January Metagame Analysis



Mon 18th Feb 2013 - 6:33pm

The meta game of Dota 2 is constantly changing and evolving. New play styles or builds catapult heroes into the top tiers while old favourites slowly fall out of fashion. In order to keep up with the competition it is important to be aware of these changes to the meta lest the other team pull out a hero or combo that you weren't prepared for.

So I present to you, humble readers, the current top four tiers of Dota 2 heroes along with their pick and ban frequencies. I don't go into a huge amount of detail here for brevity's sake but if you'd like more detail on any one particular hero or tier let me know in the comments and I can plan for future articles.


Please Note: For this article I used the statistics available on Dota Academy. I used data collected between January 1st 2013 and February 1st 2013.  There is a little bit of a lull in tournament play in the moment so some of the heroes that are more popular with the Chinese scene are lower in the picks/bans than they might otherwise be (as the Chinese teams take a break for new years) but it still gives a good idea of what heroes are currently popular picks and bans. 


Tier 1

Rank Hero Picks/Bans Picks Bans
 1  Nyx Assassin  111


 2  Keeper of the Light


 57  44
 3  Dark Seer  100  60  40
 4  Batrider  98  19  79
 5  Magnus  96  45  51
 6  Shadow Demon  93  65  28
 7 Undying  86  17  69
 8  Wisp  86


 9  Lone Druid  84


 10  Lifestealer  77




Nyx reigns supreme. Spiked Carapace is an incredibly powerful spell (surely it's duration needs to scale with levels), and is being played as a versatile and survivable support. He can also roam and gank with the best of them. Dark Seer remains highly placed as well, his Wall and Vacuum combo still able to completely turn a team fight around. Batrider and Magnus and Undying remain popular first and second bans, showing teams still not wanting to have to deal with them. Lifestealer has really moved up in terms of picks and bans over the last few months. BKBs are a core item on almost every carry, so naturally the hero that comes with one built in (not to mention a very nice attack speed bonus) is appearing more and more in top level play. He also scales well in the mid game, which with shorter game times is becoming more and more important. His elevation to the rank of tier one is thanks to picks from several team, including: Na'Vi, mouz, Natural 9 and EG. 


Tier 2

Rank Hero Picks/Bans Picks Bans
11 Rubick


 49  20
12  Queen of Pain  59  33  17
13  Luna  58  34  24
14  Enigma  57  21  36
15  Bounty Hunter  56  20  36
16  Templar  51  20  31
17  Chen  51  23  28
18  Windrunner  45  34  11
19  Chaos Knight  41  31   10
20  Leshrac  36  29   7

 Some of the heroes in Tier 2 may move back Tier 1 once the Chinese teams come back from their New Years Break such as: Templar Assassin, Luna and Rubick. Rubick and Luna in particular are favoured heavily in the Eastern Scene at the moment (but since you read  last weeks article, you already know that). Chen and Leshrac still see a lot of use despite push strats falling out of favour in recent times, but they are both solid support heroes that contribute a great deal in team fights. The fact they can demolish towers is just a bonus. 

Tier 3

Rank Hero


Picks Bans
21 Brewmaster  40  16  24
22  Phantom Lancer  37  16  21
23  Gyrocopter  34  24  10
24  Jakiro  30  15  15
25  Tinker  30  11  19
26  Bane  28  11  17
27  Nature's Prophet  27  14  13
28  Puck  27  15  12
29  Lina  26  20  6
30  Clinkz  21  11 10 


Tier 4

Rank Hero Picks/Bans Picks Bans
31 Broodmother  18  2  16
32 Enchantress  17  8  9
33 Beastmaster  16  10  6
34 Disruptor  16  12  4
35 Night Stalker  16  7  9
36 Tidehunter  16


37 Anti Mage  15  8  7
38 Sand King  15  14  1
39 Shadow Fiend  15  12  3
40 Faceless Void  14  5  9


In Tier 4 carries that were must have picks for a team languish in ignominy. Faceless Void, Night Stalker and Anti Mage have all been the man about town, but this past month have been left to the side. Anti Mage saw some resurgence in popularity during the G League but is unlikely to ever be as popular as he was around TI1. Tidehunter has fallen quite low in picks and bans as well, as wombo combos and big team fights become less important when picking a team , in favour of a sleeker gank orientated line up. Night Stalker seems to fight right in to that, but is still only in Tier 4. This is because mid lane is now dominated by the likes of Queen of Pain, Batrider and Templar Assassin


Top 5 Pick/Ban Order

1st Ban 2nd Ban 1st Pick
Batrider  Nyx Assassin  Dark Seer
 Nyx Assassin  Batrider  Magnus
 Wisp  Dark Seer  Nyx Assassin
 Undying  Magnus  Keeper of the Light
 Keeper of the Light  Undying  Wisp


2nd Pick 3rd Pick 3rd Ban
 Lone Druid  Shadow Demon  Queen of Pain
 Lifestealer  Lifestealer  Luna
 Shadow Demon  Chaos Knight  Bounty Hunter
 Keeper of the Light  Rubick  Lone Druid
 Rubick  Keeper of the Light  Shadow Demon


4th Ban 5th Ban 4th Pick
Chen  Enigma  Windrunner
 Brewmaster  Templar Assassin  Lina
 Enigma  Bounty Hunter  Rubick
 Bounty  Shadow Demon  Leshrac
 Queen of Pain  Queen of Pain  Enigma


5th Pick
 Shadow Fiend
 Sand King


The early pick and ban phase is dominated by a handful of heroes. Wisp is a popular first ban or pick, as there are teams (such as our own Team Dignitas) that will dominate the map with this hero and a carry given the chance. Dark Seer has moved out of the top of the first and second ban phase (although he is still a popular ban) and is the top first pick. With big team fights becoming less important he is no longer quite as fearsome as in his golden years. Lifestealer is picked early, so teams aren't too worried right now about counter picks to him as there aren't really any hard counters right now. Keeper of the Light is a hugely popular hero despite a huge drop in usefulness in the end game, but his impact in the early laning phase is huge and is a great counterpush hero.

The second half of the ban pick phase shows more variation as teams begin to take shape and any gaps in the line up are filled. Windrunner is a popular fourth and fifth pick to round out with an off lane hero. Although Bounty Hunter is the more popular off lane hero, where he is picked is much more flexible. This area is hard to draw any conclusions from as there is so many variables on which heroes to ban out and which ones to round out a team with. 


So that concludes my roundup of what's been going on this last month in the meta game. Were there surprises, or was it exactly what you expected? Either way hopefully this will help you in your own Dota endeavors, whether anticipating the other teams strategy in captains mode, planning a line up or just adding to your just knowing a bit more of whats going on whilst watching pro games. Hopefully it's been an enjoyable read, make sure to let me know what you think in the comments, and what you want to see next. Thanks for reading and until next week, happy gaming!