With TI8 concluded, 110 of the 115 heroes were played over the course of the group stage and the main event. 80 heroes were played on the main stage exclusively. Of course, not every hero is created equally, and heroes like Enchantress, Io, Weaver, Tiny, and Silencer dominated the top 5 spots in the “most picked and banned” category. What made them so desirable to teams?
Enchantress takes the top spot as the most picked and banned hero during the main event. She had a total of 32 bans-one less than Io (33), and one more than Weaver (31). Together, they were the three most banned heroes of TI. Broodmother, the 4th most banned, sits at 24 bans. All other heroes paled in comparison to these three.
TI8 was best defined as an event with a lot of scrappy, long, drawn out fights with a ton of buybacks. In this kind of setting, heroes that are fast and hard to kill reign supreme. Not only does Enchantress have one of the fastest move speeds in the game, she has Untouchable to make her nearly impossible to kill unless you’re stacked on magic damage. Untouchable combined with her healing ability makes her difficult to kill, and Impetus puts out a disgusting amount of damage. On top of all of this, she’s nearly impossible to deal with in the laning stage. With these factors combined, it’s no wonder she managed to be banned almost as much as Io.
Io almost always manages to be one of the most banned heroes at any given time. In fact, he’s the second most banned hero in pro dota going all the way back to 6.74
While TI8 was a tournament about long, drawn out fights, it was also about ganking and having heroes nearby for a 5v5 teamfight. In that regard, no hero is as fundamentally broken as Io. With Relocate he can bring anyone to any place on the map within seconds, allowing the carry he’s tethered to to farm freely without fear that he will miss out on a fight.
In addition to Relocate, Io also boasts the ability to boost the attack speed of anyone he’s tethered to, and reduce their incoming damage. He also has a heal and speeds up whoever he’s tethered to. All together, he offers an incredibly significant boost to any potent carry, and Io+Gyro was a potent combination at TI8. In these long drawn out fights, Io is truly a hero who deserved to be the most banned over the course of the main event.
As previously discussed, TI8 was a tournament filled with long drawn out teamfights. Weaver, similar to Enchantress, is another hero that benefited greatly from this prevailing meta. Shukuchi enables him to get on top of the back lines and weave in and out of fights with ease. The Swarm disables blink daggers on key supports and the minus armor amps up his kill potential. And of course, Time Lapse to basically give him a second life. He is an incredibly difficult to kill hero, and in a tournament where stuns on a team were sometimes lacking it’s easy to see why he was so highly contested.
TI8 was a tournament that was also big on flexible lanes. Having flexible hard to guess lanes has been a mainstay in the professional scene for quite some time, but it came to a head during the dual lane meta of TI. Tiny can be ran in any of the available roles in the game from carry to support, and being able to pick him early and keep your draft a secret is a huge advantage.
Tiny is also great in the extended skirmishes due to his low cooldown, high damage spells. Avalanche gives him a short AoE stun, and Toss gives insane repositioning ability. While he’s not particularly difficult to kill like Enchantress and Weaver, he serves the role of being a bit more of an answer to the two. His high magic damage spells serve him well against Enchantress, and the Avalanche control is welcome help against the slippery Weaver.
Every year at TI there’s a few heroes that nobody expects to be popular. This year, Silencer was one of those heroes. Heroes like Necrophos that became popular have a small window to use their ultimate in a teamfight-in this instance, Reaper’s Scythe on a low HP core hero. Silencer can interrupt that timing, making it difficult for the enemy team to execute properly. Global Silence lasts for 6 seconds at maximum level. In long drawn out fights, this is an eternity, and poor supports with critical teamfight spells who can’t afford an item to purge it are massively affected.
These 5 heroes ended up being a sort of “perfect storm” for TI8. They succeed in all of the most important aspects of the game. It is not a coincidence that these heroes are all strong in the laning stage, and they’re hard to counter because its difficult to tell what lane they’ll go to during the draft. They all are well suited to the scrappy teamfights that developed-all the heroes have low cooldown, low mana spells that they spam out to maximize their impact in teamfights. This also made them effective with buyback usage. If you kill Enchantress or Weaver once, you likely had to commit a lot of spells, a bkb, maybe a long item cooldown like Scythe of Vyse. If they instantly buy back, you might not have those spells available any longer, or your team isn’t in a position anymore where they can burst that hero again.
These heroes were the most popular at TI because of what they did in the game. If you pick Enchantress or Weaver, you force the enemy team’s hand. They have to pick something that will deal with your hero specifically, and that puts them on the back foot in the draft. If they refuse, then they have to have a plan to deal with your hero pick in game or lose. All of these heroes force that response because they are so difficult to deal with-and forcing a response is a massive strategic advantage in the intricate game that is Dota 2.