The International has always been a catalyst and trendsetter for Dota pubs in the days after. How many rolled Earthshaker after seeing the hero seal six-million dollars for EG? What about Axe when wings.gaming won TI6 with the hero as their last-pick?
It isn’t always about the most picked, or even the strongest, hero of the meta, but the context in which the hero was played. Team Liquid won TI7 in part because each of their players was outstanding on a handful of heroes, few of whom were favored by other competing teams.
Even with 7.06f dampening some of the meta, TI7 inspired a wave of players trying out a new set of heroes. Even Earth Spirit, historically one of the least picked heroes in Dota, saw a small spike in popularity (1.3%).
During the main event he was the 19th most contested hero and was further down the list during the group stage. His potency in the meta was realized later at TI, and even more in the hands of Team Liquid, who had a 11-0 record with the hero across both the group stage and the main event.
Venomancer is often underrated in pubs because his impact isn’t immediate. There isn’t going to be a six million dollar Poison Nova, even if it has the potential of dealing thousands of damage (up to 1870 to a single unit). Though his ward vision was recently nerfed in 7.06f, it doesn’t hamper his ability to scout Roshan and pester opponents trying to Blink Dagger in a fight. By the end of TI7, Venomancer popularity in pubs increased by 4 points.
Earthshaker had a gradual increase in pick rate, but one of the largest net differences. He hit his peak pick rate after TI at 25.12%, nearly 9 points higher than his popularity before the event. Earthshaker has always been a popular hero, and even though one of his strengths is his flexibility in lanes, he’s more often a core in the offlane in pubs than in a support role, but if Team Liquid had a hand in highlighting the strength of certain heroes, then pub players should have also seen the kind of work Liquid.Gh did with ES in the 4 position.
Necrophos peaked at a 23.25% pick rate after TI, a 6.5 point increase in his popularity. As it turns out, up until patch 7.06f, he also had the highest pub win rate of patch 7.06d. The changes to his Scythe cooldown and Ghost Shroud aren’t likely to push him out of the top. He’s still able to give his team a power play and heal himself to full HP with a Magic Stick.
Keeper of the Light
His popularity rose during the beginning of the main event (from 5 to 8% by the end of TI), when he him and Wisp were 1a and 1b target bans against Team Liquid. Out of all the other support heroes in the meta, it is strange to see KOTL still so far down in popularity. He fits into the pub meta of support heroes that gets a pass for being greedy.
Nature’s Prophet pick rate shot up by 3.5%, to 11.53%, in the final days of TI7. Credit goes to Liquid.Mind_ControL, who was the pivotal factor in his early game rotations and a menace in his late game ratting.
In pubs, Nature’s Prophet by far is played more out of position than any other hero. Blame it on Valve’s “Jungler” affix on the hero description or the preference of pub players to jungle with any hero that is able to. He’s an able laner on his own, far better than he is as a jungler.
One trend for TI, and consequently for pubs, was the increased importance of support heroes. It’s been long since first phase bans were targeted on cores: the Mirana of TI6, Gyrocopter and Leshrac of TI5, Lycan and Death Prophet of TI4.
Lich is one of the few trending supports that’s still played as a support in pubs and not in an off-role. He has a no-frills skill, Sacrifice, that gives any lane an immediate advantage. But pub players overwhelmingly eschew that first point in Frost Armor until level level 7, whereas most pros get an early value point at level 4.
With a major patch around the corner for Dota’s next season, this will be the final window for players to follow TI7’s meta.