What we can learn: Dreamleague S12 Grand Finals

In this article, we will try to extract a few valuable lessons from the 5 game series between Alliance and Demon Slayers that took place on 20th of October. Those games were very entertaining in my opinion and we can learn multiple concepts about the game.

Game 1

Alliance DS 1


In this game, Demon Slayers had Mirana and Shadow Demon. This duo is great at winning lanes that usually would be lost with the Disruption into Arrow combo kill potential. For example, their safe lane matchup is Lifestealer vs a Natures Prophet. Natures Prophet is a great hero vs Lifestealer since he has a lot of physical damage with his high attack damage and Treants, while Lifestealer has very little to no armor. (This is the reason why you need to buy a Chain Mail from the Side Shop as soon as possible.) However, because of their duo supports SD + Mirana, they were able to win this unfavorable lane quite easily, which gives Lifestealer a good start while crippling the early game of the enemy NP. 

The lesson below is the main reason that Demon Slayers won this game, in my opinion:

Lesson 1: abuse the 10th pick

The last pick in the game, 10th hero pick is usually the most important pick and it can change the outcome of said game entirely.  For this reason, cheese heroes are really important to learn (e.g. heroes such as Brood, Meepo, Alchemist, Lycan, etc.). They give you a free win most of the time if the enemy doesn’t have any counters. Such heroes are usually countered or banned in professional games but they work really great in public games.

In this case, we have Demon Slayers pick Ember Spirit as 10th pick that completely turned the game around. Without this pick, they were probably going to lose. Ember was played mid against Kunkka. This is a winning match-up for Ember since he can dodge all of Kunkka’s spells with his ultimate or his Sleight of Fist. The same idea can be extended through the game - the hero is really evasive while the enemy team had no catch for him. He was easily able to dodge the few stuns they had because of hero choices such as Natures Prophet and Blood Seeker.

Game 2

Alliance DS 2


The second game was won by Demon Slayers basically for the same reason as the first one. They had a 10th pick Lycan that just handed them the win because Alliance didn’t have a real response for it. We can still take a different lesson from this game, however:

Lesson 2: use pick order to your advantage

This is one of the big reasons why Demon Slayers won this game. They picked their mid hero 4th instead of 5th like usual. This was the case because Alliance had picked a Spectre earlier in the draft and Viper completely destroys that hero because of his second spell (Nethertoxic). It has a Break Effect which completely negates passives, and Spectre has 2 passive skills, Desolate and Dispersion. Because of this, Spectre didn’t have a big impact in the game since she didn’t have enough damage or tankiness despite her pretty early Radiance timing.

So, after they picked their midlaner 4th (as a counter to the enemy pos. 1), they had the opportunity to pick Lycan 5th as a cheese hero to win them the game convincingly.

Game 3

Alliance DS 3


This game was won by Alliance in a spectacular fashion - they took the first step to their comeback in this series in a dominant performance, which was probably a huge moral boost (we’ll talk more about this further down).

Lesson 3: hero matchups win games

The lesson for this game is a pretty simple one, understanding hero match-ups. In this particular game, Alliance first picked Gyro for their team, after only seeing Keeper of the Light in the enemy's draft. This is a great hero as a first pick, especially versus Keeper of the Light, because he can hit Will-O-Wisp while also damaging the enemy heroes with his Flack Cannon.

In response to this Gyro pick, Demon Slayers picked Sand King. He is a good pos. 3 hero that can survive the lane and get some farm relatively easily. However, he is not a lane dominator and doesn’t hinder Gyro’s farm in any way. Because of this, Gyro was able to get super farmed.

Alliance also had the 10th pick and were able to use it smartly to counter-pick and win the mid lane. With two lanes won and two farmed cores, Alliance were able to win the game convincingly

The final score in this game was 30-10, as mentioned - a dominant victory.

Game 4

Alliance DS 4


In this game, it feels like Demon Slayers got completely out-drafted and even though they had won 2 out of 3 lanes, Alliance still won the game with ease in under 30 minutes in another dominant performance to tie the series at 2-2. Demon Slayers picked Chaos Knight second pick and got punished for it because Alliance had a good understanding of how to optimize your draft against a first pick phase position one carry.

Lesson 4: your mental state matters a lot!

Don’t underestimate your opponents and let your victories get to your head. Keep a cool head and think rationally no matter what.

It feels like Alliance underestimated their opponents the first 2 games. They are riding on a wave of success – they hadn’t lost an official series since the creation of the new roster, so they likely felt invincible.

Even if you are the better team, however, you can always lose if the enemies have a better strategy and a better mindset. Alliance lost the first 2 games because they were out-picked. After they realized that they were about to lose the tournament if they lost just one more game, they received a huge boost of motivation to give it their all.

Demon Slayers made the same mistake just in reverse: they expected a hard series and won the first 2 games thanks to great drafts and preparation. After game 3, however, they visibly lost their momentum and negative emotions started seeping it, preventing them to play with a clear head.

In pubs: Momentum works for your pub games as well. Winning multiple games can boost your morale, help you play better and win even more games. The same works in the opposite direction - losing multiple games can get you in a bad mental state and lose you even more games. That’s why a lot of people recommend taking breaks after losses so that you can “drop” the bad mindset and negative momentum.

Game 5

Alliance DS 5


This game was the final one of the series so we can expect a closer game with both teams putting everything on the line for the win.

What’s great about this game is that Alliance didn’t lose the gold advantage over the whole duration of the game. This draft was particularly interesting with a mid Dazzle.

Lesson 5: don’t be afraid to take risks when the stakes are high

In this game, Alliance picked Dazzle core quickly after the enemy team picked Ember. Ember can be played in 2 roles as core: in the safe and mid lane. Dazzle, however, destroys most melee heroes with his first skill, Poison Touch, because it resets its timer if the enemy gets hit by physical damage. Since Dazzle is a ranged hero, he can reset the timer a lot versus melee heroes such as Ember.

Their planned midlaner was forced to play a sideline - Ember was put in a sub-optimal situation, being forced to play versus a Gyro and Jakiro duo with huge magical damage output .

Demon Slayers were forced to play Legion Commander midlane which is decent versus Dazzle, however not good enough. Even though he can dispel Poison Touch with Press the Attack,  Dazzle’s third spell, Shadow Wave, is really effective versus melee heroes that try to last hit, healing the creeps and damaging the enemy units close to them, including Legion Commander in this case. Besides this, Dazzle has a great save versus Duel for the mid and late game - Shallow Grave.

Because they won 2 Lanes and there was a draw on the third one, they were able to control the map and eventually win the game.


Right now we are in an interesting period competitively because we get to see most newly formed teams perform, while some of the biggest T1 teams are taking a break (Secret, OG, the biggest Chinese teams, etc.).

Undoubtedly, a few well-performing new teams are starting to stand out, and Alliance is a great example. Now, the million-dollar betting question is how they would perform versus proven, S-Tier competition when the top teams start playing.

No one knows for sure so we cannot give you a good answer to that question. Why we’re mentioning this is so that you can start building a judgment of your own about the level of play of these teams. If you believe they are displaying skills on par with T1 Dota, then you might be able to make some great bets by predicting upsets once the big names come back to competitive Dota.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the analysis and found it useful. The ESL One Hamburg grand finals analysis is out, so check it out!

Domsa "IDQ" Daniel

IDQ (standing for I Don't Quit) is a 19-year-old 7k MMR pub tryhard residing in Romania. He mostly plays pos. 1 and 2 and his most played hero is Invoker. He is an aspiring professional Dota player.

Kyril "MrNiceGuy" Kotashev

Founder of Dotahaven and esports and Dota enthusiast since forever.