Vici Gaming confidently secured their spot in the upcoming Major in the last week’s StarLadder ImbaTV Minor. Despite questionable play-off format, it was still a very enjoyable tournament which had enough great games to serve as an appetizer before DreamLeague Season 11.
Sadly, the amount of matches played doesn’t allow for any kind of a serious Meta recap, so instead of focusing solely on specific underrated, overrated and staple heroes in the game, we will look at the state of the game as a whole.
83 picked heroes and 90 contested heroes over 34 matches is a good result. For comparison, both previous Minors had 82 and 87 picked and contested heroes respectively with a much longer play-off stage.
This alone wouldn’t be enough to feel optimistic about the state of the game for the upcoming Major: After all, more games will not necessarily lead to higher hero diversity, as teams might simply converge on a specific hero pool and decide not to deviate.
There is another interesting stat, however: StarLadder ImbaTV Minor only had one hero with an above 80% contest rate: Chen, hero who received some of the harshest nerfs in 7.21c, was at 82%, with only three other heroes at above 70% contest rate and a total of eleven heroes at above 50%.
Once again, for comparison, the Bucharest Minor had five heroes who would appear in four out of five games, with Tusk picked and banned in every single game. DreamLeague Minor had similar stats, with Io appearing in 98% of the games. There were 13 and 16 heroes who would appear in one way or another in more than half of the games in Bucharest or Sweden respectively.
Hero diversity won’t necessarily result in higher match quality and better games, but we are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Major. Looking at the same heroes over and over again can get stale, especially in a double elimination format with a separate group stage for 16 teams. The best team will certainly win, but we really hope they will not do it by utilizing the same lineup over and over again. So far, things are looking really good.
One of the greatest things about Dota is how flexible most heroes are: they can be played in different roles or in completely different ways within the same role, depending on itemization. Even when the game was at its worst during the beginning of the season, it would still allow for some variety not in picks, but in the execution of said picks.
With the deny XP slowly crouching back towards the original design, there is now even more incentive to swipe the dust off old Dota templates. Trilanes and Roaming supports are back. There are both babysitting trilanes and aggro ones, there are many different viable roaming heroes and the offlane is finally a place where a single player frequently tries to survive against all odds. All of that in addition to dual lanes still being viable makes us incredibly happy about the state of the game on the professional level.
There are short 20-minute games with aggressive pushing lineups, there are brutal 60-minute games with heavy back and forth, there are teamfight-heavy lineups, split-push lineups, win-your-lanes-and-snowball lineups and much more. We hope to see the same diversity in the Major as well.
One thing to keep in mind is that Minors are usually filled with Tier 1.5 teams and one-two Tier 1 teams, who had a bad day during the Major qualifiers. Consequently, the Minor meta is generally more chaotic and less conservative, compared to the Majors and it can result in higher perceived diversity.
Moreover, the patch being released so close to the start of the tournament definitely had an impact on the overall level of chaos: many teams simply didn’t have enough time to fully analyze the patch, practice new strategies in scrims and therefore had to experiment during the tournament itself.
This is the “cautious” part of being cautiously optimistic and there are probably many more good reasons to remain skeptical. But we won’t. Dota is awesome. Our professional scene is the best esports in the history of esports. Deal with it.