If you follow our blog, you may have noticed that we tackle a lot of meta related content. We like breaking down heroes that are relevant to both the pub and the professional scene. And the higher the skill, the more do picks and behaviour mimic those of the pros. It is not simply a one-sided relationship though. While pubs do try to learn from the pros, it is the pub scene where new strategies, picks, and builds are usually born.
Looking at the most successful heroes in the 5k+ MMR bracket, we can see that most of them are also popular and successful in the pro scene. There are, however, a few outliers, most notably Omniknight. The hero has consistently topped the charts of the Pub Tier Lists these past patches and is consistent in both win and pickrate across all brackets.
So why is he, amongst other heroes, very much outside of the meta?
Before we talk about that, let’s look at Omniknight’s pub statistics. Across all brackets, he sits above 56% winrate, peaking at 61% in the 3-4k bracket. He may not be as popular (33rd overall), but is still amongst the top 15 most picked heroes in the 5k MMR bracket.
Too niche, not enough king
We have covered other heroes before that are very situational, but in those situations they are likely to be key picks that can break the game–a Clinkz or Slark for example. Much like these heroes, Omniknight fills a niche. He is best utilized to assist your core, often so that said core doesn’t need to purchase a BKB by himself early on..
Unlike Clinkz or Slark, Omniknight has no designated lane. With the other heroes, you know they need to be played as cores, since they need the farm to excel. Only rarely will you see them outside of the safelane. Omniknight, on the other hand, is a difficult case to make. He needs xp to be able to contribute, but is not a hero to apply pressure on the map or the opponent, simply by reaching a certain level. He’s no Clockwerk that you need to look out for once he hits level 6.
Heroes that share these downsides are Venomancer and Necrophos. Both heroes are quite successful in higher level pubs (52% and 54% winrate respectively), both heroes are rather niche picks (3% and 6% pickrate), but neither of them is the knock-out punch pick that immediately turns a draft from even to outdraft.
Much like Omniknight, neither hero excels in a certain position. While Necrophos certainly requires the farm and xp that comes with a position 1 carry, he doesn’t acquire that farm easily and his damage output is rather weak early on. Venomancer is plagued by the same issue. He needs the xp and farm to reliably be in teamfights and maximize his ultimate’s potential, but similar to Omniknight, his presence, or lack thereof, on the map only rarely causes a sweat for the opponents. Yet, his primary laning options are among the core positions and yet again he doesn’t necessarily excel at either.
Omniknight and Necro share yet another common downside: All three have issues itemizing properly. Part of the reason why Dota is such a complex, yet appealing game is because, in the right situation, any item is viable. Some heroes are usually more straightforward and some heroes are really flexible, like Juggernaut.
These two heroes however are in an awkward position. There are items you need, like the Aghanim’s Scepter, but you can’t always rush it and what you build afterwards is up in the air. Neither Necro nor Omni farm particularly fast enough to rush an Agh’s and call it a day. Usually you see an item or two before that, for utility purposes, such as Drum of Endurance, Aether Lens or Rod of Atos.
Farming items proves especially difficult for Omniknight, who, despite being farm and xp dependant, needs to be with his team to be effective, similar to Necro,although Necro can farm more reliably.
While Venomancer has a rather straightforward itemization–Agh’s, Blink Dagger, Veil of Discord, Octarine Core–there are only a few cases where you could deviate from this path and still be effective.
So if these heroes have all these difficulties, what makes them so great in pubs? The most obvious observation here is that pubs are not pro matches. The most played mode is All Pick, thus no captains are present to draft strategies together–the whims of an individual can change the entirety of the game.
Another easy observation is that pubs aren’t as coordinated and structured as pro matches tend to be. These attributes are needed though in order to fight the likes of Omniknight and co properly. Disengaging when a big teamfight ultimate has been used, regrouping afterwards or keeping a certain ability just to counter Reaper Scythe–these are tactics and strategies that require a level of communication, but also skill, that only rarely exists in pubs, especially the lower the skill bracket.
Worst of all however, this communication and general understanding of the game is usually what prevents the likes of Necrophos to be laned effectively outside of the safelane. In the 5k bracket however, he has the 4th highest recorded winrate in the offlane, topped only by Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter and – surprise surprise – Omniknight.
A bigger part of why these heroes are so successful though is that neither have great, intuitive counters. There is no pick that immediately lets you fall into despair when you first picked a Venomancer. There are items that certainly mess with you ( Diffusal Blade or Glimmer Cape), which is also part of the reason these heroes aren’t as popular in pro games, but that would still be an entire item dedicated for an offlaner or even a support, a carry at best and Glimmer Cape is only a soft counter to Reaper Scythe, especially now that it has become less popular.
Not meta enough
At the end of the day, these heroes are not bad by any means. They have their strengths like any other hero, unfortunately those strengths are just not always asked for. They are the one tool at the bottom of the toolbox, the tool that you never need. But when you do need it, it’s there and probably the only one that can help you out.
Neither of the three heroes have really been able to leave their mark on a meta so far. They have had their moments–who doesn’t remember the (in)famous Evil Geniuses Knight-Strat–but they just never were meta enough to consistently shine on stage and are unlikely to ever be.
Armor of Heavenly Light Set by prosto-mogy