Supports are the pillars on which carries can build the foundation towards winning the game. Throughout the entire game, supports have to be on alert and provide opportunities for their carries to take objectives or prevent enemies from ganking successfully. It's a tedious and often ungrateful job description, as it can be easy to fall into a feeding spree without ever getting a piece of the spotlight.
Thus, it feels appropriate to give support heroes the spotlight they deserve. Here are some of 6.88's strongest support heroes.
For weeks now, Warlock has been the most dominant support in the pro meta. The hero has established himself as the most reliable safelane support, with a terrifying win- and contestionrate (67% and 100% respectively) at the Northern Arena LAN finals.
Warlock can not only turn teamfights around, but can lead a team into taking objectives. He doesn’t require a lot of farm, as building Hand of Midas will naturally provide him with a lot of gold and experience. As a result, he’s an excellent 5 position support. More on him and his resurgence in the meta can be found in our extensive blog about him.
Ogre Magi is the 2nd most picked support in 5k+ MMR pub play, while retaining a 52% winrate. It’s even more impressive in lower brackets, as his winrate of 56% in <2k MMR games is among the highest in its bracket.
The hero is a strong ganker that is difficult to punish by its enemies. WIth a base health regen of 3.5, 6 armor and 660HP at level 1, it seems impossible to kill him, let alone zone him out. If he picks up an Orb of Venom and a Wind Lace, or worse Boots, there’s no escaping him.
What sounds like a nightmare for pub play, is very well true for pro games as well. Ogre Magi was the most picked hero at The Summit 6 LAN finals with a 62% winrate. And the concept applies in pros as well. Ignite is a strong early game slow that allows Ogre to hit his targets and heroes tend to trade unfavorably against him.
Wisp, or Io, has never really been out of the meta. Teams have always tried and mostly succeeded in implementing the hero into their line-ups. While there have been times where Io hasn’t been favored, it’s still one of Dota 2’s more successful hero in regards to popularity among pros.
Wisp is yet again one of the most banned heroes right now. It was the most banned hero at TI6 and the 4th most banned at the recent Summit 6 finals.
Io is very much like Batrider, in the sense that its skillset will persevere and stand the test of time. The unique ability to apply global pressure, coupled with the healing and laning sustainability allow Io to become the most sought after support - at least in the Western hemisphere. For the longest time now, European and North-American teams have favored the hero much more than other regions have, especially China. TI6 champions Wings banned the heroes 4 times at The Summit 6 and not once have teams banned the hero against them.
As popular as Io may be in pro play, the hero is anything but popular in pub play. A 1.5% pickrate and a below 40% winrate speak against him. Much like Shadow Demon, Io requires communication to be successful. Even more so, Io requires strategy and purpose. Almost every other support can move around the map as they wish to, but Io needs a purpose. He has certain strengths that need to be played out, else he’ll be useless. Io requires teamplay to take objectives and fights, a level of coordination that is rarely available with 4 strangers.
Going into TI6, Shadow Demon has proven to be a worthy pick due to his ability to reliably zone out offlaners and his scaling into the lategame by providing sieging power with his illusions. Both strengths have been nerfed since, but the hero remains a meta staple.
Virtus.pro’s Solo has shown at The Summit 6 that SD remains a strong laning support and even showcased an alternative skill build, now that Shadow Poison has been nerfed significantly. Maxing Disruption together with Soul Catcher is the traditional Shadow Demon build and has proven to be as successful as it used to be.
The hero overall has a lot to offer, with defensive and offensive uses of his Disruption and his ability to initiate for his team. Demonic Purge is is especially strong when kiting melee cores, some of which are very relevant in the current meta.
Shadow Demon’s pubstats don’t speak for him. A below 50% winrate across all brackets doesn’t speak to a strong hero, but that has always been the case. His Disruption can be hit or miss and a lack of communication can easily result in him killing his teammates, as opposed to saving them.
A top pick and ban at TI6, Oracle has fallen off slightly since and had to give away his seat as strong lane support to Warlock. Oracle is probably the best defensive support in the game, as his ultimate can not only prevent death, but also fully heal its target as well. The ability to purge debuffs make Oracle incredibly valuable in the lategame as well and Purifying Flames is an incredibly strong nuke on a very short (2.25 seconds) cooldown.
While Oracle has fallen off, he’s still very much a strong pick and a 75% winrate across 8 wins at The Summit 6 speak to the hero.
Oracle shines brightest with a core that tends to be singled out and bursted down, but that has high damage output. Prolonging the life of a hero like Drow Ranger can make or break a fight, as she and her aura are half of the team’s damage output. Due to Oracle’s low BAT and low cooldown nukes, he is an excellent lane support with gank potential and strong lane presence.
Pub stats don’t speak in favor of Oracle (2% pickrate across all brackets), but that has been the case since the hero’s introduction into the game. Oracle’s abilities aren’t intuitive to play with and need some getting used to.
These heroes are without a doubt among the most popular supports right now, but especially in pro play, it becomes a bit more difficult from here on out. There is no clear right or wrong as to who follows in popularity, as teams have their own, personal preferences. There is Undying, a hero that SEA representatives Faceless enjoy running; Slardar, something Virtus.pro loves to run as support; or Venomancer, a hero EG has brought back into the meta. Warlock too started out as a player and team preference, with EHOME playing the hero at TI6 almost exclusively and Faceless carrying on that torch right after.
For a short while, 6.88 has even seen Phantom Assassin roam the lanes and Virtus.pro is trying to establish Weaver as a support as well. The patch may end soon, but these supports still have one last big event to impress at.