The Death of Split-Push

More than half-a-year ago we published a series of posts dedicated to dealing with certain types of strategies in Dota. Several patches and several meta-changes later, one of them has become a lot less relevant—split-pushing as a macro strategy is dead and it doesn’t seem as if it is coming back.

Strategy vs. Tactics

When talking about Dota, it is necessary to clearly understand the difference between macro-strategy and tactical moves. A typical professional draft tries to incorporate several different types of potential tactical moves and in this sense split-pushing is not dead. You can still clear lanes, creep-skip and be a nuisance. And heroes who excel at these things are not completely unviable. It’s just less and less like to win a game by doing only that.

The current meta revolves around gaining early game momentum and running with it, until you get as much map control, as you safely can. It might bear resemblance to the TI4 “deathball” meta, but in reality it is a lot calmer. Teams rarely try to out-pressure the enemy in the early game; they simply push their advantage harder, because the patch allows for it. And they know when to stop, reflect for a while and generally it results in them slowly choking the opposition, rather than going all-in, risking their advantage.

Understandably, a team of 5 heroes, all supporting each other with different auras and abilities, will frequently push much harder, than a single hero on a different lane, even if he is completely uncontested. At least until the very late stages of the game.

Evolution of heroes

Image by DrySocket & ChemicalAlia

Having a very farm-dependant hero, who will come online later and will be able to become a threat only by the 20-minute mark is frequently a death-sentence—tempo is king. Because of that, heroes who were typically associated with split-pushing and split-farming, such as Anti-Mage Anti-Mage, even itemize very differently, currently opting for early-game stats-items.

If you can’t fight the full enemy team early on, be sure—they will come knocking at your door. Exploiting these weaknesses is slowly but surely becoming a trend in the pubs as well, at least starting at roughly 4.5k average MMR. Players want those sweet points and they are definitely evolving.

Meta is also not an object, which takes force from one side and starts rolling with it; at least in Dota, it is a complex system, with multiple forces working on it at the same time, and with it often reacting unpredictably. And sometimes it can get hard to figure out what was the cause and what was the effect of certain changes.

Lately, several ganking, tempo-controlling mid heroes have returned to the world of viable heroes. Ember Spirit Ember Spirit got a new build, Queen of Pain Queen of Pain had her 15 minutes of glory etc. These heroes are exceptional at catching unsuspecting solo-targets. And split-pushers are exactly that—solo heroes, who are frequently on the other side of the map from their team and who, to be effective, have to come close to the enemy structures, making ganking them a lot easier and less time-consuming.

Heroes like Slardar, Centaur Warrunner and Nyx Assassin are also all in the meta, further exacerbating the lives of split-pushers.

Evolution of the Map

Apart from strictly hero-related issues, split-pushers are also facing another, entirely different beast—the map. The map received a major overhaul across several patches and the introduction of Shrines was the last nail in the coffin of split-pushing strategies.

Shrines ensure some form of map control, despite early game advantages. Overall, it is definitely a great mechanic, allowing for some sort of comeback potential for teams who are stuck in their base defending. It is especially crucial in a game as tempo-driven as Dota is right now.

But it also means that the typical split-pushers are open for attacks from several additional angles. When attacking T2 towers, you can no longer feel somewhat safe, with a T2 ward. You need vision on the shrine as well and wards are scarce. Dedicating so many resources to ensuring a somewhat safe split-push is simply suboptimal at best.

Couple this with the fact that many heroes in the meta are excellent at dealing with solo-targets, and the problems of the strategy become apparent.

Evolution of the Jungle

Last and probably least impact on the viability of the strategy comes from the jungle changes. For heroes like Nature’s Prophet, Anti-Mage, Lone Druid etc., the jungle was a safe haven, where they could farm up and get their items safely in-between objective attempts. They are off the map, frequently unseen by the enemy, leaving them guessing.

If previously this “off the map” downtime was associated with effective farming, currently it is no longer possible. With effectively half the creeps spawning in the game, jungling is no longer as lucrative as it used to be. The “farming loop” of many heroes has been affected, and they no longer can get a massive advantage by the mid game. At least not safely and consistently.

Closing Thoughts

The Lone Wolf concept is becoming more and more a thing of the past in the current game. Dota is moving towards more team-oriented engagements, higher team mobility importance and leaves less space for solo heroes.

Whether it is a good or a bad thing is up for debate. On one hand, we have more opportunities for beautiful highlights and massive teamfights. On the other, subtle, yet absolutely brilliant, unexpected and game-winning moves are probably gone. At least for now.

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55 comments
MarkyGun

    first woo hoo

    blue_cheese

      no one cares about whether you're first or whatever

      Lesscot

        That's what 2nd always says

        Cobb

          im 4th i guess

          Cthulhu

            5th player

            This comment was edited
            fx(god mode on)

              6 muthafucka

              #Ab1lity

                собаки сутулые давайте по русски

                [SS]Razer

                  Wombo combo is more interesting when 7.00 released. No more ez solo kill. Team strategy vs split push make game have longer time.

                  This comment was edited
                  (|/) 0_o (|/)

                    Actually now you are more team-dependent than ever, so players trying to get out of '1/2/3k trash' are gonna have a fun time trying

                    Karma

                      idk whats going on

                      1iceTea

                        All I do is still split push and I solo pick off ALOT this article talk the direct opposite of me.
                        Kawaiishock are you sure of your article I still experience quite some split pushing nowadays do you have any fact on support this blog,like a chart or something?

                        This comment was edited
                        Mr.SiuFattLoong

                          Conventional split pusher is still much alive,but as for rat strategy.. seldom see it happen at pubs..

                          @Twiztid

                            1iceTea, i just checked your recent games and all your Lycan and Alch (split push heroes) games are losses...so...maybe you dont know what you're talking about lol

                            Mr. Guppy

                              yay! im 14th!

                              Fight Machine

                                Still there are too many tactical effective split pushers, Ember and Weaver come to mind. But macro split pushing is dead for sure. No pro scene picks and low general win rate for this class of heroes are good proofs for that claim. Also rework of death cost, re-spawn time and kill bounty have made late game oriented strategies a high risk-low reward strat in patch 7.xx, and late game oriented split pushers like Anti Mage suffer further because of that.

                                This comment was edited
                                LUL

                                  so someone just putting their hardwork into making this forum and people just came here to commend "first,second, etc" ?

                                  ◄MAXIMUM PMA►

                                    2nd posters fail. You go first!!!! w00t

                                    This comment was edited
                                    Magnathustra

                                      I agree with the trends dota is taking. You can't win with the old Alliance strats (which is fine with me). At the same time, particularly at lower mmrs where I play, lots of teams will struggle to deal with a well executed split push. It's just harder to pull off now, lower reward, higher risk. I only try it with a real potato team I can't get to group/fight effectively, which happens.

                                      This game, for example, I had to tp to base at least twice to stop split pushes my team couldn't deal with. Both times I saved the t3s, but both times it stopped pushes. And I had to tp home or risk losing rax, and then we eventually lost.
                                      https://www.dotabuff.com/matches/2994483006/

                                      This comment was edited
                                      No.

                                        Sweet points. HAHA

                                        Ambivalence

                                          Honestly, besides building a mekanism, ratting is the most effective way of winning a 2k mmr game. It gives your team a gold advantage and more map control if you can pull it off. Lycan is my favorite tool for the job.

                                          imgay

                                            I disagree whole-heartedly with this entire story, and I generally agree with all of them. You just wrote an article about Lycan's split pushing ability, and I split-push on almost every game I play. Split pushing isn't such a strategy, it never really HAS been a strategy. It's more of just a flat-out call at the right time. If I see 5 heroes stacked in the mid lane, I will go bot as LC, AM, SF, Invoker and tell my team to stay mid, this will split up the enemy team, then I will surround the enemy team. That's how split pushing has always gone. Morph, Ember, AM, they still all split push perfectly fine. This is one of the more pointless articles I've seen written, and completely false.

                                            cat cafe

                                              I think this article is mostly talking about +5k players who know how to take advantage of seeing a lone player split pushing. Its less advantageous to take a fight where you might die over securing a kill you know you'll get. At which point you can safely push as 5 against an enemy team you know for a fact only has 4 to defend. At the end of they day, the only thing a dead split pusher accomplishes in a 5v4 fight, is being dead.

                                              M.C.T.

                                                LAST! .

                                                Fight Machine

                                                  Low MMR games are full of solo gankers. Good luck split pushing against Riki, PA, SB, Pudge, Slark, LC,...

                                                  Brock Hall

                                                    I feel like this is one of those things that can't just be buffed directly to the hero. Shrines, as the article has stated, really change the dynamic of the game. And it's kind of a hard nut to crack to make split pushing viable again with the shrines in the game the way they currently are. There are a lot of ways to bring it back creatively or indirectly:

                                                    - shrines will have to give vision to both teams.

                                                    - you can capture shrines instead of destroy them.

                                                    - a new item that has an active that places wards, increasing the total number of wards available to a team.

                                                    - the jungle will be worth more gold and xp per neutral.

                                                    - a buff to iron talon

                                                    - lanes are given higher ground than the jungle (man that'd be broken though)

                                                    - tp time to shrines increased

                                                    - reduced trees around shrine

                                                    Just because the meta is bad for split pushing right now doesn't mean that it won't come back ever. Small changes are big in the world of Dota, and there are always multiple ways to address a problem.

                                                    Boundless Strike in Gaben...

                                                      split pushing as storm is the easiest thing in the world with a bit of cautiousness of course

                                                      Illidan

                                                        But natures is babe... What the hell gaben?

                                                        Illidan

                                                          27th.

                                                          Brock Hall

                                                            @Boundless Strike in Gaben...

                                                            Are you confusing split pushing with split farming? I feel like there is a distinction to be made. To clarify how I define them:

                                                            Split FARMING is similar to a laning stage, where the team divides to maximize farm distribution, usually associated with 3 and 4 core lineups, but also is used in an old Navi 4 fight 1 farm strat. Antimage, Morph, Weaver, PA, and Spectre are best at this due to their high mobility into and away from fights, with special mention to naga.

                                                            Split PUSHING is where the team attempts to take simultaneous enemy buildings at the same time. Rat Dota is a subset of this, using guerilla tactics to push one or two depending on the situation. Traditionally, Natures, LD, and Morph fit into rat, while Terrorblade, Brood, CK, and Lycan lean more towards basic split pushing.

                                                            Well that was drawn out longer than I anticipated.

                                                            Fight Machine

                                                              By looking at win rate chart you could easily realize that low win rate heroes are usually belong to a category: complex heroes, heavily picked by pro scene, split pusher

                                                              ╚╦╩º~truco o travesura :v

                                                                I don't understand why people keep taking about how junglers got nerfed and they don't get as much farm as before but yet I keep getting ganked by that jungle legion with blink on minute 6

                                                                Sarllo

                                                                  1IceTeam for sure in my game bracket i still experiment some split pushing.. but looking pro games is easy to conclude that split push is death.. also popular heroes like andymage and natures prophet are dead right now...

                                                                  Sarllo

                                                                    @truco o travesura :v junglers are not viable when the enemy team is agressive.. in 10min lane phase u are 5 vs 4.. HUUUGEE disadvantage for mid and off with 2 supports moving and ganking vs only one to help their teammates and buy all the resources (vision, detection, etc). Of course, if u play passively, they have 4 cores free farming vs u natural 3, so everything goes out of control real hard.. (it still happens to me and my party)..

                                                                    i also agree that u can still get the same amount of farm with jungle heroes (legion, enigma, blood).. the nerf became real with heroes like andymage, cuz he can clear all jungle in 1 min, so he have 1 death minute before starting to farm again.. before 7.00 andymage could clear jungle 10 times in 10 minutes, now only 5 times.. (HALF OF HIS FARM CAPABILITY = HUUUUUUUUUGEEEEEEE NERF)

                                                                    Reaper

                                                                      Fuck off dotabuff do not encourage this garbage split pushing meta again

                                                                      smax

                                                                        @la siensia no esplica nada and do you know that if staying in lane (especially mid) legion farms faster + he usually max Q first that gives him A LOT of advantage in early fights? So yes, legion usually just wastes his potential in jungle. After 6-8 minutes he comes with a blink + probably simple boots and requires at least 1 other hero (usually 2) to score his first duel. And even after that he needs a lot of farm to be able to do anything.
                                                                        When he is picked on mid he can have pt + armlet at 8 min + maxed Q. That is usually enough to get a solo kill. And by doing so you are allowing your team to pick a roamer/2nd sup that doesn't require a lot of farm and can benefit you and your teammates all the time.

                                                                        Brock Hall

                                                                          @smax Totally agree.

                                                                          Even if it isn't a solo kill, it's a duel win, and that's the more important aspect. You can get the blink first, but it leaves you severely underpowered for that first duel. Get the stats items to boost your duel damage, giving you the gold for the blink. It requires more coordination but it should net you more opportunities because you can go for targets with higher hp that are likely extending further into lane.

                                                                          smax

                                                                            @Brock Hall Moreover, on low mmr (I'm playing on 3-3.5k) you don't even need a blink at all. People often overextend there, so you can cast Q (this usually yields you +60-100 speed burst AND damages them by ~200), run to them and duel.
                                                                            This is not a theorycrafting, you can check my profile there and you'll see that legion is my most successful hero and I'm only buying blink as a very situational 5th item (~10% of all games).

                                                                            Brock Hall

                                                                              @smax

                                                                              If you are looking to be an assassin with legion you should be picking shadow blade instead. Blink is certainly helpful in teamfight situations to get to the right spot immediately, but that first duel is usually landing during laning or skirmishing stages, not full on teamfighting.

                                                                              XanaX

                                                                                Дайте петухам русичам перевод, ало

                                                                                imgay

                                                                                  @ Brock Hall a 2k shitter with 2 games on lc says go shadowblade. My night is complete. Find the fastest semi truck in the world and jump in front of it

                                                                                  Ceanide

                                                                                    I can hear bulldog crying far from here

                                                                                    4Head

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                                                                                    sad_chainmail

                                                                                      Don't understand, easy splitpush with rubick&shadowblade. Splitpush will live forever

                                                                                      Ultron

                                                                                        Fuck yeah !! All you noobs this iis my FIRST post! No one can beat that! XD

                                                                                        coldfire

                                                                                          What do you do if you do not have the advantage? Do you 5 man too?

                                                                                          Dirty Mack

                                                                                            Just like to point out that no one cares what happens in 4k trench, this post was made to talk about high mmr and the pro scene

                                                                                            smax

                                                                                              @Brock Hall shadow blade is not good at legion. Point is that on your mmr (2.5k?) you don't need NEITHER sb nor blink. Spend 2k on armlet and just snowball. Noone ever expect treat from lc without a blink at 2k mmr. But when he casts Q he 1) does ~200 damage to a hero 2) has +100 speed burst, and he is not slow to start from. Having this 2250 (3000 in case of sb) gold converted to a hp/attack speed item will do you so much good that you will become a leading force in your team starting from 10th min, not 30th like the usual 'jungler' legion.

                                                                                              Brock Hall

                                                                                                @smax

                                                                                                Let me clarify my thought process a little more. If you're hellbent on trying to be an assassin with Legion, the Shadowblade will get you further than the blink will, considering it provides extra damage and has a status effect on hit from invis. The comment was intended not to say what the absolute best situation build would be for legion. There are far better items for legion (armlet is good, blademail is good, I'm in favor of general tanky items airing on the armor side of the category, deso can make good use of moment of courage), but the original comment we were discussing was regarding junglers grabbing blink, which makes it obvious what their intentions for the hero are.

                                                                                                Oh and in general at my mmr you probably should just not play legion. It isn't effective because people jungle and firstbuy blink and leeroy jenkins a full health mid. Offlane legion never caught on at my mmr.

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                                                                                                ヽ( ಥ﹏ಥ)ノ

                                                                                                  4.5k article LuL wutface

                                                                                                  Mha Hart Mha Sole </3

                                                                                                    Bottomline: Outdraft your enemy as fast and as hard as possible, outplay them as frequent as possible, always participate and cooperate with your team and also, Pray for RNGsus.

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                                                                                                    Disappointed Father

                                                                                                      Admiral Bulldog knew this which is why he has 'retired', no more split push Nature's Profit pushes with [A] now :(