CDEC appreciation: Agressif's masterclass in Ember Spirit against LGD
In the first of each of their Upper Bracket games, the two Chinese giants LGD and CDEC Gaming squared off at this early stage of the tournament, determining who would be continuing upwards and who would be fighting for survival in the lower bracket.
The first game was certainly an impressive showing from the CDEC, but it is the second game that I want to focus on. The TI5 Grand Finalists work incredibly as a cohesive unit, as we have seen time and time again, but what really stood out was Sun ‘Agressif’ Zheng’s masterclass in playing Ember Spirit.
His play controlled the game perfectly and was arguably one of the main contributing factors to CDEC’s ultimate 2-0 of their sister organisation. Let’s take a look at exactly what made his play so exceptional.
Agressif starts in the safe lane with a some help from the support Winter Wyvern, whose main influence in the lane is putting down the ward that is circled up near the Dire T1. This ward gives great vision and means that Agressif can farm safely. He also knows that the offlane Earthshaker cannot contest the lane at all.
So this is partly down to the draft, but rOtk is completely zoned from the lane thanks to CDEC’s aggressive warding and good support movements. They make sure that Earhshaker gets absolutely nothing from the lane, even diving behind tower to get an early kill on Agressif.
After a great early laning stage, Agressif moves through the map from the Radiant safe lane, to the Radiant jungle and eventually to the mid lane. He wants to make his presence felt as well as farm, which is the optimal play in terms of efficiency.
CDEC manage to take down Lina in trade for Ember Spirit, but they don’t want to just reset and continue to farm on their safe lane. Agressif buys back into the game, as he knows LGD don’t have much left with Lina dead and an under-levelled Earthshaker. Agressif remnants forward and takes out Sylar on the Bristleback.
After Sylar goes down, Shiki gets caught on the Queen of Pain and Agressif looks like he is in a precarious position. He is blocked by both Tusk Ice Shards and Earthshaker’s Fissure, but he just turns on Flame Guard and manages to zone 3 heroes by himself. Some players might have retreated by going left to avoid getting blocked, but Agressif shows his tempo controlling ability and presses on.
Something to note also is that Agressif is doing this pretty much all by himself, as you can see his ally Nighstalker (normally a very aggressive hero), his only just walking back to lane from the Radiant T3. Agressif shows his knowledge of Ember Spirit’s limits, controlling the game almost single-handedly at this early stage.
Firstly, note that in about 4 minutes after having complete control of the mid area of the map, CDEC are able to seize a completely different part of the map and dive a Dire T3 at 14 minutes. Again, Agressif is pretty much on his own, but knows what he can get away with. Arguably, he gets a little bit lucky (surviving on 9HP), but it is still a testament to how well he is playing on the hero.
What is key here is the position that CDEC are able to get themselves into with Agressif’s dominating play. It happens a few times throughout the game where an LGD hero (circled at the bottom) is stuck between two CDEC heroes, as Agressif Remnants forward to try and get more kills. He knows his team can secure the kill in the back so he goes forward to form a triangle with his team, zoning LGD and looking for more kills.
About 10 minutes later, after a relatively quiet farming period, the LGD side are really struggling for map control. You can see that nearly every hero on LGD are boxed into this small space on the Dire side of the river. Meanwhile, CDEC (circled) are spread across the map very nicely.
The crucial part of this position in the game is Agressif’s placement in the Dire jungle. By farming so aggressively, he creates a pincer formation with his team that pens LGD into a tight area of the map. Let’s break this down:
-Agressif is farming Dire jungle and on hand to take a fight
-This allows Shiki to farm his own jungle
-The other 3 on CDEC sacrifice their farm for the 2 big cores and keep eyes on LGD
-CDEC now know exactly where LGD are on the map and that they cannot be farming
-Overall LGD’s options are limited to Roshan (unlikely) or trying to fight (very hard given CDEC know where they are and have mobile fighting cores)
Again, this position is very similar to the previous one and is probably one of the strategic highlights of the game. There is a virtual wall between the two teams, as they stand on either side of the river. Usually this would be pretty inefficient for both teams, however Agressif again goes to farm the enemy jungle.
Agressif’s positioning is aggresive, precarious, but ingenious: he can go from camp to camp in the enemy jungle, which gives him farm and denies LGD farm. Crucially, it also means he is on hand to take a fight at any point. CDEC are ready to go whenever they want because of their carry’s positioning on the map.
Over the next few minutes, Agressif comes in and uses Sleight/Chains to control the whole of LGD and then chooses exactly when he wants to take a fight.
From the control they got in the mid lane, CDEC continue the pressure by smoking into the Dire jungle. The fact that Agressif is using Ember Spirit as an initiation hero here shows just how much control he has managed to get over the game and the map. Again, he is so far in front of his team, going forward before Shiki even has time to Blink.
From there, CDEC basically have the whole map on lockdown. Even as the bottom lane is actually pushing in for LGD, they have no control outside of the drawn line. Agressif goes Godlike inside of the LGD base at 28 minutes and despite the game lasting another 10 minutes or so, it is essentially won from here on out.
Although CDEC are out of the Frankfurt Major a bit earlier than they would have liked and most expected, they really are amazing at what they do best. A big part of their loss against OG was down to Agressif being unable to play one of these tempo-controlling carries that can both farm and fight (he was forced into playing Doom in their last game).
In the Upper Bracket game against LGD Agressif managed to achieve so much, so efficiently with his positioning and decision making. Almost everything he did achieved multiple advantages for his team, whether it was space, map control, farming or initiation. They weren’t able to do it against OG, but still GGWP to CDEC!