The Major starts very soon and we feel like a discussion on it is in order. We are not going to try and rank the teams, though, as it seems like an exercise in futility: a lot has changed since the International and smaller multi-regional tournaments are rarely indicative of the actual power levels of the teams. Instead, we would love to speculate on how the best professional esports teams in the world might try to develop and experiment with a very old meta.
This is a number one priority for most teams right now. The hero is single handedly making first-pick choice in Captains Mode a viable option after a coin toss. She is a reliable, flash-farming hero with insane scaling and strong midgame.
She is still a glass cannon and there are two main ways to deal with this type of hero: you either blow it up yourself or you make sure that she doesn’t get to blow up your team. There are several somewhat underexplored or forgotten heroes that should theoretically do wonders in that regard.
There is Templar Assassin, who was Lina before Lina became what she is right now. Strong flash-farming hero with high burst physical damage, decent survivability and manageable laning stage make TA a very appealing option. Most importantly, she can delete other enemy heroes just as fast as Lina can. Having limited range makes engineering favorable engagements a bit harder, but TA peak power is very much comparable to Lina.
Winter Wyvern is another interesting counter to Lina. Winter’s Curse is amazing as long as Lina is one of the characters caught in it. She can delete her teammates if she was caught without her spell immunity and she can also be set up on quite easily after this long duration disable. Cold Embrace might look like it isn’t that great of a save against magical damage and Gleipnir magical procs, but when maxed out and with talents it can be a devastating turn-around play on its own.
Another hero that is gaining a lot of momentum is Brewmaster. It is a hero that Lina will have to use BKB against in every single fight, since she doesn’t want to spend the fight Cycloned. It is also a hero that doesn’t get bursted down by Lina easily: the real Brewmaster has a couple of really strong stances with his new passive, while split Brewmaster can be too chaotic for an entirely single-target focused Lina. All in all we feel like a well-played Brewmaster should be a very good argument against the de facto strongest hero in the meta, as long as he is played by a specialist player.
Between these potential three slightly forgotten heroes and pretty in meta Pangolier and Treant Protector, Lima Major might not be a Lina Major after all. At the very least we expect a decent enough variety to satiate our spectator needs.
Lina is the biggest hero threat in the game right now, but the best item in the current meta is decidedly less aggressive. Guardian Greaves is a very strong burst heal item, a good self-dispel item and is one of the most ridiculously powerful auras in the game. It is so strong, a lot of teams are starting to draft with a Greaves Builder in mind and we feel like this trend will only continue.
One of the most forgotten and ignored heroes who is an exceptional Greaves builder is Dark Seer. The hero was hit really hard with the Shard and Scepter swap: no longer having early and cheap access to Normal Punch is very punishing. On top of it, not a whole lot of conventional Agility right-clickers are in the meta. For the most part it is either non-Agi carries like Lina or Agi-carries that rely on their passives, rather than stats, to deal damage. You don’t really get a good Replica from Ursa or Slark.
With that in mind, we fully expect Dark Seer to become a good situational surprise pick for when teams inevitably try to experiment with heroes like Luna or Medusa. He is also more than decent against somewhat in-meta Terrorblade and Morphling and as a second phase closer he can be one of the more devastating offlaners in a non-trivial amount of games.
For similar reasons we think that Tidehunter’s stock should also rise. He is not necessarily forgotten, but the hero certainly feels undervalued. While his ultimate is very restrictive cooldown-wise, the amount of work it can do is massive. It scales well with the Refresher Orb, can be bolstered quite nicely with Arcane Blink and there is also Shard if you want to fight more frequently. Hopefully players will also stop wasting money on an early Aghanim’s Scepter, which is very likely considering how good Guardian Greaves are on the hero.
Every time there are talks about meta being “figured out” there is a tournament or at least a couple of teams that prove this statement wrong. We feel like Lima Major might be a lot more exciting and diverse than people assume: the Dota meta, even when it starts revolving around a small, core roster of heroes, is still a very flexible thing.
The characters are exceptionally different, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses and each of them probably has a game where he gets to shine. We presented some surface-level considerations and adaptations for what is considered the “current meta” and are ready to be surprised even more by what the best players in the game can come up with.
What are your thoughts on potential meta developments during the Lima Major? Share them in the comment section below.