Blast from the Past: Hero trends from TI1 through to TI4

posted by EskayDota,
It's time to take a trip down memory lane as we revisit the hero trends from across the years, all the way back to the first International. An everchanging meta sees heroes come in and out of the spotlight in varying ways, as we analyse the trends of the heroes picked, banned and ignored at The International. Let's go back in time, way back, and put the past TIs under the microscope.

At a first glance, we see a meta quite different at the first International from that of the one we are familiar with now. With 6.83 only a recent memory, a single [b]Sniper[/b] and Axe pick or ban is a shock to the system. We see heroes that we are well acquainted with left with little attention.

Even with only 46 heroes, the likes of Shadow Fiend, Drow and Tiny only amassed a total of 13 picks or bans between them through the entire competition.

In terms of picks, we aren't looking at something too dissimilar from the picks we know now. Earthshaker, Windranger and Vengeful Spirit are picked often, but the biggest changes come from Anti-Mage, Ancient Apparition and Lich, being the most frequent heroes back in 2011. Let's take a look at win-rates.

Quite surprisingly, the lowest winrate of the competition was Clockwerk. Picked 14 times, the hero only managed to scrape 4 victories. At the other end of the spectrum was the much favoured Mirana and Anti-Mage. With a win-rate of 71%, it's no wonder that Anti-Mage was the most banned hero of the tournament. Mirana, however, despite having a high win percentage, was only picked or banned in just over 50% of games.

Each TI, the heroes picked and banned look completely different from the year before. This is a result of patch releases, where heroes are buffed or nerfed accordingly. Some heroes have remained largely untouched across the years, the likes of Storm Spirit, whereas some have undergone complete reworks, such as Phantom Lancer. Ultimately, the changes that Valve make dictate the way the game is played, and in turn, which heroes are favourable, and which are not. With that, let's take a look at the statistics of TI2.

Looking at TI2, we see a complete overhaul of heroes. With multiple patches came new additions to the hero pool, resulting every hero in the most picked top 5 changing. With this meta showing a clear trend favouring ranged spellcasters, we see the likes of Leshrac, Venomancer and Invoker being picked the most. In the top 10 banned heroes, 5 were new additions from the passing year. These are Lycan, Naga Siren, Broodmother, Rubick and Invoker. With the increased size of hero pool, there were many heroes that didn't feature once in the main event.

The likes of Undying, Lion, Silencer, Drow, Viper, teams would dare ignore them in the current patch. Heroes that go on to feature strongly in later TIs such as Razor were left in the cold, without a single pick. Some Dota veterans would be sad to see that Skeleton King didn't even feature once at TI2! The year between TI1 and TI2 saw 44 new heroes introduced, with increasing the total hero pool to 90 heroes.

Moving forward a year to TI3, we don't see quite a large change from the heroes most used at TI2. The biggest changes come from the increasing attention towards IO, Batrider and Outworld Devourer.

One interesting statistic is that during the 69 times Rubick was picked, the hero only attained a 39% winrate. There are no stand-out heroes that have winrates above 61% in the top 10, which is largely different in comparison to the two years prior. The fourth top pick was Nature's Prophet, much favoured by the se The Alliance fans as they showed the world what rat Dota was truly about.

Much like at TI2, there were also heroes that went unpicked. These are:

This only totals to 13 heroes, which is 12 less than the 25 unpicked heroes of TI2. Interestingly, some stay the same, for example, Drow Ranger and [b]Sniper[/b] went two years without being picked at an international. After TI2, Lycan suffered nerfs in the 6.75 patch. The hero went from being the most banned hero of the entire tournament, to TI3 where he wasn't seen once.

With Weaver being second most picked at TI3, it is worth mentioning the consistent Weaver picks from ua Natus Vincere. ua Alexander 'XBOCT' Dashkevich being the favoured player to take the hero, Weaver has featured heavily for Na'Vi across the three TIs. One statistic that we can look at is total hero kills and deaths. Albeit they appear to correlate with the most picked, it is interesting nonetheless.

We see that 4 of the 5 heroes with the most kills, also correlate with those most picked heroes, exchanging Rubick for Alchemist. One notable factor to consider is Visage's position in the table, coming in with 364 kills, sitting second on the chart. Despite the hero being played primarily as a support, Visage manages to compete with the likes of Lifestealer and Alchemist for total kills.

Lastly, lets take a look at TI4.

Straight away we see huge changes from that of TI3. Once again, there has been a huge overhaul, with not a single of the Top 10 hero picks or bans being the same. Lycan went from being not picked in a single game during TI3, to being banned 108 times. He was picked or banned in 97.7% of games. During the TI3 group stages, Shadow Shaman was picked once, and banned once. A year later, he was the third most picked hero, tied with Mirana on 61 picks. Mirana's attention came mostly from the picks of nl Wehsing 'SingSing' Yuen on world Cloud 9*, and us Mason 'mason' Venne on us Evil Geniuses

One difference we see is the decrease in the most picked hero. The top 5 most picked heroes have less picks than their TI3 counterparts. This also comes with a decrease in heroes unpicked, with a total of 92 heroes played, leaving only 8 unpicked.

Both the heroes unpicked and top number of picks decreasing suggests a larger variety in picks across TI4. Considering TI2 had 22 unpicked heroes and the increase in hero pool, to have only 8 unpicked heroes appears to be a step forward to more interesting games, bringing in more hero diversity. With that, let's take a look at winrate.

As TI5 approaches, the only indication we receive to the meta is the picks at ESL Frankfurt. Even then, teams will be holding back the pocket strats, to reveal at that integral moment during TI5. There are a few things we can take away from this analysis, such as the unpredictability of the meta.

Looking at the recent ESL One, the heroes already appear diverse and are far from those run at TI4. Heroes such as Queen of Pain and Tusk are very focused around low cooldown, fighting abilities, which is promising for an exciting TI5; only time will tell.

From a viewing perspective, which was your favourite TI meta?

Thanks to Captain'HerO, AvRiku and Chaffe for pointing out about Navi using Nyx, Bounty Hunter and Void

  • EskayDota


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