Steven R. December 30, 2020
An old balance problem might be resurfacing in Dota 2 right now.
Dota 2 has long struggled to perfectly balance the dire and radiant sides of the map. Try as Valve might, one side or the other always seems to have an edge. And right now, the radiant side is favored by a significant margin.
From GPM to XPM to KDA, almost every hero in Dota 2 has it better on the radiant side in every way. This is especially skewed when comparing and contrasting win rates for heroes on the two sides.
Over the last 30 days, 100% of Dota 2 heroes have a higher win rate on the radiant side than the dire side. As of this writing only five heroes, Underlord, Clinkz, Broodmother, Wraith King, and Ogre Magic, have a win rate of 50% or higher on the dire side. Only six heroes have a win rate below 50% on the radiant side.
Worst of all is the side-by-side comparisons of some of the heroes. Underlord enjoys the highest win rate of any hero on both the radiant and dire side, but there is an eight-point difference with a 59.7% rate on the radiant side and a 51.6% rate on the dire side. That difference isn’t unique to Underlord either, as most heroes have at least seven points of difference between the two sides. The most skewed is Spectre, who has a full 10% difference between the radiant and dire side.
Valve will likely address this in some way in the upcoming Dota 2 patches, as overly skewed results have been dealt with repeatedly over the years. Unfortunately, all of these solutions tend to be temporary rather than cures for uneven win rates between Dota 2’s two sides.
Why is radiant better than dire in Dota 2?
The radiant side has been better than the dire in Dota 2 for a few years now, for a variety of reasons. This might seem strange as the two sides of the map are generally even, with similar pathways through trees, the same general jungle layout, and towers finally being spaced evenly. What inevitably makes the two sides different is the difference in how either side has to approach the Roshan pit.
In Dota 2’s early years, the dire side actually had a lingering advantage. Early on this was because of the Roshan pit’s close proximity to their tier-one mid tower and the ability to safely farm and stack ancients nearby. The pit was later moved closer to the dire tier-one bottom lane tower, which still gave the dire team easier access.
Once the pit was moved from the right side of the map to the left, things started to favor the radiant more. This initially stemmed from the radiant side’s ability to farm ancients near Roshan, as well as the new and slightly more favorable position of the pit. Despite the introduction of outposts, the brief appearance of shrines, rune locations being shuffled around, and ancient camps being moved, the radiant advantage has persisted ever since.
Finally, the jungle layout has also generally favored the radiant side. The top radiant jungle is better than the bottom dire jungle for early farming, stacking camps is generally easier for the radiant, and so on.
Each iteration of the Dota 2 map has seen different factors lead to one side having a slight advantage, but the radiant have been favored despite all of this for years now.