The second day of The International 10 Group Stage has concluded, giving shape to a meta that players will continue iterating on throughout the tournament. Upcomer is here to share the most significant developments halfway through the biggest DOTA 2 event of the year.
Wolf Bites and Earthshaker totems dominate the off lane
Lycan and Earthshaker are the most popular off lane picks by a mile. Earthshaker has had a 65% presence (banned or pick in any game) across all of Group Stage games, according to DOTABUFF — and Lycan is not far behind.
Earthshaker has been a solid pick throughout the Group Stages as a strong laner against melee position 1s. He rushes a Blink Dagger and a Black King Bar, acting as a strong, front-line initiator for teams. At the same time, he is able to provide long-range stuns in the middle of a teamfight.
Players who have the most confidence in Lycan, on the other hand, have piloted the champion to success — namely Daryl “iceiceice” Koh Pei Xiang from Evil Geniuses. The main advantage of the hero is the utility he provides.
Helm of the Overlord provides pushing ability, as the invisible wolves force enemies to carry sentries to all locations, and Aghanim’s Scepter works very well when used alongisde the melee carries that have been popular throughout the Group Stage. Carries such as Tiny, Monkey King and Sven also work extremely well with the movement speed buff Wolf’s Bite provides. Having a giant staff come out of a Wolf when Monkey King uses Boundless Strike is a sight no player wants to see.
Flexing Monkey King, Silencer and Tidehunter
Telling a DOTA fan that pros would play Monkey King as support would’ve earned nothing but laughs a few months ago. However, during The International 10, this has become a persistent reality.
The same can be said for Silencer, who has benefited from buffs in the last few patches. Teams can now viably run Silencer from the mid lane or as a support.
Finally, Tidehunter has also been picked as an off lane or as a support. Tidehunter in a support position is usually to secure the farm of a weaker carry in the lane.
The flexibility provided by these three heroes allow teams to pick them early in the draft and decide later where they might go. Monkey King has been one of the most relevant picks in the meta because he works so well as both a Support and a hard carry. That flexibility has brought Monkey King to a 100% presence in The International 10 Group Stages. The only other hero that has 100% presence is Io.
Hero pick diversity allows team identities to shine
At the end of the first day of The International 10 Group Stages, players had picked 92 heroes and banned 86. The first four matches featured no repeat picks. Finally, 40 completely unique heroes were picked in the first set of matches. These statistics show just how diverse a metagame DOTA has cultivated during The International 10.
This diversity has thus allowed every team to form their own identity and playstyle. A devoted viewer would be able to tell which teams are playing just by looking at the drafts.
See a Dawnbreaker and a Bounty Hunter? It’s probably Virtus.Pro trying to snowball their competition away. An extremely late game draft that somehow has a Treant Protector squeezed in? That’s classic T1.
While the meta has specific powerful picks like Monkey King and Io, those picks are not so overbearing that every team must conform to a certain style. The big question is, though, whose style will come out on top? The next few days of The International 10 will decide.