Dawnbreaker had a rather tumultuous release. The hero came out pretty weak, received some very strong buffs and became overpowered for a week, before getting well-deserved nerfs. If we look at pub stats for this month, the hero is in this “perfectly balanced” state, where her win rate hovers around 50% across all skill brackets. But does it mean the hero is ready for CM?
One important aspect that differentiates AP and CM is that flex heroes matter a lot more. At the highest level of play, a single big mistake during the draft can cost a game. That’s why highly flexible heroes have always been a priority in CM, especially in the first couple of draft rounds.
Dawnbreaker is certainly flexible. Since her introduction, we’ve seen position two, three, and four Dawnbreaker have great success. She is still primarily an offlane hero, be it as a core or as a support, but much like Mars, she can be played mid if the situation arises.
There is one thing that needs pointing out, however. Luminosity, Dawnreaker’s passive, scales and works off right-clicks. This ability is absolutely brilliant in pubs, which typically last longer and are less coordinated: Dawnbreaker doing the easiest thing she can do is already bringing utility for her team.
However, the situation might be slightly different in pro play, where the net worth distribution is more focused and team coordination is at a high level.
There is an overall power level and there is a difficulty level to each hero, and sometimes people confuse the two when looking at hero win rates. This is most apparent with hard-to-execute heroes like Chen or Io, who were historically borderline overpowered in the pro-scene but frequently below 45% win rate even in the highest level of pub play.
Does it work the other way around, though: if a hero is not particularly powerful, but is incredibly easy to pilot at a decent level, does it translate to a higher win rate? We think it does and we think Dawnbreaker is one such example.
What does a team need from their offlaner? Generally to tank up, bring control and utility, soak up spells and damage and be a frontline. What do offlaners want in pubs? To be a third carry on their team. In the case of Dawnbreaker, these two ideas align, since the more damage Dawnbreaker deals, the more she heals her team and the more utility she brings.
This requires farm, though. Quite a lot of it, in fact, for Dawnbreaker to actually be a threat and a decent healer. In professional play, where position three is expected to be the playmaker and a space creator, we feel like Dawnbreaker might get starved in terms of gold and lose some of her luster. Being a third carry is a shortcut to victory in pubs, but is unlikely to be effective in pro play.
Similarly, her ultimate also disproportionately favors the pub approach. One of the reasons Spectre typically does really well in lower-level pubs is because she is one of the few carries who can join a fight from across the map: she doesn’t get punished for being poor at macro. In pro play this is typically leveraged in the form of extra farm for the hero: she doesn’t need to be in a smoke to gank, she doesn’t need to join her team and she doesn’t waste time moving around for a play, since she can join it anyways.
Dawnbreaker is the same and her Solar Guardian is a very powerful counter-initiation tool that also gives her global mobility. But unlike Spectre, she can’t just passively afk-farm for the most of the game, only joining fights. She will typically be expected to make plays and search for kills and a passive approach is, again, unlikely to be effective in pro play.
The above points aim to highlight why we think Dawnbreaker might be slightly on the weaker side in the pro play. Heroes like Axe, Slardar, Tidehunter etc. also have a ~50% win rate, but this win rate already reflects all the times they have forgotten to carry a TP, all the times they didn’t quite make it to a fight on time, all the times they went DPS, instead of utility, on their hero and were punished for it.
Dawnbreaker’s 50% win rate is with all the macro play crutches the hero has. So, in a sense, an exceptionally highly skilled player who makes few macro mistakes, understands what items her team needs, and generally coordinates with a team is probably better off playing other offlane heroes.
As such, we think that Dawnbreaker is ready for CM, in a sense that she won’t be too overpowered or broken if introduced into pro play. But then again, we have been wrong before and perhaps there are some builds or some playstyles that will leverage Dawnbreaker’s abilities better, even in the highly competitive matches. Share your thoughts in the comment section below and let us know if you think Dawnbreaker should make an appearance on the biggest stage at the International.