Every big tournament develops its own meta and Kiev Major was no exception. The tournament saw the rise and fall of both hero and item popularities, all within the 6 days of the event. Naturally, parts of this meta transitioned into our everyday pubs, slightly changing pick priorities and some itemization choices.
The most popular pick and the third most contested hero of the tournament couldn’t go unnoticed by the pub players. Once again, her popularity in the pro scene can be attributed to her flexibility—she can jungle if there are no ganking opportunities and IF there is no need to secure the lane, she can roam and apply pressure on different sides of the map, with two relatively strong disabling nukes. She can babysit her carry reasonably well, all while providing a flat mana regeneration bonus to her whole team.
The latter is a much bigger deal than people might expect. It was pointed out previously that the mana regen talents are generally very effective and are superior to their alternative in terms of win rate. Crystal Maiden’s aura is a free mana regen talent for the whole team. In most cases it is maxed out first, since it pretty much allows Crystal Maiden herself to never stop using her rather powerful spells.
Another reason for the hero’s return to the meta are the changes in the “root” mechanic. With so many mobility spells now being restricted under the effects of root, the usefulness of Frostbite is substantially higher than it used to be. The abundance of mobile heroes in the meta makes CM picks even more worthwhile.
It is interesting how many exceptionally strong heroes go under the radar of pub players until they get a confirmation from the pro-scene. Treant Protector is one such case. He was occasionally played in higher level pubs, but didn’t get too much attention across all skill brackets until after the Kiev Major, where two distinct builds were used by the hero: one concentrating on Nature’s Guise and his capabilities as a roamer and a more conventional one, which focused on Living Armor for the global save potential.
It is hard to argue against the hero’s strengths—he has a lot of damage for early game harass, can almost freely roam across the map, forcing the enemy to spend resources and has one of the stronger late-game ultimates, which greatly benefits from the aforementioned changes to the root mechanic. Moreover, his Aghanim’s Upgrade is on par with KotL’s and Night Stalker’s, providing good flying vision in key areas, making late-game decision making easier and less uncertain.
Coming into the Kiev Major the hero received a couple of minor nerfs, but managed to break even in terms of winrate across 36 games he was picked in. His pub winrate is consistently over 50%, increasing as the level of the game increases, peaking at almost 56% in 5k+ games.
Terrorblade was one of the most successful heroes of the tournament with a 78% win rate across 18 games. Unlike similarly successful and popular Slark, Terrorblade was largely ignored by the pub players, with many players perceiving the hero as too weak. It seems that these players were mistaken, given how hero performs exceptionally well in the pro environment and does consistently good in pubs.
Terrorblade is not a flashy hero and neither is he a very interesting hero to play. Moreover, he requires a certain degree of team coordination and strategic decision making to be fully effective—he can’t fight in the early engagements too well and needs to take objectives to keep up with the other carries in terms of power level. It is a greedy, frequently risky and complex to execute pick, which pays off big time if played correctly.
The winner of the Kiev Major was surprisingly ineffective throughout the tournament, with 38.46% win rate across thirteen games. But a tournament-winning hero pick was bound to become more popular. His pub popularity has jumped 2%, while his win rate has always been consistently high, only going lower in the upper skill brackets. Still, his lowest win rate is 51.45% in the 5k+ bracket and it is nothing to scoff at.
The hero is good for many reasons. He is an excellent objective taker, can fight early and counters a lot of other melee right-clicking carries through the power of bash. He can’t boast unparalleled late-game potential, but he can also boost other cores on his team, making several other picks a lot stronger.
It is still up for debate whether the item was buffed or nerfed in the last patch. Strangely enough, the popularity of the item started rapidly declining as the tournament progressed and it seems stronger teams favored more proactive playstyles to passive farming.
Yet the popularity of the item in the pub scene remains high. It is no longer an exceptionally strong XPM boost, but it pays for itself much faster, slightly changing the type of heroes the item is appropriate on, or at least changing the level/item progression balance. In general, going for this item when you are absolutely sure you can get away with it is the best course of action. If you are even a little uncertain about the next 10 or so minutes, going for a stat-based item or team-enabling aura will generally be a safer choice.
This item is going to see some nerfs in the next patch. Plus or minus twelve armor and evasion/miss chance make for one of the most cost effective items in the game. You can get it early on carry heroes, to increase the kill potential. You can get it on supports, to help dealing with Roshan and allow your team to focus down targets or save teammates.
Pubs have started incorporating this item in their builds a lot more frequently after the Kiev Major, at least it seems so from first-hand experience, but it is still not as prevalent as it was during the Major and while this item remains untouched, it might be a good idea to give it a try.
Kiev Major once again showcased the diversity of picks and strategies viable in the game and given how rapidly the meta was developing in the last two days of the tournament, it seems the game still has a lot to offer, even in its current state.
Regardless, there is still going to be a patch before TI7, but given the density of the premier LAN tournaments in the upcoming month, it might be slightly delayed. For now, it is definitely worth exploring the most pub-friendly popular professional picks of the Kiev Major.