With 7.09 changing very little about the meta, you’d expect the same Dota 2 carry heroes from the last few patches to remain just as viable heading into ESL One Katowice. However, that wasn’t exactly the case. In fact, Lycan, who was slightly nerfed in 7.08, was only picked five times (with a 60% win rate) out of sixty-six total matches. The same goes for Medusa, who was only picked 4 times and found herself on the winning team only half of the time. This development is quite surprising, especially since Medusa and Lycan were each both picked up 21 and 22 times in 33 matches respectively just at Starladder i-League Season 4, which was only a few weeks ago.
So, what happened? What led to some of the most hotly contested carry heroes becoming less viable when the patch didn’t even bring as many changes to the game?
The Shift to a Teamfight Meta
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) February 15, 2018
The changes to the bounty runes brought by patches 7.08 (Gold growth doubled from 2 per minute to 4 per minute) and 7.09 (the first Bounty Rune now gives +40 gold to the entire team instead of 100 to the first who picks it up) were huge. Add the fact that killing neutral camp stacks now gives a bonus 15% gold bounty to the hero who stacked it and supports now had a lot more reason to roam the map other than to rotate and gank.
Though ganking remains one of the support’s more prominent roles, the changes gives supports more of an incentive to stack. Not only that, but teams now also had even more of a reason to secure and clear their stacks as soon as possible.
While not exactly a direct result of just the said changes, but more of an effect of the collective changes over the past few patches, what usually happens now is that teams are now playing to finish the games as early as possible. This results in less focus on pure farming, as well as ganking and more emphasis on laning and 3v3, 4v4 or 5v5 skirmishes.
Greed is No Longer Good
Even if you haven’t exactly been following the Dota 2 meta develop, some things will stand out if you try watching a competitive game from a few months ago to the games that were played in the past three tournaments. For one, greedy cores that eat up a lot of space for farming are no longer in. In their stead are self-sufficient, stable cores that can contribute in team fights all throughout the game, win lanes either on their own or with little to no support, come online fast and can punish mistakes.
Evil Geniuses’ quick 2-0 win over Newbee — the entire series didn’t even last 37 minutes — is the perfect example of how games these days can quickly be won when a team makes picks and plays around heroes such as Terrorblade, Gyrocopter, Razor and Dragon Knight.
On their own, the four Dota 2 carry heroes mentioned above aren’t OP. In fact, they’re the very definition of stable cores. They do their jobs well enough, but they’re not particularly the best carry heroes. Not by a long shot. That honour belongs to the likes of Anti-mage, Spectre, Morphling, Slark, and so on. However, because of how the current Dota 2 competitive meta plays out, farm-heavy heroes just have no place unless in certain situations.
The Marauder Comes
— Miracle- (@Liquid_Miracle) February 25, 2018
Unpopular opinion: Terrorblade is not OP. Don’t get me wrong, IceFrog definitely needs to think about changing his talents. But, then again, the talents are fine if they’re unchanged. However, the emergence of Terroblade are one of the best Dota 2 carry heroes in the current meta isn’t just pure luck. The hero is good, especially in the right hands, i.e, in the hands of Team Liquid and their 20-year-old wunderkind Amer ‘Miracle‘ Al-Barkawi.
Case in point, Team Liquid posted a 100% win rate in six games on the hero at Katowice. The rest were 4-8 on him.
Yes, Terrorblade is scary if the team builds around him and enables all of his strengths, which is what Team Liquid does. However, his early game remains atrocious and he is just as susceptible to burst as he’s always been until he builds items such as Eye of Skadi or Sange and Yasha, which shouldn’t come until at least 15-20 minutes into the game. The fact that Metamorphosis has a very long cooldown and that he’s totally dependent on it doesn’t help either.
Terrorblade is a good late-game carry that’s also a great anti-carry and capable laner, which is great, but he’s far from broken.
The Jacks of all Trades
With blazing speed @virtuspro gain control of the series!
They carve out a 1-0 lead over @ViCi_Gaming and are now two wins away from winning #ESLOne Katowice!https://t.co/RUTJQiyOsP pic.twitter.com/ljgv0nvY1k
— ESL Dota2 (@ESLDota2) February 25, 2018
Just a few patches ago, teams didn’t pay any attention to Dragon Knight, Razor and Gyrocopter. Sure, Dragon Knight has always found playtime, but he was never a must-have. At least, until quite recently. So, what changed? Nothing much really. You can’t just chalk up their resurgence to recent buffs. Rather, them becoming prominent picks has more to do with other Dota 2 carry heroes having become less viable, either due to heavy reliance on farm or just because of how less flexible they are or generally just because how weak they feel due to repeated nerfs.
Going back to Terroblade, in a way, he is also a jack of all trades, albeit not as flexible in that you can’t exactly just play him in any lane and get away with it. At least, not as easily. Teams can play the three heroes mentioned above in any lane and they’re not afraid to abuse this.
Not only do these heroes give teams the versatility in the draft to keep their opponents guessing, but the current meta plays to their strengths as well, regardless of where a team chooses to play them. Plus, they don’t exactly have hard counters, while they themselves hard counters to certain heroes, like Sven and Lycan, for example.
— ESL Dota2 (@ESLDota2) February 25, 2018
Another underrated aspect as to why teams keep on picking these heroes is because they move very fast, either via their skills, talents or both. Combined with items such as Euls Scepter of Divinity and Drums of Endurance, these Dota 2 carry heroes allow teams to amp up the aggression when necessary while making it hard for the other team to punish their mistakes.
Patch 7.09 may not have brought changes to the heroes themselves, but it’s easy to see its impact on the overall meta, especially in competitive games. Just from watching the games at ESL One Katowice, you’ll notice just how different everything feels now. Everybody just keeps on pushing the pace. Teams fight all the time. There’s very little lul time on the map. When there is one, expect a big team fight brewing and just waiting to happen.
Given how 7.09 will come to an end in a day or two, it’s exciting to think what the next patch will bring to the table.
What do you think of the four Dota 2 carry heroes that stood out at ESL One Katowice? Do you think that they’re due a nerf? Which carries do you think deserves a buff? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.