This list is based on games played during the month of July. On each tier, there are a few remarks on the heroes that joined and left that tier during this update.
This is not a power rank but a popularity list and it does not follow strict numerical ranking. Please read the FAQ for further questions.
There haven’t been dramatic changes during the last month so we are more or less going in TI3 with similar hero picks that we have seen since the TI3 qualifiers or even earlier than that. Most teams did not want to risk changing what worked for them and opted for more conventional strategies for the final stages of the tournaments that were completed in July. On the other hand, it’s also normal to not reveal their hand and keep the most innovative pocket picks as a surprise for TI3
First Tier – The Essentials
On the up and up: Alchemist has been on the rise for a while and we are now seeing him being a first pick/ban in most matches. His versatility gave him the push into the first tier and it’s the same characteristic that has made most of this tier’s heroes irreplaceable for a long time. To give a more specific example, Puppey has been picking him quite often this month and four different Na`Vi players have actually played Alchemist in July (all apart from Kuroky, who did play the hero earlier this year).
Going downhill: Keeper of the Light is not a forgotten hero but teams have not been rating him as high in their trilanes as in the past few months. His inability to roam is probably the flaw that’s costing him his first tier spot.
Second Tier – The Standards
On the up and up: In case you missed last year’s numerous concerts of her, Ms Naga Siren will be making an appearance again, just in time for TI3. Many teams have experimented with a support Naga that eventually farms in the late game while the option of a carry Naga also helps keeping the draft a mystery. OD has always been a great mid hero and recently he is actually finding frequently a spot in drafts, now that the midgame arrives relatively later and he can shutdown the popular intelligence mid heroes.
Going downhill: Phantom Lancer will not disappear, as long as there are no more nerfs, although teams finally know how to fight against him. I’m sure we will see desperation KotL-PL picks in TI3, even though they will be much more rare than 3 months ago. Storm Spirit and Clockwerk have not been superseded in their roles, in mid and offlane respectively (and mid for Asian Clockwerks), but there are many options that the teams are trying out. They will probably be picked more times than they are banned in TI3.
Third Tier – The Why-nots
On the up and up: Bounty Hunter is a well known suspect of this list and he will remain a standard option for teams, just as the heroes who dropped from the second tier will. His Track ability is valuable enough to compensate for his slow farm and lack of other teamfight perks.
Going downhill: Chaos Knight keeps dropping tiers because Io remains a necessary first ban and rarely makes it in the picking phase (approximately once every seven games in July). If Io is banned, there is no reason to pick or ban Chaos Knight as there are more attractive options with better laning, like Dragon Knight.
Fourth Tier – The Surging and the Dwindling
On the up and up: Lich is a hero that can accomplish a lot with minimal farm and that’s the first criterion when picking a support. He is more usually seen in the offlane where his Sacrifice ability lets him stay in the lane and deny experience from the opponent farmer. Razor is great against melee mids and can help contain the opponent’s carry with Static Link. He has been advertised as the best counter to Lifestealer. Even though there are few trees in the middle lane, we saw Timbersaw played mid by Kaipi’s Arteezy and Alliance’s s4 with moderate success. He is a hero that needs the early levels and can then help his teammates overpower their lanes.
Going downhill: The bottom tier always has the most changes as its heroes are generally picked in a small number of games. Luna and Faceless Void have been situational picks and will be picked in TI3 but were not as popular during the last month. Slark did not move up to dominating mid or demanding a first ban. He will be picked by teams who have players that enjoy his risky and active playstyle, like Korok.
Still to Come
What are the secrets that the teams are saving for TI3?
My prediction for heroes that have not been seen as often yet lies between Pugna and Spirit Breaker. They complement current strategies well and most teams have not practiced playing against them, even though we saw Kaipi trying out support SB in several matches.
Io is the cause of a complex issue in the drafting phase, as it forces your team in a specific playstyle, instead of just providing more options for the opponent’s team. I don’t know how long the teams can afford spending a ban on Io. Eventually they will have to learn to play against it, just as last year’s Naga Siren was a hurdle that was overcome.
TI3’s Morphling will be a distant relative of TI2’s Morphling but I’d bet that he will show up in the later stages.