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    Dota 2 – How the Meta Changed Since TI7

    Two months ago, Team Liquid and Newbee battled it out for the title of the world champion. The European team emerged victorious in the first 3-0 finals at a Valve event, securing almost $11,000,000 in prizemoney.

    A lot of time has passed since, but no major balance patch has come. 7.06f addressed some minor things, but the patch has stayed the same overall. But has the meta stayed the same?

    TI Meta

    The International 2017 saw mobile initiators at the top of the most picked list, especially roamers. The likes of Earthshaker, Sand King, but also Batrider and Puck were the most picked heroes at TI, most notably because of their initiating capabilities but also because of the flexibility they provide teams during both draft and laning stage.

    That said, when we look at the TI meta, it’s important to distuingish between its group stage and the main event/playoffs. The meta is usually more refined in the playoffs, as a tournament’s meta takes time to develop itself. The core of Earthshaker, Nyx Assassin, Sand King and Night Stalker remained at the top, but they were closely followed by Lich and as the 7th most picked hero in the playoffs, Necrophos established himself as a fearsome pick.

    The Post TI Meta

    The post TI meta continued where the TI meta left off, with Lich and Necrophos rising in popularity. Both have become a pub nightmare for many, Lich especially has stayed rather dominant since, presenting the 5th highest win rate in pubs and being the most banned hero at the recent StarLadder i-League Minor. With the exception of the PGL Minor qualifiers, both heroes have been among the top 5 most contested heroes in the Minor and Major qualifiers of the current season, right next to Night Stalker. The roaming support has fallen in popularity a little bit, though remains especially popular in China, where he originally rose to fame.

    There are two other heroes that have made a lot of top 5 appearances as well and that have continued to be top picks at the first Minor of the season.

    Venomancer was the most picked hero at the recent StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3 and has been a top pick ever since TI concluded. The hero provides a lot of flexibility, as he can play virtually any position and is a safe first phase pick, as he doesn’t have many hard counters. Venomancer was so strong going into TI, that Icefrog saw it necessary to nerf him in 7.06e, which did result in a decline in his popularity in pro play for a short while, but he’s definitely back at the top now. Winning 8 out of 12 games at StarLadder, Venomancer proved to be yet another key pick for teams.

    Another popular hero in the recent qualifiers was Nature’s Prophet. The hero made a comeback at TI with Liquid and LFY showing the potential of the hero, a lane dominator and hero to secure objectives early on. He’s been popular ever since TI, and while he may not have been as popular at StarLadder as he has been in the qualifiers leading up to it, Furion is a prime pick for potential nerfs in the upcoming balance patch.

    Let Oblivion ring with Pugna’s endless victories!

    Of all the post-TI trend picks, no hero stands out as much as Pugna does. From a rather insignificant amount of picks at TI (16), to now being the third most picked hero at the Minor (11), Pugna has come a long way since Liquid lifted the Aegis of Champions. The intelligence hero has become a staple for many, a flex pick that can be laned virtually anywhere and that can apply early pressure. Pugna is exceptionally strong throughout the midgame as well, providing sustain for cores or being a big nuisance to enemies.

    In pubs, Pugna is picked in almost 12% of all 5k+ MMR games, while maintaining a 51% win rate. Buff after buff, Pugna has slowly crept from total niche pick to a top pick, putting the hero at the center of the current meta.

    New Meta?!

    But how different is the current meta from the one at TI? We established that a lot of heroes are still popular as they were before, but the data shows that innovation is still very present.

    Chen has been a rather contested pick at the recent Minor (7 picks, 17 bans) and the CIS region has shown to be very fond of Enchantress, while our competitive meta report from September shows that Broodmother has become a very situational pick again. Bloodseeker, while a bit of a niche pick at TI, has become much more situational as well. Mineski’s Iceiceice even established an offlane Winter Wyvern as a viable option.

    Then there is Monkey King, who started to be established as a carry at TI and has long since become an established carry. Visage has seen much more mid play lately and the CIS region has made Chaos Knight a very popular hero as well. Bane is slowly gaining in popularity and then there’s Spirit Breaker, who hasn’t gotten a lot of love at TI, but who’s been a top pick in pubs for a while and whose presence in competitive play is also felt these days.

    As much as fans may hate to hear it, but the meta continues to change even without a balance patch, though that doesn’t mean the game couldn’t need a fresh coat of paint.

    As seen on Dotabuff

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