An explosive patch 7.14 shakes things up: Techies added to Captains Mode

After 500 days of being out of professinal tournaments, Techies finally returns to Captains Mode, along with a host of other changes in one of the biggest patches of the year.

Just a day prior to the Epicenter XL Major, Valve released their scheduled bi-weekly gameplay patch, and its massive. Perhaps the most noteworthy change is the addition of Techies to Captains Mode. To add to this, several items have also received buffs and nerfs, as have 64 out of the 115 heroes in the game. The update comes with the clear intention to change the meta drastically, push some seemingly overpowered heroes out of it and bring some forgotten ones back. And while it did not arrive in the midst of a LAN tournament, it is sure to make waves in the coming weeks that is jam-packed with some of the biggest events of this Dota Pro Circuit season.

Captains Mode


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  • Enabled Techies in Captains Mode

For the third time in a row, in the even-numbered gameplay patches that focuses on heroes and items, a hero has been added to Captains Mode. Following Dark Willow and Pangolier, who were both made available for play in professional tournaments in patches 7.10 and 7.12 respectively, Techies returned to the scene. His brief stint at The International 2015 was controversial to say the least, as it helped propel Evil Geniuses to victory, thanks to the capable hands of Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling. The release date of this patch marks a full 500 days that the hero has been out of Captains Mode, since his massive rework and removal from the same in the Duelling Fates patch, or update 7.00.

It is fascinating to know that all heroes in Dota 2 are now available for competetive play in professional tournaments, a feat that has not been achieved in the entire history of the game.

General


 

  • First creep wave no longer draws aggro on the side lanes until they meet the other wave

The offlane has been changing its form for the longest time, going from an absolute nightmare to find farm or experience in, to a piece of cake that gives a strong laner an uncontested early game. The current state of the meta forced an ingenious, if not irritating maneuver from most position 3 players. By pulling the first wave of creeps between the enemy’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 towers, to that of their own lane, a hero was guaranteed level 2 as long as no enemy creeps were denied. While this was sometimes dealt with by supports in professional games (depending on the heroes involved), the pub scene was even more comical to witness.

Heroes would go so far as to pull the first wave between the Tier 2 and Tier 3 towers before bringing it back into the lane and teleporting out to their own Tier 1 tower, forcing a double wave. The massive number of creeps not only naturally pushed in favour of the offlaner, but also made it twice as hard for the opposing safe lane carry to farm creeps by getting last hits. This all changes now that the first creep wave can no longer draw aggro by any hero or unit until it meets the other wave. It will be interesting to see what solution professional players find to make farming in the lane possible. The most likely solution will be the return of dual offlanes, with supports helping out their position 3 heroes more, possibly making the mid-lane a true 1v1 scenario again.

Items


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  • Skull Basher
    • Now uses Mithril Hammer instead of Javelin. Gives +25 Damage and +10 Strength.
    • Bash no longer pierces evasion
  • Abyssal Blade
    • Now grants +25 Damage
    • Bash no longer pierces evasion
  • Monkey King Bar
    • Now uses Demon Edge, Quarterstaff and Javelin. Gives +52 Damage and 10 Attack Speed.
    • Procs changed from 60 Pure damage to 100 Magical damage
  • Maelstrom
    • Now uses Javelin instead of Gloves and Recipe.
    • No longer gives +25 Attack Speed
    • Chain Lightning damage increased from 120 to 170
    • Procs can no longer be evaded
  • Mjollnir
  • Battle Fury

  • Blink Dagger

The Monkey King Bar’s build has been reworked once again. This time, it addresses the concern that stacking Javelins on heroes like Windranger and Pangolier actually provide more damage than building a full MKB. While the attack speed bonus for the item was massively nerfed, it does provide more of both reliable and chance-based proc damage than it did before. Maelstrom and Mjollnir both received some interesting and much needed changes. The items have largely been ignored due to the vast variety of alternatives available for flash-farming, wave-clearing and illusion-killing. While the removal of the attack speed bonus is definitely a nerf, especially for an item that has a passive with a chance-based proc, the removal of a recipe to an item is always seen as a buff. To compensate for it, the item also has increased Chain Lightning damage which can no longer be evaded.

The nerf to Battle Fury with the added recipe is no surprise, as the item was too popular on most melee carries, even those that did not traditionally build it. The cost of the item is now closer to what it was before its rework in 7.07, and can no longer be completed only with the help of the Secret Shop and Side Shop. Also, Blink Dagger has its cooldown increased once again, to a massive 15 seconds. This seems to be mostly in response to heroes with cooldown reduction talents which made them extremely elusive. The negative effect of this is that it also nerfs most of the other heroes that buy this item but don’t have these talents.
 


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  • Boots of Travel

  • Dagon

  • Force Staff

    • Now requires a Ring of Regeneration instead of a Ring of Health (total price is still the same)

    • Manacost increased from 25 to 100

    • Health regen reduced from 5 to 2

  • Hurricane Pike

  • Helm of the Dominator

    • Health regen decreased from 8 to 7

    • No longer grants +5 attack speed to the item holder

    • Bounty increased from 125 to 200

  • Linken’s Sphere

  • Magic Wand

    • Now requires a 150 gold recipe instead of a Mango

    • Now provides +3 All Stats instead of +2 All Stats and 1.5 HP Regen

    • Max Charges increased from 17 to 20

Force Staff and Hurricane Pike have been massively nerfed, bringing their build-up back to the old iteration. Not only do they have higher recipe costs because of this, but they also provide lower health regeneration bonuses than they did in the old iteration of the same build. To add salt to the wounds, the manacost for their active abilties has been massively increased, which is going to hurt ranged, agility cores the most. Helm of the Dominator also gets some significant nerfs, considering it has been heavily prioritized as a first item build on many heroes, mostly offlaners. The item has universally been preferred to Vladimir’s Offering, an item that is actually more expensive but provides arguably smaller aura bonuses. The latter has sadly gone untouched this patch.

Continuing with the norm of the patch, another item goes back to its older iteration. Magic Wand is now very similar to its iteration three years ago in patch 6.84. Although the build needs a recipe again, the increase in the number of charges is a welcome change, one that hasn’t occured in an equally long time.
 


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  • Enchanted Mango

    • On sale now from 100 to 70

    • Health regen decreased from 1 to 0.7

    • Consumed Mana restore reduced from 175 to 125

    • Daily Bonus Hero now gives 2 Mangoes

  • Necronomicon

  • Phase Boots

    • During Phase your base turn rate is improved to 1.0 (the highest value, can still be lowered by other effects)

    • Active duration increased from 2.5 to 3 seconds

    • Active speed reduced from 24/20% to 20/16%

  • Observer Ward

  • Sange

  • Heaven’s Halberd

    • Now grants Greater Maim

  • Yasha

  • Manta Style

Although the changes to Enchanted Mango seem like a nerf, the overall cost-to-bonus ratio of the item remains the same. The item may give 30% lower bonuses now, but the cost has also been reduced to the same degree. Phase Boots was buffed with the interesting addition of an improved turn rate during its active spell. While it was compensated for with a reduction in the movement speed boost, it is a better item now with the inclusion of a mechanic that is not widely prevalent in the game. The rescaling of the Observer Ward gold and experience bounty now make it more rewarding in the late game and less so in the early game. This may have specifically targetted the massive experience boost that supports get on dewarding observer wards before the start of the game.

The items Yasha and Sange, and their buildups have received some interesting work-arounds. The costs for both items have been significantly increased, making Sange & Yasha quite expensive. In contrast, Manta Style is, in fact, cheaper. Because Maim mechanic is now normalized and buffed for the smaller items, we will be seeing a lot less of Sange & Yasha and more of the alternate build-ups of the respective items.
 

Heroes


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  • Alchemist
  • Ancient Apparition

  • Arc Warden

  • Axe

  • Batrider

  • Bloodseeker

  • Brewmaster

  • Broodmother

    • Spiderite bounty reduced from 16-21 gold and 20 exp to 3 gold and 3 xp

    • Spiderling bounty reduced from 11-13 gold and 31 exp to 9 gold and 9 xp

    • Spiderite armor reduced from 8 to 0

    • Spiderling armor reduced from 8 to 0

    • Spiderling damage reduced from 18-19 to 14-16 (~19% less)

    • Spawn Spiderling manacost reduced from 120 to 100

    • Spawn Spiderling cooldown reduced from 10 to 11/10/9/8

Alchemist continues to get buffed, in what seems like a desperate attempt to bring him back into the meta. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the hero is extremely greedy and a weak laner. Arc Warden is getting a similar treatment, after a slew of nerfs that sent the hero into oblivion, a string of buffs follow in an effort to see the hero in professional play. A forgotten offlaner, Axe has been getting steady improvements, primarily with his spell Battle Hunger which was also emphasized with a reworked Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade. The hero may be see some play in the coming tournaments, albeit with a different ability build and playstyle.

To some, the changes to Broodmother may not clearly indicate whether the hero has been buffed or nerfed. However it is clear on close inspection that she has definitely been buffed. This comes as a surprise, considering the hero proved to be extremely annoying and seemingly overpowered at the recent Dota 2 Asia Championships 2018 and StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5. The bounty for killing a host of Spiderites and Spiderlings was quite significant, usually achieved by using magical damage nukes. Now, owing to the complete removal of armor of these units, clearing them with Cleave is also easier.
 


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  • Chen

  • Crystal Maiden

  • Dark Seer

    • Wall of Replica illusions incoming damage reduced from 300% to 200%

    • Wall of Replica illusions outgoing damage increased from 60/75/90% to 70/85/100%

    • Wall of Replica now auto attacks the hero it made the illusion of (can still be controlled)

  • Dark Willow

    • Bedlam damage reduced from 60/140/220 to 60/120/180

    • Bedlam rotation duration increased from 1.5 to 1.8 seconds

    • Cursed Crown no longer grants vision after it stuns

    • Level 25 Talent increased from +1 Terrorize Duration to +1.5

  • Dazzle

  • Death Prophet

  • Earthshaker

Dark Seer may finally see some success in both pubs and pro games, with some decent buffs for a second consecutive time. It will also make the hero slightly easier to play for amateur players who are not accustomed to micro-heavy heroes. Added to Captain’s Mode not too long ago, Dark Willow showed impressive results in top-tier professional Dota. Despite being nerfed time-after-time and patch-after-patch, the hero displayed massive impact in games. The hero had some questionable damage numbers on the post-game screens of inspite of being played as the lowest-priority hero in most lineups.
 


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  • Ember Spirit

    • Flame Guard magical damage absorbed rescaled from 50/200/350/500 to 80/220/360/500

    • Searing Chains duration rescaled from 1/2/2/3 to 1.5/2/2.5/3

    • Searing Chains now does damage in 0.5 second intervals

    • Searing Chains total damage rescaled from 80/120/240/300 to 90/160/230/300

  • Enigma

    • Malefice stun duration rescaled from 0.25/0.5/0.75/1 to 0.4/0.6/0.8/1.0

    • Malefice cooldown rescaled from 15 to 18/17/16/15

    • Malefice manacost reduced from 110/130/150/160 to 100/120/140/160

  • Faceless Void

  • Invoker

It may be concerning as the the nature of buffs Ember Spirit has been receiving lately, even though they are buffs. Increasing the damage output of the hero does not change the fact that the hero is extremely weak in almost all aspects. It only increases the chance that we will see a resurgence of the hit-and-run technique on the hero that is capable of dealing massive amounts of damage. It wasn’t too long ago that we saw magical damage Ember Spirit fade out of the meta, which was a consequence of some rather imbalanced damage numbers that came out of the hero. Enigma’s minor buffs are unlikely to make the hero meta again. However, it seems reasonable as buffing the hero one too many times could send him into overpowered territory.
 


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  • Io

    • Tether can now target Spell Immune allies

    • Tether cast point changed from 0.001 to 0

    • Tether no longer applies slow on impact

    • Spirits now apply a 20/40/60/80% movement speed slow on impact for 0.3 seconds

    • Spirits now have two fixed positions they go to, 700 and 100 (No longer granular with toggles, but just a single press action)

    • Spirits In/Out is just one ability now, alternates the direction (has a 1.5 second cooldown, same hotkey as spirits ability. Base cooldown/duration is still the same)

    • Spirits creep damage increased from 8/14/20/26 to 10/18/26/34

    • Spirits manacost from 150 to 120/130/140/150

    • Spirits collision AoE increased from 70 to 110

    • Spirits explosion damage AoE increased from 300 to 360

    • Level 10 Talent changed from +400 Spirits Max Range to +25% XP

    • Level 25 Talent changed from Tether Stuns to -60s Relocate Cooldown

  • Leshrac

  • Lich

  • Lycan

  • Mirana

    • Leap speed buff duration increased from 2 to 2.5

    • Leap attack speed rescaled from 25/50/75/100 to 40/60/80/100

    • Moonlight Shadow now grants 15% movement speed bonus while invisible

If you thought the changes to Wisp in the last gameplay patch were massive, the developers at Valve certainly didn’t. With another slew of changes, most of them massive buffs, the hero is sure to be one of the top contested heroes in the coming tournaments. The fact that Tether can now target Spell Immune allies and that the level 25 talent provies a 60 second cooldown reduction on Relocate can be easily exploited in coordinated gameplay at the highest levels of the game. However, some signature IO players have expressed their disappointment over the changes.

Surging back into the meta after repeated buffs, Leshrac got his minor, customary nerf, deeming the hero too powerful in capable hands. It seems Mirana will follow Leshrac’s footsteps as, much like the Dancing Pony, the hero has been getting a constant nudge to make her viable again. The most notable of the changes is the bonus of 15% movement speed to Moonlight Shadow, which makes her teamfight contribution much better.
 


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  • Monkey King

  • Morphling

    • Adaptive Strike Talent now has a 300 cast range buffer for the secondary targets

    • Level 10 Talent from +300 Waveform Range to +350

    • Level 25 Talent from +2 Multishot Adaptive Strike to +3

  • Necrophos

  • Omniknight

  • Outworld Devourer

  • Ogre Magi

One of the most suprising heroes to get buffs this patch is Morphling. The hero has been going back and forth after his rework in the Duelling Fates patch, sometimes overpowered and sometimes underwhelming. The massive improvements to his talent tree, which is now arguably one of the best in the game, seem unnecessary. Increasing the multishot Adaptive Strike at level 25 to a total of four targets can do incredible amounts of damage to multiple heroes in teamfights. It now seems so good, players may actually start preferring it to its alternative.

Omniknight continues getting his scheduled nerfs, possibly sending the hero into the niche pick category. Seeing as how the hero has already lost his status of one of the most contested heroes, it won’t be a surprise if teams stopped picking the hero at all.
 


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  • Pangolier

    • Rolling Thunder no longer gets canceled when rooted or disabled (rolls in place instead)

    • Rolling Thunder cooldown increased from 70/65/60 to 70

    • Swashbuckle manacost increased from 70/80/90/100 to 80/90/100/110

    • Shield Crash cooldown increased from 13 to 19/17/15/13

    • Fixed Shield Crash counting Spell Immune heroes

    • Level 10 Talent reduced from +2 Mana Regen to +1.5

  • Pudge

  • Pugna

  • Puck

  • Queen of Pain

  • Riki

  • Rubick

It is no surprise to see a hero recently introduced to Captains Mode get nerfed at the immediate next opportunity. Pangolier may not have been the most successful hero in the Dota Pro Circuit so far, but in the right hands, his impact can actually be the game-winning. Compensating for the multiple nerfs he got is the fact that Rolling Thunder no longer gets cancelled when rooted or disabled. This is definitely beneficial to the hero in certain scenarios.

Queen of Pain’s buffs may be exactly what the hero needed. Recently, players were seen to prefer levelling other abilties as opposed to her ultimate, which dealt a somewhat low amount of damage in ratio to the mana cost of the spell. Furthermore, one of the most annoying and arguably imbalanced ultimates, after its rework, got nerfed. Riki’s Tricks of the Trade dealt an unbelievable amount of damage to single target heroes, spelling doom for support heroes who couldn’t find the farm for a Force Staff or are naturally weak.
 


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  • Sand King

  • Shadow Demon

  • Shadow Fiend

  • Shadow Shaman

  • Silencer

    • Glaives of Wisdom from 15/30/45/60% to 25/40/55/70%

    • Global Silence duration increased from 4/5/6 to 4.5/5.25/6

    • Level 15 Talent increased from +90 Gold/Min to +120

  • Slark

  • Spectre

A forgotten and underwhelming support, Silencer, got some much needed love this patch. Surprisingly, the changes also indicate that the hero may be quite effective as a core now, and not just a support. The buffs to two of the most ignored agility carries in the game got more consecutive buffs.

Slark’s base health regeneration has massively gone up in recent times, making him a much better laner than he was before. The increase in the movement speed bonus of Shadow Dance was also a necessary change, seeing as he could rarely outrun chasing enemies or catch up to fleeing ones even before the rework of attribute bonuses. Spectre received a treatment similar to her last few buffs, making the hero potentially too strong in the late game. With a level 25 talent that can now make Haunt illusions deal upto 100% damage, the question remains whether her early game is strong enough to propel her to that stage.
 


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  • Spirit Breaker

  • Storm Spirit

  • Sven

  • Terrorblade

    • Base HP regen reduced from 3 to 1.5

    • Reflection illusion now disappears when the reflection slow debuff is removed

    • Sunder minimum HP rescaled from 25% to 35/30/25%

    • Sunder cast range reduced from 550 to 475

  • Timbersaw

  • Tiny

  • Treant Protector

The improvement to Sven’s Cleave ability may be so in only one aspect, but it is one that will surely improve the hero’s viability in the meta. Considering how many carry heroes have been building Battle Fury lately, even though they traditionally did not, makes Sven all the more appealing.

Sooner or later, Terrorblade was bound to get hit with a nerf bomb. The hero is the most preferred and of the most impactful carry heroes in the game. Players in both the professional and pub scene have been abusing the hero due to his insane farming potential, early game tower pushing capability and teamfight survivability thanks to Sunder. The nerfs to his ultimate will impact the hero the most, though it may not push the hero completely out of the meta.
 


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  • Tusk

    • Ice Shards duration reduced from 7 to 4/5/6/7

    • Snowball Speed reduced from 675 to 600/625/650/675

    • Frozen Sigil no longer provides flying vision (ground only now)

  • Underlord

  • Undying

    • Tombstone spawn interval improved from 4.5/4/3.5/3 to 4/3.5/3/2.5

    • Level 15 Talent increased from +30 Decay Duration to +50

    • Level 20 Talent increased from +4 Tombestone Attacks to +6

  • Ursa

  • Venomancer

  • Visage

  • Warlock

Tusk is one of those support heroes who is extremely easy to learn, but has a very high skill cap. A safe, first-pick hero in most professional games, his impact has definitely been known, but never considered imbalanced. With the nerfs to three of his spells, it seems he may fall drastically in terms of both his winrate and pickrate. Underlord, on the other hand, has been a dominant force across all skill brackets, with some flashy plays in tournaments to show for. The removal of Firestorm’s percentage-based damage on Roshan and Ancients was an easily predictable nerf. The ability of the hero to solo kill Roshan with just a Helm of the Dominator was clearly unforseen by many and abused by some.

Two more unloved heroesm Undying and Warlock, look quite decent after this week’s patch. Although it is unclear whether they really will be preferred picks, their winrate is sure to increase in pubs games. Warlock’s Chaotic Offering Golems are way tankier and deal more damage in the late game than they did before. A welcome buff, considering his ultimate was reduced to nothing but an AOE, BKB-piercing stun, only to be followed by the quick takedown of his Golems.
 


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  • Weaver

  • Windranger

    • Powershot damage increased from 180/260/340/420 to 180/270/360/450

    • Focus Fire attack speed increased from 350 to 400

    • Focus Fire now always fires on the target unless you are attacking another target, or pressed stop and are not moving.

  • Winter Wyvern

  • Wraith King

    • Wraithfire Blast manacost rescaled from 140 to 95/110/125/140

    • Wraithfire Blast cooldown rescaled from 8 to 11/10/9/8

    • Level 10 Talent changed from +40 Wraithfire DPS to +1.5s Wraithfire Blast Slow Duration

  • Witch Doctor

  • Zeus

Windranger may, in fact, be the most buffed hero this patch. Not just because of the direct improvements to her abilties, but also to the item changes mentioned previously. Maelstrom, Mjollnir and Monkey King Bar are now a lot more useful in the hands of Windranger than probably any other hero. To add to this, the removal of the evasion-piercing mechanic of Skull Basher and Abyssal Blade’s Bash ability favour her. It is unfathomable what the hero needs if, even after all these advantages, she still cannot find a place in the professional meta.

Anyone watching the matches of the Dota Pro Circuit in the last few months should be aware of Witch Doctor’s impact with his Maledict skill. His ability to trade damage with and zone out offlaners is unparalleled. However, no one could have predicted the skill would get so nerfed. A massive 50 second cooldown at level 1 is sure to make drafters question his potential as a first-pick. Minor buffs to Weaver and Wraith King certainly help, though it is clear that the heroes are quite niche, and have a host of better alternatives for the carry role.
 

Summary

Although this week’s patch was released before the inception of a Major or Minor tournament, some have raised concern over the sheer size of it, as it arrives right on the precipice of the Epicenter XL Major. For the first time in the game’s history, the community actually feels the size and rate at which the patches are coming out is too high. And no matter how much we may enjoy watching Kevin “Purge” Godec’s patch analysis videos, it is important to remember that the teams participating in professional tournaments put in a lot of preparatory work before these events. Perhaps this begs the question whether the tournaments of the next season should be planned in accordance with the patch release dates.

Let us know in the comments what you did or didn’t like about this patch, and what you’d like to see change or stay the same in the coming weeks!

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