The pinnacle of Dota 2 is The International (TI), where the best of the best players in the world pull out the best strategies and plays in pursuit of the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a multimillion-dollar prize pool.
While scrubs like us won't know how it feels like to play for such high stakes, we can get very close by emulating the big plays we see at TI to help us in our pursuit of that precious +25 MMR or all-green page.
Read on for three TI-winning plays from TI11 that you can do in your pubs to feel like a TI player, even if the most you'll get is some MMR (or a tilted enemy team):
Damage mitigation is the new meta, so buy Wraith Pact
Tundra Esports went on one of the most dominant runs in TI history to claim the Aegis of Champions at TI11, with one of the keys to their victory being their deep understanding of the metagame during the tournament.
Or maybe it's more accurate to say that they were the ones who dictated the meta of TI11, which was all about damage mitigation. And the one thing that makes damage mitigation such a strong strategy is the (perfectly balanced, I'm sure IceFrog will say) Wraith Pact.
You should know what Wraith Pact does by now, as it has undoubtedly been one of the strongest items in the game. It allows you to summon a movable totem that reduces the damage dealt by all enemies in a 900 radius by a whopping 30% for the relatively cheap price of 4,050 gold. As a cherry on top, it also gives you and your allies an aura that buffs your own damage and armor as well as giving lifesteal.
While most teams at TI11 did buy Wraith Pact, Tundra pushed the damage mitigation strat to its limits by also having Neta "33" Shapira (best offlaner in the world, by the way) buy Pipe of Insight or Crimson Guard on top of Wraith Pact while having another core buy Mage Slayer.
Having all those items basically guarantees that the enemy won't have enough damage to kill you in teamfights because their damage output is either being reduced or blocked. There's no real way to counter that in the game right now.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of Tundra's 5head damage mitigation strat, check out the deep dive that analyst Kevin "Purge" Godec did on his Twitter below:
Gonna reiterate the mechanics that @TundraEsports abused to win TI. Pick good offlane who buys Wraith Pact:
Wraith Pact 30% damage reduc -> 70% dmg
Mage Slayer 35% reduc -> 45.5% dmg
Pipe blocks 400 raw dmg, 879 equiv.
Pipe Aura 15% red -> 38.67% dmg
Base Res 25% -> 29%
— Purge - Kevin Godec (@PurgeGamers) October 30, 2022
With that said, let's be honest, it's hard to pull off such a big-brain strat in your pubs with a bunch of randoms. You can try to coordinate with them, but there's a good chance that the damage mitigation strat you want to run will just turn into a MMR reduction strat instead.
So, just pick a good offlane or position 4 hero that isn't reliant on items to be effective, like Tidehunter, Beastmaster, or Dawnbreaker, and buy a Wraith Pact as your first core item. There's a good chance the enemy team won't buy one, in which case you should win the teamfights and the game.
But if they do, just buy a Pipe of Insight or Crimson Guard depending on what type of damage the enemy lineup deals. Heck, you can even go for both. Or go all-in and buy Mekansm and turn it into Guardian Greaves. Sure, you won't deal much damage yourself, but the enemy team won't be able to kill you in return. They're a stoppable force, so just become an immovable object. Guess who wins?
This strategy won Tundra TI11, so it should win you some MMR, at least until IceFrog nerfs it into oblivion in the post-TI patch.
Create a fourth lane, make the enemy carry despair
Here's another Tundra classic. 33 and Martin "Saksa" Sazdov must be the most frustrating duo to play against if you're a carry, as they will do whatever it takes to make sure you have a miserable laning stage.
Case in point, game one of Tundra's upper bracket finals showdown versus Team Secret. Saksa on Tiny pulls Secret's creep wave into the jungle, forcing Clement "Puppey" Ivanov on Disruptor to also pull Tundra's creep wave to create a 'fourth lane' in between Secret's tier one and tier two mid towers. All the while, 33 on Broodmother is bullying Remco "Crystallis" Arets on Monkey King.
Imagine you're Crystallis in this situation, how tilted do you think you're gonna be? If we assume you're the typical Dota 2 player, you'd either be forced to last hit under tower, way out of position, or migrate to the jungle. That is, if you haven't all-chated "gg end" and gone afk in base already.
Either way, your early game is, simply put, going very badly and your mental state is most probably worse.
Now, imagine you're Saksa in that situation. You get to last hit and make the enemy carry miserable. Sure, the enemy support got some creeps in by countering your pull with one of their own, but you can just keep on pulling wave after wave, giving you and your offlaner virtually uncontested farm while the enemy carry wallows in despair.
If you want to do this in your pubs, make sure you let your laning partner know what you're doing. The enemy support won't even think to do a pull of their own to counter your pull, so just make sure you have a hero that can tank any harassment while you're doing so.
Pull the enemy creep wave through their jungle and past your tier one (or even tier two tower) to meet a new creep wave that spawns. Get some last hits if you're able to, give most of it to your offlaner, then deny as many of your own creeps as possible.
After that, sit back in satisfaction knowing how tilted the enemy carry player must be.
Pick Leshrac, do the Pulse Nova trick, and be an unstoppable Disco Pony
Leshrac was one of the most contested heroes of TI11, being the fourth most-picked hero with 77 appearances and a 57% win rate. That's crazy good.
One of the reasons why Leshrac was such a strong hero at TI11 was Bloodstone, which gave insane spell lifesteal and mana regeneration — two things that Leshrac loves other than melting enemy heroes with magic damage. It's nutty that Bloodstone is garbage on any other hero and absolutely broken on Leshrac (this item is gonna get another rework very soon, I guarantee it).
While it's easy enough to pick Leshrac and buy Bloodstone, there's still more you can do with the hero to really push it to its limits.
One thing that a lot of Leshrac players did at TI11 was the 'Pulse Nova' trick, which let them get three pulses off instead of two when toggling the hero's ultimate on and off in quick succession. If you're wondering, this is not a bug, it's a feature.
The trick lets Leshrac farm faster and deal more damage in fights without costing him that much mana, which when combined with Bloodstone and its active, turns him into an unstoppable maelstrom of magic damage and bright particle effects.
If you want to master the Pulse Nova trick (before it gets patched out), check out this handy walkthrough by Team Bald Reborn midlaner and streamer Steve "Xcalibur" Ye here.
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