Despite introducing some very interesting global changes, 7.09 didn’t significantly change the meta. All supports benefitted from a reduced courier price, and every single hero was hit equally as hard with the starting gold reduction. Without direct changes to the hero balance, the changes to hero win rates were minimal, compared to last week.
In fact, in many cases it only solidified the success of some of the current pub meta staples. There wasn’t much of an incentive to deviate from the established status quo and it is clear in both professional and pub play. It doesn’t mean that the meta is stale, since the majority of heroes in the game are still viable, but there are some heroes that are clearly dominant at the highest levels of pub play.
Huskar has shown a slow but steady climb in the last couple of months, making him the third most successful hero in the very high skill bracket with an astonishing 57% win rate. The hero didn’t get much attention in the beginning of the year and is still more of a niche pick, but there is no arguing about his current strength.
The big change was to his level 10 talent, which now has an option of providing +20 Attack Damage. We have seen the same trend before with Dragon Knight and Medusa, both of which suddenly became viable with the introduction of potent, multi-purpose early game talents. This damage does not only improve the farm rate for the hero but also increases his DPS by a huge margin, given how he already has an extremely high attack speed.
The later progression with +10 Burning Spear DPS increases the ability damage by 50%, making each spear deal 240 magical damage. Given how early these talents can be taken, it is clear how much of an impact the hero can have before the enemy gets enough time to prepare and respond with various items like Spirit Vessel.
The hero was expected to become weaker, given how supports now have money for an extra sentry and the middle towers are closer to the river, but he only got stronger. Bounty Hunter is slowly returning to the professional and pub meta as one of the prime position 4 supports.
His previous spike in popularity was associated with Guardian Greaves — he was one of the few supports who could get this item consistently early, and it allowed him to stay teamfight-relevant when the game transitioned from laning stage to mid game.
This one can be attributed to the Spirit Vessel introduction. Not only is it 45% cheaper than the Greaves, but it also deals with many problematic heroes in the current meta, such as Dragon Knight. The item essentially became a must-have for every team and once again the consistency with which Bounty Hunter can get it makes him a popular pick.
image by LaughingSkyPig
Chen is currently sitting at comfortable 55% win rate in the 5k+ bracket, making him one of the most powerful position 4 supports in the game. His pick rate is still minimal, not even reaching 5%, but it is understandable, given how the hero requires a lot of training to be effective.
Chen is extremely strong for playing fast games and he is no longer a liability in prolonged ones. With manacosts for his abilities reduced across the board, he can provide both more utility and damage in teamfights, while keeping his allies healthy and protected. Come level 20 his creeps become extremely hard to deal with, requiring a response from a core hero to prevent potential split push and at this stage of the game these macro moments can win you the game.
Playing Chen is an extremely good exercise for learning Dota, since it requires a great deal of both micro skill and macro understanding. But even if you are only a beginner, you can still have a massive impact on the game from simply sending two creeps from the offlane back to base, changing the lane momentum in favor of your offlaner.
Terrorblade is currently regarded as one of the prime cores in the game. He is decently tanky with high amounts of armor and is only susceptible to magic damage. He can farm very fast and the speed with which he takes down buildings is close to unparalleled.
On top of it he is also a very strong pick against most other cores due to Reflection. With a level 20 talent the downtime for this ability becomes 0.5 seconds. A 25% MS/AS slow that deals scaling damage and benefits from most passives on a 6 second cooldown with a 5.5 second duration is incredibly strong. The alternative talent of +10 All Stats sounds good on paper, but the actual impact of constant refraction is much higher and it is probably one of the strongest talents in the whole game.
There are a couple of core matchups that aren’t exactly Terrorblade-favored, but for the most part the hero is a very reliable safelane pick worth considering in most situations.
The last patch had a lot less of an impact on the game than expected. Invisible roaming heroes didn’t get worse, because supports had money for an extra sentry, while stack-clearing flash-farmers didn’t skyrocket in their win rate.
That said, the game does feel different, and as discussed in the 7.09 overview, it is probably a matter of perception. Supports are more likely to stack, because it has an immediate psychological reward. Cores are more likely to clear stacks in a timely manner, because there is now an extra incentive to do so.
These changes, that don’t necessarily change the balance too much, are a step in a right direction. They mostly leave the game intact balance-wise, but make the gameplay more rewarding and promote more teamwork through some small quality of life changes.
Given how 7.09 wasn’t too much of a balance patch, and there are still some problematic heroes in the game, it is exciting to think what 7.10 or 7.09b will bring to the game. What are you thoughts on the matter and what heroes do you feel deserve some changes?