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Supports are an important part of the team. In fact, with so much emphasis on the laning stage in the current meta, the importance of supports is at an all-time high. They ensure farm for your core, make the life of the enemy core a lot harder, and combined, these things have an immense impact on how the game will play out.
Patch 7.18 addressed the viability of several supports in the game, but it didn’t change the fact that going for strong lanes is a safer bet. Heroes like Warlock, Naga Siren, and Windranger received some nerfs, but they are still good heroes worth picking. However, there are now several more heroes worth looking at when it comes to supports and Dazzle is one of them.
Dazzle is often thought of as Oracle’s weaker substitute or a highly defensive support that doesn’t offer much except for Shallow Grave. It might have been the case previously, but things have definitely changed.
Poison Touch wasn’t good. It was a decent level one ability, but quickly became less relevant as game progressed. Patch 7.18 increased damage from level one Poison Touch by whopping 60%, pushing it from “decent” to borderline “great” category. 64 damage it deals doesn’t look too powerful, but the fact that the ability can get refreshed indefinitely ensures that you really can’t trade with Dazzle as a solo offlaner.
Even in dual lanes this ability should provide more than enough incentive for the enemy to start falling back—any hit from a hero and the debuff is fully refreshed. Hit both the enemy offlaner and his support from a safe distance and you are almost guaranteed to force them to their tower.
General lack of respect for this ability is also something worth noting—Dazzle is heavily underplayed in the pub scene with less than 4% pick rate. While most high-level pub players understand how the ability works, they often underestimate how much it actually does—16 damage a second or 64 damage total does sound quite weak on paper.
More often than not, they start trading hits with you under the effect of Poison Touch and while it is a battle they can certainly win, they won’t be able to leave unscathed. Moreover, even if Dazzle is forced to retreat, they really can’t chase after him—slow on the ability is by no means powerful, but it is more than enough to ensure some distance between Dazzle and his target.
If they do chase they will soon start understanding that their health is slowly ticking away. At this point they are faced with two options—start falling back, eating Dazzle auto-attack in their back, once again refreshing the duration of Poison Touch. Or commit for an all-in, trying to get a kill on Dazzle before he kills them.
Dazzle’s own unresponsive teammate is the biggest issue a Dazzle player often faces, alongside heavy regeneration and purge effects. Carry players are often so obsessed with having a perfect creep score, that they pay close to no attention to anything else happening in their lane. It happens even at Divine ranking and identifying whether your carry is going to be willing to back you up is a top priority—much like your enemies, your teammates might not be aware of how much damage you actually bring to the table.
The Poison Touch change definitely made Dazzle a threat in lane, potentially propelling him into the meta. But this ability was never the reason the hero was picked—for the last several months it was actually the reason hero was overlooked. Now, after the buff the hero received, he is actually useful in lane, on top of being one of the most powerful mid and even late-game supports.
This ability is extremely powerful. Five extra seconds of being alive means that your carry gets a chance to retaliate and deal a ton of damage, potentially winning the engagement. Five extra seconds on your utility core or other support means they get a chance to use their spells, contributing to the fight. And in both cases they also have a chance to survive.
Using it is simple: you see teammate being focused—you cast it on them. Using it well is understanding what teammates are worth saving in the first place—you rarely want to Shallow Grave an allied Disruptor who already used all of his spells. But for the most part this spell is all about positioning.
Learning to use it well isn’t hard—it is easy to understand how important all of your teammates are and prioritize accordingly. Learning to use it consistently is much harder. The problem is very apparent in the earlier levels—cast range on Shallow Grave is pretty small and you generally want to max out Shadow Wave first, so to save your teammate you often need to be pretty close to the fight, while remaining unseen from the enemy.
Abuse trees and fog of war as much as you can. Poison Touch is a very good ability, but it is not worth it to step into vision to cast it, even with the level 20 talent. Enemy seeing you means enemy initiating on you and, most likely, killing you. At least against competent opponents.
Try your best to cast Shallow Grave at its max range—this way you won’t accidentally get caught in some AoE stun or silence on your way to your teammate. Don’t try to cast it at a perfect time either—one second of Shallow Grave wasted is still better than a dead teammate. Finally, use your mic or pings to guide your teammate in the direction to run towards—communication saves lives and not everyone has map awareness of a professional player.
The healing aspect of this ability is quite weak. It does make a difference and it is amazing at sustaining your allies in-between fights, but during actual combat your teammates shouldn’t rely on it for protection. At least at the beginning of the fight.
Healing scales very well with the armor stat. The same amount of restored HP is going to be vastly different in terms of effectiveness between a high armor and a low armor target. Luckily, Dazzle can provide an insane amount of armor to his teammates and strip the same amount from enemies.
It also makes Shadow Wave a very damaging nuke under certain circumstances. It is most apparent during the laning stage, when armor and HP pools are low, but even later in the game it can allow your teammates to focus down enemy that much faster. It also works incredibly well with summons, such as Lycan’s wolves or Nature's Prophet’s treants.
This is easily the most underestimated ultimate in the whole game. Even at level one, it can strip down or add up to 17 armor to your enemies and teammates. It does take a while to kick in and the effect might not be as apparent, but it is very strong.
At level one, it will shave off 8.5 armor on average, which means that the target with 1500 HP and 15 armor will lose slightly over 20% of its EHP against physical damage. Considering the AoE, the fact that this value will increase even further and that Weave also increase your allies EHP, it should be clear how effective this ability is.
It scales incredibly well, since the armor increase and reduction gets even more meaningful with higher HP values. Late into the game, it can reduce or add up to 29 armor, making highground sieges easier and fight always slowly turning in your favor. It also has 16 seconds of downtime, so it can and should be used freely at every opportune moment. Sometimes it is at it best when cast on your whole team, before going into battle.
Unlike Slardar’s Corrosive Haze, it is also an undispellable effect. This is nice on its own, but comes into play big time when playing against illusion heroes: it is impossible to miss the real hero among his army of illusions from Stile della Manta, Doppelganger or Phantasm, since the real hero will have a big glowing indicator above their head. Just make sure that you cast Weave before the illusion-spawning ability is used and coordinate with your teammates so that you or they don’t initiate prematurely.
Dazzle was never a weak hero and was quite successful in the pro-scene in numerous patches. The recent meta-shift towards strong lanes took away a lot of his appeal—the hero didn’t really do too much in the early game, making him a liability for the first crucial 10 minutes of the game. He would still be a very strong hero come mid-game, but sometimes it was a little bit too late.
7.18 addressed this issue in a very convincing manner. Dazzle might not offer disables, but he more than makes up for it in terms of how much easier he makes teamfights. Now he also offers aggressive capabilities on top of his sustain in lane and that makes him a good fit for the current meta.