Professional Tier List
We have recently released a tier list for the public matchmaking and with several tournaments now being over it is possible to see the influence the patch had on the professional scene.
Unlike the Pub Tier List, the professional one will be based on the popularity of the heroes among the professional players, rather than on their Win Rate.
We will only use data since the release of 6.82c that has introduced a variety of sizable changes to the core gameplay, such as increasing the buyback cooldown and further balancing of the AoE XP and Gold gains.
Shall we begin?
Tier 1 (>80% Pick+Ban ratio)
Getting a hero in the first stage is a lot more than just picking a hero. You are also revealing parts of the idea behind the draft, possible synergies and, potentially, lane. Largely due to this fact extremely versatile heroes tend to be the name of the game in the first picking stage.
When it comes to versatility, Brewmaster is definitely among the winners. Not only does he lane well against pretty much any hero due to his massive HP pool and innate evasion, but he can also take his deserved core role on any lane - offlane being a very sub-par choice though.
His ability to both deal considerable amounts of damage and provide crazy single target disables make him fitting for almost any lineup and all these facts combined are probably what makes him the most popular hero in Dota 2 in 6.82c - teams either don't want to deal with him or pick him for themselves. His current Pick+Bans/Games ratio is around 90%.
Originally this hero was being picked as a really hard counter to Brewmaster - not only does he have an almost-instant silence, but the extra damage from Ancient Seal allows for a quick burst-down of the priority target. And there is nothing more of a priority target than a low-HP Brewmaster about to use Primal Split.
Gradually, however, the focus damage and disables made the hero popular in a lot of other scenarios. What really makes this hero stand out is that all of his spells have a really long cast range, keeping him relatively safe.
Comparing him to the likes of Lion and Lina, both of which possess a harder disable and a comparable burst damage, he wins not in the utility of his key spells, but in the probability of him being able to use them in the first place and survive long enough to see both XP and Gold gains. Extra movement speed is a definite plus in this aspect as well.
There isn't a lot that has changed about the hero since TI4 - there were several nerfs to the Exorcism cooldown and that is about it. While she cannot boast a ridiculous Win Rate she used to have, she still remains extremely popular.
There are several key reasons for that. First of all, she can deal massive damage and take structures faster than pretty much any hero in the game. She is also extremely hard to catch - her 20% MS increase and a core Eul's Scepter of Divinity put her at ridiculous 460+ MS. And finally, she wins most 1v1 lanes with a spammable waveclear/harass.
The hero, like many, has emerged as a counter to a previously popular hero - [missing hero: outworld-devourer] and has gradually gained popularity of his own. Previous buffs to his strength gain have made him borderline overpowered, with both extreme tankinness and considerable damage output and the consequent minor nerfs could not make him less viable.
He is also among the heroes that are more banned than picked, very much alike to both Death Prophet and Brewmaster and it is possibly the case, that it is not necessarily the strength of the hero that makes him so popular, but rather his previous glory. Given a 46% Win Rate it might as well be true.
In certain cases, however, some heroes are a must-ban purely because of the skill certain players possess in piloting them. For example, Razor is the most banned hero against EG. And since EG were involved in a lot of matches and generally play more games than other teams, some of the data can be slightly inflated.
Tier 2 (>60% Pick+Ban ratio)
Increases to health regeneration, armor values and the overall shift towards more late-game potent supports have made this hero one of the most popular picks in the current meta. While his impact on the game might be a bit "random", he still has a lot to offer even when the luck does not smile his way.
What the hero really excels at though, is lane presence - he is just too tanky to focus down or trade HP with and has a decent auto-attack as well as relatively strong level 1 spells. Being able to secure farm for position one hero in an easy lane on his own, without the help of a second support, Ogre definitely deserves a lot of attention.
A huge AoE disable that deals damage and allows for amassing of a lot of assist gold - something that allowed Tidehunter to surge back into the meta, after a rather long period of unpopularity. On top of that he is an excellent offlaner with the ability to farm ancients.
And you can never deny the psychological aspect of the game - being aware that at any moment a giant watermelon can blink into your well-planned fight and completely disrupt it makes the game a lot more stressful.
Single target carries are not that popular in the current metagame due to a very thin margin for error when it comes to being able to focus down the main target. Luckily Faceless Void has found his core position not in the first role, but in the offlane, creating space for a better suited and more farm dependent carry, while still providing his team with arguably the strongest disable in the whole game.
Innate survivability as well as relatively low dependence on gold makes him a great third position hero that can work as a Plan B, in case things go wrong. This and the ability to set up the ground for a variety of supports (e.g. Jakiro, Witch Doctor) to make them more effective is probably what gets the hero banned in most of the games.
A lot of heroes mentioned previously are excellent in 1v1 situations. Viper belongs to the same category, arguably being the hardest matchup for most other heroes. Not only that, but his ultimate - Viper Strike renders any melee carry pretty much useless, penetrating all forms of magic immunity. Finally, his damage output in the earlier stages of the game is almost unparalleled, which allows him to build utility/tankinness items that provide benefits for the whole team.
This hero is a necessary ban in many situations, where you want to have a strong midlane core hero - his ability to outfarm and outdeny most heroes in the laning stage can completely disrupt plans for dual or tri-core lineups. The hero is also relatively easy to pilot and he does not require excessive training many professional players undergo on certain heroes prior to actually playing them in tournaments - pretty much any pro can handle Viper with ease.
This hero for professionals is what Pudge is for trench tier players - single target lockdown with the ability to get the enemy out of position. He is also very versatile in the laning stage - while mid Batrider is unheard of lately, largely due to the nerfs to auto-attack damage, he can still handle jungle and offlane with ease in most situations and can get his core items relatively early, if not prioritized by the enemy.
There isn't really a lot to say about the hero - we have seen him being the first pick/ban material in a lot of games in the previous season and while he did get nerfed both directly and indirectly, the overall hero concept is borderline overpowered.
Great offlaner with high survivability, high burst damage output and, most importantly, the ability to allow his team to disengage and engage with the enemy at will.
While the fights in Dota 2 might seem chaotic and the movements random, a keen eye will always see a great deal of different patterns in the way teams move depending on their lineup, vision and a lot of other factors. And when a fight does not start on your terms, being able to disengage and re-engage is something a lot of newer players tend to underestimate.
There is a reason mobility is considered a very strong factor - it is something that scales really well into late-game. A late-game oriented hero that has a great attack value, but has no way of approaching the enemy to actually hit them is rarely useful (looking at you Sven). And Centaur Warrunner can solve both offensive and defensive problems on a global scale.
Tier 3 (<50%)
There are noticeable "jumps" between Tier 1 and Tier 2 heroes - almost 10% difference between the absolute favorites and strong priority picks. The Jump between the second and third tier heroes is even larger - 12%. In fact, given the very situational nature of every draft in the professional Dota games, it is really hard to identify these heroes into a tier.
Of course, there are heroes that are picked more often - they are just useful in more situations or are extremely versatile in either builds, laning or even roles (e.g. Naga Siren, Vengeful Spirit, Jakiro). However, past the 50% mark the decrease in Pick+Ban ratio is almost linear with no definitive "jumps", not allowing for a separation into groups.
There are some notable heroes in this group that are worth mentioning. Necrophos, Medusa, Mirana, Io and Puck all have a decent amount of picks and bans (~40%), but what really makes them stand out is their incredibly high Win Rate for professional games, ranging from 61% to 58%.
Every patch signifies rises and falls of certain heroes. Previously popular Tinker has only been picked or banned 7 times since the release of 6.82c, while heroes like Jakiro have entered the professional scene for the first time in ages.
Can we rely on professional players knowing better and should we copy their picks in our own drafts? Not necessarily - the meta is ever-shifting, but it does so gradually. We have no way of knowing what is going through Puppey's head in his free time and what heroes he thinks can be used in a surprising way to a great effect.
Some heroes might fall out of meta if a versatile hard-counter is discovered (e.g. [missing hero: outworld-devourer] with an introduction of Razor).
The heroes in first and second Tiers are not the Best heroes in the game - they are what professionals feel comfortable with at this given point in time.
While there are certain benefits of drafting "like professionals" - there are countless VODs that can show you how to pilot the heroes effectively and show you neat synergies, I, personally, strongly believe that there is always room for innovation and creativity in Dota 2.