N0tail the innovator
Johan 'BigDaddyN0tail' Sundstein is an innovator through and through. How could we forget the interview where he stated that “Everything can work”, giving way to some of the most bizarre pubs imagineable. Even recently, we saw an incredible strategy with Grimstroke / Warlock being able to annihilate TNC in a matter of seconds.
Not only did the OG captain offer us this wonderful clip, but was a pioneer of Lich / Grimstroke when the hero first came out. He paved the way for Grimstroke pocket strats in a lot of regards. Again, recently, he single-handedly brought Abaddon into the meta with Mist Coil spamming. Bringing a hero into the professional meta is a difficult thing to do. Only the greats can do it by playing a hero a certain way; Gustav 's4' Magnusson with Puck in the offlane.
N0tail’s strategies will always impact the meta so long as N0tail plays Dota 2. An innovator in the game as well as outside of the game, it’s important to mention the Dane’s incredible ability to bring pub players and turning them into the downright best professionals imagineable; Miracle, Ana, Topson. Making use of the resources available to him and winning competition after competition as a result is innovation at its finest.
Puppey the maverick
Clement 'Puppey' Ivanov is the paragon maverick of Dota 2. An incredible drafter, captain and player in every regard, innovation is one of Puppey’s specialities. Whether it was someone else in the team who found out about the mechanic or not, Puppey made the call to draft Chen and Pudge in that fateful, history writing game.
Even mentioned in the ESL Birmingham coverage, Puppey talking about the Naga counter was a thing of speculation. The hero could not be stopped, and caused issues for everybody at the time. But Puppey innovated and thought of a solution when others couldn’t do just that.
There is just a wealth of things that Puppey has done over the years that have changed the meta, been called cheesy and changed the way pros have looked at the games. Who could forget Puppey buying a bottle for his mid, and on occasion buying another one in the same game for his carry. Even recently he ran a support roaming Luna in the grand final of the Chongqing Major.
Loda the mastermind
Although not active in playing today, Jonathan 'Loda' Berg’s influence on the game will always echo through the hallways of Dota’s history. Captaining Alliance for all those years saw so many game-changing plays from the legendary Swede, that it’d be difficult to fit them even in to one article. We can start, however, with Alliance’s level 1 rosh against DK.
Well, although doing a level one rosh is a big play, baiting the other team into the rosh pit with a cheeky deny is on another level. It was creativity at its finest.
Loda can be thanked for a lot of changes in the meta. Split pushing is of course, iconic of Alliance. Despite the fact that the entire roster has changed from the classic days of the organisation, Loda’s influence remains ever present.
The team, still, are masters of split pushing. Taking games longer than they should go on for and delaying the enemy team’s objectives is a tactic mastered by Loda.
Pocket strats and interesting interactions are another staple of Loda’s loadout. Do you remember the Lifestealer + Radiance with infest on an ancient combination? Take a guess at who pioneered that one…
And even to this day, the way Loda views the game and innovates with combinations can be seen with how Alliance play now.
Header photo credit: DreamHack - Adela Sznajder