Techies is a peculiar hero. Before his release in Dota 2 community expressed high interest in the hero, but soon after the excitement was replaced by contempt. These feelings are more than justifiable: the hero is annoying to play against and is often a liability for his own team as well. Techies picks result in prolonged games that get stuck in a never-ending stalemate, regardless of the skill level or the net worth difference.
His brief appearance in the professional scene was similarly controversial. The hero was a big part of EG’s path to victory in the International 2015, but despite allowing the crowd favorites to claim the title, many felt that it gave the American team an unfair advantage. At one point the hero became a compulsory ban against Aui_2000, severely restricting the options other teams had during the drafting stage, something easily exploitable by an accomplished captain and drafter such as PPD.
In the aftermath of TI5 the hero was first heavily nerfed and then removed from Captain’s Mode completely in patch 7.00, after receiving a major rework. The hero was unavailable in the professional scene for over a year now, with constant changes and balance fixes, and it raises a question, is Techies ready for Captain’s Mode?
Techies win rate is unimpressive across the board. The hero is pretty close to the 50% in the lowest skill bracket, but this statistics decreases, as the skill of players involved increases. Getting caught off guard on regular Proximity Mines is less of an issue for more focused players, and they are also better at identifying the potential traps and knowing when to play safe. In fact, in 5k+ games the hero wins only 45% of his games.
One thing more successful Techies players have in common is concentrating on Blast Off! at level one. It is easily one of the strongest level 1 nukes in the game and despite requiring some setup to land, it can make a huge difference in the early skirmishes in lane.
Later levels are generally concentrated around Proximity Mines, with the skill maxed out by level 7. In fact, some players concentrate on Blast Off! and Proximity Mines until they max both skills out, before going for levels into Stasis Trap or the Remote Mines.
This is the general progression for most dedicated Techies players. These dedicated players also win more games than they lose, proving that the hero can be viable in a pub environment. However there is a difference between them and other hero spammers.
It is only natural that playing a single hero repeatedly will allow the players to know the hero better. For many complex or niche heroes the payoff is massive — Meepo is one of the go to heroes for climbing in the 4-5k MMR range, Broodmother still remains one of the best surprise picks that rewards continuous plays and Invoker can be a powerhouse in the right hands almost regardless of the game setup.
The reward for playing Techies well is nowhere near. The contrast is especially apparent when compared to someone like Earth Spirit. Even after a long series of nerfs, dedicated Earth Spirit players can maintain incredibly high win rates.
There are more than double the amount of players who can maintain an over 60% win rate on Earth Spirit, than there are on techies. Also, the average win rate for the top 100 players on Earth Spirit is close to 62%, while it barely reaches 60% for Techies.
This is important, because it showcases how strong the hero is at his absolute best, when played by an extremely experienced player who can utilize most of his potential. It also leads to an interesting conclusion: Techies is absent from Captain’s Mode not because he is too strong or too weak. At his best he is still weaker than some heroes and stronger than others. He isn’t allowed in the professional play because people don’t want him there.
Many of the recent patches to the game concentrated on making the games slightly shorter. There is more incentive for aggression and ganks, turtling is much harder and the “comeback rubberband” isn’t as powerful as it used to be. In the last several years the average length of a professional match has slightly decreased, with more intensive games.
This is the result of both balance changes and the increase in level of play. Professional scene values efficiency and the best teams are incredibly efficient with their most valuable resource: time.
It indirectly improves the viewer experience: Dota spectators get to experience more action, more frequently. And the game is still unrestricted enough in terms of heavy-handed meta changes so that there are still possible comebacks and 60-minute nail biters.
But the value of these rare 60+ minute games that everyone talks about for the next several days is their scarcity. Having 2-3 of these games in a tournament playoffs makes for interesting discussions and variety when watching the games one after another. More, and the meta starts feeling sluggish and tournament starts to become boring. On top of it, there are real-world consequences and these games in high quantity will result in a scheduling nightmare.
Techies can bring all this into professional scene. All the headache for the tournament organizers and all the unneeded boredom for the viewers. They will be picked by weaker teams against stronger opponents for the sake of having a chance to play more and potentially get more stage time and experience. They will be picked in bo1 elimination matches in cheesy strategies, potentially allowing a weaker team through to simply get 2:0-ed in their next series.
So instead of concentrating on whether Techies is ready for Captain’s Mode, we as a community should probably think twice on whether we want Techies in Captain’s Mode and maybe there is a reason that a seemingly balanced and an otherwise uninspiring hero is not a part of the professional meta.