After taking a long break from Dota 2, no matter what your reasons may be, picking up one of your favorite heroes again feel like a dream.

Anathan “ana” Pham, standing in for Team Liquid’s Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen, wasted no time. After more than a year away from the competitive circuit, his first game back was on one of his signature heroes, Spectre—a pivotal hero in his first The International championship run in 2018.

Ana shows off Spectre’s global and scaling potential against TSM FTX despite the loss

Dota 2 Spectre Flowing Entropy
Credit: Valve

In a meta that prioritizes constant brawling, leading to a meta shift for position ones that can fight early, Spectre can feel slow and unwieldy. As games speed up at higher skill levels, Spectre becomes worse—evident by the hero’s decreasing win rate across increasing ranks, according to Dotabuff.

But Team Liquid had no qualms picking up Spectre for their substitute against TSM in the opening series of the Riyadh Masters Dota 2 tournament.

The Western Europe team leveraged the pick with plenty of initiation and global potential, letting ana mop up kills as needed.

The strategy appeared to be working beautifully in the early game. Following a relatively calm laning stage, ana found himself near the top of the net worth charts. Liquid showed the lineup’s strengths with solid Tidehunter and Marci initiations that allowed Dawnbreaker and Spectre to fly in for supplemental damage.

While Liquid maintained a tri-core of relatively even farm, TSM had all their eggs in the Terrorblade basket. Enzo “Timado” O’Connor repaid his team’s faith with a brilliant farming performance, racking up over 1,100 gold per minute, with items coming out of his ears.

Offlaner Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek’s Night Stalker also got the better of Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg’s Tidehunter in numerous fights with his Crippling Fear silence, rendering Tide unable to get off good ravages.

Though it looked hopeless, ana and the rest of Liquid were no strangers to tough comebacks. In the face of a terrifyingly farmed Terrorblade, Liquid pulled out a great defense as TSM threatened to end the game at the 42-minute mark.

Ana, after failing to kill the opposing Tiny, had the presence of mind to quickly teleport back to refill his resources after seeing Timado looming with Terrorblade. Haunting back into the fight, he finished the job on Tiny, before chasing for more.

A quick Manta Style micro baited Timado into thinking an illusion was the real Spectre, leading the Terrorblade to Sunder it. Caught without his major defensive spells, Terrorblade finally fell—leaving ana with a triple kill after the carnage.

Unfortunately for Liquid and the smattering of old OG fans tuning in, ana was unable to turn that success into much else. Timado was too big to fail, and subsequent pushes up the high ground confirmed that yes, doubling the net worth of any opposing hero meant that Terrorblade could delete anybody in a few hits.

But for a player who had been away for the competitive scene for so long, it was another great showing for ana. There will be more of the 22-year-old to come during the Riyadh Masters 2022—but fans will hope that there’s more for the Australian after this competition.

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