Second part of our patch analysis is going to concentrate on hero changes in the new patch, without touching the Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades. Despite many Scepter Upgrades being game-changers and huge power spikes, they do not impact the game until they are built or until after third Roshan.
The hero should be a lot less obnoxious in lane now, but his value as a healing and harassing position five support should not be in too much of a jeopardy. Given a slight boost to his AS and how underutilized his current passive is, there is also a chance we will see Abaddon played as a position three tanky frontliner, not necessarily as Plan A for the hero, but a potential flex during the draft.
Manacost reduction on Ice Vortex is something the hero really needed—with one of the talents, it becomes a spammable ability that provides good vision, decent slow and magic damage amplification and it can get problematic to sustain it in prolonged engagements. The Ice Blast full invisibility is also quite a bit of a buff during enemy sieges and during long-range snipes on the enemy and it will come into play more frequently than people expect it to, especially in high level games.
Axe becoming stronger in lane should theoretically return him to the meta. The big problem hero suffered from was his inability to effectively contest the lane, while also keeping his HP pool relatively high. He could kill creeps, but it was really hard for him to deny them, making the hero risky. Extra three attacks damage doesn’t solve all his problems, but should help quite a bit.
Rupture once again being a lethal spell makes quite a bit of a difference, but the overall damage reduction should be noted. With games going slower, there is a chance the hero will find his home in the offlane as a greedier damage-dealing and utility carry, with a job of hunting down backlines, while disabling the mobility of enemy carry heroes.
Reliable knight is an apt name for the hero right now, since his spells now have lower thematic variance. The averages are slightly higher now for both damage and stun and losing 0.3 Strength growth shouldn’t be that big of a deal, so the hero is probably slightly better now overall.
Without the ability to dominate Siege creeps, Chen is substantially less threatening as the early game pusher. At the same time, he can potentially become much stronger in lane, since Divine Favor can easily change how the lane matchups work—extra damage and regeneration even with level one of the ability can make a difference. Perhaps we will see the hero more as a passive lane support with the option of dominating creeps to take over the lane.
Clinkz is in a very weird limbo right now—he isn’t as reliable and consistent at setting tempo as heroes like Templar Assassin, since he has a long cooldown, but his ultimate can be rather scary, even more so after the patch. It is still hard to justify picking a hero with that small of a health pool and certain problems contesting the lane in mid, but perhaps he can be played as a proactive position one in greedier lineups.
AoE Surge moving from level 20 to level 25 should make Dark Seer weaker. He can no longer allow his whole team to engage or disengage ignoring most soft disables as early and it makes a huge difference. At the same time, even despite losing 60 starting HP, Dark Seer is still a very reliable offlaner who can farm up, provide the necessary auras and offer his team turnaround potential.
+120 GPM this early should make one of the greediest position four supports even better, while pretty much halving cooldown on Bramble Maze is a nice bonus. Given a good enough start experience wise, Dark Willow could become a significant part of the upcoming meta.
A massive nerf to Doom, who can no longer get access to Satyr Tormentor’s aura and shockwave until later on. With the common single point in Devour in lane, Doom has a choice between Heal/Mana Aura from small troll camp, speed aura from Kobolds or frost/poison attack from Ghosts and Vhouls. None of these options are as impactful as extra regeneration and a decent early-game nuke, though maybe the Mana Aura creep will stop being so underappreciated.
The hero is not completely dead, but Drow is getting there. She didn’t really lose much in longer games against high-agility cores, but her midgame will suffer a lot, since she can’t farm as fast, while her late-game will be much harder against teams that build Armor auras and items. The hero has a niche now, and she is still above average in her niche of dealing damage through base armor, but she is no longer an answer to practically anything there was in the game.
Making Void tankier might return him to the offlane as a semi-greedy utility core with potential late-game DPC-capabilities. That wasn’t the Faceless Void the community preferred back in the day, but it was what most professional players and high-level pub players defaulted to with this hero, and it is probably coming back. It is unlikely the hero will be over-the-top popular, but he will be an option and occasionally, a surprise to the enemy team.
This interacts really well with the new Agh’s upgrade for the hero, but it also makes Lifestealer or Juggernaut+Grimstroke lanes that much more consistent, especially in pubs. Ink Swell is still a very powerful stun and maybe this change will pave the way for position five Grimstroke in the meta.
Huskar is better across the board, but we don’t feel that it is enough to make the hero viable outside of Oracle or Dazzle combinations. The hero still suffers from late-game lull, until he gets to level 25 and his Armor growth is still abysmal.
This change makes the lane prowess difference between QW and Exort Invoker slightly smaller, but we feel like the hero is still far from being viable as an independent piece. He is great when you need AoE manaburn, disengage and is still pretty powerful with his global Sun Strike, but it is rare to see the hero actually winning games.
That’s not what made the hero overpowered in the competitive scene and it is very far from being enough of a nerf, before CM introduction. That said, first pick advantage was heavily outweighed by the closing pick advantage in the last several tournaments and essentially giving the second team only two target bans instead of three can balance out the drafting slightly.
This small QoL change is actually quite impactful during sieges. It shouldn’t make Jakiro significantly more popular or much stronger, but given how pushing is now harder, he will certainly need this buff to remain relevant as a pushing support later in the game.
Extra four starting damage does make a difference, but Luna still starts the game with less than 55 damage, even when her aura is skilled. It makes contesting creeps against strong dual lanes problematic, given long attack animation, slow projectile speed and low range. We still firmly believe that Luna is at her best when accompanied by two support heroes, since then she can fully concentrate on last hitting, while bolstering the attack damage of her teammates.
This is the kind of nerfs we expected Io to have before returning to CM. Mars already was a decently balanced hero, but now he feels pretty tame. It is harder for him to contest creeps in lane, his ultimate doesn’t have the same impact, at least damage wise and the hero doesn’t scale as well, Agh’s upgrade aside. He will still be picked and played by teams, if only to test him in the pro-scene environment, but we feat he won’t be that successful.
For some reason Valve refuses to get rid of probably the most problematic talent in the game. Even when not taking into account that the mana is actually stolen and gets to Medusa, burning 45% of any hero’s max mana is massive. It is also the only talent that more than doubles the effectiveness of the original spell and it comes at level 15. In the patch that we expect to be slower than the previous one, we expect Medusa to continue her dominance, despite the “nerfs”.
Extra 15 AS is extra 15 AS—there are talents that give not much more, and here Mirana and several other heroes are getting it for free at the start of the game. It is going to have an impact, it is going to be noticeable. The only question is, whether it will be enough.
Vendetta downtime went from 30/10/-10 to 50/20/-10 and it should make the hero lose quite a bit of his scouting utility. If previously it was possible to find a target, get a kill through Vendetta and stuns, participate in a fight and then start hunting again, now Nyx will have a pretty long downtime, where he can’t really be useful, or at least has to be at risk of being seen. This will make getting gold and levels much harder for the hero and is a rather sizeable nerf.
With glyphed towers under the effect of Bloodlust now capable of pretty much obliterating creepwaves, greedy position five, four or even three Ogre Magi can be pretty potent in the late game and can ensure said late game with relative ease. It is not a reliable hero, but he is definitely worth trying out.
Not much has changed for a position five Oracle and Oracle in any other position was suboptimal at best, so the hero is still going to be strong, popular and successful.
Equilibrium is now somewhat better in terms of long-term mana sustain, but is considerably worse at providing burst mana pool. Overall we feel it makes the hero weaker in the hands of experienced players who were capable of understanding how their mana pool works, and slightly better in the hands of an average pub player. In terms of competitive scene presence, we believe the hero is going to be less popular now, since his peak damage is now less threatening.
It is a good change for the game, but it feels like it does make the hero worse, despite making him more reliable. Silence frequently allowed Pangolier to get off his ultimate in the middle of a fight or catch an elusive high-mobility target. Disarm is an equally strong effect, but it has a different purpose and we feel like it will be some time before Pangolier finds his niche.
Apart from using extra Agility to Morph into Strength when playing against Morphling, we aren’t exactly sure why Rubick’s Agility was increased. He did get an extra point of armor at the start of the game and two extra points of armor, if he gets to level 25, but otherwise this change looks inconsequential, unless mid Rubick is going to become a thing with auto-attacking as a source of damage in mind. Pretty unlikely.
It is hard to discuss these changes without the Agh’s upgrade being a part of the discussion, but we feel like position four Slardar might get a second chance. Not having to spend valuable skill points into a mobility booster can make a significant difference for an XP-starved ganking support.
Pretty much everything about the hero was buffed in one way or another and Spirit Breaker might become a part of meta even without Dark Seer on his team. Game needs gap-closing frontline position four supports that do not rely on an expensive Blink Dagger to initiate, and Spirit Breaker might just be it.
This change is two-fold. On one hand, it is now harder to deal with a massive illusion infestation when playing against Naga or Phantom Lancer. On the other—you can now go directly for the main hero. Overall it is probably a nerf, since you can longer press Q to solve most of your problems in an engagement, but it can be a situational buff as well, especially in the later stages of the game, where damage/survivability ratio of illusions tends to skew towards the latter.
A whole lot of buffs for another frontliner. Timbersaw really needed some of these changes and welcomes the other. Is the hero playable now? Probably. He is tankier, sustains himself better and doesn’t have Drow in meta to easily deal with him. Is he a first pick material? No, he is still a niche hero, but he should be really good in his niche now.
New Treant Protector will take some time to understand and learn, but it feels like the hero sacrificed some of his peak potential for higher reliability in lane and better scouting. Perhaps the hero will be better now, perhaps he will be worse, but at least he is not completely useless against any team with a Radiance.
Undying is known as a hero who wins the lane, but loses the game. These changes are unlikely to change that, but they do make his matchups against certain heroes considerably less punishing, so that he can at least win the lane. Given how there are now potential free Agh’s in the game as well, we might actually see more of the hero.
Visage could return to the game as a support. There is some potential for aggressive trilanes, the games are longer so it is easier to get to level 12 where Familiars start to actually deal damage and Visage himself is no longer absolutely melted by any magical damage sneeze in his general direction.
New Fatal Bonds feel a lot weaker for the early levels, but synergise better with the level 10 talent. Without a full creep wave and an extra target though they essentially do nothing at level one, but highlight where the enemy might be in the trees. On top of it, they are still dispellable, while the change to the Aghanim’s is nice, but not game-changing. Warlock still requires a strategy and a lane partner in mind, though there might be a need for his services in longer games.
There are changes to how Aghanim’s Scepter works on the hero, but long story short—Attack Damage reduction from Windranger’s attacks is going to stay with her until level 25. The hero likely won’t deal enough damage as a core, until after picking up at least a couple of proc items. Even then, hero’s DPS is going to be severely limited and it is probably best to think of her as a utility core.
Attack Point changes and a useful talent might actually bring Zeus into the spotlight. The hero has low attack range, but his actual attack damage is pretty high, definitely high enough to contest the creeps in lane against most matchups. The problem was his attack point and with it being reduced by almost 35%, we can see how he can become a popular pick for both pub and professional players.