Dota 2 Item Trends in 6.77

April 30, 2013

We’re going to take a break from the all the meta-hero analysis and switch our focus to item trends, particularly usage trends between Normal and Very High matchmaking.  And for those of you who are more visually oriented, we have a handy infographic from xdv

677 Items

First we have the items that see the largest usage increase in very high level play (leaving off the lower levels of upgrade items, i.e. Dagon 4, Necro 2).


The trends are pretty standard.  Ghost Scepter is, once again, one of the most underrated items in low level play.  Mobility items like Force Staff and Blink Dagger see a big surge in use.  CC items are also more popular, with only Orchid barely missing this list at 44.80% (and Abyssal Blade at 25.44% if we’re counting that).  Cheap health and restoration items are quite popular in the upper bracket with Magic Wand, Soul Ring, and Tranquil Boots all making the list.  Once again, Manta Style and BKB see by far the biggest surge of all the carry items.


On the other end of the spectrum, we once again have Sange and Yasha as the item that sees the biggest decrease in usage between Normal and Very High.  Vanguard’s top end popularity has decreased even more since 6.74, which is hardly surprising given popular opinion on Vanguard’s cost effectiveness.  Lifesteal items also place quite high, which is less of a criticism of lifesteal items in general and more of a reflection of how many normal level players will rush an early lifesteal item regardless of the game situation.  Power Treads is another example of an item normal players will build almost reflexively on any hero.  At higher levels of play, much of the Power Treads usage gets converted to either Tranquil Boots or Arcane Boots.

One potentially misleading inclusion is the Poor Man’s Shield.  On one hand this reflects a stronger tendency of teams in the higher brackets to protect their carries from harass.  On the other hand, part of this decrease is driven by players in the higher brackets having better farm and therefore being more likely to get to the point in the game where they sell off their cheaper items for more expensive items or inventory space for TP scrolls or Aegis.

I’ve done this item breakdown in both 6.74 and 6.77 samples which allows us to look at how the trends themselves have shifted over several patches.  The way I’ve decided to look at this is to just take the difference between the 6.77 and 6.74 trends.  It’s a bit crude, but it’s simple and quick.


What stands out to me here is that this list features many of the new item additions from 6.73, specifically Rod of Atos, Tranquil Boots, Heaven’s Halberd, and Abyssal Blade.  These items have gained a greater acceptance over the past few months as players have grown more accustomed to them.  Besides that, the two entries I find most curious in this list are Dagon5 and Diffusal2, and we’ll be getting back to those.

As for the bottom end, we have only 3 distinctly negative trends, so I’m not going to bother creating an image.  They are

Medallion of Courage with a -63.11% difference

Brown Boots with a -48.98% difference

Veil of Discord with a -44.03% difference

Brown Boots is likely due to the surge in Tranquil usage among VH players.  Veil of Discord is interesting in that unlike the 6.73 items it has never really reached a level of popular acceptance.  Medallion, well, we’ll get back to that as well.

A curious difference between 6.74 and 6.77 is that there are far less items with a negative popularity trend in 6.77.  A possible driver for this change is that average ending gold in the Normal bracket between 6.74 and 6.77  has decreased by ~600 while in the Very High the average ending gold has increased by ~500.  The cause for this is likely that the average match duration for Normal games is 4 minutes shorter in my 6.77 sample while the average duration in Very High remained relatively constant in both samples.

I mentioned earlier that both Dagon and Diffusal Blade have seen a somewhat bizarre surge in popularity in the 6.77 Very High bracket.  To see what’s going on here we have to look at individual hero usage.

In Very High 6.74, 4 heroes were responsible for 60% of Dagon5 use.  In 6.77 those same 4 heroes were responsible for 71%.  But within those 4 heroes, one went from being the carrier of 24.73% of all purchased Dagon5s in 6.74 to 45.88% in 6.77.  That hero?  Nyx Assassin.

A similar story plays out with the Diffusal Blade.  The ever popular Phantom Lancer was the carrier of 17.04% Diffusal2’s in 6.74 Very High.  In 6.77, he’s responsible for 50.35% of the Diffusal2 purchases.

I also mentioned that we’d be getting back to Medallion of Courage’s massively negative trend between 6.74 and 6.77.  Well Pop Quiz: what popular MoC user received a major nerf in 6.75?  As it turns out, this particular hero was responsible for 25.64% of the MoC purchases in 6.74 VH, and only 14.15% in 6.77.

So what I’m getting at here is that it’s important to keep in mind that underlying hero trends can have a major effect on item trends.  In the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at some other items on a more detailed, hero-by-hero basis.  In the meanwhile, here’s the raw data.


6.77 Google Drive Spreadsheet

6.74 Google Drive Spreadsheet

And Now Hints of Solo Queue?

April 26, 2013

Tharuler pops up again to point out some more interesting strings:

In a player profile:

  • optional uint32 solo_rank = 22;
  • optional uint32 solo_rank_uncertainty = 23;

New match mode: (next to team match, tutorial, co-op bot)


Seems to suggest that there’s an upcoming solo queue mode with a optional, privately viewable personal rank.  I’ve already said my thoughts on adding a solo queue, but the timing could serve as an interesting complement to the guild system.



Hints of an Upcoming Dota 2 Guild System

April 25, 2013

About a week ago, Tharuler from DotaBuff pointed out on reddit the inclusion of some curious network messages in the recent test client patch.  Here is the list of messages:

  • k_EMsgGCGuildCreateRequest
  • k_EMsgGCGuildCreateResponse
  • k_EMsgGCGuildSetAccountRoleRequest
  • k_EMsgGCGuildSetAccountRoleResponse
  • k_EMsgGCRequestGuildData
  • k_EMsgGCGuildData
  • k_EMsgGCGuildInviteAccountRequest
  • k_EMsgGCGuildInviteAccountResponse
  • k_EMsgGCGuildCancelInviteRequest
  • k_EMsgGCGuildCancelInviteResponse

This suggests that Valve is working on some kind of guild system, though no one has a clear idea of what that might entail.  A common suggestion is that this is laying out the groundwork for client-supported inhouse leagues.  I’m skeptical of this answer for two reasons.

First, inhouse leagues will require a lot of support, and I’m not convinced that they are a top priority right now.  That’s not to say they aren’t important, but I suspect there are a lot of equally important features competing for the same kinda of attention and that these other features require much less work to get up and functional.

Secondly, calling inhouse leagues a guild seems like a very curious use of language.  I suppose it could be intentional misdirection of some sort, but barring that I feel that it’s more likely that these guilds will be something social and cooperative along the lines of what guilds have come to mean in the gaming lexicon.

I expect that the guild system, if it does go through, will allow players to create a social environment from which they can more easily form premade groups, something along the lines of a gaming clan.  The use of guild instead of clan would be interesting in this case.  Perhaps it’s intended to make the game more inviting to MMO converts, or maybe it’s just to avoid the mental associations we have with the word “clan” in the U.S.

In any case, one of the problems with Dota 2’s current Team Matchmaking system is that joining a team feels like a tremendous commitment.  On the receiving end, if you accept and then cannot show up regularly the team simply cannot play without you.  On the sending end, you’re worried that every potential invite might go to someone who won’t fit the team or who will flake out.

A more informal social system bypasses these problems.  There’s no real commitment (or at least a much less significant commitment) to inviting someone to a network, and there’s virtually no commitment to accepting an invite.  All either party is saying is that it might be cool to play with each other at some later date.  Then, once you have a significantly populated network you can look through the list of people who are online and interested in finding a match and you can much more easily form 5-man groups based off this knowledge, and unlike TMM, the composition of this 5-man group can be completely different based entirely on who happens to be available that night.

Presumably this system would feed into Normal queue.  This might counter-intuitively alleviate some of the solo queue issues by making 5-man groups common enough that they can more easily be matched with each other in a short amount of time.  It could also convince more 4-man groups to take the extra step to find that fifth, which might help cut down on the 4+1 environments that seem to create so many complaints.

One other minor benefit that might not be immediately obvious is that a system like this allows you to make associations in-game without having to actually declare anyone a Steam friend.  That could be seen as a significant improvement for those players who want to keep their in-game friends associations separate from their out-of-game friends list.

But in any case, this is all speculation and we’ll just have to see what, if anything, comes out of this.

Fresh Meat in the Ecosystem

April 20, 2013


We sometimes overestimate the importance of counterpicking, but it’s probably safe to say that Pugna is a pretty strong counter to Skywrath Mage.  That’s a 44%->48% win rate jump in the past two days since Skywrath has been released, driven largely by what is either a 56% or 57% win rate for Pugna in games against the Mage.  Things will probably normalize once Skywrath’s usage rate falls to a more reasonable level (Dotabuff has him in 50% of games this Saturday), but it’s still an interesting object lesson on how win rates can be influenced by environmental factors rather than being a strict measurement of the hero’s viability.

Hero Farm Dependency

April 16, 2013

Sorry for the deadspace there.  Went down for over a week with flu-like symptoms.  It’s also why my personal contacts have gone so long without responses, so if you messaged me in the past two weeks, rest assured I’m not ignoring you.

Anyway, here’s the chart for the day.


This is a recreation of a test I did several months ago with 6.74 data.  There are some adjustments I’m considering for the future, but for now it’s a straight replication because I wanted to see how it would behave across two different samples.

1. How the Test Works

The basic idea of the test is to try to determine which heroes see the biggest win rate increases through getting more farm.  To accomplish this I one-by-one take each hero’s games and sort them by the ending CS/min.  I create five groups representing 20% slices of the hero’s performances, and I find the win percentage of each slice.  I then express each slice by the difference between its win percentage and the hero’s base win percentage in the sample.  For example, Chen’s results for this test were

51.50% -21.42% -11.78% 3.56% 8.22% 21.65%

This means that his overall win rate was 51.5%, his bottom 20% win rate was 30.08% (51.5 – 21.42), and his top 20% win rate was 73.15% (51.5 + 21.65).

Every hero follows this kind of pattern where the better CS performances have a better win rate.  It’s very likely that the underlying causation works in both directions.  That is to say that having a higher CS can put you in a winning position just as much as being in a winning position makes it easier to get a higher CS.  However, the assumption I’m making is that the latter effect is much less hero dependent than the former, so that if we examine the strengths of the pattern on every hero the heroes with the highest discrepancies between the worst and best CS performances are likely the heroes who are most dependent upon farm in order to have a good game.  In other words, it’s a measurement of “carry-ness,” which should be considered quite distinct from semi-carries who tend to be more dependent upon exp advantages.

Why use CS/min instead of the easily available GPM?  My belief is that CS/min is a better pure measurement for gold dependency.  If you have a hero that regularly has games with low CS, their best GPM performances will be the ones where they got the most kill bounty.  But in these cases they would be winning because they terrorized their opponents into submission, and the high GPM was just an incidental residue from their early K/D/A prowess.  There’s also the consideration that the GPM of the winning team is inflated by the building gold they accumulate prior to the destruction of the ancient, and that the value of these building kills in GPM is very much dependent on the duration of the game.

It should be mentioned that CS/min isn’t perfect.  It could be that certain are better at sweeping up CS at the end of winning games which inflates their results.  That being said, two examples of heroes that might be well positioned to inflate their CS totals are Luna and Gyrocopter, but the two also end up on completely different ends of the CS dependency spectrum for traditional carries, so perhaps this effect isn’t as pervasive as some might fear.

Finally, I’ve decided in making this chart that I would use Very High data exclusively.  It’s my opinion that Very High play is the closest to the true potential of a given hero, and that the results from the lower bracket more often represent the idiosyncrasies of that level of play.  I did collect lower skill level data and will talk a bit about the interesting patterns.  I’ll also include links to the data at the bottom of the post.

2. Basic Analysis

The way I interpret the results, the top 40 spots are almost entirely what I would consider carries.  Carries are almost exclusively heroes with kits built around getting significant right-click scaling.  The only exception is Doombringer 19, whose continued presence in the top 20 admittedly confounds me.

At the very top end we have heroes like Anti-Mage at 1 and Faceless Void at 2 who are the traditional hard carries.  As we move down we move into heroes who are still carry threats but often ones with weaker scaling and a stronger early game.  Juggernaut at 23 is a classic example.  These heroes are still very much farm dependent, but they often have certain strong abilities that can turn a game even when their farm to that point has been less than impressive.  A team built around Juggernaut is certainly valid, but they will want to push for an earlier victory if up against an Anti-Mage team.

One interesting point is the presence of Huskar at 4.  I feel it’s a mistake to classify Huskar as a ganker.  This is something that works at lower levels of play where people position poorly and don’t understand the strength of his passive, but for Huskar to win consistently against higher caliber competition he really needs to farm in the early game to have the survivability to withstand enemy focus fire and the damage to be a threat even without his passive ramped up.

While I still classify the 30s as carries, the benefit from farm is much weaker here.  I feel that it’s often a mistake to build a 4 protect 1 team around these heroes unless you have a specific plan for early game dominance.  Chaos Knight at 37 is an example of a hero who could work as a 1 in a team built around fighting early and often, but for heroes like Gyrocopter at 35 and Naga Siren at 36, they often benefit heavily from being the secondary carry in a two carry lineup.

It should be noted that the top end is mostly agility heroes (hopefully I didn’t miscolor a hero, but I’m sure I will eventually).  In fact, there are only 6 agility heroes outside of the top 40: Razor(46), Bounty Hunter(49), Mirana(52), and surprisingly Venomancer(53) come in as being relatively farm dependent but not true carry threats.  Vengeful Spirit (71) and Nyx Assassin (90) are the only agility heroes I would classify as being not farm dependent at all.

By contrast, only two intelligence heroes qualify as outright carries: Storm Spirit at 24 and Outworld Devourer at 26.  Both heroes have fairly unique forms of right click scaling.  Storm Spirit can convert excess mana regen into Overload procs through short zips with his ult.  Outworld converts intelligence into damage directly through the mana scaling on his orb and through the damage multiplier on his ult.  Interestingly, neither qualifies as a hard carry, likely in a large part because of how much of their damage you can ignore through intelligent BKB use.  Also noteworthy is the absence of Silencer, who possesses an orb similar to Outworld’s.

40 through ~60 represents heroes that usually qualify as item dependent semi-carries, though the sorting is much more nebulous at this point.  It features a lot of popular intelligence semi-carries with strong right click potential such as Queen of Pain(42), Nature’s Prophet(44), Invoker(48) and Silencer(58).  It also includes some of the more item dependent int semi-carries like Necrolyte(45), Death Prophet(50), Leshrac(56), and Tinker(57).

One hero with interestingly low scores once again is Slardar at 59.  Valve lists him as a carry and I’m increasingly of the opinion that this is an egregious mislabeling.  He appears to only have a mild farm dependency, and really has more in common with Centaur Warrunner in role and Bounty Hunter via similar ults.  Slardar should be seen more as an initiator and damage amp than an actual carry.

There are many strong semicarries who fall into the bottom 40 or so spots, like Zeus at 72, Magnus at 81, and Nyx Assassin at 90.  One of the big things to take from this is to not think of yourself as a farm priority even if you happen to be solo mid.  The lower your hero is on this list, the more you need to prioritize ganking, and the less you should prioritize your own personal item build.  Certainly farm long enough to get the levels you need, make sure to build your essential items (Blink + Mana source on Magnus), and have a plan for making the most impact from the gold that you do acquire.  But still keep in mind that your ability to win the game hinges on your ability use and not your items.  If you’re playing Nyx Assassin and it’s 15 minutes in, consider buying a bunch of wards to take the load off of your supports.  Chances are, getting an earlier Mek on your Visage(64) will do more for your team’s chances of victory than upgrading your Dagon ASAP.

One last fact of note.  In every single skill bracket in both samples, the lowest farm dependency has always been Keeper of the Light.  I personally believe this to be driven by KotL being one of the easiest supports to wrack up a significant amount of CS using Illuminate.  What you should take from this is that it’s very likely that KotL can hinder his team by using Illuminate to take farm from higher priority teammates.

3.  The New Additions

8 new heroes have been added since my first test, and there were a couple e-mails wondering where they fell.  For the most part the results are unsurprising.

Medusa at 9 and Meepo at 11 definitely fall in the hard carry range.  Troll Warlord is a tad softer at 16, and can probably be considered comparable to post-6.74 Ursa who falls in at 18.

Slark comes in at 31.  I consider his farm profile pretty similar to Riki at 34.

Timbersaw at 41 puts him among the most gold dependent of the heroes with no significant right click scaling.  Unsurprising for a hero so dependent upon fixing his mana problems.

Centaur Warrunner comes in at 51.  This puts him in pretty similar company to other strength heroes like Spiritbreaker(47), Beastmaster(55), and Slardar(59).

Tusk at 63 I feel is most similar to Brewmaster one spot earlier at 62.  Other similar strength heroes are Pudge and Axe at 65 and 66 respectively.

Finally, we have Magnus at 81, which is surprisingly low.  My suspicion is that Magnus’ success hinges far more around proper ability use than it does his personal farm.  There’s probably a significant number of people who play him and can last hit well enough with an early Bottle and Shockwave but do not use Reverse Polarity and Impale well enough to convert that farm into victories.  Conversely, a good Magnus with just a Blink Dagger and some cheap mana is a huge initiation threat regardless of whether he gets any more CS in the game.

4. Changes from 6.74

The changes were actually relatively subdued, which I guess speaks well for the consistency of the system.  Ursa sees a small spike, which reflects perhaps a greater dependency on buying mobility now that Overpower has a significant cast time.  Alchemist actually sees one of the largest spikes.  Not terribly surprising given his significant improvements since 6.74.  Another example of recent buffs reflected in farm dependency is Clockwerk, though his improvements were much more modest than Alchemist due to Alchemist being a relatively hard carry.  Interestingly, the effect did not work in reverse for Morphling who maintained a similar farm profile despite the post-TI2 gutting.  Sven also saw a rather significant boost in ranking, moving up 27 spots.  Spiritbreaker saw one of the most significant declines in farm dependency, which actually drives home the point that being farm dependent is a double-edged sword.  Spiritbreakers recent patch changes made him less effective as a carry, but in exchange he received a significantly improved early game.  The net effect has been a huge boost to his public win rate because he’s much more capable now of winning games before farm even becomes a factor.

Overall though, it’s difficult to say much here with any degree of certainty.  The 6.74 sample is much smaller, so it’s also noisier.  I feel more confident in the fidelity of the 6.77b sample, but it’s not clearcut whether the differences between the two samples are due to performance shifts or just sample noise from the smaller sample.

5. Changes between skill levels

Some of the Normal results in particular are rather bizarre.  I don’t think they’re a valid representation of hero capabilities, but separately they are an interesting look into the behavior shifts that occur as you move through the brackets.

For starters, farm dependency is much weaker in Normal.  This shouldn’t be surprising because CS/min is significantly lower in the lowest bracket, but it’s worth noting.

On one end of the spectrum, we have Broodmother.  In Very High and High her farm dependency ranking is 27 and 39 respectively.  In Normal, it jumps to an astounding 91.  Despite this, her win rate does not actually fluctuate much between the brackets.   This exact pattern is repeated in the 6.74 sample, so it doesn’t appear to be a fluke.

Necrolyte is an equally interesting case, and one that’s much easier to explain.  Is Necrolyte an effective support?  The answer appears to depend on the skill level you’re playing at.  Necrolyte’s Very High farm dependency is ranked 45; in Normal, it is ranked 84.  This is despite the fact that Necrolyte’s overall win rate in Normal is the 2nd highest in the sample.  My belief is that Necrolyte has an extremely effective kit against lower level players.  On top of this, he’s a high priority target that needs to be focused down early.  In lower level games this doesn’t happen, so farming up tanky items like a Mek or a Shiva’s isn’t really all that necessary.  Stronger teams will put you through a much more intense survivability check in teamfights, and consequentially Necrolyte’s farm dependency shoots up in higher level games.  That being said, he’s still not a true carry, so when someone asks whether he’s a support or a carry, the answer is simply “no.”

Tinker follows a similar pattern to Necrolyte for what appears to be very different reasons.  My suspicion is that Tinker is only farm dependent if you know how to use Rearm effectively.  Lower level Tinker players simply do not, and as a result his Normal farm dependency is 97, second only to KotL in his eternal 98th spot.

Finally we have Enigma, who goes from 92 -> 54.  What happens here is, I think, somewhat similar to Tinker.  Enigma’s farm exists to enable Black Hole, and if you can’t hit your Black Holes, none of the farm in the world will do you any good.  At the same time, Enigma has one of the most superficially productive jungles, so Normal players are tempted to waste way too much time using Eidolons to farm instead of ganking or pushing.

Meanwhile, 3 interesting cases on the other end of the spectrum.

Bounty Hunter goes from 49 in Very High to 18 in Normal.  To some extent I feel that extremely high Normal farm dependency performances are to some extent a competency check.  Normal teams will not regularly shut down Bounty Hunter’s farm in lane, and the successful Bounty Hunter’s will be the ones capable of taking advantage of that, even if his actual carry scaling is relatively weak.

Templar Assassin is another striking example of this phenomena.  Her Very High farm dependency comes in at 30, but in High it shoots up to 13 and Normal to 7.  She doesn’t have especially high power growth, but she is definitely dependent upon momentum and nearly worthless if not given an early farm priority.  Her inflated farm dependency in High and Normal simply reflects an incredibly high failure rate in games where teams use her incorrectly.

This effect gets repeated in a lot of middling carries, but one particularly telling example is Bloodseeker.  Let’s first point out that Bloodseeker actually has a rather high farm dependency in Very High at 17.  He often gets compared (unfavorably) to Nightstalker(39), but I think that this is a mistake.  Despite their superficial similarities, Bloodseeker appears to be the much stronger carry of the two, which is both a blessing and a curse.

But while a ranking of 17 is relatively high, Bloodseeker’s rank in High and Normal is 3 and 2 respectively.  Again, what I feel is happening here is a competence check.  Bloodseeker’s early strength is his ability to heal himself off last hits.  Last-hitting is not an especially developed skill in these brackets, so being able to last hit at all becomes an important check to whether or not Bloodseeker will have a strong early game.  Interestingly, Necrolyte has a similar mechanic in Sadist, but his farm dependency skyrockets in the other direction.  I believe it’s safe to say that Bloodseeker is much more dependent on Blood Bath than Necrolyte is on Sadist.

6. Links

All the data for the 6.77b sample can be found here:

It’s a bit outdated, but if you want to look at the 6.74 data you can go here:

The Heroes With the Greatest Improvement in High Skill Games

April 1, 2013

An ugly mish-mash of words that title, but it gets the job done.  Today we’re looking at the heroes whose win rates improve as we move into higher level games, and we’ll be using our fresh sample of roughly 33k/39k/39k games collected over the period of January through March up until the 6.77c patch.

First, a word of warning.  This sample size is the largest yet, but it’s still not perfect.  Some heroes are very underrepresented, such as Chen in Normal only having 927 games.  Win rates also tend to cluster around 50%, so a percentage point of error is far more significant here than it is in usage rates.  So keep in mind that things are still quite fuzzy.  We can be fairly certain of the largest trends, but the smaller trends may just be noise and the precise rankings are not set in stone.

With that in mind, let’s move to the table:


(The slope is just a representation of the relative strength of the increase in win percentage, and Wisp could have just as easily been 5.51 or .055.)

The big mover should be no surprise to anyone.  Wisp (or Io, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to fix all my name references every time Valve changes a hero name) is possibly the most potent hero in the game for turning a small coordination advantage into a win.  Wisp is simultaneously one of the most difficult heroes to play for those in the Normal bracket.  To drive the point home, I suspect Chaos Knight at #11 and Tiny at #16 made the list solely on the basis of being tether buddies for Wisp stomps.

The biggest repeat category on the list are the timing dependent carries, which would include Clinkz at #3, Storm Spirit at #6, and Anti-Mage at #7.  Clinkz is the clearest example as he’s quite simply dependent on farming a quick Orchid so he can dominate the game before his power curve falls off, and  I feel Storm Spirit behaves similarly.   Normal players simply are incapable of pulling this off regularly, and most would lack the sense of aggression necessary to use the Orchid properly even if they could farm it.  Given the level of play in Normal, I suspect that anyone capable of playing Clinkz correctly will soon find themselves no longer playing in Normal games.

Anti-Mage is a somewhat different case, but again, he needs good early farm to get a quick Battlefury and/or Manta Style.  Normal players cannot typically hit this level of farm, and Normal teams are incapable of working together to provide him the space his weak early laning demands.

Chen at #2 and Visage at #5 are simply two rather strong heroes that go unnoticed because of their micromanagement requirements.  Chen is also very dependent upon early pushing, which lower skill teams will typically fail to capitalize on.  I would say that an aspiring support specialist might want to consider practicing Visage, as there’s a good chance he’s very underrated right now.

Nyx Assassin at #4 is interesting in that he is one of only two heroes in the top 10 with over a 50% win rate in Normal.  Like many of the other heroes on this list, he thrives in a more aggressive playstyle than most Normal players are capable of fulfilling, but it’s a testament to his current state that even in the passive land of Normal his win rate is above 54%.  To be honest, I suspect 6.77c wasn’t the end of his patch note presence.

Zeus at #9 is a surprise for me.  I honestly expected his win rate to fall off in higher skill games, and so far it appears that it does not.  Perhaps I am underestimating him.

Shadow Demon (#8), Bane (#10), Pugna (#13), and Rubick (#17) are most likely on this list for having strong but unintuitive kit elements.  Disruption, for example, is a skill that I suspect many Normal players can’t quite wrap their heads around.  Another example is that to use Rubick’s Spell Steal effectively you need to have a fairly good knowledge of every heroes’ spells.  Magnus (#12) also likely belongs here due to how badly people screw up the mechanics of Skewer and Reverse Polarity.

Finally we have Clockwerk (#14), Bounty Hunter (#15), and Queen of Pain (#18).  To play these characters effectively you need to have the map sense to be constantly on the lookout for opportunities for aggression.  You also need a good idea of what kind of solo pickoffs you can mathematically get away with, particularly for Queen of Pain.  They can be reasonably effective heroes in passive games, but they all shine if the player behind them knows precisely what they can and cannot get away with.

I will say that as my slope measurement approaches 100 I feel less confident that the trends are significant.  It’s nonetheless curious to me that Shadow Shaman made the list at #19.  He seems to fallen out of favor with the Western scene, but Chinese teams did favor him a lot during TI2.  Is he still used often in Chinese and SEA tournaments?

I’m not going to comment too much on the bottom 20 heroes.  For one, the bottom trends are just weaker.  Besides that, a lot of what you see in the bottom trends is that heroes that win their lanes through attrition (Kunkka, Silencer, Necrolyte, Viper, etc) tend to outperform in Normal games.  No surprise here, and it’s also not terribly informative.

I will point out that Meepo’s status as worst improvement in high skill games is likely just a result of Normal teams being less coordinated in punishing a Meepo pick through aggressive laning and focus fire.  The only other observations I have is that Sniper and Phantom Assassin’s low positions speak poorly of their viability as carries, and it’s interesting that Centaur Warrunner sees a 56.5 -> 54.5 ->52.5 decline.  This would suggest to me that he might be appropriately tuned for an inclusion to Captain’s Mode soon.

If you’d like to see what I’m talking about here, click here for the complete data from the 6.77 sample.  Win rate trends are on the third tab and are sorted by my slope measurement (which I didn’t include (because I am lazy)).