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It is very rare for Valve and Icefrog to revert previous changes, but the latest patch brought back the single minute respawn for neutral camps, albeit with some XP and gold gain reductions. For many it signaled the theoretical return of the jungling and flash-farming heroes, but does it actually work in practice?
The short answer is “no”. Looking at the stats from the StarLadder | i-League Invitational it is clear that professional teams are not interested in slowing down the game. On the contrary, the game has become faster, with similar focus on the laning stage.
The laning stage got a new twist—denying your own creeps now gives you XP. Moreover, it also grants the opponent 70% of the XP, instead of the previous 50%. It means that laning now potentially gives a lot more experience, frequently making it superior to the nerfed jungle when it comes to early levels.
More importantly, contesting creeps from the enemy carry became a lot more important. A free-farming solo hero can completely snowball out of control with more than an extra creep worth of experience, provided he can deny his full wave. It makes pressuring the enemy more or less essential and ties down at least one support to the carry as well as making it more lucrative for offlaners to stay in lane.
Jungling offlaners in such environment should only be done when your hero is more reliant on gold than XP, or if staying in lane would result in feeding.
Typical pub jungling heroes, such as Bloodseeker or Legion Commander are also very risky in the current meta. Creeps didn’t get easier to kill and their quantity rarely matters for these heroes, since they struggle clearing a single hard camp at level 1.
Getting consequent levels is a much slower process and increase in time of getting from level 1 to level 2 also increases amount of time you need to get from level 2 to level 3 etc., since your hero doesn’t get stronger and doesn’t gain access to abilities that could potentially help him farm.
It was already a high risk, medium reward kind of ordeal in any 3k+ games, since any team with at least some understanding of Dota could easily punish a solo jungling hero. When a player managed to get away with it, it allowed his team to ride the momentum of higher total earned gold and XP, but only if the jungling hero didn’t weaken the lanes too much, by simply being absent for the first 10 minutes.
Now, it is a high risk, low reward type of deal, where afk-jungling is simply not an option. You can rotate to jungle for a quick creep kill as Crystal Maiden, but after it you are expected to show up in the lane to actively contribute. You can jungle with Chen or Enchantress, but you are expected to start ganking before the 5th minute mark.
Interestingly, the return of the jungle also made pushing heroes more important. Taking objectives after successful fights was always a good idea, but now you have to do it faster, since there is always an option for the enemy heroes to farm up the neutral camps. This allows teams to consistently get resources even when they are behind, which wasn’t the case in the previous iterations of 7.xx.
Lost fights are adequately punishing, but there is room for recovery and if the enemy team takes too long to take down a tower, it might even allow you to break even after the dust has settled. Having at least one or two heroes who can consistently apply damage to the enemy structures is essential in the current meta. If previously you could get away with strong teamfight, low structure damage team, currently it is much less of an option.
Split-pushing is also slightly better, given how you can now perform the conventional farming loop through the lane and jungle every minute. You can chase after an elusive hero, wasting time, or you can apply enough pressure to the enemy base to force him to return and take the fight. In most cases the latter is preferable, but you need proper heroes for it, otherwise it simply won’t work.
The position 4 support has been slightly demoted in the patch as well, at least according to the stats from the only LAN-tournament currently going on. Teams have more or less evenly split between the previous style of high-impact ganking roamers and slightly more passive supports, who, while capable of ganking, spend a lot of time creating resource pods for their carries.
Currently it is hard to tell which style is more dominant. Stacking was prevalent throughout the history of Dota and only the changes of the last couple of years have made it slowly fade away. Right now they are a go-to strategy only for a handful of lineups and specific hero combinations, but mostly an afterthought for other teams.
Still, if you can incorporate stacking in your support rotations, do it. And if your support has stacked for you and your hero is capable of clearing it efficiently, it is the wisest choice to take those stacks and give the supports much needed farm and XP in the lane. Otherwise there's a definite risk of losing stacks and as a result resources to the enemy.
7.06 has slightly sped up the game, but also made it more prone to explosive snowballs. Early and mid game dominance has yet again increased in importance, making for very entertaining games which feel almost completely fair.
Highground breaches got significantly easier, with the decreased amount of shrines and increased buyback cooldown. The stakes have been increased for the team on the offense, but the reward is easier to achieve. Losing the bet, however, leads to much bigger punishment, since the defending team now has access to more resources.