We get excited every time the group stage of a major international tournament kicks off. It is super cool to see how each region has interpreted the meta and what heroes everyone seems to agree on as the strongest. With the WePlay AniMajor rolling, we are getting to see how the 7.29 patch meta has developed over the past few months.
Things may change as the tournament continues but there seem to be two main camps of thought when it comes to strategy. On one side, there are heroes that take Roshan quickly such as Templar Assassin, Ursa, and Morphling. On the other side, there are heroes that contest Roshan with teamfight prowess. Pretty much every strategy revolves around these two concepts and branches off a bit to counter them.
The addition of an Aghanim’s Shard to Roshan’s trove of treasures has created an immense power spike moment. Even before this buff, the game had trended towards a timing window centered on the second Roshan spawn. Because tier two towers are difficult to take and high ground is even harder, an Aegis is required for consistent success. The first Aegis usually wins teams a fight around the tier two and the second wins them the game.
With the Shard buff, the game favors this mid game opportunity even more, especially if you can accelerate the timing further. Classic Roshan takers are back with a vengeance and also have some of the most powerful Shards in the game. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to give Templar Assassin a silence or Ursa a spammable ultimate? Both heroes scale extremely well with just a few items and can dominate these 20-30 minute team fights.
Templar Assassin is currently the most contested hero at the AniMajor with 14 picks (57% win rate) and 30 bans. Ursa is the eighth-most contested hero with eight picks and 27 bans. Morphling, who somewhat fills a similar role and can flex between mid and carry is the ninth most contested hero with 14 picks and 15 bans.
Of course, any time that Roshan starts to weigh so heavily on the outcome of the game there will be an effort to counter it. Heroes like Mars, Phoenix, Faceless Void, Snapfire, and Ancient Apparition are as popular as ever, despite several nerfs each. Other big team fighters such as Magnus, Batrider, and Tidehunter have heavily populated the banning phases of the draft. The simple threat of a Ravage or Arena of Blood into Supernova combo can slow down a Roshan focused lineup significantly.
Mars is currently the most picked hero at the event with 21 picks to go with 18 bans. Ancient Apparition is the second most contested hero of the tournament with 18 picks (72% win rate!) and 24 bans. Faceless Void, the most contested carry hero shows up with 10 picks (70% win rate) and 27 bans.
One final piece of the hero meta puzzle is lane pressure. To set up for a Roshan play it is important to force the opposing team to split up or rotate away from the Pit, especially if their team fight is superior. Heroes that can create constant side lane pressure through shoving the creep waves reign supreme for this reason. Puck continues to show immense impact with its hard to punish split push on top of incredible team fight ability. Puck is currently the most picked mid hero with 15 picks (66% win rate) and 20 bans. Other heroes like Dark Seer, Spectre, and Timbersaw also excel at drawing attention to the side lanes with very little risk.
One hero who has barely been targeted at all that we should keep an eye on is Enigma (0 picks, 2 bans). Not only does Enigma fit into the team fighting role but also provides map pressure with Eidolons. Additionally, Enigma provides a way to cut through the high HP tanks that have taken over much of the offlane and even mid lane roles. It’s possible that the laning stage is just not good enough to justify a pick very often but Enigma could still be a hero on the rise by the end of the tournament.