Once again, it is time for a tournament meta recap and once again we are going to be focusing on some of the more interesting meta developments, rather than discussing the meta as a whole.
The newest patch is quite varied, but we are starting to see some staples emerge. Four heroes had a 80%+ popularity: Batrider, Timbersaw, Nyx Assassin and Ancient Apparition. Interestingly, of these four, the first two are not even in the top10 most picked heroes of the tournament—they were frequently a first phase ban and it looks like the teams simply don’t want to deal with them.
Nyx is a very reliable support that provides tons of control and is a good matchup against many currently popular heroes, but it is Ancient Apparition who deserves a lot of extra attention. With a 83% win rate across 12 games he was the most consistently successful hero of the tournament.
Given the focus on teamfights in the current meta, as well as extra changes to how spell immunity works, it is no wonder a hero that excels at fighting come level six and can potentially neutralize tanky targets is suddenly becoming stronger, but it is the hero’s laning stage we were most impressed with.
Most professional support players typically got 1-0-2 by level three and then maxed out Ice Vortex as early as possible: the magic damage amplification is perhaps the most underrated mechanic the hero has access to.
Death Prophet can’t boast the same popularity as Ancient Apparition, but she can boast the same win rate. The hero was certainly forgotten several patches ago and now we can safely say that she was not only forgotten, but also underrated. The latest patch buffed the hero slightly, but we believe that it wasn’t the biggest contributing factor to her sudden success.
The big change to the hero, once again, has to do with how spell immunity works: Spirit Siphon being an undispellable debuff placed on an enemy, it does persist if BKB was pressed AFTER it was used. It is a game changer, that allows the hero to be considerably more aggressive, as she can keep on replenishing her hero pool even in the middle of a midgame fight, as long as her spells are used in time.
We’ve also seen her Aghanim’s Scepter in action once again, and it is still as scary as it was: no item in the game gives almost 400 HP, 300 Mana and ~110 damage to a hero for 4200 gold. On top of it, it also gives DP a BKB-piercing slow, an extra layer of survivability and a farming booster. Maybe rushing it is still a bad idea, at least the professional players think so, but as a second or third major item it does wonders.
Some time ago we made a bold prediction about Snapfire being figured out the most in the Chinese region. Her win rate in the CN qualifiers was the lowest and we emphasized the idea that it might have been the result of the CN scene knowing the hero too well, rather than not practicing with her enough. Turns out we were right.
Snapfire won four games out of 15 she played in. She was piloted by Aster.Boboka in three of those. He would always go for a maxed Scatterblast with value points in other spells, but it is more or less a standard for Snapfire nowadays.
The big difference is that Aster never picked Snapfire without some form of lockdown: they had Puck in two games and a Rubick, LC, Bloodseeker combo in the other. All of this allows Snapfire to be actually effective with her rather slow-moving and generally easily avoidable ultimate.
The Major starts in one week and we hope to see further adjustments from the top teams in the world when it comes to the general meta. A lot of heroes stayed uncontested during the Minor and many of them are definitely worthy of attention and could be a treat to watch when played by the highest level professional players.