It's no question that the state of our pub games has changed due to The International 5, whether for the better or worse. Heroes like Storm Spirit and Lina skyrocketed in pick rate, namely due to the success of strong mid laners in the main event, such as EG.Sumail, EHOME.Cty and LGD.Maybe. EG picked Gyro four straight times in the Grand Finals. The day after his pick rate rose from 14% to 17%. And then there's Leshrac, the most banned hero of the tournament, who didn't see much change in his pick rate.
First, a recap of significant dates of TI5:
For the most part, many of the pick rate changes occur after TI5, when the community finally has a chance to detach from watching 12 hours of Dota a day.
Strong heroes during TI5's meta don't necessarily correlate to higher pick rates in our pubs. In the case of Leshrac, he was rarely seen at TI5 due to a near 100% ban rate, and since then his pick rate has hovered around the same levels in pubs. This is also the case with Bloodseeker, who saw little success at TI5. However, BS still remains the 3rd most popular hero in pubs. Could he have surpassed Pudge if, for example, Sumail won TI5 playing Bloodseeker mid?
We want to imitate the successes of our favorite players. It's hard to do so if that hero fails, or if that hero isn't picked at all. How many people picked Earthshaker after seeing Universe seal EG's TI5 championship with an Echo Slam?
It could just be the cumulative influence of dominant midlaners at TI5 such as LGD.Maybe and EHOME.Cty, but Sumail arguably has the largest exposure by being the winner. This week, Storm Spirit is the 2nd most popular hero, right between Pudge and Bloodseeker. It's no doubt that Sumail had a similar effect on pubs after his comeback win on Storm Spirit at DAC, where he fed multiple times in the early game and picked up the fastest Bloodstone of the tournament. Sumail achieved a similar feat at the TI5 main event where he died three times in the first ten minutes, only to come back with the fastest Orchid timing of the tournament.
In addition to Storm, Sumail also had the most wins on Ember Spirit at TI5. He showcased the hero's potential in EG's opening series against CDEC, where he dodged nearly every stun while still pushing forward and picking off heroes. In his other games, he won against what should have been a lane disadvantage, such as EHOME.Cty's Razor and CDEC.Shiki's Leshrac. Sumail put on the kind of performance that compels you to log on and fail at trying to do the same thing.
Lina is another rising midlaner that I won't necessarily credit entirely to Sumail. Lina was a popular meta pick by most teams, especially as a counter to Gyrocopter and Anti-Mage. She doesn't care about your BKB or magic damage reduction. She's exceptionally strong in lane, with early burst and an annoyingly far reach with her auto attack. A popular first two pick opener at TI5 was Lina and Bounty Hunter. These two heroes opened up early first blood opportunities, and in our pubs it's no different.
Bounty Hunter's rise in pick rate was more gradual, from 16.84% to 20.98% after TI5, a change close to 25%. BH is already a menace in professional play, where his presence or absence can sway the balance in any lane. This pressure is intensified in pubs, where early sentries are lacking (what MMR does it take to buy a starting set of sentries) and support rotations occurs 10 seconds after a core dies. BH's track gold also benefits a game with a general lack of coordination, where he can capitalize on mistakes.
However, even though BH is now the 9th most popular hero, his win rate is fairly sub par, at 48% (69% at TI5). Perhaps it's a good thing now to see a Bounty Hunter on the opposing team, even if you have to buy those sentries yourself for the mid lane.
Anti_mage had one of the highest pick rate increases for any carry, going from 13.5% to 20.7%. One of the reasons here was that the hero was the root for many of the comeback wins at TI5, in both the group stage and the main event. One team's gold advantage could quickly be erased if they couldn't end the game before Anti-Mage came online. It seemed like the trend of AM games, such as EG vs Col in their opening series of the main event, was that the leading team couldn't secure the map or their gold advantage.
Keep in mind, however, that AM had a 40% win rate at the main event, and 53% in the group stages. In pubs, that number hovers around 47%.
In contrast, Gyrocopter saw more success at TI5. EG picked him four straight times on their road to winning the championship in the Grand Finals. It was also a deny pick against CDEC, who dominated the Upper Bracket main event with aggressive carries such as Gyro and Phantom Lancer. Gyro hopped from a 9.6% pick rate to 16.5% at it's peak, a change of 72%. If it worked for EG, why couldn't it work for our pubs?
Gyro has an exceptional skill set for flash farming, and unlike Anti-Mage, he doesn't need to wait until 13-16 minutes for a Battlefury. Call Down at lvl 6 is enough to wipe out early jungle stacks, and Flak Cannon can clear ancient stacks without risk. A major part of his strength is that he's a threat in the early game. Gyro is one of few carries who won't mind rotating to your lane to kill you in the first 10 minutes.
Phantom Lancer is just one of those carries that there are few counters for. The old LC may have countered the old PL, but those times are gone. Ember Spirit is the best response, but he was often banned when a team had PL in mind. His pick rate in pubs doesn't have as large as a change as other carries, 12.6% to 15.8%, but when picked, he's still firmly in the category of cancerous heroes (ex. Broodmother, Bloodseeker).
In pubs, it's too easy to pick a PL late in the phase where there aren't enough counters available. He's as slippery as Anti-Mage, but also has a decent mid game with Diffusal Blade, as well as scaling into the late game.
No other team than Virtus.Pro used Silencer as they did in several of their clutch lower bracket wins against Complexity and Team Secret. Silencer is a hero that can be strong in lane, but has little room to come back from a bad start. Unlike other popular mids and carries, he has no other way to farm besides auto attacking. He can't clear stacks or creep waves. Still, whether played as core or support, he is among the highest win rates in pubs, at 54%.
Tusk gets an honorary mention here, as one of the more popular offlane and support picks at TI5. His popularity waned during the main event, but eventually became a first round ban pick against CDEC.garder, who was a machine with the hero. Tusk is a little like Clockwerk in his disruptive skill set. He can split a team fight, trap other heroes, and save his own team with Snowball.
Frozen Sigil is an incredible skill. It can scout Roshan, help kill Roshan, and because it slows your attack speed, it's also annoyingly difficult to destroy. It's then disappointing to see that in 70% of pubs, Frozen Sigil is skilled first at lvl 10, compared to lvl 4 among professional players. The 4th most popular build doesn't use Frozen Sigil at all.
With few tournaments after TI5, the next change in pub picks will most likely come from the next patch. It will be interesting to see how pubs adjust to these new changes, before any professional competition can establish a new meta.
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