Cap and SVG explain Lina and Slardar’s domination at ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023

ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023 group stage painted a good image of how the meta has shifted after the post TI12 patch.

Although the entire Dota 2 community felt that the 7.34e game play update was pretty underwhelming, the nerfs to Heart of Tarrasque, Blade Mail and a few of the strength heroes that terrorized The International 2023 stage, made room for new heroes to come into the limelight.

Two heroes in particular shined through the ESL One Kuala Lumpur groups. Lina, who was far from being a hot meta pick at TI12, is now the go-to mid lane choice for almost every team.

More interestingly, although Slardar was completely untouched by the patch, he went from not being picked a single time in the 150 games played at TI12, to now being the second most contested hero through the first part of ESL One Kuala Lumpur. He sits at a 91% contest rate with 12 picks and 49 bans.

Lina at ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023

Given the sudden surge of these two heroes who haven’t been directly impacted by the 7.34e patch, we talked with Austin “Cap” Walsh and Avery “SVG” Silverman at the end of the group play in Kuala Lumpur to learn what might have caused their return to the meta.

The duo have been party queuing together quite a lot post TI12 , Cap told us, and they’ve ended up on the receiving end of many Lina mids. “The hero has been developed in pubs for a bit,” SVG told to us.

“She has a pretty strong spell caster build, she is also the strongest laner in Dota 2 and when you have something like that, people prefer to pick it blindly in the match ups where they don’t know what they are facing,” SVG explained. “And if a hero also provides any value outside of winning her lane, it will basically end up being picked. I think that’s the part that people are trying to figure out right now. How well does she scale, how robust is this hero in terms of fitting with other cores, but you can’t deny this hero does what it does. It goes mid, it wins its lane, and it gives you an advantage and then it pushes lanes, and farms and it gives a very good single target burst.

Some other mid lane spell casters got nerfed a bit, so she is back.”

Cap also gave his thoughts on why Lina wasn’t popular at TI12.

“The problem with her at TI12 was that there was definitely a strength meta, where even though she can output 2000+ pure damage, it was not enough when a hero had 5k HP,” he said to us.


“So, the fact that Hearth got nerfed a bit, Blade Mail got nerfed a bit, and some of the very popular TI strength heroes got nerfed a bit, helps Lina a lot. That’s a big factor and maybe there is an emphasis on winning the lanes right now, because, in part, Gaimin Gladiators proved that you can go from winning lanes to ending the game fairly quickly. A lot of the games at TI12 were super drawn out and then Gaimin Gladiators came in and ended games in 25 minutes. If you can end games quickly, then winning lanes is extremely important and I think Lina is really strong at doing that.”

Slardar at ESL One Kuala Lumpur 2023

For Slardar, although he is the second most contested hero, after Grimstoke, neither SVG nor Cap truly believe in his powers.

Slardar fits the same concept of lane domination as Lina. But besides that, he is also some one of the best conters to what seems to become a trend in the new meta.

Slardar fits the same concept of lane domination as Lina. But besides that, he is also one of the best counters to what seems to become a trend in the new meta.

“I don’t have nearly as much faith in Slardar as I do in Lina right now,” said Cap.”But, probably another factor for him being so popular right now is not just the lane domination, but also some of the strength heroes not being as strong anymore. First that comes to mind is Chaos Knight. I think this hero trades with any hero and one of the biggest advantages of Slardar is that he is supposed to be able to out-trade with a lot of these melee cores. So, Chaos Knight` being nerfed definitely helps, Troll Warlord doesn’t feel as strong as it was, and that’s another hero that countered Slardar in his effectiveness in lane.

I will say that although he was highly contested in the groups, but I don’t see it yet. maybe I’ll become a believer by the end of the tournament.”

SVG pointed out that Slardar has really good matchups against Lone Druid and Lifestealer, which were also hot picks in the group play at ESL One Kuala Lumpur.

Beginning today, December 15, ESL One Kuala Lumpur playoff matches are being played on stage at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre. It remains to be seen if Lina and Slardar will continue their domination or if the teams that made it to the top 8 found a different meta approach.