A week has passed since Dota 7.12 rolled out, and there is no denying how healthy this patch was for the professional meta. Similarly, the pub meta has also seen some changes with many previously underwhelming heroes becoming a lot more viable.
Players in public matchmaking play a variety of heroes, and the highest bracket aside they don’t necessarily follow the professionals. Today we will concentrate on what heroes who were underplayed in the professional meta but are doing very well in 7.12 pub environment.
Huskar currently sits at almost 56% win rate in the very high skill bracket making him one of the most successful heroes in current Dota. He offers a lot of damage, comes online early, dominates his lane and has all the qualities of a great pub hero.
Secret.Ace with a typical Huskar build
At the same time almost no one is trying to experiment with the hero in the professional scene. So far in the DAC, there was only a single instance of this hero being picked, in a match between Mineski and LGD. Huskar was paired with an Oracle and managed to give the SEA team a rather overwhelming victory: there were answers for Huskar in the Chinese lineup, but they never came online.
This is exactly what an ideal pub scenario looks like for Huskar: you take an early advantage and then try your best to finish the game as soon as possible, denying the enemy a way back into the game. LGD were not prepared for so much aggression and most of the time your enemy in pub games won’t be either. Just make sure that you don’t reveal your Huskar pick too early and that you have a decent save for him.
Clinkz is absolutely dominant in the pub scene with almost 55% win rate across all brackets, yet he is one of the few ignored heroes in the professional scene. Given how popular Chen is in the meta, coupled with the popularity of Helm of the Dominator for offlane heroes, it is highly surprising that Clinkz isn’t getting more attention from the pros.
The big problem with Clinkz is how weird his defensive kit is. Dodging projectiles sounds good on paper, but in reality there are only a handful of projectile disables in the game. The most use one can get from this ability is when dodging high-damage ranged enemy auto-attacks and these include abilities from some very popular heroes like Outworld Devourer and Enchantress.
Bursting down either of these targets is going to be rather hard: OD might have an Astral Imprisonment to either disable Clinkz or give himself enough time for Strafe to wear off, while Enchantress with several levels into untouchable will most likely have enough time for her heal to kick in and save her. And that is only with core matchups in mind: when you add other teammates into the equation, the potential disables and saves mean that Clinkz can’t actually participate in fights until after he gets his BKB, at which point his peak power level might be already surpassed by enemy heroes.
Top it with two defensive talent choices at level 10, neither of which actually helps the hero to snowball harder, and the inability of the hero to deal with illusions and it is clear that Clinkz will most likely only work as a fifth surprise pick and even then there might still be more reliable alternatives for the core position in the pool.
57% win rate across all brackets and almost 53% in 5k+, Zeus is certainly a force to be reckoned with in public matchmaking, yet he is another hero completely ignored in the professional scene. The recent patch dealt with the issues Zeus had in a very convincing manner: by increasing the attack damage and range of the hero, it now allows good Zeus players to actually contest their creeps in the middle lane, getting some denies and slowing down the enemy progression.
Zeus is also amazing against some of the more popular heroes in the meta. Particularly, his matchup against Terrorblade in the mid game can result in the latter being completely shut down: Terrorblade has a lot of armor, but his HP pool is so small Zeus will most likely be able to burst him down over the duration of a single disable. Moreover, he will be able to safely stall Terrorblade pushes with Arc Lightning, not allowing him to catch up through objectives.
The hero is 100% about damage on the enemy heroes. When we look at other popular mid selections, they are generally a hybrid between pushing and teamfight potentials. Leshrac has Diabolic Edict, Death Prophet has her Exorcism and heroes like Lina, Shadow Fiend and Tiny are just generally good at right-clicking the buildings, all while having access to fast wave clears.
Zeus can’t attack towers and that is one of the reasons for his unpopularity in the professional scene. If a core can’t pressure towers on his own, it means the lane he is farming in can be left for longer period of time and gives you a lot more space and time to be patient and precise with your ganks. It also allows for earlier rotations from your cores, potentially giving you this “deathball” opening, where you take all of the enemy outer towers by 20 minute mark without any kind of a trade and then have a massive economic advantage with several defensive items.
All of the information above doesn’t mean that Zeus is a weak hero. He is extremely specific at what he does and is definitely not a flexible pick, but his ability to dish out damage is close to unparalleled. When you pick Zeus, however, do make sure that both of your other cores can pressure lanes and, ideally, one of your supports has an ability to push towers as well.
High level pubs often mirror the professional scene, but it really shouldn’t be the case. These two environments are very different and should evolve learning from each other: all of the strategies and hero combinations used in the professional scene were once something discovered in pubs.
There aren’t really any “bad” heroes in Dota, they are simply hyper-specific and some of them are going to be useful in a lower amount of situations. So when you see an opening for a particular pick that might be considered out of meta—go for it. Pub statistics agrees that simply following the professional trends is far from being the best approach for winning your pub games.