In the past year, the carry role has seen vast changes. New items, such as Dragon Lance or Echo Sabre, have revitalized long forgotten carries and changes to neutral creeps have changed the rhythm of the game. Whatever carry hero is popular, and why, is usually a good indicator for what the meta has in store. Drow Ranger dictated the meta for the longest time in 2016 and 6.88. But which heroes were the dominant forces in 7.00-7.02?
Ever since the introduction and the following re-work of Dragon Lance, ranged cores have had a little bit of a resurgence, especially those who had been left out for a while. Luna is a perfect example. She was strong enough of a hero to be considered, but often not strong enough to actually be picked. She eventually did become favored, mostly because she could fill the void that several heroes had left when it came to clearing camps efficiently. Shadow Fiend, Gyrocopter and many more heroes had their flashfarming capabilities nerfed, which made Luna that much more attractive of a pick.
During Ti6, she was still a niche pick, but as the meta became more about brawling and fighting, and as other heroes (Drow Ranger) were nerfed, Luna became a top tier pick. The infamous combination of her and Shadow Demon have allowed her to be a fearsome hero in both pub and pro play, with the height of her dominance at the Boston Major (34 picks, 62% winrate).
Luna has remained a popular pick in the early 7.xx era and was among the most picked carries for both Dota Pit and ESL One Genting, but both her success and popularity has begun to fade. At StarLadder, Luna was picked in only 3 games, winning only one. In pub games, her winrate is still well above 50% across all brackets, but especially in the 5k+ MMR bracket, it is steadily declining.
It’s no surprise that her stats are becoming worse by the second, as she peaked right before 7.00 and was thus nerfed. Her base armor was reduced in 7.01 and her night vision was drastically nerfed in 7.02, as well as reduced base damage. She was among the biggest losers of our 7.02 breakdown.
Luna is at the verge of being edged out of the meta and it seems unlikely that she’ll make another top meta list anytime soon.
Lifestealer is currently the most picked carry in the Kiev Major open qualifiers and was among the most picked carries at the three LAN events of 7.00. In pub games, his winrate is rather inconsistent and especially in the lower brackets, Lifestealer is not really successful.
Despite lackluster winrates, Lifestealer is still an important and top tier pick in the current meta, as he allows other heroes to be more effective and synergizes well with a variety of other heroes. More on that can be found here.
No matter the patch, no matter the meta, you’ll be hardpressed not to at least consider Juggernaut. The ever present carry has never truly been out of the meta, as his basic, yet effective skillset is useful in a variety of scenarios. In 2014, Team DK even dared to play him as a support.
Juggernaut is as pub friendly of a hero as it gets. He’s easy to understand and doesn’t have a high skill ceiling. There aren’t many hard counters to him and even without farm he doesn’t feel useless. Beginners enjoy him and he’s a safe pick in most scenarios, which is reflected in his high pickrate (23%). His winrate is also above 50% across the board, though much like Lifestealer, it’s not about the winrate here. What makes him a top carry in the current meta, is the ability to be self sufficient, his strength and potency in early engagements and the ability to push.
Pro teams have recognized his strengths early on and he’s currently the most picked carry in pro play (27 picks across the last 3 LANs, compared to Lifestealer’s 26). There is little one can do wrong when picking Juggernaut, especially since he can be laned anywhere.
For the longest time, Weaver has been a rather one dimensional hero. Often played in the offlane, Weaver didn’t have many flexible item choices, certainly not in pubgames. Much like any other ranged carry in recent times though, Weaver benefits greatly from a more stats oriented build around Dragon Lance. This new, flexible item build and the introduction of talents have made Weaver a potent carry in the current meta.
As laid out in a more detailed blogpost, Weaver’s early game is much more potent and active than ever before. A Blight Stone into Dragon Lance or even Helm of the Dominator ensures a smooth transition into the midgame that makes him more threatening than just saving for a Linken’s Sphere, which is still a viable 2nd or 3rd item. This item build makes Weaver consistently stronger throughout all stages of the game, which also allows him to be a carry, rather than an offlaner.
In the current pub scene, Weaver is among the most threatening heroes with a 52% winrate in the 5k+ bracket and even a 54% winrate in the 2k bracket. 22 picks across the last 3 LAN events make him pretty popular among pros as well.
Nerfs in 7.02 (base damage reduction and Swarm damage reduction) did hit Weaver quite hard, dropping the winrate in pubs down by about 1%, but he remains a strong pick in both pub and pro games.
As 7.02 progresses, it seems unlikely that Luna will remain a top pick, both in pub and pro games. The nerfs in 7.02 have hit her quite significantly and the moment pros stop picking a hero is usually a good indicator for when pubs will stop picking it as well.
That said, Luna has had a good run in the meta and it is only natural for heroes to pass on the torch. As the Kiev Major qualifier continues and as we head into the DAC LAN finals soon, it begs the question of who will take her place. Will it be one of the heroes mentioned above or will a new challenger take her place?