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
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.