Different patch, different country and different tournament format yet both the champions and the meta stay the same. 7.10 might have reinvigorated the pub scene a little bit, but the professional meta is still in a state unworthy of TI6 and TI7 successor.
Fortunately, the new patching schedule still has enough time to address the issues, as there are no signs of improvement in PGL Bucharest compared to ESL One Katowice. Though keep in mind that with both tournaments happening so close to each other, similarities were definitely to be expected — teams simply wouldn’t have time to come up with and polish brand new strategies or experiment with new heroes.
Let’s go for a Spin!
It is hard not to address the biggest hero of the professional meta. Gyrocopter was at 79% P+B Rate in Katowice and at 100% P+B Rate in Bucharest and in both tournaments he won close to 60% of the games he was played in, making him one of the most consistent cores in the professional meta.
We’ve recently looked into how the hero works and why he is suddenly seeing a surge in populairty and all of our points from the previous post still hold true: Gyrocopter is very flexible, strong in lane and scales decently, but he is not a hard carry and is not conventionally overpowered.
The hero is still probably getting nerfed in the next patch: while within a given teamfight his presence and damage output are by all means fair and balanced, the frequency with which Gyrocopter can have fights at his full strength with all his abilities available is simply way too high.
Dragon Knight relies on Dragon Form, Terrorblade needs Metamorphosis, Death Prophet is almost a non-factor without Exorcism, in midgame Luna is truly threatening only with Eclipse available and Juggernaut gets a ton of survivability and damage from Omnislash: cooldowns for these abilities are all over 110 seconds. Gyrocopter gets his Call Down every 55 seconds and it gets down to 45 seconds with levels or even 20 seconds with the appropriate talent.
Naturally, the impact of all the aforementioned spells is hard to compare directly to each other, but if the team with Gyrocopter is setting the tempo it creates a rather imbalanced situation: when you have your abilities off cooldown you can fight the enemy on equal terms, but in a rather decent time window after the fight, regardless of its outcome, you have to avoid engagements and potentially even forgo the tower defences, allowing the enemy team to farm more, take objectives and gain map control.
To make things worse, Gyrocopter is one of the best heroes in the game to acquire early momentum, so the chances of his team being the one to set the tempo are quite high. Hopefully the hero will not receive too many unwarranted nerfs in the upcoming patch with a higher focus on his tempo, rather than overall power level.
Two heroes didn’t transition too well from 7.09 to 7.10: Omniknight and Razor were some of the most successful heroes of Katowice, but fell flat in Bucharest.
In less than two weeks Razor went from an almost 74% win rate hero (19 games) to a 30% win rate hero (10 games). Despite that, his contest rate actually increased from 79% to 84%, albeit the Bucharest meta focused more on banning the hero, rather than picking him.
The hero didn’t receive any drastic nerfs: his laning got a little more costly mana-wise, but both his power level and tempo theoretically should have stayed the same. He didn’t get his hard counters buffed either, since Razor doesn’t technically even have any hard counters.
Perhaps players have adapted to the hero better or would only let him through in situations where his impact would be limited, but only NewBee, Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses managed to win a game with this hero in their draft, while many more teams have tried.
The Omniknight’s story isn’t quite as sad: the hero was decent during the Polish Major, at a comfortable 50% win rate and lost only about 8% win rate in Romania. A lot of it can be attributed to the nerf the hero received, but there was also a distinct change in the hero playstyle: more successful teams would generally fully concentrate on Omniknight’s utility, rather than his damage output and there was only a single instance of Radiance Omni this tournament.
This approach is probably less impactful than what Omniknight could strive for in the earlier patch, but it was also a necessity for the hero to keep his utility in engagements where Guardian Angel was on a cooldown: Guardian Greaves, Eul’s and Aeon Disk became the popular items for the hero, edging out the carry builds.
Despite losing impact on the game and having a very underwhelming performance throughout the tournament, both heroes were in Top3 most contested heroes, once again highlighting that teams might have not had the time to prepare something new for the latest patch.
Who Calls the Dragon Knight?
Apparently, not many teams do. Dragon Knight went from the fifth most contested hero of ESL One to the 14th in PGL Bucharest. His win rate has also been cut by almost 20% from an overwhelming 68% to very reasonable 50%.
The loss of +30 Attack Speed talent has hit the hero harder than many might have imagined: he can no longer be the high-impact frontline tank and for the most part was simply ignored in the engagements. Without being a huge threat he didn’t warrant a response and all the HP, Armor and Regeneration did close to nothing after the comfortable laning stage the hero is accustomed to.
In his current state Dragon Knight is both outcarried and out-tempoed by most other carry heroes in the game. He retains his value as a utility core, but when you are facing something like Enchantress, Death Prophet and Gyrocopter, are you really comfortable with a utility core potentially taking your safelane or mid?
The Rise and Fall of the Titan
One hero that came out of nowhere during Katowice was Elder Titan. Propelled into popularity by Team Liquid in the previous patch, the hero became more ubiquitously popular in the Romanian Major, with many teams better understanding how and when to play him.
Higher recognition ultimately led to hero becoming a lot less scary in terms of statistics: with a roughly similar amount of games played, the win rate for the hero in PGL Bucharest has dropped down to 53.33%, a very tame figure, compared to ESL One’s 64.71%.
The hero definitely lost some of his surprise factor and more teams are now aware how the hero works not only in theory, but also in practice, playing accordingly. Nevertheless, Elder Titan remains a very solid position four support that allows for some overwhelming burst damage and very strong setups.
A 100% contest rate for any hero in any tournament should raise a lot of concern: Dota loses a lot of spectator appeal when there is a single dominant hero throughout the tournament, and Gyrocopter was a part of more than 50% of the games streamed and watched.
Luckily we won’t have to wait for too long until the next patch hits and shakes things up a little bit. 7.10 was supposed to bring more diversity into the game and it didn’t really succeed, despite apparent efforts. More heroes were ignored this tournament compared the last one and the distribution became even more top-heavy.
What are your wishes and predictions for the upcoming 7.11 and what heroes are you the most excited about being played in the professional environment?