Last week I completed a big general sample of 10k/12k/12k games from the Normal, High, and Very High brackets. It’s still smaller and less random than I’d like it to be, but it’s still useful for some things, the most obvious of these being hero usage rates. Unsurprisingly, the trends are very similar to the ones I found back in 6.74, but it can’t hurt to rehash a bit.
Let’s go over the basics first. I define a hero’s usage rate as the percent of games that hero was played in my sample or (Hero Uses / Total Games). Because there are 10 heroes per game, the sum of all the usage rates in a given bracket is 1000%. If all 98 current heroes were played evenly, every hero would have a usage rate of ~10.2% or (1000/98).
I use some pretty basic linear regression to create a trend-line of each hero’s usage across the three skill brackets as defined in-game. To be honest it’s a bit of a lazy solution, but it’s a good enough way to distill what’s going on into a single, rankable number.
There’s two different measurements. The first is just a trend in pure percentage points. If a hero goes from 30% usage in Normal to 20% in High to 10% in Very High, the percentage point trend will be -10. Only one hero actually managed to hit double digits in this measurement; see if you can guess who it was.
But while this percentage point trend has its uses, it’s not great for measuring popularity shifts because a relatively small movement in the usage rate of an already popular character can completely drown out relatively larger increases in unpopular characters. For this I have a second trend that measures the percent increase in usage based off their least popular bracket. If a hero goes from 2% in Normal to 4% in High to 6% in Very High, this is a 100% trend. The same in reverse, 6% to 4% to 2% would be a -100% trend. The following tables have been sorted using this relative trend.
So let’s start off with the heroes whose popularity falls off the hardest the further you get in the skill bracket.
If you guessed Drow Ranger earlier you were correct. In terms of net percentage point change Drow was completely unmatched. She goes from appearing in over 1/3 of all Normal games to being in barely over 1/10 Very High games. Curiously though, nothing I’ve seen indicates that Drow is significantly less successful in Very High than she is in Normal.
One funny fact about the Percentage Points is that the largest shifts are almost exclusively in this top 10. The top end only features 4 characters with a shift larger than 4% and the highest positive shift is 6%. Another way of looking at this is suppose you have 100 games in Normal and Very High using my sample’s statistics. In the Normal games, these top 10 heroes would make up roughly 187 of the 1000 possible hero slots so that you’d expect to see two of these heroes in every game you play. In the Very High games their total slots would drop to 76, so you’d effectively see one less of these 10 heroes per game.
As for the relative shifts, it’s unsurprising that this list is mostly composed of characters with very simple aggression (minus the somewhat inexplicable Razor) and is very carry heavy. Under this sorting, the highest ‘support’ is Omniknight at 19. If we restrict ourselves to more traditional supports, it’s Lich at 25. Ogre Magi is at 33, and by that point the usage trends are nearly flat. This bottom 35 only includes a total of 5 intelligence heroes: Zeus, Death Prophet, Lich, Outworld Whatever, and Ogre Magi.
Going back to the top 10, they’re mostly not terrible picks for lower level play. Aside from the obvious Drow, Spirit Breaker, Zeus, and Viper are all actually pretty solid picks right now. Huskar and Sniper aren’t great, but what I’ve seen suggests that they do much better in lower level play than they tend to do in more skilled games. The really obvious sore thumb is Phantom Assassin who simply requires way more farm than the average player in this bracket is capable of delivering.
Now let’s move on to the positive end of the scale, the heroes whose usage surges in High and Very High play.
Look at that sea of blue. Unsurprisingly, this list is the total inverse of the last, loaded with intelligence heroes, difficult to use heroes, supports, and initiators. Rubick, Windrunner, Nature’s Prophet, and Invoker see the largest net change, but none of their shifts are even half of Drow’s.
Really there’s not a lot to say about this end of the list. I suppose some other interesting inclusions that didn’t quite make the top 15 are Clockwerk at 16, Tinker at 17, Nyx Assassin at 19, Storm Spirit at 20, and Gyrocopter at 25.
If there’s demand I can release some kind of a web version of the data set, but it’s kinda a pain to make and historically they haven’t been used all that much. We’ll be coming back to the sample over the next few weeks, including an upcoming post later this week that revisits the topic of the size of the Dota 2 skill brackets, which means we’ve finally come full circle in a way.
Also a long-time reader has created an Infographic if you’re the visual type.