We’re now through all 144 matches of the TI7 Group Stage, which was diverse enough to leave a mere four heroes uncontested – Bane, Spectre, Tiny, and Wraith King. The crop’s cream also comprises four heroes – Nyx Assassin, Nightstalker, Batrider, and Puck – who were each contested in 114+ drafts (79%+). The next hero down, Sven, appeared in only 77 drafts (53%).
In terms of the pro and amateur metas fucking each other it’s debatable which scene prefers top/bottom, but I’m confident in The International’s ability to spread its cancers to our pubs and free leagues. Let’s try to prep for the spillover.
Among the four TI7 boogeymen only Nyx Assassin has really stumped the field, finishing groups with a ridiculous 31-8 record. Nightstalker, Batrider, and Puck have been largely figured out. It’s hard to say why Nyx has been so good without analyzing a lot of matches, but I can at least note that he has favorable matchups against the top 5 picked heroes; Earthshaker, Sand King, Faceless Void, and the aforementioned Batrider and Puck.
Expect to see a lot of Nyx in pubs. I usually counter this hero the same way I counter any other ganker, which is to have tanky cores that are difficult to pick off, exceptions being Medusa and Wraith King, who are too vulnerable to Mana Burn. Maybe something along the lines of Lifestealer, Viper, Spectre, Jugg, DK, or the hot new cancer Lycan. Invisibility counters Bounty Hunter and Slardar work well in support, or just heroes that continue to function while they are eating two stuns like Rhasta (wards), Venomancer (wards, dots), and Warlock (rock, dot, hot).
From a strategic perspective you counter gankers with deathball, so grab yourself some team fight and look for 5v5s.
If you have a Nyx player and want to join the cancer, you probably know what works already, get some long range kill potential in Zeus, Invoker, AA, Nature’s Prophet, and try to set up a good Anti Mage pick for the sweet Mana Void synergy.
The other big stand-out has been Lycan (22-12), and I seriously dread this hero entering our local meta due to my propensity to load up on slows. I have a lot of experience drafting against doggo in the past, but he used to be more of a rat hero. He’s still good at that, but pro squads are now using him more like a position 1 Chen; come online quickly and push with Howl of God.
If your enemy grabs Lycan in phase one, definitely ignore slows in favor of stuns, roots, and anti-chase, which include heroes like Bloodseeker (Rupture), Batrider (Firefly), Bristleback, Slardar (Gangsta Sprint), Weaver (Shukuchi), etc. who can easily negate the usefulness of max ms.
Also try out heroes that turn summons into a liability like Earthshaker, Winter Wyvern, and Witch Doctor.
Faced with the Lycan pushball strat you really want depush / waveclear, but also solid initiation so that you punish a siege, and perhaps most importantly you want to leave the laning phase even or ahead so they cannot snowball the advantage. He is pretty crap in lane so I suggest going for an aggro trilane or a strong dual-lane. Send Tree, Underlord, Witchdoctor to his lane and keep ready some fun responses when he flames you.
If you want to play this hero, his best friend is Nightstalker. Lycan is one of the few heroes that gains significant bonuses during night time, and howl is pretty gross for helping Balanar tower dive. If you can snag NS, pick up some more pushball jerks like Pugna, Jakiro, Warlock and maybe Nightstalker’s mana battery CM, get a book and take all the objectives.
Feels like Nightstalker, Puck, Earthshaker and Sand King were already pretty meta at my level. We’ll probably start seeing more Sven. Batrider historically sees way more representation at the pro level, so I don’t think he’ll make the jump to public meta.
As for heroes that seem to have transitioned from amateur meta to pro meta, the stand outs for me a Lich, Silencer, and Phantom Lancer. We’ll probably see a plenty of Lich and PL on the main stage if the meta continues to look good for them.
Lastly, I think teams should pick way more Huskar.
I’ll be on the the Captains Mode discord all week chatting about drafts, hnngging over nut Venomancer picks and lightly flaming when I think a captain next-levels himself. It’s TI7 week, FUCKIN’ HYYYYYYYPE!!!
-gg worst captain ever