The best weekend of the year is right around the corner. I hope you all have your costumes ready, your after parties organized, and rides home planned. Be ready for a couple late nights, a whole bunch of friends, and some loud hooligans. I am, of course, talking about C4 Winnipeg and BaseLAN!
Every year around the end of October, gamers far and wide gather and play games together. It’s why we are all here. I started attending BaseLAN first for Starcraft 2, and then for League of Legends, where I won the first ever LoL tournament alongside fellow staff member Van “Navcan” Phu and some friends of ours. I was never that great at Starcraft 2 but I loved playing it at the highest level I could manage, and my claim to fame was beating local legend “Kelly” in a single game. To say we won the League tournament, however, would be an understatement. We took the whole event nearly undefeated and, excluding the very first game we played – which we lost due to some joking around on our part – we took every game in a dominant fashion.
It seems only natural that I would be drawn to BaseLAN:
- Competitive tournaments? Check.
- LAN environment where I can humiliate my opponents in person? Check.
- A whole bunch of nerds and cool people? Check.
So it’s not really surprising that after I conquered the entirety of League of Legends, I quickly joined staff and the rest is history.
Since then, BaseLAN weekends have been some of my favorite parts of the year. Heavy Metal Musical concussions, the return of good games like CS:GO and Dota2, the craziest tournament of the event – Trackmania, and all sorts of new friends means it’s always a great time and I look forward to this weekend with as much anticipation as ever.
Now that you’re properly excited, let’s talk about the tournament I’m always the most excited for: Dota 2. There are so many changes both in real life and in game that mean this fall’s event could be the most exciting ever. First of all, and maybe most notable, are our two-time champions in team Shake It Off will not be returning. With captain Michael “Imario” Jun-Dundas out of province for school, the members have all gone their separate ways. The off lane player Taylor “SyR” Woodcock and the hard support Aaron “Dev” Seager have both retired as champions and are not returning (although there are rumors of Taylor showing up as a fill-in for a brand new team). Only the carry and the support players Marcel “The Shell with Shoes on” Mucska, and Klayton “Kaizer” Kohalmi will be returning. Together under the banner of team “#MLG420” (what an unfortunate name), along with a couple other local regulars, they look to be the favorites coming in and are hoping to grow their win streak to three in a row.
There are rumblings, however, of some new competitors to our reigning champions. Word on the street is – the internet street that is – that a couple of extremely high MMR exchange students from the U of M have formed a pubstar stack to see what sort of damage they can do. Of course, we also will, without a doubt, see all the regulars as well, so who knows what sort of shenanigans we could see.
Now that the players are out of the way, let’s talk about the game.
Dota2 is not the same game we played back in the spring. Since then, The International has happened and the inevitable post-TI patch has hit and totally warped the game again. At the year’s first BaseLAN, “scrappy” would have been a good word to describe the meta. Very mobile mids like Storm Spirit and QoP were very popular, as well as very active supports like Bounty Hunter, Earthshaker, and Dazzle. The meta recently hasn’t changed to much as far as play style. Teams are still looking to fight early and often. The style popularized by Cdec at TI and carried on in spirit by Vega recently is still very strong. Teams are often looking to fight with only four or three heroes in small skirmishes while leaving the carry player to continue farming. Ember Spirit is proving to be popular but more than ever, the carry roll is open to interpretation. Jugg can be picked up if you are looking to fight earlier and push down towers more aggressively, and Anti-Mage can be a strong pick if your other four heroes can make enough space for him.
Supports are a little more rigid. Winter Wyvern and Dazzle are the favorites these days, for both their defensive capabilities and big team fight affecting spells. Tusk and Slardar are both being picked as very versatile characters, whether in a core role or as supports both are being used as tanky front line initiators.
As far as gameplay goes, everything is viable currently. While laning, you can expect to see any sort of lane set-ups. Dark Seer as a traditional offlaner is common, but any sort of 2-1-2, 1-2-2, or 1-1-2 + Jungler seem to be viable. Tiny + Wisp has been a common dual mid, as well as Lich + anybody. Just as important as ever is stacking the jungle. With such explosive mids being picked, if you fall behind as a Shadow Fiend or QoP, a well-stacked jungle followed by a successful gank or two can put someone right back into the game. If your mid is going well, the jungle can be used to get your carry into the fray that much faster or get some of the more farm intensive supports the items they need to have the impact they want. Blink Dagger on Slardar or Aghanims on Ancient Apparition are items that can totally change the gam,e and the jungle is one of the most effective ways to get them onto those characters. Expect fights to happen in the jungles early and often.
Of course, this is Winnipeg and not a Valve Major, so the heroes and gameplay we see will be less affected by the current meta than professional games would be. Expect to see people playing heroes they are comfortable with and a lot of pocket strats and picks. Kaizer plays one of the best Dazzles I’ve ever seen. He has some of the most amazing positioning and timing with Shallow Grave that it feels like his entire team is unkillable sometimes, and Marcel the Shell is a versatile carry. While at the last BaseLAN we saw him favor tanky carries like Razor, that may speak more towards the meta at the time and style of then captain Imario than his personal preference.
No matter what, this weekend will be intense. Whether you’re here for old favorites or new challengers, you can expect to see some exciting games. There will certainly some tom foolery heralded by Captain Girk and whatever team he decides to spearhead, but also some very high level play. And of course, with the biggest BaseLAN to date, comes the biggest prize pool we’ve ever had. With more on the line than ever, you can expect teams to be putting their best foot forward from game one.
Pull your socks up, friends, this weekend could get interesting.
Tyler Morse is a Contributing Editor to aybonline.com.