One of the potential benefits of the longer patch lifecycle is that the execution gets to be in the spotlight in every single game. Because there is little room for a drafting stage surprise, games are mostly decided by better coordination and execution. The meta itself might not be too exciting, but the level of play at this Major feels like it is the International all over again.
Yet there are still some things to discuss in terms of meta. Most notably, against all odds, Broodmother is suddenly the most contested hero. She is the highest priority ban and is the fourth highest winrate hero among characters who appeared in more than 10% of all group stage games.
The strongest situational pick is Disruptor with a 67% winrate across 21 games. Between the added damage on Glimpse, how high value Thunder Strike is in lane and the potential late game scaling with Aghanim’s Scepter, Disruptor is certainly a support to keep an eye on. As long as the team has the hard disable portion of the draft covered.
When it comes to carries, Morphling managed to dethrone Lina as the highest winrate character. He definitely wasn’t as contested and we feel like teams didn’t necessarily prepare for Morphling as much as they did for Lina, but among all the Agility carries and carries in general, Morphling definitely feels the strongest. His Aghanim’s Scepter is way too good against any Agility hero and his general scaling ensures a very comfortable lategame against non-Agility cores.
Puck is also up there. It seems there is no getting rid of this elusive and annoying menace and when played by the best players in the world, Puck is still a force to be reckoned with. With a 65% winrate across 26 games we feel like this hero is as deserving of nerfs as Lina is. They might not be as popular or as straightforward, but there are probably no heroes in the game who have that much flexibility: Puck has split push options for stalling, nuke options for ganking, exceptionally strong teamfight abilities and is also incredibly elusive.
In the Meta Staples category we would really like to highlight Treant Protector. He is still the most powerful position five support in the game and is in the top15 most contested heroes of the tournament. There isn’t much to add to what we’ve been discussing in our blog posts for the last month. We feel like the hero does wonders both in highly coordinated professional games, as well as chaotic pubs. Will probably get nerfed, so you have about a week left to gain some easy MMR.
Enigma also emerged as one of the better offlaners of the patch. Despite the nerfs to Wraith Pact, multiple nerfs to Eidolons and a focus on strong laning carries, this hero is finding a lot of success. Perhaps it is because Enigma can reliably get Guardian Greaves earlier than most heroes or perhaps the Black Hole control and Midnight Pulse percentage-based damage are too good against some of the tankier targets. Regardless of the reasons, we are always happy to see the hero on the big stage: the amount of hype Enigma generates is unparalleled.
Leshrac is also doing incredibly well. It looked like he was figured out already, but the good old Bloodstone rush is as potent as ever, it seems. Not a lot has changed for Leshrac in the last several patches, but we feel like the current infatuation with Guardian Greaves on offlaners is sometimes delaying Spirit Vessel timings and that allows Leshrac to contribute earlier and accelerate harder.
Pangolier is another mid who consistently outperforms other heroes. He is probably the most disruptive teamfight mid and the somewhat recent Diffusal Blade build allows him to be a good ganking hero as well. Playing Pango well takes practice, but it is definitely worth it and we feel that even if the hero gets nerfed, his concept is just too strong to completely balance out of the game. He is also a lot of fun to watch and play.
Multiple heroes really stand out in this category. There are some that are being picked quite often and don’t do well, and then there is Queen of Pain, who was picked only six times and didn’t manage to win a single game. That is unsurprising, really: the hero offers a comparable amount of damage to heroes like Puck, Pangolier, Ember Spirit etc. and doesn’t offer anything else. Her utility is close to zero, her damage doesn’t scale as well and the end result is a hero who has no place in the current realities of Dota, evident from a 0% winrate.
Surprisingly, Drow Ranger is also doing pretty poorly: she is at 30% winrate across 20 games. The conditional damage output can be tough to utilize well, but we felt like having access to a potential 70% heal and regen reduction for 1400 gold should have upped the hero’s popularity and success. Perhaps Drow Ranger is just too easy to play around: after all simply standing next to her makes her damage output fall dramatically.
Crystal Maiden and Silencer are two supports who also find themselves outclassed. With a 30% winrate, both probably suffer from the same thing: they can quickly get irrelevant in the midgame, because of the amount of dispels in the game.
Ironically, we feel like Crystal Maiden also suffers from Arcane Aura becoming good. Previously it was completely ignorable until level four or more. With a full inventory of Mangos and an aggressive Frostbite and Nova only build, Crystal Maiden could bully pretty much any hero out of her lane. Nowadays, because Arcane Aura is actually good for your lane, this play seems suboptimal, with many players option for an early Arcane Aura value point. This cuts into the hero’s aggressive potential, though, making her less potent when it comes to actual skirmishes, not just trades.
Finally, there is Rubick, who is quite different from the other heroes in this category. His winrate is actually not that bad, sitting at 44%. Unlike other heroes, though, he was picked in 75 games and is the fifth most contested hero of the tournament. We feel like the hero is still very good: he counters and deals with many threats and can be a game-changer. At the same time we also feel like he might be a little overrated and should not be a first phase pick, but rather a good second phase one, when you already know that you will get something to play with.