In 6.88, we analyzed top tier heroes for each position. It was the very end of the patch however and a lot of the showcased heroes were so established that it was hardly anything new for many readers.
It’s been 2 months since 7.00 was released and already have we seen two balance patches, 2 premier LAN events and several online qualifiers; enough to determine who the pros and pubs currently pick in certain positions. Today we cover the top offlaners of the current meta.
For over a year now, the offlane has gone through a transition in which it has become more and more important, with more potential to farm and dictate the pace of the game. This trend, this way of approaching the offlane has stayed true in 7.00.
Offlaners often need to dictate tempo in the midgame, both with their supports and sometimes even just by themselves. More importantly, they also need to be able to apply pressure on the enemy safelaner, or have the potential to.
The most impressive hero in the past year has probably been Slardar. He’s been a top pick in both pubs and pros and his versatility allows him to be both offlaner and position 4. The trend the offlane has gone through in the past year is heavily tied to Slardar. He is flexible, can dictate the pace of the game, is tanky, can setup and follow-up for kills and he can be left alone in 1v1 scenarios but also excels in dual lanes.
Slardar has been a top pick at virtually every event for almost a year and he was the most contested hero at the most recent DAC qualifiers--across all regions. He’s the third most picked hero in the 5k+ MMR bracket with a steady winrate above 50%. A slight nerf in 7.02 may have decreased his winrate a bit, but if his popularity and success in both pubs and pro games continue, he might need another small nerf.
Underlord has made a splash ever since he was introduced in mid-August. A week into his introduction, the hero has maintained a steady winrate above 50% and has quickly risen to the top of the winrate charts, both across all brackets (54%) as well as in the 5k+ MMR bracket (56%). He's been among the top contested heroes in every tournament in the pro scene, both online and offline.
He checks all boxes for the current idea of the offlane. He can pressure the lane and safelaner well, is a strong teamfighter with damage and control and he builds into utility items that benefit the team, ranging from a Mekansm to Crimson Guard. The hero can transition into the jungle if necessary, but is best used to be an early game aggressor with supports. His Pit of Malice is a strong teamfight ability that allows your team to control a large area of a fight and makes it difficult for opponents to maneuver properly.
“Before the nerf to Return no longer working on illusions in 6.88f, Centaur received a series of consecutive buffs across 7 patches” - this alone was reason enough to bring Centaur into the spotlight, but the similarities to Slardar and Underlord may be just as key here. He’s an initiator that can apply pressure on the lane, can dictate the pace of the game and provides a lot of utility to his team--both with his ultimate, as well as items he may build, such as Pipe of Insight or Shiva's Guard.
Centaur may not be as popular in pubs as other heroes on this list (7% pickrate across all brackets), but his winrate is definitely among the highest out of all heroes (57% winrate). A more detailed breakdown of Centaur’s viability can be found here.
Sand King fazed out of the meta in 6.86, when several neutral creeps gained quite a bit of magic resistance. The change made it increasingly difficult to farm on Sand King, both as a support and as an offlaner.
Slowly, but steadily, Sand King returned to the meta, as pro players started to focus on a different ability. Rather than emphasizing his farming capabilities with Sandstorm, pros recognized the strength of Caustic Finale, a skill that had been majorly buffed in three successive patches.
Currently, Sand King is one of the most contested offlaners in the meta, with a consistent top 20 placing regarding contestion. His pub performance isn’t nearly as impressive, with a just below 50% winrate across all brackets, but he’s often still picked as a non-offlaner.
Sand King offers a lot of the top offlane characteristics and has the highest 1v1 potential out of any offlaner currently, with Caustic Finale being a huge factor. It also is a great ability to farm with and often even wins SK 1v2 or 1v3 scenarios.
In comparison to the 6.88 offlaners, 7.00 already offers a new variety of top tier offlaners. While both Slardar and Sand King may have been top tier previously already, Centaur and Underlord are new impressions in a new patch that are very welcome. There are even more trends towards more potential newcomers/returnees. Clockwerk has become a top pick for a variety of teams and players and Timbersaw remains a solid pick as well.
As the meta changes, so will hero picks, and in just a few months, the heroes mentioned in this blog may be old news again.