The top 10 most popular Dota 2 heroes in pro games during each patch. Match count, pick and win rates from patch 7.00 to 7.21.
7.00 is the oldest patch included in this archive as it revolutionized the game with the introduction of the hero talents. Newer patches will be added over time.
We witnessed numerous balance adjustments when Valve decided to release updates biweekly, but I skipped the small ones because the changes brought in by most of them are negligible.
The statistics from some patches have been aggregated because they have been released in consecutive weeks. We wouldn’t have had enough data at our disposal due to the limited amount of games played during a single patch.
The tables below show the number of games played, and the pick and win rates of the ten most popular heroes in each patch.
Release date: December 12th, 2016
The 7.00 table also includes the matches played during 7.01 as it has been released just 8 days later for balance reasons.
All tables are responsive and sortable. If you are using a phone, turn it sideways for a full view. Otherwise, zoom in or click the grey area of each table to swipe and sort them.
Rubick maintained his place in the meta
Rubick was already the most picked support during The Boston Major 2016, the last Valve tournament based on 6.88f. While 7.00 certainly brought fresh air to the game with the introduction of the talent system, the meta did not change suddenly, so most teams continued playing him.
Rubick is a versatile hero who can find a place in most lineups, so he was an optimal choice in a patch that brought so many changes.
7.00 slightly buffed the flat damage of Fade Bolt, and generally helped support heroes to earn more gold (Rubick’s level 10 talent was +60 Gold/Min) and to be more relevant in the mid/late game.
Rubick is a quite difficult hero to play, so he was not very popular at low ranks, but he dominated pubs at 5K and above.
Null Field was buffed prior summer with patch 6.87; the magic resistance bonus provided by the aura was of great help in any team fight.
Rubick had great talents (gold/min, cast range, cooldown reduction), a solid early game thanks to the damage of Fade Bolt and the ganking capabilities of Telekinesis, and a power spike as soon as he unlocked Spell Steal, so he was very useful in a combative meta.
Release date: May 15th, 2017
7.06 was a very long game version that lasted from May to the end of October 2017. 7.06e is the patch that was played during The International 7, and after its conclusion Valve released 7.06f to balance the most abused heroes and items (Diffusal Blade and Mask of Madness).
Earthshaker, Puck, Sand King, and Earth Spirit are all heroes with strong initiation capabilities who provide a great help during team fights. In particular, Earthshaker was the most picked hero at TI7 Main Event (achieving a 66.7% win rate).
Diffusal Blade’s popularity
7.06f reduced the agility bonus of Diffusal Blade because it was overused.
It is an excellent item versus intelligence-based cores and generally any spell-reliant hero (Necrophos and Venomancer were very successful during the whole TI7, obtaining a win rate around 60%). It was also amazing to purge active effects of items such as Ethereal Blade and Eul’s Scepter of Divinity.
IceFrog didn’t touch neither the passive Manabreak nor the active Purge, but just tried limiting the use of the item on agility carries via the attribute nerf. It wasn’t enough, so Diffusal Blade was further nerfed in 7.07 by removing the upgrade and replacing Purge with a simple slow.
Release date: October 31st, 2017
|Queen of Pain||360||22.2%||39.7%|
Tiny’s absurd burst damage
Tiny was reworked in 7.07 and heavily rebalanced in the successive updates.
The hero didn’t have as much sustained attack damage as in the past because he lost the old Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade, but he increased his versatility, the overall strength during the laning phase, and obtained a one-shot combo that granted him dominance in the mid game
Tiny already had the Avalanche plus Toss combo, but with 7.07 he gained extra steps in the combo thanks to the new Tree Grab ability: a few auto-attacks enhanced by Tree Grab’s damage bonus (Echo Sabre was a pretty much mandatory item to double this damage), and finally Tree Throw once the opponent was outside his attack range.
It was a very efficient burst-damage combo in the mid game because his nukes were already maxed out, while the opponents still didn’t have enough health points, so he could obliterate any squishy hero.
Tiny was extremely fun to play and started leading pub games once the players understood that they had to give up on the old hard carry playstyle.
Release date: March 1st, 2018
The 7.10 table also includes the matches played during 7.11 and 7.12. These three patches have been released in March; they brought several changes, reworked the buyback cost and assist gold system, and added Pangolier and Dark Willow to Captains Mode.
Buyback cost and AoE assist gold
7.11 had a big impact on the whole meta because it overhauled the AoE gold and buyback cost.
The changes to the buyback cost are easy to summarize: unless you were very poor, you paid more. It means that only “real” supports who dedicated their resources to the team paid less than before.
The AoE gold no longer scaled with the overall team networth difference, just the individual networth of the dying hero.
There was less AoE gold available for comebacks, killing a support rewarded with less gold so their deaths were not as crucial as before (and they spent less for the buyback), and solo ganking rewarded more gold, especially if you were able to kill a core hero.
Release date: July 29th, 2018
The 7.19 table also includes the matches played during 7.18 and 7.17. These three patches brought many hero buffs and nerfs, from mid-June to the end of July.
Note: I decided to skip 7.14 (the patch that added Techies to Captains Mode) because there were not enough matches recorded in that period.
These patches all brought a consistent amount of changes, and 7.19 was also the game version used at The International 8. In particular, 7.19d survived until mid-November 2018, when it was replaced by 7.20.
Release date: November 19th, 2018
Near the end of 7.20 we witnessed the comeback of trilanes (previously, they were completely overwhelmed by the dual lane meta) and of offlaners able to provide utility to the team. It was a very combative meta where all the heroes had to fight in the first 10 minutes of the match.
Phantom Assassin was overpowered
The rise of Phantom Assassin is probably the patch spotlight as she influenced both pub and pro games for over two months. She was the hero with the highest win rate at 5K+ rank, and achieved a win rate above 65% in pro games in November while also being one of the most picked heroes.
IceFrog reworked Blur and transformed PA in a sort of hybrid Riki. She could use Blur to farm jungle creeps and neutrals without receiving damage (the invisibility persisted while she attacked them), to move from a side to another of the map or to push creep waves without being detected by wards.
The skill could be activated at any time - even when there were enemy heroes inside the 600 vanish dispel radius - so she could use it to disjoint projectiles and disappear momentarily from the enemy sight.
It this is not enough, the invisibility was unbreakable (it can’t be revealed by any form of True Sight).
Release date: January 29th, 2019
Agility-based heroes lost their supremacy
Beside the final months (check out how Drow Ranger monopolized the meta both in pro and pub games) 7.21 can be considered the patch of the strength heroes with picks such as Tiny, Lifestealer, and Doom.
Early game stats items (Wraith Band, Null Talisman, and Bracer) have been nerfed in previous patches, and in 7.20 Valve removed the Ring of Aquila from the game. 7.21 completed the meta rework with two more changes:
Heroes no longer gain 25% more benefit from their primary attributes (affects attributes from both items and the hero).
All heroes’ primary attribute growth values increased by 15%.
The extra benefits from the primary attribute were particularly strong for agility-based heroes because they earned attack speed, armor, and movement speed. Stacking items like the Wraith Band provided a lot of value as it boosted their effectiveness in the mid game and made them tankier later on thanks to the extra armor.
Agility-based heroes lost momentarily their place at the top of the meta because they didn’t scale as well as before, so strength heroes exploited the momentum to replace them.
Doom can adapt to any lane
Once trilanes got back into the game, the most popular offlaners changed as well. Doom is just a very solid pick independently from the meta and the opponents.
Devouring the Satyr Tormenter granted an automatic victory during the laning phase because its passive ability Unholy Aura gave 5 health regeneration bonus and it stacked with Doom’s passive 5/10/15/20 health regeneration from Devour.
He was almost unkillable in the early game (even against a trilane), Infernal Blade was a constant source of damage to tear down the lane opponents, and Scorched Earth was useful in ganks and teamfights in the mid game thanks to the AoE damage and the movement speed bonus.