6.86 has been out for almost 3 months and quite a few adjustments have been made already. A variety of reworked heroes were addressed in tweak patches and all seemed set for the Shanghai Major after 6.86e. However, just a few days prior to the beginning of the groupstage, Valve introduced a new 6.86f, solely addressing Invoker and his Deafening Blast.
In order to understand what these changes really mean, Virtus.pro has put together a little video to provide visual aid.
As shown, defensive items such as Black King Bar can be used to prevent a “full combo” to burst you down. The much dreaded Chaos Meteor Deafening Blast combination has made Invoker a terrifying pub hero for quite some time and it allowed the hero to be a natural opponent to heroes such as Anti-Mage, Queen of Pain or other heroes with innate escape abilities. Now, these heroes will be able to escape, or even launch counter-attacks with stuns or silences to disrupt the Invoker’s spell flow.
It is arguably a big nerf that many were conflicted about whether or not it was appropriate. So close to the Major, the question arose how this would affect the meta and the teams.
The first two days of the Shanghai Major are now over and we’ve already seen quite a bit of Invoker. He has in fact been contested in all but one of the 24 games so far. That alone shows the viability of the hero still. He may have a winrate of only 50%, but it’s still an incredibly versatile hero as Vici Gaming has shown. They’ve played him both mid and in the safelane and Super’s Quas Wex approach is still very much viable.
The standard Exort approach is the more dominant though, but the Meteor/Deafening Blast combination is not as prevalent and rarely has been. Most Invoker’s so far opted for a Hand of Midas, VG’s Super in fact went back for a Midas after building an Orchid Malevolence first. The hero thrives with levels and is far from being a combo pick-off machine, although it certainly helps when you can burst one opponent down immediately.
So what did 6.86f address really? It certainly helped decrease Invoker’s pub value. For weeks, he’s been the most picked hero in pubs and was still able to field a winrate of over 50% across multiple skill brackets. The aggressive approach to find opponents out of position with a Eul's Scepter of Divinity has always been a very pub centric one and only found its competitive place in a few games. The coordination in professional games doesn’t usually allow for such solo pick-offs, at least not with the Exort build. It was also a fairly easy combination to learn, yet very powerful and difficult to counter. You would usually require a teammate to interrupt Invoker from successfully executing his combo, otherwise the kill would've been clean.
The timing of the patch certainly seems to suggest that Valve had the pub scene in mind when implementing the nerf. A meaningful impact for the professional meta would not be implemented so close to the beginning of it and the pros have shown that they still value the hero highly.
For the pub scene, it could be a healthy change of pace after weeks of Invoker. His pickrate has yet to be affected, but that is besides the point. He has always been a popular hero and should be, and he seems much more balanced now as well.
Headline Image by K-Pax