It has been 18 months since a hero was added to the game; a very odd feat. While 4 heroes have been ported, there hasn’t actually been an original hero added – which is very bizarre. And yet, I would still say 2014 was the biggest year for the game. So I decided to take a look at what 2014 did for Dota, from the important stats, to some interesting observations.
In 2012, IceFrog created Ember Spirit; adding his charged based Fire Remnants to the game. Eighteen months later in 2013, Earth Spirit came along with his charged based remnants as well. Then in 2014 he kicked it up a notch. In 6.81, Shadow Demon Aghs was added to the game, becoming charge based. A patch later in 6.82, Riki was retooled and gained blink-strike charges. In 6.83 Sniper received a similar treatment with Shrapnel. It may seem bizarre to start off a ‘2014 in Dota’ article talking about charges, but I thought I would start off with something less number based (there’s a lot of stats/data down below). For 3 full version-patches in a row he has added charges, while the two Spirits only hit Dota 2 at the end of 2013. So for most Dota 2 players, they’ve had 5 charged based abilities in only 13 months, for years previously only items had charges. I find IceFrog’s recent favoring of the charge system really interesting, but almost never talked about. I wonder which future abilities will receive the charge treatment, if any.
By The Numbers
In 2014, Dota 2 has increased its playerbase by ~35%. In 2013 the highest concurrent peak was 700k in November, where as this year we peaked at 960k during the Manifold Paradox event. The average amount of players online at any point has also had a similar boost, with about a 35% increase in numbers.
While gathering data on viewers is tricky, since you need to add numbers from over 6 different sources and then there’s still the unknown number of people who have multiple platforms open at once (such as Twitch and DotaTV), Professional Dota excelled in 2014. As far as prizepools go, 65% of all Dota 2 prize money was in 2014 with over 16 million dollars awarded. Last year, The International was ~65% of all prize money for the year, which is about the same as 2014. This is pretty great considering TI4 raised an absurd 10.9 million dollars and still managed a similar percent. World Cyber Arena 2014 was the second biggest tournament with ~400k prizepool, while The Summit 2 and i-League were closely behind with ~300k prize pool. While this may seem like the professional scene is heavy carried by TI, I think people overlook the fact that teams can still earn good ‘Alpine Ursa’ money outside of TI.
Even this site – Zota – did well with over 200,000 page hits this year. I hope that all of you that have visited liked what you read!
I tend to find that people overlook how much pubs change over the course of many months; since it slowly changes over the weeks. I find it very similar to weight gain/loss; you don’t notice it if you see the person every day, but if you haven’t seen them in a few months you really notice the change. So how have pubs changed? I compared January pubs to the last few days.
Troll is the biggest winner of the year by pub win rate, although about 40% of these gains are in the 6.83 patch, he still improved drastically over the year. Juggernaut has also been consistently buffed; he has a better BAT than a professional cricket player. For losses, Death Prophet and Alchemist take the cake. IF nerfed Alch into dumpster tier with the changes to stun/vision, while Death Prophet has been so popular in the pro-scene that she has received constant nerfs. Exorcism cooldown is 45% longer after 3 nerfs to it. Please note that win rate changes are shown in raw percent (50% winrate to 55% is a +5% gain).
As far as play rate of heroes go we also see a bunch of changes. Please note that the above table uses actual percent (5% play rate to 10% play rate is a +100(%) gain). Phantom Assassin and Void became the atypical pub carries of 2014, both more than doubling in popularity. Tinker also saw massive gains, with an extra 80% in playtime, and this is after the massive nerfs to the hero. Veno and Visage about halved in popularity, which is pretty interesting since Visage is already incredibly unpopular. Comparing play rate to win rate is interesting, Troll has silently become the biggest win rate gainer, but is only played 35% more (not pictured). Another interesting tidbit is that the omnipresent Pudge actually became more popular this year, with a ~25% increase in play.
In professional Dota the game changes as always. In January the most popular heroes were: Alchemist, Outworld Devourer, Visage, Timbersaw, Venomancer, Clockwerk, Crystal Maiden, Nature’s Prophet, Nyx, Enchantress, Bristleback, Storm Spirit, Lifestealer, Invoker, Slark, Dragon Knight, and Luna.
If you compare that list to today, almost all of these heroes have dropped massively in popularity. The current popular heroes are 100% different heroes. The top pick/banned heroes for November 2014 were Brewmaster, Tidehunter, Skywrath Mage, Death Prophet, Ogre Magi, Razor, Faceless Void, Vengeful Spirit, Viper, Centaur, Lycan, Batrider, Puck, and Jakiro.
People like to complain about a stale meta-game, but we are seeing complete shifts in popular heroes. This is the first time Ogre Magi has been popular in the pro scene since he was added to Captain’s Mode in May 2012. Even Jakiro is popular currently, but was last popular in December 2012 after the 6.75 Ice Path rework. The pro scene is constantly changing, and while some heroes last for months at a time (such as Batrider and Lycan), the pool of heroes always sees massive changes when you zoom out enough.
The Year’s MMR End
This year was ultimately a massive leap for Dota 2. There has been Agh upgrades added for 10 heroes: Tinker, Abaddon, KotL, Shadow Demon, Earth Spirit, Elder Titan, Phoenix, Sven, Timbersaw and Treant. Not to mention the revamped and buffed upgrades for a many heroes, such as Puck and Jakiro. I focus a lot on stats and theory on Zota, but I’m amazed by the leaps forward the game has taken this year. Even with myself, I’ve learnt many things and have constantly improved. This year alone I have a 60% win rate with Lina from 80 games, even though people slur my Lina playstyle/builds constantly. I’ve managed to forge my own niche and playstyle with her, rising above the 45% pub win rate she has.
Looking back at the year is very thought provoking, and I want to emphasize that the entire goal should be to improve, and to keep an open mind. Since MMR was added at the end of last year, I’ve seen a shift away from getting better at the game, to how to win the most. Inflating your MMR with a hero with around 60% pub winrate doesn’t make you a better player, it just is an easy way to increase your MMR number. The focus should always be on becoming a better player, not inflating your number to a place where you gloat about in teamchat whenever someone points out a mistake you made, or when you have a bad game.
I’m in about the top 200 for number of Dota 2 games played, and yet I never play ranked. I find this recent addition has made people no longer focus on improving across the board, but instead on how hard -allpick counterpicking, language option exploits, and imba heroes can stack the odds in your favor. For me, one of the challenges this year was not only doing well with Lina when I lose, but winning constantly with a hero who has a pathetic 45% win rate in Very High. I find it far more skillful to be able to constantly perform well with heroes that many consider trash, than to win with a hero like Wraith King.
I made a bold move and created a Facebook page earlier today. If you would like to be notified when a new article is posted, or simply like the content that I put out, please consider liking the page. It will really help in keeping this site going.