The new patch introduced a lot of balance changes, some of which fundamentally altered gameplay. Naturally, it resulted in a significant meta shift and while from qualifier stats it looks like the professional scene is taking its time to adjust, the pubs are already embracing it.
Ursa is currently the biggest winner of the patch. He is the only agility hero in the game to receive a +15 MS treatment and despite some nerfs to Fury Swipes, his winrate has increased by almost 6%. Extra movement speed on a hero who needs to stay on target and is at his best when allowed to snowball is a huge bonus, especially considering how many problematic ranged targets are now slower as well.
Lifestealer is benefitting from the same change: his movement speed was also increased by 15, bringing him up to 310 starting MS. He starts the game with almost three armor now and on a hero with 700 starting HP it makes all the difference. Because of these changes the hero is stronger in lane, while his scaling is now more relevant, with more high HP heroes in the meta. In certain cases it makes him a good enough substitute for the omnipresent Juggernaut, if you are looking to punish lineups without spell immunity-piercing control.
Broodmother is making a comeback into the meta. The hero received direct buffs to half of her talents and the increase in winrate was to be expected. The interesting part is that according to statistics from our guides players are still choosing the talents they chose before the balance patch. It means that for the majority of high level players the hero hasn’t changed that much and her success mostly comes from her relative power level, rather than her being a straight up stronger hero.
Omniknight is the biggest loser of the patch, currently winning less than 45% of his games. Given how Heavenly Grace is getting further and further away from being Repel, it isn’t surprising. 50% status resistance might sound good enough on paper, but it is no spell immunity. Target under its effect can still be disabled and that allows the enemy to respond, regroup, disengage or turn the fight around. The ability was quite bad at 80% status resistance and is now almost completely worthless, despite the extra 28 Strength it provides at max level.
Tiny received some noticeable nerfs to Avalanche, decreasing the AoE and increasing the cooldown at early levels. Another important aspect is that Strength now gives slightly more HP to non-strength heroes, compared to the previous patch. It means that many heroes are now slightly more survivable and these extra 40-80 HP can make a difference between dying to Tiny without the ability to react or surviving long enough to potentially fire off a spell or two.
Outworld Devourer is also among the biggest losers of the patch. His movement speed was slightly reduced, while Sanity's Eclipse lost some damage. It is possible to argue that the 15% increase in Int gain should have counteracted the nerf, but keep in mind that many heroes are now slightly tankier, making the ability less effective overall.
Ogre Magi is probably going to become more relevant in the new patch. Not only did he receive some noticeable direct buffs, but his Bloodlust is also a lot more relevant in a meta where Strength carries are more viable. The latter generally lack Attack Speed and can be frequently outran by Agility cores in the later stages of the game, because of their lack of Agility growth. Ogre Magi can solve both of these problems, while offering good lane presence and decent midgame utility.
Wraith King looks like a hero once again. Extra 15 MS puts him at 315 starting and coupled with a decent disable he can be really strong in lane and snowball from it. It is still not recommended to play him as the only hard carry on the team and the hero is at his best when creating space for a greedier core in the midgame, but he is certainly a viable option in the current patch.
Many professional players are currently experimenting with Alchemist mid—the hero received some buffs, while the game slowed down a little bit from the extra armor on structures. 305 starting MS as well as extra 60 from Chemical Rage also allow the hero to keep up with almost any target in the game despite low Agility growth, while increasing his farming speed. Moreover, there is now slightly less gold on the map in the early stages of the game because of the creep bounty changes and Alchemist definitely likes having a higher economic advantage over his opponents.
At first glance Dota 7.21 doesn’t seem different enough from the previous patch, but given some time the meta will probably develop into something completely different: there are fundamental changes to the game, but they don’t kick in until the second half of a match, possibly slowing down the pace at which the players are going to be adjusting.
It doesn’t look like the popular heroes of the previous patch were overnerfed, while introducing buffs to several unpicked heroes, so we hope there is going to be higher meta diversity. It also looks like the game is going to be a little bit slower now, since there is now more armor on all structures, except for Tier 1 towers and Ranged barracks. Given how much gold bounty ranged creeps now give, it is possible we are going to see teams prioritize ranged barracks over melee, when they are short on time.
We will continue keeping a close eye on the further meta developments and will post a meta update in a week to highlight the initial settling point of the new patch.