The International is coming in less than a month, and we are fairly certain that 7.30c is going to be the patch the biggest tournament of the year is going to be played on. As such, it is perhaps the time to get a look at the current professional meta and maybe even speculate on the ways it can develop further before TI.
Some changes to the meta after 7.30c are almost certain but, for the most part, it looks like the nerfed heroes weren’t made weak, but rather were made weak enough to allow for other considerations in their role.
For example, Pangolier, who is the most contested hero in 7.30, is unlikely to go anywhere. The Shield Crash mana cost increase and the Rolling Thunder cooldown increase are unpleasant, but it doesn’t prevent the hero from doing their job well.
Sven is in a similar spot. The hero did get weaker and the BAT nerfs are especially limiting come late game; however, the hero’s peak did not change much. Sven can still farm incredibly fast and can still take over the game around the 25-minute mark. The stack nerfs were not big enough to incentivize a different playstyle. In fact, one could argue that now stacking is even more important, since heroes get less per extra neutral camp.
Tidehunter, the fourth most contested hero of the patch among professional players in general and the sixth most contested hero among TI attendees might even rise in popularity. The hero received no nerfs, stacking nerfs aside, and we’ve seen the hero be successful in positions other than offlane, making him a rather flexible pick.
Lion and Shadow Demon should also remain among the most popular heroes of the patch. There are very few supports who are as straightforward and as effective as Lion, while Shadow Demon simply fits the current meta perfectly, having answers to all possible threats. A BKB-piercing slow against Sven and other melee cores, a percentage-based nuke in Soul Catcher against tanky targets, disruption against heavy initiation or versus late-game agility cores, and strong lane presence all contribute to his effectiveness.
There are several trends that are either dying out or have been nerfed hard enough to possibly result in some meta changes. One of them is Keeper of the Light. His mid playstyle was nerfed heavily, with noticeable reductions to damage. Coupled with lower stack value and longer cooldown on Illuminate, it is possible we are going to see less of the hero, at least when it comes to mid lane.
Omniknight is also becoming a lot less of a priority. Heavenly Grace now being dispellable means you can no longer pick him in the first phase and be content with most matchups. There are many heroes in the current meta who have access to Dispel and this means Omniknight can no longer guarantee a very high survival rate for his core in most early game engagements.
Finally, we feel like Silencer is starting to get figured out. 41% win rate and the following nerfs make for a rather unappealing character who is going to be picked in specific scenarios with a specific strategy in mind. The hero doesn’t seem to work as an all-around good support while his core prowess is still questionable once enemy heroes get BKB.
We are uncertain about Vengeful Spirit and the nerfs the hero received to her Aghanim’s Scepter illusion. The movement speed bonus nerf is unpleasant, but it was hardly the biggest problem with this Aghanim’s, and the hero still feels very much OP. However, she wasn’t even in top10 most contested heroes in the professional scene, so perhaps she isn’t as much of a problem as we personally feel she is, or she is simply too niche. That said, the hero had a 72% win rate in all professional matches in 7.30, and 83% win rate among TI attendees. A 13% conditional movement speed decrease doesn’t look like something that can solve this, so we feel like she is certainly undervalued.
Viper also belongs to this category. 66% win rate was already high enough, but it is also pre-buff and the new, improved Viper can be a problem. Now decent agility gain on top of extra magic damage amplification could make for a very scary hero who is absolutely devastating in certain matchups, where enemy cores over-rely on their passive abilities.
We can also see Queen of Pain making a full comeback as a mid character, since she is very good in Captain’s Mode as a potential flex mid hero who can break even in almost any matchup. The latest buffs made the hero a lot more appealing in a variety of ways, but it is the speeding up of the meta that allowed the hero to become viable once again.
Releasing a hero into CM for TI without any prior tournaments is a bold move, but Dawnbreaker is going to appear on the biggest stage, we are almost certain about it. Great heals, strong lane presence, access to slows and stuns on top of decent stats make for a pretty reliable hero and reliability is something that professional teams favor.
The question is whether the hero is going to be overpowered and we honestly don’t know. There are definitely many ways her global presence can be abused, but does it fit the setting of a professional Dota match and does it fit the current meta is a different question altogether. For now, we just have to wait and see.
What heroes do you think are going to be the most popular during the International and what heroes do you think are underrated by pros? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.