Team optimization is important on competitive games. This is especially true in a team game like Dota 2 where honor, rank, and even hundred thousands of dollars, all ride on the capability of the heroes to band together for victory.

With over 119 unique and well-defined heroes that possess their own playstyles, some are blessed to have an easy life in fighting for either Radiant or Dire, while others have to work twice as hard for a win. This leads to the heroes belonging to a wide spectrum of win rates. Meta champions with strong traits tend to be on the plus side, while those that have glaring weaknesses sit below 50 percent in win rate.

At the end of the day, any hero can win any game, right? How much do hero win rates matter?

The Idea of “Winning”

Hypothetically speaking, any hero can definitely set a team up to win a game. There is a reason why when looking at win rates, some may be sitting with a 43% winrate, but that means they can still win games.

For those heroes belonging in a similar vein, it is undoubtedly harder for them to win their games more than they lose.

This is because the idea of winning, at its most basic level, simply hinges on the player to not lose. It may sound funny, but not losing on trades, runes, objectives, tempo, and map control will certainly give you all the wins—assuming such a trend can be consistently maintained game after game.

In an ideal world, that would be the case. In reality, there are a lot of things that actually influence each game of Dota 2—from queuing up down to the last moments of a game, there are always factors that will either push you and your team to victory, or hinder you from making the right steps towards getting wins.

Factors Involving Win Rates

Winning a game of Dota 2 is highly dependent on a myriad of factors, inside and out of the game. For starters, our very own heroes can already determine the probability of winning the game from the get-go.

While it’s impossible to nail down a specific number for that, it’s things like the mastery of the hero, understanding of the matchups, knowing what to do at a given situation or time, among many others.

Win rates—consequently hero-specific win rates—rely also on external factors that are outside of the player’s control. One’s teammates, their mental states, and the enemies’ skill level are all things that can push win rates to go up or down at small amounts.

In the first place, Dota 2 is a multiplayer game, which means you have to coordinate with four strangers to beat five other strangers.

At the micro level, these factors have a drastic impact when looking at a single or a few players and their heroes’ win rates. On a grand scale, the data stabilizes as it obtains more and more data from players playing the same hero, making the picture clearer on where they stay in the current state of the game.

Even though Valve won’t give us all the statistics, sites like Dotabuff have worked to provide a reliable source of data on things such as hero win rates as a way to glance at who’s winning at the top.

Winrates are not guaranteed

When looking at a hero’s win rate, it is not a guaranteed representation of their likelihood to win once you bring them into your hands. Win rates are an average of the aggregated wins and losses from the many players in Dota 2 that played the hero in their games.

For instance, Spectre in the past week has maintained a solid 55% win rate—the highest among all heroes. Jump into the Player Rankings for Spectre, and you get to see specific players, their respective win rates with Spectre, and how many matches have they brought her in.

Some top level players have brought Spectre in over 3000 games. For instance, a player with a 60% win rate, across 3000 games, would likely have won 1800 games as Spectre. Another player who has a 47% win rate would have only won 1410 games—less than ideal of the average.

The difference in individual win rates shows that the best players do not solely represent the overall 55% win rate when statistics sites take everyone else’s win rates into account. A pro player with huge win rates and games played on a given hero may not necessarily reflect the same for another player who just picked up the same hero.

Concluding Thoughts

By looking only on the win rates, one can get blindsided to the rest of the numbers that actually matter if one wishes to consistently win in Dota 2 and climb the ranks. At the end of the day, you often make the circumstances that either lead to your victory or to your demise.

A hero’s win rate does matter when looking at his or her current state, but it should not be interpreted blindly as an overly simplified 50/50 chance of “Either I win or I lose.” Factors that are within and outside a player’s control can make that 50/50 chance into a 60/40 or even an 80/20 win or lose chance. That can happen to either the heroes with the highest win rates such as Spectre, and the lowest win rates like Nature’s Prophet.

What about you? Do you think a hero’s win rate matters a lot?