The Manila Major qualifiers are underway, and the 6.87 meta is beginning to take shape.
Safelane: Interestingly, Lifestealer has been picked up for the Safelane position in a few Manila Qualifier games. Strength carries got buffed a bit in general. Lane creeps got a small HP boost but Lifestealer now has to wait until level 2 to infest Ancients.
Slardar – After getting hit with the nerf bat a little in 6.86 (he was way too popular in 6.85), the anglerfish is back. He wasn’t buffed or nerfed in the most recent patch [aside from the general buff to STR heroes], so I’m not sure why he’s been popular with CIS players so far.
Midlane: Unfortunately Invoker is still a thing. He’s still in the top 5 most picked for all four Manila qualifier regions. I’m tired of seeing his Legolas-esque face, but there’s no denying he’s a solid choice. Like Faceless Void, he actually got nerfed a little in 6.87 but is still quite popular.
Special Mention: I’m watching EHOME vs. CDEC.Y while I’m writing, and I’m so excited to see Puck in the midlane. Puck was pretty popular around the time I started watching pro Dota and it’s nice to see the lil’ fairy dragon back in action after a looong absence from pro-level matches.
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Offlane: Faceless Void is back. His rework last patch has brought him back into the limelight, but he received some pretty significant nerfs in 6.87. Regardless, he’s been picked up in both the Safelane and Offlane positions in a handful of games now.
Support: Venge is back… with a vengeance. Well, she never really left. Vengeful Spirit’s consistently pretty popular; the ability to swap out a carry in trouble is just too good to pass up. She is the most popular pick in 3/4 of the Manila Region Qualifiers (China’s the odd one out).
Special Mention: Mirana finally got an Aghs upgrade. She’s been picked up for mid in a few matches, I think that she has a lot of potential now. Her upgrade now triggers Starstorm every 8 seconds with an enemy in range. That feels pretty huge to me; it’s like “set it and forget it.” Shoutout to my friend Derek – hey dude, your favorite celestial cat lady finally got an upgrade.
It’s a little too soon to get a full picture of the 6.87 meta, but a couple of trends are emerging. I expect to see Venge and Invoker picked or banned in the majority of matches in the Main Event at Manila. I’m hoping to see a little more Tinker, personally.