Tiny is the most contested hero of the Major so far with a hundred percent pick and ban rate. Despite high popularity, or perhaps because of it, his winrate is very low, falling below 40%. Zeus is in a somewhat similar position: he was played in seven games, only winning one. Are the heroes actually overvalued or are there other reasons for their poor performance? Let’s take a look.
Tiny is often thought of as a flex pick: you can open him early and then adjust accordingly. This line of thinking doesn’t seem to reflect reality any longer, though, with core Tiny having an abysmal 20% winrate. The hero simply doesn’t seem to work as a midlaner, though it should be noted that a small sample size of five games is anything but conclusive.
Nonetheless, the trend is there and this is very surprising, given how Tiny has a rather easy time laning against most heroes. He has superior damage for last hitting, high scaling potential and tempo. He doesn’t get to farm the small camp as easily as most other midlaners due to his limited mana pool, but more often than not he makes up for it with wave creep last hits and denies.
The situation looks slightly better for support Tiny: 46% winrate across 13 games is a decent stat, especially for a hero that is being picked in the first phase a lot. Tiny has a very similar early game progression in the support role, typically rushing Blink Dagger and a lot of his success and failures can be attributed to whether he gets Blink Dagger in a timely manner.
There were no position one Tiny attempts at the Major so far either, though given the latest round of nerfs to this playstyle it is understandable. What isn’t though, is the 100% contest rate. The hero was let through in 18 games and was banned in 14.
Going forward we fully expect teams to start valuing Tiny less and for his pick+ban rate to drop. He makes a lot of sense as a greedy support hero: while his laning presence and initiation reliability cannot be compared to heroes like Marci and Earth Spirit, in the later portions of the game, past Blink Dagger purchase, he has the most powerful repositioning tool on top of a great AoE stun.
We also feel like his midlane popularity is going to decrease significantly. He can’t offer the same reliable control and utility as most other midlane heroes can and his initiation capabilities are almost identical to Tiny being played in a support role, only he can come online earlier.
While he does scale damage-wise, we feel like a lot of other mid heroes can scale almost as well or even better, while providing stronger magical damage output. It can be very important in the later stages of the game when Armor values on carry heroes become very high and their BKB duration becomes low: having a source of sustained magical damage is often a necessity for a successful fight.
Zeus was heralded as one of the most OP heroes coming into the Major, but it doesn’t look like he is too hot from stats alone. One victory across seven games is disheartening, to say the least. Seems like most players were ready to face Zeus in both mid and support positions.
Part of it is teams rediscoverting long-forgotten Pipe of Insight, which provides a very powerful aura against sustained magical damage. Wraith Pact was the defensive item of choice against burst damage, but the problem with it is that Zeus specifically has a very easy time staying outside of its effective range.
Part of it is cores and support purchasing more Infused Raindrops and not minding going for an early Cloak derivative. Sometimes supports even end the game with a casual Cloak, while carries purchase Mage Slayer. The latter can be a very good progression for the spare Oblivion Staff, after Echo Sabre is disassembled into BKB. And it’s not like it is a wasted slot, given a potential Bloodthorn progression later on.
All in all, we feel like Zeus is still going to be picked, but he is going to become a second, third stage hero. He can be very good against high armor, low HP characters like Terrorblade, but he can no longer be picked casually in the first phase: the surprise factor is gone and players learned to adapt both in terms of their itemization and their playstyle.