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Most Picked and Banned Heroes of TI9 Qualifiers
Leading up to every major tournament, many fans of Dota try to predict the meta and what the pros might favor. Nearly every time, the pros either surprise us or an upstart team creates their own meta and dominates the competition. Regardless, we will be looking at the picks and bans of the TI9 qualifiers in an attempt to demystify the meta before the biggest tournament of the year. Let's get started.
#1 Overall Picked (and Banned): Ember Spirit
- Incredibly mobile
- Can dodge most abilities
- Good against magic lineups
- Punishes lack of disable
- Needs levels
- Not tanky
- Can be bullied early
So what's up with Ember Spirit? He had an 87% pick and ban rate and every pro seems to favor him now, even those who don't play the hero often. Even more astounding is the fact he is played in a way he has never been played before, with the most successful Embers maxing sleight over chains/flame guard. The reason for this change in play-style is rather simple. Micro-buffs over time have a snowball effect.
Some of you might remember the old way Alchemist used to be played, emphasis on fighting and a very physical build. Of course, eventually, a new play-style emerged that favored radiance and a reliance on his seemingly overpowered stun for lots of damage/CC. All of this happened because his talents and stun became buffed to a ludicrous amount. This is essentially what Ember is facing. A play-style overhaul due to talent/ability changes.
Sl(e)ight Buff (Get It?)
Previously, Ember was a physical damage dealer that loved battle fury. Once BF was nerfed he became a magic DPS that maxed out his flame guard and chains. Now, after buffs to his sleight, he does a whopping 160 bonus damage per sleight of fist on a six-second cooldown. That's huge. Pair the insane damage potential, with a hero that has built-in escape/lockdown/chase and you have an extremely versatile core pick that can keep tempo in any game.
That all being said, I won't pretend his new Ags upgrade didn't have anything to do with his rise to glory, because it certainly did. Having six remnants just extends his potential.
Something notable to mention is the recent nerf to his sleight of fist. Before if Ember got rooted he could use his sleight and essentially run out the time of the root. This was incredibly inconsistent with root mechanics and caused him to be way more powerful against root heroes like CM/Underlord/etc. Now, he can no longer use sleight while rooted. I imagine this might cause some damage to his win rate but nothing substantial, considering euls/bkb/manta exists.
Going forward he will likely keep getting picked/banned. Most teams don't have an answer for him and although the nerf might affect him adversely, don't expect it to hurt many pro embers.
#2 Overall Picked (#8 Banned): Centaur Warunner
- One of the strongest offlaners
- "Reset" button
- One of the best stuns in the game
- Can 1v1/1v2 lanes
- Map pressure
- Doesn't need much to be effective
- Aoe stun
- Specific matchups destroy him (timbersaw)
- Susceptible to everyman for themselves play-style
Carrying an impressive 72% pick/ban rate, Centaur Warrunner has had his time in the spotlight. Although the hero has a sub 50% win rate overall, the hero has strong potential for both disengaging and reengaging. Many pros call this concept a "reset".
For example, when you get gone on by a core or a stun, Centaur can press his ult and either, get the entire team to you quickly, or disengage faster than the enemy team can react. Lots of heroes have this, such as Naga (song) or Mars (arena). Others can fit under this umbrella as well, such as Tide, Enigma, or Axe, because they have strong abilities that can turn a fight, effectively "resetting" it.
What makes Centaur's reset much stronger than those heroes, however, is his ags which provides a 40% damage reduction and unobstructed pathing. Not only does this make your entire team extremely mobile, but it can also be used to save heroes if they get caught in a powerful ult, like Black Hole.
Also, Centaur is one of the stronger offlaners in Dota right now. Besides very specific lanes (timbersaw), or otherwise unwinnable lanes, Centaur will dominate almost every carry/support duo. The space this provides to his safelane/mid is priceless. Even if he ends up losing the lane.
Additionally, Centaur can pressure towers solo and can quite easily dive cores foolish enough to defend their towers. His third ability hurts towers and creeps that hit him and his second ability is an AOE nuke that can finish creep waves off quickly. In the event, another hero tp's in he can simply ult away.
TL;DR: His ult, his powerful lane presence, and his tower pressure make him a very valuable pick.
Much like Ember, however, he has been hit with a nerf before TI. As of 7.22e hoof stomp's cooldown (his stun) has been increased and goes down with levels (22/19/16/13). This is a big nerf due to the fact Centaurs need to max their second and third ability to win their lanes and do damage. If they now have to max their stun, there will be trouble.
I don't see this having a tremendous effect on pick/bans, but it will reduce his overall win rate in the coming weeks.
#3 Overall Pick (#13 Banned): Wraith King
- Two lives
- Reliable stun
- Exceptional push/lane pressure
- Strong laner
- High DPS
- Usually needs a laning partner (early levels)
- Low mobility
- Not as tanky as other offlaners
- Needs mana for second life
Although he doesn't have the highest P/B rate in the tournament (61%) he does carry one of the highest win rates of the tournament (54%). Why is that? Wraith king himself isn't an exceptionally strong hero. I could make an argument that he is a weak hero right now, mainly due to the fact there is a list as long as my arm of offlaners that can 1v1 him, but for someone reason, WK is winning games.
Occasionally, Wraith King ends up in the offlane role. So far, I have been seeing that less and less as time goes on. Most teams seem to favor WK less and less as an offlaner, due to his greedy nature. Rightly so. But he does seem to win quite a few games from the safe lane position because of one particular reason. Lane pressure.
Realistically, when you are picking a carry, you want them to do two things. One, scale late. You can't have someone who gets solo'd by supports with one item. Second, carries need to pressure lanes. A carry needs to cause rotations, either by taking towers or from lane creeps constantly being shoved in. This is WK's strength. His skeletons allow him to push lanes without being there, similar in spirit to Terror Blade illusions, and his aura buffs the creeps as well. A fully charged up WK can take your tower in seconds, herein lies his potential.
What you also might notice if you look at the games where he is picked, is that he is always accompanied by a hyper carry (OD, Ember, Medusa), someone who can take over the game once a certain point is reached. Wraith king is meant as an enabler, someone who wins their lane and takes towers for twenty minutes while their hyper carry farms. Because of the four-man potential that WK has, it works out well.
Going forward Wraith King is likely to be picked up quite often during Ti9 and The Summit. He was hit with a minor nerf to his skeletons but nothing that gimps the hero.
#4 Overall Picked (#11 Banned): Grimstroke
- Has every CC (slow, silence, stun)
- Powerful ult that combos well with most heroes
- GPM talent
- Can farm well for a support
- His stun isn't reliable
- Position heavy
Another extremely popular pick, even above chen/io, at a whopping 64% total P/B. For most people who follow Dota at all, it should be obvious why this hero gets picked, but for those who don't, I will explain.
Swiss Army Knife
Grimstroke has every available CC in the game. A stun, a silence, and a slow. And although they aren't the best abilities for stuns/silences/slows, they definitely get the job done. Oddly enough (or not), they are also really good against lots of meta heroes.
Certain heroes get rekt by certain heroes. That's just how Dota works, it's kinda like rock paper scissors. But like I said previously, Grimstroke is a freaking swiss army knife. Let's go through all the meta heroes he counters and why real quick.
- Ember: Mister most picked hates being silenced AND attacks pretty slow for an AGI carry. Grimstrokes silence requires it to be hit off or it refreshes, making it a poor matchup for ember.
- Centaur: Remember how I said Centaur has a reset button? Well, it doesn't work against a Grimstroke. GS's ult prevents two heroes from moving far away from each other, kinda like a three-legged race.
- Wraith King: WK has slow attack speed so he can't get the silence off himself quick enough, not to mention GS can easily set-up a stun on a reincarnation.
Those are just some of the many heroes GS dumpsters.
Easy to Draft
Certain picks can reveal a play-style to the enemy team. Examples of this include IO or Chen. Grimstroke doesn't reveal anything, he is far too flexible as support.
By and large, Grimstroke is just a plain good support. You really can't go wrong with him and although he got hit with a very minor nerf, you will be seeing him some more.
Heroes to Look Out For
Below are two heroes that are going to be picked quite a bit as well. They didn't receive as much love during the qualifiers as other heroes, but they are still quite popular.
#15 Overall Pick (#7 Banned): Morphling
- One of the highest damage carries
- Great escape
- Flash farmer
- Extremely durable
- Can morph into other heroes
- Silences destroy him
- Requires high mechanical skill
- Weak in early levels
- Can almost never solo in lane
What can't Morphling do? Kind of an odd question considering the answer is winning a lane solo, but he can also do quite a bit more.
Very few heroes in Dota can even come close to Morphling's DPS. Honestly, I dare say he has the highest. There are two reasons for this. One, he can shift all his Strength to AGI making him attack harder and faster, and two, he has an ability that does magic burst based on his AGI. Regardless of how you build, Morphling will still be doing insane damage.
Hard to Kill
Like I said above, Morphling can shift his strength to AGI but he can also shift AGI to strength, making him one of the tankiest heroes in the game (also high armor). Very few things can stop a Morphling from shifting. Only silences, spirit vessel, and AA do it well.
Morphling is also one of the quickest farmers in the game. Picking up a casual morbid mask allows him to farm the entire map without going back to regen. This all stems from his AGI shift allowing him to do massive dps.
Morphs Into Enemies
Finally, Morphling is strong due to the combos he can pull off with his ult. It allows him to turn into an enemy (or with ags his teammates), and use all their abilities other than their ults. Earthshaker is a popular person to steal from, as he can do 400% damage and one-shot people.
So that's the skinny on Morphling. He recently received a small nerf that shifted his ult's talent to his ags and vice versa. Honestly, it might increase his pick rate going forward.
#7 Overall Pick (#10 Banned): Ancient Apparition
- Destroys morphling
- Huge magic burst
- Heavy AOE
- Good in lanes with stuns
- Combos well with lots of offlaners
- Has no reliable stun
- Lacks mobility
- Easily gankable
- Has to be careful with stun
Ancient Apparation is basically a good 4/5 that rounds out a draft and counter picks Morphling. Most teams might pick him up instead of banning Morphling, which opens up more draft options.
In terms of counters to Morphling, no hero does it as well as AA. His ult prevents Morphling from shifting to strength and getting away. As I said above, AA is usually picked up if a morph pick is expected, as they don't have to waste a ban.
AA also has one of the higher damage outputs of the supports. Usually, you can see AA in strong tri/duo lanes that have stuns that allow him to get his cold feet off. He also is quite capable of killing carries late game if he hits all his spells on them.
In the lane, he also has his third ability that can harass most heroes out of the lane. Besides that, no hero can man fight him when his cold feet is off CD. If they stay to hit him back, they get frozen, if they try to run they take extra damage from his right clicks. A no-win situation.
You won't see AA in every game, but you will see him threatened in a lot of pro-games. If a Morphling is picked and he isn't already banned, expect AA to make an appearance.
© 2019 Charles