We likely have less than a month left until the new Dota 2 patch arrives. IceFrog and his Valve team are probably working hard right now to bring us something fresh. Almost for certain, the next patch won’t be 7.34e but rather, 7.35.
If the goal is to reinvigorate the game and its player base, then some substantial changes are needed and not just some tiny tweaks designed to make heroes like Witch Doctor and Spectre a bit more balanced.
Until the new patch arrives, here are the most picked heroes of the current meta. You can expect to see them in your pubs quite often, because their pick rate is between 17.5% and 28.5%.
1. Pudge: 28.5% PR / 48% WR
Pudge is the eternal hero in Dota 2. Ever since Dendi made him popular by winning The International 2011 with him, everyone has loved Pudge. Young generations of players were probably three years old when that happened, but they picked up the Pudge habit from the veterans.
It seems that no matter how many times he gets nerfed, Pudge will continue to get picked and even spammed in most MMR brackets. Below Legend, you’re guaranteed to encounter this hero in around a third of your games. That’s because Pudge is very satisfying to play and can make a huge difference in the first 15 minutes if he lands his hooks.
Most Pudge spammers have accumulated hundreds of games with the hero, which makes them quite good at grabbing enemies and compromising their position. The same effect can be achieved with Vengeful Spirit, but she is not even nearly as fun to play.
Pudge has a lot of HP, so he only needs levels and some armor. After that, with a bit of mobility you can force favorable team fights, knowing that the enemy team will not be able to fight you directly. If you’re ahead in gold and experience, the power difference will be substantial, at least in the first 15-20 minutes. That’s when you need to strike.
The correct strategy when playing Pudge is to invade the enemy jungle as often as you can. Smoke, gank, kill a target, take an objective, farm the map, and repeat. That’s how you win with Pudge.
If you play a farm game, you are almost guaranteed to lose because you don’t excel at right-clicking heroes. A 1000 DPS Morphling will destroy you, no matter how much HP you have. Remember: right-clicks are unlimited and they tend to be used in quick succession after the 30-minute mark.
After that point, many heroes can attack 2-3 times per second, deal massive amounts of damage, and regenerate their HP thanks to having an item like Satanic.
2. Spirit Breaker: 25.2% PR / 52% WR
Spirit Breaker, like Pudge, is really fun to play and doesn’t require much skill. You can gank anywhere on the map in a matter of seconds, and you can do it invisibly if you buy smoke or a Shadow Blade.
Spirit Breaker can charge multiple times during team fights, keeping numerous enemy heroes stunned for seconds and disrupting their combos. When playing against a Spirit Breaker, many players try to buy a Linken’s Sphere to avoid becoming a Charge target. It’s a good tactic, but it’s costly.
When you have a hero that can force the opposing side to make unpleasant decisions, that’s a huge plus as long as you know how to use this to your advantage.
Spirit Breaker works well in combination with heroes that focus on buffs and damage rather than debuffs. You don’t need to place substantial debuffs on your enemies when you have a SB on your team, and you may not even be able to after a certain point, because your opponents will buy Linken’s Sphere.
Spirit Breaker’s strength increases tremendously when coupled with heroes that have a global presence, such as Zeus, Invoker, or Spectre. Such heroes can quickly join any gank, either in person or with global abilities, increasing its likelihood of success.
3. Witch Doctor: 25% PR / 55.7% WR
Witch Doctor is one of the best supports that you can play in the current meta. His ultimate destroys any hero and even entire enemy teams if they get caught in a bad position. The fact that it deals pure damage keeps in relevant no matter how long the game is.
Witch Doctor is one of those lane supports that can do it all. He can harass, heal his carry, amplify the damage taken by the offlaner and force him to retreat, contribute with damage in team fights, contribute with stuns that neutralize multiple targets for several seconds, etc.
The only thing he’s bad at is surviving a direct attack, especially if the attacker is a slippery one, like Riki, Slark or Phantom Assassin. But you can solve that problem by purchasing a Ghost Scepter, a Glimmer Cape, or a Force Staff.
With basic items that can be bought in the first 15-20 minutes of the game, WD becomes a menace. Any melee hero that doesn’t have a good escape mechanism will suffer against this support, which is the reason why WD is the highest win rate hero in the game right now. Despite the many nerfs he received in recent patches, he’s still very hard to deal with.
4. Necrophos: 20.2% PR / 55% WR
Necrophos has a lot of powerful abilities in his toolkit. Almost every hero suffers against him because of the Heartstopper Aura, which is more painful than Radiance. If you buy a Radiance and a Blink Dagger and then some items that can keep you alive in fights for a long time, you’re a complete monster.
Just spam your Q, use Ghost Shroud when needed, and choose a low HP target to kill it with your ultimate. Whenever your team has the initiative, whatever you focus on will die within seconds.
If your carry is a powerful damage dealer, just several hits will be enough. A Sven or a Phantom Assassin is perfect for this. You can jump together if you have a Blink Dagger.
Necrophos suffers from a lack of mobility. But that problem is easy to fix with a Blink Dagger. He also needs a bit more survivability, but you can fix that too with the right items. The great part about Necro is that he can survive for a long time against heroes that focus on physical damage.
He achieves this using Ghost Shroud, his Q, and armor items. A simple Platemail or a Blade Mail is extremely useful when playing this hero. Ideally, you should probably buy both if the enemy team has a lot of physical damage. The goal is to absorb as much damage as possible and survive. That will give your teammates plenty of time to retaliate.
When playing Necrophos, you’re both a tank and a mid carry. There’s not much that can kill you before you can react. And in most cases, the enemy team will try to avoid you during big fights, understanding just how tanky you are and how difficult it is for you to die.
A Shiva’s Guard ensures that nothing can escape you. Shiva’s plus Radiance plus Blink Dagger is a deadly combination when playing Necrophos.
5. Chaos Knight: 19.3% PR / 55.2%
Chaos Knight was a very popular hero at The International 12. He was picked whenever he didn’t get banned and his win rate was phenomenal. This hero becomes stronger as the game progresses and he’s very hard to stop in the late game because of his illusions, which deal a lot of damage. One Reality Rift and an enemy hero either dies or is below half HP.
CK is also a strong laner, being able to deal high amounts of damage and bring targets near his tower using Reality Rift. His stuns last for a long time and his critical strikes are painful. He gains lots of strength per level (3.2), which makes him hard to kill in the laning phase.
If the enemy team wants to hinder your progress, they need to allocate lots of resources to accomplish this. Meanwhile, the rest of your team will farm and get ahead. If nothing contests your farm, you will get ahead and buy items like Armlet of Mordiggian, which make your illusions extremely powerful.
By the time you’re level 12, you’re a very strong hero. At level 18, you are terrifying. And after level 20, almost nothing can fight you 1v1. You will still struggle against illusion-based heroes like Phantom Lancer, who can be quite slippery, but most enemies will try to avoid you.
CK cannot be defeated unless he is kited. To avoid that, you simply buy a Black King Bar. Another option is to allow your teammates to initiate. If you have heroes with long duration stuns on your team, they can start the fight and you can join using Reality Rift and Chaos Bolt, which stuns for 2 seconds.
How you build this hero is up to you. Some players love playing in a very aggressive way, while others try to make their illusions as powerful as possible, while eliminating the risk of getting killed at the start of the fight because of a long-duration chain-stun. Whatever option you choose, learn its specifics and then win games using the hero’s natural strengths.
6. Nature’s Prophet: 19% PR / 49.6% WR
Nature’s Prophet is very strong at the moment, despite the many nerfs he received in recent patches. His global presence allows you to easily join fights, set up ganks, threaten every lane, refill your mid’s Bottle, kill couriers, and so much more.
NP also has good farming abilities, which allow him to jungle with ease. You can kill small and even medium camps quite easily. You can also opt to maximize your Sprout, which deals a lot of damage and lasts for a long time. While an enemy hero is trapped, they will take damage both from you, your allies, and your ability.
In the early game, this strategy can easily lead to getting a lot of kills and destroying multiple tier 1 towers. The other option is to focus on your farm by maximizing Nature’s Call. This ability should be prioritized against targets that can easily escape your Q using some blinking ability.
Regardless of your strategy, you have plenty of good options when playing this hero and it’s up to you to decide what will make the biggest difference for your team. Always keep an eye on the minimap and keep an eye out for ganks and opportunities to help your cores.
NP is the perfect hero to play if you have good awareness and vision habits. Check the minimap regularly, as well as the situation of each of your cores. This should be a top priority for you. Doing it regularly will inform your decisions and let you know what can be done at each given moment.
The objective is to get kills, protect your allies, and make the enemy team feel like you could always make a move. In turn, this will make them play scared and will give your cores a good laning phase.
Needless to say, you should kill couriers whenever you can. Pay attention and plant wards during the first few minutes of the game. A courier killed in the first 5 minutes is worth a lot more than the gold you receive for the kill, because an enemy hero will no longer be able to refill. Several minutes is a very long time in the early game.
7. Spectre: 18.7% PR / 55.6% WR
Spectre is one of the best carry heroes because he’s tanky and can be made even tankier. This hero can farm without caring too much about what is happening on the map. Whenever you have your ultimate ready, be ready to join your team at any moment, and ask them to set up kill opportunities for you.
With most carry heroes, you need to pay a lot of attention to your farming patterns. But with Spectre, you could be anywhere and your team will not feel like you won’t be able to join if a fight breaks out.
A key thing when playing Spectre is communication. Let your teammates know when your ultimate is ready and tell them to avoid fights when you don’t have it available. That way, you will always have the advantage.
Another big plus when playing Spectre is the ability to wait. In most cases, you will have the advantage in the mid and late game. So there’s no pressure on you to make risky moves. Let the other team take risks while you farm in the safest way possible. Set up traps if you can. But if you can’t, farm and let your teammates set up ganks that you can join.
8. Sniper: 18.3% PR / 49.7% WR
Sniper excels against certain types of lineups because they cannot get near him. However, don’t play this hero against Riki, Slark, Phantom Assassin, and other heroes that can easily close the gap. A good Sniper game is easy to recognize because the enemy team will have lots of heroes that want to fight 1v1 but lack mobility and initiation.
Against such heroes, you can simply keep the distance and kill them from afar. If you have teammates who love to jump in and attract all the attention, that will allow you to do your job more easily. Another thing that you should ask for is a good healer that can keep you alive in bad situations.
In many cases, you will be the most important damage dealer on your team, so a hero like Dazzle or Oracle would help a lot if you get jumped. You don’t want to lose the fight just because the enemy side smoked and killed you before you had the chance to deal any damage.
Sniper is a very strong laner that will pose serious challenges to any other mid hero because of his toolkit. No matter what abilities to choose to upgrade first, you will have a big advantage. Your entire toolkit is useful and should make the enemy mid scared.
9. Phantom Assassin: 18% PR / 46.3% WR
PA received a lot of nerfs recently, but she’s still powerful after the 25-minute mark. The problem is that many teams are well-organized and understand the power spikes of this hero. So they go on the offensive in a relentless way, forcing you to fight without having enough items.
But if you somehow manage to farm for 20-25 minutes, you will be unstoppable. Phantom Assassin can deal an enormous amount of damage in just 1-2 seconds. Thanks to your ultimate and the attack speed you gain from Phantom Strike, you can land the equivalent of 10 hits in your first 2-3 hits.
With enough damage and a bit of help from your teammates, an enemy hero can be brought down very quickly and the rest of the fight becomes much easier. Most lineups are designed to fight as a cohesive unit. If a key component of that unit dies, the whole synergy is ruined.
That is the power of an assassin. They can disrupt whatever the enemy team wants to do by picking a target and killing it quickly. Because the cooldown of the abilities required to achieve this is low, PA can create an advantage for her team and then take an objective like Roshan without being contested.
When playing PA, the goal is to buy your core items: Battlefury, Desolator, and Black King Bar. This hero has a natural Blink Dagger in her toolkit, so she doesn’t need much mobility. She also has excellent damage and attack speed. All you need is a bit more damage and survivability. If you can attack without getting chain-stunned, you’re going to thrive.
10. Wraith King: 17.5% PR / 55.3% WR
Wraith King has a lot in common with Phantom Assassin and Chaos Knight, in the sense that he has powerful crits. But his real strength lies in his double life. Whenever his ultimate is available, WK can just jump in using a Blink Dagger, stun a target and then start attacking it without caring too much about what the enemy team will do.
If you have a strong backup from your team, you can be certain that the other team will seek to run away as fast as possible. But even if you don’t, the fact that you have two lives should give you an advantage in most situations. Being tanky helps a lot, because all of your stats get doubled.
When playing this hero, the key is to be mobile, tanky, and threatening. So don’t buy fancy items like Aghanim’s Scepter. Just buy a Blink Dagger, an Armlet, and a Desolator. After that, go for Black King Bar or some armor. Radiance also works well on this hero.