With the conclusion of the TI12 group stages, here’s what the current meta looks like. Will this remain the same for the upcoming playoffs?
TI12 is well underway and we've seen some surprising heroes, and some familiar faces being picked. Across the more than 100 games played during the group stage, a select few have risen to the top of pick and bans appear in almost every game or series so far.
Below is a summary of the top meta heroes for each position at TI12 courtesy of the data provided by Spectral.gg during the group stages.
Position 1, Safelane: Chaos Knight
Throughout the TI12 group stages, Chaos Knight has played as a safelaner in 23 games and has a 70% win rate. The chaotic cavalier was already extremely powerful to begin with, but his recent upgrade from patch 7.34d makes him even more formidable. This is due to a simple creep damage multiplier increase to his passive, Chaos Strike, from 1.6 to 1.9. However, this minor change makes him a much more efficient farmer, and provides better laning sustainability.
Item build: We recommend going Armlet of Mordiggian, Black King Bar, Harpoon and Blink Dagger. Assault Cuirass or items that increase his attack speed pair well with his Chaos Strike ability.
Skill build: Start with Chaos Bolt, followed by Chaos Strike and Reality Rift (in order). After that, maximize Chaos Strike and then Reality Rift before continuing on with Chaos Bolt.
A good role model for this hero would be Team Liquid's Michael "miCKe" Vu, who picked and won all four Chaos Knight games.
Position 2, Midlane: Primal Beast
Primal Beast's popularity as a midlaner is picking back up again. It is quite interesting as he has been nerfed quite considerably over the last few patches. Yet he appears to be the meta at TI12. He appeared in 21 games, 11 of which were on mid. As a midlaner, he has an astounding 73% win rate. His strength lies in his ability to make early rotations and secure map advantage.
Item build: Start with Wind Lance and Bottle followed by Phase Boots, Blade Mail, Heart of Tarasque and Blink Dagger. Black King Bar may be necessary if there are many magic damage-dealing opponents.
Skill build: Start with Uproar and then maximize Trample and then Onslaught.
Although he hasn't yet played this hero at TI12, Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen of Tundra Esports plays a mean Primal Beast.
Position 3, Offlane: Bristleback
Bristleback is amongst the most popular meta pick of TI12 thus far. He was the second most picked hero in the group stages following Vengeful Spirit. He was played in the offlane 25 times and has a 56% win rate. Once again, Team Spirit Magomed "Collapse" Khalilov's ingenuity helped shaped the Bristleback meta. He decided to only place one skill point into Bristleback in order to maximize the damage from his passive ability.
The following video by Gustavo "D2BOWIE" Mattos helps explain the genius behind Collapse's idea:
Item build: Get Vanguard followed by Mana Boots. Next, rush Aghanim's Scepter and then break Mana Boots to make Blood Stone. Everything is flexible from here on out. Either go for Black King Bar if facing against high magic damage threat, or get Heart of Tarasque. Aghanim's Shard and Lotus Orb can be essential as well.
Skill build: Start with Quill Spray and put just one point of Bristleback for the entire game. Maximize everything else and avoid the talent that increases Bristleback damage resistance.
Position 4, Support: Muerta
For the first time, a hero that is heavily-favored as carry actually performs better as support. Muerta tied with Bristleback as the second most-picked hero in the TI12 group stages. As a soft support, she was picked 17 times with a 71% win rate. Gaimin Gladiators' Erik "TOfu" Engel played the most Muerta games, winning four out of seven.
Items build: Mana Boots is the most important item while everything else is flexible. Depending on the opponents, you can choose from Rod of Atos, Spirit Vessel, Drums of Endurance or evasive items such as Glimmer Cape and Force Staff.
Skill build: Maximize Dead Shot and The Calling first before putting any points on Gunslinger.
Position 5, Support: Treant Protector
Last but not least, we have the meta position five support hero of TI12, Treant Protector. Treant has a 69% win rate in the 16 pos five games he appeared in. Although he has a number of nerfs from the last round of patches, the upgrade to Nature's Guise at the start of 7.34 is what kept him relevant. This upgrade allows Treant to use Nature's Grasp as trees, which means Nature's Guise takes effect when walking on the roots.
Moreover, his ultimate, Overgrowth, pierces through debuff immunity, making Treant super effective against Black King Bar users. However, what makes Treant so alluring is how easy it is to play him, leaving experience players like those at TI12 able to focus on macro plays. A good understanding on positioning goes a long way with this hero.
Item build: Solar Crest, Blink Dagger and Aghanim's Shard are going to be Treant's main items. You may also consider Boots of Bearing or Lotus Orb depending on the matchup.
Skill build: Maximizing Leech Seed is non-negotiable. After that you either maximize Nature's Grasp first or Living Armor if facing against strong hitters.