Dota 2’s metagame is notorious for shifting and changing courses on a dime, given the flexible nature of hero roles and the huge impact items have on the game. These days especially, diverse tournament metas are to be expected with only a handful of heroes going unpicked.
At the highest levels of play, games can be won or lost even before the creeps spawn. Having a good hero composition can spell the difference between a struggle to breach high ground and a team with heroes that complement each other and form a well-oiled machine.
This tier list—based on the current competitive metagame—outlines which heroes are picked most often by professional teams and those that stand out in terms of win percentages. Note that this list will not include every single hero, mainly because there are simply too many in Dota to count. Instead, we’ll break the list down to roughly 40 of the most popular and effective heroes.
With the major Mistwoods update introducing a new mechanic, Aghanim’s Shard, plus reworking and changing several heroes, the meta is in an understandable state of flux. This month’s tier list will be more speculative than most, based around the small sample size of top-tier competitive gameplay and the hero’s perceived strength in pro-level pubs.
Though, with the main Dota Pro Circuit leagues right around the corner, it’s now or never for pro teams and spectators to dive into the fray and find out who’s top tier.
- Nyx Assassin
Tier one belongs to heroes who make an appearance in almost every drafting stage, whether it’s for their role flexibility, the versatility to fit any draft, or a unique skill set that no other hero can replicate.
If you don’t see one of these five heroes present on the battlefield, it’s likely that they have been taken out immediately in the first phase of the banning stage. They are the crème de la crème of the current meta, despite receiving some well-deserved nerfs in 7.28b, and are equally and utterly oppressive in their own unique ways.
Related: Dota 2 Patch 7.28b focuses on Aghanim’s Shards balance, nerfs Batrider’s Ancients stacking strategy
Batrider’s overall skill kit is one of Dota 2’s most distinct, and he is possibly in his strongest iteration yet. The hero’s split-pushing and creep clearing capabilities have been tuned to 11, following the removal of Sticky Napalm’s non-hero unit damage penalties. While his Ancients stacking technique was swiftly nerfed, it’s still a viable but slower strategy that was quite literally impossible pre-Mistwoods update.
The hero’s power spike with Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger is one of the game’s most potent, and it’s so much easier to get there than ever before, no matter which lane you choose to take. The hero’s high base strength, outstripping even most strength heroes, and annoying Sticky Napalm makes it a cinch for him to dominate his lane opponents and have a good game.
Bat’s new Aghanim’s Shard also gives him an interesting play style change, allowing Flaming Lasso to be used as a save. It’s on a 20-second cooldown, allows you to move the target at will—even through terrain, as long as your Firefly is active—and incredibly, works with your Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade.
Lycan’s mass summons strategy is a well-documented frustration with many players. There’s nothing quite like the frustration of a 650-movement speed zoo not just nipping on your heels, but tearing out each ligament and tendon methodically with a 40 percent critical chance on every unit.
Then, 7.28 made Lycan’s Feral Impulse a global aura and buffed Necronomicon by giving the Archer a movement speed aura. The skill buffs the damage and health regeneration of each unit, and turning it mapwide just made each pet so much more dangerous. A roving pack of Necronomicon fighters and summoned Wolves, even without their owner nearby, can deal immense damage to supports and structures with near-impunity.
Lycan’s new Aghanim’s Shard that attaches a Wolf to each wave of creeps, used to be a terrible, meme-worthy Scepter upgrade. Now made far less expensive and coupled with global Feral Impulse however, the lone Wolves are an autonomous split-pushing threat that demands enemy attention. It pressures the map without lifting a finger.
Well, it at least makes each creep wave more bountiful, right? Each Lycan lane Wolf provides 10 experience and 15 gold. It gives less experience and a miniscule eight more gold than a Kobold, the weakest neutral creep. The bounty is less than one-third of the gold of a base melee creep and one-fifth of its experience, and unlike normal lane creeps, never scale.
Lycan is possibly the strongest core in the game right now, and can easily flex into any lane. Even if he loses the laning stage, the hero can just dip into the jungle and still emerge a menace with comparatively little net worth.
Nyx Assassin’s Aghanim’s Shard catapulted the hero’s standing as the best ganker in the game. The Shard upgraded his Vendetta, unlocking the movement speed cap and debuffing an enemy’s magic resistance on hit. The scurrying bug was helped with some other buffs, such as the improved cast time on Impale and increased damage to his Vendetta in the Mistwoods update.
He was hit with some nerfs in 7.28b, namely to his movement speed and Vendetta’s mana cost, but his roaming potential remains outstanding. It’s almost impossible to lock him down with his high movement speed and Spiked Carapace countermeasure. Nyx will likely waltz in, pick off a support with his 1,000-damage burst, before proceeding to dictate the teamfight with his low-cooldown crowd control spells and Mana Burns.
Puck received a long list of buffs in 7.28, even receiving a turn rate increase to make an already-slippery hero even harder to punish. The hero is an excellent laner with its high base damage and great attack animation, and transitions into a brilliant wave clearer with a side gig as a Houdini-tier escape artist.
Puck’s low cooldowns make it a dream crowd controller in teamfights and skirmishes. Waning Rift’s Silence is always useful, and ultimate Dream Coil’s annoying Leash mechanic makes it a remarkable lockdown tool. The hero’s new Shard upgrade, which causes Waning Rift to deal more damage and knock back enemies, adds further utility to Puck’s Swiss army knife kit by allowing him to break Dream Coiled targets by itself.
The Faerie Dragon is a premier mid laner, and can flex into the offlane and both support positions. New item Witch Blade is a popular choice on mid Puck, giving the spellcaster another dimension as a hybrid damage dealer.
When it comes to offlaners, Mars is the current king. Among the top echelon of heroes, he’s probably received the fewest buffs in the Mistwoods update, and was arguably nerfed in some aspects. Still, the god of war persists, and is one of the most picked heroes through the DPC qualifiers across each region.
Mars’ ultimate Arena of Blood is one of the best teamfight skills in the game, made better by its low cooldown. It can even act as a defensive zone in dire situations, since it blocks ranged attacks from heroes outside the ring.
Plus, the hero manages to deal so much damage even from the offlane position. His natural tankiness, especially against physical damage, lets him get away with greedier items such as Desolator. Coupled with his new level 15 talent that reduces God’s Rebuke cooldown to six, the god of war lives up to his name as a terrifying scourge on the battlefield.
While the hero did receive a reworked Scepter upgrade and Shard, they’ve not seen much competitive play as of yet. Mars’ Scepter is a surprisingly efficient farming and fighting tool in pubs and even triggers on-hit effects like lifesteal and Desolator’s Corruption. Should the upgrade continue to fly under the radar, a mid or carry Mars could become the next big thing and push the hero into a flexible drafting role.
- Monkey King
- Troll Warlord
- Wraith King
- Storm Spirit (Overload attack bounce with Electric Rave)
- Void Spirit
- Earth Spirit
- Keeper of the Light
- Ember Spirit
Tier two represents stable picks in the meta that don’t merit instant bans or anything so extreme. Some of the heroes in this tier are ones you can safely pick without giving away too much of your gameplan.
Another proponent of the zoo strategy, Beastmaster has benefited greatly from Necronomicon’s buff. Many safelane carries find it tough to deal with Beastmaster’s outsized laning presence, backed up by his slowing Boars. It’s a catch-22 situation, however, since leaving the lane will only allow the hero to kick down your towers in the safe lane, ceding the jungle and its valuable neutral creeps to the enemy.
Monkey King went from a hero picked to specifically counter certain laning matchups in the mid lane, or whenever Topson feels like playing it, to one of the strongest carries in the current meta. Battlefury into Aghanim’s Scepter has become the standard build for Wukong, allowing him to litter the ground with cleaving stone soldiers. It’s a powerful flash farm mechanic that allows him to stay out of sight, since the hero can jump into creep waves or camps for a split-second before his soldier finishes the rest.
The hero’s new Shard upgrade is also one of the best in the game. It looks like a small change, but the improved cast point and cooldown allows Monkey King to become a crossmap split-pushing threat that rivals specialized heroes like Tinker.
Now that Sven’s time in the sun is gone, Troll Warlord’s new Aghanim’s Scepter might helped cement him as one of the most annoying carry heroes in the game. The upgrade causes melee Whirling Axes to dispel himself, and the ranged version to dispel enemies, also reducing both skills’ manacost and cooldown to four seconds.
Ranged Whirling Axes lets him counter pesky common defensive items like Glimmer Cape, Eul’s Scepter, or Ghost Scepter. The melee version renders illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer near useless due to the low-cooldown Blind, and can additionally remove slows and statuses used to kite him.
Unlike Sven’s potential to one-shot heroes, Troll Warlord is a lot more slow and steady, taking time to build up his Fervor stacks. But the hero can outlast almost anybody in a manfight, and is also less reliant on his transformation ultimate. Pros are generally opting to first pick up Battlefury before incorporating Agh’s as a third or fourth item, but the Scepter’s farming potential shouldn’t be underestimated.
Storm Spirit’s prowess in the late-game was never in doubt, thanks to his near unlimited initiation range and damage potential with his level-25 talent Static Remnant talent. It was his comparatively weak laning stage when compared to heroes like Queen of Pain that saw him phased out for more reliable mid laners.
Pros are now opting for an Orchid Malevolence as their first big item instead of Bloodstone, with some players even preferring to forgo Power Treads, allowing them to set the tempo early on. It helps that Orchid is at its cheapest iteration in years due to the changes made in the 7.27 patch.
While Storm’s auto Remnant talent is considered one of the strongest in the game, his newly-granted opposite, Overload bounces, is being experimented with. The talent works synergistically with Storm’s new Shard, which grants him a new ability called Electric Rave that provides fellow allies with Overload charges. Allies affected with Electric Rave will have their attacks ricochet as well.
Notably, Elephant’s Eurus showed off the power of the combo while streaming.
Here’s a replay to see the fight in slow-motion glory.
Morphling is a great one-vs-one laner, especially in mid, and is an extremely hard carry that doesn’t care too much about physical damage. Since Waveform is also his escape spell, using it aggressively can spell a quick death. The hero does require a team to commit to his early well-being, however, either by picking him into a good matchup or protecting his lane, since he can be severely punished during his first few levels and doesn’t actually farm well until he amasses a legion of Wraith Bands and Power Treads.
Void Spirit is still a monster in lane, thanks to his numerous AOE nukes that make pushing waves and punishing opponents a cinch. When played mid, he often rushes Aghanim’s Scepter, which provides two charges of Resonant Pulse for additional burst damage and crowd control. Another popular build has seen him being built more as an annoying initiator and space creator playing from the offlane.
The hero’s two escape spells make him ultra slippery and good magic damage on all of his skills makes him a potent killing core in a sidelane duo. His Aether Remnant is seeing expanded usage as a temporary ward and chokepoint holder, rather than just as a stun and nuke.
Earth Spirit’s roaming capabilities are well-known, but his resurgence can be credited to Team Liquid and OG, who have found success with the hero in the mid lane.
He’s a decent mid laner thanks to his innate bulkiness and nukes that can secure creeps. In the short lane, he can pull off cheeky plays such as kicking unaware opponents into the tower. Expedited experience gain also makes his spells all the more dangerous, giving him access to ultimate Magnetize early and lowering the cooldowns of Boulder Smash and Rolling Boulder significantly.
Liquid’s Taiga takes the Rolling Boulder Distance for even more mobility that allows him to sweep the map back and forth. OG’s Topson takes the 50 damage talent and smacks people with Echo Sabre. Either way, the hero is incredibly interesting to watch in their expert hands.
- Shadow Shaman
- Tusk (Most picked hero in South America DPC qualifiers)
- Elder Titan (Most picked hero in China DPC qualifiers)
The heroes in tier three have proven to be effective over a limited number of games. They serve as good options for teams looking to diversify their drafts in an effort to become less predictable—or as niche picks to counter certain popular heroes.
Riki is classically known as a risky, single-target focused carry that transitions poorly into the late game. The hero’s new Aghanim’s Scepter, which now allows him to hit two targets in Tricks of the Trade, has alleviated that weakness, turning him into an incredibly hard-hitting hero.
Commonly picking up Battlefury before his Aghanim’s Scepter, the hero instantly transforms into a split-push threat. He scales a lot better into the late-game now, and his invulnerability while using Tricks of the Trade is a valuable tactic, letting the Stealth Assassin dodge spells and weave in and out of the fight.
Clockwerk has long been regarded as one of the weakest offlane heroes for a long time, with his entire skill kit being too feast or famine to reliably pull off even at the highest level. Yet the hero has found new life as a hard support.
Rocket Flare remains one of the most powerful vision-givers in the game. It has a global cast range, which lets it serve as a split-pushing tool, lingers for a long time, and is a supreme intelligence-gatherer for key objectives like Roshan.
The hero’s suicidal tendencies by using Hookshot directly into enemies is less impactful with a reduced role in the game. Clockwerk still remains a capable roamer from role five and is actually pretty decent in lane with his bulk. Plus, Clockwerk always remains an annoyance against support heroes, especially those that can’t afford a Force Staff.
Aghanim’s Scepter has become a popular choice on Clockwerk, even being rushed in some cases. It’s a high risk, high reward upgrade that can come with significant drawbacks—namely, a four-second stun—but a stat-filled item with Refresher Orb-like active effect boosts the hero’s initiating capability tremendously.
This is not an end-all list of heroes to pick. As mentioned, the flexibility of roles and laning in Dota 2 means that even the most unorthodox picks and strategies can work at times. And with the huge variety of heroes available to play, there’s almost always a way to fit that one hero into your composition.