Dear China: please stop picking Mars

By Kenneth WilliamsMay 2, 2021
I understand, China, I really do. He’s got everything. A stun. An area-of-effect slow. A teamfight-in-a-can for an Ultimate. He can shove waves, steal stacks, and tank an Adaptive Strike without exploding into confetti. Mars is a really, really good Hero on paper. But you need to stop picking him.
Mars has been the most played Hero at each of the following events;
  • CN DPC Upper Division Season 1
  • CN DPC Lower Division Season 1
  • Huya Winter Invitational
  • CD2 Pro Cup Season 2
  • CDA-FDC Pro Championship Season 2
  • CDA-FDC Pro Championship Season 1
  • BEYOND EPIC: China
He’s winning the popularity contest at the current DPC Upper Division and i-League, too. It’s not hard to see why CN teams love Mars so much. He’s a stable laner with few bad matchups and a kit that compliments any strategy. And yet, his win rate in the Upper Division sits at a placid 33%. 43 matches at i-League have produced a similarly mediocre 42% win rate.
Other regions basically ignore the hero, but Mars can’t hide from IceFrog’s watchful gaze. Aside from a handful of buffs to his Intelligence, Mars has been nerfed in Patches 7.26b, 7.26c, 7.28, and 7.29. More nerfs are on the way if you keep this up, China. It's in everyone's best interest to start panic-drafting a different offlaner 12 seconds into reserve time.

The next Mars

Mars was a direct response to the ambiguous four-protect-one meta. He can start 4v4 fights like nobody’s business and dominate the midgame until cores start buying Black King Bar. China’s regional metagame for 7.29 is more extreme. Captains commit to a game plan at the start of the second phase, favoring either late game strategies with defensive support shells or deathball built around tower-shredding cores.
So what other offlaner can play both sides while dodging first phase bans?
Early experimentation at i-League points to Centaur Warrunner. Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida of PSG.LGD defaults to the classic aura stack, while Yang "Chalice"' Shenyi went for a spicy Aghanim’s Scepter build in EHOME’s match against Vici Gaming. His record 4.6 Strength Gain also helps counter Magic burst mid laners. Buffs to Hoof Stomp’s range, Double Edge’s cast time, and Retaliate’s damage have led to four first phase drafts in the last week.
I’ll get hype for Centaur if it means seeing less damn Mars.
China’s DPC Upper Division will run until May 23. i-League’s group stage concludes on May 9.
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