theWonderCow, January 24, 2017

Projecting DAC: Trends and Lessons from Dota Pit

Between the lower-bracket and eight-hour long grand finals, last weekend's Dota Pit viewership dropped by more than half (from near 450,000 to below 200,000). If you skipped placing a bet on the technically-plagued event, through our Dota 2 betting portal, odds are you skipped watching much of it. If that's the case, we're here to catch you up on what matters, because the games played here will have much larger ramifications than the $139K in prizes. With Dota's Asian Championship on the horizon, the battle is just beginning for 2017.

Whether or not EG would adapt to the patch was a point of moderate contention, considering they had not played any ticketed games since Dota was reinvented last December. "I think other teams want to win more than us," Crit, EG's captain, said during the event, "We are here mostly to get better with the new patch. For us, it's more of a learning process."

That makes sense, given that EG and OG will be the only two teams to likely skip all qualifiers and events between now and the Dota 2 Asia Championships, which will then give them no additional LAN events before the Kiev Major.

"Obviously it's OG," Crit said of the team EG fears the most. "They've beat us. A lot of times." In fact, since Cr1t left OG, the two teams had faced off in seven series, of which EG had only won two (way back in MDL).  Neither OG nor EG are in the StarSeries 3 qualifiers. OG is likely to be the unannounced direct invite, but EG will be taking a month off before bootcamping for this winter's largest events.

Those are big stakes for those who bleed blue. Fortunately, they were pitted against OG in two full series, giving them a healthy helping of opportunity to pick up the green team's tricks. Hardcore stream fans know that EG has been working hard to best utilize hero talents at the forefront of their strategies. This has certainly had a big impact considering the newly popularized Lone Druid and Ember Spirit builds seem to have originated, at least in part, from Arteezy and Sumail.

EG win Dota Pit (courtesy of DotaPit on Facebook)
EG win Dota Pit (courtesy of DotaPit on Facebook)

The two teams have relatively distinctive drafting patterns. While EG like Underlord, Io, and Dark Seer, OG emphasize the negative armor of Dazzle and Slardar along with Invoker. EG seem to value burst damage a little more, and it ultimately worked out for them, scaling at the correct stages of the game to jump out to an effective lead more often than not. Both teams (if not all teams in the weekend's tournament) put great emphasis on Ember Spirit, Rubick, Luna and Earth Spirit.

What we learned about EG and OG is that they are adapting well, even if EG signified a slight lack of draft diversity. That probably won't last, but if we see DAC open to low hero diversity, expect EG to fare worse than expected. Looking ahead at DAC, it's difficult to pull mandates regarding individual teams because the majority of main-stage games were single eliminations, much to the chagrin of everyone.

However, Dota Pit was ripe with indicators about which types of teams are likely to fare well. For teams lower on the totem pole, such as Digital Chaos, Team Faceless, and Virtus Pro, those whose victories sped up on average fared better in the brackets (EG, for example, averaged two minutes faster per game, and somewhat quicker still per win, since 7.00).

This mirrors the common wisdom that the current meta is highly push-and-fight oriented, geared more toward control than farm. This led to victories more often with a 7-10% net worth advantage, whereas Boston featured far more games end with less than 5% and greater than 10% net worth advantage for the winning team. Only two games saw a team that ever had a 5K net worth lead lose.

In short, Dota Pit has shown the benefit of consistently executing in the laning phase, so teams with notable laners (especially including EG, whose supports are arguably the world's best at securing lanes) should be in a good position. Teams like Secret and Faceless with less reliable lane-to-game transitions will be risky bets in the future, even though both seemed improved at this event and are likely to continue to do so.

With regards to hero pools, diversity was low at Dota Pit, but that's unlikely to remain the case at DAC (as teams become increasingly familiar with the new map and hero balances). More heroes went unplayed than in any recent event, a trend only partially accounted for by the fewer games.

Untouched Heroes (according to DOTABUFF)
Untouched Heroes (according to DOTABUFF)

Necrophos, Abaddon, Spectre, and Wraith King currently have the highest pub win rates, but no team picked or banned any during the Dota Pit LAN (at least according to DOTABUFF, which may have a few data gaps due to Dota Pit's, and the entire EU server region's, technical failures). In total, 29 eligible heroes went entirely untouched during the event, and that will certainly shift as teams have the next two months to adapt and adjust their hero preferences.

Keep a close eye on middling teams over the next several weeks. Those that experiment more with heroes (and have a sustained performance) are likely to rise in rank while those that remain with their current comfort picks, especially regarding supports, will probably struggle.

Diverse support players are key, especially with cores such as Ember Spirit and Lone Druid showing such efficacy: depending on the game, both of those heroes can scale for early damage and late-game sustained push, so drafting different supports could fundamentally alter a team's strategy with the same cores. The same can't be said for less popular farming cores such as Antimage.

theWonderCow

With years in esports publishing, broadcasting, and analysis, Gorgon's specialized focus on locking down trends in Dota has landed him as a featured writer for joinDOTA, the Score, Dotabuff, and more. You can reach him on twitter.com/theWonderCow.