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The DreamLeague Major is a wrap, and let’s be honest: it was a weird one. We saw some amazing Dota 2 played throughout this tournament, but we also saw our fair share of upsets too.

But what about the drafts? Did we see anything unusual coming out in this Major? Let’s take a quick look at our top picks and bans at Stockholm.

Top 5 Picks

Our top 5 picks at this Major were Oracle (34), Shadow Shaman (33), Pangolier (32), Troll Warlord (25), and Phantom Assassin (25). Oracle was heavily contested at this tournament, appearing in our top picks and our top bans, as does Pangolier.

A bar graph displaying the top 5 picks of the Major

Top 5 Bans

Chen topped the bans for this Major, at 73. He also turned out to be our most contested Hero of the Major overall with a combined pick/ban of 85. Following Chen in the top bans was Lifestealer (62), Pangolier (44), Batrider (44), and Oracle (39).

A bar graph showing the top 5 bans at the DreamLeague Major

It’s a little surprising to see Lifestealer on here. He was only banned once at the Kuala Lumpur Major, and didn’t appear in the previous Major event in Chongqing at all. Naix has proven to be one of the more popular carries in the meta this season though, and has received some nice buffs in recent patches. The real surprise here though is Chen, a hero that was largely ignored in the drafting phase up until recently.

We’ve had quite a few new patches to the game throughout this DPC season, and some changes in captain’s mode itself, which have shaken up the meta.

With the new patch dropping just hours ago (full patch notes here), it’s well worth having a deeper look at our top picks and bans throughout this Major, and where they stand compared to previous tournaments this season.

So, let’s dive in, and see how the Dota 2 meta has been shifting over the past few months.

What’s the deal with Chen?

Chen was our most banned hero at the DreamLeague Major. A total of 73 bans made him the most contested hero at this tournament. This is a massive increase from his bans at previous Major events. Back in January’s Chongqing Major (CQ Major) he was only banned twice, and picked three times. At the Kuala Lumpur Major (KL Major), he was banned eight times, and picked three times.

So, what changed to make Chen such a hot contest in the draft during the Major?

The hero has received a rework over the last few patches. Penitence received a buff back in 7.20, and that’s also when we saw the first round of changes to Holy Persuasion. But the biggest change in 7.20 was the new skill, Divine Favour, which replaced Test of Faith.

Chen received a fair few buffs when 7.21 first dropped back at the end of January: a 0.4 increase for his intelligence gain, a buff to his heal skill, Hand of God, as well as huge changes to Divine Favour. This provides double bonus damage on non-hero units, rescales of its attack damage, increased duration, and reduced mana cost.

Chen’s changes – the community sentiment

These recent changes to Chen have turned out to be quite polarizing amongst fans of the hero. There are some who feel the hero has lost the intricate micro that made him special, turning him into a buffbot. Others, however, enjoyed the shift in play from the jungle style of support to a more ambush style.

But, as reddit user u/TheSnowballofCobalt points out, recent changes to Chen’s Holy Persuasion skill have really upped his early creep game. The changes have brought a lot more diversity, making more creeps stronger and more valuable during the laning phase and the early game. Plus, the aura buffs he can provide to cores make him a more viable support for those who struggled with the micro management of his old playstyle.

Is Chen replacing Io in captain’s mode?

These changes alone might not be the only thing that made Chen into such a contested support at DreamLeague. Io was removed from captain’s mode back when 7.21 dropped.

The wisp was banned 84 times at the CQ Major; his win rate in the 8 games where he made it on a draft was 87.5%. At the KL Major, he was banned 93 times. Io’s win rate in the matches where he was picked at KL was a clean 50%.

Chen had a combined pick/ban count of 85, meaning he made it through to 12 of our drafts. He had a 50% win rate at DreamLeague over the 12 matches he appeared in.

There is no doubt that the combination of Io’s skills and the way pros like GH from Liquid could use him, turned him into something of a ‘must-pick’ hero earlier in the Dota 2 season. His appearance on a draft could almost decide the result of the game. It wasn’t surprising to see him banned regularly. The question is whether what we saw at the DreamLeague Major was Chen stepping up to fill the space which Io left.

Which of our top heroes did this patch touch?

Both Oracle and Pangolier, heroes that we saw picked up and banned out regularly throughout the DreamLeague Major, received nerfs in patch 7.21d.

Oracle’s False Promise saw some defbuffs. Its cooldown has increased from 30 to 45 seconds at level 3 and will require 100 extra mana. Its cast range was also reduced, now 700/850/100 from 1000.

Pangolier saw some big changes too. Lucky Shot will no longer apply both silence and disarm simultaneously; its proc chance was reduced by 3%, while Rolling Thunder received an increase to its mana cost from 100 to 100/150/200. We saw Pango’s Rolling Thunder used to great effect during the DreamLeague major by multiple teams. The control it offers can not only catch opponents out, it can also provide much-needed intelligence to the rest of the team about positioning to set up kills in team fights. There have been more than a few suggesting that Pango needed some nerfs, so we’ll see if the increased mana cost will help provide the balance which fans have been asking for.

Another oft-banned carry, Lifestealer, also received attention in this most recent patch. His rage skill cooldown is now set at 18, instead of 16 seconds.

Want more Dota 2 news and analysis? You can keep up with all the latest right here on Daily Esports.

[Stats via Dotabuff, Image via DreamHack]

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