New Heroes in the meta, while old favorites fall by the wayside. Take a look at the best and worst heroes of ESL One Fall 2021!

With ESL One Fall 2021: Bootcamp Edition in the books, one of the last significant tournaments before The International 10 is behind us. Pre-TI events are one of the best ways to predict the meta before the tournament. And at ESL One Fall, a new variety of heroes came to the forefront, while others we thought were strong fell by the wayside.

What happened to Puck being broken? Why is Pango being picked by all the winning teams? Where was the unleashed Zoo? And I thought you guys said Tinker and Brood were going to be broken? Answers to all these questions and more are below!

(All Data courtesy of LiquipediaDatDotaDotaBuff, and

The Best Heroes of ESL One Fall 2021

Utility, lockdown, and crowd control are the name of the game at the moment. Even in carry positions, teams pass up raw damage for consistent and easy-to-land crowd control. As a result, Pangolier was the most played hero, with 16 victories on 29 games, pushing his win rate to an impressive 55.17%, just behind Sven with 28 games and the same, 16 victories. 

Keeper of the Light surged with Void Spirit at 27 games apiece, while Sand King, Omniknight, and Lion came in at 25 each. Again, consistent utility and lockdown make heroes must-pick in the current patch.

Pangolier topped out the charts as the most played, and one of the more successful heroes at ESL One Fall 2021 (image via DatDota)

Among heroes with at least five games, the winningest hero was Clinkz. Clinkz was picked 11 times and won 10 of those matches, giving him a ridiculous 90.91% win rate. The only hero that came close was Vengeful Spirit, whose six games only recorded one loss. That loss, of course, came when Tundra picked support Venge in the final series. 

One of the biggest surprises of this tournament was Night Stalker. The hero made waves in both mid-lane and support, racking up 11 appearances and a respectable 7-4 win rate. Most of his wins came on the support position as well. With the hero’s latent power during the night, coupled with the utility of his Aghs and Shard abilities, Night Stalker is a dominant hero as a support right now. 

No one wanted to play against Broodmother, who was banned in over half the matches. Unfortunately, the only two games she was in played in were a disaster, recording two losses. The only time teams let the Brood through is if they knew they had a counter for her. As a result, despite being strong in this patch, the queen of spiders struggled.

The Worst Heroes of ESL One Fall 2021

While some heroes soared high in this patch and tournament, others struggled miserably. Kunkka is the most notable, with 11 picks and only just one victory. The typically formidable sea captain barely made an impact in the games he played in. He only recorded a positive KDA in his single triumph. Pulling up alongside Kunkka are Timbersaw and Storm Spirit. Despite having five and seven games, respectively, both only recorded a single win. 

Of note, another divisive hero stats-wise is Spirit Breaker. Having been picked mid by PSG.LGD, in two of their games against, the hero has an unfortunately lousy win rate. However, the hero worked as a proof of concept, creating mayhem in the early parts of the second game. So while the 1-3 win/loss record speaks for itself, you may still see Spirit Breaker this patch in competitive play with some refinement.

Spirit Breaker struggled at ESL One Fall 2021, despite seeing some interesting use in the middle lane by PSG.LGD (Image via Valve)

The final notable hero to slip to a terrible win rate is Chen. At the start of the tournament, many speculated that the Zoo was very much back. As a result, you’d have expected Chen to be dominating in the current patch. Instead, the Holy Knight has struggled, with his creeps not bringing the expected victories. Played just four times, although banned a lot more than that, he recorded a mediocre 25% win rate.

Other Big Stats from ESL One Fall 2021

A variety of one-hit wonders made themselves known during ESL One Fall: Heroes who play one game and win. Among them are Centaur Warrunner, Nature’s Profit, Naga Siren, Tinker, Alchemist, Riki, Shadow Shaman, and Anti-Mage. But the biggest surprise is that we didn’t see more of is Tinker, whose new 7.30 utility was not enough to earn him a spot in teams lineups.

What’s more, the zoo meta, which looked so strong in the group stage, almost fell entirely by the wayside. Apart from the occasional Beastmaster and Lycan game, most traditional zoo heroes struggled to break double digits in picks or found themselves flat-out banned. In their wake, teams focused on big team-fight heroes.

Sixteen heroes were unpicked during the tournament, with Bounty Hunter, Brew Master, Bristleback, Chaos Knight, Dawnbreaker, Dazzle, Huskar, Jakiro, Lone Druid, Meepo, Necrophos, Shadow Fiend, Spectre, Techies, Warlock, and Zeus missing the event. 

Puck was MIA from most of the matches at ESL One Fall, despite being one of the strongest heroes of the last few patches (Image via Valve)

What’s more, some of the strongest heroes from previous patches are still making waves… albeit from the ban list. Puck has struggled to make himself known thanks to attracting vast numbers of bans. Meanwhile, Mars, Invoker, Phantom Lancer, and Terrorblade all got hit with very high bans, hitting a 30% ban rate in some cases. Those heroes are still around and will be hoping the surplus of bans will help people forget just how strong they are.

Looking Forward

It’s crazy to think, but TI is just over a month away. On October 7th, we’ll finally see the best Dota 2 teams in the world clash for over $40 million in prize money. Whether any of the meta and hero picks that we’ve seen at ESL One Fall stay relevant long enough to see play at TI remains to be seen. It’s likely Valve will release some small 7.30c patch before the event. But even so, the considerable power of heroes like Clinkz and Pangolier is unlikely to diminish too much before the biggest Dota 2 event in history.

Stay tuned to for the latest Dota 2 news and updates.

Michael Hassall -

Michael Hassall

| Twitter: @hoffasaurusx

Michael is a UK-based content creator who caught the esports bug in 2010, but took eight years to figure out he should write about it. Throwing away a promising career in marketing and PR, he now specialises in MOBAs, covering League of Legends, Dota 2, and esports in general since 2019. When not glued to tournaments taking place on the other side of the globe, he spends time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.