Dota 2’s competitive meta can change at the drop of a hat. Professional players bring out fresh ideas and new schemes all the time, leading to an ever-evolving roster of heroes that seemingly change day-to-day.
In this Dota 2 hero tier list, heroes are roughly arranged in three tiers to signify their importance in the pro scene. About forty heroes are represented, though Dota 2’s balanced nature means that many more heroes are viable.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the good heroes—they’re ranked by their popularity in the pro scene, where execution matters as much as the draft.
The International is upon us once again for its 12th edition, and as always, the tournament takes on its own metagame outside the rest of the year. Often, that’s due to an increased resilience on teamfight heroes, with more risky strategies often falling by the wayside.
But this year, we’ve got some less-than-discreet help from Valve themselves. The game developer released patch 7.34 a month before TI12, and four subsequent sub-patches after. In less than a month, we’ve seen some heroes’ stock rise and fall drastically. The latest patch, 7.34d, has been a bigger shift than its lithe changes would suggest.
Dota 2 hero tier list | March 2023
- Treant Protector
- Primal Beast
Treant Protector has become the best support in the game, after the New Frontiers update destroyed his playstyle by expanding the map. One of the bigger mechanical upgrades for the hero was making Nature’s Grasp vines count as trees, improving the hero’s poor mobility by a large magnitude.
This change was, frankly, enough to let the hero’s strengths shine through. There is no better babysitter this patch — Rooftrellen’s enormous base damage makes last-hitting and denying creeps a breeze, and the hero’s one hit often equal others’ two. Leech Seed is also amazing at turning the tides, damaging enemies and healing allies at the same time, making it an invaluable trading tool. Dealing with the hero in lane requires so much additional investment, and it never feels good trying to counter a support.
Aside from his awesome laning prowess, Rooftrellen’s defensive capabilities are especially important in a meta that’s slowed down dramatically from the constant brawling of past years. Living Armor is an amazing spell to delay pushes, keeping towers alive and thus, making the map more open for your own team.
To top it all off, he provides some solid teamfight support with Overgrowth, a long-duration root that covers a wide AOE. His ability to skulk in the trees with Nature’s Guise means he can get into great positioning even without items, but a Blink Dagger or Force Staff can open up his options dramatically.
The Shadow Priest has received countless reworks over the past years, with his identity never set in stone. But he’s never been as powerful as he is now, especially in the pro scene, with his popularity coming mostly in the midlane — though he’s seen flex to the offlane and even support positions.
Dazzle’s current from materialized in 7.33, when he became a universal hero and was given his current Bad Juju ultimate that gave static cooldown reduction at the cost of health. It took multiple rounds of buffs between then and now, but people have finally taken notice of this hero’s absurd laning ability and late-game scaling.
In a meta where cores are becoming tankier than ever, the midlane has seen a sharp uptick in melee midlaners. Dazzle abuses them like no other hero, with Poison Touch and Shadow Wave so punishing to those that need to stand near creeps.
With Aghanim’s Scepter, a further dimension is unlocked — Shadow Wave can now shoot out attacks at enemies, all while healing himself and his allies. This lets him pull off some truly ludicrous combos that feel incredibly synergistic — Poison Touch getting refreshed through the attacks, his health cost being mitigated by Shadow Wave’s large healing, and Bad Juju cutting down armor — over and over again, rendering even the tankiest of heroes helpless.
Furthermore, it turns out that a spell that can save you from certain death is really, really good — especially one that can be cast multiple times in a teamfight, again and again, because of Dazzle’s cooldown reduction. We’ve even see pros buy Octarine Core, unlocking a possibility for the hero to access infinite Graves.
Admiral Proudmoore commands the high seas, as well as perhaps being the first proponent of the now-immensely popular Blademail-Heart of Tarrasque item build.
Kunkka is a strange initiator — instead of possessing a mobility spell, he has an anti-mobility one. X Marks the Spot can bring back his opponents into a potential Ghost Ship or Torrent, but it can be so much more. The spell has some utility in keeping the hero in the lane, letting him X allies or himself, TP back to the base for resources and items, then coming back without wasting additional time.
His Shard upgrade, Tidal Wave, hasn’t changed much functionally, but people have realized just how much it can unlock the hero’s teamfight potential. Kunkka’s Shard has become a must-buy item for the hero. The spell’s repositioning abilities can drag multiple enemies completely out of position. It can affect units up to 2,150 range away — for comparison, Pudge’s Hook is 1,300 range — and pulls or pushes them for 600 units.
When combined with his other teamfight spells like Torrent, Ghost Ship, and an eventual Torrent Storm, there is no hero that can command such a large area, for such a long time, with so little effort.
To top it all off, the hero’s laning remains solid, even with Tidebringer finally being fixed to no longer count on denies after years.
The hero’s change to universal status in the main 7.34 patch skyrocketed his win rate, and he’s still incredibly powerful even after several nerfs in subsequent patches.
Quas-Wex has become the de facto build for Invoker, now that Spirit Vessel gives so much damage for universal heroes. Ghost Walk’s numerous buffs that give him mana and health regeneration lets him stay on the map permanently, and he can gank with impunity. It also helps that Hand of Midas is a much more consistent item, letting the hero keep up in levels and farm.
Aside from his regular midlane, the hero is also a strong support in both positions. All-stat items like Solar Crest are invaluable, and an eventual Aghanim’s Scepter boosts his immense teamfight power to ridiculous levels. The hero’s litany of teamfight spells is already unmatched, but his universal status also means more item builds have opened up for him.
Now, it’s getting more common than ever for the hero to go some sort of right-click items like Hurricane Pike, and even items like Daedalus. It gives Invoker yet another way to scale, even if his spells don’t feel that effective, and versatility is always appreciated in heroes you need to pick early, or risk them getting banned or taken away.
Played almost exclusively as an offlaner, a new, fairly standard build has been established for this hero, consisting Urn of Shadows, Hand of Midas, and Radiance.
The logic goes that Urn is a cheap fighting item that synergizes with Cinder Brew, followed by a scaling item in Hand of Midas since, honestly, the hero’s pretty much reliant on his ultimate — which doesn’t benefit from most items — to otherwise fight. Radiance is one of those few that works, since the damage aura follows around on his Earth Panda, and also triggers Cinder Brew.
All this combines to make a hero that feels impossible to kill at times. Proper switching of the Drunken Brawler stances is what makes this hero micro-intensive, even outside of his ultimate. And since this item build gives him so much raw damage, it’s not uncommon to see Brew smack down supports in Fire Stance, which grant crit and attack speed, making even his base form a terrifying proposition to face.
Primal Split’s multiple pandas all bring their own form of crowd control to the party, including the Storm Brewling’s Cyclone sending pesky enemies up in the air, Void Brewling’s Astral Pull repositioning units, and Earth Brewling’s Hurl Boulder stun. All in all, this is a high-skill cap hero that can scale immensely well into the game, a perfect fit for some of the best offlaners in the world.
Primal Beast is one of the best beneficiaries of the ongoing Blademail-Heart of Tarrasque meta, since he can feasibly rush these two items without too much trouble. The hero’s initiation tool is baked into his kit with Onslaught, and there are games where he can afford to completely leave off items like Blink Dagger, letting him scale with items like Sange and Kaya and Aghanim’s Scepter.
Plus, he’s perhaps the only hero with an innate Break that hasn’t completely fallen off the meta. Aghanim’s Scepter grants Uproar the ability to send damage waves in multiple directions. This is a fantastic counter to heroes that rely on defensive passives like Bristleback, and Spectre, drastically decreasing their tankiness.
Also, making his ultimate, Pulverize, pierce debuff immunity makes him a direct counter to another one of the meta’s most popular heroes, Pangolier. It’s one of the few spells that literally stop Pango’s Rolling Thunder instantly, giving him additional priority in the drafting stage due to how badly he counters this popular hero.
In a meta where every hero is in an arms race to become tankier and tankier, Phoenix is feasting. Most often played in either support positions, the meta has been so kind to Phoenix that he’s seeing play in the offlane once again, with increased farm priority to leverage the hero’s potent spells earlier.
The hero is one of the best anti-tanks in the game, thanks to Sunray’s consistent damage output. It deals damage based on max health per second, and one salvo of the spell can scare away tanks from fully committing to the fight.
But what’s better than one Sunray? Two! Aghanim’s Shard grants the hero the ability to cast Sunray while in Supernova, giving him double the effectiveness against the tanky lads meta.
Plus, the focus on strength cores extends to the carries as well, and these heroes generally have lower attack speed than their agility counterparts — and indirect buff to Supernova.
That said, the hero’s early laning stage isn’t the best, and caution needs to be taken to not bleed out too much while the hero is still weak. Still, once he hits level three and onwards, he provides solid kill threat with proper Fire Spirit usage, and remains well-positioned in the meta to take advantage of heroes that regularly go into four to five thousand health.
Pangolier found himself severely nerfed in 7.34, with Shield Crash no longer providing damage reduction — instead giving a barrier — and Lucky Shot no longer disarming, instead just reducing attack speed.
While Shield Crash is likely weaker in the late-game, it’s possibly an even better spell in the lane. Having an all-damage barrier means you can soak an extra right-click or spell every time you cast Shield Crash, and can definitely make a difference in your long-term survivability in the mid or offlane.
The hero’s late-game scaling potential remains immense. Swashbuckle’s unique properties make on-hit effects like Diffusal Blade and Basher incredibly potent, and Rolling Thunder’s debuff immunity makes the hero difficult to stop in his tracks.
In the hands of skilled players — and there are so many now, thanks to the hero’s ubiquitousness in the last year — he’s still a force of nature.
But 7.34d’s latest nerfs have definitely, and finally, caught up with Donte Panlin. He remains immensely popular, and was the second-most contested hero through the TI12 group stage at 88 percent, according to Liquipedia. But when picked, he has an abysmal 30 percent winrate, by far the lowest of the heroes at this tier. That win rate might not improve much, but expect the hero to see play through the rest of the tournament.
- Chaos Knight
- Spirit Breaker
As a TI12 special, we’re putting these heroes into their own special category as heroes we feel are going to continue gaining relevance over the next weeks.
While the tier one heroes have shown signs of prominence in past months, these four heroes have seemingly come out of nowhere — either through buffs in the latest 7.34d patch, or as solid answers to the most-picked heroes — to now contesting each other as potential heroes of the tournament, entirely capable of carrying entire drafts by themselves.
Chaos Knight has always been a strong off-meta carry pick for certain teams, but his latest change — increasing Chaos Strike’s creep damage multiplier from 1.6 to 1.9 — has catapulted his status.
Whether in the safe or offlane, the hero is immensely durable. For a hero named Chaos Knight, he’s incredibly consistent. High base damage means he always gets to farm in the lane, Chaos Strike lifesteal helps him sustain without spending too much gold on regeneration items, and the classic Reality Rift plus Chaos Bolt combo always presents kill threat.
The hero has always been capable of completely annihilating opposing heroes, especially with Phantasm illusions up. Now, he’s just more consistently and quickly getting to the point where he can blow up people, thanks to his latest buff.
After a brief stint out of the meta, Spirit Breaker is back. The hero was immensely popular when you could buy Vanguard and convert the item wholly to an Octarine Core, abusing the hero’s immensely low cooldowns with near-unlimited Bulldoze.
Well, thanks to Team Spirit’s Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov, he’s popularizing a more greedy way to play the hero — Hand of Midas into Octarine Core, often skipping Shadow Blade, once regarded as a core item on the hero.
It turns out that Spirit Breaker’s latest buff, which increased his Greater Bash damage by five percent across the board, has a significant impact on the hero’s ability to farm creeps. Phase Boots and Wind Lace are enough to clear out waves and most jungle camps, letting this hero scale into a teamfight beast that’s extremely difficult to lock down.
It helps that counter items like Nullifier have become less popular, since it’s not something the meta carries of the patch like to buy.
What hero can tank with the best of them, and deal damage with the best of them?
Pros have unlocked this hero’s immense burst potential, abusing Bristleback’s new Aghanim’s Scepter that lets him shoot six Quill Sprays. But that’s not all — a new skill build is sweeping the pro scene, once again, thanks to Spirit’s Collapse.
By leaving the signature tank skill Bristleback at level one instead of maxing it, he’s able to shoot out more Quills, since the damage threshold only counts after damage reduction. You don’t even lose that much durability, since these Quills give you spell lifesteal, and Bloodstone has become the defacto tank item for this hero.
Here’s a handy guide from Gustavo “Bowie” Mattos, who goes into deeper detail on why this skill build works.
The hero is just incredibly synergistic, with all the stacking damage from multiple sources of Quill Sprays and armor reduction from Nasal Goo and Hairball. He does have some vulnerability to Break, still, and Silver Edge is practically a must-get against this offlane staple.
At a time where melee cores are dominating the meta, Muerta is standing out as a strong ranged carry that has theoretical unlimited scaling.
Surprisingly, the hero has been very popular in the support position as well, giving her additional insurance in the draft. Against bad matchups, she can be moved to support — but when she has good matchups, her damage output is unmatched thanks to Pierce the Veil’s unique properties.
Converting her damage to magic is generally a big bonus, especially with items like Pipe of Insight and Glimmer Cape becoming less and less popular as first-purchase defensive items, in favor of stat items like Solar Crest. This opens up her window to fight, and she can certainly devastate teamfights.
She’s also a powerful laner. Dead Shot is great at securing creeps and even harrassing enemies, and even low levels of The Calling presents potent kill threat. With a thrown Blood Grenade, the spell can become a death trap — also now refreshing whenever an enemy hero dies in it.
- Ancient Apparition
- Wraith King
- Shadow Demon
- Earth Spirit
- Nature’s Prophet
- Templar Assassin
Tier two heroes are safe and stable picks that don’t usually warrant instant bans or picks. While not as oppressive as the heroes in tier one, they can be equally strong in a match that favors their skillset.
Ancient Apparition is seeing a big uptick in play as another response to the Heart meta. The hero can prevent any sort of healing with his ultimate, Ice Blast, and is also one of the best supports in the game at vision control. Ice Vortex is a fantastic skill for scouting dangerous locations, and is also a great farming tool for a support hero that has decent power spikes at important talent levels.
Wraith King is an interesting hero that’s been seeing a morphing in his role, resulting in more play at TI12. He’s seeing more play as an offlane core, leveraging his skeletons as a pushing and fighting tool more so than a farming one. He can be a nightmare for supports to deal with, since the skeletons can respawn, and his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade that grants Reincarnation
- Dark Willow
- Faceless Void
- Vengeful Spirit
- Centaur Warrunner
- Lone Druid
- Naga Siren
- Skywrath Mage
- Dark Seer
The heroes in tier three appear here and there, but are popular enough to be recognized as powerful additions to a team’s draft. They can be cheesy last picks that are impossible to deal with, mesh perfectly with a player or team’s play style, or serve as niche counters to some popular heroes.
Supports like Dark Willow and Skywrath Mage have become popular support complements, often paired with offlaners that have tons of lockdown, while they provide the damage. Dark Willow’s change to allow Bedlam to be castable on allies have greatly increased her quality of life, since she can throw it on heroes like Legion Commander, Primal Beast, and Earth Spirit to fully guarantee the damage rather than throw herself into the fray.