Patches and major tournaments, such as the recent MLG World Finals in New Orleans, are the trendsetters for how Dota is played. We’ve examined the winners and losers of 6.85, where the patch had sent a ripple effect through our pubs. Leshrac and Storm Spirit vanished, whereas Doom had one of the highest win rate bumps. With the recent high level play in the Frankfurt Qualifiers and the MLG World Finals, we’re first seeing how professional players are adjusting to the new changes in 6.85.
Most picked and banned heroes at MLG World’s Final
It’s no surprise that Tusk was the most banned hero at MLG. He was picked or banned in 92% of games. Despite the recent changes to the hero, he still remains a potent offlaner, and in the hands of CDEC.Garder, he was an automatic first phase ban. We saw a similar trend back at the China and Europe qualifiers for the Frankfurt Qualifiers. Though he did receive a mana cost nerf to Ice Shards and a duration one on Snowball, it did not interfere with his utility as a core or support.
The surprise hero of the tournament was Ember Spirit. Seen as well in TI5, he was never featured as prominently as in MLG, where in the Grand Finals, Evil Geniuses picked him three consecutive times in the first phase. Whether or not it was part deny pick against Team Secret, Ember Spirit has risen in popularity since TI5. The hero has more or less remained the same, but his builds and the meta has changed around him. Ember Spirit has frequently been placed in the safe lane, but with the fall of Leshrac and Storm Spirit, it has also opened up viable matchups for him in the mid role.
Team Secret is among the best teams at using the entirety of the map. This was the case before the new roster, when the team was known for its ability to maximize net worth, distributing it appropriately according to its lineup, and leverage their advantages to suffocate opponents. It’s no surprise that they favor mobility in their lineup. Boots of Travel was once a luxury item for Ember Spirit, but it's become a core item for safe lane Ember Spirit players, such as EternalEnvy. Only few heroes have the kind of mobility that Boots of Travel opens for Ember Spirit.
w33ha with Hex, Blink, Aghs, and Boots of Travel by 27 minutes against EG
Meepo, like Techies, has long been one of those heroes who fundamentally breaks the game, but no team had yet to capitalize these strengths. It wasn’t until EG, Secret, and Complexity pushed Techies to his limits—the no risk, vacuum of space he created in whatever lane he was in—that the hero became a respect ban. Secret, at MLG Worlds, has escalated Meepo to the same heights. It gave Secret the kind of advantage EG had during the final rounds of TI5. Opponents had two options: deal with the hero, or expend one of the first bans on him. It's not uncommon for teams to give opponents their comfort heroes. The case of Meepo, however, was similar to that of Techies-no one had much experience playing against it.
There were three heroes this tournament that were rarely contested, picked at least 7 times, and held over a 70% win rate: Slardar, Lich, and Bane. Keep in mind that the win rate is also influenced by the fact that most of the Bane and Lich games were played by Team Secret. Slardar used to be criticized as a weak carry hero with little capacity to farm, but at times was a decent situational pick. The recent buffs to his Sprint's cooldown strengthened his utility in other roles, whether it is as support or offlane. All three of these heroes, however, have benefited from the advent of dual lanes. Lich received a buff to his ultimate, but most importantly, his Sacrifice no longer gives experience to enemies. And with Bane, his 70 mana Brain Sap may have vaulted him to one of the strongest early laners.
Doom's pick rate continues to rise in pubs. He was the 3rd most banned hero at MLG World Finals
Doom was primed for a comeback to the competitive meta, when he had a 96-100% pick+ban rate across the Frankfurt qualifiers for America, China, and Europe. SEA’s Doom was the outlier, with a 72% Pick and Ban rate. Prior to 6.85, Doom had been patched into obscurity. Aghanim Scepter was required to apply Break, disabling passives of previous cores of the meta such as Bristleback and Faceless Void. Silver Edge and Glimmer Cape were introduced; one a substitute for Doom’s Ultimate and the other a counter. The final blow was another nerf to his ultimate, an increase of its cast point from 0.3 to 0.5.
6.85 didn’t revert the nerfs to his ultimate, but buffed all his other skills— the most significant being an increase in damage to Scorched Earth. The total health and damage increased from 120/216/336/480 to 120/288/504/768. He functions more or less the same, as a utility hero. Now his laning is buffed to a point to negate how hamstrung his ultimate was before. Doom is back, and his return will either be met with delight or dismay when he deletes a hero from the game.
MLG may not have the same spotlight as TI5, but it’s another high profile, international event that continues to change the landscape of the meta. Already in this past week we’re seeing rising trends in the pick rates of Doom, Slardar, and Meepo. Heroes like Leshrac, Bloodseeker, and Storm Spirit continue to wither away from the meta, and though the ones that replace them may be familiar, at least finally it’s something new.