A new approach to Captains Mode draft order in patch 7.34 cover image

A new approach to Captains Mode draft order in patch 7.34

Patch 7.34 introduces a new way to draft in Captains Mode. A subtle change to ban order seems to give second pick teams extra advantage.

Dota 2 patch 7.34 implemented a new draft order for Captains Mode. Ban phases are no longer equal for both teams. The changes to the draft phase will have profound implications for the competitive scene meta leading right up to The International 2023.

Earlier, irrespective of whether teams took the first or second pick, both sides had a 2-3-2 ban and 2-2-1 pick order. Now, the first-pick teams get a 3-2-2 ban order while second-pick teams get a 4-1-2 ban order. The pick order changes as well to a 1-3-1 order that applies for both teams. Additionally, the time for the first ban phase went down to 15 seconds from 30.

Dota 2 patch <a href="https://www.dota2.com/patches/7.34" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">7.34</a> new Captains Mode draft order (Image by Valve)
Dota 2 patch 7.34 new Captains Mode draft order (Image by Valve)

Impact of new 7.34 Captains Mode draft order

The effect of the new Captain's Mode draft order centers around the ban phases. Changing the ban order and making it different for the two teams might seem minuscule, but it actually poses huge implications. In sum, the Captain's Mode in the 7.34 patch seems to provide a little bit more advantage for second-pick teams. Take a look at the comparison chart below for the change in the draft order.

A concentration of bans in the first phase and picks in the second

The new draft mode reduces the number of available heroes for both teams by the end of the first stage. (Image by esports.gg)
The new draft mode reduces the number of available heroes for both teams by the end of the first stage. (Image by esports.gg)

The most obvious change is that there are more heroes out of circulation in the first phase. Previously, only eight heroes would be out of circulation whereas now the number is nine. Of those nine, however, seven of them are bans with the remaining two being the first picks by the two teams.

A heavy concentration on bans within the first phase inadvertently pushes teams to eliminate threats early. That said, second-pick teams do have a slight advantage as they are able to take out four heroes before the first pick.

In the second phase, teams now flip their strategy to focus on choosing the best heroes as they now get to pick three instead of two. And with another advantage, second-pick teams will pick as early as turn 13 instead of 15 in previous patches.

An alternate perspective on the draft order

Patch 7.34 Captains Mode summary of pick order. Longer blocks indicate two heroes (Image by esports.gg)
Patch 7.34 Captains Mode summary of pick order. Longer blocks indicate two heroes (Image by esports.gg)

The numbers on the image above indicate the hero deficit for each picking turn. There is a zigzag flow to the previous picking order where second-pick teams are always lagging behind. The new flow in the 7.34 Captains Mode is more jagged. Second-pick teams get to pick their second hero sooner with just 12 heroes out of circulation. They then get their fourth pick with just a 15-hero deficit. Meanwhile, first-pick teams get their fourth pick with 17 heroes out of circulation. Basically, turns 16 to 18 switch completely between the two teams in this new patch.

For the third phase, there are essentially no changes as second-pick teams still retain their final counter-pick advantage.

How will the new draft order affect pro games?

There are no pro games currently ongoing so we will have to wait to see some results. Although, Team Liquid coach and analyst Mathis "Jabbz" Friesel believes that this change will ultimately deteriorate creativity. The upcoming BetBoom Dacha tournament should be an excellent testing ground to truly see the effect of the new 7.34 Captains Mode.


Patch 7.34 introduces numerous fundamental changes that will shape the landscape of Dota 2 games, especially ahead of The International 2023. With changes to heroes, items as well as a new Slow Resistance mechanic, implications of this patch will unravel over the next few months. Be sure to stay on top of your game by checking our patch summary.

Stay tuned to Esports.gg for more Dota 2 news and updates.