The patch following the ESL One Birmingham Major is massive and focuses on some of the most contested and successful picks of the past two DPC Majors.
The developer team at Valve dropped the new patch instantly after the conclusion of the ESL One Birmingham Major. It was almost like they were itching to change the players’ minds on what they should be picking in the future. Nevertheless, it combined the aspects of both gameplay patches that focus on mechanics and elements of the game and balance patches that focus on hero abilities/talents and items.
They also announced their plans on releasing the rest of the patches before the ultimate tournament. The upcoming patches will be mostly focused on balance tweaks in preparation for The International. There are a few more biweekly patches planned, with the primary ones scheduled around the final Major and the TI Qualifiers. They also mentioned that the release of patches in the next season will be less frequent, owing to the general complaint about the massive number of changes hitting the community every two weeks.
Lets dive deep into patch 7.16…
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- Bounty Runes team gold reduced from 40 + 3/min to 40 + 2/min
- Increased Base HP regen to 1.75 for the following Agility heroes: Anti-Mage, Arc Warden, Clinkz, Drow Ranger, Meepo, Pangolier, Phantom Assassin, Templar Assassin, Troll Warlord, Vengeful Spirit
- Melee Barracks health increased from 1800 to 2000
- Roshan attack damage upgrade over time increased from 2.5/min to 4/min
- Reduced the following Movement Speed Talents:
- Bane Level 20: 75->65
- Beastmaster Level 10: 30 -> 25
- Bounty Hunter Level 10: 30 -> 25
- Clockwerk Level 10: 25 -> 20
- Dark Willow Level 15: 40 -> 35
- Gyrocopter Level 20: 50->45
- Legion Commander Level 20: 60->50
- Leshrac Level 15: 40->30
- Lifestealer Level 15: 35 -> 30
- Nature’s Prophet Level 10: 40 -> 35
- Nightstalker Level 20: 50 -> 45
- Oracle Level 20: 75 -> 65
- Outworld Devourer Level 15: 40 -> 35
- Sand King Level 10: 30 -> 25
- Shadow Demon Level 15: 40 -> 35
- Shadow Fiend Level 15: 35->30
- Techies Level 20: 75 -> 60
- Zeus: Level 15: 40 -> 30
The recent changes to Bounty Runes in the last patch had transformed them from a small gold boost for roaming supports to a serious objective. At the 30-minute mark, one Bounty Rune was worth 700 gold for the team, and each one that was stolen from the enemy team swung the net-worth by 1400 gold. This was, by no means, irrelevant. Compared to that, one rune will now be worth 500 gold at the 30-minute mark. It is a noticeable nerf, but not one that changes how teams should play around them.
The increase to the base HP of some of the Agility heroes makes them better at laning now. Heroes like Anti-Mage, Clinkz, Drow Ranger have been largely ignored in the professional scene, which makes their buffs understandable. Also, similar to the last patch, Roshan gets even more buffs, this time with the increase in his damage gain over time. He hits like a truck later into the game, making those who enter his pit do so with caution. Furthermore, Melee Barracks have even more HP now, making high ground sieges harder than they already are.
The reduction in the movement speed buffs of the talents of some of the heroes is an interesting one. While it was much needed, especially with the way Agility attribute bonuses work, some may not have been nerfed enough. Heroes like Gyrocopter, Shadow Fiend and Night Stalker already get a massive surge in movement speed from their innate abilities or general item progression, making them pretty fast with the talents despite the nerf.
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- Blades of Attack: Cost increased from 420 to 430
- Bottle: Fixed Bounty Runes not being storable when the Bottle is full
- Enchanted Mango: HP regen reduced from 0.6 to 0.5
- Hand of Midas: Cooldown reduced from 100 to 95
- Moon Shard: Attack Speed increased from 130 to 140
- Nullifier: Projectile speed reduced from 900 to 750
- Rod of Atos: Recipe cost reduced from 1100 to 1000
- Sentry Ward: Duration increased from 4 to 6 minutes
- Shadow Amulet: Cost increased from 1300 to 1400
- Silver Edge: Recipe cost reduced from 700 to 600
- Skull Basher: Recipe cost reduced from 1150 to 1000
- Vladmir’s Offering: Mana regeneration increased from 0.65 to 1.0
While Enchanted Mango was rescaled to be a cheaper item with smaller bonuses previously, its getting direct nerfs now to its HP regen. It is the main factor that makes it such a desirable item to start the game with. We might see certain heroes, mostly offlaners and safe laners start with three mangoes now instead of two. The projectile speed of Nullifier was reduced once again, making it extremely hard for melee heroes to initiate with it unless they blink directly on top of their target.
The recipe costs for Skull Basher and Rod of Atos are a welcome change, as it was a minor annoyance to buy recipes that cost so much more compared to the other pieces of the item. The same change to Silver Edge does not change the overall cost of the item due to the increase in the cost of Shadow Amulet. Vladmir’s Offering finally got the buff it deserves, and right in the place where it needed to be. Keep in mind, the mana regeneration aura stacks with that of Ring of Aquila/Ring of Basilius. However, this might not be enough to make it very popular again.
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- Alchemist: Greevil’s Greed bounty rune multiplier increased from 3 to 3.5
- Anti-Mage: Base attack rate improved from 1.45 to 1.4
- Arc Warden
- Base damage increased by 2
- Magnetic Field mana cost reduced from 80/90/100/110 to 50/70/90/110
- Bane: Enfeeble duration reduced from 14/16/18/20 to 8/12/16/20
- Level 10 Talent increased from +4 Armor to +8 Armor
- Level 20 Talent increased from +14% Rupture Damage to +18%
- Bristleback: Level 25 Talent increased from +20 Warpath Damage Per Stack to +30
- Broodmother: Spiderlings health increased from 250 to 280
- Centaur Warrunner:
- Base damage increased by 4
- Hoof Stomp mana cost reduced from 130 to 115/120/125/130
- Chaos Knight: Base intelligence increased by 2
- Intelligence increased from 16 + 1.55 to 18 + 1.7
- Strafe dodge no longer has a count limit
- Clockwerk: Power Cogs mana cost increased from 50/60/70/80 to 80
Combined with the base HP regen buff, the slight improvement to the base attack speed of Anti-Mage makes him look like a pretty decent laner now. With the countless buffs coming in Bloodseeker’s way, it would be baffling if the hero didn’t find success at the China Dota 2 Super Major. However, if his presence and performance at the ESL One Birmingham Major is any indicator, it seems teams have not figured out a way to fit the hero into the meta.
Centaur Warrunner is one of those offlane heroes that was incredibly dominant and was seen in almost every game draft, either as a ban or pick. The nerfs to his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade are what made him unfavorable, however, he should be quite strong in a niche category. The problem remains, that he cannot reliably stun enemies without Blink Dagger and is quite susceptible to the massive magical damage burst that popular meta heroes can dish out. Clockwerk on the other hand, was annoying right from the game start, whether as a position 3 offlane or position 4 roamer. The limitation to the number of times he can use Power Cogs is a step in the right direction.
Clinkz is the only hero that has gone untouched in the professional scene since patch 7.12, which is quite worrisome. Clearly, there was something wrong with the skill-set that the hero provided. Even the rework to his Strafe ability didn’t make teams look twice. With the complete removal of a count limit on the dodge mechanic of the ability, it allows Clinkz to be invulnerable to ranged attacks of heroes. This is potentially very strong, and it remains to be seen whether players outside the pub scene will take advantage of it.
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- Crystal Maiden
- Arcane Aura self mana regeneration increased from 1.3/2.2/3.1/4.0 to 1.6/2.4/3.2/4.0
- Base Damage increased by 2
- Dark Willow
- Bedlam cooldown reduced from 40/35/30 to 30
- Bedlam duration increased from 4 to 5
- Strength gain increased from 2.15 to 2.3
- Poison Touch count rescaled from 4/5/6/7 to 2/4/6/8
- Poison Touch cooldown reduced from 35/30/25/20 to 27/24/21/18
- Death Prophet
- Base movement speed reduced from 310 to 305
- Spirit Siphon mana cost increased from 70/65/60/55 to 70
- Level 10 Talent reduced from +50 Damage to 40
- Disruptor: Thunder Strike cooldown increased from 12/11/10/9 to 15/13/11/9
- Infernal Blade base damage reduced from 25/30/35/40 to 25
- Scorched Earth movement speed reduced from 14% to 11/12/13/14%
Dark Willow getting massive buffs to her Bedlam ability was unprecedented. It basically nullifies the nerfs the spell got a few patches ago, and her solo-killing ability remains quite formidable. Considering the amount of damage she can deal without a lot of items, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if she becomes one of the top contested supports in the coming weeks. Dazzle, on the other hand, is another one of those supports that just doesn’t provide what the meta heroes can. Despite the rework and continued buffs, Poison Touch remains an underwhelming spell.
Death Prophet has sat atop the list of the most successful, contested and stable mid-laners for a long time. In the hands of PSG.LGD‘s Lu “Somnus丶M” Yao, the hero is a nightmare for enemy teams. It seems like its finally time for her to shift towards the niche meta, and let other heroes shine in the limelight.
It is an immense relief for safe laners to see Doom’s Internal Blade get nerfed. The hero feels like an unkillable monster, and the amount of damage he can deal right from the start of the game is not a joke. Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t solve that problem, and players will likely keep prioritizing the skill as the first one to be leveled to max. Similarly, Scorched Earth will not allow Doom to chase down heroes as easily as he could, but the talents associated with his abilities still make the hero scale extremely well.
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- Dragon Knight
- Base movement speed reduced from 285 to 280
- Elder Dragon Form bonus movement speed increased from 25 to 30
- Drow Ranger: Base Damage increased by 4
- Earthshaker: Base armor increased by 1
- Base strength increased by 1
- Nature’s Attendants mana cost reduced from 140 to 110/120/130/140
- Enigma: Demonic Conversion Eidolon bounty reduced from 29 to 23
- Call Down Missile One damage reduced from 200/275/350 to 150/250/350
- Level 10 Talent reduced from +25 Damage to +20
- Life Break increased from 34/38/42% to 34/39/44%
- Inner Vitality mana cost reduced from 170 to 140/150/160/170
- Inner Vitality base regen increased from 10 to 12
- Invoker: Invoke mana cost removed
Right beside Death Prophet stands Dragon Knight, as one of the most popular, stable and successful mid-laners in the game. The two heroes, however, have undeniably made the mid-lane matchup stale for far too long. Unfortunately, these changes barely make a difference to his utility set.
Drow Ranger, Earthshaker, and Enchantress each got their own little buffs in the right direction, and while they might not seem like much, they actually make the picks seem not as terrible as before. Gyrocopter is on the other side of the spectrum, highly versatile, strong in lane and in the late game, highly contested and favored. He has been getting nerf after nerf, and at some point, he may reach the tipping point of falling into obscurity. It is possible that time is now.
It must be a real task trying to balance Huskar, as one of the cheese picks in the game, he can storm through opponents when not countered. However, one must keep in mind all skill brackets in the game, as a hero that’s decent in the professional scene may be overpowered in the lower skill tiers. Regardless, the most minor buffs to the hero seem hilariously irrelevant and most likely will not have an impact on his presence. Also, let’s not ignore the removal of mana cost on Invoker’s Invoke ability. It’s a strange buff, but one that certainly helps. It does make one wonder if the buffs that Aghanim’s Scepter provides are worth the greedy playstyle of the hero. Hopefully, we will get to see some quirky and unique builds on the hero in the days to come.
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- Base movement speed reduced from 290 to 280
- Level 15 Talent reduced from +90 Spirits Damage to +75
- Level 20 Talent changed from Attacks Tether Ally’s Target to +20 Health Regen
- Level 25 Talent changed from +50 Health Regen to Attacks Tether Ally’s Target
- Kunkka: Level 25 Talent changed from +50% Tidebringer Cleave to -1.5s Tidebringer Cooldown
- Base Intelligence reduced by 2 (base damage unchanged)
- Lightning Storm cast range reduced from 800 to 650/700/750/800
- Lich: Chain Frost damage increased from 280/370/460 to 300/400/500 (Scepter from 370/460/550 to 400/500/600)
- Intelligence gain reduced from 1.55 to 1.4
- Shapeshift critical strike reduced from 160/180/200% to 150/175/200%
- Empower cleave distance increased from 460 to 625 (matching Battle Fury)
- Empower cleave end radius increased from 240 to 330 (matching Battle Fury)
One cannot say enough about Io in this meta. For two consecutive balance patches, the hero received some immense buffs and changes to the mechanics of its abilities. This has shot it up straight to the spot of the most banned hero in professional Dota. There is no denying how strong dual offlanes can get with the hero, making it the first pick in most top-tier public games. The strangest thing is the nerf to its base movement speed, that bears little to no relevance as the hero is fixed to the movement speed of the hero it is tethered to anyway. Fortunately, the shift of some of the talents does ensure that “Attack Tether Ally’s Target” and “60-second Relocate Cooldown Reduction” talents cannot be picked together, that made a ridiculously difficult to counter ratting style possible.
Its been debated whether the change to Kunkka’s Level 25 talent is a buff or a nerf. It seems as though one strong talent has been replaced with another potentially strong one. The hero was one of Team Secret‘s favorites, and even though it did not yield massive success in the hands of Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng, the impact of the hero as a core was not simply shrugged off. The community at large is very well aware of the impact of the one-shot build on the hero, as demonstrated by Mohammed “Attacker!” Almheiri countless times. What remains to be seen is if the new talent synergizes well with the playstyle.
Making Magnus’s Empower cleave match in distance and radius with that of Battle Fury was a long time coming. It now makes all the cleave mechanics in the game match in size, with the exception of Kunkka’s Tidebringer, that stands above the rest. It doesn’t change the fact that the hero doesn’t offer much in terms of farm contest early in the game, even in dual lanes.
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- Earthbind projectile speed increased from 857 to 900
- Earthbind now fully affects invisible units
- Leap attack speed increased from 40/60/80/100 to 60/80/100/120
- Moonlight Shadow duration increased from 15 to 18 seconds
- Monkey King: Wukong’s Command armor increased from 8/14/20 to 12/18/24
- Morphling: Morph now only dispels on initial cast, rather than on all toggles
- Attack Point improved from 0.53 to 0.4
- Base damage increased by 2
- Death Pulse Mana Regen per stack from 2/2.25/2.5/2.75 to 2.25/2.5/2.75/3
- Night Stalker
- Void no longer applies a mini-stun during the day
- Darkness no longer sets enemy vision to a fixed amount
- Darkness now reduces enemy unit and ward vision by 25% (doesn’t affect buildings)
Meepo’s minor buff will not make him viable very soon, but it is an interesting one to talk about. Earthbind affecting invisible units is a pretty nifty mechanic, making the hero effective against ganking heroes that are a menace to him. Mirana and Monkey King’s buffs, however, are not to be underestimated. Although they’re not very popular at the moment, the heroes can be extremely strong in many situations. It would be a surprise if we didn’t see their resurgence in the near future.
Morphling’s minor nerf might slip by most going through the patch notes, but it’s certainly not a small one. In fact, it might be exactly what the hero needs. He was far too strong with his ultimate, switching between two heroes and using the spells of both, while also effectively having their mana and health. Not only that, dispelling negative debuffs every time he switched form while maintaining positive buffs made him a nuisance. Thankfully, this is no longer possible.
As one of the most cancerous heroes in the meta during The International 7, it was a surprise to see Necrophos being completely forgotten. The improvement to his attack point and base damage will definitely make him better at contesting farm in lane. Night Stalker, on the other hand, has been nerfed to the ground. As the single most contested hero in the Dota Pro Circuit this season, he was a nuisance as both an offlaner and a roaming support. The combination of the hero with an Io in a dual offlane made them perhaps the strongest pair to face in the laning stage. His dominance over vision during night time will prolong, though to a smaller extent.
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- Ogre Magi
- Multicast 2x chance from 40/50/60 to 60/60/60%
- Multicast 3x chance from 0/20/25% to 0/30/30%
- Multicast 4x chance from 0/0/12.5% to 0/0/15%
- Level 10 Talent increased from +60 Gold/Min to +90
- Level 15 Talent changed from +30 Attack Speed to +2s Rolling Thunder Duration
- Level 20 Talent improved from +30 Swashbuckle Damage to +40
- Level 25 Talent improved from -16s Rolling Thunder Cooldown to -35
- Phantom Assassin
- Blur now only triggers on real heroes
- Blur now always triggers on Invisible and Spell Immune enemies
- Phantom Lancer: Doppelganger can no longer be cast while rooted
- Phoenix: Fire Spirits damage increased from 10/30/50/70 to 20/40/60/80
- Meat Hook cooldown increased from 14/13/12/11 to 17/15/13/11
- Meat Hook damage increased from 90/180/270/360 to 150/220/290/360
- Pugna: Nether Ward damage per mana increased from 1/1.25/1.5/1.75 to 1.25/1.5/1.75/2.0
Ogre Magi’s skill-set is pretty limited. He is a tanky roaming support that is great at harassing and trading hits, but falls off really hard. In the mid to late game, he only serves as an enabler to his cores. The buffs don’t change that, but certainly make this chance to Multicast on spells much better. Pangolier’s buffs are even better. The last few matches in the professional scene where the hero was picked proved that he was underwhelming, except when in the hands of a few. The buff to his level 25 talent is the most noticeable, almost doubling the cooldown reduction to Rolling Thunder, bringing the cooldown of the spell to half.
It’s no secret how prevalent Phantom Lancer has been in the last few months. However, some of the bugs in his abilities have been abused to push him an extra level above the rest of the carry hero pool. After the root mechanic was reworked in such a way that it allowed no displacement spell to be cast when rooted, several heroes got hit. Tusk, Sand King, and Pangolier all cannot use their spells to escape, among others, and now Phantom Lancer has been added to that list.
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- Queen of Pain: Level 25 Talent improved from 20s Spell Block to 15s
- Base HP regen increased from 1.5 to 3.0
- Blink Strike can now be cast on Spell Immune enemies
- Tricks of the Trade cooldown increased from 40/35/30 to 50/45/40
- Cloak and Dagger fade delay increased from 6/5/4/3 to 7.5/6/4.5/3
- Sand King: Caustic Finale slow reduced from 30% to 21/24/27/30%
- Shadow Fiend
- Level 20 Talent changed from +20% Evasion to +2 Damage Per Soul
- Level 25 Talent changed from +3 Damage Per Soul to -5 Presence Aura
- Last Word cooldown reduced from 30/24/18/12 to 28/22/16/10
- Arcane Curse damage increased from 14/22/30/38 to 16/24/32/40
- Slardar: Bash of the Deep damage increased from 60/80/100/120 to 80/100/120/140
- Slark: Pounce damage reduced from 40/80/120/160 to 30/60/90/120
- Sniper: Night vision increased from 1100 to 1400
- Spirit Breaker: Base HP regen increased from 1 to 1.5
Riki was both buffed and nerfed, though most have been focusing on the potentially overpowered aspects in which he has been buffed. The annoying, invisible ganker can now cast Blink Strike on Spell Immune enemies, similar to Phantom Assassin. Possibly an even bigger buff was that to his base HP regen, which has now been doubled. It is expected he will remain unpopular in high tiers due to his greedy nature, but potentially too strong in the lower tiers.
Players rarely picked the +20% Evasion talent on Shadow Fiend, in fact, evasion talents on most heroes are largely ignored. IceFrog took note and removed it entirely, replacing it with a strangely underwhelming one at level 25. As the last talent to choose when at maximum level, there is no reason why someone would not pick the 40% cooldown reduction talent on the hero. It makes the hero a new breed of menace that is a pain to deal with. Lower cooldowns on BKB and Blink Dagger make the hero almost invulnerable, which warrants a long overdue nerf to the talent.
Slardar is usually played in the offlane position or as roaming support, which means his passive ability Bash of the Deep is usually leveled last. However, the amount of damage it deals now should not be underestimated. Carry Slardar has been demonstrated in a few pub games, and it does not disappoint. Sniper, one of the few exceptions that does not have the default day/night vision, got his night vision significantly buffed. It can be seen as an indirect nerf to Night Stalker when the heroes are on opposite teams.
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- Level 20 Talent increased from -5s Storm Hammer Cooldown to -6s
- Level 25 Talent increased from +0.75s Storm Hammer Stun Duration to +1.25s
- Tree Grab building bonus damage increased from 60/80/100/120% to 90/120/150/180%
- Tree Throw splash damage increased from 100 to 130%
- Tusk: Ice Shards cooldown increased from 21/18/15/12 to 23/20/17/14
- Treant Protector: Living Armor regen increased from 4/7/10/13 to 4/8/12/16
- Undying: Soul Rip mana cost reduced from 100/110/120/130 to 80/95/110/125
- Level 15 Talent changed from -1s Earthshock Cooldown to +25s Fury Swipes Reset Time
- Level 20 Talent changed from +25s Fury Swipes Reset Time to +12 Fury Swipes Damage
- Level 25 Talent changed from +14 Fury Swipes Damage to Enrage gains 80% Status Resistance
- Vengeful Spirit
- Magic Missile cooldown reduced from 13/12/11/10 to 10
- Wave of Terror mana cost reduced from 40 to 25/30/35/40
- Weaver: Shukuchi damage increased from 75/100/125/150 to 80/110/140/170
Sven’s performance in the recent Major proved that he can only work in the hands of the likes of Virtus.pro, who are in a league of their own. Buffing talents at level 20 and level 25 will by no means improve his laning stage or his susceptibility to be kited. Something much bigger needs to change on this hero, similar to the way his ultimate was reworked.
Tiny has been getting an exhausting number of changes for the past few months, getting one or more changes almost every patch. Reworking his abilities and sending him to the top of the meta, then nerfing him to the ground has been a rollercoaster ride for the hero. The increase in damage from Tree Grab is a welcome change, but its anyone’s guess what position he fits best in now. Perhaps its time for the Wisp+Tiny combo to return, considering how strong the former is right now.
Easily the most noticeable new talent of the patch is the 80% Status Resistance on Ursa’s Enrage. After the rework to the Attribute Bonuses of all heroes, the status resistance mechanic has only remained in a handful of aspects. It is a great way to make a hero continue having an impact, especially one that falls off really hard in the late game. On the other hand, the increase in Weaver’s Shukuchi damage can be added to the list of the most irrelevant buffs of the patch. The hero that was once one of the strongest laners is now rarely seen in the meta that focuses heavily on the laning stage.
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- Winter Wyvern
- Splinter Blast slow increased from 25% to 30%
- Splinter Blast mana cost reduced from 120/130/140/150 to 90/110/130/150
- Wraith King
- Mortal Strike no longer has a chance to kill creeps
- Mortal Strike now gains skeleton charges for every 2 enemy units you kill
- Mortal Strike skeleton count rescaled from 4/5/6/7 to 2/4/6/8
- Mortal Strike skeletons bounty reduced from 15/15 XP/Gold to 5/5
- Mortal Strike mana cost reduced from 75 to 30/45/60/75
- Base damage increased by 5
- Strength gain reduced from 2.6 to 2.3
- Arc Lightning damage rescaled from 85/100/115/145 to 70/95/120/145
- Lightning Bolt cast range increased from 700 to 700/750/800/850
- Lightning Bolt damage increased from 100/175/275/350 to 125/200/275/350
Mortal strike no longer has a chance to kill creeps, making level 1 jungle Wraith King no longer viable. This is great news for most, except, of course, for those who play jungle Wraith King. The rest of the changes to the hero all focus on that one ability, which does make it look quite good. Unfortunately, it does not change the fact that he is painfully weak in the laning stage.
One may not see Zeus in the pro meta very often, but those who even glance at the meta-stats once in a while know how successful Zeus is in the lower skill brackets. It makes one fear that the hero may be pushed into over-powered territory, which leaves players with the option of either banning the hero or picking it themselves. There may be small nerfs in some aspects, but the changes to Lightning Bolt are the most important buffs. With his cast range talent and Aether Lens, he can deal an absurd amount of damage from a great distance, while also casting a mini-stun.
IceFrog and his team of developers has been trying to push the meta to the late game for a while now. Teams like Virtus.pro are at the top of the game because of their mastery over the laning stage. With this patch, not only did many of the meta heroes like Dragon Knight, Leshrac, Death Prophet, Gyrocopter and Sand King get nerfed, but many of the late game favored, ignored heroes like Arc Warden, Magnus, Sven and Wraith King got buffed.
However, it is ultimately up to the teams and their captains to give us something new in their drafts in the last Major of the season and the upcoming open qualifiers of The International. Hopefully, with the current standings of the DPC Rankings and the number of ineligible teams participating at the China Super Major, we will get to see some experimentation from them.