Last week, we talked about how some heroes are considerably weaker in lower level pubs and discussed what skills newer players might lack that prevent them from making them work. Today, we go the opposite direction: we are going to have a look at heroes who overperform in lower level brackets but lose some of their prowess in Divine+ games. Theoretically, it should give us some insight into what skills all players have to develop when their rank increases.
The one true King remains very effective in lower level brackets despite all the nerfs. Having two lives is a big bonus regardless of the bracket but is definitely not as pronounced in high MMR games.
So, what exactly do better players do to suffer less from the tyrannical rule of Wraith King? Two things immediately come to mind: target prioritization and fight timings.
The latter should be easy to grasp: you don’t force a fight when you are weaker as a team. You split-push, win time, go for precision ganks, and generally play in an annoying way, without committing to a full 5v5 frontal assault. This is very important when playing against Wraith King since he is a fast-farming carry hero who doesn’t mind joining the fights early when he has his ulti up.
When he doesn’t, however, he is a pretty easy target that can be kited and poked to death. That leads to our second point: target prioritization. Getting kills on enemy carry and mid is awesome, no doubt about it, but when mentally constructing your idea of a team fight, think about it in steps with varying priority.
You will find that most of the time supports have a much more favorable “threat in a fight” to “time to kill” ratio. That is to say, they might not have the most impact, but you can kill them so fast and for so little it is better to focus them first.
Now this isn’t some obscure knowledge, but for some reason, it is rarely utilized. Looking at stats, it might be new information for newer players: Wraith King with ultimate up has one of the worst “Threat” to “TTK” ratios in the game. He should rarely be a priority number one target, doubly so once he gets level 20 and can reincarnate without mana.
Kill his squishy teammates, dance around his army of skeletons and his own clumsy persona, and you will definitely see improvements in your own win rate against this hero.
It might look redundant: discussing two heroes with “second life” in the same context one after another, but some extra clarification is necessary for Abaddon, since in the professional scene and high-level pubs he is mostly played as a position five, while lower-level pubs insist on playing him as a core.
Against core Abaddon, the information above should be sufficient. It is mostly the same idea of not prioritizing wrong targets and knowing when to fight, who to fight and how to kite the things you don’t want to fight just yet.
Against support Abaddon, it is slightly more complicated. Much like Oracle, Abaddon has the ability to Strong Dispel with Aphotic Shield, meaning that you either commit to Abaddon or have an extra disable at the ready when fighting against the enemy carry.
The best way to start fights against support Abaddon is to isolate either Abaddon himself or the target you are focusing on: the cast range on Aphotic Shield is rather low, so initiating when you have vision on Aba and he is sufficiently far away is not a bad idea.
Abaddon is also one of the few targets where silence might be better than stun, since he won’t be able to immediately dispel it from himself through Borrowed Time. When initiating, you can use good disables on your target and throw some silence to Abaddon, just to make sure your initiation doesn’t get turned around. It is unlikely a position five Abaddon will have early access to Greaves or Lotus.
Most of the information above also applies to both Dazzle and Oracle. The former could be fit into the discussion as well, since his win rate does decrease with the increase in skill, but it would definitely be redundant: he is, for the most part, another “second life” hero.
The last hero we are going to discuss today who might not be dominating lower level pubs, but is still a threat is Bristleback. He wins roughly ~51% of his games in Crusader- and ~43% in Divine+, so the difference is noticeable. So what exactly do newer players do wrong when playing against Bristleback?
It probably starts during the laning stage. Unless you know what you are doing, Bristleback can be a very oppressive laner. So don’t lane against him! Pull enemy creeps or ask you support to pull the creeps from between the enemy towers. Shove the wave with any abilities you might have and rotate to neutral camps to get farm if you are core, or to pull if you are a support. Do anything, but lane against the annoying porcupine, especially once Bristleback gets level four or five.
In fact, most meta carries can easily stand vs. Bristle without even being bothered. Terrorblade starts with 10+ armor, Faceless Void has Time Walk to mitigate the burst and get far enough away to wait out the Quill stacks, PA can do the same, as long as she has a support to jump to, Sven has Warcry, etc. Don’t overfeed him in lane, play it safe, switch to jungle farm on carries when pressured and sooner or later Bristleback will become considerably less relevant.
Don’t forget auras that give Armor or save items either. Bristleback does little against mobile heroes or heroes with tons of armor and while most cores are mobile or armor-tanky by default, supports should definitely think about getting Force Staffs and use them to reposition during fights.
Looking at the differences between player metas at different skill levels was an interesting experience. It clearly highlights things newer players might not have learned yet and, more importantly, it might highlight the things more experienced players might be teaching wrong.
With Bristleback specifically, it could be a problem of older player saying things like “this is the laning stage: you must lane in your lane and hit lane creeps to win the laning stage” or some such, ignoring the wealth of options Dota 2 players actually have when it comes to all aspects of the game. It’s Dota, not its spinoff: you have the freedom to do as you will and a lot of fun is in breaking the rules.