Dota 2 Competitive Tiers are the rankings of each hero based purely off how often they’re banned or picked in competitive matches. In a way, they’re just a popularity contest, but more interestingly they serve as a great barometer of exactly how the metagame of each region is played, so when ESFI world publishes its list every month, it’s something worth paying attention to. Especially so when Valve have put adding heroes to the pool on pause until after the International is over.
Which means, then, that this is the competitive tier list for the second International, the biggest sporting event in Dota 2’s calendar. So it’s worth having a little peruse.
The full list is on that page, but I wanted to pick out a few highlights that betray a slight shift in how things are working now that we’ve got a much more complete roster compared to last year, when there were only 46 heroes. Now there are a further 44, almost doubling the original roster. Within that there are a hell of a lot of counters, taking the teeth out of heroes like Anti-Mage, who has dominated for almost the entire year since the last International.
As ESFI points out, Shadow Demon is a bit of a surprise surge coming in on Tier 1 this time. He’s a pretty great hero, and Disruption makes for a great disable when you’ve got a particularly nasty hero that’s too tanky to focus down, but in the competitive scene he’s actually being used more as a support hero than a mid laner, which is surprising. At least from the times I’ve single drafted onto him and flailed around not knowing what I’m doing.
Regulars like Dark Seer, Lycan and Invoker are fairly unsurprising, and even Chen and Brood have been seen often doing very well.
This is where things get a little more interesting, with stalwarts like Lone Druid, Tidehunter, Crystal Maiden and Beastmaster not rocking the boat, while Tinker coming up from previously being in Tier 3, due to his insane pushing power and disable in the late game once he’s got a Scythe, is only a good thing for spectators, because there’s nothing more entertaining than watching him zip around the map doing all things for all men. It’s just that initial early game where he struggles a bit.
Brewmaster, on the other hand, that terrifying, frustratingly unkillable drunk panda, has moved down from Tier 1, supposedly because pro teams have figured out the ways to kill him. Which I’m guessing would be lots of stuns, AOE and map awareness. So pretty much the same ways you kill anyone. Maybe Brew isn’t so tough.
I’m surprised to see Nightstalker here, as I thought he would be higher in the rankings, but to be fair he’s mostly only picked by a few teams who play him very well, rather than most teams. It’s nice to see Wisp up here, as he’s one of the more entertaining supports to watch, and having Bane come up from a lower tier is only slightly depressing because I hate him with all my heart. So much disable can’t be good for a constitution.
The real signifier here that the metagame is changing is Anti-Mage dropping in popularity. For so long he was a tier 1 ban, always picked or always banned immediately, because he was the counter to so many heroes, and farmed so so well. He’s probably still going to be used in the Asian metagame for a while, but he’s officially a ‘Situational Ban’, which would be sad if he wasn’t such an arsehole.
It’s at this point where you get to ‘the rest of them’, but these are still heroes that see play in matches, and the only real surprise is to find Rubick this far down. On paper he seems incredibly powerful, and also incredibly entertaining to watch. I’d guess it’s just a matter of competitive teams just not knowing quite how to field him yet, and needing more practice with all the ways that he can be used. He’s so conditional on the strength of the enemy team’s spells, after all.
Out of all of these, the only surprise is that Phantom Assassin is so low. She’s a bit of a one trick pony, but I would’ve thought that the strength of her carry might tempt her into competitive play. Although the major strength of her, the lack of map awareness due to her icon disappearing if she’s near enemies, is completely nullified if you have an organised team communicating constantly. So perhaps it’s not such a surprise.
The only heroes not currently in Captain’s Mode, and thus not eligible for the second International, are Undying Dirge and Disruptor. And of those two I reckon that Disruptor is the one that is likely to see some competitive play, although maybe some crazy tactic will arise that makes Dirge more of a factor.
Either way, it’s only a few more weeks until we find out exactly how it’s all going to go down. And if you’re curious about which teams are going to be duking it out in Seattle at the end of the month, you need only click here.