The main event for The International 2017 is just about to start but we've already seen some great matches during the group stages, many of them featuring crazy out of this world strats from the best players in the world.
As awesome as it may look during their games however, I am telling you now that some of these won't probably work on your usual queues. I'm telling you because I know you will try.
Spare us all the MMR loss, please.
Lich with Shadow Blade and Phase Boots by PieLieDie
So far, Lich has been Cloud9's go-to support hero for PieLieDie except, of course, for his iconic Dazzle. In the Anime Squad's five games with Lich, PLD has Phase Boots and Shadow Blade four times. The only time he didn't was against Team OG where he opted for the usual Tranquil Boots.
Why Pros Did It: Lich's Talent Tree has been a good investment for damage and attack speed items, particularly the choices for Level 20. As tempting as the +120 Gold/Min buff may sound as a support, it isn't the wisest choice especially when PieLieDie's enemies can burst him down in a blink of an eye.
On the contrary, the +150 Damage buff on Lich keeps him relevant into the late game where his free deny and mediocre slow are a bit obsolete. With Shadow Blade and Phase Boots, you can never ignore the impact of a Level 20 Lich hitting you with a raw 303 attack damage every 0.93 seconds.
Why You Shouldn't Do It: Cloud9's farm distribution allowed PieLieDie to build such items while having their map secured with wards for vision. If you go for the same items I'm willing to bet you end up skipping a few important war, smoke, and manual buys. When you're one of the top 10 supports in the world and you have a team coordinated enough to plan gold distribution, then maybe you try it, but until then, just don't.
And aside from requiring the game to reach 50+ minutes in order for a support to reach level 20, you will be needing a lot of luck to find a carry who can ping you only 10 times if you ever took a single creep on his wave.
Carry/Mid Monkey King (with Battle Fury)
This annoying monkey picked nine times so far in the group stages. Out of those nine times, Monkey King was picked six times as a carry or mid. This strategy was run by Fnatic's QO and AhJit, LGD.ForeverYoung's Monet, and Team Liquid's Miracle for a total of six times.
Why Pros Did It: We can remember Monkey King being nerfed to the ground shortly after he was released but the game's shifting of importance to the early game has helped him climb back to popularity.
Monkey King is a very good laner with an absurd range and mobility for a melee carry. He can also easily zone out his lane counterpart without wasting a bit of his mana thanks to Jingu Mastery. While his farming and ability to last long in clashes may be a drawback, the pros addressed this situation by building Battle Fury.
Why You Shouldn't Do It: The King's winrate as a carry/mid is only at 33%. Expect this strategy to be phased out in the playoffs.
Mid Legion Commander by LGD.Maybe
In all honesty, I'm kind of lost as to the reasons why LGD chose to run this strategy. They could have opted for Maybe's signature Invoker or just a standard Chinese Dragon Knight, but no, a mid Legion Commander versus iG.Vitality. It's like something straight out of the worst pubs.
Why Pros Did It: Exploring a draft can always be an option. For all we know, it could be just Yao forcing Maybe to flex his versatility. It was the perfect time for them to test their hero pool, because before LGD faced iG.V, they were sporting a 5-1 win-loss record. Of course, they were punished by a sweep after that but it never happened throughout the group stages again.
Why You Shouldn't Do It: Legion Commander is not the greatest hero to run your mid with. Although he can stay in the lane longer thanks to Press The Attack, he can be easily outfarmed by staple mid heroes like Queen of Pain or Shadow Fiend. He's also easily bullied by a lane opponent with higher sustain and high armor like Timbersaw.
If you can't really help picking Legion Commander, just stay in the jungle. Go with the cancer you know rather than the cancer you don't.
Slark with Pipe of Insight by EternaLEnVy
Understanding the mind of the greatest theory crafter in Dota works is futile and will leave scientists baffled. I mean, for god's sake even his former teammate SingSing was forced to seek professional help as he himself cannot decipher EternaLEnVy's decision-making abilities.
To blow your mind more, this isn't even the first time EE-sama has built Pipe on his heroes. He's been doing it so often that the Twitch chat has been exploding with @QUOTEMEIFEEBUYS_PIPE whenever C9 plays. Some might even say that EE builds it on every hero (not exactly true but true enough to be a point).
Why Pros Did It: (Here's me trying my best to understand EE's mind * inhale *) Slark is squishy and most vulnerable to spells and lockdowns. Building Pipe helped EternaLEnvY's Slark survive lanes longer thanks to its regeneration. Maybe the debuff purge, invisibility, and leap just aren't enough for EE.
It may also be EE's alternative to Black King Bar. Having BKB as your first item is pretty bad so maybe Pipe is a more convenient early game alternative.
Sure, Pipe can't make you invulnerable to some stuns but it can help you tank them. Imagine a team fight where instead of your supports dying to your enemies' skills just because you're on spell immunity, they are now wasting their mana and cooldowns without accomplishing much.
Why You Shouldn't Do It: Pipe of Insight is a team fight-centric item and you need a particularly skilled support for it to be run successfully. But on pubs, your support is your 2k classmate Rodel who couldn't even solve a math problem.