The Curse of Recommended Items: Lifestealer
In pub play this month, Lifestealer players have chosen Power Treads over Phase Boots as the more popular item, by nearly 27%. However, Phase Boots owns a larger win rate at 48%, compared to Power Treads at 46%. Then take a look at competitive stats from datDota, where pros have built Phase Boots 3 times more than Power Treads, while boasting a higher win rate at 54% vs 49%. Have Lifestealer pub players been making the wrong item choices?
"Phase Boots is better in almost every situation," says KawaiiSocks, our "resident pro":
On a more serious note, he is singlehandedly writing this blog.
Dota strategy can be a game of situational item choices, but it's safe to say that Power Treads is frequently an inferior, perhaps even bad, item choice. The rare time that Treads may be viable is when you can rely on your team mates for stuns and slows, which in a pub game, may be few and far between.
Sure, Power Treads may also be better in the jungle, but that would be a terrible waste. Lifestealer is one of the strongest carries in lane, as well as being an early powerhouse since he really only needs one core item: Armlet. He's more effective as an aggressive hero than a passive farmer, and Phase Boots fits this playstyle perfectly.
Take a look at one of the top plays from 2013, where Fnatic exploits Naix's weakness to the fullest. After a frenetic 5v5 teamfight, Fnatic showed great awareness by recognizing that the Aegis on Lifestealer was expiring. Over the next 10 seconds, all 5 players waited, while kiting a stacked N'aix.
Ever since the range nerf to Open Wounds, move speed becomes even more crucial to playing N'aix. Though you may be able to 3 or 4 shot a hero, your move speed may be the difference between a kill and a frustrating, failed gank.
With already a high base speed of 315, Phase Boots's active will let you close the gap on most heroes. In the lane, you can intiate with Open Wounds and phase through the creep wave. In a team fight, you won't have any pathing issues around summons, wards (even Serpent Wards! escape that trap), and other heroes to get to your target. There are few things more satisfying than a smooth kill with Open Wounds, Rage, and Phase Boots Active.
Drum of Endurance comes to mind as one of the first core items on N'aix, next to Armlet. Drums, like Armlet, seems like it was designed for N'aix: stats for mana pool issues, an increase to move speed, and an active for even more speed to ensure that kill. It's integral for a racecar build with Sange and Yasha and Phase Boots, if you want to dart around the map at maximum move speed.
Pro players have recognized this item's utility. It's been bought in 47.9% of pro games and netted a win rate of 52% when purchased first.
Want to take a guess how often everyone else, us pub players, the general populace, buys Drums of Endurance? Take a second. This month, pub players have bought Drums in 7% of games played.
How Should We Recommend?
Valve's recommended items list has a tremendous influence on the item choices of the public. Though Power Treads vs Phase Boots can be a more difficult choice than it seems, the omission of Drums of Endurance is a glaring error. We should take a page from the pros, and from our own common sense, to determine what goes in the suggested items list.
Are there recommended items for other heroes that you find disturbing? Let us know in the comments and we'll investigate!
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