The International 10 (TI10) Main Event is almost upon us. With the conclusion of the four-day Group Stage, we now know the 16 teams that will be battling for the Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of the tournament's massive US$40 million prize pool.
But do we know with what heroes they'll be heading into battle with? We've scoured through all 144 games that were played in the Group Stage to find who are the metagame-defining heroes from TI10's preliminary round that are expected to make the biggest splashes in the Main Event.
Read on for our list of the eight meta heroes to look out for in TI10's Main Event:
Picked or banned in 141 games, picked in 31 games, banned in 110 games, win rate: 57.45%
Monkey King has been the most contested hero of TI10 thus far, getting picked or banned in all but three of the 144 games in the Group Stage. The reason why Monkey King has been so popular is his versatility, as he can be played as either a hard carry, a midlaner, an offlaner, and even a position 4 support.
While Monkey King taking up a core role is certainly nothing new, him becoming a position 4 support is a relatively recent innovation with the hero that has become normalised during TI10's Group Stage.
As a support, Monkey King can harass opposing heroes out of the lane during the early game, then transition into a highly-mobile roamer that can scout out the enemy's positioning and set up ganks from the midgame onwards. His Wukong's Command ultimate can also double as a zoning tool during base defences or as a disruptive ability during chaotic teamfights that can strike down unwitting enemy heroes. If given enough farm, a support Monkey King can even transition into a semi-carry in the late game thanks to his innately strong toolkit.
Look out for Monkey King during the first phase of every draft. If he doesn't get immediately banned, then it's more than likely that a team will quickly snatch him up as a flex pick that doesn't give too much away about their strategy.
Picked or banned in 138 games, picked in 49 games, banned in 89 games, win rate: 44.20%
Io has always been a popular pick in TI and TI10 is no exception. The hero was the second most contested pick of the Group Stage, though teams would much rather ban it instead of letting it get picked.
While Io has almost always been picked to buff and heal his team's carry as a position 4 support, back-to-back defending champions OG — who have become infamous for their carry Io strat from TI9 — have introduced a new innovation with the hero.
OG have ran Io as an offlaner for Sébastien "Ceb" Debs in two games during the Group Stage, which freed up the team's support duo of Martin "Saksa" Sazdov and Johan "N0tail" Sundstein to pick heroes that would let them be playmakers. OG's offlane Io strat will see Ceb use his early farm as a core to quickly build up Holy Locket and Mekansm, after which he will join up with the rest of the team to initiate fights and take over the map. With that much burst heal at their disposal very early on, OG would simply tank through whatever their opponents could throw at them as they established their dominance.
While we expect Io will still be played in its traditional support role during the Main Event, don't be surprised if OG — or some other team willing to copy their strategy — pull out the offlane Io in crucial games.
Picked or banned in 137 games, picked in 44 games, banned in 93 games, win rate: 51.09%
Tiny has been the preeminent carry hero of the TI10 Group Stage due to his absurd damage output with the new Echo Saber-Silver Edge build and the hero's innate tankiness. With a new skill build that prioritises his Tree Grab ability, Tiny has largely left his former playmaker role as either the team's position 2 or 4 hero and has now become one of the most dominant carries in recent memory.
Teams were quick to pick up on Tiny's strength during the Group Stage, however, resulting in the hero being the second most-banned heading into the Main Event. But when Tiny did slip through, games usually ended before 30 minutes as the stone giant simply mowed through heroes, Roshan, towers, and Ancients alike.
Some teams have even paired Tiny with Lycan, who will use his Wolf Bite ability from Aghanim's Scepter to solve the latter's mobility problems and boost his already-ludicrous damage potential even further during teamfights.
Tiny will surely be one of the most contested picks during the Main Event, though he should still get banned more often than not as no one seems to have figured out a hard counter for him just yet.
Picked or banned in 107 games, picked in 51 games, banned in 56 games, win rate: 58.88%
Tidehunter has always been a staple of the TI meta, even during the first incarnation of the event way back in 2011. That fact remains true a decade and nine TI's later, as Tidehunter was one of the six heroes that were picked or banned in more than a hundred games during TI10's Group Stage.
The reason why Tidehunter remains a popular pick in every TI is simple — he's a tanky and versatile hero that can excel both in lanes and during teamfights.
The hero has strong staying power in lanes with his Kraken Shell passive and Anchor Smash ability, though he can still bully opposing heroes out of the lane with Gush and a teammate or two.
And, of course, you can't forget about Ravage, one of the most iconic ultimates in the game. More often than not, a well-timed Ravage in a clash around Roshan is enough to win the game.
But other than his skillset, the reason why Tidehunter has been one of the most popular heroes during the Group Stage was that teams can pick him early on during drafts without giving too much away.
On that note, while you will almost always see Tidehunter as an offlaner during the Main Event, don't be surprised when some of the more innovative teams like OG run him as a mid or a position 5.
Picked or banned in 100 games, picked in 43 games, banned in 57 games, win rate: 58%
With a lot of emphasis on winning lanes and teamfights around objectives in the TI10 metagame, it's no wonder that Weaver has emerged as one of the most popular position 4 heroes during the Group Stage.
If played well, Weaver can zone out two heroes using his The Swarm ability while avoiding retaliation with Shukuchi. Once the laning stage ends, the hero can then transition into a more defensive role by scouting out ganks and building Aghanim's Scepter to let him use his Time Lapse ability on his allies.
The impact of a Weaver with Aghanim's Scepter cannot be overstated, as it allows his team to essentially outlast their opposition during the many skirmishes and clashes that will happen around objectives like Roshan.
The fact that a support Weaver can also transition into a semi-carry role with a damage item or two if the game goes late enough is just the cherry on top.
Picked or banned in 87 games, picked in 52 games, banned in 35 games, win rate: 50.57%
Aside from Tiny, a lot of the popular carries in TI10 are agility heroes. With how dependent those heroes are on their high base armour values for their survivability, Elder Titan — who practically removes all of their armour with his Natural Order passive — unsurprisingly got picked a lot as a hard counter.
With that said, there's still plenty to love with the rest of Elder Titan's kit. The hero also provides a ton of disables and damage during teamfights with Echo Stomp and Earth Splitter.
Some Elder Titan specialists, like OG's Martin "Saksa" Sazdov, have even begun playing him as a hyper-aggressive support by building a lot of movement speed items and using the damage provided by Astral Spirit to run enemies down.
Expect to see Elder Titan get picked as a counter to teams that like to pick their carries early, though the hero is still strong and versatile enough to be picked even in the first phase of the draft.
Picked or banned in 80 games, picked in 47 games, banned in 33 games, win rate: 48.75%
Earthshaker is another one of those heroes who will always find a place in the meta, especially during TI, because of how strong he is in teamfights. During the TI10 Group Stage, the hero has seen play either as an offlaner or his more traditional role as a support.
What more needs to be said about Earthshaker? The hero provides a ton of disables and damage during teamfights, especially against teams that rely on illusion or summon-centric heroes.
Teams have also been picking Earthshaker to pair with Morphling, with both heroes dunking on the enemy team during teamfights once they have Aghanim's Scepters. But even if there he isn't part of a team's strategy or countering that of the opposition, Earthshaker will always have a place in any draft that needs stuns.
In past TI's, Earthshaker tends to get more attractive as a pick the deeper into the tournament teams get and the higher the stakes are raised. This trend should continue in TI10.
After all, with millions of dollars on the line, what better hero to have than the one responsible for so many 'Million Dollar Echo Slams' in the past?
Picked or banned in 28 games, picked in 8 games, banned in 20 games, win rate: 64.29%
Despite only appearing in eight games during the Group Stage, Tinker has quickly gained notoriety as a 'Gotcha!' pick for teams who have midlaners that can excel with the hero.
Interestingly enough, two such midlaners are PSG.LGD's Cheng "NothingToSay" Jin Xiang and OG's Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen, who play for the two teams that many expect will be the ones battling in the grand finals.
After getting a massive rework in the 7.30 update back in August, Tinker is no longer a farm-intensive hero that dominates the map with his relentless wave clear from his old basic ability March of the Machines.
Instead, the hero has evolved to become a teamfight monster that gains free global presence at level six and can quickly nuke down almost any other hero with his dreaded Laser-Heat-Seeking Missile combo.
With how effective Tinker has been in the capable hands of NothingToSay and Topson during the Group Stage, expect more teams to either start picking the hero for themselves or just ban it when matched up against the likes of PSG.LGD or OG during the Main Event.
TI10 is this year's iteration of Dota 2's annual world championship tournament. The event features 18 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world battling from 7 to 17 October in Bucharest, Romania for the right to claim the lion's share of a massive US$40 million prize pool as well as the coveted Aegis of Champions.
For everything you need to know about TI10, check here.
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