The group stage for the last big tournament of the season is over and it was full of surprises, upsets, and unconventional picks. It clearly shows that 6.88 intends to go out with a bang, with 84 different picks and bans. However, there were some definitive trends in the tournament’s meta, and some heroes have definitely performed better than the others.
Undoubtedly, many teams will have pocket strategies, and in a single elimination format we should expect weaker teams to throw all they’ve got at their opponent. However, despite a rather small sample size, these trends can be used as a prediction for what awaits us during the main event.
Most Contested Heroes
Batrider, despite all the nerfs over the last couple of years, still remains one of the most coveted heroes in the professional Dota. His ability to reliably disrupt the enemy positioning is unique and teams tend to fall back to this hero in most big tournaments. The hero was picked or banned in 92% of the matches.
He was closely followed by Ogre Magi and Drow Ranger, with a 88% and 76% contest rate respectively. Interestingly, both Drow Ranger and Batrider have been predominantly banned, while Ogre Magi was allowed to go through the first ban stage most of the time.
Overall, the pick and ban distribution has been significantly more top heavy, with 14 heroes appearing as either a pick or ban in more than 50% of the games. For comparison, only 10 heroes have been so popular during TI6 LAN stage.
Most Picked Heroes
Ogre Magi, Rubick and Luna with Shadow Demon have been the most popular picks during the group stage. At this point, seeing Ogre Magi as the top pick of the tournament so far is unsurprising. The hero might not bring the highest amount of utility to the table, however he does it reliably and requires almost no farm and XP to be effective. He is an excellent bully for both mid and safelane and can enable a lot of currently popular core heroes, especially the ones who typically struggle with either attack or movement speed.
Rubick, on the other hand, came completely out of the blue. The hero was largely ignored during TI6 and the recent The Summit 6, which had occasional picks from the Chinese teams during the D2CL. However, it seems that the hero is here to stay—he had a 56% win rate across 25 games and was sometimes even played as a mid core.
Luna and Shadow Demon, each with 17 picks, need no introduction. These heroes are exceptional together and fully functional independently. Though it is worth pointing out that while Luna has proven to be one of the top carries of the tournament, with a 70.59% win rate, Shadow Demon’s performance was lackluster, with a win rate of 41.18%. When played together, on the same team, these heroes have won six games and lost five. It seems that one part of the highly sought after duo is actually dragging its partner down.
Most Consistently Successful Picks
Io, Luna and Nyx Assassin have been the most successful consistently picked heroes. They have appeared in more than 20% of all matches, with win rates of 72.73%, 70.59% and 63.64% respectively.
Interestingly, unlike in most other big tournaments, there wasn’t a typical emphasis on the Wisp. He didn’t even make it into the chosen 14, with a contest rate of slightly below 50%. His popularity has also been relatively evenly spread between Eastern and Western teams. However, there was a slight difference in the playstyles of the regions, with EU/CIS and NA teams primarily focusing on his Relocate ability, while the Chinese teams have emphasised his teammate saving capabilities.
Nyx Assassin was another resurgent hero. The increase in popularity of Outworld Devourer probably has a lot to do with this trend. Nyx not only hard-counters one of the most popular mids, but can also serve as a deterrent during the draft. This makeshift ban also leaves OD open for grabs for the team with Nyx on it, allowing for strong outpick potential. To a lesser extent, Nyx also counters several other popular heroes, such as Batrider.
Clockwerk, Lifestealer and Shadow Demon have been overrated by the teams during the group stage. Clockwerk has managed to win only 3 games out of 11 he was played in, while Lifestealer was only marginally better, with 4 wins across 12 games.
Clockwerk’s popularity was rather surprising, given how the hero has been out of meta for a very long time. He cannot farm the jungle efficiently and cannot boast high survivability in lane, making him incredibly inconsistent. But even when his early game goes fairly well, he doesn’t necessarily has a lot to offer—his damage output, while potentially high, takes a long time to fully kick in; his only hard disable has a massive cooldown and a relatively short duration; finally, mobility has been one of the highest priorities for many core heroes, which has significantly reduced the window of opportunity for Clockwerk to shine. Once the enemy team gets Force Staff, the hero essentially becomes irrelevant in teamfights.
Lifestealer has a very similar problem. Mobility has been valued extremely high by the professional players, with top teams frequently prioritizing survivability over DPS in the early-mid game. Under these circumstances, Lifestealer cannot thrive consistently and more often than not gets kited until all of his teammates are wiped out. He also tends to fall off in terms of farm really fast, especially compared to heroes like Luna or Sven, making him a very risky pick.
Majors lose to The International in terms of scale, but definitely not in terms of quality of the games. Despite a lower pick diversity, the Boston Major has been a very exciting tournament so far. The lower diversity is also understandable, given how close we are to the end of the lifecycle of this patch. For the most part, it has been figured out and we can see the meta slowly converging on some focal points.
However, we shouldn’t forget that the tournament format is very different this time around. It promotes unexpected strategies and unconventional lineups and it makes every game mean so much more. With that in mind, it is better to be ready for surprises, as no matter how illogical it sounds, they are to be expected.