Weekly Trends and American Qualifiers Meta
Do you feel the hype for the upcoming The International 4? We certainly do. Apart from being the biggest event in e-sports each year it is also the time during which the meta tends to shift almost every day, even within a single region. Coming up with new strategies or using unconventional heroes as a part of a pocket strategy is more than viable since the 6.80 and 6.81 patches, both of which have a great amount of buffs to the underused heroes.
Today I would like to go through the most popular picks in the TI4 American Qualifiers and look at the impact it possibly had on the public matchmaking. Whether you are interested in the game and would like to understand it better, or simply want to get the Compendium predictions right - we are here to help.
Shall we begin?
I will start off with a table, showing all heroes that have an appearance rate of over 10 (Picks + Bans):
As you can see the nerfs to Batrider's Flaming Lasso did not hit his popularity, as discussed previously, making him the top priority pick/ban throughout the whole event (100% Pick/Ban). At the same time, his Win Rate is surprisingly low, especially for a hero that does not only posses one of the strongest single target, BkB-penetrating disables, but is also great at flash-farming his own or even enemy jungle and getting his core items ( Blink Dagger) really fast.
A major influence on that, in my opinion, is the rise of the popularity of Shadow Demon, that can counter the Flaming Lasso initiation really well. After receiving a nerf to the vision on Shadow Poison, the popularity of the hero has significantly dropped, however, 6th place in popularity during a big event with the top American teams definitely signals the comeback of one of the most versatile and late-game relevant supports. Of course, a part of it is the increase in the damage from Shadow Poison as well as an addition of an Aghanim's Scepter upgrade, however it is still his Disruption initiation or teammate save that probably plays the major role in his perceived viability.
When it comes to the amount of appearances in the actual game, Mirana is a clear winner with 50 picks in 68 matches - something that can be attributed to her incredible versatility and relevance at all stages of the game. Interestingly, the 15 bans this hero has received all came from the second half of the tournament. If one would manually go through all the matches of the American Qualifiers, it is clear, that in the initial stage of the tournament teams were happy to give away Mirana in the first picking phase as a better alternative to facing heroes like Lycan, Invoker, Sand King. By the end of the tournament it has changed, since most games in the play-offs featured a Mirana ban.
Her popularity could have also contributed to the popularity of the Shadow Demon, since the only hero that can counter a well executed Disruption + Sacred Arrow combo is Abaddon, who, despite the buffs, still remains very unpopular ( Legion Commander is also capable of dispelling stuns, but she is not available in Captains Mode).
Sand King, surprisingly, has surged into the popularity list. Previously he was a niche pick for teams like Na'Vi, but recently got a lot of attention in America. Since he did not receive any significant buffs in the previous couple of patches, we believe that it is the meta shift to dual lanes that has caused this popularity increase. His ability to farm jungle with Sand Storm is unparalleled and his damage output and utility is arguably higher than of Crystal Maiden - a previous go to hero for a possible dual lane with a roaming jungle support.
Invoker was incredibly strong in the push-heavy meta by the end of 6.80 era. However, in this particular tournament his Win Rate was ridiculously small - 16.67%. And that is with a rather significant amount of games.
The most valuable push item of the 6.80 - [missing item: necronomicon-3] was heavily nerfed. Not only are the Necronomicon units slower, but they also give away a huge bounty on death, making trades of Necro-units for a tower less appealing. The Invoker's Q/W build received some more direct nerfs in terms of an increased "channel" on the [missing skill: invoker-emp-5383]. Interestingly, if in the beginning of the tournament the Pick+Ban for Invoker was tied with Lycan and Batrider, by the end of it he was disregarded almost completely. That shows how amazingly fast a meta can develop in a short period of time and how big, important tournaments push the drafting stages to continuously evolve.
One of the heroes I am really happy I was wrong about is the Brewmaster. In our changelog analysis we have predicted little to no change to the popularity of the hero. In reality he was the 14th most popular hero and the added consistency to his Critical Strike and Evasion from Drunken Brawler not only made him popular, but allowed him to win 9 out of 17 games he appeared in. The result is far from amazing, but facing a decent amount of reworks and an increased skill requirement he can be considered a semi-new hero teams might not have had time to practice with.
Dark Seer, Io and Disruptor and can be considered heroes that are beginning to make a comeback as well. After the drastic fall in popularity in the post-TI3 professional scene, they were 7th, 11th and 13th in terms of popularity in the event. Apart from a small buff to Disruptor's Kinetic Field there were no particular changes to the skillset of the heroes or the items related to them.
Tidehunter is another hero that is gaining more attention. Being an extremely viable offlane with an access to the Ancient jungling as early as level 5, it is unsurprising that his popularity has increased. And winning 9 out of 14 games he was in is undoubtedly impressive.
Only heroes with 10+ games are included in the discussion
When it comes to Win Rate the winner of the tournament was Keeper of the Light. With a 75% Win Rate in 16 games (most of which were Aghanim's Scepter rush) we will probably see more of him in the main event and in the smaller tournaments. One of the games in the late stages of the tournament has actually featured a KotL + Phantom Lancer combo. Is the Cancer Lancer back in the meta? We shall see. So far it was the only game featuring Phantom Lancer and it was rather one-sided overall, not because of the combo.
Close seconds were Shadow Fiend and Enchantress, both boasting a 72.22% Win Rate in 18 games. While enchantress is a popular pick among European teams like Na'Vi and [A]lliance, we believe competitive Shadow Fiend to be very region-specific. To a large extent it is the influence of Arteezy and his "pick a carry mid and let the enemy figure out which of the two (or three) cores they want to shut down, to be devastated by the other one (two) later". This philosophy has also made Morphling rather popular with a decent Win Rate of 57.14%.
Dragon Knight and Wraith King are in the third place in terms of Win Rate sitting at 69.23% and 68.42% respectively. They have also participated in a decent amount of games. While the latter was mostly played in the support role and the former in the mid one, they share the same trait - they are really hard to kill and even harder to ignore. Unsurprisingly, Wraith King is also the top tier in our Tier List for 6.81
Clockwerk and Witch Doctor finish the list of the most winning heroes of the American Qualifiers with 66.67% and 63.64% Win Rate. The Clockwerk pick has always been one of the more reliable picks, since he is great at countering any melee enemy core heroes and is capable of dividing the battlefield to give a short-term number advantage on one side of the Power Cogs. The Witch Doctor pick is rather unconventional. The hero was out of the competitive scene for a long time and seeing him in action is really exciting. Fun fact: you can actually left-click on your Death Ward and target the hero you in range you want to focus.
Ember Spirit is not only facing a really strong drop in Win Rate in the public matchmaking, but is becoming less relevant in the competitive scene. Losing 40 damage every 6 seconds from Sleight of Fist as well as 1 second of ensnare from level 3 Searing Chains made him a lot weaker than we expected. The hero retained his main features of amazing mobility and the ability to dish out considerable amounts of scaling damage from a safe spot, however it was not enough. Though, to be fair, he was only picked 4 times throughout the event and the tournament did not feature most prominent players on the hero.
Lifestealer is another "losing" hero with 5 lost games out of 5. With a recent focus on mobility as well as increase in popularity of Shadow Demon, the poor Win Rate and popularity are understandable. Even when the hero is coupled with a decently popular Storm Spirit (25/68 Picks+Bans). Another possible explanation for the poor performance is a gradual shift towards more late mid-game oriented playstyle of most teams - something an early mid-game hero finds hard to deal with.
A full list of heroes in the American Qualifiers can be found here
That concludes our review of the American Qualifiers meta and we can continue to the Weekly Trends in the public Matchmaking.
When it comes to public Matchmaking the popularity of the hero is a very complex statistic that is affected by a lot of various factors that do not necessarily include the skill of a player, skill requirement for the hero or how fit he is for meta. A variety of external factors, such as Cosmetic items and Gimmicky buffs (e.g. Lich Aghanim's Scepter upgrade) have a lot of an impact on what makes a popular hero.
We will have a look through the most drastic changes in either Win Rate or Popularity of the heroes in pubs and will try to find an explanation as to why these changes happened.
The release of the cosmetics for particular heroes undoubtedly has a strong short-term impact on the popularity of the hero. The three heroes mentioned here are the Winners of the Beauty contest with the highest popularity surge in a period of time - Alchemist, Centaur Warrunner and Bristleback.
The update released on 9th of May included item sets for these Strength heroes as well as the introduction of the Dubai (UAE) server. Could the gold-hoarding hero's popularity been influenced by the increase in the number of players from one of the richest countries in the world? We don't know, but unlike other heroes in this section the popularity of Alchemist did not decline as much after the initial "cosmetic boost" effects wore off.
Like a Pro
Both Shadow Fiend and Brewmaster have been rising in popularity ever since the American TI4 qualifiers, peaking at 10.60% and 6% popularity respectively. While these figures do not look impressive, compared to their popularity at the beginning of the month (right after the patch), they correspond to a 0.86% and 2.5% increase in popularity. That is especially significant for the Brewmaster, who almost doubled his presence in the public matchmaking.
Fall of the Dragon
While the introduction of an Aghanim's Scepter upgrade could have led to an increased amount of sub-optimal builds that Rushed the Scepter disregarding other common Support items, it does not seem to be the case, as there was no significant "shock" to the Win Rate trend right after the patch.
About a week ago, however, the Win Rate has started a gradual but persistent decline from 51.62% to 49.95%. A 1.67% decrease with no clear causes is peculiar and it will be hard to name one. If anything, it is probably a composition of several factors that will be mentioned.
- Popularity Increase after the patch.
The best way to learn to play against a certain hero is to play against him enough to understand his weaknesses and strengths. The unavoidable increase in popularity of the hero with the introduction of an amazing, albeit gimmicky, Aghanim's Scepter upgrade to Macropyre probably resulted in more people facing Jakiro and gradually learning not to get into Ice Path (Which is not really hard to avoid in the first place).
- Mobile Meta
Current competitive scene really favors mobile heroes. And mobile heroes is what Jakiro hates the most. Not only does it make it really hard to land an Ice Path, but also reduces the time when the enemy is taking damage from Macropyre, making this hero a lot less effective. And since Blink Dagger is getting more and more popular, on a large scale it could have significantly contributed to the losses of an otherwise great support.
- Low lane presence
Jakiro is great in a Trilane vs. Trilane situation. He is pretty decent in a Trilane vs. Offlane. But in dual lanes favored by the competitive scene (Dual lane + Soft Jungler is increasingly popular) he is really sub-par. He is not the best in term of saving teammates, neither is he great at making things happen in a Dual vs. Offlane situation.
There are probably a lot of other factors we might have missed, so feel free to tell us your opinion in the comments.
Also, we will probably make the weekly trends less frequent, giving at least 10 days for some significant and interesting changes to take place.
That concludes our Blog Post for today. We will be releasing the Meta analysis Blog Posts for each qualifier in each region, comparing how Dota is played in different parts of the world. I will also be working on a "Picks in Different Regions" Blog Post some time after the end of qualifiers to see the differences between Public Matchmaking picks.
As for a promised Giveaway for 2000 likes on our Facebook page - all you need to do is leave us a comment about why you think Jakiro's Win Rate has dropped in the section below. We will announce the prize some time this week so stay tuned!
Thank you for Reading!