Welcome to our final instalment of the Weekly Meta column for Season 4! It’s been quite interesting to track the meta and analyze player pick/ban patterns to see what’s going on, so, let’s have a brief look at the Week 6 picks/bans, and also recap Season 4’s meta as a whole.
Top 5 Picks
|Hero||Pick %||Win %|
Top 5 Bans
First up, let’s highlight the MVP of Week 6: Cikuuuuu from Todak, playing Hayabusa!
Todak put in a very solid performance in Week 6, regaining their momentum after 2 weeks of back-to-back losses, and Ciku played a large part in that with his skilled usage of Hayabusa.
Hayabusa, despite not being a meta pick right now, is still powerful in the right hands. With his combination of AoE damage, single-target damage, and escape skills, Hayabusa is very capable of turning teamfights around by diving in, unleashing his damage to cripple or kill vital heroes, then escaping before the enemy can catch him.
You can check out the MVP video and post-match screenshot below to see how he plays Hayabusa.
Moving on to the meta, Week 6 saw no changes to the top picks/bans, aside from the usual fluctuation of win/pick rates. It’s clear that in Week 6, there was little room for experimentation, with teams deciding to stick with proven strategies and picks instead of taking risks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for a rather stale meta.
Let’s have a look at Season 4 in a nutshell.
Looking Back on the Meta
While the entirety of Season 4 has been a showcase for the power of tanks, there was a clear diversity of picks at the start, with heroes like Harith, Granger, and Esmeralda appearing.
Notably, X.Borg (fighter), Grock (fighter/tank), Esmeralda (mage), Harith (mage), and Diggie (support/mage) were the top 5 picks of Week 1. Players were actually experimenting and trying out heroes, probing at each others’ weak spots to see if cracks would appear.
In the case of X.Borg, this was especially prevalent. At that time, he was a very new hero (released 2-3 weeks before the Regular Season), but was already showing signs of potential dominance with his heavy AoE damage and crowd control. Everyone wanted to have him on their team. While his usage has dropped somewhat (more on that later), he’s still a common sight now.
This trend of experimentation continued into Week 2 and 3, where despite marksmen falling out of the meta, Granger was still picked a fair bit for his long-range critical/burst damage, with Unta (from XPAX X-Assins) claiming the W3 MVP via his solid performance versus Notorious Villains, defeating them 2-0.
There was also Esmeralda, an anti-shield AoE mage who players seemed to like picking quite a bit early on despite her low winrate and niche gameplay. Everyone tried to make her work, but it never seemed to happen, and eventually she stopped appearing on the top pick and ban lists. But by Week 3, tanks were beginning to take over, with the top 5 picks for Week 3 being Grock, X.Borg, Chou (fighter/tank), Khufra (tank), and Granger.
No Mobility, Please
Not wanting to deal with AoE and mobile CC heroes like Kaja and Harith, who can serve as counters to immobile tanks (especially with Harith’s multiple dashes), players began banning them more often, prioritizing removing them from enemy hands over picking them, and this led to their drop in pick/winrate. Kaja’s a tank himself, but focused on single-target crowd control with his ultimate, which is really strong and gamechanging if pulled off well, so it makes sense to ban him too.
Tanks for the Memories
By Week 4, the tanks had pretty much taken over. Heroes like Terizla (fighter/tank) and Khufra, previously banned a lot or underplayed, began to rise, with even a strong fighter like X.Borg seeing less play (although he remained in the top 5). With their CC skills, mobility is pretty much out of the picture, and Terizla in particular can also deliver devastating amounts of AoE damage to finish off enemies, which means X.Borg isn’t the only one with heavy damage now, although he still has his true damage.
A Solved Meta
And that brings us to Week 5 and 6, where we’ve had the same roster of picks and bans, with a meta that’s pretty much solved. Grock, with his array of crowd control, zoning, and damage skills, has been #1 for 5 weeks now, and he brought his buddies Khufra and Terizla along for the ride, with the fighters X.Borg and Chou in the backseat.
Chou, the Odd One Out
Chou’s a bit of an odd duck, being the only mobile hero in the top picks right now despite a slew of anti-mobility abilities. But then again, he’s picked not just for his mobility, but also because his ultimate allows him to displace an enemy, either removing them from a teamfight, or kicking them into his team, where either option results in their team losing a potential carry or tank.
Having said that, there ARE still unconventional picks like Cikuuuuu’s Hayabusa, and Xorn’s Franco (Week 5 MVP), where they can dominate if played well, but in general players are sticking with reliable heroes.
I asked the caster Qontra what he thinks of S4 and the meta in general, and he shares the same opinion, stating the meta is definitely stale, with the same core tanks dominating the game.
However, one thing Qontra DOES like is the fact that “teams have improved their macro plays (rotations, roaming, etc), instead of just micro plays (skill usage, hero movement, dodging abilities, etc), with even newer teams adapting well.” He also likes the “variety of fighter picks”, especially “power picks like X.Borg and Terizla” who can turn fights around with well-timed damage and CC abilities.
Well, the meta may be solved now, but it likely won’t remain the same forever. As we’ve seen from previous seasons, the Playoffs will inevitably see a somewhat different meta, whether due to patches, or because teams are more familiar with each other and can pick/counterpick/ban to suit each opponent.
Do look forward to it, it’s bound to be exciting!