The Dota 2 Competitive Hero Tier List for August 2018 is based on data from The International 8, for a total of 195 games. Patch 7.19.
All heroes are arranged in five tiers based on their draft rate. The tiers are viewed as clusters of data, and each hero is placed in the one they are closer the most.
The requisites for each tier never change. The goal is offering a neutral comparison that shows how the meta evolves over time.
The win rate has no effect on the tiers, but is included for further info. The tiers depend only on drafts, and aren't affected either by the win rate of a hero, or by their performance in pub matches.
Reasoning behind Wraith King’s popularity
For many spectators, the rise of Wraith King during TI8 has been a big surprise as the last time he was considered a solid hero was during TI4, about 4 years ago.
At the time, the deathball meta dominated the scene. It encouraged a fast-paced game play with heroes specialized on getting kills, gaining a numerical advantage on the opponents, and then taking down defenseless towers. Games were even too fast when this strategy was executed by very competent players, which led to some disappointing matchups for the fans.
Of course, we can’t compare the actual state of the game to TI4, but there are some similarities: there are fewer playmakers, teams tend to move as 5, and cores with more killing potential are preferred.
The peasants always underestimate the value of their king, and the recent events proved it.
First ban material. Wraith King was picked or banned mostly during the first phase and still reached a positive 51.5% win rate. In particular, 48 out of the 63 bans took place in the first phase.
Versatility. You can employ him with literally any role and item build, which is a fundamental perk for an early pick because the enemies won’t have any idea about your plans.
Synergy with other popular picks. A few examples:
Vengeful Spirit’s Vengeance Aura and Wave of Terror are amazing in combination with any auto-attacker, and WK’s skeletons can exploit the buffs to increase their damage.
Wraith King’s Vampiric Aura works great with several heroes. Ursa can make a good use of it during the entire match and have a safer early Roshan. In the right conditions, they can even be lane partners, combining their stun and slow to keep the target in place.
Strong at all stages of the game. As a core, WK requires a minimum number of items to become a nuisance, but at the same time he scales very well in the late game. Generally, he is a good laner, possesses a reliable disable, and the opponents have a bad time dealing with the pressure generated by the skeletons.
No Anti-Mage. It is not a crucial matter, but the hero with the best mana-burn capability has been played only a single time during the whole event.
Weaver counters Wraith King
Weaver belongs to the archetype of versatile hero who can be played in either the safe or the off lane. He has a good survivability, can inflict moderate damage in the early game, and has the potential to secure kills given the right conditions.
Beside his general qualities, pros picked him also as a counter for Wraith King.
Burn Baby Burn. Weaver’s level 10 talents grants +20 Mana Break, and it fully stacks with other sources of Mana Break. Equipped with the Diffusal Blade you can burn a total of 70 mana per attack.
Germinate Attack gives you an extra attack every three seconds once maxed out, and it procs any attack modifier and on-hit effect, so you will burn 140 mana with a single attack. Going further, if you decide to take the level 25 talent +1 Germinate Attack, that’s a total of 210 mana per attack.
The Diffusal Blade is also a useful tool to boost your damage (Weaver is an agility-based hero) and to kite melee heroes as the active ability Inhibit slows the target by 100% for 4 seconds. It works great with any melee hero, including Wraith King, Ursa, Bloodseeker, Spectre, etc. until they itemize against it.
Wraith King’s Reincarnation can be a pain to deal with if it procs at the wrong time - luckily Weaver can quickly get out of the area with Shukuchi as it grants haste speed (which can’t be slowed below the determined value) and allows him to move through other units.
Flying vision matters
Let me give you also a final piece of advice: The Swarm provides flying vision while travelling forwards and while the beetle is attached to an unit.
I noticed that many players just ignore the beetles, but besides receiving damage and losing armor (which is already very problematic), don’t forget you are also giving them info on your placement.
Never underestimate the importance of flying vision. This is one of the reasons behind the usefulness of Vengeful Spirit’s Wave of Terror: using it correctly she might discover the placement of the enemy team, helping with ganks and preventing deaths.
Night vision is equally important. IceFrog utterly nerfed the poor Night Stalker, so we couldn’t see him in action during TI8, but other heroes had the job to help the team at night, such as Undying. The Tombstone has a 1800/1800 ground vision range, so it grants a noticeable advantage in a team fight at night, especially if you have the chance to put it on a secure high ground.
Phantom Lancer: banning is the best counter
Phantom Lancer has a solid lane phase, and Doppelganger makes him a difficult target for gankers.
Thanks to his optimal stats, high armor, agility, the slow that works also as a nuke in the early/mid game, and his skill-set useful to both engage or escape from nasty situations, PL is a powerful hero even without illusions.
Later on, he relies on his army of illusions for survivability as he can generate them at an insane speed. Single-target attacks are pointless: you need to figure out who is the real hero, and destroy him before he can reset the fight with Doppelganger.
When fighting PL, AoE is your best option, and of course pro players are well aware of the best heroes to deal with him, but the real issue is that most of them don’t work in the actual meta. For example, heroes such as Axe, Sven, Timbersaw, Bristleback, Magnus, Sand King, and Leshrac have been barely picked.
Indeed, some great counters like Earthshaker, Phoenix, and Gyrocopter are among the top picks, but you can’t always have them in your lineup, and without a counter PL will eventually become an unbeatable force after the mid game.
The Battle Fury isn’t a popular item
If the team is lacking counters via picks, you can always rely on items, and the Battle Fury is the best one to counter PL as it transforms any physical DPS in an AoE damage dealer, but it has been bought only 11 times during the entire TI8. In the past, I have already explained why the carries do not use this item anymore, below a quick summary:
The 7.07 update reworked it, and even if the attack damage bonus decreased from 55 to 50, it became a must-have item in most games. In order to diminish its pick rate, IceFrog lowered the damage to 45 in 7.07b.
Starting from 7.08, the Quell passive no longer worked with illusions. Honestly, before the effect was overpowered against illusion-based heroes, and annihilated almost any chance to play them.
All these adjustments have been of great help for the comeback of Phantom Lancer, and 7.14 gave the last push increasing the total cost of the item by 300 gold.
A typical core wants the Battle Fury as soon as possible to boost his farm, but it became a too expensive option for the current fast-paced meta. It weakens the entire lineup because the supports must devote resources and time to secure the farm of their carry. By the time you complete the Battle Fury, Phantom Lancer might have already wrecked your team.
The Maelstrom also grants AoE damage. This cheaper and extremely popular item has been picked 201 times during the LAN event - but it only helps while PL doesn’t have items. Once he stacks up stats and strength, he will have too many health points, so the Maelstrom won’t be enough to deal with his illusions.
Mirana isn’t just a ganker
Several months ago, someone asked me why Mirana was completely ignored in pro play. The main reason I gave to back up my explanation was the unreliability of her stun in a meta dominated by mobility and so many solid disablers.
IceFrog buffed her for many patches in a row, and now she is in a borderline “overpowered” state.
Mirana has two qualities in common with Wraith King:
Huge versatility. You can play Mirana in virtually any role and position, so she is also mostly picked or banned during the first phase.
Doesn’t require many items to deal damage. She is a problematic hero in the mid game, and afterwards can even turn into a carry if you built the right items.
There is more that makes her a reliable pick.
Permanent invisibility. Moonlight Shadow has a 100 seconds cooldown once maxed out, and the level 25 talents brings it down to 30s. This talent has been nerfed from -80s to -75s in 7.17, and finally to -70s in 7.18, but is still very strong.
We aren’t talking about pub games in which no one wants to buy dust, but still the invisibility issue remains because the supports will have to invest a lot of money in consumables. Using the Dust of Appearance during a team fight isn’t a big problem, but with a 30 seconds cooldown her team will have vision advantage in every gank, thus excellent warding and the Gem of True Sight are mandatory as soon as possible.
Great laning phase. Veterans might remember the lovely “shoot arrow, hit arrow” Mirana, but she isn’t just a roamer anymore:
As a laner, Mirana has a good attack animation and range, and if the enemies are close enough, she can just use Starstorm to punish them.
Starting from 7.07, Leap has 3 charges with a replenish time instead of a standard cooldown, so it is even harder to gank her because she can just jump away (550 range) three times in a row.
The only doubt about her harassing capabilities lies on the poor 43-48 damage at level 1, but Drow was a popular pick at TI8, so her passive Precision Aura increased the damage of all ranged hero units on the map.
On a side note, Drow is also partly associated with the pick rate of other ranged heroes such as Weaver, Silencer, and Clinkz. This isn’t a must-have combo, but it helps to increase the damage of the lineup. Add Vengeful Spirit’s aura on top, and the team will inflict consistent damage with almost no items.
Spectre, the odd pick
So far we discussed about heroes who possess versatility, have a great early game, and can carry the match with the minimum number of items, so you might wonder why Spectre was picked so much.
Of course, Spectre can turn into one of the best hard carries, but she isn’t as bad as you may think during the rest of the match.
Her laning phase is considered weak, and she has to rely on a competent support, but Spectral Dagger grants her some survivability, and the skill has been buffed recently.
7.12: increased the damage from 50/100/150/200 to 90/140/190/240.
7.14: reduced the mana cost from 130/140/150/160 to 100/120/140/160.
A 40 magic damage increase at all levels is more than respectable, while before 50 damage at level 1 was laughable. Of course, it isn’t a big nuke, but the skill already provides other benefits: it slows the targets, and gives you a movement speed bonus plus unobstructed pathing.
The mana cost reduction is very well-welcomed as Spectre usually has huge mana issues, and must be very conservative with her only active skill. She could use it only twice before depleting the poor 267 mana pool at level 1, while now you can pull out a third use.
Haunt discourages team fights. Spectre’s ultimate is a severe threat for the enemy team because she can appear from nowhere and change the tide of a battle, so they must take in consideration her strength and the cooldown of the skill, before attempting any fight.
This is a notable deterrent and problem in such a combative meta. For the opponent team, underestimating Spectre and engaging at the wrong time might result in a failed gank at best, or in a fed Spectre and a lost tower at worst.
Even after a poor early game, she can secure kills exploiting the global presence of Haunt and the utility/damage of Spectral Dagger.
Blade Mail in a half of the matches
In a fast-paced meta with so many fights and damage dealers, even the cheap Blade Mail has a massive impact. From a quick look at the data, this item has been quite popular on Bloodseeker, Wraith King, and Spectre. In particular, she bought it in almost a half of her games, and usually between minutes 14 to 17.
For the same reason, Spectre’s Dispersion has a huge value as it damages all enemies in a 1,000 radius.
Undying counters Spectre
Also Undying enjoyed a high draft rate during this TI, and among other factors, he is an optimal counter for Spectre.
Undying is a strong laner who can transform her lane phase in a real hell as the strength stolen with Decay doesn’t proc Dispersion. Likewise, the same spell makes him a temible opponent who can trade hits against most supports, so he might win the early game even without any help.
The Tombstone’s zombies counter Spectre in two different aspects:
Their attacks slow the target, and this is a big deal for a melee hero such as Spectre.
Spectre’s Desolate works only if there are no enemy units in a 325 radius, so the zombies will disable it in every team fight.
In tier 4 and 5 we find all the situational heroes. They are strong when paired with others, or against specific lineups. These heroes aren't bad, they just don't work in every game, so the pick and ban rates aren't outstanding.
Juggernaut is a poor choice in the dual lane meta
Someone might wonder why Juggernaut isn’t a great pick in today’s meta as he has a good early and mid game potential. Indeed, he is able to shine with the right team, but he doesn’t work well with the current lane distribution.
Juggernaut was an excellent pick when trilanes were the standard. Blade Fury is a devastating nuke (450/575/700/800 magic damage during its full duration), but on the downside it has a huge 42 seconds cooldown and a 120 mana costs, so it is necessary using it only to acquire kills.
In a 3vs1 situation, Juggernaut had enough disablers on his side to keep the offlaner in place and dish out all the damage. In the 2vs2 meta, he doesn’t possess enough friendly crowd control to get a guaranteed kill without risking a death, so in most cases he just wastes the CD for nothing. 7.19 increased a bit the damage of the spell, but this not fixes the main issue.
Picking Juggernaut will weaken your laning phase, while now teams are preferring picks such as Weaver, Necrophos, and Clinkz due to their kill potential and ability to succeed in lane even with no help.
|Keeper of the Light||7||3.6%||4||2.1%||3||1.5%||75.0%|
|Queen of Pain||4||2.1%||2||1.0%||2||1.0%||100.0%|
Heroes not picked
After every patch, I have published articles on the most popular safe, mid, and off lane heroes at 5k+ MMR. Each analysis features one to three heroes, and explanations on patch changes.