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The offlane is the position and role that has developed the most over the last decade. It widened significantly with patches where position three was just another carry for the team and patches where they were a glorified support, who would eventually give up farm to their position four. The role has also gotten a lot deeper: with the farm distribution becoming more and more equal, the amount of impact you can have as an offlaner is much higher in the later portions of the game.
A lot of this change has been a direct result of players pushing the game to its limits. Recently, we’ve seen it from Collapse Magnus, who almost single-handedly won the International 10 and that was what prompted this blog series. But there were players and heroes much earlier, who could boast doing the same and that’s who we are going to concentrate on today.
Love him or hate him, no one can deny the impact Alliance and Bulldog had on the game back in 2013. In our opinion, their TI3 victory was a huge milestone: teams could no longer win with individual skill alone, and deeper, underlying workings of the game had to be studied for a team to be successful. In a sense, it solidified that Dota is a strategy game first and an action game second, at least in the professional scene.
AdmiralBulldog was more or less the herald of this transitory process. By being smart with his summon usage, he could create a lot of opportunities for his team and that is the biggest reason why Io, for example, worked so well for Alliance. The idea of Map Control wasn’t as mature back in the day, but by abusing summoned units like Treants and Spirit Bear, AdmiralBulldog always had ways of ensuring his team had a play they could make.
His direct impact on the aforementioned heroes was rather tame: for the most part Valve refrained from overnerfing the heroes, concentrating on the counter-play instead. If previously being forced to roam around the map to address split-push was annoying, after the TI3 both summoned treants and Spirit bear started giving significantly higher XP bounty. This approach ensured that split-pushing remained somewhat viable, but wasn’t as easy to execute and left an economic opening the enemy could capitalize on.
What is perhaps more important, is that this TI victory also prompted several general game changes, such as increased buildings survivability, free glyph after losing Tier 1 tower and, ultimately, the introduction of Shrines and Outposts: objects on the map even a losing team could theoretically teleport to. All of these changes could be directly linked to Alliance victory back in 2013 and AdmiralBulldog specifically. Without him, Dota would be a very different game today.
Unlike every other player-hero pairing discussed in this series so far, there wasn’t a single event, a single tournament that prompted a change to Dark Seer as a hero. It was a slow, gradual process of making the hero more or less irrelevant for everyone else, but Universe himself.
The nerfs mostly come down to a single ability: Vacuum. They also come down to more or less one aspect of said ability: Cooldown. The problem with Dark Seer that still persists to this day is that he is not as independent as most other initiating offlaners. With the new Shard and Scepter he is significantly better off, compared to back in the day, but he is still at his best on a well-coordinated team.
The hero relies on team coordination to make Vacuum a meaningful ability. However, if utilized well and the team follow up is there, it can be essentially considered a 550 AoE stun. Maybe the Dark Seer nerfs can be attributed not only to Universe, but to the whole EG squad as well, who always found ways to pull it off.
That is the reason why slowly, but surely, the Vacuum cooldown increased by ~50% when maxed out or why it is now 60 seconds at level one. It is why the previous Aghanim’s Scepter iteration, which reduced the Vacuum cooldown to 12 seconds, was scrapped quite quickly. It also might be the reason why Naga Siren has been receiving nothing but nerfs or sidegrades ever since Vacuum got the ability to pull invulnerable targets once again.
There have been many great teams who could use Dark Seer well and the hero is still a force to be reckoned with, especially with all the recent additions. There are still ways to make the hero work, in fact there are probably more ways to play the hero right now. But we don’t think he will ever be as scary as when Universe and Evil Geniuses got in the zone
Next week we are going to be talking about position five players who broke the heroes. Leave your guesses about who is going to be featured in the comment section below.