History of DotA
- Part 1 - From Aeon of Strife to 6.27
- Part 2 - Violent AOE: The 6.32 Era
- Part 3 - Fast Push: The 6.37 Era
- Part 4 - Trilane and the Global Strategy: The 6.41 Era
- Part 5 - Rise of the Blink Dagger: The 6.43 Era
- Part 6 - Lessons in Ganking from VP: The 6.48 Era
To understand the history of DotA, one must begin from Starcraft. In the early days of Starcraft, there was a UMS (Use Map Settings) map called Aeon of Strife (AoS) made by a modder called Aeon64 that featured a cooperative game with four heroes facing off against endless waves of computer-controlled creeps in four lanes. The players would have endless computer-controlled creeps on their side as well, except these were weaker than the enemy creeps.
The familiar game mechanic of the player who last-hit an enemy unit being rewarded with money can be found in this map. The game would end once key buildings on either side were destroyed or with the deaths of all four player-controlled heroes. A second version was made so that four players faced off against each other in a 2v2 fashion with endless creeps on both teams.
Once the Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (ROC) was released on July 3, 2002, Aeon of Strife was ported over to ROC where free of the limitations of the Starcraft map editor, a much more interesting game could be made. Players could gain experience alongside money, gain levels, learn more powerful abilities and buy equipment. Many of the game mechanics in modern DotA can be found in maps from this period.
The first AoS-styled map that took advantage of the ability to design custom spells provided by the powerful ROC World Editor was Valley of Dissent made by a modder called Karukef. Another modder called Eul borrowed some ideas of his predecessors to create an AoS-styled map called Defence of the Ancients (DotA), which would become one of the most popular UMS maps on Battle.net.
When Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne (TFT) came out on July 1st, 2003, Eul made a version called DotA 2: Thirst for Gamma in TFT, but it wasn't successful in replacing the original DotA that had been ported into TFT. Eul then disappeared, but not before making his code open-source.
At this time, many people modded the TFT version of DotA. These derivatives of DotA started becoming popular on Battle.net. During this time, DotA wasn't called DotA Allstars, but instead the EX series. This was the version of DotA optimized by a modder off of the ROC version. Other well-known series were the "DotA DX Series", "DotA Unforgiven" and "DotA Outland".
These ancient DotA maps led to DotA becoming one of the most popular maps on Battle.net and created very good conditions for DotA Allstars to flourish on its release.
So it was that DotA entered a new period in its history. New versions of DotA were officially called "DotA Allstars". A couple of modders called Meian and Ragn0r compiled particularly fun-to-play heroes from these different versions of DotA and put it all together calling it DotA Allstars. This is the historical reason why the term "Allstars" was added to the name. After releasing an official version of DotA that pitted Human against Orc, these talented modders stopped making new versions.
The first version of the Allstars series was "DotA Allstars Beta v0.95" released on February 3, 2004. This was a milestone in the history of DotA. In the development of later versions, the "Allstars" series was accepted as the best DotA series.
The Allstars series gradually became more balanced and refined. Once the 4.xx series was reached, DotA already carried a certain amount of influence.
At this time, a legend called Guinsoo appeared and began the 3.xx and 4.xx series. DotA Allstars v.3.0d was released in March 2004. A month later, v4.0a was released. It was the first version to feature Roshan, which was named after Guinsoo's bowling ball.
A particularly big event in the history of DotA was the release of the 5.xx series. It signaled that DotA was reaching maturity. During the 5.xx era, two changes with historical significance occurred: The competitive mode was stabilized and organized competitions emerged.
The 5.xx series inherited the essence of the 4.xx series' and also introduced many new heroes and items. It also made generated many new breakthroughs and added substance to the scope of the game. The first AI DotA map also appeared during the 5.xx era.
Since more and more players were joining, the work of making new versions had also become massive. In October 2004, Guinsoo recruited the help of fellow members from Clan TDA, Neichus and IceFrog.
The 5.xx series' first new hero was Tidehunter appearing in the 5.74 version. In the 5.75 version that followed it, Ursa Warrior and Atropos were introduced one apiece to Sentinel and Scourge. 5.76 introduced Keeper of the Light, Tinker, Ogre Magi, Pudge 2.0 and Sand King, while nerfing most of the old heroes.
The final version of the 5.xx series was "DotA Allstars 5.84c v2". This was an extraordinary version with historical significance, because the popularity of DotA had finally exceeded the confines of its players. Official, organized and influential competitive DotA began with this version. This qualifies it as the very first stable competitive version of DotA Allstars.
At the same time, 5.84 was a huge classic. Even long after 6.xx had been released, this map was still very popular. Rumour has it that even during the 6.2x era, SEA (South-East Asia) was still hosting competitions with 5.84. Out of the old-school Chinese players, I bet many fell in love with DotA during this version. Even now, this version can be found in the map directory of some Chinese cybercafés.
In truth, 5.84c wasn't actually released by Guinsoo. Due to a bug in 5.84b, a modder from Russia called True.Rus developed an unofficial 5.84c. This modder rewrote the code, reduced the load time from 3min to under 20s and fixed some bugs.
The Emergence of Organized Competitive Matches: TDA and IGS
During this period, some (very few, I think about ten) people formed the first DotA discussion forum called 9nid. This was the first semi-official DotA forum, where players would discuss DotA-related matters. Even to this day, some of the earliest members are immortalized on a list.
With the spread of WC3, DotA also became more and more popular. 9nid's users gradually increased eventually reaching a point when its servers could not withstand the traffic. At this point, the forum moved to RTSGamer. So it was that DotA leagues were formed.
The first league was Clan TDA (Team DotA Allstars) formed in April 2004. Its spread in popularity was helped in great part by the website DotA-Allstars.com founded on October 14th, 2004 by TDA member Pendragon. It was the official website for the DotA Allstars map, as well as a place for the DotA community to partake in discussions.
With DotA's growing popularity, the forum would eventually grow from to over one milion visitors every month, a million page views every day, and a staff of over 100 volunteers. Sadly, the website was shutdown in July 2010. For this reason, the official website of the DotA Allstars map was moved to PlayDota.com and the term "Allstars" was dropped from the map name.
IGS (International Gaming Syndicate) began hosting DotA competitions in 2004. The first season had 20 teams participating. The second season had 45 teams, so more and more people joined.
We have some DotA items to commemorate these old map makers:
- Eul's Scepter of Divinity
- Guinsoo's Scythe of Vyse
A Gathering of Parts: The 6.1x Era
On February 28th 2005, not soon after the release of DotA Allstars 6.00, after Guinsoo announced his departure from the map-making world, Neichus and IceFrog officially took over development from 6.01 continuing the process of improving DotA. Rumour has it that Guinsoo went into World of Warcraft. Neichus had been working on the project since October 2004.
Neichus took over the project lead position and under his leadership, Earthshaker, Tiny, Chen 2.0, Stealth Assassin 2.0, Phantom Lancer, Enchantress, Enigma, Axe, Shadow Fiend, Visage 2.0, Nerubian Weaver, Bloodseeker and Dazzle were added. After several versions, Neichus grew disenchanted with the project, so he left IceFrog as the head developer of DotA Allstars.
Perhaps it was due to 5.84 being overly amazing that many die-hard fans refused to accept the huge changes instated by the 6.xx versions. This led to the early 6.xx versions not being hugely influential. However, these setbacks couldn't stop mighty IceFrog's momentum of churning out new versions.
A common proverb is "A new broom sweeps clean." In 6.10, IceFrog made large numbers of modifications and improvements, completely remaking Faceless Void. He added a new Scourge hero, Invoker (It's like the current Invoker, but has 31 spells rather than the current 10. He was too overpowered, so IceFrog shut him in a small black room for a long time before letting him out). During the 6.1x era, IceFrog made many modifications to the old version of DotA. While fixing many bugs, he also rebalanced many heroes that were too imbalanced.
It was during this time that Heintje's Chinese 6.12 came out. This is the first 6.xx Chinese DotA version you can find. Following this, Heintje continued his efforts to translate DotA Allstars into Chinese contributing immensely to the popularization of DotA in China.
The First Light of Dawn: The 6.2x Era
On November 1st, 2005, IceFrog released DotA Allstars 6.20, which abandoned the previous snowfield theme returning to the 5.84's grassfield theme but with colours slightly altered, resulting in today's style.
In 6.20, IceFrog continued the process of nerfing many heroes. In this version, the immensely popular Prince Arthas from the campaign entered the world of DotA. In 6.21, another new hero was added. Then until 6.27, fixing bugs and balancing the game took priority. 6.27 was released near the end of November.
Since IceFrog was slow to release new versions, 6.27 lasted a relatively long time (until February 2006). After consolidating over several versions, DotA reached a new pinnacle in game balance with 6.27.
During this era, DotA Allstars became an event in the World Cyber Games Singapore 2005. 6.27b was declared to be the official version to be used in future leagues and championship tournaments. 6.27 became the second stable competitive version of DotA Allstars, the first being 5.84.
In 6.28, IceFrog added two new heroes: Witch Doctor and Spectre (back then, Spectre was considered useless). The -cs command was added (to display creep kills and denies) and a brand new loading screen. Since 6.29 had some critical bugs, 6.28 was the most stable map amongst DotA 6.2x versions.
Compared to 6.27, 6.28 wasn’t as significant a change balance-wise. The addition of two heroes was the only change. Rumour has it that to quench the gamers' desires of 6.30, IceFrog hastily rushed through that version. This led to 6.27 taking the limelight amongst 6.2x versions.
After taking over development at 6.10, IceFrog did large amounts of bug fixing and hero balance improvements in order to get an UMS map that was originally only used for sheer entertainment to take large leaps towards competitiveness. This paved a solid foundation for DotA's swift development as an e-sport. While improving hero balance, a series of new heroes, items and models were introduced strengthening the amusement factor of the game as well. This helped meet the conditions for DotA to rapidly become popular.
Happenings in the EU/NA scene
DotA's rapid popularization and balance improvements greatly increased DotA's competitiveness. Lots of teams began to emerge. Internationally renowned teams such as PluG (later known as coL or compLexity), Apex (later known as JMC or Jax Money Crew), Say Plz, Team Q, TeG (The Elder Gods) and BTo (Boomtown Odense, front-runner of JoY or Jukes on You and later, MYM or Meet Your Makers) were influential in competitions during this era. Some of these teams such as Apex had their beginnings in earlier leagues such as the IGS back in 2004-2005.
EU/NA competitions were mainly TDA and CAL, as well as Dota-League's Pick League. In the first season of Pick League taking place in November 2005, Team Q claimed victory, while BTo took first place in the next three seasons asserting their dominance.
Happenings in the Asian scene
Compared to these tournaments in EU/NA, DotA was still in an embryonic state in China. EU/NA competitions didn't have a big influence on the Chinese scene.
In China in the month of November 2005, some players famous on the U9 forum formed team GL under the leadership and organization of Xiaoxiongmao. Ever since they formed, GL has been one of China's strongest, mightiest and most low-profile teams. During the same period, Mage (not to be confused with later Russian team MaGe) and IFNT formed in succession.
The appearance of teams naturally led to contests. During the 6.2x era, there weren't many competitions. Everyone learned from each other by comparing their views on how to play the game. The records we have on matches back then doesn't amount to much. I've only noted down the influential competitions.
On February 7th 2006, a Taiwanese team was on the U9 forum challenging teams and met the recently-formed GL. Due to poor connections, the match wasn't very good. Nevertheless, the Taiwanese team used Keeper of the Light and Tinker's long-range nuke strategy which broadened the DotA worldview of GL, who had until then worked diligently on their AOE (area of effect) strategy. This also gave Chinese DotA players a taste of the fascination that exists in CW (clan wars). As the first CW match in China with some influence, it deserves mention in this history.
In March 2006, the first RDL DotA competition was hosted. Using 6.27 as the official version of the competition, the tournament originally planned to have 32 teams, but in the end only 23 teams participated. GL was too strong for the other teams and took the victory claiming the very first national Chinese title.
This tournament is something that can't be omitted from any Chinese DotA history. It could be argued that due to the experiment that was this tournament, more Chinese DotA experts switched from playing for amusement in pubs to having organized and competitive team games. This tournament also led to more people appreciating the competitive nature of DotA to break away from the preconception many people had of the game as a WC3 ladder map meant only for casual amusement.
This tournament spread the fame of first-generation Chinese teams such as GL, HUST, IFNT, Mage and EDU which declared the arrival of the strong teams. Following the popularization of replays, Chenlun, Huiyue, Xiaoxiongmao and mAroBoRo (Wanbaolu) and other players left a deep impression in people. They were the first generation Chinese DotA stars. They were also who DotA beginners tried to model themselves after.
During the 6.27 era, the mainstream strategy was AOE. For late-game, the 4-protect-1 strategy was also developed. The most famous strategy was the Divine Aegis (Divine Rapier, Aegis of the Immortal) Medusa. These strategies flourished through the 6.32 era until the 6.37 era.
The above represents the prehistory portion of DotA.
The 6.3x versions yielded two stable competitive versions: 6.32 and 6.37. The changes in the mainstream playstyle that occurred between the two versions made two successive competitive versions into completely different eras. During the 6.32 era, the mainstream strategy still followed the previous 6.27 era's AOE strategy, but due to some gameplay and item changes, a fast push strategy became the most popular strategy in 6.37. The 6.3x versions played a large part in shaping later DotA.
In April 2006, DotA Allstars 6.30 was released. DotA entered the 6.3x versions and a new era had arrived.
The 6.30 version lasted a very brief period, but it still gave signs that DotA had entered a flourishing period. In 6.30, aside from balance improvements and the addition of new heroes, there were also two very important changes: the AI slot that exists in many WC3 ladder maps was removed in favour of observer slots. This allowed the possibility of a neutral host and for matches to be broadcasted through Waaagh!TV. This change made DotA more suitable as a spectator e-sport.
In May 2006, the 6.32 version was released. This was another classic version of DotA following the stable competitive version 6.27. In comparison, the Chinese version of DotA Allstars 6.32 wasn't released until August.
Before releasing a changelog, the Chinese version first released a FAQ addendum that answered some questions posed by beginners such as how to farm, where the secret shop is located, questions about orb-stacking and so on. It could be said that Heintje put more than 100% of his heart into popularizing DotA in China.
Happenings in the EU/NA scene
During this era, influential teams included coL (compLexity), JMC (Jax Money Crew), tPD (Team Pandemic), vRG (veRGe), Say Plz, Team Q and BTo (Boomtown Odense). Even though EU (European) teams were also widely influential during this era, for brevity's sake, only the NA (North American) teams will be explained in this section, with more of an emphasis placed on EU teams during Part 3 of this history.
During this era, the most important NA competition was the CAL (Cyberathlete Amateur League). The first three seasons were contended over by the four teams coL, JMC, tPD and verGe with their skill levels being such that they could dethrone each other at any given time. coL dominated the scene for quite some time, before they were defeated in a 2-0 upset by JMC during the finals of the first CAL season. However, coL would get their revenge in the second season as they dethroned JMC to become champion.
Influential teams and star players:
coL was the first NA powerhouse. Originally called clan PluG, coL was one of the first DotA teams to get sponsored. They were a team with strong individual skill and impressive results. Aside from their influential playstyle, coL players also became the first-generation of DotA stars who everyone tried to model their own play after. coL.Fear and coL.ezy were particularly influential.
coL.Fear was renowned in all aspects of his play. Aside from tournament replays, he also had many IH (in-house) replays. He played all sorts of heroes and had a deep understanding of every single hero. His grasp of match tempo and when he should engage were very outstanding. Fear's beginnings were in the IGS (International Gaming Syndicate) where teams would join other clans' Battle.net channels and ask to play. It was very common for teams to play 3v3 in this league. His first clan was "OwNT". Later, he formed the famous clan PluG which would become the juggernaut that was coL.
Recognized as DotA's strongest player of the time, Fear became the very first player in the world of DotA to reach Legend status. Many players watched his replays in order to learn from his play. Later after coL had disbanded, in a vote held by GotFrag in 2007 for the Top 10 DotA players of All Time, Fear still claimed 5th place despite the poll having been held over 6 months after he had retired (he has since made a comeback). This goes to show how considerable Fear's influence truly was.
coL.ezy was the era's most famous farmer after JMC.Merlini. Nowadays, everyone knows how important last-hitting and farming is, but back then not many players focused on the fundamentals. ezy's epic replays playing Clinkz showed everyone firsthand how important last-hitting and farming was. It was only after watching his replays that many people began to practice last-hitting diligently as a fundamental skill in DotA.
Aside from coL, JMC was another NA powerhouse. Also originating from the days of the IGS league, the team was called FAG (Fang and Gang) named after JMC's captain. The name was changed to Apex to make the process of signing up for competitions smoother. Upon receiving JMC's sponsorship, the name was once again changed. Everyone on the team was of Chinese ethnicity. Beyond a doubt, Merlini's influence was the greatest. He played the most imbalanced Silencer of the time, which combined with the dream-like grandeur of his playstyle and his breathtaking performances filled countless DotA players with admiration. It was during this era that Merlini raised Silencer to the hero's peak of popularity. Merlini first made his name in IHLs (in-house league) where dominance in solo lanes, farming and clutch moves made him memorable.
Another member of JMC called inDe_eD also had exceptional ability. He introduced many heroes into CW (clan wars). For example, he was the first to use Silencer in a competitive match. He wrote many DotA hero guides and articles on hero selection analysis. Many were translated into Chinese and provided excellent advice to aspiring DotA players.
tPD was the third team that caught people's attention. Originally called team ADA (Arrogant DotA Arseholes), the team received Team Pandemic's sponsorship. As coL's strongest rival, they often experimented with new strategies using unorthodox heroes. They continuously changed roles between teammates to try to get themselves used to hero combinations, thus playing with flair and originality. This got many people to notice them. Even their opponents could make no secret of enjoying watching them play. Merlini and p0c would both later profess that tPD was their favourite team.
tPD.Fachh was tPD's captain. Also of Chinese descent, he attained the acme of perfection with Juggernaut bringing the hero into a new light. Juggernaut had long been one of the least popular DotA heroes. Fachh's legendary performances showed everyone the incredibly destructive force that laid within, leading to his and Juggernaut's popularity.
verGe was the fourth big NA team. Originally called WaC, they were eventually able to outlast the other three teams and get eMg's (eMazing Gaming) sponsorship. Later on, they made it so big that one of the oldest NA e-sports gaming organization EG (Evil Geniuses) sponsored the team.
Happenings in the Asian scene
During the period of time between 6.27 and 6.32, Chinese DotA developed quickly. It became the most popular map on college campuses. Not merely did it grow rapidly in numbers of players, but large amounts of EU/NA tournament replays and hero guides flooded intoChina. High quality forum posts and hero guides began to emerge in large numbers. The level of Chinese DotA began a speedy ascent.
During the 6.32 era, there were two major competitions in China. One was the first U9 DotA Invitational. The other was the CPL DotA Challenge Competition. In June and July 2006, The first U9 DotA Invitational was held with 30 teams participating. GL took first place, IFNT second place. In August, RN held a fierce competition from which IFNT emerged victorious.
In October 2006, the famous e-sport organization CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) hosted a DotA tournament in China. It excited many DotA fans endlessly. This event's grand finals were the first LAN (local area network i.e. offline) event in China to have widespread influence. In the end, lzlqcl-led Nebula team returning from overseas took first place, HUST took second place and GL's two teams third and fourth places.
This LAN event provided an excellent stage for the leading Chinese DotA teams and players to interact with each other. I can't help but mention that GL saved up for a rainy day. After the tournament ended, they were vigorous keeping up relations with players who caught their eye in the tournament. So it was that PLU's Snoy, Nebula's Zilong (later known as Longdd), Zhanguotianxia's DC were all poached by GL later on. To say GL's manager was farsighted would be an understatement.
This tournament also encouraged two companies (now DotA-related) to take interest. One was OGame.net's DotA division that relied on fast-breaking news and replay releases to become the biggest replay download and DotA news site in China. In the beginning of year 2008, they made the strategic decision to transfer all DotA content to SGamer.com before shutting down. The other company was the VS gaming platform that relied on the simplicity and competitive nature of its point-based system, quickly becoming the most popular DotA gaming platform in China.
Influential teams and star players:
After being tested by several tournaments, a few teams stood out from the rest. For a considerably long period of time, they stood on the highest pedestal of Chinese DotA: GL, IFNT and HTML were the three most exceptional teams. After winning CPL, Nebula went through a period where no news was heard from them. After this period, they declared that they were going to disband.
If GL was a living person, this person could be said to have aristocratic blood running through their veins. Even just after they formed, they already were a top-tier team. After Tossgirl (not the female Starcraft progamer from Korea) who'd received abundant CW experience overseas returned to China on vacation, GL inherited the most advanced strategies of the time. When the playstyle of Chinese DotA wasn't yet mature, Tossgirl's strategic understanding and experience gave GL a firm seat on the throne of Chinese DotA for a considerably long period of time. At the same time, GL was under excellent management and were strict to the point of ruthlessness in their test for players interested in joining the team, thereby ensuring that every team member had top-notch individual skill. These factors combined to allow GL reign as the strongest team in China for a long time.
IFNT followed the model by letting overseas Chinese students onto the team in April 2006. Once the strong EU team Dcn's overseas students returned to China and joined IFNT in succession, IFNT received advanced strategy and the valuable tournament experience accumulated in EU DotA leagues. Afterwards, IFNT was filled with numerous talents and for a time held the moniker "When all the pieces are in place, IFNT is invincible." It's a shame one or two players weren't able to attend the competitions...
HTML was a team formed by ice_show (At the time DotA.cn's head admin. DotA.cn was the go-to forum in China if you wanted to improve) and Heintje (translated Chinese versions of DotA). The charisma of these two people drew players from all around China to their team. It was only that the skilled players were all in EU/NA and Chinese players were still weak (but were quickly improving) or else ice_show and Heintje would have enjoyed a greater degree of success.
Concurrently, DotA in SEA (South-east Asia) was also taking off rapidly. They adopted -AP (All Pick) mode favouring ganks. This playstyle was completely different from the EU/NA's preference of -LM (League Mode) for competitions where players would focus on lane-control. Originally, Chinese DotA players consisted of students who'd gone to EU/NA to study, so their playstyle and competitive mode (i.e. -AP) were modeled after EU/NA. SEA replays and forums weren't prevalent in China, which limited the influence the SEA playstyle had on Chinese DotA.
Nevertheless, teams such as Singapore's Zenith, the Philippines' Team Flow and Team 129 had some replays showing Chinese players the fierce and captivating nature of a frenzied gank playstyle. In particular, Zenith's novel playstyle and use of unorthodox heroes completely captivated the viewer's gaze.
Mainstream strategies and hero picks
AOE was mainstream during the 6.32 era. Whether it was 5 AOE spellcaster push strategy or AOE 4-protect-1, you didn't go without fierce AOE coordination. This is why the 6.32 era is often referred to as the "AOE era".
During the 6.32 era, the mainstream strategy still followed the previous 6.27 era's AOE strategy of emphasizing harassment against opponents in-lane, so roaming ganks weren’t a common sight. Upon acquiring a certain amount of superiority or after completing an essential item (Mekansm, for example), the team would gather to push.
The inspiration of this playstyle perhaps came out of traditional Western concepts of warfare such as forming into ranks and firing off volleys (of spells in the case of DotA). After an intense AOE spellcaster battle began, triple and ultra kills were not uncommon. Rampages also weren't rare. (Note: The sounds for "ultra kill" and "rampage" didn't exist back then. You could only hear a repeat of "triple kill") The AOE strategy required extremely good coordination from teammates. This is why early DotA teams from the AOE era endured a trial by fire and perhaps had better teamwork than later teams.
Mekansm ad infinitum
The 6.32 version's Mekansm heal could be stacked. Since Sentinel could not withstand the five spellcaster mass AOE push by the Scourge, a 4-protect-1 strategy protecting Silencer was developed, who was a good physical DPS (damage-per-second) hero as well as the bane of any AOE strategy. Thus this led to Scourge developing a 4-protect-1 strategy around Visage.
Late in the 6.32 era, nearly all Chinese teams were using the 4-protect-1 strategy. Despite being 4-protect-1, there was still an abundance of AOE. The ganking 4-protect-1 had also emerged, but it wasn't mainstream, because ganking hadn’t matured yet.
Aside from Silencer and Visage during the 6.32 era, Morphling and Clinkz were also common sights in CW. Morphling's “morph” ability and his ultimate "replicate" were good weapons to deal with Visage. The despicable Divine Aegis strategy used by Clinkz was an endless source of headache for Sentinel heroes.
Aside from these physical DPS heroes, AOE heroes including Enigma, Crystal Maiden, Rhasta and Krobelus were all popular during the 6.32 era. Furthermore, Lich's nearly 100% appearance rate in CW during the 6.32 era shows that he was the hottest hero during the era (cheesy pun, because if something gets cold enough, it will feel like getting burned by something hot). For many teams, the test for players interested in joining the team was facing Lich 1v1 solo-mid using Silencer.
The above represents the violent AOE era of DotA's history.
On September 10th 2006, DotA Allstars 6.37 was released. On December 6th, the Chinese version came out. The 6.37 version was the second stable competitive version in the 6.3x series. There were many big changes that finally brought an end to the AOE (area of effect) era and marking the beginning of the fast push with summons strategy.
Happenings in the EU/NA scene
As promised, this section will focus mainly on the European (EU) scene since the previous dealt mostly with the North American (NA) scene. The international-scale of competitions during this era brought to a clash the EU and NA powerhouses of DotA. Due to EU's success in the ESL (E-Sports League) DotA Premiership and the MYM Prime Defending (Meet Your Makers) series that followed, as well as the instability and eventual disbandment of old NA powerhouses coL (complexity), JMC (Jax Money Crew) and tPD (Team Pandemic), it could be said that NA lost to EU its position as the centre of the DotA world.
The most important competition during the 6.37 era was the ESL DotA Nations Cup. Participating teams numbered 12 in total including NA powerhouses coL, JMC and tPD, as well as strong EU teams such as Team Q, Say Plz, TeG (The Elder Gods) and JoY (Jukes on You). Without a doubt, these were the top teams of the time. Since the competition stretched so long in duration, teams disbanded and players didn't always remain with original teams for the entirety of the competition. Nevertheless, this was the most high-skilled international tournament before the MYM Prime Defending series of competitions.
The most dominant team in the ESL was tPD. Early in the 6.37 era, tPD experimented with Pandaren Brewmaster, Syllabear and other heroes before finding the perfect meat shield for a fast push strategy: Bristleback. From that point onwards, the Bristleback, Enchantress, Twin Head Dragon, Beastmaster and Holy Knight lineup swept aside all teams at ESL who had no way to withstand their onslaught.
It was a shame that at a critical juncture in the tournament, the Bristleback God that was SwissBeatz became inactive having gotten into World of Warcraft (WoW). Then, Say Plz stole tPD's own strategy and used it against them sending them into the losers' bracket in the semi-final match. In the losers' bracket, Team Q followed Say Plz's initiative and eliminated the inventor of the fast push with summons strategy. It's lamentable that tPD fell into a downward spiral soon after.
In the finals of the ESL after Say Plz won Game 1 due to one of Team Q's players (CatQ) having internet issues and the team being forced to use a stand-in, they fought a bitter, hard-fought 2h 30m 46s match against Team Q. After a heaven-startling and earth-shaking comeback (no pun intended), they managed to claim victory. This was one of the most classic matches in the history of DotA.
On November 6th 2006, after hosting three small-scale DotA tournaments that didn't have much worldwide impact, e-sports organization MYM held the MYM PriDe Xtreme #1 Tournament (Prime Defending) filled with high-skilled players. From MYM PriDe #5 onwards, this tournament series would go on to become the most influential online DotA competition in the world. MYM PriDe Xtreme #1 was won by the old school Romanian team TeG who defeated coL and Team Q on their way to the finals. Second place was claimed by Say Plz
The famous EU DotA website DotA-League held the 6th season of its popular online tournament Pick League. Each team would accumulate points based on victories. In the end, the German team WE (World Eaters) won. WE|Kuroky had made his mark on the world of DotA for the first time.
During this tournament in a match between MYM and WE, the recently-joined MYM.Merlini used for the first time ever in a competitive match Boots of Travel (BoT) Tinker strategy of flying everywhere on the map to gank. So it was that a classic DotA strategy emerged. Later, in the 6.52 era, Indonesia's XcN (eXeCutioNer) would bring the BoT Tinker strategy to its pinnacle.
Surprisingly, this strategy was developed by a pub player called Virot2 who had been perfecting it since 6.27. He published an influential guide between the 6.32 and 6.37 versions that was the first to advocate such a build considered highly unorthodox at the time. If there was a case of a pub player revolutionizing the DotA world, this would be it.
Influential teams and star players:
On September 29th, the famous 6.32 era team JMC announced that it was disbanding.
On November 15th, 2006, e-sports organization MYM began sponsoring the recent winner of MYM Prime tournament, JoY, thus prompting them to change their name to the one we're all familiar with. The key members were Paccie, MaNia, Maelk, Akke and Loda (stands for Lord of Dol Amroth). Half a month later, they claimed victory in the DotA category of the renowned LAN (local area network, i.e. offline) tournament DreamHack. After winning the tournament, Loda and Akke left MYM to form a new entirely-Swedish team called T_T (Team_Team). After Loda left, MYM reached out to members from the disbanded JMC. The addition of Merlini, Fang and p0c boosted MYM's popularity and prestige making it one of the most followed teams.
During the 6.37 era, the most influential team was tPD without a doubt. Despite not being able to win ESL, their fast push strategy became 6.37's tempo. If it wasn't for SwissBeatz giving up DotA for WoW, we can rest assured that their exploits would have been even better.
The Russian giant Say Plz began their march towards DotA world’s limelight. In terms of popularity Say Plz, as one of the oldest teams in DotA, had already supplanted coL. They were considered one of the best teams in the world playing with maturity, having stable players and rarely committing mistakes.
After being defeated in the finals of the CEVO tournament by tPD, coL began to fall apart. throzz retired, DOGKaiser fell under team verGe's enchantment and warr1ck didn't know what to do. With Fear as leader of coL, they had been one of the strongest teams in the 6.32 era.
iMbaQ had served for a time on Say Plz and STFU (Skill The F Up). With STFU, iMbaQ an Englishman overcame historical rivalries to join forces with Frenchman and star player SoyCD. Also on this legendary team were FocusIRE (also known as DoTa[expert]), Get-Lost (FocusIRE's brother, also known as DoTa[pro]) and CatQ who were extremely skilled players in their own right. Even the legend LighTofHeaven was a stand-in on this all-star team that took MYM PriDe #2 by storm crushing the opposition.
SoyCD was a strong solo-mid player who many considered to be the best player in the world at the time. He was quite proficient in using every hero. The only other player who stood a chance to compete for the title of best player during this era would be FocusIRE. He was another strong solo-mid and had won Season 2 of Dota-League's SIG (Single Instant Game) Ladder. After STFU broke up after finishing what they had set out to do (winning MYM PriDe #2), the players left for different teams and SoyCD went to tPD.
After joining Team Q, iMbaQ played the role of a carry. With his individual ability, he served Team Q with distinction in the TFL (The Frozen League) and ESL contributing to Team Q's dominance during this period. Aside from iMbaQ, the JesseQ-led Team Q had elJefeQ, BarbaraQ, JesseQ and CatQ who were all high-skilled players and friends in this clan that has been around since the Starcraft times. PenguinQ, nRiQ, QOa and leppasQ were also in this team. iMbaQ didn't use spaces when he types, preferring the underscore instead. He had a considerable amount of personality. Some say he was the Einstein of the DotA world, so great was his influence at the time.
LighTofHeaven had become the representative of EU DotA during the 6.32 era. Following strong performances by Say Plz, he drew more and more attention due to his spectacular performances in the carry role. He combined exceptional farming capability with awe-inspiring abilities of reading the game and stability in his play. He was a pioneer of the Necronomicon Silencer item route and played a crucial role in the advancement of Silencer in terms of how he should be played.
Having joined MYM, Merlini showed a renewal of his 6.32 era prestige and influence, filling the skies with heat-seeking rockets and once again propelling himself to dazzling stardom. To say that he was the most influential DotA player in the world wouldn't be an overstatement. He became the first player after Fear to attain Legend status.
Loda, ARS-ART, M.Admiration, FocusIRE and Levent, these later stars began gaining international renown during this era.
Happenings in the Asian scene
IceFrog's 6.37 version lasted from September 1st, 2006 until February 2007, but its influence on the Chinese scene wasn't actually that extensive. It wasn't until December 2006 until the Chinese version came out and was quickly replaced by 6.41 two short months later. In between was also the Chinese version of 6.38 and the Chinese New Year. Also during the 6.37 era, there weren't any big tournaments aside from CDL-I. Compared to the EU/NA scene, the Chinese scene was quite small.
On December 7th 2006, OGame.net announced they were going to host a Chinese DotA Tournament called the CDL-I Tournament. This time, their announcement was sufficiently loud. In fact, their eye-catching advertisement was on the 6.37 Chinese version's loading screen which was just released on December 6th. This edition of the tournament stretched a very long time lasting over half a year. It strode across three competitive versions from 6.37 until 6.43.
There were 12 teams that participated. Almost all were the 12 strong teams invited by CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) as mentioned in Part 2 of this history. In the end, IFNT defeated HTML to take the victory. This was the more carefully organized online DotA tournament. Advertisements giving advance notice, replay release after the tournament and live casting were all performed fairly satisfactorily.
It is interesting to note that the now infamous trilane (3-1-1 laning) emerged during the time between the 6.32 and 6.37 eras in the SEA scene. It is rumoured to have first been used by lesser known teams at WCG Malaysia 2006 in August. The first time it can definitely be proven to have been used in a competitive match was in the semi-final BO1 (best of one) match of WCG Asia 2006 by Singapore's MI2 (stylized way of writing MR) facing their dominant countrymen, Zenith. With Zenith's star-studded squad of GPS, Ant, ToFu, LuX and iceiceice on ten month long winning streak, MI2 needed a miracle.
Facing a gank-heavy lineup from Zenith with the possibility of a dual-stun lane, MI2 ingeniously trilaned an Enigma, Vengeful Spirit, Medusa bottom against a solo Sven. Threatened with complete lane domination, Zenith was forced to pull the dual jungling Sand King and Chen all the way from Scourge jungle to bottom lane for support, costing them experience and gold. Ultimately, with Medusa strong beyond imagining, MI2 was able to take three towers with their first push and force Zenith to "gg" with the next.
On September 24th 2006, in a showmatch between MI2 and coL, Asia's gank style met EU's lane-control style to determine which one was stronger. The match became the focal point of discussion for many and appealed to countless fans.
MI2 was the winner of the most recent WCG Asia 2006 (World Cyber Games). coL had just defeated tPD and become the winner of CAL (Cyberathlete Amateur League). The two teams met at their peaks and the match attracted worldwide attention. Due to poor internet connections, both sides fought well in one match each and the contest was split one apiece.
In the first match, coL dominated with their standard AOE 4-protect-1 Clinkz. (This was still early on in the 6.37 era) In the second match, MI2 dazzled with their offensive trilane (as opposed to their farming trilane vs. Zenith).These two matches were classic matches full of historical significance. From this point on, the gank and lane-control styles of play began to interact, both trying to borrow from the strengths of the other.
Soon after this showmatch, EU and NA teams led by MYM and coL began experimenting with trilanes as a situational strategy for offensive purposes or farming. Popular picks in the SEA scene such as Viper and Queen of Pain entered the competitive pool of EU and NA DotA.
Mainstream strategies and hero picks
As alluded to previously, there were many big changes since the 6.32 version that brought an end to the AOE era and begun the fast push with summons era. These changes included:
- Mekansm could no longer be stacked.
- The items Vanguard and Bottle were introduced.
- Tangoes were buffed to heal 75 more HP (health points).
- Denied units gave off some experience instead of none.
- A reward of 200 gold was now given to team members when an opposing tower was destroyed.
Changes to game mechanics to denies as well as the buff to tangoes allowed melee heroes such as Beastmaster and Bristleback to become viable for the first time.
6.37 wasn't actually a very balanced version. Under -LM mode in 6.37, the Sentinel fast push using summons strategy with Chen and Enchantress was almost unstoppable by Scourge. Even with the Spectre trilane strategy, Scourge lost more games. This is why players began to doubt the balance of competitive matches and to consider the possibility of using -AP mode over -LM. Thus began a shift in public opinion regarding the competitive mode.
Several versions that followed 6.37 were stable competitive versions, but these versions made some important changes with some looking like they'd been made in a rush.
Birth of Bottle-Crow
6.38 introduced the new items Arcane Ring, Flying Courier, Mjollnir and Vladmir's Offering. As well, the siege unit was added as a creep type. The Bottle was buffed immensely by allowing runes to refill an empty bottle and a buff to the mana regeneration of each sip. A new hero Priestess of the Moon was introduced.
6.39 continued with the changes, the significant ones being: addition of -RD mode, addition of the OB (observer) stat table, and two new heroes, Geomancer and Dazzle.
DotA 6.3x was the era where DotA spread worldwide and continued its evolution as an e-sport. During this time, large-scale tournaments with influence worldwide were held providing the conditions for different DotA playstyles to interact (trilanes and Queen of Pain being two examples). The rationales behind different strategies blended and gained from the strengths of each other preparing for the arrival of a new era.
The above represents the fast push with summons era of DotA's history.
On February 7th 2007, DotA 6.41 was released. On February 28th, the Chinese version was released. 6.41 addressed balance problems to a large extent. It replaced 6.37 as the version used in competitive matches. 6.41 lasted a very short period as it was replaced by 6.43 a month later.
Nevertheless, 6.41 was a version with particular historical significance. In this version, -AP replaced -LM as the official competitive mode. Furthermore, there were many tournaments held using this version. For these reasons, version 6.41 was a good testing ground to pave the way for 6.43.
Happenings in the EU/NA scene
On February 28th 2007, the first large-scale -AP mode tournament was the Russian ASUS Winter Open 2007. Russia's team MaGe (Magic aGe) claimed victory. This was the first time Vigoss came into everyone's vision. Second and third place were claimed by Russian teams DoTa and Say Plz respectively.
On March 7th 2007, MYM PriDe #4 (Prime Defending) started. After experimenting with the first 3 editions, the MYM tournament has attracted the attention of the world with 137 teams participating. Compared with the first edition 3 months ago, you can see how rapidly DotA was growing. This MYM tournament had two rules that caught one's attention: firstly, Bristleback was auto-banned; secondly, every hero could only make one Aegis of the Immortal. These two rules became standard in competitions for the 6.41 version. It is also what began the legend of Bristleback's invincibility.
Soon after MYM PriDe #4 began, three Russian teams were banned from the competition: Say Plz, MaGe and a team not well known called SD. The reason was Say Plz and SD were both using a player called HoroN to play their games, but HoroN was actually MaGe's player. This led to the organizing committee banning all three teams (another rumour was that MaGe was actually banned for having used Bristleback). Say Plz's manager Matrix protested with great indignation. He claimed that even though Say Plz did break a rule, MYM's punishment was overly severe. He even went so far as to claim that kicking them out was the result of an inside plot and as may be imagined, his words caused much controversy.
This was the first significant claim of corruption in DotA tournament organizers. Following DotA's continuous development as an e-sport, everyone's standard of fair play had also increased. This is a natural development in a competitive game's path towards becoming a professional e-sport. Therefore, there's no ground for blame towards the MYM PriDe #4 tournament organizers. You can't let a team break rules just because they're famous. Without rules, nothing can be accomplished—this happened to be MYM tournament organizers' philosophy. Their decisions led to the MYM tournament series becoming famous and respected worldwide.
In MYM PriDe #4, dark horses burst onto the scene. Zenith, MYM and tPD these old-school teams got eliminated in the Round of 16 by teams no one had previously heard of. In the end, team DoTa led by core veterans FocusIRE (DoTa[expert]), Get-Lost (brother of FocusIRE, also known as DoTa[pro]) and ars-n00b (DoTa[gosu]) defeated Kuroky's upstart German team WE (World Eaters) to become champion. Worth noting is that also on this team were future stars ARS-ART and M.Admiration (DoTa[hasu]) who would go on to form the core of VP (Virtus Pro).
The disintegrating coL had to field an entirely new roster relying on ex-JMC and ex-tPD players. Their players were Fear, ezy, imMIKEJONES, Shroomz, Shaang and hit0mi with BarbaraQ, CatQ (also known as MoON, not the Korean WC3 progamer) from Team Q as stand-ins since their team wasn't participating in this MYM PriDe. Despite the lack of commitment, the team had very strong players and was very successful in the tournament making it all the way to the semi-finals where they forfeited the match to the dismay of their fans. They decided to forfeit the third-place match as well and the team disbanded soon afterwards.
On March 10th 2007, TFL (The Frozen League) began. This was the other influential competition during the 6.41 era. TFL was an invitational, but didn't invite Say Plz during their peak, so the tournament organizers were called into question. However aside from omitting Say Plz, all other strong teams participated, so it was an international-scale tournament. This competition was similar to the Chinese CDL-I tournament in that both lasted a very long time. While the tournament was running, teams dropped out one by one. Four months later, the team that began the tournament as T_T ended the tournament as SK and defeated MYM to claim victory.
There was a scandal in TFL too. During the match between TeG and VP, TeG-KANGA was caught maphacking. Soon after, TeG had another team member caught maphacking leaving no choice for TeG but to forfeit their remaining matches. TeG was an old-school Romanian powerhouse, winners of MYM PriDe Xtreme #1 (a tournament that took place between MYM PriDe #3 and #4). This scandal dragged their reputation through the mud and after the tournament, their playing ability was severely impacted. Later, they recombined with new players and while not attaining dominance, would remain a force teams needed to watch out for. So it was that TeG furthered its legacy as one of Europe's oldest teams.
On April 12th 2007, MYM PriDe #5 got off to a start. MYM PriDe #5 continued to use 6.41 as the competitive version. This was a very successful tournament as over 200 teams worldwide participated. This officially made the MYM tournament series the World Cup of the DotA world. Some even went so far as to claim that MYM PriDe #5 changed DotA, that it was the beginning of a new era by saying:
"Of course it didn't add any new heroes or items. Of course it didn't rebalance any skills. But with truth as my witness, this tournament did more for DotA as an e-sport than any of IceFrog's patches!"
Even though these words might be a bit of an exaggeration, they do have some merit. MYM PriDe #5 broadened DotA's influence on the world. The tournament's level of organization and rules set the standard for future tournaments to follow, and a provided a great opportunity for international teams to interact. Many new, original strategies were explored in this tournament. These strategies yielded better understanding of how deep DotA truly was.
In MYM PriDe #5, Loda led team T_T to abandon the by-now popular trilane strategy. He came up with a spectacular global gank strategy defeating Say Plz, annihilating DoA (Dead or Alive), overthrowing TeG, braving MaGe before finally triumphing over MYM to become victor. In an interview, Loda says that he and Bogdan perfected the concept after seeing Kuroky's WE use something similar in a scrim against them.
The global strategy is a lineup involving the heroes Zeus, Furion and Spectre. The ultimates of all three heroes have global effect and the latter two can move to an engagement happening anywhere on the map bringing great impact to small-scale battles and ganks. Back then, the global strategy was limited to these three heroes. MYM would later add BoT Tinker to the global arsenal and it would be further expanded with the introduction of new heroes such as Clockwerk Goblin, Ancient Apparition and Gyrocopter.
By necessity, a global lineup requires the team to abandon the trilane strategy, because it would be impossible for three heroes on a team to reach Level 6 in a short amount of time due to the fact that at least one out of the three will be forced to split experience on the trilane. Furthermore, this strategy could be said to be a counter to the trilane strategy in the sense that with proper execution, a team can take advantage (by ganking) of the timing window where they have ultimates on their three key heroes while the other team might still have heroes stuck on Level 5.
Early ganking cannot usually be guaranteed to succeed without a hero first farming up a blink dagger or by using Nerubian Assassin (Storm Spirit wasn't added until 6.44), but T_T managed to chance upon a clever and efficient way of ganking with the only requirement being to reach Level 6 on their key heroes.
Regarding the two heroes completing the global strategy lineup, teamfight heroes with powerfuly ultimates such as Sand King, Shadow Fiend and Warlock would often be picked. This completes the synergy with the other three "global" heroes, because the ultimates of those three are quite useful in teamfights as well. The result was a lineup strong in mid-game ganks as well as late-game teamfights.
Influential teams and star players:
The 6.41 era was quite chaotic as teams tried to find the perfect hero combination since they were no longer restrained by the Sentinel-Scourge limitation in hero choices of -LM mode. Many teams had bright points in their play. Of these teams, the team with most influence was MYM. To begin with, MYM was already a worldwide famous e-sports organization. By adding an international DotA team filled with high-skilled players, they received much attention and gained massive popularity; their replays were studied by many. This led to the rapid popularization of heroes they unearthed.
Back in the 6.37 era, MYM.Merlini had demonstrated the global gank strategy based around Tinker. Drawing on his legendary abilities to dazzle the world once more, he demonstrated that his understanding of fog was simply incomparable.
MYM.LevenT went beyond godlike with Lina nearly every match. This led to people referring to him as the “Mouth of Lina” (as if he were her spokesman). This female hero became the most popular hero in the 6.4x versions.
MYM.Fang was indisputably a legendary player at using Sand King. He took Sand King from a traditional AOE (area of effect) hero to a roaming gank hero. Sand King played the role of the "man" in the famous "Dog, Man and Woman" gank combination of the 6.4x versions.
MYM.H4nn1's mastery of all aspects of the game and his refined individual abilities got him Star status. Together with Loda, he made the 6.41 era into Shadow Fiend's era.
Aside from team MYM, the play of the eventual winners of MYM PriDe #5 T_T were the most eye-catching. Developing the global gank strategy which directly inspired VP's later full pressure gank strategy, they greatly influenced later DotA.
T_T's core player Loda demonstrated to everyone for the first time how imbalanced the 6.41 Shadow Fiend could be. From 6.41 onwards, Loda officially attained Legend status. His abundant individual ability and the unique glamour of his play gave him the capability for quite a long time to carry his relatively mediocre teammates against MYM and VP, two star-studded teams.
In the 6.41 version, Team Q's original lineup of Keeper of the Light, Earthshaker, Silencer and Shadow Fiend showed profound influence.
The Russian team MaGe were victors of ASUS Winter 2007. The team's Vigoss and Jolie were on the brink of their meteoric rise to stardom.
Happenings in the Asian scene
In March 2007, the second edition of the U9 DotA Championship was held. This was the most influential competition in Chinese DotA during the 6.41 era. At the time aside from the incredibly long CDL-I, there weren't any other competitions. From growth between 6.32 and 6.41, Chinese DotA players were blowing up in numbers forming numerous teams. This led to many DotA fans in succession registering for the U9 DotA Championship. In the end, over 60 teams participated.
This event drew many college teams out of their normal school circles letting them attend a large-scale tournament. In particular, AVNC (led by a player called 2009) and HFUT were the most successful college teams during this era.
Newcomers such as EAST, AVNC, GOW and LOST.P were incredibly strong. In matches against the old guard GL, IFNT and Nebula, their play were extremely eye-catching. In particular, the LOST.P team formed by Danche (N3komatA) was the biggest underdog. In the winners' bracket finals, they sent GL down to the losers' bracket and emerged as the darkest of the dark horses. EAST and AVNC claimed 3rd and 4th places respectively laying down fine performances.
The new generation of players including GK, 2009, 830, Soulk and Dgc were all very capable players.
Overall, this edition of the U9 competition was the first event in China to test the skill levels of the different teams. The new generation of teams and players shined on-stage. They infused the Chinese scene with a newfound source of vitality and passion.
During this tournament, VS gaming platform's CW (clan war) room became the main place for teams wanting to learn from each other. In the forums, chat between new teams and posts to schedule CWs could be found. The Chinese scene was continuing its development.
Singapore's Zenith began taking part in online EU events starting from MYM PriDe #4. Since they'd been playing -AP mode from the beginning, people gave them good expectations of winning. However due to poor connections and at times playing not very maturely, they were eliminated from TFL and MYM PriDe #4.
Nevertheless, they were the first team from Asia to go do battle in EU/NA and some of their strategies have had worldwide influence. Rushing Eye of Skadi before Boots was particularly memorable. Their strategy of switching Queen of Pain from gank to DPS (damage-per-second) would become mainstream after 6.43. Another of their contributions was five heroes getting Blink Daggers in a competitive match. Blink Daggers would become standard in 6.4x versions.
Mainstream strategies and hero picks
6.41 was the first version to use -AP mode as the competitive mode instead of -LM. Earlier on in the new version, the playstyle carried remnants of the old -LM styles: AOE, fast push and gank were all being executed using the 3-1-1 laning system. Trilanes that were seen only as a novelty in 6.37 now became mainstream.
All the teams were trying out new heroes for use in CW. After a period of feeling their way around, small-scale gank 4-protect-1 became mainstream. High burst-damage heroes took centre-stage in CW. Heroes like Shadow Fiend, Zeus, Warlock, Tinker and Nerubian Assassin became popular during this era. The Leshrac and Lina stun combo was particularly deadly. In the Chinese scene, Alchemist and Spectre were popular late-game heroes.
Later in the era, the global strategy was discovered and used to devastating effect bringing T_T the title of MYM PriDe #5. This strategy was particularly effective against the experience-starved trilane heroes on the other team. Whether it was for this reason or some other that led to the disappearance of trilanes, it is unclear. What is clear however, is that soon afterwards, the trilane strategy lost favour in the European DotA competitive community as teams resorted to the familiar 2-1-2 and sometimes 2-2-1 laning. This would not be the last the DotA world saw of trilanes.
The dazzling power of a global strategy to gank a hero anywhere on the map was truly incredible. It is theorized that this strategy became the inspiration of VP's full pressure gank strategy later on.
The above concludes the first incarnation of the trilane in DotA's history.
On September 6th 2007, version 6.48b was released and a new stable competitive version emerged.
Happenings in the EU/NA scene
In the EU/NA scene, EuroCup was 6.48's first tournament. This tournament ran into many difficulties. VP erupted with a big scandal. After the livestream was already set-up, their lineup was still incomplete. Apparently there was some miscommunication as M.Admiration was at home playing IHCS (a DotA League) rather than taking part in the competition, because he was under the belief that Sahka had been selected from their 6-player roster to play the match. This was another scandal in VP after the Profanity-Gate affair. After VP gave their explanation, the organizing committee let them off with a warning. In the semi-finals, they were eliminated by MYM 2-0.
On November 4th, MYM PriDe #8 began. Over 400 teams worldwide signed up. It became known as the World Cup of the DotA world.
On November 26th, in the ASUS Autumn 2007 tournament, Singapore's team Zenith made their first foray out of Asia. Even though they'd begun taking part in EU events since MYM PriDe #4, this was the first time they flew to EU to compete. Flying to Russia, they were eliminated in the knock-out stages by the eventual winner of the tournament Say Plz. The old rivals Say Plz and VP once again met in the finals of a tournament. VP tried to change what had worked for them for a long time by abandoning their trademark full pressure gank strategy and playing 4-protect-1 against Say Plz, who everyone knew were the masters of the 4-protect-1. The outcome naturally resulted in a rout. Say Plz simply overwhelmed them and became champion.
In early November, the official DotA website made a loud ruckus about the level of DotA in China. Evidently someone had sent them five outdated Chinese replays all containing Bristleback and in every match, the side with Bristleback won. This led to the EU/NA scene concluding the Chinese DotA to be too boring and their strategies far behind the times. Due to the bad internet provided by China Telecom, there was no way to show the true strength of Chinese DotA; they could only do battle with words.
On December 3rd in DreamHack Winter 2007, MYM defeated SK to become champion. In the finals, Priestess of the Moon's (Potm) elegance shone through thoroughly. First Loda's beyond godlike Potm struck terror into everyone's heart. Then H4nn1's Eye of Skadi, Stygian Desolator, Butterfly and Aegis of the Immortal Potm crushed SK. After their trip to ASUS Autumn, Singaporean team Zenith attended this tournament as well, but fell to SK twice: once in the winners' bracket and again in the losers' bracket. Nevertheless, it was enough to claim 3rd place.
On December 5th, MYM PriDe #8 reached its knock-out phase. In the first round, Vigoss played a hero one would get flamed for using even in pubs, Sniper. By defeating the strong Malaysian team mkvl, Vigoss's reputation was brought to a whole new level.
The final four in MYM PriDe #8 were MYM, VP, KS (Kingsurf) and SK. While no one thought much of KS, they eliminated SK and slaughtered their way into the losers' bracket finals. Every match they played was highly exciting. Yamateh's consistently exciting performances led to his rising popularity in China. On forum pages where the Chinese DotA community would comment on KS replays, KS team members would sometimes post replies, which brought them many fans in China. In the finals, the old rivals VP and MYM met once more.
After VP gave up their 1-0 winners' bracket lead in the first game, in the second and deciding match of the finals, M.Admiration in by far the most crucial juncture managed to farm up a BKB (Black King Bar) and shattered MYM's fast push. At the same time that the “Mouth of Sven” M.Admiration took his place among the legends of DotA, it is sad to note that having just returned from several month long vacation Merlini was unable to farm up his items drawing much criticism. After this match, Merlini's inspiration seemed to have run dry and a star dimmed in the heavens.
After SK was defeated by MYM at MYM PriDe #8, the founding father of SK DotA Drayich left the team to soon after join Mouz. This enabled Mouz Gaming—a reorganized BtB (Back to Basics), a team that had enjoyed some fine performances in the past—to become a major force in DotA. Also on this team were later stars PlaymatE and Miracle.
On December 20th, ESWC 2008 announced DotA as an official game title for the competition. This was particularly big event in DotA's path of becoming a professional e-sport.
On December 28th, eMg's Fire in Ice 2007 LAN tournament began. In the end, MYM defeated the American team eMg to become champion. The prize amount in this tournament was princely; the winning team secured $6000 USD.
On January 27th, MYM Prime Nations #2 began. Over 60 nations participated. China also registered, but due to it coinciding with the Chinese New Year, players couldn't meet up and practice. This reason along with the bad internet provided by China Telecom meant they would ultimately be eliminated from the tournament. In the end, the finals were between Russia and Ukraine, which Russia won to successfully defend their title.
During this tournament, matches between Germany and Singapore, and Singapore and Russia were very exciting matches between high-level players. Passionate and intense, every one of these matches was a classic.
At the same time, MYM PriDe #9 began. Two overseas Chinese student teams participated. One was IFNT's European team, the other WGA. Both were defeated in the preliminaries.
After facing a previously unheard of team in the preliminaries, the MYM referee arbitrarily accused KS of maphacking, drawing much criticism. The official DotA forums had several hundred page threads criticizing his decision, which ultimately led to the referee making an apology and withdrawing his accusation.
On January 28th, once dominant Fear and ezy re-entered the DotA scene. They formed team PluG (this was the name of coL before they got sponsored) and joined MYM PriDe #9. People had high expectations of them before the tournament. It was a shame that they were eliminated in the first round of the preliminaries.
On February 18th, Begrip Gaming added a DotA squad. It was essentially the same squad as the old Say Plz. Later, Begrip became Rush3D. Just as the competitive DotA scene was being invigorated by the return of the old Say Plz, their old rivals VP had sunk into massive trouble.
On February 22nd, SK with its thin roster was eliminated by TeG from MYM PriDe #9 only making it as far as the Last 8.
On February 24th, MYM easily defeated the Vigoss-less VP. During this period, rumours of internal disputes within VP took flight.
On February 25th in ASUS Winter 2008, VP only made it as far as the Last 16 having been eliminated by a small, previously unheard of team. The recently formed Begrip ultimately won the tournament drawing everyone's gaze.
After VP was eliminated at ASUS Winter, they immediately announced their forfeiture of MYM PriDe #9's losers' bracket final match. The Ukrainian side WG (Wolk3R Gaming) would play MYM for the final. Wolk3R Gaming was a Ukrainian team composed of Travka, DkPhobos, Axypa, GOblak (also known as Go[Blin]) and the young prodigy, Dendi. The team's manager was v1lat who would later become a famous caster. In the end, MYM finally broke the curse, easily defeating WG to win their first MYM PriDe event. At this time, there were countless MYM fans with tear-filled faces.
Just as rumours of VP disbanding filled the air, the already-thin SK roster was further depleted by the departure of two veteran members Renji and Kwom. Loda announced the search for high-skilled players fueling further speculation.
On March 2nd, shocking information finally confirmed that there were indeed internal disputes within VP. ARS-ART announced he was joining SK under the ID of SK.Djan. At the same time, the previously unknown support player Hailo was added to SK as well.
In just his first competitive match with SK, ARS-ART already showed his bloodlust. Against nEph (nEophytes), he claimed 18 hero kills in a single match. In a glance, the floundering SK had sounded its resurgence. The perfect collaboration between Loda playing carry and ARS-ART's ganking was an immediate threat to MYM's throne.
The reality unfolded very similarly to what one might imagine. On March 11th, SK neatly and skillfully defeated the recent winners of MYM PriDe #9 MYM, by winning the first season of ESL Major Series (EMS). After a brief period of stagnation, they had stormed back to reclaim their rightful place amongst the leading ranks of DotA teams. It is interesting to note that Puppey who was fairly unknown at the time began making his mark on the DotA world by helping his team XsK (Xero Skill) took 3rd place in this tournament.
Perhaps feeling the pressure soon after MYM's defeat at EMS, Maelk expanded an already luxurious roster by adding Fear and ezy. MYM's decadence had reached nine world-class players on a single team.
After ARS-ART's departure, M.Admiration suddenly left for Team Q. Facing SK and MYM's build-up of forces, VP didn't let themselves get out-played in politics, and recruited Begrip's (i.e. ex-Say Plz) veteran leader and star player LighTofHeaven, as well as the gifted youngster blowyourbrain to maintain their status as one of the top teams in the world.
On March 6th, facing competition from increasingly frequent DotA tournaments, the MYM entertainment division announced the start of MYM PriDe #10. At the same time, the newly-formed PDL (Prime Defending League) was used to help boost the visibility of MYM PriDe. The top six teams from the MYM PriDe tournament and six other invited teams would fight it out to become champion of the PDL competition.
On March 23rd, HTGL (Hostile Tactics Gaming League) competitions featured contests between high-skilled teams. The recombined VP fought MYM. New members Fear and ezy gave uninspired performances and the Maelk-less MYM once again fell to VP.
On April 7th, WG defeated the newly reformed VP to win the DTS Cup LAN tournament. The new VP squad was weakened by LighTofHeaven not being able to attend the tournament.
On April 13th, in the HTGL European finals, VP defeated SK 3-1. Following the addition of LighTofHeaven, VP's style changed from full pressure gank to 4-protect-1. With this new style, VP maintained its iron grip on the DotA world. Vigoss's gank, LighTofHeaven's carry and NS's support were an imbalanced combination. Puppey's XsK picked up 3rd place in this competition as well.
If it weren't for having broken a rule in the MYM PriDe tournament by having unrostered players fake-nick and be disqualified, it's very likely that they would've been the victors in MYM PriDe #10.
In early April, DotA's official website DotA-Allstars.com published an article discussing the -RD (Random Draft) mode. It set off a debate amongst many players regarding the possibility of -RD replacing -XL as the mode used in competitions. This debate greatly increased the visibility of -RD as a viable mode. After 6.48, -RD became the standard mode for having fun and -CM the official competitive mode. The banlist was expanded by one hero to a total of four.
On April 21st, the Last 16 in MYM PriDe #10 began. The last team to enter the Last 16 VP gave everyone a scare, but ultimately Vigoss's fierce and stubborn Warlock delivered for VP. This match was one of the most definitive at highlighting Vigoss's extremely high individual skill. It was only that these types of performances were growing fewer and farther in between.
One day later, the Ringer-Gate scandal broke out and nEph was disqualified from MYM PriDe #10 for using a ringer. SGC replaced them in the Last 16 beginning their legendary dark horse run through the tournament.
In the Ro16, VP was in a poor state and was easily eliminated by x6. Soon after, another Ringer-Gate scandal broke out. Three of VP's players were ringers. This time, the prizes money was large, so the MYM organizing committee wanted to avoid any suspicion of unfairness. They summoned 6 star players from different countries and teams to be the judge. In the end, they all voted in favour of VP's disqualification.
After SGC's good fortune in getting into the Last 16, they struck terror into everyone's hearts with their performances. In the first round, they 2-0'd the defending champions MYM who had been on a winning streak knocking them into the losers' bracket. Concurrently, the first time Danish attendees MeT (Mom equals Toilet) defeated the strong Malaysian team KS. Next, KS eliminated MYM in the losers' bracket. These consecutive matches seen as upsets shocked fans around the world.
In the end, the two dark horses MeT and SGC slaughtered separate paths through the tournament sending strong teams into disorderly retreat. SGC eliminated Team Q who had reorganized and come back stronger than ever. With M.Admiration, Team Q had been considered a major contender before the tournament. MeT defeated the well-performing Mouz. Finally, the two dark horses met in the losers' bracket semi-finals. In the end, SGC's resolute 4-protect-1 defeated MeT winning the dark horse battle. However, SGC was in turn defeated by WG who employed a similar playstyle. The finals were set to take place between WG and SK.
The reappearance of ARS-ART who had been missing for a while completed SK's roster. With the surge in morale, they swept WG in two games to easily take the tournament. After leaving VP, ARS-ART hadn't gotten the chance to play his trademark heroes and he'd been stagnating for a while. In these two matches, he used his emblematic Potm and Lina to perform exciting ganks once again proving that the King of Gankers had not yet left the world.
The partnership between the valiant Loda and the surgical ARS-ART finally exhibited the results one would imagine such a collaboration would bring on paper. However, beauty is always fleeting. After MYM PriDe #10, ARS-ART left SK.
Winning MYM PriDe #10 made ARS-ART the leader in terms of MYM PriDe tournaments won. As a core player on every team that won, he contributed to a total of five tournament wins. After this tournament, ARS-ART graduated from college. Facing work and family-related pressure, he made fewer and fewer appearances in the DotA world.
On May 15th, MYM defeated SK to win the DBL (DotA Ballers League) tournament. After their defeat in MYM PriDe #10, they were able to get some consolation with this victory.
On May 18th, the last EU/NA DotA tournament of the 6.48 era, ASUS Spring 2008 began. SK flew to Moscow to attend their first ASUS. The final four were SK, WG, VP and Rush3D. VP held their dominance over the DotA world by valiantly defeating WG two straight to win the tournament. It took merely 25min for them to win the first match. In the second match, they were able to win 4v5 after blowyourbrain disconnected early on.
On May 30th, MYM held a trial tournament to test out the 6.52 version. The 6.48 era had ended. Afterwards, there were some tournaments that continued to use 6.48 such as the international ESWC tournament, but they were sporadic so I won't continue to dwell on this point.
Influential teams and star players:
The 6.48 era continued to be a contest of supremacy amongst 6.43's triumvirate, but at the same time many new strong teams emerged. Aside from VP, MYM and SK, the Ukrainian team WG won the most honours late in the 6.48 era having been runners-up to MYM PriDe #9, #10, to two different ASUSs and having won the DTS tournament. They were already beginning to show the air of a dominant team.
Three days after Say Plz defeated VP to win ASUS Spring, they announced they were disbanding. The reason was that when PGG, PUB and HoroN were playing against VP in the ClanBase tournament, they had some serious disagreements with the bans and picks. Furthermore, Say Plz's manager Matrix was moving to another city to work, so after discussing with the team decided to disband. The team logo was going to be sold. Truth be told, Say Plz's popularity wasn't something to be sniffed at. On the official DotA website, "Say-" and "-Plz" were used in many fake nicknames. Rumour has it that even Merlini had a dual account with Say Plz there. We can see from this what popularity and deep roots the team had. To tell you the truth, Say Plz this kind of ID was really popular. Even on the Chinese VS client, you would see many Say Plz IDs.
Say Plz was the oldest and most stable team in the history of EU DotA. Just when they began to win some tournaments, VP swooped in to steal their spot in the limelight. Later in the 6.5x era, Rush3D returned the favour to VP. Was this some sort of cosmic karma?
Soon after finishing in 3rd place of MYM PriDe #10, SGC disbanded and combined with nEph.
The other MYM PriDe #10 dark horse Denmark's team MeT after pulling out a coup, maintained their competitiveness going on to become one of the heavy-lifters in more recent DotA.
During this time, Mouz was still in the process of figuring things out, so they didn't achieve any good results. After Drayich became Mouz's captain, they successively recruited Twisted and Kuroky the prodigy who used to play for WE. This set up a very good foundation for Mouz's dominance in the 6.52 era.
10 months later, the website GotFrag did a vote on the top 10 DotA players of all time. Vigoss got first place and became universally acknowledged as the best DotA player and the first legendary status player of the new generation.
In the Last 16 in MYM PriDe #10, in a disadvantageous situation, Vigoss played an incredibly decisive Warlock using every last ounce of effort to make a comeback displaying a perfectly-performed one-man show. This match was one of Vigoss's magical performances. It was his magnum opus out of all his MYM Prime performances.
In MYM PriDe #8, M.Admiration played a stable but fierce Sven becoming another source of brilliance after legends like Vigoss and ARS-ART. As blood splashed across his blade, his ultra kill Sven was the most epic moment in MYM PriDe #8.
Speaking of team MYM, under XL mode the few faults Merlini showed playing certain heroes were magnified. He never seemed to get to play heroes he was trademarked for. Ever since he returned to Taiwan on vacation, it seems he’d been on a decline.
During the 6.48 era, H4nn1, slahser and MaNia became MYM's most exceptional players. H4nn1 had impeccable technique, slahser was simply ingenious and MaNia projected an aura of stability. After Fear had acclimatized to the new team, he was quickly instated as MYM's carry. Levent was compelled towards a support role.
MYM's captain Maelk wasn't eye-catching in the 6.41 era. After half a year of bitter training, he finally ascended to become a top player during the 6.48 era. His stable performances which demonstrated his strategic understanding and a keen sense of judgment showed that he fully deserved the title of being leader of MYM.
MYM PriDe #9's dark horse WG received consecutive top honours in the MYM PriDe #10, ASUS and DTS tournaments that followed. Their carry Travka's stable and exceptional performances made him a star player of the new generation. It's just that this person had a very bad hobby: he enjoys announcing his retirement. After WG had won these many honours, Travka announced his retirement. Before these successes, he had also retired more than once. After his retirement, his position on WG would be taken by ArtStyle (xLo.Diesel) who would go on to become a famous captain.
The amount of talent on this team was not inconsiderable. Players like Dendi and ArtStyle who would go on to become the top solo mid and top captain in Europe respectively. Go[Blin] and Axypa would also become mainstays in the Ukrainian scene.
Denmark's newly-formed team MeT's carry GlorYofGoD became a star player by showing off an exciting Shadow Fiend. This ID was a bit too corny, so later he changed it to AngeLofGod or Angel for short.
After MYM PriDe #5, Loda consistently produced stable performances to lead his much-criticized teammates against VP and MYM. At MYM PriDe #10 with recently acquired ARS-ART and Hailo, he was finally able to defeat MYM and become champion.
The player joining alongside ARS-ART, Hailo became a pleasant surprise for SK. Having been forced to switch roles to play support, his super-stable Earthshaker set him on pace to overtake NS at quality of support played.
On the other hand, SK's much-criticized "leg-God" Bogdan (God of DotA players who play with their feet instead of hands) relied on a completely unselfish performance at MYM PriDe #10 to shed himself of this nickname. Bogdan's Sand King with just 50HP displayed dauntless courage by turning around to impale four WG players saving his carry Loda from certain death. This became one of MYM PriDe #10’s highlight moments.
Overseas Chinese student Enigma (Zhaoyun) joined team SGC to participate in MYM PriDe #10. Already in the 6.32 era, Enigma was active in the NA scene, making him an old-school player. Before joining SGC, he used Zhaoyun, the name of the most famous legend from ancient China as his ID in an IHCS match against Vigoss. His exciting performance brought him many Chinese fans. In MYM PriDe #10, Zhaoyun played carry on the dark horse team SGC. His performance was highly exceptional bringing him many more Chinese fans.
VP's captain and the world's best support player NS published a series of articles during this era. First, he gave the inside story on why VP shockingly forfeited MYM PriDe #9. This article got the chief manager of the MYM PriDe #10 tournament dismissed, its prize money increased and its organizing committee changed.
At this point, the IHCS (Inhouse Clan Scrim) league deserves some mention. It started in June 2006 on Battle.net hosted by the Russian admin Lego. I will post an excerpt of his article "On the History of IHCS":
"One notable thing here is that the league channel became the first and pretty much the only place where all the players that later contributed to the development of DotA as a competitive e-sport could meet and communicate with each other. Another significant note is about the game mode development. At first, due to balance issues, allrandom/mirrormatch was mostly used for league games. Then, for a relatively short period of time, players switched to 'voterandom' mode, which is almost completely forgotten by now. Then, finally, a 'Draft' mode was introduced, where heroes are picked from a randomly generated pool. In IHCS, team captains do the picks themselves, in chat channel prior to game start, and the pool has the size of 16 heroes. This mode instantly became the main mode for IHCS games, and due to its success it was later implemented by DotA developers ingame."
Happenings in the Asian scene
On November 5th, the ADC qualifications drew to a close and the actual competition began. Strong teams like EHOME, Zenith, KS (Kingsurf), XcN (eXeCutioNer), SB (StarsBoba) and xDT (eXtreme DotA Team) opened an intense contest for glory and prestige. In the end, XcN claimed victory.
After Team KS's Yamateh's brilliant showing with Shadow Fiend at MYM PriDe #10, he proceeded to crush the streaking MYM with the unpopular hero Obsidian Destroyer. This match won him even more popularity.
This tournament served the role of providing a strong boost to communication between teams from various Asian countries. Before, Chinese teams had focused their sight on EU and studying European replays. Their playstyle imitated EU playstyles. After this tournament, SEA playstyles which were widely different from those of EU caught the attention of Chinese teams. This tournament was also excellent preparation for EHOME's ACG 2008 victory.
During the 6.48 era, the first important tournament in China was CDL-I which began on September 20th. It was the first tournament in the world that used 6.48. It used the English version as the official match version and banned all new heroes. One month later, the tournament had progressed into the 8th round of competition when the ban on the new heroes was lifted. In the play-offs stages, the games were broadcast on livestream by NeoTV. Ultimately, EHOME defeated GL to become champion.
On October 10th, the Intel-sponsored IEF (International E-Sports Festival) nation-wide cybercafé tournament began. In the October 29th final, the formed 3 days ago EHOME defeated the college team XJTU to qualify. This was EHOME's first victory after formation. On November 11th, IFNT defeated XJTU to become victor of the CETC tournament.
On December 25th, the year-end DCN (DotA.cn) invitational began. The mysterious and low-key CaNt won.
On December 30th, in the IEF Masters Tournament finals, GL defeated EHOME to become champion. Ever since the ACG 2007 victory, there'd been rumours swirling around GL. Especially after 820 left to join EHOME, there'd been rumours about GL's disbandment. In this tournament, GL showed it wasn't affected by the outside world and defeated EHOME 2-1 to become champion.
On March 2nd, in the finals of the offline G-League Tournament, GL managed to become champion despite their internal and external troubles. After the win, GL.Snoy announced his retirement. Countless people expressed their sympathies.
EHOME was also beset by tragedy. GK wrote on his blog "Soulk couldn't attend the tournament in Shanghai and we were once again confronted with surprise embarrassment, so we were forced to find a lightweight replacement. Even though the replacement boasted about his fearsome ability before the tournament, he really botched two matches in the tournament."
On March 20th, the CDL (China DotA League) 2008 tournament began. Finishing on June 15th, CaNt, EHOME, HFUT and CT won the privilege of attending the offline finals.
On March 21st, the PGL (Pro Gamer League) tournament began, adding to the number of DotA events. This was an invitational tournament with 12 teams attending. In the end, EHOME's now fine-tuned roster defeated CaNt coming off the momentum from some victories in CDL.
On April 18th 2008, the Garena gaming client teamed up with DCN (DotA.cn) to host the GOA tournament. This competition was organized very poorly. One day before competition began, they suddenly changed the tournament version from 6.51 to 6.48 drawing much protest. During the tournament, replay uploads and tournament coverage were essentially non-existent. These factors resulted in very little attention paid to a tournament whose matches actually showed a very high level of skill. Aside from Chinese teams that attended there were also strong SEA teams. In the end, EHOME slaughtered their way from the losers' bracket to defeat KS for the win. This competition and the ADC competition both provided EHOME with valuable experience paving a clear road to their ACG victory.
On May 11th, in the Shanghai regional qualifications for WCG China, CT defeated CaNt to take 1st place. HFUT placed 3rd meaning they regretfully missed out on the WCG China finals.
On May 17th, in the Beijing regional qualifications, EHOME took 1st place.
On June 8th, EHOME.GK defeated teammate 2009 to win the SG (SGamer) Solo-Mid tournament.
Influential teams and star players:
In October 2007, the first Chinese all-female DotA team EuF (Encore une Fois) formed. Despite being a team that played just for amusement, this flowery lace on the edge of the DotA scene was a result of the burst of popularity from March 2007 and showed just how trendy the game had become in China. Unpopular things aren't lined with lace.
On October 25th, the first Chinese professional DotA team was formed. EHOME's entertainment division used HTML as the foundation to create their DotA team. The founding members were the captain mN, amei, IsuN, GK, SatXIII^_^ and Longdd (in-game leader).
After winning the finals of IEF, SatXIII^_^ left the team and IFNT's Soulk joined. On November 28th, GL's leader 820 joined EHOME. Due to differences in opinion, 820 very quickly left EHOME. Accompanying the talk about which team—EHOME or GL—was going to get the last laugh were rumours of GL disbanding.
In November, the formation of CaNt was being planned by Fashao (IFNT's founding member) with their founding members 820, McGrosS, 357, EC, Topman, hanhan and Inso as manager. After the DCN year-end invitational, CaNt was officially formed.
While attending the DCN invitational, CaNt was not yet formed. Their team introduction was written very mysteriously: "A team formed from the cream of the crop has become a new contender for offline DotA tournaments. With Chinese DotA becoming more popular with the passing day, they have chosen DotA for its bright-looking future as the game into which they were going to invest all their effort. Worth mentioning is that they've already demonstrated uncommonly good results in competitions while showing unforgettable playing ability. Whether DotA will nurture their new course, let us eagerly await." Also during the whole tournament they were fake-nicking so it was completely impossible to know who was who.
After EHOME and CaNt formed, Chinese DotA entered a period with two dominant teams.
In March after the 2008 Chinese New Year, Chinese DotA entered a reorganization phase.
The three veteran teams entered a cooling period. After over half a year of fruitlessly trying to find a sponsor, GL finally announced their disbandment. As a legendary Chinese team which has shown brilliance countless times, GL's disbandment made many DotA fans feel as if an act of deicide had occurred.
HTML who had once been invincible for over half a year saw their core players move to EHOME. IFNT who was once a crouching tiger hidden dragon saw their leader and manager move to CaNt. The player transfers during the youth of both teams saw their team strength greatly diminished.
Soon after 820 joined the recently-formed CaNt, they recruited another player from EHOME, SatXIII^_^. Soon, they invited and added Snoy famous for playing his Bristleback in ACG 2007. At the same time, they also invited the experienced and successful overseas student Eddie who was a participant from MYM PriDe #4-8 to join. Despite this invitation not have been successful in the end, CaNt was red-hot during this period whether you look at their results or the amount of gossip about them in the news.
After seeing 820 and Soulk depart due to personal or legitimate reasons, EHOME recruited GL's legendary support DC (who together with 820 were known as GL's 2 superstars), GL's core player Shasha and IFNT's core player Facegod entering a period of rebuilding. During this time, EHOME's results weren't consistent and got eliminated from ADC.
GK and PD (also known as Angel_Lover) returned to the Changsha (city in Southern China) LAN team CT. 2009 formed the new team ONCE. Team ZZZ was pretty low-key. HFUT and XJTU remained consistent. These were the teams that demonstrated some ability during this period.
During mid-April, facing rumours of high-skilled player Eddie returning to China and joining CaNt, he ultimately joined DH.
In early May, Snoy moved from CaNt back to EHOME to train. At the same time, ONCE's leader 2009 joined as well. EHOME's strength multiplied. The addition of strong players were meeting the conditions for defending the title at ACG 2008 for China.
On May 25th, in the ESWC Masters invitational tournament, EHOME was getting ready to attend, but sadly due to visa issues had no way of making it a reality.
XcN (eXecutioNer) was a large Indonesian gaming organization formed in 2003 beginning with a Counter-Strike team. In late 2006, two DotA teams eVolve and BiG SnR merged to form a team sponsored by XcN. Those two teams had attended ACG 2006 and 2007, but were not able to produce any favourable results. After dominating the Indonesian scene, they first broke into the international view by claiming 1st place in the 2nd season of GXL LAN tournament over teams such as KS and Zenith in December 2007 going undefeated until they dropped one game to KS in the finals. These three were the best teams in Asia.
The two teams KS and XcN met again in the finals of ADC 2007. In a reenactment of the GXL tournament, XcN emerged from the winners' bracket, lost the first game, but would go on to win the second to win the tournament.
Here is what GGnet user Thanatos.ph reminisces of XcN:
"The Asian counterpart of Europe's legendary VP-MYM rivalry was the rivalry between XcN and KS (but some would argue that it was XcN and Zenith or Zenith and KS). Although XcN didn't quite have a player as big and popular as Yamateh or Hyhy, they were known to often triumph against KS and Zenith using unorthodox but sublime strategies and excellent teamwork, coupled with Lakuci's nifty tricks with Luna and Terrorblade, RitteR's innovations, and BahamuT's skill with SF."
KS (Kingsurf) was a Malaysian team that had been around for quite some time. They had been dominating the Malaysian scene and had won SMM 2007, which was at the time only open to Malaysian teams. They finished 2nd in GXL Season 2 and ADC 2007, as well as 3rd place in MYM PriDe #8 helping to put Asian DotA on the map. In every other MYM PriDe season beginning with the first they took part in (#7), they finished no worse than Top 8.
KS was led by Xiaogui who had players with incredible individual ability at his disposal. Particularly memorable were Yamateh's Shadowfiend and Tinker. In an MYM PriDe #8 groupstage match, they defeated European powerhouse SK in what was considered a huge upset in Europe. Yamateh farmed up a sub-10 min Blink Dagger on Shadowfiend against an unimposing Magnataur. They used the bread and butter of the 6.48 era with dual stun lanes at top and bottom taking advantage of SK global lineup's weakness—a lack of stuns.
In April 2008, the triumvirate Zenith, KS and XcN were the three foreign teams invited to take part in ESTC 2008 (Electronic Sports Thailand Championship). Directly seeded into the Top 32, the teams had no problem making it to the Last 4 along with local Thai team Trust. In the semi-finals, XcN dispatched Zenith while KS took out Trust. A GXL and ADC rematch between XcN and KS was set to take part. In the end, Yamateh's Shadowfiend was too much for XcN to handle and KS managed to claim victory. Perhaps critical to the team's success in this tournament was the recruitment of ex-Zenith superstar iceiceice.
In the Philippines, DotA was dominated by Team Flow. They defeated veteran countrymen Team 129 in 2006 to earn the privilege of representing their country at ACG 2006, but lost to the eventual champions MI2 from Singapore. In 2007, they defeated Ninja in the local qualifiers to once against earn the privilege of represent their country at ACG. This time, they won 3rd place giving the Philippines their ever medal at ACG.
In the quarter-finals of ACG 2007, Team Flow was the underdog facing the illustrious Indonesian XcN, a team who the Malaysian champions Cybertime could not beat even once in more than 10 training matches. Nevertheless, Team Flow of Philippines took down XCN with an impressive roaming Queen of Pain, Sand King, Venomancer strategy that reportedly left XcN.Lakuci astonished. Queen of Pain had previously only been used as a carry farm hero until that point of time, so the Team Flow played the hero in a way no one had thought of before.
The team led by Arby consisted of himself, Jojo, Vinzyre, Lutan and Bru. Arby and Vinzyre formed a deadly Chen-Sven combination. Shortly after their ACG victory, Arby left for Canada to study, so the team decided to disband. Mineski was also becoming a juggernaut in the Philippines and they managed to claim the honour of representing the Philippines in future competitions beginning with ADC 2007. Nevertheless, it is important to remember the important contribution Team Flow made to Filipino DotA.
Mainstream strategies and hero picks
Finally the 6.48 era ended. 6.48 was unprecedented in the history of DotA for the stability of the competitive version, the number of tournaments and the dazzling excitement.
From 6.41 to 6.48, versions were continuously made, tournaments happened one after the other and playstyles evolved from past styles meaning that the passionate ganking style became the theme of this era. The strategy was similar to that of the 6.43 era, so I won't bother reposting the same material.
So ended the first golden age in the history of DotA, the 6.4x era.