The Virtue of Not Knowing

Came back to my computer at 5 AM Sunday morning to an absolute deluge of messages, comments, and e-mails.  Redditor ThirstyCows had discovered a bug in 6.81 that was causing Pudge’s Rot to do a incorrect amount of damage.  As of yesterday, the bug was fixed and the results were immediate:

So with that out of the way, I’d like to address the idea that fact that some people appear to have missed the point of the post where I examined this Pudge shift days before the bug was discoveredThe suggestion is that I spent a lot of words trying to figure out the ‘why’ behind Pudge’s sudden win surge and then had to admit that I didn’t know, when the real goal of that article was to prove that we didn’t know.

The fact that I didn’t know the answer was never in question.  I was upfront about this a mere 24 hours after the patch dropped in my 6.81 First Look.  Pudge had one of the largest win rate increases.  I had no clue why it was happening, but I was sure that it was a big deal.

What I then ran into were comment sections full of explanations that hinged on this-or-that meta shift.  I decided to go through a couple of these and look at them in detail, and I found them overall to be wanting.  At a first glance they were neat and plausible, but, as we now know, they were wrong.

And far be it from me to criticize someone for attempting to come up with an explanation about Dota, but the problem is that too often we use “it’s the meta” like it’s this omniscient being that directs the course of Dota in a way far beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals.  Being able to explain any change with “the meta” helps us feel like we know everything we need to know about this game that we know far less about than we pretend to.  This might actually be a necessary coping strategy sometimes for life in general, it’s pretty terrible in an environment where you’re trying to gain a competitive edge.

Dota does change constantly but in very much knowable ways, and to be able to keep up you need to be willing to throw away things that you thought you knew.  Like Wraith King.  A year ago people would constantly tell you that he’s a terrible competitive hero that will never see the light of day.  Now he’s the 11th most picked hero in 6.81.  With enough power boosts any kit can be competitive, and the wonderful thing about pub play is that it’s so big and random that any large win rate change almost has to correspond to a shift in raw power.  There are, of course, exceptions, but they’re almost never sustainable.  When a hero, any hero, sees big changes, it’s time to reevaluate their viability, and pub win rates give us a useful (if incomplete) idea of which changes are big.


And to close on a completely different note, with the TI qualifiers going on I have a couple of short articles out about the biggest hero stories so far:

TI4 AM Quals: A Wild Mirana Appears (Everywhere)

TI4 SEA: Into Forest Shade


8 Responses to The Virtue of Not Knowing

  1. dellis23 says:

    Dude, don’t let them get to you. It takes a lot of maturity to be able to admit when you simply don’t know something, and I really enjoyed your analysis of the various angles in that article.

    Let’s be honest: this community is toxic. It’s full of individuals full of puffery intended to put others for the sake of lifting themselves up. Keep up the good work.

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s not a big deal what people think about me. It’s much more frustrating how often conventional wisdom goes unopposed.

      • PhocsM says:

        From now on you should add a point in these cases taking in account a possible bug like the case of abaddon and its ultimate agh’s upgrade, just to keep it covered ;)

      • phantasmal says:

        I’m hesitant to speculate about the existence of bugs because I don’t want to create rumors about bugs that don’t exist. This may or may not be a silly fear; I haven’t decided yet.

  2. I have two hats so I can lend you one if you need it says:


  3. Thanks for linking to your Liquid articles. They don’t have an RSS feed, so it’s harder to follow.

    • phantasmal says:

      Yeah sorry, I kinda forgot about them until today. If it’s less than 2k words it’s not a real article, right?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: