Hero Usage and Win Rates in the Three Skill Brackets

One of the first big things I hoped to accomplish with the API was use it to examine how hero usage changes at different skill levels. Dotabuff.com has done an extremely good job establishing usage and win rates in the aggregate, but unlike the API, their match collection methodology is incapable of filtering by skill level.

While the API was still working, I grabbed three samples of 10,000 games from each of the three skill brackets. They’re smaller than I would like them to be, but they’re mostly workable samples. The High and Very High samples are collected from various times over a period of about a week. The Normal sample, unfortunately, spans a period of about two months due to a API bug that I had to work around towards the end of its lifespan. Because of this and the fact that the Normal bracket is by far the largest (making my 10,000 Normal sample the least representative) I prefer to use the 3-day stats from Dotabuff’s predecessor as a Normal estimate whenever possible.

The results of this project can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoNi7mtSTYNzdFdyUUJ3X1ppQ3VxVFhVVXc3WEp2Z1E

It’s still fairly basic, and I hope to have an improved version ready for when the API gets fixed and I can expand my samples. This is purely 6.74 data.
To do your own sorting you must save a local copy. It’s a little inconvenient unfortunately, but I don’t know of a better way to handle it at the moment.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the sample size is not as large as it ought to be. For usage rates, the error level is relatively acceptable, but the small sample size can wreak havoc on the accuracy of the win rates. Take any extreme result in win rates with a grain of salt.

Now that that’s out of the way, onto some of the interesting trends.

Comparing the Dotabuff usage rates to the Very High usage rates we have these heroes seeing the biggest increase:

15.59% Rubick
14.84% Windrunner
14.18% Nature’s Prophet
13.29% Invoker
7.64% Leshrac
7.59% Queen of Pain
7.32% Shadow Demon
7.18% Mirana
7.04% Enigma
5.12% Ancient Apparition
4.86% Sand King
4.74% Storm Spirit
4.60% Crystal Maiden
4.58% Morphling
4.48% Dark Seer
4.21% Disruptor
3.55% Wisp
3.46% Chen
3.38% Tinker
3.11% Venomancer
2.74% Puck
2.25% Lone Druid
2.12% Earthshaker

There are two big trends I see from this.

1. Very High games are much more likely to pick dedicated suicide laners. Windrunner, Queen of Pain, Mirana, Dark Seer, and Puck are all quite capable in the suicide lane, and even Nature’s Prophet, Enigma, and Lone Druid can have some success there.
2. There is much more of an emphasis on farm independent heroes. The only truly gold dependent heroes in the list are Morphling, Storm Spirit, and Lone Druid, all of whom have significant skill checks that might scare away players in the Normal bracket.

On the other end of things:

-11.86% Riki
-10.65% Drow Ranger
-8.94% Huskar
-8.18% Bloodseeker
-8.10% Phantom Assassin
-7.93% Sniper
-6.76% Ursa
-6.01% Skeleton King
-5.80% Viper
-5.54% Spiritbreaker
-4.66% Bounty Hunter
-4.19% Zeus
-3.94% Dragon Knight
-3.84% Axe
-3.78% Night Stalker
-3.78% Nyx Assassin
-3.70% Keeper of the Light
-3.38% Faceless Void
-3.07% Omniknight
-2.96% Sven
-2.82% Juggernaut
-2.82% Phantom Lancer
-2.82% Death Prophet
-2.67% Doom Bringer
-2.66% Slardar
-2.62% Luna
-2.44% Clinkz
-2.23% Razor
-2.20% Spectre

What’s noteworthy here is how so much of the usage decline is monopolized by carries. Only Zeus, Axe, Nightstalker, Nyx, Keeper, Omniknight, and Death Prophet stand out as being relatively gold independent, or closer to what is commonly referred to as semi-carries.

Moving on to win rates increases:

7.46% Chen
6.51% Pugna
5.89% Templar Assassin
5.31% Batrider
5.13% Phantom Lancer
5.01% Clinkz
4.34% Wisp
4.16% Bounty Hunter
4.04% Visage
3.68% Enigma
3.41% Storm Spirit
2.99% Faceless Void
2.90% Morphling
2.28% Beastmaster
2.04% Invoker
2.01% Ancient Apparition

Win rate increases are tied most strongly to characters with a high skill cap or that require successful early aggression. Chen and Visage are obviously quite micro intensive. Invoker needs no explanation. Enigma, Faceless Void, and Ancient Apparition are all dependent on hitting big ults to pull their weight. Wisp requires a hell of a lot of team coordination to play to the best of its abilities. Templar Assassin, Batrider, Clinkz, Bounty Hunter, Storm Spirit, and Beastmaster are all dependent on using their kits for successful early and mid-game aggression. Morphling and Pugna are both relatively complicated characters to play successfully. Phantom Lancer is the one oddity on this list.

On the losing end:

-7.60% Treant Protector
-6.32% Outworld Destroyer
-4.86% Drow Ranger
-4.86% Skeleton King
-4.38% Axe
-4.36% Undying
-4.18% Sniper
-4.02% Jakiro
-4.01% Dark Seer
-3.83% Death Prophet
-3.45% Crystal Maiden
-3.39% Keeper of the Light
-3.27% Omniknight
-3.08% Earthshaker
-3.04% Disruptor
-3.03% Gyrocopter
-3.02% Silencer

This is a little less clearcut, and the perils of the small sample size might play into here. Treant Protector being the biggest loser is something I plan to expand upon in a future post. Aside from that, I’ll simply leave this category to your interpretation.

2 Responses to Hero Usage and Win Rates in the Three Skill Brackets

  1. xdv says:

    On a hunch game duration will be driving the hero choices. From observation normal skill games are slower, teams are reluctant to group up and push. Do you have data on average game duration by bracket? The heroes with higher pick % are those with better teamfight and push abilities.

    This is also reflected in the list of heroes with lower pick % who are mostly single target dps heroes which do not have much teamfight contribution and can be shutdown / kited.

    You would have to compensate for games with abandons – there will be more abandoned games at normal skill and this will skew game duration downwards.

    • phantasmal says:

      I do actually have average game duration by bracket, along with some other match stats, and I hope to have a post together shortly on them. I just have to mess around with my outputs to get some visuals together that are blog friendly. Also, in creating these stats I’ve controlled for early abandons by tossing out games with durations shorter than 15 minutes.

      But yes, once you do that there is a pronounced trend towards shorter games as you move up the brackets. Players in the Very High bracket are much better about ganking and pushing aggressively in the early game, and a lot of the usage trends reflect this shift towards stronger early game heroes. Players in the normal bracket are much more content to just outfarm their opponents and win through stronger right click. You see this attitude a lot when people complain about how they just need to instant lock hard carries to win consistently, when any cursory look at win rates would show you that hard carries rarely trend much higher than 51%.

      Teamfight heroes are actually a bit trickier. Enigma, Sand King, and Tidehunter are both popular and successful in the Very High bracket, but heroes like Omniknight, Death Prophet, and Treant Protector fall off significantly. In the case of Omniknight and Death Prophet, I think their ults are much more susceptible to bait-and-wait strategies than something like Ravage or Black Hole. Treant though might be a more interesting story given his 6.75 changes and accompanied fall from the top of the win percentage chart to the just above Meepo bottom.

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