CN qualifiers for ESL One LA started slightly later than other qualifiers and it gave us an interesting opportunity. Chinese region is often considered the most isolated of regions: they typically develop their own meta in a vast amount of local tournaments. There was even a saying that in international tournaments “Chinese teams either all win together or lose together”, depending on how their independently developed meta stacked up against the rest of the world. Today we are going to have a quick look at the meta differences we found the most interesting.
CN had the tightest meta spread of all regions: 28 heroes went completely ignored during the tournament and only a total of 86 different heroes were actually picked. We don’t think this statistics should be used to gauge the strength of the region in the upcoming Major, since there is a chance the Chinese meta has been developed further, compared to other regions, and the teams already know which heroes to prioritize.
That said, we can assume that on average Chinese teams are less versatile and could be less prepared for surprise picks. This can be a non-factor, or it can be a big detriment in international tournaments and it highly depends on whether the CN meta is going to stack up well against other regions.
Snapfire won less than 40% of her games in the Chinese region, compared to almost 52%+ in other regions. There are two possible explanations for this phenomena we came up with: either understanding of the hero in the region is so low, that it can’t be executed as well as in other regions, or the understanding of the hero is so high, that teams are well aware of how to play against her, making Snapfire less of a deciding factor.
Similarly to other regions, Snapfire was also prioritized quite heavily during the drafts in China: her contest rate during the qualifiers was 94%, compared to 88% in other regions. This popularity leads us to believe that the second explanation is more plausible, though with 13 games played in total the stats for Snapfire can’t be considered too reliable.
17 games and a 70%+ win rate made Troll Warlord the most consistently successful hero of the Chinese region. While the hero had a pretty decent showing ubiquitously, he wasn’t as prioritized in other parts of the world.
Another interesting part is that the hero didn’t really get that much of a buff: +4 lowest damage, meaning a +2 damage on average, is pretty decent during the laning stage, but it is hardly game-changing. The hero still needs an early BKB to be effective in fights and can still be quite unreliable with his ultimate without the necessary control from his teammates, but with the overall focus on the midgame in the current meta, he did become relatively better off.
The effect isn’t as pronounced in pubs, where the hero wins ~50% of his games, so it might be a bad idea to prioritize him in your own games.
While Ember Spirit remains the most overvalued pick in the current professional meta, with high popularity and low win rate across all regions, Slardar actually had a very good showing everywhere, except for China. His win rate in China was below 35%, while in the rest of the world it was around 58%.
When it comes to Slardar, the biggest difference in playstyle between China and the rest of the world we found was that the CN professional scene doesn’t really respect Aghanim’s Scepter on the hero. In all other regions, in the majority of games, Agh’s on Slardar was something the hero strived for, sometimes even skipping Blink Dagger as the first item.
Similar pattern in China can only be seen on Flywin (Flyby) from RNG — other Slardar players generally opted for a Blink Dagger into Vladmir’s Offering or the same two items in a different order. While Vlad’s aura is amazing for the team and Blink Dagger does open up a lot of potential plays for Slardar, in one of our previous blog posts we talked at length about how a Blink-first Slardar can be a pretty risky play and might stifle the further progression of the hero. Perhaps it is time we started translating our blog posts into Chinese?
Both Vici Gaming and PSG.LGD — the two most recognizable names of the region, are going to skip the third Major. For one team it was a well-calculated choice, for the other — a heartbreaking reality, but it allows three other contestants to show off their prowess.
Definitely pay attention to Invictus Gaming, who are shaping up to become the new Chinese powerhouse. The team currently holds the fifth position in the DPC rankings and features Emo — one of the most entertaining mid players to watch.
Royal Never Give Up finally made it to a Major, after two unsuccessful attempts to get out of the second most competitive region and we will finally get a chance to watch them in action on the biggest international stage, after several post-TI roster changes.
Finally, EHOME, captained by y` (Innocence) of Wings fame, with Sylar as their carry and with Faith_bian in the offlane is certainly going to be a treat to watch and we really hope y` will get a chance to go back to his roots and start heavily experimenting with their drafts.