A whole month has passed since patch 6.86 has hit the main client. Even though it did have a couple of smaller tweaks along the way, the initial release has substantially changed the game by opening more viable options, without sacrificing its fragile balance. With professionals testing the patch on the big stage in Minsk and Valve unlikely to change gameplay until after the Shanghai Major, it is now safe to make a Tier List of heroes and look at interesting statistics that stand out.
With the introduction of meta-statistics, we can now cater to more enthusiastic Dota 2 players when compiling our tier lists. Given how the average level of our readers is generally higher than the global average, we decided to slightly change the format of our most read blog post series, restricting the sample to Very High Skill games only. In doing so, we hope to make the list more relevant to the majority of players without getting too deep into the most hardcore MMR bracket. The end result should offer valuable insight on what heroes generally work better in the current patch and help you understand the meta better.
No changes seem to move the two defensive supports from the top tier—for as long as I can remember writing Pub Tier Lists, Abaddon and Omniknight have always been leading the win rate chart. And if previously it could be explained by an inability of newer players to deal with certain aspects of these heroes, currently the only explanation remaining is that these two heroes are just exceptionally good. Both of them have questionable laning stages due to their melee range, yet it seems the payoff of picking these supports is still extremely high, especially in unorganized pub games.
Zeus and Necrophos have also been at the top at least for the last three patches and despite meta-fluctuations their position remains stable.
The addition of Aether Lens and the push-heavy meta have further solidified the position of the Greek God. The hero is just too good at stopping early-game aggression while remaining strong even in the very late-game.
Same probably goes for Necrophos—despite being a rare case of a hero having a flash-farming tool, but not a reliable outpush one, he is still strong in every stage of the game. Thirty extra seconds in the tavern and unavailability of buyback will always be game-changing.
Spectre and her dominance in the public matchmaking has been discussed previously. Have a read if you are interested in an in-depth analysis of what hard carries bring to the table in the current patch.
Overall, in the 6.85-6.86 transition the amount of “Stomp” heroes has decreased substantially. There were 9 “OP” heroes in the previous patch and the decrease in this number can be considered healthy for the game.
The most surprising hero to see in the “Winners” section is probably Chen—the reasons behind his sudden resurgence have been discussed previously, but it is also worth noting that changing the sample to VHS games only is probably equally as important.
Otherwise, this tier has remained relatively unchanged in terms of additions—Lycan and Enigma are the only heroes who are new to being the “Winners”.
Lycan had some of his spells reworked, allowing for better team-fight presence in the early-game without sacrificing pushing capabilities. He is also better off when piloted by more experienced players.
Enigma is simply happy about finally getting the jungle to himself. Current meta allows less stacking and flash-farming and all the junglers are better off. And despite what the community thinks, junglers are viable options if these two rules are followed:
Luna, Vengeful Spirit, Juggernaut, Pudge, Drow Ranger, Beastmaster, Venomancer, Treant Protector, Chaos Knight, Crystal Maiden, Ogre Magi, Tidehunter, Phoenix, Visage, Dazzle, Elder Titan, Mirana, Silencer, Weaver, Witch Doctor, Disruptor, Shadow Shaman, Clinkz, Night Stalker, Centaur Warrunner, Dragon Knight, Earthshaker, [missing hero: outworld-devourer], Terrorblade, Alchemist, Slark, Viper, Jakiro
No matter how much it pains me to say that, but Pudge in the hands of an experienced player is indeed a solid pick. The series of decent buffs and his new ultimate upgrade have made the hero worthy of the attention he always had—reducing Hook cooldown almost three-fold with an Aghanims Zepter makes him a lot more reliable initiator and damage dealer.
Terrorblade is also finally getting over what was considered one of the biggest nerf-hammers in the history of Dota. He is push-friendly and late-game friendly, making him more fit for the current meta. He also requires some degree of micro and is better off in VHS games. Finally, a global +30 HP change has benefitted him a great deal, making him less of a push-over in the laning stage and early mid-game.
Finally, Dazzle has been demoted from a solid pub-winner to a reliable, but not overpowered pick. He has been a staple in many strategies for far too long and even I, despite my love for the hero, have started feeling that he is getting old. Small nerfs have managed to keep him a viable option, with “option” being the keyword—other supports need to have some time in the spotlight as well.
Dark Seer, Templar Assassin, Nyx Assassin, Lone Druid, Earth Spirit, Brewmaster, Lifestealer, Faceless Void, Pugna, Death Prophet, Sand King, Anti-Mage, Bane, Ancient Apparition, Doom, Clockwerk, Phantom Assassin, Legion Commander, Lion, Morphling, Tusk, Io, Naga Siren, Riki, Keeper of the Light
Heroes in this section do not really lose enough games on average to completely disregard them—sometimes they will be the best final piece to the drafting puzzle, and small deviations from the norm do not indicate weakness be any means. Many of these heroes are actually extremely potent in the hands of professionals and if anything, they might suffer from uncoordinated pub players, rather than inherent inferiority.
For example, both Pugna and Death Prophet are amazing in coordinated push games, with the latter having an extremely high win rate of almost 63% in Shanghai Qualifier matches as well as one of the highest pick priorities. Same goes for Tusk, who remains a very solid pick—he can’t boast a ridiculously high win rate, but it is very close to the 50% mark.
Morphling is also getting a lot of attention as one of the strongest late-game carries. His transition from a nuker into a right-clicking machine is smoother in this patch, since he is less likely to get snowballed by an overfarmed flash-famer.
Finally, the infamous Earth Spirit, after the Magnetic Grip nerf, has becomes a solid hero who doesn’t cause a disproportionate amount of frustration. He is still rather complicated to play, but at least it is no longer unjustly compensated by a ridiculous power level at all stages of the game. In his current form he is a rather welcome addition to both professional and public matchmaking.
Gyrocopter, Enchantress, Ember Spirit, Huskar, Windranger, Batrider, Winter Wyvern, Techies, Phantom Lancer, Magnus, Skywrath Mage, Kunkka, Rubick, Sniper, Troll Warlord, Razor, Shadow Fiend, Shadow Demon, Tiny, Lina, Nature's Prophet, Bristleback, Bloodseeker, Tinker
Yes, it is advised to avoid Gyrocopter picks if you are playing in uncoordinated pubs. Even though he is almost good as a situational pick, global neutral and ancients changes, as well as direct nerfs to the hero have made him rather disappointing, especially given how many equally or better scaling heroes are on the rise. In the current patch he tends to fall off quicker than before and gets online later—his window of dominance has shrunk substantially and is too dependent on him having a good start and/or his teammates helping him out with early stacks. He dominates in the 15-25 minute window in almost the same fashion--it is just games are generally more concentrated on other timings in 6.86.
Shadow Fiend, Windranger and Lina, the biggest flash-farming cores of 6.85 are all pretty much in the same boat—with the ability to catch-up, get ahead and snowball effectively through neutral stack nerfed, they are no longer as big of a threat. These heroes cannot play from behind and getting tempo with them is a lot harder these days.
Finally, Tiny might be too slow for the current meta. He is forced to make a choice between a ganking build, which is not too great against pushing lineups, or a late-game oriented one, in which he suffers from not being exactly the hardest of carries. Any hybrid between the two has a higher chance of success, but as in the case with Gyrocopter the window of opportunity for the Tiny pick to shine might be too narrow and/or might not come at all.
The appearance of QoP in the lowest tier is not quite surprising—she does suffer from the many problems tempo heroes have in the current patch. Fifth lowest win rate is hence understandable, despite her dominance half-a-year earlier. She just doesn’t really fit well in the current meta and she certainly can’t allow herself to go for late-game. The previous go-to build concentrating on heavy magical/pure damage on low cooldown is probably better, but still doesn’t cut it.
Puck is more or less in the same boat, but the hero has a lot more utility to offer and with a proper build can stay somewhat relevant even in the late-game. The biggest problem however remains—the hero has an incredibly high skill ceiling, among the highest in the game, with a relatively small payoff. Playing the hero perfectly is almost unfeasible, but even then the impact will be comparable to an impact an average Invoker can offer. The hero doesn’t need a buff as there are players who can unlock its potential almost fully--it just needs to be picked less to “experiment” and “practice’ in ranked matchmaking.
Oracle I have been extremely vocal about throughout all the changes the hero has suffered in the last couple of patches. I’ve said time and time again that the hero is getting a lot worse and is now a ridiculous hybrid of weird nuker and save support, with neither of his sides working as well as they used to. The end result is a misunderstood hero with low impact and the potential to be harmful to his team. And unlike some other heroes in this tier, it doesn’t come from lack of player skill, unless you count spamming a lot of buttons in predefined order “skillful”.
Compared to the previous patch, there are some very interesting overall trends in the distribution of heroes across tiers. The amount of heroes in each tier now more closely resembles a normal distribution, with the extremes being not as populated, as previously. It generally means what many have expected from the patch—more viable options, better overall balance and higher diversity.
This has lead to several pleasant consequences, with the most important ones being the reinvigoration of the professional scene and versatility becoming a bigger factor in higher level matchmaking. Some of the more hardcore players might object to these changes, since the patch has put many hard-to-master heroes on more or less equal grounds with the rest, but the game certainly feels a lot more fair.