Top tier teams were spread between two tournaments this week, with a total of 20 teams competing in high-profile LAN tournaments and giving us a lot of data to work with. We’ve written several posts about the current state of the meta, highlighting how the 7.20-7.21b transition widened it through adding new viable heroes to top levels of play, and our statements regarding wider meta hold true.
The meta is also considerably slower on average, especially compared to the hyper-aggressive 7.20, but there are still occasional outdraft-stomps. Hand of Midas started yet another meta-loop, where teams can both get away with an early Midas purchases and win through economic advantage or get punished incredibly hard for their greed.
Overall the game feels very healthy right now, with a very small number of unpicked heroes across both tournaments.
Shadow Shaman, Earth Spirit and Elder Titan are the most successful and popular supports in the professional scene. We’ve covered Shadow Shaman in one of our previous blog posts and the hero is definitely worth picking, especially if you are a greedier type of support.
Earth Spirit is still very much controversial: on one hand, despite all the nerfs over the years, he remains a popular and successful support in the professional scene. On the other hand, his winrate even in the highest pub bracket is still below 50%. It means that you should generally pick him in ranked only if you absolutely know what you are doing, but training on the hero in unranked games is definitely going to be worth it.
Be sure to always carry a tp and communicate with your other lanes when playing against Earth Spirit, since it is still relatively easy to starve out the hero in the early game if you are cautious. Earth Spirit with a bad start is not going to be a big threat until very much later in the game.
Elder Titan also belongs to a category of heroes who require some training, but according to our stats he is either more effective or is easier to execute. His aura works without much involvement from the player, but maximizing his utility during the laning stage does require a modicum of micro. Later on his teamfight presence cannot be overestimated and pub players are generally a lot more prone to fighting, even when they shouldn’t or don’t need to.
Troll Warlord is one of the heroes not covered in our dissecting the meta series and we believe he deserves to be mentioned. The hero boasts 60% win rate in both tournaments and is a great answer to other popular heroes such as Lifestealer and Ursa. He can fight early, apply tower pressure, take Roshan and do well in lane. He isn’t as good in either of these categories as some other meta heroes, but the important part is that he does all of those things and can balance out pretty much any draft.
Leshrac is also making a comeback, frequently picked as an offlaner who can pressure the lane and take towers. He also creates a ton of space for his team in the midgame, especially given good enough start. The hero does fall off incredibly fast once the enemies start getting BKBs, but if you are confident in your lategame he can be a very potent core hero who can occasionally take over the game. On top of it, come level 25, he can once again become a dominant force on the map, regardless of BKB charges.
Warlock is currently underrated, but some teams are starting to notice this hero. In a game where even Phantom Assassins sometimes build Midas before going BKB and Juggernaut is becoming less and less popular, only Lifestealer has an easy way of dispelling Fatal Bonds and this skill can be incredibly powerful in early teamfights and can punish the enemy’s greed. Latest buff to Upheaval also made it considerably cheaper and it can be a great zoning tool in the earlier skirmishes. We will return to the hero in one of our future blog posts.
Slardar is also flying low under the radar of professional players, while doing very well in high level pubs. Having access to a spell immunity-piercing stun on a 4-hit cooldown is massive for a hero who wants to initiate and stay on a priority target, allowing his team to focus it down. The hero has a 60%+ winrate across both tournaments and we will probably see him picked more often in the upcoming Minor and Major.
Viper suddenly emerged in the later stages of both tournaments, taking over the games and keeping up in farm. The hero was discussed in our previous blog post that highlighted how the hero now frequently maxes out Nethertoxin that deals a ton of damage and provides the hero with some flash-farming capabilities. Disabling passives in games against heroes like Monkey King, Phantom Assassin and even Lifestealer is also a very welcome addition to most lineups.
Diverse meta was something that always separated Dota from less competitive and simpler games and it is great to see the strategic variety make a full return. The absence of a single focus on a particular timing dictated by the patch rules ensures that the players are playing against the other team and not the game as a whole, regardless of what strategy they decide to adhere to.
It means that in your pubs you are more or less free to experiment and should react to your enemy. Try unconventional heroes, think of new hero combinations, surprise your opponent and you will start winning more.