Inevitably, all games, no matter what kind, will develop a meta. Dota 2 is no exception to this, of course. Still, it’s much more open than most when it comes to viable tactics. Strategies at different levels of play often look wildly different. At lower levels of play, individual skill trumps all, but at higher levels, that skill gap starts to shrink. At the professional level, the skill gap is as small as it gets. While individual skill still shines at the top, players up there are always looking for an advantage. So what might the Dota 2 Pro Meta look like going forward? Though no one can know for sure, past results help form the Dota 2 Pro Meta Forecast.
The Usual Suspects
As shown by the Stockholm Major and Regional Leagues, some heroes get much more love than others. The clear stand-out here is Marci, who was just added to Captains Mode in the most recent patch. It’s possible her popularity may be due to her novelty, or her unfamiliar kit. However, it’s also likely that she was always a good pick, and is only now available for pro play. While novelty certainly has some part in her high pickrate, she will likely stay popular after that wears off. Her kit is useful both in lane and in teamfights, and she can be built in multiple different ways.
Dawnbreaker is another popular pick in pro play. Like Marci, she boasts a versatile kit, and is great in teamfights. She shines when players communicate well, making her a natural fit for pro play. Her ultimate allows her to be a constant presence both in the laning phase and afterwards. Even the threat of activation is sometimes enough to keep enemies from taking an otherwise favorable fight. It also allows her to roam and split push without missing out on any important teamfights. As long as she keeps her utility, she should remain a prominent face in the meta.
Fad or Fundamental?
One hero that has seen a lot of play recently is Mars, but it’s not clear why. While his pickrate has varied through the DPC, it has always been remarkably high. What isn’t similarly high however, is his winrate. So then, why do pros keep picking him? Put simply, Mars has quite an allure. His kit is very useful in teamfights, making him a good pick in a meta with Marci and Dawnbreaker. All of his basic abilities allow him to control fights in some way. Mars’ Q and W displace enemies, with his Q also allowing him to stun foes. Conversely, his E grants him huge damage reduction from the front and allows him to intercept projectiles for his allies.
His ultimate is where Mars really shines though. Arena Of Blood is big, flashy, and if used right can swing a teamfight. So, with all these assets, why is Mars not shining like the rest? One reason is that he may be getting picked too much. As such a tempting choice, Mars is likely often picked in situations he really shouldn’t be. While many teams put him to good use, others tend to put him in bad matchups. He can’t quite reach Marci and Dawnbreaker’s levels of presence and mobility, unfortunately. While those two can deal with bad matchups due to their sheer versatility, Mars can’t quite do the same.
Less of the Good Stuff
There’s more to the Pro Meta Forecast than just heroes though. A few important items also saw recent changes that have already made their mark on the meta. Firstly, Null Talisman saw its mana cost reduction replaced with a max mana increase. While this doesn’t harshly affect too many heroes, it definitely hurts for one. In the Stockholm Major, players playing Storm Spirit would usually stack six Null Talismans and dominate the early game. This change is most likely a direct response to that, and a welcome one.
However, two other important items were changed which affect the meta on a broad scale. Firstly, Black King Bar, an item that has long held a dominant spot in the game, had its cooldown increased. It now has a 90-second period between each use. This helps extend the laning phase, and makes carries more vulnerable. The final and arguably most important item changed though was Healing Salve. While its price went down by 10, its duration is now halved when used on an ally. This helps stem the flow of Salves supports were pouring on their carries, and similarly makes laning more impactful. While the BKB change only starts to matter once someone buys one, the Salve change affects the game from the start. At only 100 gold, it’s always affordable, and important for the whole game. This means players will have to be much less daring early on, and take their time in lane.
With the Arlington Major commencing on August 8, teams don’t have much time to adapt to the changes. With the Pro Meta Forecast, fans can deduce the shape the competition will take. But as always in Dota, there’s an element of the unknown.
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