The Bukovel Minor was amazing for many reasons: great production value, amazing games and a very passionate crowd. On top of that, it also showcased that the new meta might not be as figured out as we assumed and there are still new and interesting strategies to discover and experiment with.
Many have given up on the hero in the aftermath of 7.23, but turns out it was premature. Outworld devourer has found his place in the meta of situational mid heroes, winning six games out of six he appeared in. For the most part his playstyle didn’t even change that much.
The hero still wants to stack up and dish out a massive Sanity’s Eclipse, but now, with the help of an early Aghanim’s Scepter purchase, this game plan is often even easier to execute. By trapping two targets, he already gets a non-trivial amount of extra mana and that allows him to utilize his burst damage even earlier.
Given the prevalence of right-clicking Agility carries who typically have a very limited mana pool, it is easy to see why Outworld Devourer is suddenly rising in popularity in the pro scene. His success doesn’t quite translate to the pubs yet, but everyone now has more information to work with and once again the pros might have paved the way for the hero’s return to the pub scene in full force.
Lancer also flew under our radar when we did the Top Tier Carries blog post, but it seems the professional players value him highly. Ten games with an eighty percent win rate is a very good result.
The hero is also really good in pubs, where he can boast a 52% win rate in the highest level bracket with an over 20% pick rate. Phantom Lancer consistently wins more than he loses and that means he is definitely worth playing.
One thing that drastically differs in his pro vs pub playstyle is the frequent inclusion of Hood of Defiance in the professional item builds. Surely, going Manta Style + Diffusal Blade is a must for hero, but Lancer is often hunted by the enemy team in the earlier stages of the game and Hood of Defiance solves a lot of his survivability problems.
It even allows him to join fights early on, not necessarily as the front of the attack, but rather as the clean up crew. It is hard to win games of Dota in the current meta with a fully passive carry and we assure you that by incorporating a Hood into your build when appropriate, you are going to start winning more games.
Lich is back and the biggest reason for his return to the meta is the return of right-clicking carries. After a whole patch where mixed damage cores were the name of the game, we now see a return to the classics: heroes like Razor, Templar Assassin and Phantom Lancer are frequent guests in both pubs and the professional scene and that means Frost Shield, Lich’s best ability, is relevant once again.
There are even new situational builds for the hero that fully concentrate on dealing damage in the earlier skirmishes. Sinister Gaze is still one of the weaker disables in the game and we’ve seen players like Kuroky skip the spell completely to fully concentrate on dealing damage and providing other forms of utility.
The Lich’s mana to damage conversion is pretty great, if his first two abilities are maxed out. Moreover, Frost Blast has a very low cooldown and deals a ton of damage, allowing a well-positioned Lich to be a lot more than just Frost Shield and Chain Frost. Without needing to spend mana and skill points in Sinister Gaze, Lich can become a pretty powerful aggressive support, though do be cautious if you are going this route, especially if the enemy heroes have high mobility or your team lacks disables. Poor disables is still better than no disables at all.
Elder Titan didn’t change much in the new patch, but he is suddenly a lot more relevant. The reason is quite simple: Agility-based right clicking cores really hate to play against Elder Titan’s aura.
Many know that the ET’s aura has two separate components and the physical armor reduction is always concentrated around the actual hero, while the magical resistance reduction is concentrated around the Astral Spirit. This means that if you want to reap the full benefits of the aura you need your support to be on the frontline, pretty close to the enemy carries and that frequently dissuaded players from picking the hero: after all the life expectancy of a support on the front line is pretty low.
However many also truly underestimate the magic damage amplification the hero can provide from a safe distance. Sure, getting rid of the enemy armor can be amazing, but it is rarely feasible, at least not in the later stages of the game. But the magic amplification was found to be enough in the current meta and Agility carries can’t really boast high health pools. At worst, it forces the BKB usage, at best it can lead to an easy kill on a greedy opponent, all with a pretty low commitment level.
Bukovel set the stage for the next Major amazingly: we got a lower bracket run from the Kings of the lower bracket. We got some insane games and we also got some new meta developments that might result in a shift in perspective about the patch.
The game is in a very healthy state right now in terms of balance and we can’t wait to see how even better teams are going to be adapting to each other in the upcoming DreamLeague.