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    Dota 2 – Analyzing 6.88 Top Tier Carries

    Ever since June of this year, 6.88 has been the balance patch of Dota 2. The patch has been celebrated as one of the best in DotA/Dota2’s history under Icefrog. Only a few weeks remain for 6.88, as the Boston Major is supposed to be the last event. Going into the event, it’s worth looking into the carries that have been the most dominant so far and are likely going to continue their run in Boston.

    Drow Ranger

    For the longest time in Dota 2 history, Drow Ranger has been a niche pick. People deemed it too risky to run the hero without a particular line-up around here and even then it had to be a surprise pick.

    This year, that all changed. TI6 champions Wings started to draft the hero as early as firstpicking it. They didn’t mind giving away the information, that they were going to play a Drow Ranger line-up. They knew opponents couldn’t deal with it, regardless of that information.

    She quickly evolved into a first pick for many. A new way to build her and a more consistent way to play around her allows Drow Ranger to be the most successful carry of 2016. She was the 4th most contested hero at TI6, with a 56% winrate.

    Drow Ranger is a great carry that can enable the rest of the team to hit twice as hard in the early stages of the game. She can push towers well and with the now established itembuild ( Dragon Lance into Hurricane Pike, it becomes increasingly difficult to kill her. She can siege well and even has kill potential early on–in hindsight it feels weird to think that she ever wasn’t a top tier pick.

    She’s not only a fearsome hero in competitive matches. For months now, Drow Ranger has been among the most successful heroes in the 5k+ MMR bracket recently as well and is currently at a 53% winrate with a 16% pickrate.


    Similarly to Drow Ranger, Luna benefitted a lot from the introduction of Dragon Lance and Hurricane Pike. In many ways, she could be regarded as a weaker version of Drow, with better teamfight presence and a stronger comeback potential. Unlike Drow Ranger, Luna isn’t on the same timer and doesn’t need a specific line-up around her. Certainly, many European teams have started to pick Luna to combo it with a Shadow Demon–the illusions from Disruption allows a team to siege highground quite effectively.

    Still, Luna isn’t as all in of a bet as Drow Ranger sometimes seems to be, while still providing a lot of similar pushing potential. And unlike Drow Ranger, Luna can deviate significantly from the standard item build. Going for a more classic Helm of the Dominator into Yasha/ Manta Style and then a BKB and Butterfly is very well possible as well.

    With 36 picks during the Boston Major qualifiers, Luna is by no means a top pick right now. She is however a first class carry that is especially favored in Europe. 19 of those 36 picks were in Europe alone. With a 53% win- and a 13% pickrate in 5k+ MMR games, Luna is definitely a force to be reckoned with in pubs.


    Sven has gone in and out of the competitive scene for years and never found much popularity and success in pubs either. The introduction of Echo Sabre has allowed Sven to become a fearsome pick in both.

    Sven’s forte was always the ability to farm quickly and his tankiness made it difficult for opponents to kill him. His biggest weakness however has always been the fact that people can kite him around quite easily. While Echo Sabre doesn’t solve that issue, it provides Sven with the ability to burst down a target immediately. Blink->stun->hit. Before, that very same combo would not necessarily yield a kill and would leave Sven open for counter initiation. In most cases, with an Echo Sabre, it will be a kill nowadays.

    As teamfights become more important, Sven can shine even further. Warcry is an excellent teamfighting ability and if he’s allowed to hit multiple opponents at once, he can clear out enemies quite easily. He’s an excellent highground sieger with enough items and a strong Aegis carrier. A more detailed look at his versatility can be found here.

    A 52% win- and an 11% pickrate aren’t outstanding in the 5k+ MMR bracket, but it still shows that Sven is here to stay.


    Half a year ago, we discussed that Juggernaut has always been an integral part of both competitive and pub play. That is still very true today, possibly more so than ever before. As the meta shifted and more and more carries occupied the midlane, Juggernaut rose to the top of the ranks. Both Healing Ward and Blade Fury make it difficult to gank/kill him and his high attack damage allow him to farm head to head with other midlaners. A simple Poor Man’s Shield makes him survivable against any harass from any ranged opponent.

    As a result, Juggernaut advanced to one of the more popular carries in 6.88, as he could be picked early and would thus leave a team very flexible with both drafting and laning.

    Currently, many favor the Manta + Diffusal Blade build, something which allows Jugger to be very strong and survivable at the same time. But his item flexibility is what makes the hero strong. If necessary, he can build both Blink Dagger and Abyssal Blade to be the initiator his team needs, or he can go down the classic hardcarry route with Desolator, Butterfly, Monkey King Bar and/or Eye of Skadi. More on DPS itemization on cores can be read here.

    Juggernaut was the 2nd most picked carry at TI6, right after Drow Ranger, and the most picked hero during the Boston Major qualifier. No matter which region, no matter which skill bracket, Juggernaut is everywhere. He’s the 6th most picked hero across all brackets in pub games.

    The most diverse patch yet

    By now, everybody should know how diverse 6.88 has been. 105 different heroes have been picked at TI6, a stunning number for a game like Dota. Anything is playable and these are only some of the popular carries right now. There are other, noteworthy cores that have made a splash, such as Slark, Medusa or Naga Siren.

    Which core has been your personal “carry of 6.88”? Let us know in the comments below!


    Headline image by Nannou

    DeviantArt | biggreenpepper

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