The International is just around the corner and today we want to discuss the most iconic TI heroes and how they fare in the current patch. Historically, TI always had its own meta, with an emphasis on reliable and powerful lockdown. This year might be different, though, as many iconic TI heroes are currently off-meta.
It feels like Rubick is one of those heroes who is never bad in the professional scene. He might not be good enough for pubs, but his ability to turn around matchups and steal key abilities for his team is unparalleled for a support.
There might be one big reason the hero is going to be less popular this TI compared to previous ones, though. Enigma, another iconic TI hero, is not in a good place right now. Without the ability to control the lane, the hero fell off the radars and Rubick was the go-to counterpick against Enigma.
There are still many meta heroes with powerful ultimates and even Bane is starting to see a rise in popularity, but we feel like Rubick is probably going to be a situational pick, rather than a staple.
This might come as a surprise to many, but Mirana is the second most picked hero in the history of TI. It is hard to argue against a very long hard disable, even if it can be problematic to land consistently. That said, the hero didn’t look too hot in the last couple of big tournaments.
Her main strength in Moonlight Shadow needed multiple utility buffs to become relevant in the professional scene. Right now it gives her team a nifty movement speed bonus, as well as +20% Evasion at level 15. It is a good argument in favor of the hero and coupled with her now being Universal, we feel like she isn’t going to be completely ignored.
That said, we also don’t see her being too popular. Unlike Rubick she is unlikely to be a response pick, as she doesn’t really hard-counter any hero in the game. It is a lot easier to justify her as an opening flexible pick, though we believe there are better heroes for this role in the current patch.
Io isn’t the most popular pick in the history of the International, but it is by far the most contested hero. Most teams just don’t want to play against Io: the hero really amplifies the mobility of core heroes, while providing a ton of resources and even better farming potential.
It is very likely the hero is once again going to be very contested. Sure, there are Twin Gates for timely rotations and extra teleport spots with Outposts, but nothing beats the ability to never stop farming, while also attending every single fight you want to. Especially in the current patch, where kills are greatly rewarded.
Io’s usual pairing in Gyrocopter is also very popular and strong, and there are other powerful combinations, such as Storm Spirit, that work in favor of Io. We fully expect the hero to be highly contested, though not sure how often he will be let through the bans.
Another hero most teams would rather ban than play against: Batrider is only the 11th most picked hero in the International history, but he is the second most contested. For a good reason: displacement is one of the strongest mechanics in professional Dota and Batrider is the most reliable hero to get the enemy core out of position.
There are two reasons we might not see a lot of him in this TI. One is that players are now exceptionally good at using other, less reliable displacement abilities with great success. There are Magnus or Tiny, who offer the same transportation services, but on a much lower cooldown. It is harder to pull off, but is also a lot less punishing if it doesn’t lead to a good engagement.
With that in mind we feel like Batrider will probably concede his position as one of the premier TI heroes, at least in the upcoming tournament. We saw him played in a support position as well, but, once again, there are way too many good heroes in the support role to pick off-meta.
This could be one of the big surprises of the upcoming TI. Sand King is in top5 most contested and picked heroes throughout TI history, though most of his picks and bans come from the earlier iterations of the tournament. This year, though, there is a chance the king reclaims his throne.
The main reason for this belief are the buffs in the last couple of patches. Between Sandstorm now having mobility and Burrowstrike now having default 750 cast range, the hero is just good. Sure, he might experience some problems during the laning stage, but he can quickly catch up if there are any stacks available.
We could be overvaluing the hero, but we feel like when it comes to creating chaos and providing massive teamfight potential, Sand King and his Aghanim's Scepter are almost unparalleled. Sure, you need some luck for it to be devastating, but it is the kind of luck some teams might rely on to take it all.
There are many other iconic TI heroes we just didn’t have enough space to discuss, concentrating on the five most contest characters. So we will have to continue the conversation in the comment section below: feel free to share what heroes you are the most excited about seeing on the big stage and how you think they will fare?