The TI 5 Meta Vol. 1 | Wildcard Series
Welcome to the first part of what is to be a series of short analytical articles where we try to decipher the TI meta while it develops.
You can find links to all other articles in this series at the end.
What was the most pleasant surprise for us so far is that different teams bring different ideas and strategies to the tournament. For example, Vega often picked hard farming carries for their 1 position player (PL 3 times, AM 1 time), which resulted in 9pashaebashu having the highest GPM (588) in the Wildcard mini tourney. The other teams preferred carries that love to fight from early on. Another good example is MVP, who tried a PA strat twice even though the hero was unpicked by the others.
Our expectation was that most teams would stick to a lane dominance into 5-man push strategy (i.e. Viper + Undying) and we are happy to be proven wrong so far.
A failure of the Tier 1?
Out of the 5 most picked heroes in the Wildcard games only one (Gyrocopter) has a positive win rate. What is more, the two most picked heroes (QoP and Clockwerk) both have an abysmal win rate: 30% and 25%.
An interesting fact about this hero is that he was one of the most common picks in the qualifiers as well, where he still had a lower than 50% win rate. From the Wildcard games it seemed to us that the main reason for the poor results of Clock is his impact in fights. Nowadays teams often pick durable lineups that like prolonged and chaotic team fights (Undying, Leshrac, Viper, DK, Dazzle, Bristleback) and Clock simply doesn’t thrive in this environment. If his opponents are able to survive the initiation, his impact in the fight afterwards is low.
The problem is that these heroes very often survive his initiation due to their tankiness and heals coming from Mek, Wands and some hero abilities. Moreover, they are glad to take fights especially in the early and mid game, where Clock is supposed to have the highest impact.
So, Clock’s biggest strength of initiating fights becomes rather useless since you don’t want to take fights against such lineups. Moreover, if Clock doesn’t fight, he doesn’t have a lot of other things to do because he is a slow farmer and doesn’t scale well with items. It seems like Clock doesn’t entirely fit the meta game.
In the Wildcard games both wins that Clock has were in a lineup that has a slightly superior 5-man in the early and mid game compared to the opponents’ lineup – in such games Clock’s ability to find and start fights could fully be utilized, but it is up to his teammates to do the heavy-lifting and win the fight.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Clock falls off a bit for the rest of the tournament in favor of utility heroes that have better team fight presence. He might be picked more commonly in the second phase when the opposing team has revealed they are not going for a 5-man death-ball strat.
Undying is currently the most feared laner in the game and as a result was first-phase banned in most games. Nonetheless, he didn’t seem to deliver whenever he got picked and actually had a poor win rate in the Wildcard matches. Undying is as predictable as they come:
1. He wants to dominate the laning stage.
2. He wants to get together with his team and 5-man death-ball push.
If he is unable to play this way - he falls off drastically. Since everybody knows this, whenever teams had to face him they went out of their way to dodge the Undying lane as efficiently as possible and lower his impact during the laning stage.
What determined the game afterwards was if Undying’s team had a scary enough death-ball to gather up and win team fights despite not winning convincingly the laning stage.
A great example was the first game between CDEC and Vega, where CDEC had a bad start despite having an Undying due to Vega doing a smart lane setup and CDEC playing over-aggressively a few times. Nonetheless, the incredibly scary 5-man of CDEC was enough to turn the tides and carry them to victory.
Our prediction is that Undying will remain one of the most banned heroes in the tournament not because he is unbeatable, but because he forces people to play out of their comfort zones by changing up their lane setup, avoiding fights, etc.
Despite not getting banned during the first phase BS didn’t get picked at all during the Wildcard tournament. This is a surprise since he showed great potential in ESL Frankfurt and has become one of the pub stars in this patch. It might be the case that pro teams figured out a way to easily punish this high-risk high-reward hero and teams are unwilling to open up their draft with him.
Who to look out for?
Even though she was not entirely successful in the Wildcard (50% win rate), it seems that PA shows some big promise in this meta. She is extremely strong against heroes that like to auto-attack but don’t like to get a MKB. This makes her the perfect counter to e.g. Spirit Breaker (50% > 17%), Tuskar, Blood Seeker, etc. Moreover, if her team can keep her alive she does very well in prolonged fights. In the same time she is countered hard by heroes like Winter Wyvern.
Consequently she is unlikely to become a first phase pick, but in the second or last pick phase PA might be a very valuable counter-pic. After seeing that your opponents are invested in heroes that like skirmishes like SB, you can ban out the obvious counters to PA and pick her up.
Viper & Gyro: The biggest winners in the Wildcard matches are Viper (4-1) and Gyro (5-1), which means that the threat of a 5v5 death-ball meta is still looming over the horizon.