ESL One Germany 2020: The meta

By ElevatedNovember 4, 2020
With ESL One Germany wrapped up, it's time to take a look at how the meta has developed at the top end of western competition. Updates to Dota 2 have been mostly minor tweaks to popular heroes over the past few months, and this has allowed the meta to stabilize and mature.
These periods of time where the meta is not changed by patches but instead by teams innovating and refining are where some of the best Dota gets played. It can definitely become stale if the top picks are too powerful or Dota goes too long without a patch, but there are still some interesting trends to look at coming out of ESL One Germany.

Top 10 Most Picked Heroes:

  • Rubick
  • Mars
  • Phoenix
  • Lina
  • Spectre
  • Magnus
  • Snapfire
  • Faceless Void
  • Drow Ranger
  • Clockwerk
Rubick has been at the top of the heap for reliable position four heroes for a long time and probably won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Even though it is not a hero that offers a ton of multi-role flexibility, exclusively slotting into the support roles, it’s very hard to beat a hero that can shove waves, gank and offer a better version of every single opposing spell in the game. In addition to just being one of the most fun heroes in the game, Arcane Supremacy is a completely broken passive ability and as long as it remains part of Rubick’s kit he will remain the grandest Magus of them all.
The rest of the most picked heroes mostly offer a huge amount of team fight control and impact. Heroes like Mars, Phoenix, Faceless Void, and Snapfire open up so many possibilities for drafts because they can almost single-handedly carry most team fights. Magnus continues to see play due to his team fight impact and the ability to Empower popular hyper carry heroes like Faceless Void, Phantom Assassin, and Spectre. Speaking of hyper carry heroes, we are still fully entrenched in a mid to late game timing window for games most of the time. It’s not surprising to see extremely stable and well-scaling heroes like Faceless Void and Spectre topping the list of carries.
Snapfire made a real case at ESL One for being the hero of the tournament as teams showcased her in four different roles. Thanks to her strong combo potential, easy wave clear, and flexibility in playstyle and item choice, Snapfire has become a jack of all trades and will likely be nerfed in the next balance patch.

Top 10 Most Banned Heroes:

  • Faceless Void
  • Io
  • Beastmaster
  • Lifestealer
  • Batrider
  • Magnus
  • Lina
  • Storm Spirit
  • Invoker
  • Void Spirit
We see plenty of repeat offenders on the list of most banned heroes from ESL One Germany. Popular picks like Lina, Magnus and Faceless Void all make appearances. As do the commonly banned pro Dota classics like Io and Batrider.
Beastmaster is an interesting member of the most banned list as he was only able to sneak through 11 times in the entire event. Beastmaster is one of the few remaining high tempo heroes that also gives the popular melee carry heroes nightmares. He is likely underrated by many players, only seeing a bit of play in high level pubs as well. Invoker is another hero that we should pay attention to. In addition to being a fast-paced playmaker, the ability to combo a max-Exort build with the strong team fight of popular heroes like Faceless Void, Mars and Magnus makes the hero very relevant.
Storm Spirit and Lina also appear to be heroes on the rise. The former due to his great scaling but ability to make early plays and the latter because of her strong laning and flexibility between mid and position four.

Best Heroes (high pick rates with good win rates):

  • Faceless Void
  • Mars
  • Rubick
  • Lina
  • Storm Spirit
  • Nature’s Prophet
We have already talked up the strengths of most of the highly successful picks from ESL One Germany. Strong team fight, good landing, and excellent scaling are clearly important factors for the top heroes right now. Nature’s Prophet is one of the more interesting members of this list due to his poor overall win rate in pub games. He checks a lot of boxes though in a coordinated draft.
Nature’s Prophet was played as a mid, carry offlane, and support and offers global ganking, tower push, objective control, and even functions as a courier in some cases. The hero definitely requires tighter team execution than most because of his somewhat awkward team fighting but with strong laning and so much versatility, there is a lot to like about having a Prophet on your team.

Worst Heroes (high pick rates but bad win rates):

  • Clockwerk
  • Tiny
  • Magnus
  • Enchantress
  • Drow
It is always interesting to see heroes with high pick rates but poor performance in the pro scene. Some of the heroes on this list are being forced into bad games while others are long time comfort picks that seem to promise more than they deliver. Drow Ranger in particular doesn’t fit super well into a meta of Spectres, Storm Spirits, and Faceless Voids but also offers the potential to end the game on an early snowball better than any other option.
Likewise, Magnus is a hero that pairs extremely well with a lot of the popular carry picks but often creates such an awkward and slow-paced early game that he ends up hindering the team as a result. It also seems like the game might be trending away from super strong laning and roaming as teams gravitate towards big team fights around objectives as the deciding factor in most games.

Final Takeaways

We are unlikely to get a new patch until the end of November and that means that the ESL One Germany meta will be sticking around a bit longer. A lot of the trends we saw will probably continue but there is always room for traditional counters to popular heroes to rise in popularity and force shifts in the game.
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