As Dota fans ourselves we absolutely get it: this is not what we were expecting three whole weeks after TI. As a stats website, though, there are some interesting trends we would love to discuss. Dota is a very complex game with many interconnected moving parts and even miniscule changes can have massive consequences.
Off the back of Helm of the Overlord +1 Armor buff as well as some direct changes, we might be seeing a comeback of Zoo heroes like Lycan and Beastmaster. Both of them jumped really high in the first several hours of the patch and while the high level players adapted already, there is still a reason to believe Zoo is here to stay. Maybe not as the most dominant strategy, but as one of the many viable ones.
One interesting consequence of the potential Zoo comeback is a jump in Clinkz win rate. Pre-Overlord creeps are basically free food for Clinkz and when playing against most Zoo heroes, it is much easier to lane or even rotate for a gank in the earlier stages of the game.
Another big winner of the patch is Gyrocopter, who now has a 240-damage ability for 75 mana on a 7-second cooldown. We feel like this could lead to interesting support Gyro developments. The hero was already somewhat viable as a greedy DPS support in lower level games and now he might be making a comeback in higher level games as well. Definitely a hero to watch out for, especially if tankiness will stop being the meta-defining concept.
The usual suspects are all here. Chaos Knight was the biggest loser of the patch, and despite losing 4%+ win rate, he is still well above 50%. That is to say, the hero is still very much viable and worth playing, even though he is no longer overpowered. His laning stage is a bit harder and he can no longer spam Phantasm for farm with impunity, but otherwise the hero is as good as he used to be. Mana Burn is a much bigger problem, though, so that is something that can be exploited.
Bristleback also got some substantial nerfs and is now below 50%. Truth be told, the hero really didn’t feel too problematic at the higher levels of play. He was frustrating to lose against and could sometimes turn around whole fights through spell lifesteal, but most Ancient+ players knew what to build and how to play around it. The end result after the patch is a hero that should be a little less overwhelming below Archon and is probably out of meta in Ancient and above.
Kunkka is similar to Chaos Knight — the hero did lose a ton of win rate, but still remains above 50%. Conceptually, the hero is doing the same thing he did before, just roughly ~25% worse. He is still one of the best teamfight and catch heroes even after the nerfs, so don’t give up on him quite yet.
We’ve touched on the subject of Zoo already. We feel like it will be making a comeback in some form and this generally leads to an overall meta-shift towards shorter games. Zoo wants to win as early as possible, not necessarily by destroying the Ancient, but by dealing some heavy economic and map control damage.
Typically, you can’t go too greedy against this kind of approach, so midrange and tempo cores should theoretically increase in popularity. Going too late with hard carries like Faceless Void is potentially punishable, though for now this is mostly a prediction of how the meta will develop over the next week or so.
If this prediction does come true, and there are definitely some trends to support this idea, we feel like players should pay more attention to a long-forgotten Pavise. This item was almost completely ignored at the International, with only four games where it was built. The reason for it is that even as a support you typically don’t want to have a 1400 gold item in your inventory in the late game and TI games typically went late.
However, since games are most likely going to get shorter, and since Pavise was buffed in the patch there is a good reason to believe it is once again going to become one of the best support items.
Casual late game Vladmir's Offering is also something to consider on support heroes, if your team doesn’t have a dedicated Helm of the Overlord builder. +4 Armor as an aura is a massive and often underrated difference maker in a fight.
These two items were already borderline viable and with the buffs in the new patch they should definitely be considered. Pavise is especially strong in the earlier stages of the game where a 300 physical barrier is frequently a +30% of max HP against physical damage for the hero.
The new patch is smaller than we expected and while it is slightly disappointing, there are some things worth pointing out. First of all, as mentioned previously, there is a good chance that this letter patch will have a large meta impact. For example, while Spirit Breaker isn’t among the biggest losers of 7.34e, he was tamed quite substantially and shouldn’t feel overwhelming, while still being viable.
Secondly, 7.34 released just three and a half months ago and while TI naturally expedited the meta developments, we already saw some new ideas in ESL qualifiers. We feel like “meta is completely figured out” is a bit of an overstatement. Thinking outside the box and finding solutions is what Dota players should be striving for and while there were occasionally overpowered heroes in the long history of Dota, there was always some sort of an answer to them.
Finally, there is still going to be a cosmetics and miscellaneous content patch before the end of the year, so if you were primarily waiting for an event, not all hope is lost. Personally, we would love to see Aghanim’s Labrinth make a return. Share your favourite events and your biggest hopes for Frostivus in the comment section below.
Or just vent a little — we absolutely get it.