China is the last region to start their Division One Tour and with the recent Huya Winter Invitation we got a glimpse of what the meta in the league is going to look like. There are certainly a lot of meta staples, but a couple of rather interesting surprises as well.
The meta staples
For the most part the Chinese meta revolves around fourteen heroes, all with a 50%+ contest rate. There is a noticeable jump in popularity after the first fourteen heroes, with the list ending in Morphling and his 51 Pick or Ban games.
In this list Monkey King probably stands out the most. While the hero was mostly ban material and made it into an actual game in only ten matches, his winrate is ridiculously low. The hero managed to win only two of his games.
Perhaps the hero has been figured out or perhaps his flexibility is overrated: China plays the hero in several different positions, but Monkey King position four was especially underwhelming.
There were only six heroes with a sub-50% win rate in the meta staples category, including Monkey King. The other clear loser was Morphling with his 33.33% win rate. The other four are close enough to the 50% to not draw any conclusions.
Bane and Templar Assassin were the most successful meta staples, both winning around 65% of their games. It is especially scary in the case of Bane, who was mostly allowed through and was picked 38 times.
This support, in our opinion, currently does a little bit too much, with access to save, setup, crowd control and even late-game heal/regeneration mitigation. All on top of an oppressive laning stage.
Templar Assassin was played in seventeen games total and looked dominant in most of them. Being a flex pick as well as a tempo carry with flash-farming capabilities and potent late-game scaling is a combination that a lot of teams learned to utilize well. The most success the hero had when paired with a reliable and durable position one (Lifestealer, Troll, Ursa, Wraith King) or consistent and survivable position two (Death Prophet, Queen of Pain, Puck). In both cases not being too greedy across your cores is very important.
Queen of Pain ended up being the most contested hero of the tournament with a 50% win rate and 38 picks. After the Lina nerfs Queen of Pain filled in her niche of a mid hero that has close to no unfavourable matchups.
Most captains with the first pick opted for this hero in the first-second phase of the draft so that their midlane wouldn’t be shut down by the enemy last pick. We’ve also seen a couple of position one Queen of Pain, and while the experiment was decently successful it does require good team coordination and understanding of what your in-game win condition is.
Let. Me. In.
Terrorblade is one of the most coveted heroes in the current meta and for a good reason: of the seven games he was allowed to participate in, he won seven. For the most part it feels like the hero has no bad core-to-core matchups. Pretty much every single carry in the game suffers from Sunder, tons of armor and the ability of the enemy to match the farming pace.
It doesn’t help that typical Terrorblade counters like Zeus are quite out of meta. Moreover, heroes like Leshrac who can be an answer to late-game Terrorblade are still quite niche and most position one player do not train the hero.
We expect the hero to remain highly contested until the next patch, which probably won’t hit before the end of this DPC tour.
There is also a potential return of a hero long forgotten. Broodmother was picked in thirteen games and won nine of them. Regardless of our or your feelings on the matter it should be clear that the hero is worth paying attention to.
For the most part Broodmother didn’t change. She is conceptually the same lane-dominating hero who takes over a part of the map and enemy jungle and creates conditions under which taking the enemy Tier 2 early is not only a possibility, but almost an inevitability.
This creates a lot of attack opportunities for the team with a Broodmother and while the hero might not be as obnoxious in lane anymore and it is a lot easier to kill her in the midgame, solo supports typically do not stand a chance against the hero, breaking one of the default response strategies with an outpushing position four.
Overall, we feel like the hero will only gain in popularity and while there are probably ways to play around the hero, do be vary of her in your pubs.
Some time ago we did a piece on Phantom Assassin, discussing how the hero typically only works with some buffing heroes on her team. Having multiple percentage-based abilities that scale off her stats, while having poor stats in general is something the hero is balanced around. It was never a problem in the later portions of the game, but in the midgame the hero typically suffered quite heavily.
Right now, however, we feel like there are situations where it is possible to fit the hero in and she can be the absolute best pick. These situations are rare and even in the tournament the hero only managed to win four out of her ten games, but we believe the potential is there and perhaps we will see more of her in the future.
Strong shard also allows the hero to turn several matchups on their head, while her ability to delete the heroes out of the game is still unparalleled. Leaning into this aspect of the hero with a higher risk, higher reward playstyle is something we expect in the CN region.