Imagine instead of gaining extra gold for randoming a hero, you instead started with extra gold, and then would pay to pick a hero. Would that change your likelihood of going random? That was the difference back in Dota 1, when playing what you wanted or your team needed had a cost.
All Pick in Dota 2 has gone through several iterations, at one point it was an experimental hybrid with random draft, where 25 of the heroes would be removed from the pool before the match started. Welcome introductions to ranked play include an augmented draft and ban phase, migrating a competitive portion of professional play to pubbers.
Because of the lack of popularity of Captain’s Mode and Random Draft, Ranked All Pick has become the choice for competitive pub players, even if the mode only approximates how pros play Dota. The greatest differences being how players enter the game. Two of them are small but have large consequences to how a Ranked match unfolds.
The pick and ban order of Captain’s Mode has been restructured several times throughout Dota’s history, balancing the advantages and disadvantages of picking first and having the counter-pick. The order matters. In CM, the first pick can be advantageous as a deny-pick against a team’s favored heroes, or if there’s a particularly strong hero in the meta that the team can use well. But in All-Pick, the advantage of choosing first is largely wasted.
The meta is balanced and wide enough that there isn’t a stark benefit of getting that first pick. Gone are the days of Leshrac, Lina, or that one time when a level 2 Invoker with Alacrity and no items had near 90 base damage. Now there’s also the ban phase for any potential imbalanced heroes. Being able to counter-pick is far more valuable in pubs, and that advantage continues to add when it’s the same team that gets to always pick second.
Valve has experimented with All Pick modes before, changing the format in brief periods. This fault seems easy to address. The pick/ban order could easily follow what it’s like in Captain’s Mode, without any difference in the time it takes to get a game started. It would add another element of competitive play to both teams, and if a player couldn’t make the right counter-pick, he could always random.
Being able to random is a feature carried over from Dota 1, and it was sort of a necessity. Sometimes you simply couldn’t find the hero you wanted, all split into different grids hidden in different buildings. And sometimes you’d just be struck with analysis paralysis. Picking a hero means having an idea of what you want to do in this game, what your team needs, and what’s best considering the opposing team’s composition. It’s a meandering decision tree, compounded by the depth of knowledge required to navigate it. There’s rarely a perfect answer, but rest assured someone on your team will have something to say about it.
Random removes choice, removes the anxiety of having to know what to do—the psychic burden of making a strategical mistake before the game even starts. You couldn’t help that the game’s algorithm chose the worst hero of the meta. Or even better, random your hero ahead of your teammates and saddle the counter-picking and strategy to them.
The idea is that the extra 200 gold is a reward for taking the risk that you may not land on a hero you’re great at. But that’s not always the punishment. You can swap with a willing teammate and still retain a gold advantage (100) in your lane. You can reroll your pick, though at a cost.
The truth is that being able to random is a necessary feature, but it has the chance of hurting both teams. The random gold is perhaps marginal to lower levels of play, but it can make the difference between winning and losing your lane for everyone else. For your own team, choosing to random can be interpreted as a method of griefing, as if to say you don’t care about the outcome of this game, and you just want to do your own thing with that extra bit of gold. It’s not uncommon for the last player on the team to random that final pick, at the behest of their own teammates to choose a hero that best fits the situation.
There’s already incentive for players to random, without the reward of additional gold. Our brains already tend to get addicted to games with intermittent rewards. Whether you random a good or bad hero is just spinning another roulette wheel. And in Dota, you can spin it again if you don’t like the results.