Another patch has been released for Dota 2 and compared to the last one, this one is almost primarily focused on hero balance changes. Given a somewhat limited pool of viable carry heroes, some nerfs to the existing staples and buffs to all other heroes were expected, but as was almost always the case with Dota 2 balance changes, the problematic heroes didn’t get completely obliterated, while almost all other carries got somewhat tame buffs.
This is the first big change of the patch and it opens up a lot of new ways to play the game. While statistics doesn’t necessarily back it up, some professional players have expressed dissatisfaction with the limitations of the current pool of professionally viable support heroes and Mireska is more than likely to change this.
We discussed the hero earlier this year in one of our blog post, assuming she will get some small nerfs before being enabled in Captain’s Mode. She didn’t, getting to CM completely intact and the aftermath of her introduction to Captain’s Mode unaltered will probably be clear at the upcoming PGL Bucharest, as we can see many support and offlane players training the hero in their pubs.
Bounty runes no longer providing XP is a huge nerf to many roaming heroes. They were never a sustainable source of XP income, but they were often used to push some heroes from level 2 to level 3, giving them access to an extra ability earlier in the game. Overall, it will probably force players to play in lanes slightly more, since it is going to be impossible now to get to level six in a timely manner without participating in the game.
Past 10-minute mark, however, getting to level 6 became slightly easier, since Tome of Knowledge now provides 40% more XP. It is a major buff to the item, but overall these changes seem a little bit heavy-handed. It almost feels like IceFrog wants the laning stage to be over past 10 minutes into the game.
The new random mechanics are a welcome change as well. The problem with the previous one was that it allowed an early purchase of Magic Wand, which, depending on the situation, could be a game-changer. Faerie Fire instead of an Iron Branch therefore is a welcome change to the game, as well as an increase in Bonus Hero pool. If we have to live with this new mechanic, it is better if there are more heroes to choose and random from. It promotes consistency for the first choice, potentially allowing you to find a good hero to pick within the bonus pool, and reduces consistency of the second choice, since you now random from a bigger selection.
At this point we would really like to see the Bonus Hero pool extended from 12 to 115 heroes and randoming giving a big sweet nothing instead of a Faerie Fire.
The Aeon Disk changes are unlikely to get the item more attention and it will still almost fully remain in the niche domain for specific heroes in very specific situations.
The boots changes are going to be a lot more impactful. It will completely dissuade players from getting starting boots for laning, while equalizing movement speeds slightly across the board.
It will generally mean that the supports are going to be on average a little bit more survivable, since the MS bonus from brown boots is going to be the same, compared to both Phases and Treads. The former still have an added benefit of the active component, but they can no longer be purchased fully from the side shop, making aggressive laning slightly easier and ganks potentially more successful.
A slight nerf to Soul Ring is also a very welcome change. The item has been getting a lot of attention lately, given how its buildup is very appealing to many Strength heroes. 20 HP might not sound much, but it can make a difference. It is also a very decent nerf to Tinker, who generally spams it several times in a quick succession.
Changes in this patch aim to promote the consistency of Abaddon, while making his peak a little less frightening. The level 25 talent, which increases the Aphotic Shield health, is considered the end-game goal for the hero for a reason — the utility from it is massive, as it doubles as a strong dispel, on top of pseudo-heal and a decent AoE nuke.
Overall it should smooth out the power curve of the hero a little and maybe we will see his return to the offlane or even a greedy position 4 support.
The big wake up call for the game developers was when Alchemist from Vici Gaming still decided to opt for +400 Concoction Damage against Liquid’s Phantom Lancer. It was an ideal situation for a cleave talent, yet VG.Paparazi still opted for the nuke.
5% increase in cleave damage is unlikely to change the situation, especially after we’ve seen how effective the cooldown reduction and nuke damage talent pairing can be.
Some interesting changes to the talents for AA. While level 25 one will rarely come into play, the level 15 one looks very promising, as long as you have mana to sustain it. Health regeneration, the alternative talent, doesn’t really do much for what the hero wants to do, while vision, slow, damage amplifier and MS boost for AA on a 1.5 second cooldown can make a big difference in the game.
Extra 25 HP and regeneration at level 10 coupled with an even lower cooldown for Blink is unlikely to make AM a meta hero again. Especially given how he lost the ability to have illusions created on a lower cooldown.
However there is a chance AM will make it into viable territory on the back of +400 Blink Cast Range talent available somewhat early in the game. It greatly increases survivability of the hero when he is only starting to get farmed and makes chases almost impossible, while later it can be used as a very surprising initiation tool.
A very interesting set of talent changes that promote a more caster build for the hero. Arc Warden is often thought of as an accelerating right-clicking core with high split-push capabilities, but realistically he can also be used as a magic damage tempo hero.
Midas would probably remain one of his core purchases, especially given an early 8% cooldown reduction, but his later progression could involve items like Dagon and Ethereal Blade, as well as some utility items. Double Pipe, double Force Staff and double Scythe of Vyse all sound very promising on paper and given how the right-clicking Arc Warden hasn’t been considered viable, maybe there is a chance a new build will emerge.
Hero was in dire need of some very careful buffs and this timely MS increase might actually be enough for the hero to be picked once or twice during a tournament. +3 Mana regen is still incredibly appealing, but +40 MS will allow the hero initiate and still make it back to safety, or chase after some of them more elusive targets.
A very welcome change that can allow the hero to return to the meta. Given how popular Elder Titan was lately, surprise Bloodseeker pick might not be completely out of the question, and now he is significantly more survivable, at least in theory.
Clinkz is approaching the state of viability with the Strafe changes. Given how he can evade all projectile based stuns, he can afford to play without BKB for longer, while still providing amazing single-target teamfight DPS and pushing potential. It won’t be surprising if teams are going to be exploring a position one or two Clinkz in the upcoming PGL Bucharest.
These changes are certainly interesting and can make the hero pickable in both pubs and the professional scene. Given how Tranquils are slightly better of, compared to all other boots, Crystal Maiden will have higher chances of actually getting to her target, while her late game utility can be significantly boosted with the +30 GPM talent change. Both of the alternative talents are similarly good, so it is still up for debate what will happen to the hero, but she was absent from the pro scene for a while now, especially surprising, given the Chen and Enchantress uprising.
Some of the more tame buffs to a hero forgotten for almost three major patches now. It is unlikely the hero will make a comeback to the meta, since his aggression is very limited, while his saves sometimes simply delay the inevitable. He is going to be quite good in lower level pubs, however, since there is a chance a support will get to level 20 in them.
Doom was in a decent spot last couple of patches, being occasionally picked as a surprise hero against certain lineups. He still retains his ability to shut down an enemy safe lane almost completely solo and will still be a problem for the enemy to solve in the late game. With the increased Intelligence, he will become a little bit stronger, but overall the effect of these changes are likely to be negligible.
Very welcome nerfs to the most consistent hero of the previous patch. Loss of Agility gain probably won’t be that much of a big deal, however +30 Attack Speed talent was what enabled DK in the pro meta in the first place, since it allowed him to remain a very viable damage dealer throughout the game. With this gone, he will probably still be picked, but with more “utility core” in mind.
Gust now knock back for 900 units and given the alternative is +25 AS, we strongly suggest always going for this talent. It creates a lot of space between you and your aggressor(s), allowing you to dish out damage from a safe distance. It won’t be surprising if there is a new Drow Strategy somewhere in the works already, since the survivability of the hero has skyrocketed with the new patch.
We’ve seen how effective a well played Ember Spirit can be in a game of Fnatic versus Team Liquid. He is still one of the most elusive targets in the game and can still farm exceptionally fast. This change not only slightly increases the damage of SoF, but also support the idea of physical damage Ember as well as gives extra incentive to pick the +2 SoF charges talent at level 25.
A very slight nerf for the biggest hero of ESL One Katowice. Given how sometimes professionals even opted not to go for the early levels of Homing Missile, it is unlikely anything will change regarding the popularity of Gyro. That said, many of the other carries have received some buffs, so the meta dynamic will be very interesting.
These changes might renew the attempts from the community to make the QW Invoker work again. 8-second Cold Snap does sound quite scary on paper, but depending on the target, you either won’t need it for that long, or it will simply get dispelled. The Tornado lift time increase, on the other hand, makes for a much better EMP setup, so maybe there is still a way to make it work in a particular game.
The hero is criminally underplayed in both pubs and pro-scene and these changes have a chance of providing players with a good position 4 alternative. The hero remains quite clunky and there are a lot of counter-play possible against him, however his abilities, cast points aside, are incredibly powerful and given some setup from the teammates or smart positioning can have a lot of impact.
Two patches in a row the hero has been getting mana cost reduction and at this point it is almost safe to say that a 4-0-4-0 build by level 8 from a support Leshrac might actually work. With Arcane Boots or a Soul Ring, the hero will be able to continuously output a decent amount of magic damage as well as provide some slows and very strong stuns. Once again, the hero is clunky to use, but ignoring his effectiveness is ill-advised, very much like with the case of Jakiro.
Some all around buffs for a hero that was absent from the pro meta for a while now. These changes are certainly welcome and will probably make her a viable choice for the midlane once again. Given how the mid and safelane core meta was rather stale lately, it is a welcome change.
Once again, some overall small buffs for a hero that is underplayed. There is almost no reason for Lion not to be a part of the meta, especially with squishy target like Gyro and Terrorblade being so popular. Soon enough he will probably make a comeback, especially if the situation with Gyro, TB and DK persists.
It is not entirely clear why a hero who is a win condition on his own required a buff, but Lone Druid definitely became significantly stronger. Early levels of extra regeneration for the summon will have a massive impact on his laning stage, while access to extra Roars will further exacerbate the problems of Lone Druid split push. He still require a great deal of expertise to play effectively, but in our opinion skill floor shouldn’t generally be accounted for when balancing a hero — only the skill ceiling.
Once again, mana cost decreases generally point towards the support direction for the hero, since they are usually the ones to have massive mana problems. With these change, Mirana will unlikely become a prime position 4 support, however she is definitely more viable, having more mana for a full combo. With Bane remaining very popular on his own, there is a chance for a surprise Mirana in a pro scene.
These changes open up a completely new way to play the hero and this approach is probably something that was envisioned for Monkey king in the first place: a roaming support hero with high utility, vision and elusiveness. It is going to be extremely interesting to see whether these talents will ever come into play in a professional match, but the potential is definitely there.
This makes Morphling one of the most interesting and one of them most skill-intensive heroes in the game. The potential for the possible interactions are almost unlimited and it is going to be very interesting to see how these changes will play out. Given how it is more of an utility buff, though, we will probably see hero as a position three, rather than as a carry.
These changes make the meme-hammer combo both more and less reliable. On one hand there is now a 0.1 second window where a BKB can be pressed or a skill activated. On the other — the hammer is almost guaranteed to hit their targets, if they have no escape.
Given the popularity of the hero, the counterplay potential was need and it is now there. There is also a manacost increase for later levels of Song of the Siren, but it will mostly come into play when you use Song defensively, rather than to initiate.
With Lone Druid and Nature’s Prophet buffs, it seems almost clear where this patch is headed. Nature’s Prophet hasn’t been a part of the meta for the last couple of patches, but we aren’t entirely sure whether his comeback is going to be welcome. He is already a very annoying hero to lane against, but now he will also continuously push in waves and will generally provide a great deal of map control.
These changes probably won’t bring the hero back in the meta, but the +16% Ghost Shroud slow does sound quite promising. The relative effect between Necro and his targets will probably remain the same as before, but your allies will have an easier time chasing the enemy, or fleeing them.
These changes aren’t going to be extremely impactful past the laning stage, but will make quite a bit of difference in the early game. His setup potential and early harass have been heavily mitigated, but late-game he will still be one of the most impactful cores in the meta, especially with the added +50 HP at level 10.
Another very interesting addition to the potential support roster. Phoenix is a greedier support, that is certain, but unlike most other supports, he can ensure his survival if the fight is won, so getting levels for him is a bit easier. Come level 15 the problem of Phoenix can becomes quite hard for the enemy, since they will have an extra tanky target to deal with. One that is capable of slowing both MS and AS of the enemy, while healing and dealing massive damage.
Once again, one of the more popular heroes of the patch didn’t get that much of an overall nerf, but rather had his laning stage made weaker. The effect of this manacost increase will probably be quite insignificant past the laning stage, but will force Razor to be a lot more precise with his Static Links in the early game.
It is unclear how often will the level 25 talents will actually come into play, however the change is certainly quite interesting, since it can allow you to disable two of the enemy cores at the same times, allowing your team to deal with support first, and then concentrate on the core heroes, without interference. The early +30% XP talent might actually work wonders for the Shadow Demon in achieving this goal and the impact from the hero can be quite substantial.
This is a massive change to Shadow Fiend laning stage that will certainly make him a lot less threatening. Coupled with the changes two patches ago, which reduced his starting maximum souls stack amount, Shadow Fiend is now in a decent place balance-wise, which is amazing, given how he has been a priority option for the past month and a half. His late game potential, at the same time, hasn’t been touched at all, disregarding the acceleration aspect of the starting kill gold potential.
Of all the level 25 changes in the notes, this one has the highest potential of making an impact. With an 80% damage dealt from Illusions, Spectre can even opt for a different build, not involving Radiance, and fully concentrate on stacking up on Agility and Stats in general. Her damage output in the later stages of the game has always been massive and this talent opens up a new, high risk-high reward style of play for the hero, which can be a welcome change of pace for an extremely slow hard carry.
Sven’s absence from the meta is a bit surprising, given how stacks are not a much bigger deal than they used to be. Still, with the amount of kiting and mobile heroes, coupled with MS talents, to some degree the fact that he wasn’t even picked once in ESL One Katowice is justifiable.
These talents aim at solving this problem and they might actually achieve their goal. Having a much lower cooldown on a stun is always a good deal, but it also dispels now, meaning it can be used to counter “ghost” effects, as well as myriad of other useful buffs from the enemy.
Given how the hero resulted in an outcry from the community, the nerfs are surprisingly tame. Yet, as was pointed out multiple times throughout the tournament, the hero might not have needed nerfs in the first place: only one team, Team Liquid, made the hero look OP.
The manacost increase for Laser once again only nerfs the hero’s early game, while the bounce radius cuts are probably going to be inconsequential, given how it is generally quite difficult to spread out more than 400 units apart during an engagement. But still, it is a good change for a hero that remains one of the most consistent win conditions.
Laning stage nerfs. Not long-term effect once again. For a hero this popular it is surprising the nerfs were that tame — he was, after all, the most contested hero of ESL One Katowice, banned in the majority of games.
A weird change overall, with hero getting an extremely powerful level 25 talent, while losing an early XP talent. Still, the early +2 block instances for Living Armor is nothing to look down on, and from this change alone the hero can make a comeback into the meta, with a focus on getting Living Armor maxed up before level 10.
Some small all around buffs to talents which might being the hero back into the meta, especially given how many popular cores were nerfed. +50 HP and +25 Damage from an ability don’t look like much in a vacuum, but Troll is substantially better off in 7.10 than previously, since he is one of the few remaining lane dominating heroes that has high Rosh potential, high push potential and decent teamfight.
Given how all of these changes are Talent-related, the effect isn’t going to be as visible, but it might come into play in prolonged games. With Alchemist proven to be decent enough to pick once during a tournament, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see an Undying Aghanim’s upgrade during Bucharest and it does change the flow of the game quite hard.
One of the most disenchanting feelings as Ursa is getting stunned by Roshan twice in a row and losing all stacks. It is up for debate how abusable these extra 4 seconds can be and whether the teams are going to try and sneak in an early Roshan, but as a consistency booster this change is very welcome.
New Veno can be even more disruptive to the enemy, while still providing a lot of utility through slows and vision. The level 25 Nova now covers a 1375 AoE in poison, potentially disrupting all the blinks and giving an Octarine Veno all the heal in the world. It might be worth exploring in pubs, but is probably still too unreliable to attempt in an official match.
Interesting quality of life changes that will probably make the hero a little bit more popular among the uninitiated. Visage is in an interesting spot, where he is used as a position one or two more frequently, than he used as a support. He still lacks the burst damage he used to have, however.
Warlock is getting some interesting buffs. The level 15 XP talent looks especially interesting, given how the level 25 golems can become a complete nuisance to deal with, with extra armor or complete magic immunity. If taken in a timely manner, they can become a win condition and maybe there is even room for a core Warlock, that concentrates on getting quadruple (or even sextuple/septuple) Golems up as soon as possible.
Once again, a support-oriented buff that is nonetheless benefits a core Windranger as well. A well-landed Shackleshot is a very strong disable and having more of them is a welcome change for the hero. That said, her return to the meta is still quite unlikely, since she is either heavily out-tempoed or out-scaled by the majority of other cores.
Winter Wyvern was absent from the meta for some time and this will certainly bring her back. No longer is there a trade-off between Arctic Burn manacost and Splinter Blast damage and the 1-3-1 build is probably going to be a staple, freeing up a skill point for an early Cold Embrace, if you still want to remain aggressive, while having mana for all your spells. A very welcome and a well deserved change for a hero that was hit too hard over and over again.
A new way to play Wraith King comes with several benefits. Since you no longer need to have your passive proc 5 extra times to get the full Skeleton crew, you can use the skill with maximum efficiency much more frequently, while the Attack Damage, while lower, comes at a time where the enemy might not have reacted with the timely Crimson Guard. Skeletons potentially deal a lot of damage and the ability to “guide” them with the Wraithfire Blast makes for a hero that is quite easy to play effectively. Who know, maybe he will be picked professionally after all.
We often say that the patch is going to have a good impact on the meta and this patch is also going to be the case. As mentioned previously, most of the nerfs for problematic heroes concentrated on their early game, without tampering with their later power levels. While the buffs the majority of other heroes received were small and all-around.
It should theoretically open up the meta, with higher selection of potential mid and safelane cores and even some unexpected position 4 heroes. Luckily, all of these changes will soon be put to a test in the upcoming Bucharest Major, while we will cover the Pub meta changes in our regular Blog Post next week.