The WePlay! Bukovel Minor has concluded, with Nigma Esports emerging victorious over Royal Never Give Up (RNG).

The Minor was played on the 7.23f patch, which was released shortly before the start of the tournament. While the participating teams only had a short time to adapt to the new patch, some interesting developments were seen in how they responded to the changes.

General meta analysis

One of the more surprising trends we saw at the ONE Esports Dota 2 Singapore Invitational was a huge difference in win rate between the Radiant and Dire. The Radiant posted an absurd 60% winrate in Singapore compared to the Dire’s measly 40%. However, in Bukovel, things have normalized as both sides posted an equal 50-50 winrate across 118 games.

Part of the reason behind this development might be due to a larger sample size for the Minor, as its 118 total games (including those in the qualifiers) dwarfed that of the Singapore Invitational, which only had 84.

Another factor may also be that there was more parity between the teams in the Minor compared to the Singapore Invitational. This is arguably best exemplified by how RNG looked like the favorites to win it all until Nigma — who notably had a rough time in the Group Stage — stormed back from the Lower Bracket to take the championship.

Fighting PandaS were able to pull off a 2-1 upset over Nigma in the first day of the Bukovel Minor Group Stage.
RNG convincingly defeated Nigma, 2-1, in the Playoffs to advance to the Upper Bracket Finals.

In addition to the more balanced win rate between the Radiant and the Dire, matches have also become slower in the Minor compared to previous tournaments in the 7.23 era.

The average duration for games at the Bukovel Minor was just a little over 37 minutes, compared to the Singapore Invitational and the Leipzig Major qualifiers, which had average match durations of 36 and 34 minutes, respectively.

In the tournament itself, three games went over the hour mark while eight reached at least 45 minutes. There were also 18 games that ended between the 30 and 45-minute mark, which are signs of teams trending towards a slower pace of play.

We saw the longest match of the Minor in game two of the Grand Finals, where Nigma outlasted RNG in an 80-minute slugfest.

For comparison, there were only two games that ended before the 20-minute mark and seven others that finished under 30 minutes. The quickest game of the main tournament was in the group stage, where RNG demolished Team Spirit in just 17 and a half minutes.

Draft trends

The 7.23f update primarily nerfed the popular heroes of the 7.23e patch, namely Tiny, Puck, Doom, and Treant Protector. Tiny, Puck, and Doom were still the top three most picked and banned heroes of the Minor despite their nerfs, while teams have largely ignored the now weaker Treant Protector.

Both Tiny and Puck continued to be strong flex picks for many teams, which led to both of them being banned 62 times over the course of the tournament.

Puck was the more successful hero of the two, posting a win rate of almost 60% in the 29 times it slipped through the draft. Meanwhile, Tiny only had a sub-50% win rate in the 35 times he was picked as teams were still figuring out whether he was better suited to being a core or support hero.

Doom was picked and banned a total of 77 times, although he was banned more often in 53 of those games. The nerfs he received were more apparent, however, as he had a measly 41% win rate in the 24 games he appeared in.

Meanwhile, Treant Protector only appeared in drafts 35 times, being picked in 11 of those games and banned in 24 others. With much of his early game prowess dependent on the strength of his Leech Seed ability that was nerfed by 7.23f, his draft value plummeted in the eyes of most teams.

In Treant’s place, Rubick emerged as the most popular support of the Minor with 77 draft appearances. In the 57 games that the Grand Magus was picked, he posted an absurd 60% win rate.

Rubick’s popularity primarily stems from supports enjoying more gold in the 7.23 era and his own ability to scale with the enemy team’s abilities, thanks to his Spell Steal ultimate. In the current meta, you need to have impactful heroes in as many positions possible. Rubick is one of the most impactful supports you can get, and teams can pick him without giving away too much of what they’re trying to do in a draft.

Nigma’s GH flexes his prowess Rubick, as he saves MinD_ControL using spells he stole from the enemy team.
Geek Fam’s Xepher turns the fight around for his team by stealing the enemy Necrophos’ ultimate in the middle of a hectic fight.

Emerging hero trends

Before the 7.23 patch, carry heroes such as Morphling and Drow Ranger were popular and safe picks. However, as they need a lot of Support babysitting in the early game, most teams went with 2-1-2 laning setups until they hit their timings.

While that style of play largely still persists, teams have begun to adopt more dynamic strategies in the Bukovel Minor. They do this by picking up independent carries that can stay in their lanes by themselves after some time, thus freeing up their supports to roam, get farm for themselves, and have an impact beyond being babysitters.

These independent carries include the likes of Phantom Lancer, Slark, and Lifestealer, who were picked up 17, 14, and 11 times in the tournament, respectively.

The approach that teams take with these heroes is also interesting, as all three have midgame power spikes that can be played around much like the more popular carries — although they are not as powerful as say, Drow Ranger or Gyrocopter.

While they tend to fall off come late game, the fast pace of play they dictate are a good fit with the playstyles of many top teams. It’ll be interesting to see if these three become more popular in the Leipzig Major.

Despite being significantly behind in net worth to the enemy carry in both of the above clips, Geek Fam’s Raven masterfully showed the strength of Lifestealer when he’s allowed to stand and deliver.

One of the other trends we’ve seen in this new patch is how teams have been innovating with Batrider, who was picked in 17 games and banned in 30 others.

The hero’s strength lies in his ability to alter the positioning of the enemy team, although to be effective he needs mobility items like Blink Dagger and Force Staff. This often results in him being played as a core to get the farm he needs, with his preferred position being on the offlane.

However, teams have now started to run Batrider as the Position 5 support in the Bukovel Minor, with Nigma foremost among the teams embracing this new style of play with the hero.

With more gold available for supports in the 7.23 era, teams have been making support Batrider work by drafting largely independent cores to give him some space to farm lanes early. While he won’t be able to get a Black King Bar in most cases, the hero can still reliably get Blink Dagger and Force Staff — meaning he still retains much of his former impact while requiring less resources from his team.

With that said, we don’t expect this new support Batrider trend to become the new meta. The strategy needs an ideal draft and a fair bit of synergy to be effective, which should dissuade most teams from running it. Even so, it’s a fascinating adaptation to the shifting meta.

Check back for another meta report after the conclusion of the Leipzig Major.

READ MORE: Ex-Na’Vi captain, SoNNeikO, forms new EU team with SabeRLight and MiLAN