What you can Learn from the pro Dota meta
The WePlay AniMajor has ended and so has this season of the Dota Pro Circuit. Now, professional teams around the world are gearing up for the regional qualifiers of The International 10. This gives us time to look at the trends of the meta: which heroes were picked and banned, what playstyles were the most successful, and what was prioritized by teams in their games.
Draft heroes to win the laning phase
The early stage of the game is extremely important in the current meta. It sets the tempo for the mid-game and allows whichever team is ahead to snowball and capitalize on their advantage. This is why heroes like Dragon Knight and Puck were among the most picked at the major. And, it explains why Broodmother was one of the most contested and banned heroes. Batrider, another lane dominator and hard counter to several popular mid heroes was one of the most successfully banned hero.
Enchantress and Snapfire were heavily favored support picks, as they can be a genuine nuisance to the enemy offlane duo before they reach level 6. Nyx Assassin and Lion were also among the most contested heroes, with the latter being the most picked hero overall. Their level 6 power spike is almost unparalleled compared to other supports and allows them to get an easy pick-off on an enemy hero, paving the way for an objective.
Although the current comeback mechanic has a decent rubber-band effect, it is still crucial to prioritize the laning phase and build on its momentum. The trick is to know your boundaries and not overextend where you don’t need to. A steady progression in net-worth and objective-taking forms the recipe for a victory.
Heals, heals, and more heals!
The main theme of patch 7.29, in general, is probably all about heals and sustain. Phoenix and Winter Wyvern are very strong for this reason. The aforementioned Enchantress, similarly, has this added benefit. We also saw Holy Locket being built a lot on such supports. The item has been buffed multiple times in the recent patches and is now almost broken on heroes that already have a lot of healing capabilities.
We’ve talked about the number one counter to this tactic in our article about Ancient Apparition. It only solidifies the reasons why you should be playing this hero right now. While Spirit Vessel is a good item to get for the same reason, it is rather expensive and takes time for your position 4 support to buy. AA’s Ice Blast cripples the enemy forces and renders all their heals useless. It is absolutely potent and the main reason why the hero was the 2nd most picked at the AniMajor.
Teamfight ultimates are high priority
One of the most impressive things we saw at the highest level of professional Dota was how teams played around each other rather than function as single units in a game. Healing and sustaining each other to survive the enemy onslaught is just one aspect of this. But when it comes to the mid-game, the true impact of heroes is felt in their ability to team-fight.
You cannot stress enough the importance of having a large team-fight ability, usually the ultimate. It should allow you to disable, distract and damage enemy heroes all at once. And one of the best heroes for that very purpose is Mars. The God of War, aptly named, is one of the most picked and contested heroes of the DPC. He truly shines at Rosh fights, engulfing the entire Rosh pit with his ultimate, dealing substantial damage and stunning enemies with his spear. An added trivia you should know is that Mars’ ultimate deflects projectiles from entering inside it, so ranged heroes cannot attack anyone inside the arena for its duration.
Heroes we mentioned previously, like Puck, Phoenix, Winter Wyvern, and Ancient Apparition also have high-impact team-fight spells. You can probably tell by now that pro players are prioritizing heroes that don’t just fulfill one need, but many at once. That’s what makes these heroes so viable.
No stuns means no fun!
One of the things that will remain true and agreed upon, right from the lowest brackets to the highest tiers of Dota is this: if you don’t have stuns, you can’t kill heroes. An interesting phenomenon developed in the second season of the DPC, where teams that didn’t pick enough stuns found it very hard to gank heroes and find pickoffs. Plus, they couldn’t prevent the enemy team from ratting their buildings, despite being ahead in terms of net-worth.
Even though ‘rat Dota’ is not in the meta right now, some players still found a way to make it work, owing to the lack of stuns on enemy heroes. Many split-pushing heroes are highly mobile, so unless the stun is instant, you won’t be able to catch them. Heroes like Puck, Invoker, Void Spirit, and Nature’s Prophet are few such heroes.
Keep in mind that you need a variety of stuns, both single-target and AOE, both with short and long cooldowns. Teams that had Dragon Knight as the sole source of a stun in their matches struggled to find pickoffs. But, heroes like Lion and Nyx Assassin are unique in that nature. They can stun multiple heroes with their short cooldown spells. Towards the later stages of the major, we also saw Doom and Hoodwink gaining popularity, thanks to their ‘hero-deleting’ ultimates.
Don’t be afraid of the cheese
When I say cheese, I don’t mean the one Roshan is so fond of. I’m talking about the practice of picking ‘cheese’ heroes. These are the heroes that come online relatively early, win you the draft by surprising the enemy and are very annoying to play against.
We already talked about the quintessential cheese hero already: Broodmother. It’s quite easy to understand why she was banned so often. You come online very fast, can sustain yourself with Insatiable Hunger, solo a lane after a certain point and melt towers in seconds if the enemies take their attention off of you. Viper and Timbersaw are also similarly annoying. They’re a pain to lane against, have a very high peak when they’re almost unkillable and still provide decent utility even after they’ve fallen off. So if you can sneak in such a hero in your draft, then go for it!
And that brings us to the end of the list of the most important things you should learn and adapt from pro Dota! We hope you found this article useful and will implement it in your pubs to become a better and more informed player.