TI10 group stage meta analysis: 112 heroes picked makes for a diverse TI

Dota 2 Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar

The groups stages of TI10 have seen a total of 112 heroes picked in 144 games, in what is turning out to be a diverse tournament meta.


What makes a Dota 2 tournament exciting? Of course, games that go to the wire and keep spectators on the edge. But also the drafts, and possibilities of a number of different heroes being picked. The skipped heartbeat that results from a last pick Meepo or realizing that Spiritbreaker is going in the mid lane can be matched to few other things in esports. Luckily for the Dota 2 community, TI10 is turning out to be one of those tournaments where more than a few strats are viable.

In the first four days of The International 2021 (TI10), a total of 144 games were played throughout the groups stages. Each of the 18 teams played eight bo2 series, which is 16 games in all for each team. In that period, 112 out of 121 heroes were picked! As we head into the playoffs for another six days of enthralling Dota 2 action, let’s take a deep dive into what the TI10 meta looks like in terms of heroes.


All stats are taken from datDota.


Most picked heroes of the TI10 group stages

Even in the most diverse of metas, a few heroes tend to stand out, as they were picked a lot more often than most. The 11 most picked heroes have been shown below, and it seems like it is all strength heroes leading the charge for the most picked brigade. At the helm are Elder Titan and Tidehunter, who aren’t just the two most picked heroes, they also have commendable win rates.

The two heroes, while being recently slightly buffed and a good fit to the meta, also provide something that this iteration of The International seems to value a lot – flexibility. Tidehunter has been played as an offlaner, mid and a support, while Elder Titan has been seen in action in both offlane and support positions. Flex picks are being prioritized a lot in drafts, and that can be seen on the list of most picked heroes.

Elder Titan, Tidehunter, Earthshaker, Tiny, Weaver, Mars and Monkey have all been played in multiple positions, with most heroes being played in three. Tiny, who so far, is one of the most contested heroes of the tournament, has been played in every role except for the position 5 support role.

Of the most picked heroes, the ones who seem to be having a hard time are Io and Mars. Mars especially is struggling with a sub 30% win rate. But these two heroes have been extremely strong in the near past, and there is a factor of comfort heroes when it comes to big games. It will be interesting to see if they continue to see high pick rates in the playoffs, where the margin for error is significantly lower than the group stages.


Most contested heroes of the TI10 group stages

The most picked often leaves out a few of the strong heroes in the game, who mostly get banned out in the first phase. For TI10, that mantle has been dawned by Monkey King, Io and Tiny. The three heroes have been contested in over 95% of the games, which is staggering, especially as it is a considerable data size of 144 games. Invoker, Morphling and Lina are three heroes that don’t make the most picked list due to being banned too often.

There is a good reason for nearly all the highly contested heroes to be there, looking at their win rates. The only two heroes who don’t necessarily fit in are Invoker and Io, who have win rates close to the 40% mark. However, there must be a good reason for teams to use bans on the heroes, based on specific players and scrim data that is accessible only to them. In the first two days, Tiny had a win rate of 43.48%, with 10 wins from 23 games. But in the next two days, teams with Tiny managed to get 16 wins from 21 games (76.19% win rate!), which shows that numbers sometimes can be deceptive, and there is more there than meets the eye.


Highest win rate (picked in at least 20 games) heroes of the TI10 group stages

A look at the heroes with the highest win rates puts a few new faces in the mix. Ember Spirit leads the pack with Morphling, with a colossal win rate of 66.67%, which is an indication for teams to watch out for these heroes. Ember Spirit, especially, isn’t a hero that has been contested too much, and with the right draft, seems to be finding a lot more success than average.

Legion Commander has been a revelation this tournament, because not only is she winning duels, thanks to her new talent which adds 200 Duel cast range, but she is also thriving as a position 5 support. Legion is one of only three heroes that can cast a hard dispel on allies (Abaddon and Omniknight being the other two), and with her Shard, Press the Attack also provides magic immunity for 1.5 seconds! Omniknight is not going to be happy with this, because that used to be his job. Legion can run around buffing allies or getting them out of murky situations, and Duel acts as a lockdown tool. Overwhelming Odds is a great tool to keep lanes pushed out, which is always a bonus for supports.

The two pure supports that make the list (pure, meaning heroes that are not flexed and picked only in the support role) are Lion and Disruptor. Invictus Gaming should be pretty happy with that, as Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi is hands down one of the best Lion players in the world.


Unpicked heroes of the TI10 group stages

When the list of unpicked heroes gets shorter, the sadness grows amongst the members. Only nine heroes are yet to be picked, and it would not be nice to be in that list out of 121 heroes. The prominent heroes in the list are Broodmother and Omniknight, who were popular picks until not too long ago, but were nerfed to the ground in recent patches. Heroes like Broodmother, Huskar, Meepo and Techies are cheese picks, and we are bound to see one of these on the main stage, especially with a  less favored team going up against a behemoth, with their backs against the wall. PSG.LGD’s Zhao “XinQ” Zixing is a well known Techies player, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Chinese team spring out a surprise in the playoffs.

Spirit breaker was played multiple times by PSG.LGD in ESL One Fall, and has seen absolutely no change since then, which makes it weird that he hasn’t been picked at all. Secret’s Lasse “Matumbaman” Urpalainen recently said in an interview on TI10 media day that Lone Druid is a very weak hero at level 1 and does not scale well, and when one of the best Lone Druid players in the world says so, you can expect not to see the hero. Outworld Destroyer, sadly, has become a hero that cannot be balanced well to be a part of the professional meta. It has been tried to no avail in the past few patches, and it seems unlikely teams will be taking a chance with the hero.

Hopefully, we can see at least four or five of the untouched heroes picked up in the coming days, so that TI10 reaches unprecedented levels of hero picks in premier Dota 2 tournaments.


TI10 group stage game durations

Looking at the distribution of games based on game durations, the clear outlier is the 30-40 minute mark, in which the majority of the games seem to end. In that bracket lie 59 of the 144 games, with 32 ending in the 30-35 minute bracket and 27 ending in the 35-40 minute bracket.

The 30-40 minute bracket is typically the place where most Dota 2 metas see the highest concentration. But the more interesting brackets are the ones adjacent to it, which give a concrete idea of how the meta is placed in terms of game speed. More than 41% of the games went over 40 minutes, whereas only a little less than 17% of the games ended before the 30 minute mark. This is a meta that is destined for longer games, where closing out the games isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do, and there is a good potential for comebacks. It is just the kind of meta that is suited for back and forth TI games!


The playoffs for The International 2021 begin on the 12th of October and will go for six days, culminating in the grand final on the 17th of October. There is a lot more Dota 2 to be played, and looking at how things have gone, there are bound to be more than a few surprises. On a parting note, let’s take a look at the team statistics for the TI10 group stage games.


TI10 group stage team statistics



Will the playoff meta be different compared to the group stage meta?

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Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar
A Mechanical Engineer who is as interested in the mechanics of DotA 2 as every machine he studies. Pursuing his Master's at the Michigan Technological University.


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