bloodseekers seems to have helped him become more aware of team dynamics. I kinda look like a CIS fanboy or something here, but it's more that these two are great examples of players with strong individual/pub styles that are going to evolve a lot in the coming months as they're exposed to the pro scene more and more.
Finally, what would you rename ‘Nigma Gaming’ to?
PRO could be pretty good – as in “Public Relations is Overrated”. They've stated the name is meant to be Arabic for star... but that's Najma, so that one doesn't fully add up. It honestly just looks like they were really big fans of NigmaNoname, which actually gives me an idea for a much better team name: No Name. It's a little meme-y and “appropriately esports” in the silly name category, but at the same time you could actually build a pretty cool brand around it.
Photo credit: Official Photo Bank from EPICENTER / EPICENTER 2018