A comparison of Eastern vs Western picks and bans



Mon 21st Jan 2013 - 5:40pm

The Eastern Dota teams dominated TI2. From LGD going 14-0 in the group stages, to Na'Vi being the only Western team in the Semifinals,  to iG taking out the championship, it appeared professional Dota 2 could go the way of StarCraft II with Western teams forever playing second fiddle to the Koreans (or in Dota2 , the Chinese teams). This overwhelming show of strength was chalked up to several factors, chief among them a different meta and playstyle that Western teams simply couldn't counter (as well as simply playing better, but that's much more difficult to quantify).

Since then, many things have changed. New heroes, patches and balances have been added to Dota 2, making it a very different game to the one we saw in Seattle. As teams begin to shift their sights to The International 3, counter strategies to the Eastern teams will be foremost in many teams' thoughts. But are the Eastern teams still so different in their metagame and playstyle? Lets have a look at what the numbers say. Note all statistics are taken from Dota Academy, filtered to regions mentioned between the 1st of October 2012 to the 9th of January 2013. The numbers are taken from a total of 372 Western Europe, America and CIS games, and 142 Chinese and SEA games.


Western Europe/America/CIS

Rank Hero Picks/
Picks Bans Rank Hero Picks/
Picks Bans
1 Dark Seer  317  147  170 11  Leshrac  192  119  73
2  Templar Assassin  302  153  149 12  Chaos Knight  185  98  87
3  Batrider  295  101  194 13  Tidehunter  173  77  96
4  Rubick  266  148  118 14  Queen of Pain  168  87  81
5  Jakiro  265  208  57 15  Sven  163  87  76
6  Undying  250  82  168 16  Keeper of the Light  160  70  90
7  Bounty Hunter  238  111  127 17  Magnus  156  47  109
8  Enigma  211  102  109 18  Wind Runner  148  97  51
9  Chen  208  92  116 19  Naga Siren  133  48  85
10  Wisp  207  86  121 20  Brood Mother  125  21  104


Top 5

1st Ban 2nd Ban 1st Pick 2nd Pick 3rd Pick
 Batrider  Batrider  Dark Seer  Jakiro  Enigma
 Undying  Dark Seer  Templar Assassin  Templar Assassin  Chaos Knight
 Dark Seer  Templar Assassin  Batrider  Bounty Hunter  Jakiro
 Templar Assassin  Undying  Jakiro  Rubick  Queen of Pain
 Magnus  Magnus  Rubick  Chaos Knight  Sven

3rd Ban 4th Ban 5th Ban 4th Pick 5th Pick
 Brood Mother  Enigma  Enigm  Wind Runner  Shadow Fiend
 Keeper of the Light  Tidehunter  Tidehunter  Leshrac  Wind Runner
 Chen  Chaos  Keeper of the Light  Shadow Demon  Nature's Prophet
 Chaos  Leshrac  Chen  Rubick  Luna
 Enigma  Enchantress  Chaos Knight  Keeper of the Light  Juggernaut


 As we can see from these picks and bans, the  early game push-strategy is well and truly gone. Batrider, Templar Assassin, Dark Seer and Jakiro all stand out as top tier heroes, appearing in almost every game as either in the first bans or first picks. Batrider in particular is the most common first and second ban, banned far more than he's picked. Undying too, one of the most popular second bans, is banned more than twice as often as teams picks him, suggesting that if a team isn't planning to pick him up, they'll ban him out as soon as possible to avoid playing against him.

Similarly, Wisp, Magnus, Naga Siren and Brood Mother are all banned out far more often than picked as they are powerful heroes that are difficult to counter. Conversely Jakiro and Wind Runner are both popular first and third, and fourth and fifth picks respectively, being picked plenty more than they are banned (Jakiro picked almost four times more than being banned!). This might be because both teams would like to playJakiro, and so neither are willing to ban him out, and Wind Runner because she's a great hero but not so strong that she's worth banning unless the enemy team is clearly lacking an offlane hero. Her popularity has also been in decline recently as heroes like Bounty Hunter have moved up in picks, since his the buffs to his track gold made him such a vaulable addition to a team, as well as being a very strong in the offlane position.

Shadow Fiend as the most popular 5th pick is a bit of a surprise, but fits in with the gank orientated metagame we've seen emerge post 6.76/6.77, with domination of the mid game with TA or Shadow Fiend the set up for a strong finish in the end game. Juggernaut and Luna are both popular fifth picks as well, this pick seemingly used to pull out the surprise carry/Nature's Prophet. The popular Wisp/CK combo also features in the top picks and bans, with Sven the only other carry in the list. Enigma and Tidehunter are still very popular choices too with their teamfight-dominating ultimates.

Magnus would be a popular choice as well, with his incredibly powerful Reverse Polarity and Skewer,  if he were ever able to make it through the ban phase (banned 109 out of 156 games).



Rank Hero Picks/
Picks Bans Rank Hero Picks/
Picks Bans
1  Rubick  101  62  39 11  Enigma  60  23  37
2  Dark Seer  95  26  69 12  Chen  58  22  36
3  Batrider  88  31  57 13  Naga Siren  56  13  43
4  Templar Assassin  73  34  39 14  Nature's Prohpets  56  35  21
5  Queen  69  48  21 15  Tidehunter  55  27  28
6  Jakiro  68  52  16 16  Anti Mage  48  20  28
7  Bounty Hunter  65  36  29 17  Invoker  47  16  31
8  Leshrac  65  39  26 18  Keeper of the Light  47  21  26
9  Brewmaster  61  30  31 19  Undying  46  10  36
10  Lone Druid  61  30  31 20  Shadow Demon  44  27  14


Top 5

1st Ban 2nd Ban 1st Pick 2nd Pick 3rd Pick
 Batrider  Dark Seer  Rubick  Jakiro  Brewmaster
 Dark Seer  Rubick  Templar Assassin  Leshrac  Tidehunter
 Naga Siren  Batrider  Batrider  Queen of Pain  Queen of Pain
 Magnus  Templar Assassin  Dark Seer  Rubick  Jakiro
 Templar Assassin  Naga Siren  Queen of Pain  Lone Druid  Rubick


3rd Ban 4th Ban 5th Ban 4th Pick 5th Pick
 Enigma  Lone Druid  Enigma  Sand King  Shadow Demon
 Brewmaster  Brew  Beastmaster  Lina  Anti Mage
 Chen  Leshrac  Anti Mage  Sven  Sven
 Tidehunter  Enigma  Dragon Knight  Wind Runner  Wind Runner
 Invoker  Venomancer  Leshrac  Shadow Demon  Bounty Hunter


 Once again we see Batrider, Templar Assassin and Dark Seer in the top tier of heroes. Similarly just like in the Western Scene Naga Siren, Dark Seer and Undying are being regularly banned out, each of these heroes banned out a great deal more than they are picked. Jakiro is once again a popular pick, this time during the second and third picks.

Rubick appears in the picks and bans far more often than in the Western scene, possibly influenced by the excellent Rubick played by iG's ChuaN. Anti Mage has slowly begun to creep back to his former glory as the most popular  hard carry (although is nowhere near as popular as he used to be) and Invoker still remains a common pick, although these two heroes have all but been forgotten in the current Western metagame.

Lone Druid and Brewmaster are also heroes that although not unheard of, are less popular picks in the Western scene than they are in the Eastern scene. Flexible semicarries who can perform well in the mid game, their inclusion here is likely due to popularity with individual players rather than any real metagame differences.

So the picks reveal themselves to be fairly similar, with almost identical top tier picks. Is it the playstyles that gives Eastern teams the edge in competitive Dota? There is a lot of talk about the 'four protect one' strategy, where one player picks a hard carry and farms as much as they can for the first 30-40 minutes, gets a few big items then comes out and dominates the enemy team. This relying on one hero to carry the team to victory strategy is still popular among some teams, but like the push-strat that used to dominate Western Dota, it is falling out of favour.

In the G1 finals game 2, we see LGD use a ganking oriented lineup against DK's traditional four protect one, but even with BurNIng at the helm it's not enough in this new meta. Furthermore, id a Western team that has been thrown in to the ring against the best teams the Eastern scene have to offer, have proven more than a match for anyone, coming first in their G League group stage and just this week securing themselves a place in the finals by defeating TongFu 3-0. Although they are all individually exceptional players, so are teams like Na'Vi, and at TI2 several Eastern teams got the better of them before they clawed their way back to 2nd place. Is it something in the water in China that breeds exceptionally skilled teams?

Of course not, it's simply the fact that these teams (and now have the dedication to put in the hours of practice required to be the best. While Western teams struggle with schedules, school and sometimes different timezones to practice together as a team, Chinese teams are together in teamhouse, scrimming, practicing, strategizing and learning how to play as a team. If the Western teams want to progress and be taken seriously in Dota 2 e-sports, this dedication is something they need to take to heart. I'm not saying it's easy, but sometimes you need make sacrifices for the thing you love, even if that thing is Dota 2.