ESL One Genting was a wild ride. From Facebook drama and Evil Geniuses getting back into Tier 1 shape, to Newbee getting their sweet revenge after an excruciating loss at TI7. It was an excellent tournament with fair format, good production and many memorable moments. After all, it doesn’t matter where you watch Dota, the only thing that matters is the quality of the games and ESL One certainly delivered in this regard.
It was also a diverse tournament. Of all heroes, only 16 remained uncontested throughout the 60 matches, with 20 heroes not picked. The diversity certainly wasn’t on TI7 level, but it is too early to call the patch completely figured out and given high chances of a forthcoming balance update, things will certainly get even more interesting.
Yet, as with any big tournament, there were certainly heroes that stood out, in either good or bad ways and understanding the reasoning behind the picks and bans will not only improve your viewing experience but will also help you in your own games.
Tiny, Bane, Omniknight and Phantom Lancer were the most contested heroes of the tournament, all reaching over 70% contest rate.
Tiny was by far the most popular hero, with 92% contest rate, including 39 bans and 16 picks in 60 games. Some time ago we discussed the hero’s reworks in one of our posts, speculating that the hero might grow in popularity even further and it seems it is the case after all. Despite having no Agility growth and very poor Armor and Attack Speed as a result, his ability to safely dominate his lane even in 1v1, while having flash-farming potential and strong early and mid-game presence on top of it, makes him a very tough opponent to go up against. Out of 16 games he was picked in, he won 12, making him not only the most contested heroes of the tournament, but also one of the most successful ones.
Omniknight by this point became one of the tournament staples. He was often criticised as too greedy for a support, especially XP-wise, and too low-impact for a core in the offlane. Things drastically changed for the offlane role in 7.07 and finding farm and experience on this lane became much harder, forcing teams to either adapt with extremely survivable heroes like Tidehunter, or going with less greedy high-utility cores that require little investment to be effective. Omniknight definitely works in this situation, capable of applying decent pressure in 1v1 and 1v2, while being relatively comfortable on XP alone if the enemy is dedicated to trilaning him.
Then there is Phantom Lancer — the newest Battle Fury carry and the origin point of the whole trend. It is hard to call the hero exceptionally effective given slightly above average win rate of 53% across 15 games, but teams are definitely reluctant to play against him. More than anything, it probably has to do with how hard he is actually to deal with — he has decent escape, farms extremely fast with a Battle Fury and not as much of a pushover as Anti-Mage in lane. That often makes him a ticking time bomb that can completely take over the game by 35-minute mark with superior farm. Compared to Anti-Mage, Phantom Lancer will also scale better DPS-wise, courtesy of a massive crit talent on level 25.
Disruptor, Rubick and Lycan definitely stood out this tournament as some of the most successful heroes, joined by an obvious Tiny. Disruptor emerged in the pro-scene as the CIS-staple, perfectly suited for a more aggressive approach of the region and slowly made his way to an ubiquitous respect from teams across the world. He is also excellent at dealing with highly mobile, elusive targets who rely on their spells and mobility for survival, while indirectly enhancing push capabilities of the team, having an option of sending at least one tower defender away. It can be used to both force teamfights and avoid them, making Glimpse one of the most versatile spells in the game with potentially massive effect.
Rubick, on the other hand, is often as strong as the enemies opposing him, however current meta definitely favors heroes with high-impact abilities on long cooldowns and a good Rubick will have little to no trouble stealing something game-changing, such as Tidehunter’s Ravage, Omniknight’s Repel or Guardian Angel or even Sand King’s Burrow Strike. Moreover, recent changes allow him to be a lot more effective at helping his team with dealing damage, courtesy of an aggressive aura toggle. It primarily comes into play somewhat later in the game, but the benefits of being able to burst down high-armor target with magical nukes should not be underestimated.
Finally, there is Lycan, who deserved his own dealing with... post earlier this month. The hero is becoming more and more popular, spearheaded into meta with impeccable plays from EG’s Fear. In his current form, the hero is capable of dealing a lot of things incredibly well — he is a strong pusher, excellent and reliable split-pusher and is pretty decent in teamfights, offering high damage and an ability to focus down supports. He doesn’t go toe-to-toe with most other hard carries in manfights, but it is rarely a problem, since teamfights involving Lycan often start with support pick-offs, and then quickly transition into 5v3 in favor of Lycan. He is definitely a hero to look out for and shouldn’t be ignored, as conclusively proven by the CIS teams.
When a hero is picked by a team that loses the game, it doesn’t prove much, but when a hero is picked by multiple teams and the results are consistently underwhelming, it becomes statistics. Such is the case with Witch Doctor and, to a lesser extent, with Tusk.
The idea behind Witch Doctor is understandable — Paralyzing Cask is an amazing skill against summons, at least in theory, since it stuns them for full 5 seconds. As such, he is often thought of as a potential soft-counter to Lycan — you can’t slow the hero, but you can almost fully disable his army, mitigating a lot of his damage. On practice it rarely worked out so well, since the Cask bounces are often unpredictable, might jump to an unnecessary target and are generally too unreliable to be effective. Teams paid dearly for ignoring Lycan and thinking Witch Doctor is a good counter and the hero only manage to win 2 out of 15 games during the tournament.
Tusk is vastly different. He was picked slightly more and won a considerable amount of his games, resulting in an inconclusive 36.84% win rate. Many think of the hero as the new Earth Spirit — the latter got nerfed to a point where no one but a handful of people can play him at a level required on the pro-scene. Tusk goes mid early, pressures the enemy mid and looks for an opportunity to deal a lot of damage or even kill the enemy. His kit also offers extremely high amounts of utility that is hard to execute, but can be game changing, with an impassable terrain creation of Ice Shards and a potential full-team save of Snowball. The hero is far from being “explored” since he has been in the game for a very long time with many successful games, but it seems some professional players are a bit rusty when it comes to Tusk execution with many missed Shards and underutilized Snoballs.
The pro circuit is slowly starting to shape into a respectable league and the clarifications from Valve are certainly helpful. We are getting better formats, more teams and a lot of good Dota, often starting in the regional qualifiers. There are still a lot of issues to sort out and a lot of questions to ask, but for now, as a community, let's focus on what is really important — the game itself.
And the game itself is in a good shape with a healthy meta and very intense matches. Do not forget that and don’t feel disenchanted with what truly matters.