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Is Core IO the New Meta?

Is Core IO the New Meta

Yeah, you heard us. We said is core IO the new meta!

We’re not afraid to tackle the big fish here at The Game Haus. The International 2019 has given us some incredible moments in the Group Stages so far. But one stands out above all others – Anathan “ana” Pham rewriting the meta and picking a core IO against Ninjas in Pyjamas.

This craziness has prompted us here at The Game Haus to ask the big question – is core IO the new meta? Let’s take a look.

How Did This Happen?

Before we start, it’s worth remembering that the guys who pulled this off are among the best of the best. Just because they are ballsy enough to pick a core IO it doesn’t mean you can. So, let’s take a look at how they managed it and why it worked so well for them.

Is Core IO the New Meta
Image courtesy of OG

Anyone who knows OG as a team knows that they always seem to have something new to pull out of the hat. They went into TI last year as the total underdogs and walked away with the Aegis. This year, as reigning champions, (at the time of writing) they are sitting pretty at the top of group B with 13 wins and 1 loss

The IO core pick was a surprise last pick in the game against NiP that completely threw the casting team. OG had also picked Shadow Demon, Treant Protector, Axe and Windranger. When the last pick IO arrived the casting team thought that perhaps Axe would carry? No? Maybe Treant then?

Wrong again – it was IO.

But how? What was OG going to do against NiP’s stun-heavy lineup, including Sand King, Mirana and Elder Titan? And with this mad new drafting strategy, is core IO the new meta?

How Did OG Do It?

OG ran the position 1, safe lane IO with the Shadow Demon in support. After rushing a Helm of the Dominator and tethering to a fast Satyr creep, ana set about systematically farming the jungle camps. Once his Aghanim’s Scepter was ready he could relocate into team fights and deal massive damage with his Spirits.

Is Core IO the New Meta
Image courtesy of Valve.

But this alone wouldn’t have been enough – and it very nearly wasn’t. The risky draft gave NiP the space to accelerate into a gold and kill lead. By the 20th minute, they were 6 kills up with an 8k net worth advantage. The real magic started once IO had finished his Maelstrom.

OG was looking ahead to the late game at this point. IO’s level 25 talent causes the hero to auto-attack his tethered ally’s target every time that ally auto-attacks. Now think back to their line up – the Windranger. Combine Windranger’s attack speed with a second set of auto-attacks from a super-farmed IO, complete with Maelstrom and you have the potential to cause huge damage to heroes and buildings alike.

Finally, to complete the picture, ana picked up a Heart of Tarrasque. At max level, IO’s Tether grants 150% of all health restoration IO receives to the tethered ally. A position one IO can secure the farm they need to afford Aghs, Maelstrom and Heart. This completes the holy triumvirate of items needed to successfully itemize a core IO.

Is Core IO the New Meta?

Think about any sport. When you see your favorite footballsman do a cool kick, you want to try it too, right? You see a golfer hit a big shot and all of a sudden you think you’re Tiger McIlroy (…TGH Sports are better at this sort of thing than us…)

Esports is no different. You are going to see people in your pub games who think they are ana trying to run a position 1 IO now. We’re sorry – it’s a fact.

Is Core IO the New Meta
Image courtesy of Valve

The reality is though, few of them are going to do it as well. We’ve been a little pithy in the previous sections by suggesting that the only contributing factor was itemization. It obviously wasn’t. OG gave ana the space and support he needed to make core IO work. You would imagine this wasn’t something they came up with on the spot.

This coordination and forward planning is something you are unlikely to have in your own public games. Also, not every fan of Dota 2 follows the professional scene. If they see you queue for position 1 and then pick IO, they are probably going to wonder just what you are up to, you lunatic.

IO You a Conclusion:

So, is core IO the new meta? Once teammates start to rage and people realize that they aren’t a professional Dota 2 player with untapped APM potential you will probably see instances of position one IO picks dropping off. The answer to the big question here is no, he probably isn’t.

But what does this madness from OG mean for IO as a hero further into the tournament? IO is already a valued support hero thanks to the excellent map presence offered by Relocate. This has consistently resulted in IO being one of the more frequently banned heroes in major tournaments.

Now that OG has shone a different light on IO, you can expect to see him getting banned an awful lot more. We hope you’ve updated your Compendium predictions accordingly…?


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