The International Qualifiers Meta
We have previously touched on the topic of the most popular heroes in the current patch and with the Qualifiers over it is now possible to compare different regions and their outlook on the pick/ban-worthy heroes.
Without further ado - The International Qualifiers Meta.
The topic was discussed in depth in our previous Blog Post, however it is now possible to point the things that were very region-specific.
Batrider was by far the most popular hero during the event being picked or banned in almost every game. He was closely followed by Mirana, who, unlike Batrider saw a lot more action in the first half of the tournament. In the later stages she became a banning priority against most teams.
Lycan, Sand King and Invoker were also high priority Pick/Ban targets in the first stage, gradually falling off. Lycan finished third in the popularity contest with a really small margin over Treant Protector.
Unlike the other regions, the Shadow Fiend was among the most popular ones, appearing in 37 games. With an overall emphasis on a really strong late-game hero in the middle lane for the American region it is unsurprising. And there are extra benefits for him if he is played on the Radiant side, since he can always drastically accelerate his Gold and XP gain without losing out on the lane presence by farming a nearby Neutral Camp (preferably stacked by a support).
Keeper of the Light was another popular pickup that has seen virtually no play in the other regions. He also had a 75% Win Rate in 16 games he was picked in, making him the most successful hero in the tournament. His low popularity in other regions therefore cannot be explained by the fact that players were disillusioned with his performance in the American qualifier (which was the first in the series), but rather indicates a higher emphasis on a more mid-late game oriented playstyle of the American players. His ability to outpush in the earlier stages coupled with an added mobility to the team in the later ones fit well with somewhat greedy tri-core lineups.
Speaking of mobility - a common hero for both "West" qualifiers (American and EU) apart from Mirana was Io. He only appeared in a handful of games in the Eastern ones, but was featured in 36 games in Americas. We have all seen the amazing performance from DK with a Wisp-KotL combo and it is peculiar that this game has not inspired more Eastern teams to try it out.
European region was the most "Traditional" in its popular picks. Unlike every other region that has featured 38 heroes that have appeared in each game as either pick or ban, the European only had 32. It should not be used as an indication of lower imagination of European players however, as the amount of heroes that were not picked at all is roughly the same in each region.
The overall trends closely resemble the meta of the American qualifiers with the same heroes taking the priority in the drafting stage. Interestingly, there was even higher emphasis on picking or banning Io - a hero a lot of people thought was somewhat weak after the post-TI3 nerfs. His popularity could be explained by a rise in popularity for a lot of heroes that require the extra mobility and attack speed as well as the overall shift towards more mobile metagame.
It is also the only region to have a decently high appearance rate for Gyrocopter with 22 (P+B) games. Even after receiving some minor buffs in 6.81 to his Homing Missile he was widely regarded as an outdated hero that is not well suited for the ever-developing meta. His ~50% Win Rate can neither prove or disprove this thesis so we will have to see more tournaments with him to come to a definitive conclusion.
Another "odd" hero in the pool of European players was Abaddon. Being a very good counter to Mirana it is interesting that his was not featured more, but his Win Rate in the event hit 80%. To be fair he was only picked 5 times and most of is popularity came from bans, but with a decent upgrade to his ultimate that pretty much gives each of your teammates a 3rd level Dispersion his late-game potential (when he can get his hands on an Aghanim's Scepter) is very high.
When it comes to the Eastern approach to Dota the Doom was what the Mirana was to the west. While the popularity of the Mirana was still rather high in both SEA and China, Doom was very specific to the region, being featured in a handful of games in Europe with even less presence in the America. Interestingly, unlike Mirana, which in most cases got to the actual game, Doom was more banned than picked.
Lich is another example of a different approach. His ability to create an XP (and Gold) advantage for the team in the earlier stages of the game and an ability to protect the key structures and turtle the game longer with a now buffed [missing skill: lich-ice-armor-5135] is very well-suited to the less aggressive Chinese scene (there are, of course, exceptions in the scene where certain teams like DK and Titan are capable of showing a lot more aggression in the earlier stages).
Axe was also only popular in China. We have discussed the change to the proc of Counter Helix in our Pub Tier List and its impact on the very popular hero of the 6.80. Being a little bit weaker in smaller skirmishes we did not expect this hero to appear in the competitive scene, but he was either picked or banned in 14 games. In most cases, however, it was against Dazzle, which Axe is great at countering.
While Batrider was the most popular hero in every region, most of his popularity came from him being a very high priority ban in the first stage of the draft. In SEA, however, he actually saw a decent amount of actual play time with 17 picks and 41 bans (closest were America and EU with 11 picks).
This region has also shown an even higher emphasis on Doom, making him the third most popular hero (19 picks, 34 bans).
It is also the region that has shown the highest amount of love to Viper - he was the 7th hero in terms of popularity after the obligatory Lycan, Invoker etc. Interestingly, while he was a priority pick in a lot of games his Win Rate was rather small at ~44%.
In our previous blog post we raised an interesting question of whether Jakiro is fit for the current mobile meta. The players from the SEA have decided that he is, with 14 picks and 6 bans on this questionable, albeit really powerful hero. There was nothing particularly special about his Win Rate that is excatly 50%. however, as in most discussions on the Win Rate with a small sample size it is not indicative of anything.
Overall, from the data it can be concluded that the region strongly favors pushing power and survivability and while the most famous pushers are usually banned early in the draft, the region has managed to find interesting substitutes that have an added value of extra utility.
This concludes our discussion on the different approaches regions have on the 6.81 patch. In our opinion The International qualifiers is a better example of the region specific macro strategies, since it does not feature the "biggest" team from the region (which usually ban/draft specifically against the opponent they are facing), but rather has a variety of really strong teams that are not quite there yet.
This international promises to be even more interesting than the previous one not only because of an increased prize pool, but also due to an excellently balanced patch which allows for a huge variety of very different strategies and has very few heroes that can be considered not viable.
The whole statistics on the Picks and Bans in different regions can be found here
Thank you for Reading!