Image by Crowntail
The cyclical nature of patches might not be ideal, but it does keep things fresh. Every patch some heroes essentially get “rotated out” of the professional and high-level pub meta and are replaced by newly buffed characters. For the most part, it works surprisingly well: there are usually no completely unusable heroes, they just become very specific. Sometimes, however, this well-oiled balance machine forgets about certain heroes and they are left by the wayside for way too long. Today we are going to discuss three such heroes.
At one point in time, Sven was as iconic to Dota as Juggernaut and Crystal Maiden. He is, after all, the hero with the highest number of cosmetic swords in the game. Lately, though, he’s been absent from both professional and even pub meta and the hero direly needs a buff or two.
Sven didn’t work when the meta revolved around Death Prophet: in theory the hero counters her decently well, with the extra armor he provides from Warcry. He could be played as a position three initiator, with a focus on team auras and with an Aghanim’s down the road in mind, but he wasn’t, because he was simply outclassed by the likes of Mars and Centaur Warrunner.
Sven doesn’t work now, even in a meta where Echo Sabre is one of the best items in the game and can be upgraded into a pretty powerful initiation and even DPS tool. This meta, as discussed previously, favors scaling, and Sven does farm incredibly fast, but he is still nowhere to be seen.
The hero can’t boast two lives, something that allows Wraith King to be effective and deals with kiting in a rather crude fashion. The hero doesn’t have access to innate spell immunity like Lifestealer and he also doesn’t have a gap-closer like Slark does, unless he purchases a rather expensive non-DPS item.
On top of it all, Sven doesn’t really fight well without his ultimate, and that is on a pretty long cooldown, comparable to the one on Terrorblade. While the latter also makes the hero ranged and solves most problems with actually dealing damage, Sven’s ultimate just makes him slightly tankier, to get kited for longer, and that’s about it.
We feel like the hero can’t be returned to the meta with quantitative upgrades alone, because of all the factors above. He needs a qualitative change: something that helps him actually deal damage in fights. It can be a status resistance on one of his abilities, it can be a reduced cooldown on Storm Hammer with Aghanim’s without or in addition to the one on his talent, or it could be a rework on his ultimate, with a much higher uptime, to at least make him a high-risk — high-reward hero. One thing is certain: something has to be done about the hero.
Still one of the most popular heroes in the game and still one of the least usable ones in the highest level bracket. PA wins less than 45% of her games in Divine+ and direly needs a buff. One that, ideally, doesn’t make her too overpowered in lower brackets at the same time.
These kind of buffs are typically the hardest to do well: the hero’s effectiveness must be increased, but in a way that mostly benefits high-level players. That, once again, means less straight-up buffs and more situational options.
PA has an innate gap-closer, a defensive option in Blur and even a way to disjoint some projectiles, but the hero really lacks consistency and any teamfight presence until after she gets her BKB, level twelve + at least one DPS item. That usually comes too late for her to make as high of an impact, as it is expected from a position one hero in the current meta.
Straight up stats upgrades are probably a no-go for the hero, since she does reasonably well in lower level pubs and making her all-around more powerful would lead to her being too much a nuisance for beginner players, which is not ideal. A creative solution is the only option.
One way to solve this conundrum would involve changing PA’s ultimate to have a smaller multiplier, but higher chance of proc. That would work really well in theory, since it will allow PA to be more confident when jumping on a hero.
She will be able to more reliably deal with a problematic disabler and maybe even skip the BKB as the second item. It wouldn’t make the hero much stronger in lower level pubs, but for high-level players who make better-informed decisions, it can lead to better planning. It will also strip the hero of her identity, which is a downside, yet a negligible one for most players.
Alternatively, the hero could get access to no cast-point Blur without an Aghanim’s. It will work great for mechanically stronger players and will fit well with the hero’s identity, but the actual effectiveness of such buff theoretically sounds a bit too situational, hence insufficient.
Perhaps the hero could use a buff on her talents and a return of her late-game potential through talent-scaling, but that, once again, might make her a bit too annoying to deal with. Alternatively, items that work well against PA might get a nerf, but that would potentially cascade in a whole lot of other balance issues. Phantom Assassin really needs a buff, and we hope Valve will be able to come up with a solution in the next patch, preferably the one, that doesn’t just make the hero simply stronger.
Leshrac is weird. Unlike the previous two heroes, he does better in higher-level pubs, but better doesn’t mean he does well. The hero really suffers from enemy BKB timings, from his own squishiness and poor laning stage, if you go the most efficient DPS and push build. However, all of these problems could be solved with straight-up stats upgrades. That would be boring, though, wouldn’t it?
Lightning strike could really use some love, that’s for certain. Right now this spell is taken in one situation only: you need a way to contest the ranged creep in the middle lane in an unfavorable matchup. That’s it, that’s all this spell does and is usually forgotten afterward.
Very few people know or remember, but our beautiful flower, N0tail, was once a HoN player and Leshrac was one of his signature characters. The hero was more or less the same in HoN, with one key difference: his third spell was a single target spell, that would pull everyone in an AoE towards the initial target while dealing damage.
We are not suggesting Dota straight-up copies a mechanic from one of its numerous clones of ever-decreasing quality, but the overall idea of having some extra utility on Lightning Storm is definitely good. It does have a slow, which was introduced in 6.81, but it is clearly not enough, at least not with current values.
We really hope Valve won’t go for a boring +2 Armor or something along those lines on the hero to get him back into the meta and instead will make the hero more skill-intensive and more interesting to play. In a game with so much mobility and flashiness Leshrac doesn’t only feel weak to play, but is also rather unsatisfying.
Leave your thoughts on how you would buff these heroes in the comment section below. Are there any other heroes you would personally like to see buffed or reworked in the next patch?