Announcers and analysts make a hullabaloo over the apparent lack of concern Wings Gaming has for the meta. Does their success indicate an over-dependence on meta-analysis in the pro circuit?
First and foremost, I find it particularly funny that the announcers were so confident that OG had the edge over Wings going into their winner’s final matchup only for it to result in two straight wins for Wings. It feels like just yesterday that Sam Richards, another writer here at DireDota HQ, and I were talking about some of her concerns about OG’s performance. By the way, keep your eyes open for her prediction posts, because she has had a stunning track record this year predicting professional play. It’s almost eerie how in less than of a day of her posting the words “OG’s mechanical skill might not be enough to carry them to 1st place,” OG lost 2 games straight to Wings.
Meta, meta everywhere
But the main point I’d like to focus on is the recent strength of Wings Gaming even even with their apparent lack of concern for the meta. The meta-analysis, for those of you who don’t know, is the metric used to evaluate how heroes measure up to each other in any given patch. It’s an incredibly useful tool for evaluating the feasibility of heroes. Maybe too good of a tool, actually.
I say this because for the past week and a half (or more) I keep hearing about how Wings’ unconventional or unorthodox choices, oftentimes at odds with the meta, is yielding win after win for Wings. I’ve heard at least three different announcers comment on this, and it doesn’t take much effort to find tweets from other pros who point out this very fact.
Or, my personal favorite, this thread on Reddit covering the same topic:
Can’t see the forest through the meta
I’ve had a few conversations with my coworkers about how the meta seems to encourage popular drafts and builds that yield consistent results, but not necessarily the best results. There are 111 heroes to choose from, of which only 10 will be drafted in any given game. With the meta as prominent a motivating factor in the drafting phase as it is, it could very well be narrowing the focus of teams during the pick phase. And I think Wings is doing a stellar job of pointing this out to us.
The unexpected choices made by Wings really seems to be throwing off the tempo of many pro teams. And doesn’t that make sense? If you were accustomed to playing the same kind of game over and over and over again, and then you were confronted with something strange and new, wouldn’t that throw you off too?
This doesn’t even take into account all the different items and skill builds. Slight variations in these can have quite an unexpected effect on the course of a game. Going for the obvious choice will yield obvious results, sure. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more suitable options that combo to a more devastating effect. The downside of this, of course, is that these unorthodox choices will be much higher risk, which I think many teams balk at with so much money and prestige riding on the line.
Just the other day I was watching a game where a player changed up his skill build and managed to get first blood when he otherwise wouldn’t, simply because his opponent wasn’t expecting it. As obvious as this all seems now that we’re talking about it, I really do think that this simple fact could have a large impact on the pro circuit at large.
Wings Gaming seems to be the first among the pros that is making use of it. Perhaps it’ll give them enough of an advantage to put them in striking distance of the championship at TI6.