ESTNN's Veselin Ignatov takes viewers through what we think will be the pro's top picks at TI 9.
The International 2019 is getting closer with each day that passes by. Apart from being the most important tournament of the year, TI is also life-changing due to its incredibly high prize pool. In fact, this years’ prize pool is the biggest ever in an esport event - over $31M USD.
After the end of The Summit 10, Valve released another small patch - 7.22f. However, it is still uncertain whether this will be the final patch before the tournament. 7.22f only brought some small changes, so the general meta should stay relatively the same.
Of course, as fans are probably aware of by now, each big tournament has its own meta. This means that it is very possible to see some new setups and heroes which were not popular at all. After all, every team is saving their best strategies for TI, so expect the unexpected.
Let’s take a look at which heroes might be the most popular in Shanghai.
Top Hero Picks for TI 9
When fans think about an “off and on” hero, Outworld Devourer is one of the first names that come to mind. The incredibly strong mid laner has been a part of many of TI's metas. We don't see that changing for TI 9. In the last couple of months, OD has become a vital part of many professional strategies. Apart from being one of the most contested heroes during the TI qualifiers, he sees action even in the various tier two events going on right now.
The funny thing is that OD only seems to be popular in professional Dota 2. In fact, he is rarely picked in PUB games. This changed, however, as soon as Miracle pulled off an incredible 1v5 play (see above).
Outworld Devourer has very strong spells which are capable of deciding the outcome of any team fight. There have been numerous situation where OD just snowballs, leaving the enemy team little choice but to concede. Having said that, Valve's nerf hammer hit him hard in 7.22f. Despite these nerfs, however, we still believe that he will be one of the top picks during The International 2019.
We're pretty sure that every single mid player out there has nightmares about Spirit Breaker. Why is a pretty easy question to answer; Spirit Breaker is one of the most annoyingly strong and easy-to-play heroes in Dota right now. Let’s also not forget the fact that he can be extremely versatile. In fact, there are even cases where some teams will run him as a core. The results speak for themselves; during the TI qualifiers, SB was one of the most contested heroes.
Spirit Breaker has some of the strongest starting stats, and these allow him to make impactful plays on the map during the early-mid game. In addition to that, he's escaped most of Valve's recent nerfs. Expect SB to, once again, be one of the most contested heroes in Shanghai.
Chen doesn't really get a ton of love from the Dota 2 community. In fact, players often forget he exists in PUB games unless a player just randoms him and goes on to ruin the game for no reason. In the professional scene, however, Chen is incredibly popular.
Chen's going to be popular simply because of the actual teams competing. Squad's such as Team Secret and Team Liquid, among others, tend to use Chen very often. In fact, in the right hands, Chen is capable of dictating the early-to-mid game very efficiently. Also, let’s not forget the fact that he is one of the best pushing heroes in the game.
The sheer global presence via his ultimate is also another huge bonus for him.
Until a couple of updates, Ember Spirit was one of the strongest heroes in the meta. That said, ES has found himself on the receiving end of the Valve's nerf hammer. He's still picked quite often, the hero itself is nowhere near as strong as he used to be.
If we take a look a while back, Ember Spirit's playstyle has changed dramatically. He used to be this last pick type of a hero, and 90% of the time people would build full glass cannon in order to boost his damage output into the "this is broken" territory. Unfortunately for Ember, the current meta simply does not allow this to happen anymore. Instead, Ember Spirit is mostly played as a mid-tempo controller core. The addition of a Scepter further increased his mid presence.
There are many reasons why he is so popular. Apart from the amazing damage output, he is also one of the most elusive heroes in the game. What’s more, if players itemize him correctly, he can also become tanky.
Regardless of the nerfs, we believe that the vast majority of TI participants will continue to prioritize Ember Spirit.
Of course, there are many other heroes which can make to this list. However, as I said earlier, every Dota 2 event has its own meta. This is very true for TI as well, which means that it is possible to see some new heroes in general. Who knows, Team Secret could decide to pull out Anti-Mage support.
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