Gone are the days when the mid lane was the target of first round picks and bans. Today, it’s the Omniknights, Nighstalkers, and Banes who terrorize games, rather than Razor—the most contested mid hero of both the MDL Minor and DreamHack Major. With patch 7.07, which increased the XP of lane creeps and decreased the amount of XP a denied creep grants the enemy, the midlane matchup is still a volatile area that can affect the flow of a game. With Dreamleague and MDL Macau Minor finished, we can take a look at some of the top performing midlane heroes of both the pro and pub meta.
Resolut1ion takes first blood against TNC in the MDL Minor
Shadow Fiend was 2 for 2 in Dreamleague, but he surfaced by the time MDL Minor rolled around, particularly due to two legendary Shadow Fiend players in the tournament: Dendi and Resolut1on. Shadow Fiend is Dota’s classic mid hero, whose mastery depends on optimizing Dota’s various quirks: last hitting and denying, lane equilibrium, rune control, creep stacking. It’s no surprise it was the first hero targeted for the Open AI bot.
During the MDL Minor, Shadow Fiend won 8 out of 9 (88.9%) and was the second most contested mid hero. Shadow Fiend is a hero who can extract the most out of the new XP changes in creeps. After a few waves, his right click damage becomes too high to contest for last hits. There are only few heroes who can matchup with him one on one, and without it, the team is pressured to make a move before he gets out of control.
Medusa received multiple buffs in 7.07, including an essential rework to Split Shot. The skill is now less clunky to use, and her level 25 talent, allowing Split Shot to apply attack modifiers, turns her into a turret that can apply Skadi’s slow or Daedalus’ Crit on every target. Medusa was the most contested mid hero at the DreamHack Major and the 2nd most at the MDL Minor. Although already a durable hero, couple her with Omniknight’s Repel—an even more difficult spell to counter with Diffusal Blade gone—and she’s near invulnerable in the late game.
Razor was the 2nd most contested mid hero in DreamLeague. The hero often gets a spike when it comes to LANs, regardless of the meta. He’s strong in the lane and has a way to push towers in the mid to late game. Because of his stability, he’s often favored when the stakes are high, against the wishes of fans who see the hero as boring to watch. Razor doesn’t gank and doesn’t dominate the lane in the showy way Shadow Fiend does..
It’s a testament to the strength of the hero, especially in lane and to take objectives, that he’s relevant in nearly every meta. It also helps that Static Link can severely hamstring Medusa’s attack power in a team fight, even throughout the duration of Stone Gaze.
Na’Vi loses 5 heroes in an extended fight that begins with missing a kill on Sumail’s DK
The removal of bottle crowing limited the pool of mid heroes—in spite of the bottle-TP trick—but Dragon Knight still thrives. He’s an imminent threat to the T1 mid tower as soon as he’s level 6. Like Razor, Dragon Knight is a stable pick who also can push towers, both early and late game. Before Refresher Shard, the Aegis functioned in nearly the same way for teams trying to push high ground. Aegis on DK meant chip damage on the high ground tower, only for as long as his ultimate Dragon Form was up.
In a meta where we can often see two roamers, Dragon Knight is incredibly durable and tough to gank. He's one of the few mid heroes not hamstrung by the absence of Poor Man's Shield, which became a crutch that made multiple mid heroes viable. Patch 7.07 not only buffed Dragon Blood's regen across all levels, it also boosted Dragon Knight's base regen, from 0 to 1.5.
Zeus is the pub king. He has the highest win rate across all heroes in pub games, at a sky high 56%, and within the Very High skill bracket, he’s the top performing mid hero. Zeus is an exclusive pub stomper, as he is rarely used in competitive play. He can be severely disadvantaged in an uneven matchup or against capable enemy roamers, but he thrives in pubs where games tend to be more passive, giving him room to breathe in the early game or come back later on. Zeus won’t be getting any denies, but he can still make do last hitting long distance with Arc Lightning. There’s a reason he’s been historically at the top of the win rate charts and our tier lists. He’s able to get just enough farm to deals an immense amount of damage.
For pubs, the fact that everyone starts with a TP scroll now makes ganking less successful, since there are no excuses for a non-rotation from a support. With patch 7.07 reworking the creep lane and removing bottle crewing, it has shifted Dota’s pool of midlane heroes back to its roots—heroes that can sustain in the lane, farm safely, and take objectives.