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February 2020 is nearly over and we are now exactly in the middle of the 2019-2020 DPC season – six months since the start of TI9 and six months to the start of TI10! Crazy how time flies, right? The second big patch of the season, the 7.24 patch was released a few weeks ago and the qualifiers for the third set of DPC Major and Minor was where it was first on display in the professional scene. The Major is the ESL One Los Angeles Major, which is the first Major in North America in three years; the last one being the Boston Major in December 2016. It is also the first premier tournament on North American soil after TI8, which took place in Vancouver. The Minor preceding it is the StarLadder ImbaTV Minor (SLi Minor) which will be taking place in Kyiv. The qualifiers for these two DPC events were played on the new 7.24 patch and a saw a total of 378 games being played over the six regions (North America, South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, CIS and China). Let’s dive into the analysis of the qualifier games to get an idea of how the pros are deciphering the Dota 2 7.24 patch.

Most played heroes

It’s no surprise that the two new heroes added to Captains Mode are in the 15 most played heroes of the qualifiers. Snapfire tops the list and Void Spirit is sitting in a comfortable sixth position. The more noticeable thing, however, is that neither of those heroes have exorbitant win rates. Snapfire has just managed to keep hers above 51% while Void Spirit is suffering at a win rate of just below 48%. Typically, the new heroes are a tad overpowered and tend to have high win rates in their first few weeks until they are brought down to Earth. But in case of Snapfire and Void Spirit, they seem decently balanced, at least for the professional circuit. Snapfire is being played a support while Void Spirit is being played as a core in the mid lane.

Slardar makes a surprise appearance at number three. The only buff he received was an increase in movement speed by 10 and his Bash of the Deep was nerfed for the early levels. But the movement speed change seems to have had a big effect on his pick rate and he has a decent win rate as well. The two heroes with the highest win rates in the most played heroes list are Troll Warlord and Nyx Assassin. Troll Warlord’s minimum base damage was increased by 4, which makes it easier to last hit in lane. But that’s not the only reason Troll is popular right now. Another one is the buff to Battlefury, which has brought back the Battlefury build for Troll Warlord, which gives him an immense farming speed and much needed mana regen. This coupled with the fact that Abyssal now has a built in blink makes it a good time to play a hero like Troll Warlord, who likes to stick to enemies and shred them. Nyx Assassin was one of the most buffed heroes of the 7.24 patch, and the data speaks for itself. Vendetta damage being changed to pure has made him a more potent initiator. It also applies break, which is great in a meta where Enchantress is one of the most favored heroes. Not all cores are natural Silver Edge builders and having a Nyx provides a team with a natural tool to take down a hero like Enchantress or even a Bristleback or Anti-Mage.

Most picked heroes from the ESL One LA Major and SLi Minor qualifiers (taken from Datdota)

Most contested heroes

The list of most contested heroes give a much better idea of which heroes are the most favored ones in the meta. A few heroes are banned out a lot and aren’t seen in the most picked list – case in point, Timbersaw and Slark. The two heroes were banned quite often and Timbersaw’s win rate of 60% makes a good case for that. Slark received multiple nerfs in the 7.24 patch, but it appears he’s still quite the feared carry.

Enchantress and Snapfire are clearly the two heroes on the minds of every team in nearly all games. The two heroes were contested in more than 85% of the games (mind you, this is out of 378 games) which is huge! Both these heroes are such that they can be first picked and bring out a reaction from the opposition. Enchantress forces teams to get a hero like Nyx or get more burst damage thanks to Untouchable, which now cannot be pierced by magic immunity. The hero also gives the draft flexibility as she can be played either as a support or an offlaner. Snapfire forces opposition cores to get early BKBs owing to her insane magical damage from Mortimer’s Kisses. Teams just don’t want to play against them, which makes them worthy first phase ban heroes. But again, neither of these heroes has a high win rate. Looking at their performance in these qualifiers, teams might just change their minds and concentrate less on them and focus their bans more on other heroes.

Most contested heroes from the ESL One LA Major and SLi Minor qualifiers (taken from Datdota)

Heroes with the highest win rates

For looking at heroes with the highest win rates, only those heroes that were picked at least in 40 games have been considered (a bit more than 10% of the total games). Nyx Assassin tops the list thanks to his recent buff and being a natural counter to Enchantress. Ancient Apparition also serves as a natural Enchantress counter, rendering her Nature’s Attendants heal useless. As we’ll see a bit later, AA has formed a formidable partnership with Lifestealer, who is another one of the popular meta heroes. Both these heroes have managed to maintain a win rate of more than 60% with more than 70 games under their belt, which is impressive. The big difference is that Nyx has was banned in 154 games while AA was banned in just 77 games in comparison. But both of them were deemed as first phase ban or pick heroes, as the data below shows.

Nyx Assassin
Picks: 1st phase – 60, 2nd phase – 13, 3rd phase – 1
Bans: 1st phase – 136, 2nd phase – 17, 3rd phase – 1  

Ancient Apparition
Picks: 1st phase – 47, 2nd phase – 22, 3rd phase – 5
Bans: 1st phase – 58, 2nd phase – 15, 3rd phase – 4  

It’s good to see Mars being one of the high win rate heroes after a long time on the sidelines. When he was introduced in Captains Mode, the hero was picked a lot but the nerfs that followed saw him being a fringe hero in the subsequent tournaments. The recent buffs, especially the ones to God’s Rebuke, seem to have made the hero quite strong again.

Slardar is the only hero in there with more than 100 games (with 123 games, he was picked in nearly a third of all the games). His Scepter wasn’t too well received in patch 7.22 when it was introduced, but players have warmed up to it over time. Since patch 7.23, Slardar has been picked 140 times (123 since 7.24, so he’s gotten popular just now). Of those games, 41 have seen an Aghanim’s Scepter being picked up by Slardar (29.3% pick rate).

Heroes with the highest win rates from the ESL One LA Major and SLi Minor qualifiers (taken from Datdota)

Best hero combinations

The best hero combinations (15 games or more) are laid out here and it seems Slardar and Oracle form a pretty lethal pair. Oracle’s root and Slardar’s double stun make this a dangerous duo. Oracle also does well with Troll Warlord, who is turning out to be one of the most potent carry heroes of the meta; and it’s not too surprising, is it? Troll has a natural Grave in his ultimate which keeps him alive and with a perfectly timed False Promise, it gives Troll Warlord a 16 second immunity. No one wants to fight a mad troll who they can’t kill for that long, right? With 25 games under their belt, the pair is the second most played hero combination after Puck and Lich.

As mentioned before, Lifestealer and Ancient Apparition make a formidable combo with two slows that can make a hero crawl. A crawling hero is always an easy target for an Ice Blast. Although Snapfire’s overall win rate is not impressive, her pairing with Nyx Assassin and Lifestealer is quite the opposite. With Nyx’s stun setup (now increased to 3.1 seconds from 2.8 seconds thanks to the new talent) is perfect to shoot some fireballs from the back lines. A support pairing of Nyx and Snapfire can smoke and easily get a kill on most heroes in the game from early to mid-game thanks to their ultimates and Nyx’s stun. Snapfire and LS is a lot like AA and LS – two slows in lane and a heavy damage ultimate from the support. Snapfire basically does well with heroes that have good lockdown, which is why further down the list, we can also see her and Slardar being a successful combination. Once Legion Commander is back in the meta, she is sure to pair up well with Snapfire. Duel into Mortimer’s Kisses is guaranteed duel damage. Void Spirit hasn’t really made a strong connection with ant hero. The guy really needs to socialize more.

Best hero pairs from the ESL One LA Major and SLi Minor qualifiers (taken from Datdota)

The unpicked

While some heroes triumph with the advent of a new meta, some others perish. Here are all the heroes that were picked in less than 10 games out of the 378 qualifier games. A point to be noted is that all the heroes were picked at least once and there wasn’t a single hero that wasn’t picked at all. Some heroes like Brewmaster, Chaos Knight and Clinkz are always on this list, no matter what. It has also been a long time since Luna or Lycan were strong meta carries. These are the heroes that might see some love showered on them in the next update.

Heroes picked in less than 10 games in the ESL One LA Major and SLi Minor qualifiers (taken from Datdota)

The Radiant – Dire fight for supremacy

For a long time now, Radiant has been the favored side for teams and it has shown in the results. But with patch 7.24, the Radiant side no longer has access to Roshan when the tier 1 tower in the offlane is taken down. Compared to that, the Dire do have an Outpost near Roshan. Now yes, that Outpost can be converted but it isn’t the easiest task to keep an Outpost in the enemy’s jungle under control. The Outpost is bound to be under Dire control for a majority of the game (unless it’s a total stomp). With this change, the trend for the favored side may just change. Of the 378 games played in the qualifiers, the Dire won 200 games (52.9%) as compared to the Radiant’s 178. We just might be at a place where Dire takes over as the more favorable side.

Game durations

Dota 2 patch 7.24 got rid of Shrines and repositioned the Outposts. These changes to game play have a major effect on durations of games and the durations in turn have a say on which heroes suit the meta. Looking at the distribution of the 378 games from the qualifiers, we can see that a massive chunk of the games are stacked up in the 30-40 minute band. A total of 42% games (159 games out of 378) ended between 30 and 40 minutes. The meta is not one for extremely long games and it isn’t a death ball meta for 20 minute games either. It’s somewhere in the middle of that.

Games ending between 30 to 35 minutes: 102
Games ending between 35 minutes to 40 minutes: 57

In the 30-40 minute bracket, most games are ending between 30 to 35 minutes. Making a new bracket of 20 to 35 minutes, 58.5% of the games ended in that time period! So although it isn’t an extremely fast meta, the games are leaning more towards quick finishes rather than dragging on past 35 minutes.

Comparing this to what was in the qualifiers for the first two sets of DPC Major and Minor, we can see the long games (more than 40 minutes) decreasing with every patch. It has gone down from 36.17% in the first set of qualifiers to 23.01% in these most recent qualifiers, which is a big drop. Patch 7.22, the one on which TI9 was played, was a slow patch and with the advent of Outposts and removal of Shrines, it is no surprise that the meta has become faster and the games shorter with the release of patch 7.24

The WePlay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon tournament is on going and will be followed by the SLi Minor starting on the 5th of March and ESL One LA Major on the 15th of March. There is lots of Dota 2 action coming our way and that is where we will see the Dota 2 7.24 patch develop a lot more. There are bound to be different heroes and strategies as teams gain more knowledge about the meta and unlock the secret for unleashing their true potential on the Dota 2 7.24 patch.

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