The long road to next year's International begins in earnest with the Frankfurt Major, but ESL One New York was the first chance to see the world's best Dota 2 teams play the latest patch with serious money on the line. Given how much was going on this last weekend in League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, you'd be forgiven for missing the best bits.
An unlikely escape: Team Secret vs. Fnatic
Team Secret shook things up on the tournament's first day by picking Bane, Necrophos, and Io. The unconventional trio paid off quickly, drawing first and second blood in just over a minute. Unfortunately, this left the latter two heroes stranded between a forest and enemy territory. Their opponents, Fnatic, sent the heavy-hitting Spirit Breaker bounding across the map to capitalize on their vulnerability.
Necrophos and Io didn't stick around to let him. Rather than trek around hostile towers and heroes they went through the forest. Necrophos consumed the first tree with his last restorative Tango. Io, meanwhile, knocked down the rest of the offending foliage using his ability to pull himself towards his ally. It was a move that had to be executed just right. It was, keeping Fnatic from what should have been easy revenge.
Luna drops the moon on Slardar: Virtus Pro vs. Invictus Gaming
Luna's ultimate ability, Eclipse, is a tricky thing. Its destructive beams of moonlight are devastating, but the way it selects its targets at random can be frustrating. Of course, that's not an issue when there's only one target in range.
Invictus Gaming had just lost the latest in a string of bad fights with Virtus.Pro when they chased Luna into their own jungle. Luna, played by VP's Illidan, was in no condition to fight. She had just a sliver of health after the successful battle. Slardar, played by IG's Rabbit, was just the opposite. He was freshly respawned and looking to get absolutely anything in return for his fallen comrades.
Maybe that's why he made such a severe mistake. By chasing Illidan up into the jungle's high ground Rabbit lost sight of his opponent. This gave Illidan plenty of time to line up the perfect ult. With just the one target, Eclipse chewed through the desperate fish-man like he was slathered in tartar sauce.
Elder Titan says no: CDEC Gaming vs. Team Secret
At ESL One New York, Team Secret picked the lesser-spotted Elder Titan. More than that, they actually won. Convincingly. The match wasn't exactly borne on the shoulders of team captain Puppey's actions through the hero, but he had his moments. Moments like the one depicted above.
Using his stomp, Puppey put his opponent Shiki to sleep an instant before he would have destroyed a middle tower. Puppey denied him the satisfaction (as well as gold and experience) by demolishing the structure himself. That's when Team Secret's w33 appeared. Taking advantage of Puppey's lengthy setup, he shackled Shiki to a nearby tree and together the two annihilated the CDEC Gaming player.
The whole exchange was over before the tower's rubble cleared, but Elder Titan proponents will likely point to it for weeks to come.
Windranger gets tossed into jail: Vega Squadron vs. Team Secret
Io and Tiny is a combination with enduring popularity. The former is the wheelman, the latter is the muscle: the two complement each other perfectly. Case in point: the first game of the ESL One New York grand finals.
It was a sight audiences have seen a hundred times, but with a twist. Vega Squadron's Io teleported his partner nearly on top of Team Secret's Windranger. The classic one-two punch followed. Tiny first stunned, then tossed his prey to a nearby ally. As always, the damage was enormous, but there was a chance, however small, that Windranger could have escaped. That is if the third party hadn't been Clockwerk, who snapped her up in a whirling prison of cogs almost as soon as she landed.
Anti-Mage can't catch a break: Vega Squadron vs. Team Secret
Anti-Mage can be hard to catch, thanks to his ability to blink at will. That's doubly true in the case of a player as experienced with the hero as Team Secret's EternalEnvy. Trapping him takes determination. Vega Squadron's Mag seems to have that, at least.
After he caught EternalEnvy farming Vega's side of the map Mag blindly harpooned himself to the already fleeing burglar. This canceled EternalEnvy's attempt to teleport home, and gave Mag's teammate Solo time to enter the fray. Together they dropped Anti-Mage to just sliver of health, but it didn't end there.
EternalEnvy blinked away again—this time to higher ground. Not about to lose him, Mag fired himself upwards using Force Staff. Unfortunately, he overshot and went right past his quarry. Still not giving up, he summoned a row of cogs to push Anti-Mage back towards Solo. Just one push away from toppling over, EternalEnvy used the last of Anti-Mage's energy to hop away a final time—into the waiting arms of an ally with a healing item.
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