The Dota 2 patch 7.23 (the Outlanders Update) was released in the last week of November. The patch, like most patches at the start of a season, changed the game drastically with the introduction of Outposts and neutral items amongst numerous other things. Since the release, there have been three balance patches that brought us to 7.23c. The first set of professional action we got to witness on the new patch were the qualifiers for the second set of DPC Major and Minor – The Dream League Leipzig Major and the WePlay! Bukovel Minor. A total of 389 games were played for the qualifiers for the six regions (North America, South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, CIS and China). As we head into a month without any more DPC action, let’s take a look at how the pro teams are perceiving the new patch.
Most played heroes
Looking at the stats in the image below, it seems Crystal Maiden, Puck and Rubick are the clear favorites of the 7.23 patch till now. All of them have been picked in more than a third of the games and show win rates higher than 50%. Crystal Maiden may see that pick rate go down a bit with the nerfs in the balance patches, but Puck and Rubick should continue to be strong picks. CM and Puck both received sizable buffs in the Outlanders Update, so their popularity is understandable. But Rubick was barely changed in the patch, so his high pick rate comes as a bit of a surprise.
Tiny with his permanent tree is fast becoming popular as a safelane carry, although the low win rate is indicative that teams still need to figure out how exactly to proceed with his build and whether he better as a position 1 or position 2 hero. There have been Tiny picks in the qualifiers that have gone for a very early Moon Shard or Mask of Madness or ones that have gone the stats way with Sange and Yasha. The patch is still fresh and eventually, the perfect build for the stone giant will improve his win rate.
Two other winners of the new patch are Vengeful Spirit and Doom. Both the heroes were completely ignored at TI9 and 7.23 gave them the buffs they deserved. The change to Vengeful Aura, which now provides attack range for ranged heroes and additional primary attribute (instead of damage) makes her an amazing support in lane and later as well. Doom’s new Scepter upgrade is all the rage, with the ability to keep a hero permanently broken with Infernal Blade. The earlier Scepter, which provided break for Doom, was not bad, but was situational. The new Scepter also provides a 1.75 second stun for Infernal Blade, which has a 4 second cooldown. It’s going to be an item Doom gets every game now.
A special mention goes to Kunkka, who has been getting nerfed every patch for the last few months and still continues to be a top pick and maintain a high win rate. The new Kunkka does have a cool Scepter ability (torrent Storm), but that doesn’t change the core hero in any way. IceFrog is going to have a hard time keeping the admiral down.
Most contested heroes
Certain heroes don’t show up in the most picked list because they get banned in nearly every game. Here’s a list of the 10 most contested (picked and banned) heroes from the DPC qualifiers for the second Major and Minor. A lot of overlapping names in this list and the most picked list of heroes. Razor and Io don’t make it to the most picked list because they were banned out too many times. Support Io has returned!
Tiny – 304 games (78.15% of the games)
Puck – 298 games (76.61% of the games)
Venomancer – 258 games (66.32% of the games)
Templar Assassin – 224 games (57.58% of the games)
Kunkka – 212 games (54.50.15% of the games)
Razor – 208 games (53.47% of the games)
Abaddon – 204 games (52.44% of the games)
Io – 200 games (51.41% of the games)
Crystal Maiden – 197 games (50.64% of the games)
Rubick – 184 games (47.30% of the games)
Heroes with the highest win rates
Let’s take a look at which heroes had the best win rate in these qualifiers. In this analysis, only heroes that were picked in more than 10% of the games were considered; so heroes with at least 40 games under their belts in the qualifiers. Razor, Omniknight and Bloodseeker sit pretty at the top with a 60% win rate. Razor and BS were heavily buffed in 7.23 and this solves the mystery as to why Razor was banned a lot in the games. Morphling and Kunkka, even though nerfed in 7.23, make the top 10 list for win rates, showing that they will need more than a few changes to keep them down. Morphling can now get a Scepter and pair up with Magnus to create the same havoc he did with Earthshaker earlier. Granted, the Magnus Scepter was nerfed in 7.23c, but it is still not a bad upgrade.
While a lot of heroes are rejoicing their new found success (or Kunkka and Morphling continuing it from last patch), there are others who were not picked a lot or not picked at all. The list below shows all heroes that were picked less than 10 games. A lot of them have received buffs in 7.23c, and we might see a bit more of them in the weeks to come. The only three heroes that were not picked at all (picked 0 games) were –
Medusa has had her time in the spotlight and Techies probably never will make it big as a pro hero (a hero in pro games, rather). But Clinkz has had a lot of injustice done to him. The nerfs and change of abilities after TI8 (that’s right, more than a year ago) had a major effect on the Bone Fletcher and he hasn’t recovered from it. Hopefully, as the days go by, we see more of him this season.
Every new patch ushers in a new playstyle which depends a lot on the general changes, more than the hero and item changes. Patch 7.23 is no different and the 389 games played in the recent qualifiers show that the game durations have shifted to the left (shorter game durations) with the new patch. This is primarily due to the Outpposts, which provide a snowball effect for the team dominating earlier and prevent the chance of comebacks, something we saw a lot in the 7.22 patch, especially at TI9.
A good metric for comparison is the last set of DPC qualifiers on the old 7.22 patch, which is the qualifiers for the Chengdu Major and Summit 11. The number of games in the two sets of qualifiers is quite similar, which make the data sets good for comparison. In the 7.22 patch, more than 35% of the games went above the 40 minute mark. With 7.23, that has gone down to about 26%. About 30% of the games are ending between the 20-30 minute mark, which makes the current meta unsuitable for extreme late game heroes like Medusa and Spectre.
The new patch has surely made the meta fresh and the game enjoyable. Neutral items still make it a bit RNG based, but IceFrog and Valve have limited that with a limit to neutral items. The next tournament on the horizon is the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational Singapore, which starts on the 17th of December, where we will get to witness some of the top teams trying to decipher more of the new patch.