Image by ESL
Understanding professional scene meta and the reasons behind particular picks is important for every single Dota player. It doesn’t matter whether you are Herald or Immortal — there is a lot to learn from the best players in the world and there is a lot to discuss when it comes to their preferences. Today we are going to look at the ESL One Berlin hero meta.
This is probably irrelevant for most players, but an interesting piece of trivia nonetheless. After months of Dire domination, we are seeing a shift towards Radiant. The disparity isn’t as pronounced as it was previously, but one of the Factions still enjoys a 55%+ win rate.
Perhaps it has something to do with the camera angle, maybe it is a result of third Roshan having Aghanim’s Scepter on Radiant during daytime, or maybe it is the neutral camp placement. We won’t know until we play more on the map.
The pick order is also in a bit of a flux state. At the beginning of the tournament, the second pick was heavily prioritised. Double pick in the first phase and the absolute last pick of the draft were considered a better option, until Medusa became too obvious of an OP hero.
The shift happened around the third day of the Group Stage and the first pick remained the more popular option until the end of the tournament.
Lich is simply too good of a support. His Frost Shield is one of the strongest damage mitigation tools, scaling very well into the late game, and frequently warranting a [item-nullifier] purchase from the enemy on its own. Frost Blast is a lane dominating ability that stays relevant damage- and utilitywise.
Beastmaster is simply way too good for how flexible the hero is. You can play the default Zoo Beastmaster and benefit from high tempo and the ability to have Vladmir’s Offering aura for your team early on. It is still one of the strongest teamfight auras in the game, but it is getting hard to build it on cores.
You can buy Aghanim’s Scepter to counter illusion or Zoo heroes from the enemy. With this kind of build, Beastmaster’s sustained damage output and heal are high, making for good teamfight presence.
You can even go full auras, with items like Crimson Guard and Pipe of Insight, if you don’t need extra damage from your offlane. All three builds work and they work well depending on the situation, making Beastmaster way too good of a character.
Finally, there is Alchemist, who greatly benefits from having an absolutely massive map to farm. Finding Alchemist got a lot harder, hence disrupting his timing is close to impossible. It means he gets to fully utilize his Greevil’s Greed for the first 15+ minutes of the game, resulting in potentially unbeatable item timings. The hero is very strong late game as well, as not only can he build all the necessary items faster than most heroes in the game, he can also support his team with a lot of powerful freebies.
There are several other heroes who are not quite as overpowered as the ones we discussed previously, but who have been consistently good throughout the tournament. We are talking about Pangolier, Terrorblade, Underlord and Keeper of the Light.
The demonic duo of Terrorblade and Underlors are pretty boring to discuss. The former is simply a solid, farming carry with good DPS in the late game. He has few bad matchups and scales both in terms of teamfight 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. Underlord being the de facto most reliable third position says a lot.
Pangolier is a bit more interesting though. Despite the nerfs in 7.33, the hero retained his ability to stunlock opponents for a very long period of time. The hero lost 0.3 seconds of stun on each Rolling Thunder hit, but since good Pangolier players hit their targets multiple times per fight, it is still extremely disruptive. It is a hero that will force an early BKB from the enemy carry, and a hero who can then safely disengage most of the time.
KotL now having access to a strong blind and repositioning tool for the laning stage made him a relevant support once again. On top of it, he complements a lot of meta heroes: Medusa can benefit from extra mana and lower Mystic Snake cooldown, heroes like Storm and Ember Spirit can go on a rampage with extra resources and even Terrorblade doesn’t mind having more Metamorphosis uses in a game.
The hero is a bit iffy when it comes to pubs, requiring a great deal of coordination during the laning stage, so as to not ruin the lane pushing it too hard. His Recall is also not as potent in a pub environment as it can be in a pro game. Hence we don’t feel like the hero needs any nerfs, unlike every other hero we discussed previously.
Finally, there are several heroes who underperformed during the Major. Most notably, Muerta had a ~30% winrate across 29 games. Granted, some of those games were very misguided position three Muertas by Team SMG, but even removing them from the equation leaves the hero severely lacking in terms of winrate stats. Which is surprising, considering the hero’s damage output and scaling is theoretically overwhelming.
Other heroes who can be considered overrated are Ursa and Tiny. Ursa feels like a figured out hero. Get Nullifier, apply to Ursa, ignore them for the rest of the fight. Having an immediate and continuous dispel for the bear makes him a very ignorable threat.
Tiny is a bit weird, since the hero can absolutely pop off from the mid lane. An early Blink Dagger can make him oppressive to play against for supports, while his late game is supported by the Aghanim’s Scepter and Tree Volley. However if the hero is shut down during the laning stage or if his first couple of ganks fail, his can quickly become irrelevant as a core, resulting in a very high risk and moderate reward character who should probably be ignored in your pubs for now.
The Major got a little too formulaic by the Grand Finals, it feels. The chaos of the first couple of days was gone and players settled on what feels like the best way to play Dota right now: tanky heroes with lots of auras to support them.
Whether it is truly the only way to play is still questionable, however. Maybe other overpowered approaches simply haven’t been discovered yet. Once Medusa gets nerfed, we would love to return and evaluate our guidelines for the patch, but for now just ban or pick the hero, if you want to win.