Metagame Report: Dota Pro Circuit 2021 Season 2
The second Dota Pro Circuit season is halfway done, with the metagame for Patch 7.29 clear as day at this point in time. The latest data set from aggregation site datdota gives us a bird’s-eye view of what pro teams are picking right now. The bigger picture is quite interesting, especially when considering what was either nerfed or removed from the game entirely in the last balance update.
The overall theme of the metagame right now revolves around durable heroes, health regeneration, and lifesteal—as well as direct healing. Utility and sustain items like Solar Crest, Satanic, and Sange and Yasha are popular right now as a result. Heroes that make good use of these items will show up in this list, so if you’re someone that plays these picks, you can be confident in your draft choices in pub games.
With that out of the way, let’s jump right into the second Dota 2 Metagame Report of this year!
To nobody’s surprise, Centaur Warrunner leads the pack with 86 appearances across the entire DPC. This number accounts for 35.44 percent of games, which is even higher than Puck’s pick-rate of 33.72 percent from the previous season. Centaur has also been banned in 72 games so far, which add up to 30.38 percent of games.
Centaur himself received a long list of buffs in 7.29, all of which caused his win rate to go up by around two percent afterwards. Aside from all the buffs, though, there’s also the fact that Vanguard is a much better item now. Vanguard’s block chance has gone up from 50 to 60 percent, while its cost has been toned down by 100 gold. These two seemingly small changes allow Centaur to rush Vanguard before the 10-minute mark.
At that point, it becomes practically impossible to bully him out of the lane, especially when coupled with the damage from Return (E). Only heroes with spammable, low cost magic damage abilities can overcome his durability in the lane—but considering that Centaur is an offlaner, he can typically rest assured that he’ll be facing at least one physical attacker in the early game.
All of these positive characteristics combined make for a stable, reliable pick in just about any situation. His win rate of 52.38 percent in the DPC certainly indicates this.
Speaking of Puck, she’s still firmly in the metagame even after several nerfs. Pro teams have picked her in 65 games this season so far, and she leads the pack in number of bans at 152. And no, that isn’t a typo. It’s clear that teams still respect and even fear her extreme versatility and oppressive nature, even going as far as banning her in the first phase 114 times.
What can we say? Her stats are still amazing, she can be played in almost any role, and the number of item builds available to her is kind of absurd. Not even a fixed 80-second cooldown and reduced break damage on her Dream Coil (R) are enough to keep her down. The fact that she can be first picked without giving away the lane she’ll be going in is also an advantage that very few heroes in the pool can say they have. The very nature of Captains Mode makes her a wild card in the drafting phase, which can be very hard to prepare for.
All in all, until balance master IceFrog decides to take away her solid foundation, Puck will continue to be a force in the metagame for a while. Right now she has a 52.24 percent win-rate, which isn’t crazy by any means, but certainly puts her in the upper tiers of the metagame.
The ever-present Tusk is here in the meta as always, lending his fists to whomever requires his services. He’s appeared in 52 games so far, giving him a 21.05 percent pick rate.
It’s hard to overstate what Tusk can do in the right hands. Tag Team (E) is one of the best abilities in the game at level one, as it almost guarantees that whatever lane Tusk is in during the laning phase becomes a kill lane. Given that pro teams have much better coordination than average pub players, it’s easy to see why he’s such a popular pick at the highest levels of play.
Moreover, Solar Crest is pretty much a broken item right now. The sheer value of the item is insane at the moment, even after the significant nerfs it received in 7.29. As it is one of Tusk’s favorite core items, it stands to reason that he will also be one of the strongest picks in the metagame. True enough, he is enjoying a 51.92 percent win rate in the regional leagues.
Talk about broken with a capital B. Even with the outright removal of Necronomicon in 7.29, Beastmaster just refuses to be put in IceFrog’s metagame jail. The chief reason? His Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade is just outright bonkers.
Let’s face it: being able to reduce the cooldown of an ability like Wild Axes (Q) is already good on its own. Almost any hero would love to have a Scepter upgrade like this. But what makes Beastmaster’s version truly frightening is the fact that he can get it as early as 12 minutes into the game, just by sitting in the mid lane and rushing the item.
When you consider how good Beastmaster is in the mid game, it becomes horrifyingly clear just how strong the upgrade is. Remember that Wild Axes has a stacking damage amplification component, which lasts 12 seconds at a time. The ability to continuously increase the number of stacks that early into the game is simply ludicrous, and more often than not leads to extremely quick snowballing for Beastmaster and his team.
TNC Predator’s Armel “Armel” Tabios demonstrated this in the early goings of the DPC season, which prompted Valve to immediately tone down the effectiveness of the upgrade. Since first appearing in 7.29, the upgrade itself no longer increases Wild Axes’ damage by a flat amount. But still, even with the nerfs applied, it’s clear that teams still don’t want to deal with Beastmaster at all. Though he hasn’t appeared in as many games as before 7.29c (implemented on April 29th), his ban rate since then is still fairly high at 27.66 percent.
Oh, and 20 of the 26 bans he’s been a victim of have been first phase bans too.
All hail the king of stability and versatile play. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Juggernaut is the most ubiquitous carry of all time in the pro scene, just because of how good his kit is at all stages of the game. True enough, he’s still a popular pick in the current DPC season, appearing in 46 games so far and being banned in 106.
It never seems like nerfs matter to this hero, either. Juggernaut has received nothing but downward adjustments to his abilities for a while now, particularly when it comes to his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade. Swiftslash (D, when Aghanim’s Scepter is purchased) no longer has the same cast range as it did in 7.28, but it’s still incredibly good at dealing a quick burst of damage to a target that’s out of position.
Juggernaut also now has more options when it comes to purchasing Yasha. Whereas Manta Style was the go-to choice in maybe 95 percent of games back in the day, the status resistance and healing amplification included in Sange and Yasha make it a very compelling route. Heck, it may even be the first option nowadays given its extreme cost-efficiency. He also benefits directly from Solar Crest, given that Omnislash and Swiftslash rely on attack speed.
He’s had incredible success thus far in the regional leagues, boasting a 60.87 percent win-rate while being in the top 15 most picked heroes. Juggernaut’s blade is as sharp as ever.
Warlock, on the other hand, is the surprise inclusion for this list in particular. He’s only appeared in 39 games so far, a sample size way lower than those in the top 10 from the data set. But he’s certainly made good on those 39 appearances, winning nearly 70 percent of those games. That’s a staggeringly high success rate even with fewer games to work with.
Before 7.29, Warlock was pretty much half a hero. Nobody wanted to pick such a greedy support in the pro scene, especially not one that doesn’t really have any laning presence. After the patch, though, things changed big time. Warlock got a ridiculous amount of buffs across the board. His area of effect Shadow Word (W) talent, which used to be unlockable at level 20, is now his Aghanim’s Shard upgrade. Combined with the rest of the buffs he got in 7.29, this change alone means that supports can get what used to be a level 20 talent at the 20-minute mark instead.
To put things into perspective, here’s everything the Shard upgrade does, when combined with the Shadow Word talents at level 15 and level 20:
- Cooldown goes to nine seconds down from 14. The duration of Shadow Word itself is 12 seconds, meaning it is possible to create a scenario where there are two instances of the ability active on a target for three seconds. Make this an area of effect spell, and you’ve got yourself something incredible.
- Crazy good sustain and damage over time. The +25 heal/damage talent at level 20 means that if Shadow Word is cast during a teamfight, there is potential for 840 damage and healing over its duration. This amount should not be underestimated, especially when working with illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer or Terrorblade.
- On the other hand, if cast on a creep wave, upgraded Shadow Word clears it without the need for further interaction. Warlock can simply use the ability on a creep wave and leave, with the confidence that it will die. Not to mention that his own creeps get healed and get a movement speed boost as well, meaning they get to the next wave or closest tower a bit faster. The map pressure Warlock can create from this alone is insane.
- When used on Chaotic Offering (R) golems, they become faster and tankier. All of them, at once.
- With the Shard upgrade, Shadow Word becomes a ground-targeted ability. This means Warlock can cast it safely in areas with no vision.
Note that this is all from an item that costs just 1,400 gold(!). The kind of value it offers cannot be ignored, and is largely responsible for Warlock’s success as of late. The upgrade just does so many things at once when combined with the appropriate talents.
Mars is back, and for all the reasons that we’ve come to expect by now. The hero is just very reliable as an offlaner, and can even be played in the mid lane on occasion. He has shown up in 58 games thus far, putting him seventh in the top 10 most picked heroes this season. He’s also won 51.72 percent of those games, which is more than respectable of course.
While Spear of Mars (Q) does take careful application to get the most out of it, the rest of his kit is easy enough to use. And in the pro scene, sometimes that’s what’s important. Having a hero that can consistently perform in any situation is valuable at the highest level of play, and Mars certainly offers that kind of consistency. This is in spite of some of the nerfs he received in 7.29, too. He’s kind of like Juggernaut in a sense, where his numbers don’t really tell the whole story of how effective he can be.
Sometimes, even small buffs can turn a hero’s fortunes around. Elder Titan is one of the latest to enjoy this kind of resurgence, thanks to some serious number tweaking by IceFrog in 7.29. His Earth Splitter (R) was given a shorter effect delay, going from 3.14 seconds to 2.8 seconds after cast. The cooldown was increased to compensate for this, but the tradeoff was very much worth making his ultimate more reliable.
Then, in 7.28b, the delay was reduced yet again, this time to 2.7182 seconds—the first five digits of Euler’s mathematical constant, because that’s just how IceFrog rolls. On paper, this doesn’t look like much, but the reductions have added up in the Pro Circuit for sure. Elder Titan has been picked in 49 games so far, with a 57.14 percent win rate to boot. Now that’s a serious case for his placement in the upper echelons of the metagame.
Tanky heroes also cower in his presence, thanks to the power of Natural Order (E). Armor and magic resistance disappear whenever Elder Titan or his Astral Spirit (Q) are around, and it’s never strange to see heroes just melt when they get hit by Earth Splitter.
And so there are the eight most notable heroes in the Dota Pro Circuit Season 2 metagame. These heroes have proven themselves to be solid picks in most situations, and you can expect pro teams to turn to them often or ban them accordingly. We’ll be back before to the start of the next Major with another Metagame Report, so stay tuned to Hotspawn for next time!