History of Competitive DotA (Lessons in Ganking by VP: The 6.48 Era)
Happenings in the Western Scene
EuroCup was the first tournament in the western scene utilizing version 6.48. However, this tournament was plagued by difficulties. Miscommunication about the match between Virtus Pro members has led to the match being rescheduled, and was let off with a warning before being eliminated by MYM in the semi-finals.
The 8th season of MYM Prime Defending began on the 4th of November, and was widely considered as the “World Cup” of the DotA scene due to the staggering number of participating teams – 400.
ASUS Autumn 2007 started on November 26, as Singaporean team Zenith made their first foray out of Asia. Despite having participated in European events since MYM Prime Defending #4, this will be their first appearance in an offline European tournament. However, they were eliminated in the knock-out stage by eventual champions Say Plz. In the finals, old rivals Say Plz and Virtus Pro met once again, as Virtus Pro abandoned their pure ganking strategy for a hard carry lineup, they were overwhelmed by Say Plz.
During DreamHack Winter 2007 that happened on December 3rd, MYM defeated SK Gaming and became champions. In the finals, Mirana was apparently the key hero for both sides, as Loda’s beyond godlike Mirana was followed by H4nn1’s well-farmed Mirana that eventually crushed SK. Zenith also attended this tournament, but fell short as they finished 3rd.
On December 5th, MYM Prime Defending #8 reached its knock-out phase. In the first round, Vigoss played a hero one would never imagine playing even casually, Sniper. But instead was able to defeat Malaysian powerhouse mkvl, and rose his reputation to a whole new level.
As the top four in MYM Prime Defending #8: MYM, Virtus Pro, Kingsurf and SK Gaming surfaced. Kingsurf Gaming was the dark horse in the tournament as they slaughtered SK Gaming into the loser bracket finals. YamateH's consistently exciting performances has led to his rising popularity in the world, especially China where Kingsurf players would occasionally respond to forum posts and consequently brought them a huge fanbase.
After VP lost their first final game, as well as their winners' bracket lead. M.Admiration's Black King Bar was enough to win them the second and deciding match of the finals. Crucially, M.Admiration's Sven was able to shatter MYM's fast push strategy, as well as cementing his place among the legends of DotA. It is sad to note that Merlini, having just returned from a several months long vacation, was unable to perform as he was soon considered as a falling star.
After SK was defeated by MYM at MYM Prime Defending #8, one of the founding fathers of the team, Drayich, left the team and soon joined Mousesports. This enabled Mousesports, which then included rising stars such as PlaymatE and Miracle, to become a major force in DotA. 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 high-skilled 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 Silencer 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 favor 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 favor 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 Silencer 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.
Another article evaluated the strategy in the 6.48 version, where NS pointed out the imbalanced nature of Blink Dagger. Even though this article might very well not have been the reason why the Blink Dagger got so strongly nerfed, this article became the focal point of discussion after the nerf.
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 favorable 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.
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 Shadow fiend 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 Shadow fiend 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 Shadow fiend 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 era in the history of DotA, the 6.4x era.