Keeper Of The Light: From Niche To Meta

There was a time when the best use case of Keeper Of The Light was sitting off screen and channeling Illuminate on unwitting opponents who were too slow to react to the whoosh of a max 500 dmg, or they just had the sound off. His role has evolved since then, if not in pubs then in competitive play.

Across all regions at the ongoing Kiev Major Qualifiers, KotL is currently the 7th most contested hero, the 2nd most contested support, and the 4th most banned hero, right below Slardar and Centaur Warrunner. The hero has even warranted a first round ban against select teams, such as Na’Vi and especially Team Liquid.

KoTL is a veritable first round ban against Team Liquid

Leave The Mana Leak For Pubs

The change to Chakra Magic in patch 6.86—which buffed its interactions to grant its beneficiaries an increased mana pool and cooldown reduction—solved one of KotL’s largest weaknesses in the lane. He was too passive as a safe lane support, and drafts involving KotL often relegated him as a greedy jungler and later a safety net to counter push.

What the change to Chakra Magic did was make KotL an indirect offensive threat, when paired with the right hero. It was already being abused long before, with the old-school version of Phantom Lancer and Spirit Lance-spam, but the new cooldown reduction and mana pool opened up opportunities with new heroes. So far in the Kiev Major, we’ve seen Nyx+KotL, the return of another familiar pairing with Bristleback in C9’s win over Elements, and then with Wraith King in Vici Gaming’s match against Calvary, where against a tri-lane, End’s WK outfarmed Calvary’s Slark 56 to 53 CS.

Despite this breadth of synergies with KotL and his new Chakra Magic, over a third of pub players place their first skill point in Mana Leak. Two out of the three most popular builds on our page also include placing that first point in Mana Leak. At the same time, pub players are maxing the skill last, leaving that first point in Mana Leak as a value point.

While Mana Leak is an especially powerful skill in the mid to late game—completely negating the potency of heroes like Timbersaw—it’s quite lackluster at level 1. At best, it’s a 1.5 second stun that does no damage and saps the offlaner’s mana. That’s the impact of KotL at level 1 with level 1 Mana Leak. And it won’t be until level 3 before he does anything else. There are better heroes at level 1 who can net kills, and there are even better ones who can protect carries and annoy and zone offlaners.

Na’Vi Biver opting for skill points over talents against team Friends.

Mana Leak is a good enough spell, past level 1, that there have been casesof pros skipping talents to be able to max it as soon as possible. That's also an argument against the strength of his early game talents. All his level 10, 15, and 20 talents target his weakness as a squishy hero. More movespeed, more health, more magic resistance, more armor, less time dead. KotL does have the lowest base Strength out of all the Intelligence heroes, but his Strength gain is average, and he is among the tier of fastest heroes in the game (Enchantress, Luna). Survivability isn't as big of an issue for KotL as Valve's talents make it to be, especially since Aghanim's Scepter, a core item, adds a non-trivial amount of health.

One Scepter To Rule Them All

KotL Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade got top ranking in our Scepter Tier List, and rightfully so. It does the same thing as Nightstalker’s upgrade, and while the unobstructed vision was already valuable enough to make it a viable pickup for Nighstalker, KotL version is profoundly better.

The upgrade gives him permanent access to his Spirit Form toolbox and the change to Illuminate makes him a walking, 10 second fountain. His strength was already in his ability to counter-push and clear waves. Scepter opens his offensive capability to support and sustain both his team’s hp and mana pools.

The strength of the item justifies building it first, at the cost of the usual core, support builds. Like Ancient Apparition, it’s usually worth it for a team to lend KotL space in the mid game for him to farm his Scepter.

Some Scepter upgrades unlock new abilities (Nightstalker, Timbersaw, Ogre Magi) or augment existing ones (Storm Spirit, Puck), but KotL’s upgrade does a little bit of everything, and in a way adds synergies with his role. Add onto this his level 25 talent, which adds +200 to both Illuminate’s damage and healing, and KotL becomes one of the most complete support heroes, relevant from beginning to end.

Lane Winning Support

When looking at the current pro meta, one can't help but look at the trend that has gone towards securing strong lanes. Especially the offlane has become much more prominent over the course of the past year and more often than not, pro teams will run some sort of dual lane there. Keeper of the Light provides a flexibility and stability in the draft, that only few other supports can. He's potent in a trilane, both defensively and aggressively, and can even fall back to be a greedy 4 position support that jungles.

In an aggressive dual lane, KotL shines the brightest in the current meta. With Illuminate, he's able to push out the wave constantly, forcing the enemy safelaner to farm underneath his own tower. Illuminate also enables KotL to contest any pull efficiently, or pull the wave himself. It seems only natural for Keeper to be as popular as he is right now, certainly when it comes to pro games.

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45 comments
qwert102

    First :)

    Pear Pressure

      first is the worst second is the best so gg

      Wacky

        3rd madafaka

        JiroWaht

          4th. omg. i want to thank my family and friends for support.

          Bananamancer

            5th :D

            Hey

              Satan!

              Phoenix

                7th I feel so important now. And my mom said I'd never amount to anything.

                Phoenix

                  Fuck, I meant 8th. Guess mom was right

                  Time-

                    9th gg wp

                    NOOB

                      10th comment as indeed i am 10th in everything

                      NG.Cal[™]

                        11th.... aww yeah. Hi mom!

                        Wacky

                          1st, 2nd and I happen to be on 1k MMR - stuck in the abyss. Oh wait, 2nd has a chance to reach 9k. Unless he'll mess up with his TBD MMR matches.

                          GAMER

                            fird :D

                            ✪Difusal

                              baia baia

                              Wolfmother

                                fuck mana leak.....in the bum

                                Carluto

                                  El keper esta my op en las partidas publicas ayuda demasiado la fuga de mana. Hoy lo jugue por primera vez y esta rotizimo como apoyo en la linea segura y tambien de router mantiene muy a controla heroes de mana dependientes ecepto tanto el strom spirit que puede moverse sin tantos problemas
                                  En fin el keper esta demasiado OP y si en sus partidas normal skill o low skill hasta higth skill todos eligen carrys y tu eres el ultimo heroe no saques otro carry y piensa en este amiguito GANDALF como una de las mejores opciones

                                  MCT

                                    THIRST! :)

                                    Purist, the Omniknight.

                                      The Omniscience loves us all!

                                      Brock Hall

                                        This is one of the first heroes that really made me feel like I understood the game. At the time, and at my skill level, nobody knew how to deal with the fear of a kotl blast. I'd push enemies out of lane. Once he dropped out of meta I quit playing him, but I maintain a 63% winrate on the hero.

                                        Also, even though he is an absolutely totally forgotten hero that may NEVER see the light of day again, I absolutely love running this with pugna. They piggyback off of each other, providing mana and slows and setups for each other so beautifully. And nobody wants to face a pugna blast AND a kotl blast.

                                        Jazakuuul

                                          Wow Pugna + Kotl that is quite the sick aoe combo!

                                          INTERISTIL

                                            buff broodmother OMG

                                            Cpt.Trance

                                              LOL since when this 1 skill hero is in meta? o.0

                                              Spakol

                                                kundalini

                                                Quirk D2BINGO.COM

                                                  So much early game problems

                                                  Sarllo

                                                    mana leak is stronger that bloodseeker rupture LOL

                                                    a kitten

                                                      Illuminate in lane is such a pain! I should maybe try playing Keeper ...

                                                      Brock Hall

                                                        @Cpt.Trance

                                                        '1 skill hero' hahaha

                                                        𝕐𝕆𝕋𝕋𝕐

                                                          1stly the +400 cast range is a far superior talent and any player above 5k will concur.
                                                          2ndly I think you're not talking enough about real pairings like Sven/CK/Centaur and WK (that you mentioned like a passing breeze since you don't elaborate on stun+slow duration and Chakra reduction).
                                                          KotL + Kunkka is also crazy strong since tidebringer is now a spell (echosabre Attacker Kunkka gave me nightmares for a week). Storm is also potent since you can cast Chakra during ball lightning for double remnants as early as lvl 6.

                                                          LeChariot

                                                            Saw bieber hex and have to agree with the cast range, kotol already has a huge range in all his abilities but add that to utility items seems superior in lvl 25 situations wich is super late game for kotol where u didnt won the game pushing but and extra range for a smoke+hex initiation can make all the difference.

                                                            brokyn

                                                              Just buff Nightstalker and kotl will be wimpering in the dark with his useless aghs.

                                                              Wizard

                                                                Неплохая связка с андерлордом и котлом

                                                                Kanna-chan

                                                                  Will spam dis for commends. Hue hue hue.

                                                                  l0rrYdr1v3R

                                                                    35th

                                                                    Se vende items/cuenta.Qui...

                                                                      @eggs The last time I read the comments in this blog the author deleted the spam ("numbers") comments. I want to see quality comments not spam :/

                                                                      Brock Hall

                                                                        @Se vende items/cuenta.Qui...

                                                                        Then provide quality comments

                                                                        Decarabia

                                                                          Why biver tho? Why not fh for kotl reference? Either way, i agree that, by having scepter alone, he becomes significant in team fight

                                                                          Pvt. Dimitri

                                                                            good man

                                                                            TechRize ☭

                                                                              FIRST! Anyway.

                                                                              Uvuvwevwevwe Osas

                                                                                4(1st)

                                                                                H.

                                                                                  YEAH

                                                                                  Arcanum

                                                                                    With actually more then 1.5k games with kotl I can say he's my best and favourite hero.... I'm just worried about the "interest" he's gaining right now... usually nerfs follows and way worse then -1sec mana leak duration.
                                                                                    WHAT DO YOU THINK? Am I right to be worried?

                                                                                    This comment was edited
                                                                                    Arcanum

                                                                                      Base DMG reduce by 7.... I was right this is the end.....

                                                                                      This comment was edited
                                                                                      Gonzo

                                                                                        1.5k games with kotl? Those are rookie numbers..