Image by ESL
Understanding the pitfalls of the professional scene and the reasons behind particular choices is important for every single Dota player. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Herald or an Immortal – there’s a lot to learn from the best players in the world, and a lot to discuss when it comes to their preferences. Today we are going to look at the hero meta of ESL One Berlin.
This is probably irrelevant to most players, but an interesting piece of trivia nonetheless. After months of Dire dominance, we are seeing a shift towards Radiant. The disparity isn’t as pronounced as it once was, but one of the factions still enjoys a 55%+ win rate.
Maybe it has to do with the camera angle, maybe it’s the result of the third Roshan having Aghanim’s scepter in Radiant during the day, or maybe it’s the neutral camp setting. We won’t know until we play the map more.
The pecking order is also in a bit of a state of flux. At the start of the tournament, the second pick was highly favored. The double pick in the first round and the absolute last pick of the draft were considered a better option, until Medusa became too obvious for an OP hero.
The shift happened around the third day of the group stage and the first choice remained the most popular option until the end of the tournament.
There is an obvious defeated hero in the game, but Medusa is not the only hero worth paying attention to. Lich, Master of animals and Alchemists are also borderline overpowered in the current patch.
Lich is just a very good support. His Frost shield is one of the strongest damage mitigation tools, scaling very well in the late game and often guaranteeing a [item-nullifier] buying from the enemy on its own. Frost Blast it’s a lane dominant ability that remains important for both damage and utility.
Beastmaster is just too good for how flexible the hero is. You can play the default version of Zoo Beastmaster and take advantage of the fast pace and ability to have Vladmir’s Offering Aura to your team early on. It’s still one of the strongest teamfight atmospheres in the game, but it’s getting hard to build it into cores.
You can buy Scepter of Aghanim to fight illusions or zoo heroes from the enemy. With this type of build, Beastmaster’s damage output and sustained healing are high, making it a good teamfight presence.
You can also go full atmosphere, with items like The Crimson Guard and Pipe of Insight, if you don’t need extra damage from offlane. All three builds work and work well depending on the situation, making Beastmaster a very good single character.
Finally, there’s Alchemist, which benefits greatly from having an absolutely massive map to farm. Finding the Alchemist became much more difficult, therefore spoiling his time is almost impossible. This means he will be fully utilizing Greevil’s Greed for the first 15+ minutes of the game, resulting in potentially unbeatable item durations. The hero is also very strong in the late game, as not only can he build all the necessary items faster than most heroes in the game, he can also support his team with many powerful frees.
There are a few other heroes that aren’t as overpowered as the ones we discussed earlier, but have been consistently good throughout the tournament. we are talking about Pangolier, terror, Underlord and The Bearer of Light.
The demonic duo of Terrorblade and Underlord are pretty boring to discuss. The former is simply a solid farming rig with good DPS in the late game. He has a few bad matchups and scales both in terms of team match damage and building damage.
The latter is the best aura carrier in the game with a good built-in aura of his own and global mobility for his team. We can understand some complaints from pro players about how playing offlane is a bit boring in the new patch. The third most reliable de facto position says a lot.
However, Pangolier is a bit more interesting. Despite the nerves in 7.33, the hero maintained his ability to stun opponents for a very long period of time. The hero lost 0.3 seconds of shock for each Rolling Thunder hit, but since good Pangolier players hit their targets multiple times in the fight, it’s still extremely devastating. It’s a hero that will force an early BKB from the enemy, and a hero that can then safely disengage most of the time.
KotL now has access to a strong blind and repositioner for the pass phase, making him an important support once again. Additionally, it complements many hero metas: Medusa can benefit from extra and lower mana Mystic Serpent cool down, heroes like Storm and Ember Spirit can run rampage with extra resources and even Terrorblade doesn’t mind having more metamorphoses use in a game.
The hero is a bit clumsy when it comes to potions, requiring a great deal of coordination during the lane phase so as not to ruin the lane by pushing too hard. His Remember it’s also not as powerful in a pub setting as it might be in a pro game. Therefore, we don’t think the hero needs nerfs, unlike any other hero we discussed before.
Finally, there are some heroes that failed during the Major. Mostly, Muerta had a 30% winning percentage in 29 games. Granted, some of those games were very wrong in the position of the three Muertas The SMG team, but even removing them from the equation leaves the hero severely lacking in terms of win rate stats. Which is surprising, considering the hero’s output and damage scaling is theoretically overwhelming.
Other heroes that can be considered overrated are Ursa and Small. Ursa feels like a clever hero. Get Canceller, apply for Ursa, ignore them for the rest of the fight. Having an immediate and continuous disintegration for the bear makes it a very negligible threat.
Tiny is a little weird, as the hero can absolutely pop out of the mid lane. An early one Blink Dagger can make him oppressive to play against for support, while his late game is supported by Aghanim’s scepter and Tree Volley. However, if the hero gets shut down during the lane phase or if his first couple fail, he can quickly become irrelevant as a base, resulting in a very high risk, moderate reward character that should probably be ignored in your potions for now.
The Major got a little more formulaic from the Grand Finals, it seems. The chaos of the first two days was gone, and players settled into what felt like the best way to play Dota right now: weird heroes with a lot of aura to back them up.
However, whether it’s really the only way to play is still debatable. Perhaps other overpowering approaches simply haven’t been discovered yet. Once Medusa gets nerfed, we’d like to go back and review our patch instructions, but for now just stop or pick the hero if you want to win.