The second Major of the season has concluded and Team Secret emerged victorious. The European team swept TI7 champions Team Liquid 3-0 in the finals of the DreamLeague Major and by picking 14 different heroes across three games, Secret proved that they are not only one of the more flexible teams out there, but that the meta right now allows for such a diverse set of heroes to be played at the highest level.
The meta at this event was a continuation of what had started to develop at the Perfect World Masters Minor, with many popular and contested heroes overlapping at both events. Omniknight remains the most banned and most contested hero and Ogre Magi and Winter Wyvern continue to be among the most favored supports. Unlike at the PWM though, Ogre Magi was not as successful, dropping to a 40% win rate. Similarly, Death Prophet and Tidehunter, both of which were top picks previously, were only picked 15 times at DreamLeague and both have dropped significantly in win rate (29% & 38%).
The biggest difference between both events, however, is the popularity of Bane. Going from a situational pick (10) to the most contested hero (12 picks, 21 bans) within a week is quite the feat. The answer behind this mystery is quite simple: With Natus Vincere present (and making top 4), there was one more team that favored the hero. The Perfect World Masters Minor and its meta were heavily influenced by the Chinese meta, with not only more Chinese teams present, but also because those teams claimed top spots. Night Stalker, Death Prophet and Tidehunter are all popular heroes in the Chinese meta and are often contested in the first phase, whereas in the West they’re considered situational picks at the moment.
At DreamLeague, pro teams very much favored tanky cores that are difficult to bring down and that have a generally solid laning stage, so that they don’t need heavy support to survive. Medusa and Razor both fit the bill, as do Tiny, Morphling and Viper.
As for offlaners, heroes that rely on an ultimate with a long cooldown are slowly getting phased out, Tidehunter being an exception as he provides utility beyond his ultimate and generally does well in 1v1 match-ups, to an extent where he can change the laning stage significantly. While Brewmaster generally does well in his match-ups as well, he is definitely ultimate dependant and offers little utility outside of it. Even when he was picked, Brewmaster had a rather underwhelming impact, which is why he was largely ignored in the later stages of the tournament.
Abaddon is another excellent example of the tanky meta. Picked 5 times, the hero excelled at protecting his cores, winning 4 of those games. The most picked hero Bane is also among the more tanky supports.
Not only are these cores tanky, but many of them are Agility cores as well (Morphling, Razor, Viper), building naturally high amounts of armor. As a result, Elder Titan was picked 3 times, a natural counter to Agility heroes and their armor.
As much as pros may have favored these tanky cores though, a lot of them had low win rates (Tiny 29%, Terrorblade 33%, Death Prophet 29%). Flash farmers like Gyrocopter, Luna and Medusa (all 57% win rate) led the charge.
Playmaking heroes that set the tempo of the midgame have been very ineffective at this event. Queen of Pain (20%), Puck (25%) and Storm Spirit (0%) had abysmal win rates and rather lackluster game impact as well. Neither hero could really find crucial pick-offs, stifling their growth and eventually falling off. Pro teams also grouped up much more, making it difficult to initiate without being punished for it.
Games also generally didn’t last long enough for these heroes to shine. Only two out of the combined 18 games among these three heroes lasted longer than 40 minutes, 5 ended before the 30 minute mark. With a lot of teamfights happening early on and with grouped pushes, these heroes can’t do much aside from split pushing, a job that can be done by more impactful hardcarries as well.
Weaver suffered a similar fate, winning only 1 out of 7 games. The winning game was a position 1 Weaver, whereas many other games saw Weaver take a non-primary carry position behind the likes of Medusa or Tiny. As a non-primary carry, Weaver offers little utility in the midgame and doesn’t do well in skirmishes without items, dying quite easily. In general, most teams made sure to draft line-ups with 2 carries, one of which would definitely be able to fight early on through their abilities. Teams with greedy dual- and tri-core lineups generally fell short. If line-ups did feature multiple carries, they’d usually have a lot of combined pushing power, like Lycan + Death Prophet or Luna + Dragon Knight.
Notable picks in the tournament included Elder Titan, Shadow Demon and Kunkka. While Elder Titan will always have a place in the meta as long as Agility cores dominate the game, Shadow Demon and Kunkka jump in and out of the meta a bit more frequently, but also inconsistently. Shadow Demon’s recently buffed Soul Catcher proved to be quite a strong spell early on, as it allows a team to transition from a kill to a tower push, and MidOne has shown that a mid core Kunkka has its place in the meta as well. Tidebringer ignores armor. and that is a perfect way of playing around the popular tanky cores.
Whether these three heroes will continue to leave an imprint on the meta remains to be seen, for now they look like promising, albeit situational, going into MDL Macau.