The 6.86 meta displayed at Starladder|i-League

Dota 2 Zoltan “3oltan” Kurtyak

For the analysis of popular heroes and strategies we will only use the recently concluded season of Starladder|i-League in which there were 43 games with the participation of 12 teams. As you know, the winner of the tournament was the team Alliance, which has demonstrated the power of aggressive push strategies; winning two games in the final against EG in less than 35 minutes each. So let's try to analyze picks and bans of the tournament for a better understanding of popular heroes and play styles.

Most picked heroes


It's worth noting that most of these heroes are going to be seen in the near future, since some teams have already gained experience playing them in a pretty big LAN tournament. Based on the use of certain heroes and strategies, you can make some conclusions about the current Meta in competitive DotA.

Looking at the list of heroes who often appeared in the games, you may ask some reasonable questions such as: Why is this character so popular? Is he too strong? How do these heroes affect team strategies? Can some teams use other heroes and strategies as well?

Most likely, there will be no simple answer for these questions but we will try to give you enough information so you can better understand what is happening in competitive DotA.

Most banned heroes

Bans of heroes are quite relative as it is rather difficult to say how effective the hero that will not appear in the game might be. But with great certainty, we can say that the teams are very afraid of heroes who have great push potential.

Hero overview.

The strengths and weaknesses of all the heroes affect the play style of each team, since all are adapting to, or learning, the most affective strategies. Therefore, we will try to highlight the main aspects of the game pertaining to the heroes in the current Meta.

Of course, all the heroes are situational and we can not cover all possible situations arising in certain circumstances, but the understanding of why a team selects certain heroes will give us an overall picture of what trends will be popular in this patch.

Vengeful Spirit


  • has good starting stats and she scales well in the late game
  • has a strong save ability
  • has some push potential
  • can initiate fights
  • provides armor reduction


  • can't help against push
  • hard to be combined with other heroes
  • can't deal damage in team fights as a support

Vengeful Spirit does not have significant power, but it is quite versatile and can be adapted to many strategies, to act as a carry or a support. She is useful both in push and in fights with her Wave of Terror and a good gain in strength and agility makes her more survivable, which are rare things for range heroes. A Vengeful Spirit first pick can mean different strategies and your opponents can't really tell what your plans are for the rest of the draft.

Dark Seer


  • strong in team fights
  • has strong abilities for hard lane
  • can be combined with many heroes
  • can farm jungle camps


  • needs some levels to become useful in team fights
  • can't play against aggressive push in early stages

This hero has one of highest number of picks with a huge win ratio. So what is the reason? The main thing about this hero is his independence. You can’t stop Dark Seer from getting gold and experience no matter what you do, because he has too many possibilities as a hardlaner. He always pushes his lane and he can jungle in the meantime, he is hard to deal with for melee carries, unless you are Merlini on Bloodseeker. He has huge team fight potential and he can synergize with a lot of other heroes. This hero will make your picks stronger no matter what.



  • can farm jungles
  • one of the best rotating heroes
  • strongest support for push
  • strong auras


  • becomes weaker in late game
  • you have one support in jungle so you have two heroes in easy lane
  • has no disables

Chen always was a strong hero, but the play style was different, so he was buffed, then ancients were buffed and ancients were buffed again and Chen again. Too much for this hero. When everyone understood how strong he was, the Meta suddenly shifted for early game push potential, with huge buffs in late game and magic immune creeps for high ground push.



  • strong mid-laner
  • huge magical and physical damage
  • different skill builds
  • lots of disables


  • has a huge dependence on level
  • bad against early and mid game push

This hero also has some variability. Invoker can push with Necronomicon or go for team fights with Aghs and there is always the possibility of rushing Orchid for solo pick offs. He is strong in the laning phase, pushing towers, team fights and some late game potential. His build versatility made him one of the most popular hero in this patch while his effectiveness is proved with the win ratio he has.

Witch Doctor


  • strong heal
  • strong in laning and team fights
  • huge ultimate damage
  • not item dependent


  • weak stats
  • if his ultimate is interrupted , he can't do much in a team fight

This hero can do a lot of damage in a fight, has a good disable and a sustainable heal  from the early laning phase to the late game team fights. His five second stun on the non-hero units is a great help against Chen and Lycan, heroes that dominate this patch, which makes him even more valuable in this Meta.

Earth Spirit


  • has a silence and a stun
  • strong ultimate
  • escape ability
  • long distance initiation
  • strong Aghanim's bonus
  • good stats


  • can't deal with BKB
  • can't help in push
  • weak in defense against push

Huge magic damage with low cooldowns plus a stun and silence is a lot to have on a support hero, not to mention the +2.9 strength he gets every level. The main problem for this Spirit is the aggressive push which is hard to counter with his stones. Earth Spirit is built to fight and he is used in very aggressive drafts, unlike the way he is played in pubs, pros are using the Earth Spirit as a great support initiator, an awesome savior and put a lot of emphasis on his annoying team fight control.

Death Prophet


  • good movement speed
  • damage from Ultimate does not require the direct involvement of the hero
  • ultimate attacks cannot miss
  • strong at pushing
  • has silence
  • insane HP Drain


  • can't focus enemy heroes
  • can't do much without ultimate
  • has a huge cooldown on ultimate

Something wrong is happening with this hero. 16 picks and only 25% win rate is just not very effective. So why are teams picking this hero, even if they are losing the games?

Death Prophet is not a straight ganking hero, nor an efficient nuking one. She needs a special game strategy to become as effective as everyone sees her, but for now DP was picked just like a strong hero with huge team fight and push potential. With the new changes brought to the hero it will take time until teams and players master her and will be able to create strategies for long team fights in which she can be protected in order to be used at her full capacity.



  • very strong in team fights
  • good abilities for farming
  • strong late game
  • low cooldowns


  • item dependent
  • has no escape and can’t survive without help

For the last two patches Gyrocopter has been struggling to find his way back into the drafts. Now, he is tested again but also with a very low win ratio.  It’s safe to say that Gyrocopter is one of the strongest team fight carry heroes in the game, so why can’t he win?

Well, the answer is simple; he simply cannot stand against a heavy push oriented line-up despite his Call Down aoe damage ultimate. Usually the push strategy has a good healing support which effectively neutralises Gyro’s ultimate. Chen has his incorporated Mekanism plus the item itself and can heal through all the damage. Witch Doctor has aoe heals as well, Dazzle also known under the Healing Bomb name can sustain his team far from behind, and also boosts the entire team armor.

Besides that, Gyro’s Rocket Barrage has only 400 range and his attack range is 365 which makes it almost impossible for him to stay in the front lines against a full five-man push and that’s why he is not so successful.

As you can see most of heroes are; great at laning stage, have some summons, heals, auras or buffs and can also can be useful in team fights or may have good late game potential.

In the current 6.86 patch everyone tries to play the five man DotA with mid game push strategies built around Chen, Lone Druid, Nature's Prophet and a few other heroes. Teams have start to understand that the tower gold can grant you some huge advantages. For three Tier 1 towers you get 3k gold, for Tier 2 towers you get 3.6k gold, so this is a total of an “easy” 6.6k reliable gold advantage.

If we count the map control aspect as well it becomes even clearer why this is a better way of playing Dota 2 at this moment. Right now there are two options of drafting: play for push or play against push.

Push strategies overview.


  • huge early-mid game advantage
  • strong carry heroes
  • good map control
  • easy Roshan kills


  • usually not too much control
  • your supports become less valuable in the late game



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