The current meta might be slower than a couple of patches ago, but it still rewards proactive play. While many farm-oriented carry heroes are viable and can work really well in certain games, the majority of top tier carries are capable of mid-game pressure, with going late being the plan B.
You need heroes that can do something even without items. For that reason heroes like Troll Warlord and Phantom Assassin are rather lackluster—despite being very popular, these heroes win less than 50% of their games.
One of the strongest pick in the current meta, Lycan is at his best when picked last or second-to-last. There are certain similarities between Broodmother and Lycan in that regard, however current statistics shows that Lycan is a lot more reliable. He might not dominate his lane as hard as Broodmother can, but his power spike with Helm of the Dominator and Necronomicon is very hard to deal with.
Lycan melts towers, so map control against this hero is extremely important. Showing any signs of greed against him will likely result in a loss—you will need to be able to outpush waves and defend your highground 15-20 minutes into the game. That includes both core and support heroes on your team.
Pick heroes with strong lane outpush and some disengagement or fight reset tools, stall until after you can safely repel Lycan attacks and then capitalize on late-midgame timings—there is a lull in Lycan’s power level when he needs to transition from a heavy pusher to an actual right-clicking carry and it is the easiest time to punish him. Crimson Guard, especially if purchased early, can win you a decent amount of time and will work wonders against the hero.
Luna is significantly less popular than we believe she should be, but she is quite successful in games she appears in. She is a hero who really benefits from a trilane setup to secure her early farm and allow her to get a timely farming item, to then safely start jungling. Of all flash-farming heroes, Luna comes online in terms of her farming speed the fastest.
That generally means she has to sacrifice her laning and early-game presence—by maxing both her passives, she can’t take full advantage of her teamfight ultimate, instead fully focusing on hitting creeps as efficiently as possible.
Should the hero be your go-to carry in all your pub games? Probably not, but if you can convince your team to provide a strong trilane early on and even potentially go to the lane with the enemy carry in it, she can be a nightmare to deal with. We’ve touched on the topic of breaking the molds for the current meta in our previous meta reviews and Luna is worth at least giving a shot.
Drow is an independent hero now. If previously she almost fully relied on her boosted team to make things happen for her, currently she is more than capable of dealing massive damage herself and works wonders against high-armor targets.
Current playstyle for Drow currently revolves around trying to survive the lane until level six and than going to the jungle to quickly and efficiently kill creeps, while supporting her team through aura. This early AS can be quite devastating on its own if you have heroes like Dragon Knight on your team.
By continuously pressing Precision Aura, she can outpush the waves while not showing on the map at all, essentially creating her own space and generally forcing enemy rotations, especially on catapult waves. Naturally, there are ways for the enemy to react and ganking Drow Ranger isn’t as complicated as ganking some other, more mobile heroes, but it should generally be hard for the enemy to capitalize on successful ganks, since their lanes are pushed in.
Naga is a ticking time bomb for the enemy team. Given the hero’s massive stat growth and excellent farming speed, it is almost a certainty that at one point she will become the biggest carry on the field. Her current itemization further supports this idea: instead of going for Radiance, Nagas almost always bulk up in terms of raw stats.
This playstyle is often punished in the professional scene through constant pressure and an extra focus on map control, but pubs generally aren’t as coordinated, allowing Naga to run rampant. It is also quite hard to zone the hero out in lane with conventional right-click damage. Ideally, you want a hero with a lot of magic damage in lane against Naga that will harass her out of the lane and will be able to hunt her throughout the game.
If the game does go late with a very well-farmed Naga, your team really needs to understand, whether they will be able to burst her down within the initiation-disable window. Song of the Siren is an excruciatingly powerful disengagement tool that can and often will allow Naga to escape or reinitiate after your team spends most of their resources and cooldowns.
In our blog post we wanted to highlight the up-and-coming heroes in the meta that deserve attention, but the above three are still the most consistent and reliable carries in the game. They all provide what the current meta requires from a core hero: early game pressure, strong power spikes and late-game potential.
It doesn’t mean that they are the only three carries in the game that deserve to be picked and it certainly doesn’t mean that they can’t be dealt with. Be creative, think of ways how your regular picks can itemize to be better suited at dealing with the meta cores or add new heroes to your hero pool. In our constant chase for higher MMR, we often forget to have fun and make cool experiments, that, ironically, will often allow us to improve faster and get us the next medal.