The Manila Masters Meta

June 6, 2017

We saw a whole new side of 7.06

It was expected of the Manila Masters to host some of the best games the Dota 2 this side of the latest meta. It had eight of the greatest teams in the world, battling for the first ever Masters title in a fresh, unexplored version of Dota 2.

That the 7.06 patch demands heroes with strong laning prowess seems to be the verdict for now. Now that experience can be obtained from denying creeps and shrines are not available until the 5th minute mark, the earlier part of the game has never been more important. Here’s how the pros played it out:

 

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After being forgotten for quite a long time, Clockwerk has finally made a comeback in Manila. The recent patches saw Rattletrap receiving significant buffs to durability and his talents. Accompanied by the hero’s naturally strong laning abilities, his return to the competitive scene has been pretty explosive.

 

The same goes with the snowballing porcupine; Bristleback does not need too many items to render his laning counterpart useless. The Manila Masters proved that a mana-giving babysitter, like Keeper of the Light or Io, was already enough for this hero to Quill Spray spam his way to the W.     

On the other hand, it was no longer a surprise to see two of the best lane supports continuing to top the ban rates. Similar to the latest Major, Io and Treant Protector are still the top 2 most banned heroes for the Manila Masters (except Treant Protector led Io in Kyiv). Despite Treant Protector’s Nature’s Guise getting nerfed, and Io having no game-changing buffs recently, they still remained priority bans because of their lane presence.

 

The New Shape of Meta

The Manila Masters was able to introduce a fresh approach to the meta courtesy of the world’s best teams preparing for a different tournament lineup than other premier tournaments this year. Unlike Kiev Major, item dependent heroes like Monkey King and Spectre sank in the pick rates while mid game heroes like Razor, Puck, and Sven had their time in the limelight.

One of the most notable changes in 7.06 was the jungle reverting back to camps spawning by the minute. Chinese teams, who are applauded for their efficiency in farming, took heavy note of this and used Sven’s ability to clear chunks of neutral stacks and skyrocket in gold and experience as a key to their tournament runs. Both Newbee and Invictus Gaming were seen running a Sven strategy paired with a Queen of Pain. It was fairly successful at first until the genius of EternaLEnVy found a simple answer to this Chinese Deathball: the simple Blade Mail.

Meanwhile, the champions of the Manila Masters made good use of Razor and Puck’s mid game capabilities. Whether it was for UNiVeRsE or SumaiL, Puck was effectively utilized by Evil Geniuses in multiple roles, winning the competition with a 71% win rate using the slippery dragon to pave the way to easier end games.

Arteezy or Rts, also displayed his own experiments with the new patch. The earlier part of the tournament saw Artour Babaev with a masterful Razor performance that kept EG in safer brackets. Ironically, Razor has never been the greatest early game hero, which we said is more important this patch, but after receiving minimal buffs without heavy nerfs, the electrifying hero found its way to the meta to secure the game’s middle phase.

Lastly, from the first game down to the grand finals, the Manila Masters was graced (or plagued) by the tough-as-nails pig, Bristleback. NP had the largest share of games played with Rigwarl at eight games but almost every team utilized the spiky tank and the hero finished the tournament with a 58% win-rate. It would be the tournament’s eventual champions, EG, that put a stop to the quillboar’s rampage through the use of a classic anti-tank hero: Undying.

While the dust has more or less settles for the Manila Masters, its position as a crucial pre-TI premier LAN sets the pace for all the Dota 2 teams in the world in their experiments with the current pro-scene meta. We saw pro teams address issues past the early laning phase changes by drafting around aggression and a mid-game setup.

The meta is, of course, far from solved (and nothing is ever truly solved in Dota 2) but by seeing just how much the pros’ strategies changed so much in the span of only a few months points to an even more exciting year ahead.