Let's talk Meta!

Meta

We all have heard the word "metagame", but only a few of us truly understand what it is. Today I will be discussing what the "metagame" means and its importance to the game of Dota 2.

All of this will be crucial to the main purpose of the article - how to use the knowledge to your advantage and Win more!

Are you ready?

Competitive Meta

In simple terms, metagame in competitive Dota 2 is a set of developed habits during the picking phase of the game. It usually stems from one or two heroes being considered very strong or even over-powered after the most recent patch.

For example, Lich Lich gaining XP for his Sacrifice Sacrifice as well as significant buffs to his Ice Armor Ice Armor in 6.79 resulted in him being picked and banned a lot in the competitive scene. At first, he seemed to be overpowered, however the answers to the dual or solo-mid Lich, offlane Lich and Support Lich were soon discovered. That in turn, has provoked a response to a response to Lich. And so on and so forth.

The cycle of hero rotation in the competitive scene without a single point of convergence is called a "healthy" meta. In fact, when one thinks a bit about it, one can understand how incredibly complex and beautiful the game of Dota 2 is - in all these years it did not converge on a static best first-pick lineup against best-response, second-pick lineup - something I would like to give IceFrog a huge credit for.

There might have been patches, which could ultimately lead to the aforementioned situation, but a newer patch would be released before Professional Teams and even IceFrog himself could figure these lineups out.

Competitive Meta, as well as a variety of several other factors contribute to what I shall call the Public Meta.

Public Meta

It is clear that being one jump ahead of the enemy is very beneficial. Since the new patch has introduced an anti-counter-picking system of a kind, it is even more so.

So, how does one predict what they are likely to face in a public match?

Well, for one you could use DotaBuff - that is what we are here for - giving our users a competitive advantage. Looking at the popularity of heroes can give you a pretty good idea of what you are more likely to face in any game.

Looking at the professional scene can also give some insights on what is going to be popular in the upcoming week or two - after all, at the higher levels of play people try to copy the professionals a lot and trust their judgement in one way or another. Moreover, their personal skill is usually high enough to pilot some skill-intensive heroes like Visage Visage.

An additional point to be made is that some of the heroes are not available in CM after patches/reworks. Moreover, new heroes usually do not make an immediate transition to the professional scene. They will be Dark Horses for the players for a day or two and can range from interesting, but not very useful (Broodmother Broodmother) to borderline over-powered (Earth Spirit Earth Spirit).

Better players will figure out how to react to them in one way or another. For some of them the Patch Notes themselves will be enough. Others will need a game or two with or against the hero, to understand the strengths and weaknesses. And since there is a developed community around Dota 2 you could always consult our forums to see what people feel about the particular hero.

Additionally, I will do my best to provide some coverage - especially on the new heroes and on re-discovered gems like Dazzle. I am not a very good player, but I have quite a bit of theoretical knowledge about the game and do not fear number crunching. And me being relatively bad and having skill limitations could also help me understand the newer players better.

So, we know that being more informed is always better. We also know how to get the valuable information. But what do we do with it?

Let's win some games?

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Perhaps it is best explained on an example. The Christmas/New Year's patch came with a new hero - Legion Commander Legion Commander. She was announced a week or so before her release giving the public some time to prepare.

There is always a long and safe way of installing Warcraft 3 and playing the hero to get acquainted with his skills and potential, but not everyone is ready to go this path. So, we could read the skill descriptions and see whether we can find something standing out - something that could help us understand and "counter" or "synergise" with the hero even before its release!

The first thing that stands out is the ultimate - Duel Duel. It says "permanent damage gain" and that is more or less enough to understand that coupled with the fact that the hero is new, Legion Commander will be very popular. Some legacy players would also remember that jungling Legion Commander is a viable option, and it weighs in into the popularity of the hero, since it gives a much needed independence in the solo ranked play.

So, we have figured out that we will see a lot of her. Possibly for prolonged periods of time. Now we need to create a response to the upcoming meta-shift.

The Duel Duel lasts 5.5 seconds when maxed. It gives the surviving hero a permanent damage bonus. So, if the Legion Commander is on our team, we don't want her feeding damage and want her to get some. If she is on an opponents team, we don't want her to get any damage and possibly provide ourselves or our allies with a boost.

I am really sorry to bring him up again, but meet Dazzle!. With 5 seconds of invulnerability, we can be sure that all the duels not won by our allied Legion Commander, would not be lost. And if the Legion Commander is on the enemy team, we can make sure she does not get too fat. We can't be present on every lane all the time (though we really should try our best to do so), but ~30 extra damage is not nearly as scary as ~150+ extra damage.

So, we have found out that Dazzle Dazzle will be a bit more popular just because the Legion Commander is in the hero pool. He actually went up in popularity since the release of Legion Commander by 4 positions. Not a lot, but clearly depicts the change at a higher levels of play.

Now we can think how to counter Dazzle Dazzle. The Axe Axe comes to mind, since he doesn't care how many Shallow Graves are cast on the hero - his ultimate is a triggered kill. We could possibly continue deducing this chain of effects, with a diminishing significance and accuracy of the prediction. Or we could think of another heroes that complement/counter Legion Commander, since she is the meta-shifting stem.

The whole process can be very interesting and will be very useful now, after the release of anti-counter-picking system, so stay prepared!

Closing Comments

I will try my best to make a similar analysis for possible meta-shifts in the current patch, however I cannot promise it to be very accurate - I have left Dota 1 before the release of the Phoenix and the rework for Terrorblade. My analytical mind and vast knowledge of Dota mechanics will still remain, so, hopefully it will be worthy of your time.

While this kind of analysis is mainly aimed at the first 2-3 weeks after the release of a hero or some patch updates, there is also a separate section on DotaBuff that allows you to see who the hero performs best and worst versus. And 2-3 weeks is enough for this information to be statistically significant. In fact, with the amount of games played every day and the constantly rising population of Dota 2, even a week could indicate some week/strong spots. And just to provide some evidence - here is the Matchup page for the Legion Commander. And Dazzle is the second best support to counter hero. The Win Rate for Legion Commander facing Dazzle is an abysmal 43.7%.

Always try to use information to your advantage. Statistics we provide help a lot, especially the newer players.

As always:

Thank you for reading! Do not hesitate to leave comments in the section below!

P.S. We are working on adding the Facebook/Twitter share buttons. If you really like the Post or find it particularly useful - please share it manually. We promise to get the buttons up as soon as possible!

P.P.S. If you think I have just jumped on the Dazzle-loving bandwagon, you could check the first entry to the DotaBuff blog. This is the time, when I feel like saying: "I told you so!".

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27 comments
Fpz

    very interesting

    LonelyDruid

      Well done on an excellent and insightful article. Thanks a lot. Loved the Sun Tzu quote, I'm a huge fan. I love that Sun Tzu's principles apply to DotA, one of the reasons that I love this game so much!

      :Don_Lordf

        Dazzle can be a great support but he need so much timing, i prefer omniknight/ezalor/chen they can be more agressive in a team-fight

        [Lk].Zano

          ^ Actually, Dazzle can be extremely effective by being aggresive. DAZZLE!

          Interesting read, though a bit short, Cheers!

          Roneth

            P.S. We are working on adding the Facebook/Twitter share buttons. If you really like the Post or find it particularly useful - please share it manually. We promise to get the buttons up as soon as possible!

            Could we get a Google+ share button? For those of us who prefer a social network where we can target our Dota talk to those that will care?

            Gustaphos

              Good point on the Dazzle VS legion commander w/l rate. I always win V legion commander. Shallow graving that unfortunate soul on my team that has to Duel typically ends up on our teams favor. Dazzle is very good w/legion commander but devastating against her. Had a crystal maiden come out with 72+ dmg after the game was done.

              Deku Scrub

                Nice job, I enjoy reading your posts.

                KawaiiSocks

                  Thx for positive feedback. I will try to keep up the good work! )
                  Also - sorry for a short post. Will make up for it releasing a new one tomorrow!

                  Erdős

                    "The Duel Duel lasts 5.5 seconds when maxed. It gives the surviving hero a permanent damage bonus. So, if the Legion Commander is on our team, we don't want her feeding damage and want her to get some. If she is on an opponents team, we don't want her to get any damage and possibly provide ourselves or our allies with a boost."

                    Good luck finding allies who understand this in pub games.

                    Sugar Show

                      I used to play support lich/dazzle and play them good for see how team always fail needing me as carry while their sucks.
                      Also few times like carry Io spirits/used good can make some 1000 damage at lv4 minus %magic resistence.

                      Zuilli

                        What is this anti counter picking system you are talking about?

                        KawaiiSocks

                          You could read the http://dotabuff.com/blog/2014-01-27-the-680-patch-coming-soon blog, where I go about it in more detail.

                          Long story short - there are roughly 3 types of people in AP - Randomers (usually 1-2/10 at higher MMR), Pickers (4-5/10) - people that want to play some particular hero. And Counter-pickers (rest) - people who patiently wait for the enemy team to pick their heroes, to find a best response.
                          Since 6.80 waiting past the picking phase will cost 1 gold every second, which, if you think about it, is quite a lot. So no more counter-pickers. Easy as that.

                          Because of that, sometimes you will be forced to make decisions based on the incomplete information. So, it is crucial to understand what people are likely to pick, and what heroes are the best-responses to them.

                          That's pretty much it.) Hope you've enjoyed the article.

                          Wedding's Day

                            Great article as always, keep up the good work bro !

                            lurie

                              It's funny because Kawaii Socks is absolutely horrible at this game.

                              Rain

                                I've played against abaddon and treant with Legion and failed terribly. Both shields can totally ruin Duel. Anyway, this is a good post, very good read. Keep it up.

                                Sir Buff Kim IV

                                  good read. keep up the good work

                                  KawaiiSocks

                                    @Perhaps - "I am not a very good player, but I have quite a bit of theoretical knowledge about the game and do not fear number crunching. And me being relatively bad and having skill limitations could also help me understand the newer players better." - yeah, I kind of said that several times)

                                    AvoNKraD

                                      What I want people to realize is that playing a hero and finding out a playstyle that is both effective and surprising, and fits you very well can sometimes (or more specifically, most of the times) be better than imitating Pro players - just much less skilled.
                                      That stands true especially if you're not playing with stacks, pub games will hardly work out the same way as clan wars go - especially when there are players who refuse to communicate. >_>russians

                                      AvoNKraD

                                        DotA is a game with near infinite possibilities. I'm playing the game for 10 year this coming February, and back in the days I played competitively and had the fortune of standing up against some of the best players or getting a few of my meta acknowledged by others and later played in competitive scenes.

                                        So what I'm trying to say is through all these years the Dota top playstyles were continually evolving, always sprouting from new observations, experimentation and stepping out of the conventional zone. However with Dota2 came more new players than it ever encountered, and naturally to contain a general level of stable play, "meta" in pubs became obligatory instead of a guideline so players refuse to try new directions, and discourage anyone from doing so.
                                        Ultimately, I'd like people who are already quite familiar with the game to try and evolve playstyles, instead of stucking to the same old recipe.

                                        I hope I didn't offend anyone, just my five cents.

                                        :(

                                          Я думал это канал - метагейм.

                                          Occi

                                            Interesting. Personally I want to see Ogre Magi in the meta game, he's so powerful against many offlaners and melee's in laning, leading to a potentionally massive midgame where he utterly destroys supports and other weaklings.

                                            Том Бомбадил

                                              Автор русский? Или это просто перевод?

                                              KawaiiSocks

                                                Автор с Казахстана. Говорит по-русски. Но это перевод, так как по-английски мне писать намного легче)

                                                Soultrap

                                                  Ты пишешь только Даззле. Прямо какая-то нездоровая привязанность. Даззл, конечно, может спасти союзника от проигрыша в дуэли, но дуэль обычно кидают слабым саппортам, так что сам Даззл скорее всего и станет жертвой. А ведь есть множество способов помешать дуэли. В идеале это может быть хроносфера от Войда или ещё какой-нибудь массовый ульт, но можно и просто взять под контроль Легиона, любыми способностями или предметами вроде хекса. Да даже форс стафа может быть достаточно, пока эти дуэлянты снова сбегутся вместе, сколько драгоценных секунд будет упущено.

                                                  sudo kill -9 11

                                                    >Soultrap
                                                    Потому что Dazzzzzzzllllee.

                                                    Manobo

                                                      I wanted to look up more on this on Google and it resulted me this (go figure). Though I agree with you, I only agree with you to a very slow portion. A lot of times I think meta is what inadvertently works (Op or not) or what an individual players personality entails. I think Meta is completely temperamental and malleable because it is all relevant and, to me, hardly has anything to do with the patch changes when the patch has finally settled. For instance Naga Siren, After Ti2 her damage was severely nerfed, then she was played as a support for a good amount of time. Then her Aoe of her riptide got nerfed as well. All of a sudden she becomes the meta for Carry again. Does that make a lot of sense? i don't think so. I truly think meta is almost a facade and Should only be taken lightly. If I got the best players for the 5 lowest winrate heroes on dotabuff and made a team and do decently in tournaments. People would look towards those heroes more and watch our replays. So I only think the patch changes affect hero choosing for the first month or two in a patch, the rest of the meta relies of players not heroes. In Conclusion: Meta is not really a thing because its never consistent and even when it does become consistent shouldn't be only played to fit the formality of consistency.

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