The International 3 kicks off in 2 hours (1 PM PDT) with the Wildcard match between Quantic Gaming and Rattlesnake, so let’s look at the strategic trends the teams have followed in 6.78.
I admittedly know more about Quantic, having written previously about their performance in the Western International Qualifiers that earned them the invite to this match. By this point they’re well known for their off-the-wall drafting, and there’s a good chance of seeing some of their unconventional drafting here since this match is effectively an elimination match for the entire tournament. It also warrants mentioning that Sochshka is recovering from a major hand injury that may hindered their ability to practice in the 6.78 environment.
I’m significantly less familiar with Rattlesnake, but what I know of them suggests that they’re no stranger to quirky drafting, with a predilection towards some out-of-meta pickups and a willingness to experiment with almost entirely unheard of heroes like Bristleback and Slardar.
Let’s begin with the opening ban phase, or in other words, let’s begin with Wisp/Io. I feel that Quantic has the advantage here given the experience gap between the West and the East when it comes to Wisp. While Rattlesnake does have some experience with the hero, having played it 4 times in the past two months, their record in those games is 1-3, and this might not be enough to make Quantic pony up the ban in the games when they have the 2nd pick.
Batrider is the other big ban target. I’m not sure either team will voluntarily allow the other to have this pick, but Rattlesnake has only played the hero 2 times in the past two months compared to Quantic’s 15.
Part of the reason for this Batrider disparity is Quantic’s reputation for Treant Protector. He’s weaker since the new patch, but in 6.78, Quantic has drawn Treant Protector bans in 27 out of 48 games with Goblak going 10-2 on the hero. If Rattlesnake still fears this hero, then when Quantic has the first pick Rattlesnake faces the choice of either giving them Wisp, Batrider, or Treant.
Quantic’s opening bans are a lot more open, especially if they decide they don’t care if Rattlesnake gets either Batrider or Wisp. For instance, they can opt for an early Visage ban as Rattlesnake runs that hero much more often than Quantic.
Moving on to the overall gameplan for Quantic, a lot depends on the Wisp, Batrider, Treant roulette we might see in the first round. If they do get Treant, we’re more likely to see a Weaver pickup, but in general, their go-to carries are Gyrocopter and Outworld Devourer. As far as supports go, their most common choice besides Treant is Bane, with 7ckngMad going 9-4 in 13 games. For mid, if we don’t see Outworld or Batrider here, the most common pickups are Queen of Pain and Puck. Off-lane options are harder to predict given Sochshka’s recent injury, but both Dark Seer and Clockwerk are options, and in the games he did play, Sochshka has gone 5-0 on Lich.
Of course, when facing Quantic you also have to keep Pugna in mind for Quantic’s patented Pugna-push strategies. Another hero worth keeping an eye out for is Razor. Quantic has only played him once in 6.78 in what was practically a joke game, but Quantic brought the hero out twice against mouz in the finals of the Western Qualifiers and that was in 6.77. Razor has seen significant buffs since then, so maybe Quantic have been saving their 6.78 Razor strats for the International (and Sochshka’s recovery).
On Rattlesnake’s side things are a bit more messy as the signature heroes for each of their players are at the very least much less defined. Two unusual hero pickups they favor are Shadow Fiend and Earthshaker, and Quantic might consider directing some of their later bans towards these heroes. Aside from that, their carry pool is quite open with Alchemist, Lifestealer, Outworld Devourer, Gyrocopter, and Weaver all seeing play, and while I’m not crazy about the hero, LaNm is 4-0 with what I’m assuming is mid Dragon Knight.
Their supports are also all over the place, but Visage, Crystal Maiden, Shadow Demon, and Rubick stand out as picks they favor in addition to the already mentioned Earthshaker. They also seem to prefer to run Naga Siren in a supporting role.
Truthfully I don’t have enough experience with Rattlesnake to be confident in what to expect, but based on their pick patterns I suspect they’ll attempt to be highly aggressive with their laning, with any offlane choices favoring a hero that can create early kills like a Nature’s Prophet or Bounty Hunter pickup.
In any case, we’ll see in about an hour.