Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Returners

During my last post I briefly mentioned The Returners. What actually ended up happening was I started writing an essay on the team instead of concentrating on the actual article at hand so I had to cut out a large portion of writing. Nevertheless, I figure the team themselves deserves a topic of their own because they are the most talked about team during DreamHoN: Destination Dreamhack with the inactivity of Complexity and Trademark eSports in this tournament.

Let me start out by saying that I have no problem with any members of The Returners. A couple people on the team I would consider to be influential HoN players and upstanding members of the community, but I also want to be completely candid about them.

I know there are a lot of people who look at The Returners as a powerhouse team, but in all realness, this team has little to no hope of going through the group stages and even less hope if they were to somehow make it to Dreamhack. Why? It's my opinion that they don't have enough of the two things that matter: Experience and Passion.

The most experienced competitive player on this team is Fittske, who has been active in the Heroes of Newerth and DOTA 2 competitive scene for basically the last year; after that it's a pretty close tie between Kookiez (who has yet to play in the group stages) and Emperor (aka Brized.) Then you have Ensoe, Jeppins, and AngryTestie who have been more or less inactive in the competitive scene for at least the last year.

Mechanically, these guys all still have what it takes. Testie still knows how to maximize farm and be effective during the stages of the game when he's expected to be effective, but the rest of his team simply isn't helping him get there. I'm not 100% convinced his high level game sense is back yet, and regardless of what anyone wants to believe, playing 1500-1700 level games with less than skilled teammates (or customers if you're Testie) doesn't do you any favors in keeping your skills razor sharp, which they need to be since the level of play in 2012 is exponentially higher than it was even in 2011.

A lot of people give Emperor praise for running unique hero lineups and being "effective" with lesser used heroes, specifically War Beast and Cthuluphant. The problem with this is that it is easily countered by either blind banning War Beast, or picking him yourself. He's not the hardest hero to work with and since his recent buffs, hitting 400+ gpm on him in the jungle is really no special feat unless you're constantly getting harassed. Cthuluphant is just a sub-par hero with little to no role in the current meta, an easy to dodge stun that still gets caught up on small parts of the map, a jungling ability that allows him to keep his GPM above 100 all game and an awesome but relatively ineffective passive because it requires a hero with relatively low innate damage output to kill things to get the maximum efficacy out of it. I find that his drafting in general is extremely predictable, which wont work against most Top 10 teams.

The player who I am actually most excited to see is Jeppins, who played for tSm way back in the day and made me long for the likes of KiWiKiD, Chemizt and Therg to play HoN once more. Jeppins can be found pubbing it up with Bkid most nights that he streams and is very entertaining as he is effective at heroes that are not only underplayed, but also fun to watch and effective (Bombadier and Kinesis are two of his signature heroes.)

Fittske is Fittske and one of the most stable support players in the game. There isn't anything negative to be said about him skillwise as he's been the most active and it shows by his heads up gameplay in every game they've played thus far. On the other hand, you have to question his passion for playing Heroes of Newerth. He's been playing a lot of DOTA 2 and even though I always knew he would return for HoN Tour, where is his head at as far as Destination Dreamhack is concerened?
The missing element from The Returners is, and will remain to be, Tarano. When this team formed, a lot of people were excited to see the return of Testie, which is fair; but I was most excited to see Tarano. Unfortunately, Tarano being Tarano came back for a couple days and scrimmed and then publicly announced he doesn't like HoN or want to play it and exited in standard DWi fashion.
I don't really know what the roles are as far as the team is concerned and I'm not sure this team has any real leadership. Sure they have a drafter and have set roles for gameplay and maybe someone calls out strategies in games, but leadership and the other roles are much more than that. If Brized says jump do they ask why? Or do they just do it? What about the levels of passion, not just from Fittske as I mentioned earlier, but from the rest of the team? I have no doubt that Emperor really wants to do something amazing in the competitive scene, but I don't really get much emotion from the other players on the roster. If you don't have five players on your competitive team who are all in on competing in Heroes of Newerth, can you really expect to do well? I don't think so, as Fnatic showed during the DreamHoN Online Summer Championships. If you're heart's not in it, you can't expect to win against those who are.

I think The Returners have an excellent opportunity to be a Top 10 team once HoN Tour starts if they decide to stick it out, but after they realize they have no chance to place in the Top 3 of Destination Dreamhack will they actually do that? Only time will tell.


  1. Great little blog you have here, Phil. Keep at it if you have the time, I thoroughly enjoy your writing.

  2. Hi Phil, I've seen the Returners play five or six games (scrims and Destination Dreamhack matches) and I believe you've missed some key reasons why the team is failing. First of all is Brized's drafts, uggh, I really don't want to seem like I'm flameing but he does a very poor job of picking strong lanes. His roaming Chultuphant might've worked when he first re-entered the competitive scene as a member of Fray but it's become far to predictable and I feel like when The Returners have played against high level teams that their enemies ENCOURAGE him to play that Chultu. I would really like to see Brized pick up Parasite and play in the same fashion as he scales much better and can gank even more effectively. To add on to the predictability of Brized's draft, when the Returners faced QsQ, sqy banned Kinesis and War Beast against the Returners and as a fresh-team, the Returners seemed lackluster without those heroes. There is wrong with playing off the wall heroes but you must punish the enemy for wasting those types of bans, as the Legion side the Returners should instantly be locking a Tundra or Jeraziah and capitalizing on weak bans by the other team.
    Another problem I see with the team is between Fittske and Brized, theirs to much wasted time roaming around. It seems like Testie is always by himself in lane or that Jeppins isn't really getting strong ganks. I know that the supports job is really to just provide good lane control but I would like to see them doing a better job of letting their farmers get ahead in the lane before they go off on their roaming adventures.
    As for Ensoe, well, I think he needs to pick heroes that suit his style better. Give him a Magmus or a Moraxus, not an Ophelia.
    Last but not least, Testie needs to do a better job in lane. Yes he farms well but he always lets his opponent farm 300gpm or better even though Testie always seems to have a huge matchup advantage. It's good that he's getting great farm but I think in the laneing phase he should be more focused on controlling the lane rather than farming it.
    As I said, this is by no means flameing the Returners, they seem to be pretty sharp for guys who haven't been on the scene in awhile, minus Brized, and I get that they need to gel. This is just some constructive criticism, most of it I believe you overlooked.

  3. Thoughts on the returners defeating TTES?