It has been nearly a month since Valve released the ‘Dueling Fates’ update which saw two new heroes, Pangolier and Dark Willow, released into the world of Dota 2. But that was just the tip of the iceberg as there were a host of other changes that promised to change the game and remove it from the rut it had gotten into through the long 7.06 meta!
With new items, tweaked mechanics and changes in heroes (mainly talent trees), something new in the professional scene was imminent! A month down the line, two Minors have been played on the new patch – AMD SAPPHIRE Dota Pit and the Perfect World Masters along with cameos from the qualifiers for the DreamLeague Season 8 Major. These three events are the ones we will be primarily looking at.
What were the main changes that would affect gameplay?
- Additional first phase ban and change in the drafting order
- Change in the deny mechanics (denying became a lot more important with enemy’s deny XP reduced from 70% to 25%)
- Change in the creep XP and bounty (more XP and bounty per wave, better distribution of XP instead of lane creep having 40% of the lane XP)
- Removal of the extra mid creep in the first 15 minutes
- Neutrals begin to spawn at 1 minute
- Tier 1 tower HP increased from 1400 to 1600
The biggest change, in my opinion, has been the removal of the extra mid creep. 7.06 revolved a lot around the mid lane. If that lane was secured, there was a high potential of the hero in mid snowballing and putting the team in a strong position. With that importance being taken away, equal emphasis is being put on winning other lanes as well. Amongst the three tournaments mentioned above, a total of 170 games have been played. Let’s take a look at what heroes have been picked the most in this short reign of 7.07:
The 25 most picked heroes in the 7.07 patch over 170 games (stats taken from Datdota)
A few interesting faces in there which haven’t popped up in recent times in the most played heroes. The last time Gyrocopter was a popular pick was 6.85, when OG won the Frankfurt Major. 2016 was such a depressing year for the flying carry, I’m just surprised he didn’t crash his warship into a wall. Teams seem to be leaning more towards team fight in the early stages of 7.07, and Gyrocopter fits perfectly as a carry who can fight early with magic damage and transition into the late game with physical damage. Omniknight and Tidehunter with high pick rates (and win rates as well – 60% and 62.86% respectively) are a testimony to the fact that teams are looking to fight as five from early on in the game. The winner of the bunch though, is Tiny. I don’t remember a time in Dota 2 where Tiny was a mainstay position one hero in the meta. The Tiny-Io strat has always been used successfully by teams at times, but the hero has never been the center of attention. Until now! Looking at the new Tiny with zero Agi gain, most people from the community (including me) thought the hero was doomed worse than ever. But as it turns out, the new tree grabbing Tiny can’t only fight better early in the game, he can also farm a lot faster! Sand King, who was also one of the most hotly contested picks during TI 7, has secured his position at the top like a true king.
The only anomaly in this list is Medusa. Although she isn’t one to fight early, the snake lady’s skills and talents have seen a good deal of improvement which makes her viable for teams to take a risk and play for the late game. The lineup usually includes heroes to enable her (Kinguin actually ran a position one Medusa and position two Dazzle and beat Team Secret with it) and once she hits her critical mass, there is no turning back! Looking at the table, besides Mirana, Medusa is the only hero in the top 25 that is most frequently picked in the last phase. Showing her early always runs the risk of being counter picked and being run over early by the enemy lineup before Medusa can be a threat. The critical point usually comes when she gets her Skadi and hits level 20 where the +800 mana talent is waiting to give her a major boost in survivability. If anything, it has just made the meta more interesting.
This doesn’t show the entire picture, however. If bans are taken into consideration as well, a couple of different heroes show up in the list.
All in all, the shift in trend for cores has seen heroes like Bloodseeker, Lycan and Necrophos totally fade away to make way for the ones above. However, there are those few who were ignored last patch and continue to be ignored this time around as well. They would be the others in the Medusa’s category but not as strong as the snake lady. Specific mentions could be made for Spectre, Naga Siren and Wraith King. Valve has tried to do a lot for the king of wraiths, but their most recent attempt at introducing skeletal minions seemed like one that didn’t take a lot of effort. Maybe their true potential hasn’t been unveiled yet, but for now, that hero still remains to be weak and unpicked. As for Spectre and Naga Siren, even though a lot has changed in the game, what hasn’t changed a lot is the average game times.
Distribution of games based on game timings for 7.07 (170 games)
Distribution of games based on game timings for TI 7 (190 games)
The total number of games for the 7.07 meta is 170 while that for TI 7 (7.06) is 190. It is safe to say the sample size is quite large and comparable. We can see that two graphs are nearly the same. If anything, there has been more of a centralization of games with percentages for 20-30 minutes, 30-40 minutes and 40-50 minutes going up. In a world where there is a high probability of the game ending at 40 minutes, there is no place for a hero that comes online at 30 minutes (unless, like I mentioned, it is someone like Medusa who can almost guarantee the late game). I wouldn’t say the heroes should be changed as they are defined by their ability to come online later in the game to wreak havoc. What would be nice is Valve introduce a patch where teams have the ability to hold the game for a longer time and take it to the very late game stages, something of a balance between the current meta and 7.04.
The early signs of 7.07 are that there is a new world order (Dota world). The meta is still fresh and open to interpretation. A lot of Dota 2 will be played in the upcoming days with the DreamLeague Major taking place in Sweden December 1-3, MDL Macau taking place from the 8th to 10th followed by Dota Summit 8 from the 13th to 17th of December. The upcoming tournaments will shed further light on how the current patch will pan out in the long term.