In the weeks after TI, we’ve seen a spike in the pick rates of heroes that who highlight plays on the main stage, especially by some of OG’s signature heroes. Ember Spirit’s pick rate increased by nearly 50%, in the aftermath of some stellar play by OG.ana. That’s also the case with Topson’s Monkey King, whose unorthodox hero pool has trickled down to pubs.
The reality is that these heroes may not be the best fit for your skill bracket. A hero like Ember Spirit has a high skill floor, which is evidenced by his declining win rate in lower skill brackets. Moreover, it’s a hero that can be strong when drafted in the appropriate situation, and not because you’re eager to Eul’s dodge an Echo Slam in your next pub game.OG.ana Eul’s dodges an Echo Slam, igniting a wave of Ember Spirit players in your next pub game.
Our hero win rate stats that span across all pub games give a broad overview on what heroes are inherently strong for the majority of players. But for a more focused view, our heroes meta page shows pick and win rates segmented by skill bracket.
First things first, it’s ok to stray from convention. OG went back to their comfort heroes, regardless of the perceived strength of those heroes in the meta. And while most of us may not be pro-level players, there is something to be said about playing a hero you just like to play. That might explain why Pudge appears as the 4th picked hero in Divine and Immortal brackets, at a 27.86% pick rate this month, despite having less than a 50% win rate in the bracket.
Believe it or not, Meepo has the 2nd highest win rate in Crusader and below bracket.
So, it’s ok to play your Puck because you enjoy its voice lines, or Lone Druid because you want a pet Bear, even if these are two of the worst heroes in this patch. But for those wanting to climb MMR, our meta stats can provide some insight on what might work for your bracket.
Spectre and Wraith King may be the default for MMR climbers in the Ancient to Immortal bracket, but Vengeful Spirit reigns in Crusader and below, with a 60% win rate—a level close to pre-nerf Spectre. The hero is effective even after death, with straightforward skills that have little room to backfire, except for Vengeful Swap. Venge was one of the most contested supports at TI and has its highest pick rate, 20%, in the Divine and Immortal brackets. This number drops to 14% in Archon and 12% in Crusader.
It’s not surprising that support picks are sparse in lower brackets. A team with 4-5 cores is a common sight, even if it hamstrings your team’s farm priority and laning stage. But the success of support heroes like Vengeful Spirit, Lich, Undying, Crystal Maiden, and Silencer shows that you can have an impact on the game, especially in lower brackets.
That’s because, unless you are OG, winning the lane is important to winning the game. The meta rewards heroes for staying in their lane. With more XP for both last hits and denies, the meta has shifted to a 2-1-2 lane where every creep matters. That means picking heroes that are not only inherently strong in the meta, but also in your bracket. Lich, for example, isn't as effective in upper skill brackets, but has a 54-56% in Archon and below. It's a passive hero that won't net you kills, but will win you the lane.
Keep it simple by veering away from popular picks and going for the right pick. From our lane statistics, Invoker and Storm Spirit are the two most popular mid picks. Both have win rates below 50%, and it's only until 4k MMR that they about break even in their games. Yes, you can't be Miracle unless you practice Invoker at any MMR, but you most likely will have a better chance at winning by picking a hero like Bloodseeker, who has an astronomical 65% win rate in the <2k MMR bracket, and 60% in the 2-3k MMR bracket.
Taking a look at safelane carries, Spectre dominates (56% win rate) in 5k+ MMR, but it's actually Wraith King and Drow Ranger who crush it at 3K and below, winning 60% of their games. The point is that your carousel of choices may be different from what's reflected in competitive play or even the front page of the in-client games. Understanding why--the strengths and weaknesses of heroes in various brackets--is essential learning for any Dota player. Or you can pick Pudge and just play the game.