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With TI6, will Bulba finally win a LAN?

With Kanishka ‘Sam’ “BuLba” Sosale getting a spot at TI6 after winning the Open Qualifiers with Team Secret, will he seize this opportunity to make it the first LAN win of his 9 year career?

BuLba’s no new kid on the block. Playing Dota professionally since 2007, he’s been in pretty good teams; TI3 Liquid, “when did they throw last” EG, Team ‘Qojqva+4’ Tinker and now, Team “where did it all go wrong” Secret.

With TI6, Will BuLba Finally Win a LAN?

So what has BuLba achieved in his career? Well, even in a highly competitive result-oriented game like Dota, the answer to that question really is subjective. BuLba has taken part in a lot of tournaments, though his winrate or average rank as a player isn’t the highest. To understand where exactly BuLba places, I’ve compared him to two other NA offlaners. His former teammate, UNiVeRsE, and ixmike88. (You know what, I’m just going to ignore the capitalization from now on.)

Bulba vs Universe vs ixmike88, the stats

I created a mostly useless spreadsheet where I blatantly copypasta’d the stats from all their online tournaments and LANs from Liquipedia. From this I calculated some numbers between the two players and found this:

Average Tournament Placing

  • The average tournament placing for Bulba is 4.2.
  • The average tournament placing for Universe is 3.7.
  • The average tournament placing for ixmike88 is 4.0, but there is some variance involved since ixmike has played less matches.

Money

  • The median prize money a team that includes Bulba has earned when participating in a tournament is $750. The total prize money earned by Bulba’s teams in 73 tournaments is $356,018. Divided by 5, that’s $150 per tournament and $71,204 lifetime.
  • The median prize money a team that includes Universe has earned when participating in a tournament is $9,433. The total prize money earned by those teams in 63 tournaments is $10.8 million. Divided by 5, that’s $1,887 per tournament and $2,166,004 lifetime.
  • The median prize money a team that includes ixmike has earned when participating in a tournament is $300. The total prize money earned by those teams in 49 tournaments is $110,576. Divided by 5, that’s $60 per tournament and $22,115 lifetime.

The numbers I got were pretty similar to what esportsearnings.com reports for Universe and Bulba, and confirms what we already know. Universe has some mad stacks, Bulba’s doing okay, and ixmike earns enough for 3 steak dinners on average, per tournament. The more interesting part of this is the average placing though, where mike is statistically irrelevantly higher than Bulba. The two have played together on Team Liquid in 2013, so they’re no strangers to each other. But it highlights how stats like these are pretty meaningless to judge players unless you’re at the very top of the ladder and play with post-2014 EG.

Won our hearts, but not a LAN

The more important question here, rather, is how has Bulba not won a LAN? Here’s a list of notable LANs Bulba has not won:

The Manila Major 2016
EPICENTER
The Summit 4
Nanyang Dota 2 Championships
joinDOTA MLG Pro League Season 2
Star Ladder Star Series Season 12
The Summit 2
DreamLeague Season 2
Dota 2 Champions League Season 4
Star Ladder Star Series Season 10
ESL One New York 2014
The International 2014
DreamLeague Season 1
The International 2013
DreamHack Summer 2013
G-1 Champions League Season 5
The International 2012

The closest he came to winning a LAN was back in November 2014 at Dreamhack, at the Dota 2 Champions League Season 4 where he and Team Tinker lost to Navi in the finals. A 2nd place finish at a LAN was Bulba’s highest. If you find Bulba the quiet type in any interviews, it’s probably because he needs to win a LAN before he can talk.

The past year has been full of changes

Bulba’s been on some good teams this year. After not making it into TI5 with Team Tinker who were just then picked up by mousesports, Bulba joined the newly formed Digital Chaos. They had the power of a TI winning Aui_2000 and more importantly, Sunsfan. Through that they were able to Sunsfan their way into Nanyang Dota 2 Championships and eventually WCA 2015. They didn’t place too well there though, finishing pretty much last place in both of those. Indeed, the infamous roster shuffle between EG and Secret in March 2016 is what shook things up. Bulba and Aui left to join EG, filling in the spots of Universe and Arteezy who left to join Team Secret, to some major backlash from the community.

arteezy goes backwards in ti

 

To fully understand the scale of that roster change, you have to look back to those times and introspect. Team Secret had just won the Shanghai major with w33 and Misery, who were kicked to make place for Arteezy and Universe, a mere two days before the roster lock. A team that had the star-power and cohesiveness to win a major abandoned their two players and took a big risk. EG, now without Arteezy and Universe, took on Bulba and Aui, and Digital Chaos took w33 and Misery and rebuilt their roster. All this scrambling within a span of two days. Most of us know what happens next.

secret-and-eg-last-at-manila

Everyone in EG and Secret got shrekt. Realizing the monumental mistake that both these teams had made, Universe quickly ran back to EG, leading to Aui being kicked once again. Zai joined EG, leading to Bulba leaving and joining Secret, along with Aui (who is now one of Team Secret’s coaches). Order had been restored for once. Or had it? Both these teams broke the roster lock meaning they’d both have to qualify for TI through the open qualifiers. Both of them went through, losing no matches along the way.

Team Secret’s chances at TI

I guess the point of this post is to highlight how there are a lot more factors to a player’s success than simple LAN wins, and crushing their way through the open qualifiers will give them a confidence boost, sure, but they’re going to an International now. Bulba was never known as the best offlaner in the world, and in a team with Puppey, Arteezy, Pieliedie and EternalEnvy I don’t know many people who wouldn’t rank him the 5th best player on the team. His recent stint on EG with Aui’s lacklustre carry performance and a general discordant playstyle showed us that he doesn’t have to be the weak link of the team.

So this leaves us in a place where we have to judge Team Secret’s performance as a whole, comparing it to the 15 other teams to see if Bulba has a chance to win his first LAN. How does a tattered and beaten Team Secret reinvigorate themselves to stand up to challengers like Wings and OG at the biggest LAN tournament of all time? If there’s one thing going for them, it’s experience. We could joke about how Secret’s chances at winning TI are 3.22%, but the fact remains that none of the current Team Secret players are strangers to high pressure situations, and it’ll be interesting to see how well they do against newer teams with players who’ve just entered the spotlight. And if there’s one thing Bulba isn’t, it’s new to the scene.

Written by Upamanyu Acharya

I founded Fynestuff. I play games, write TV and tech articles and look towards putting Buzzfeed out of business someday. Reach me on Twitter:
@upa007

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