Last week we had a small gameplay patch and while it managed to deal with some of the bigger balance problems and appropriately nerf them, it didn’t help struggling heroes all that much. Today we want to take a look at a couple of heroes who desperately need a buff in the next version of the game.
Grimstroke is a conceptually strong character. His ability to duplicate a strong single-target spell is amazing, while his Stuns and Silences are pretty good damage and duration-wise. The problem is, all of Grimstroke’s kit is incredibly hard to utilize effectively, especially in a pub environment.
His key skill, Ink Swell, has an atrocious cast range until at least level three of the ability and is extremely dependent on the coordination you have with your teammate. Unless you are together in a voice-chat, it is very unreliable as a follow-up and doesn’t do much as a reactive tool, until after you get your Shard, which feels mandatory.
Phantom’s Embrace, the most underrated part of Grimstroke’s kit, is a very high damage ability that has an interesting quirk of being undispellable. You can still avoid its effect with Bastone del Re Nero and even Stile della Manta, since the latter removes you from the map for a split-second, but when dealing with heroes like Tidehunter or Slark it can be extremely strong: Kraken Shell and Dark Pact don’t do anything to an already latched Phantom.
Situationally and theoretically, it is great. In practice, it is just so easy to deal with this phantom as long as you are not disarmed or you have teammates nearby.
Quick note: late game Alabarda del Cielo Grimstroke is underrated, doubly so in solo pubs.
Also don’t forget about his Aghanim’s Scepter, which has the potential to turn games around on its own, as long as you are playing against an enemy Agility hero who doesn’t rely on abilities to deal damage and is building stat items. The list of such heroes is actually quite big and it is a very potent Aghanim’s, but the problem is it is still a monetary investment on a hero who already wants to have a Shard, usually needs an Aether Lens and typically has to buy save items.
The end result is a hero who is very powerful on paper, but fails to deliver in actual games and we feel like without some quality of life changes the hero will remain very niche and unsuccessful. Don’t up the numbers on his abilities: they are already potent. Just make their usage more straightforward, or the counterplay to them less trivial.
Easily the worst mid hero in the current meta. Queen of Pain does nothing and has been doing close to nothing for a while. The hero has zero utility and the only way to play her effectively is to rush Shard, get as much survivability as you can and then hope that the enemy is gullible enough to consider you a threat in a fight.
We are not even exaggerating: Queen of Pain is a 0% win rate hero at the latest International and a 45% win rate hero in high level pubs. She is doing even worse in lower level public matchmaking and the reason is simple: the hero offers nothing but damage, but her damage is so miniscule that it is largely ignorable past the early midgame, unless Queen of Pain snowballs really hard.
Truth be told, QoP can snowball. With a good start she can take over the map and abuse her mobility to continuously punish the enemy. The problem is, the same can be said about Ember Spirit, Storm Spirit, Puck, Batrider and other popular mid heroes. Only these heroes offer something else, on top of their damage. And even their damage output is more than comparable to the damage output of QoP.
The end result is a hero that is miserable to play with on the same team. Dota in its current form probably has a pure DPS hero niche, but even Zeus provides more for your team in terms of utility. At least the hero has global presence, provides True Sight vision and has a 0.4-0.7 mini-stun, which is one or two auto-attacks late game.
Returning the level 25 talent with 1.2 seconds of Fear could be a nice addition, since it can make the hero’s snowball relevant. Or changing how the hero’s Aghanim’s Scepter works, so that it mirrors the original concept from the Aghanim’s Labyrinth and actually procs on unit death. Then it could be great against Illusion cores, giving some semblance of relevance to the hero. For now though, avoid QoP and try to not have your teammates pick her.
The two heroes we discussed today are what we consider to be the biggest losers of the last several patches. While they were occasionally played in a competitive environment, their success was very low. Their viability is also very questionable at all levels of pub play.
What are your thoughts on our selection? Do you think there are heroes who need buffs more than Grimstroke and QoP? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.