“Some people may find the drafting stage to be long and drawn out. However, once you begin to consider the elaborate strategic decisions and mindgames that are occurring behind those seconds ticking away on the screen it becomes a simple task to allow yourself to be drawn into the intellectual battle that is unfolding before your eyes. Consider this, drafting is so important to a team’s success that the top teams even have a strategy as to where they make use of their reserve time in order to best plan out the picks in their draft stage that they feel are most important. Intelligent drafting has allowed teams like Sigma to rise up from obscurity as they manage to find combinations that were previously unexplored and muscle themselves into the top rankings despite not being known for holding an incredibly talented team of players.

The most memorable draft for me within the last year was Game 5 of The International 3 featuring Na’vi and Alliance. With so much on the line both teams had to draft with everything at stake. Was now the time to stray from their signature heroes and what had worked in the past? Or should they throw in a surprise and seek to execute a strategy that the other team would not be prepared for? Ultimately, the two teams both banned and picked heroes that they’d seen and played before; they sought to outdo each other on execution. Although, at first glance it may seem like the draft was entirely predictable we need to consider the way that the bans and picks were targeted. Na’vi banned Naga and Chen first off. Alliance banned Lifestealer and Dark Seer. These heroes may not have normally been first ban material but in the case of EGM’s Naga and Akke’s Chen Na’vi had had enough. The same can be said for XBOTCT’s Lifestealer and Funnk’s Dark Seer.  Those initial bans shaped the entire game with Na’vi picking up Batrider and Alliance grabbing Io and Nature’s Prophet. After that it was a question of picking, counterpicking and banning strategically to try and mold the game to each team’s advantage. Watching both teams as they battled for an advantage in what was certainly to be a closely fought battle with such high stakes was nearly as captivating as the game itself. I am definitely looking forward to witnessing another incredibly tense and high stakes round of picking when the next International comes around. In the meantime, I’ll continue to attempt to convince others of just how important and captivating the picking phase can be.

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