Elimination Mode tournament recap
Well hello there ((insert metaphorical description of a generic Dota 2 player))! In case you missed it, there’s been unique new addition to the Dota 2 tournament circuit called Elimination Mode, presented by the newly formed Moonduck Studios. Moonduck assembled a star-studded team of Dota 2 casters and personalities including Zyori, ODPixel, SUNSfan, Draskyl, Purge, syndereN, Maut, PimpmuckL and SirActionSlacks. Based on their curious logo, we may doubt their proficiency with identifying animals or objects in our solar system, but their first tournament was exciting, hilarious and a well-received breath of fresh air in the competitive landscape.
Elimination Mode is a format where each hero can only be picked or banned once in a series. That means that, in theory, the first game may be more or less a typical game of Dota, but in each subsequent match, there are fewer and fewer heroes left in the pool. A best of five series that went to the final game would have only a scant 30 heroes to choose from, those deemed worthy to have been picked or banned in any of the previous matches (Terrorblade, Riki, Necrophos anyone?) If you missed the intro video for the tournament, it’s well worth a watch:
The concept of Elimination Mode originated on reddit but was implemented by Moonduck for the first time in Dota 2 history during their kickoff tournament, which was held Sept 17-20. Eight teams from North America and Europe battled it out for a $10,000 prize pool, with a guaranteed NA vs. Europe final. The final came down to Digital Chaos and 4 Clover & Lepricon and went to four games, but 4CL claimed the 3-1 victory and were crowned the first ever Elimination Mode champions.
- 4 Clover & Lepricon
- 4 Anchors + Sea Captain
- Monkey Freedom Fighters
- compLexity Gaming
- Digital Chaos
- ROOT Gaming
The tournament was extremely well-received by the community, who were excited to see teams forced to pick and play distinctly non-meta heroes, demanding more variety and versatility than the standard tournament format. In addition, all 110 heroes were available in the starting pool, and the spectators’ demands for Earth Spirit did not go unfulfilled - he was picked in the very first match. It almost seemed like 111 heroes for a few seconds with an epic trolling false Pit Lord reveal.
As a fun, out-of-the box tournament format, Elimination Mode definitely has potential. There have been relatively few tournaments in the professional scene that have broken out of the mold of standard “best of X” Captain’s Mode. There have been a few instances of Reverse Captain’s Mode, where each team drafts for the enemy team. It’s a mode that goes well beyond non-meta picks and often just means each team is trying to screw the other over as much as possible with the weakest heroes in the pool, which is great for a show match, but would get dull for a full tournament. The most successful unusual format is probably the XMG Captain’s Draft. In Captain’s Draft mode, each game starts with a random pool of 27 heroes. The captain of each team gets to ban 3 heroes from the pool before moving into drafting, with a total of 150 seconds to complete his bans and picks. This tournament format has proven to be an interesting way to force teams to play with unorthodox team compositions, due to the randomization; however, it is also because the pool is random that the mode naturally has some element of “luck of the draw” some teams may be more comfortable with the heroes in the pool than others. In comparison, the limited hero pool in the later stages of Elimination Mode are a direct result of the choices of the teams in the prior matches, adding a whole other layer to the strategy involved in drafting. In that sense, perhaps it is a truer test of the overall strength of each team. Regardless, one thing’s for sure: Elimination Mode was a ton of fun to watch, and it would be great to see a bigger tournament with more of the top tier teams giving it a try!