This list is based on games played from May 1st to June 30th. On each tier, there are a few remarks on the heroes that joined and left that tier during this update.
The past two months haven’t brought critical changes in the playstyle of competitive teams as the trilanes still rule the battlefield. We are seeing some tactics resurface, such as melee middle lane damage dealers (Dragon Knight, Kunkka, Slark) showing up more often. The 6.78 patch did nerf most of the top tier heroes but all that change accomplished for now is to delay their power surge towards a later point in the game.
First Tier – The Essentials
On the up and up: One could bet that Nature’s Prophet must be the one hero that will never be missing from this list. His lane versatility and excellent pushing ability are assets unique to the hero, who can also become a credible late game threat as he acquires more items. Liquid`FLUFF was the captain who stuck with Visage earlier this year and most teams have finally decided to follow. A hero with strong trilane presence and high damage output in the early stages, Visage was the top pick for TI3 Eastern Qualifiers and it’s certain that we’ll be seeing him a lot in the grand finals in Seattle.
Going downhill: Magnus was the victim of both direct (RP duration and damage, Skewer not affecting magic immune units) and indirect nerfs (bottle crowing). As teams became more familiar playing against him and his early game power diminished, he fell down the ranks of the draft trends. Phantom Lancer was not hit as hard with the nerf bat but captains are not picking him as often and they are instead experimenting with other late game carries that were out of favour (Naga Siren, Spectre).
Second Tier – The Standards
On the up and up: It seems that all those Icefrog buffs finally paid off. In what is probably the most impressive climb in competitive Dota 2 up to now, Treant Protector is close to becoming a constant pick/ban for all teams. Quantic’s Goblak pioneered a passive solo lane Treant that outheals the damage of the opponent’s trilane and lets the playmaker heroes of his team shine.
Weaver and Dragon Knight are becoming common additions to several triple core strategies, mainly because of their damage potential and decent scaling towards the end game. The former is usually picked in the offlane due to his escape capability, while the latter is coming back as a durable mid hero with a hard disable and great pushing. Storm Spirit was always a decent mid pick and he has been more popular in the past couple of months. All three heroes have great synergy with Treant Protector which allows them to be more daring during the early kill chases.
Going downhill: It’s that simple, Undying has died. The descent that was discussed in the previous list was steep and a hero that was part of every trilane three months ago is now picked/banned in less than 5% of games. Luna is another hero that has not been nerfed but, like Phantom Lancer, other heroes are taking her place as the safe lane carry. The emphasis on winning the laning phase has left Bounty Hunter forgotten, since it seems teams are not risking coming back with track gold as often as they did in the past. Brewmaster is another hero that does not provide the disables or damage scaling that other mid heroes provide and his lane inflexibility has cost him his pick popularity.
Third Tier – The Why-nots
On the up and up: Three carries that we have seen in the past are making a reappearance. Their skill kit has not changed but carry players were already familiar with Anti-Mage, Naga Siren and Alchemist and are picking them again as superior farming choices. Alchemist has also been seen in the mid lane, as has Kunkka, in a trend of damage dealing disabler that can snowball and dominate the early game stages. Outworld Devourer is another hero that has great synergy with Treant Protector in his team, as he can completely shut down the opponent’s mid hero. He is still vulnerable to ganks and his scaling is completely denied by BKB but it can block the other team from executing their tactics while his teammates are winning the game.
Going downhill: Enigma was superseded by Magnus but they are now both out of the upper tiers of drafting. He will probably return when teams focus on teamfighting wombo combos and can spare a jungler spot. Beastmaster is a utility mid that remains popular in the eastern scene but he has to contend with many other options nowadays. Faceless Void is a carry that needs a 4 protect 1 strategy and he cannot farm as fast as the carries that we’ve seen in the upper tiers. Tinker’s PVE playstyle just doesn’t seem to interest teams playing in a strong teamfight environment so we will probably be seeing him less in the near future. Finally, Sven’s dive to irrelevance is close to hitting its nadir.
Fourth Tier – The Surging and the Dwindling
On the up and up: Teams are trying to see if they can get Spectre the farm to 1v5 their opponents but up to now she hasn’t been a steady pick yet. Slark’s solo ganking potential makes him a decent mid hero that profits from early levels and he can burst supports better than most heroes. Vengeful Spirit is a support that has seen a few buffs in the last patches and she brings a reliable stun and a scaling aura that benefits her teammates.
Going downhill: Nightstalker and Shadowfiend need to do great early or they are not that useful so we’ve seen other mids push them out of their lane. Venomancer saw a small buff in 6.78 but he cannot compete with the other supports for a trilane spot. The CIS scene has abandoned Clinkz and it will be some time before we see him again.
Still to Come
It’s not too early for recently buffed heroes to appear in top tier matches. We’ve already seen experiments with Ancient Apparition in mid, Pugna as a trilane support and Necrolyte with his gamebreaking Aghanim’s upgrade as a 1-2 position farmer.