Supports are the backbone of any team, be it a professional match or a high level pub. They babysit their carries, create space for their mids, sacrifice their farm and their own lives for the greater good, and are generally pretty exhausting to play, both physically and mentally. For that reason, this role is often under- and even over-appreciated: it is hard to quantify a supports impact and quite frequently players don’t realise how much their support has done for their team. However, almost as frequently, support players think too highly of their contribution.
This blog post will be dedicated to analyzing top tier supports in pub and pro plays in an attempt to highlight the highest impact supports of the current patch. Picking a consistently strong support hero will unlikely win all of your games, but it can be a good starting point to understanding the role better and improving at it. For more on the support role, we recommend reading our previous posts dedicated to supporting in general and staying relevant in prolonged games.
Shadow Demon is a weird support — he is extremely meta-dependant, doesn’t offer reliable hard disables, and is notoriously lacklustre in pub environment. The hero is hard to play well and unlike many other supports, a poorly played Shadow Demon doesn’t simply have no impact on the game, but can be detrimental to his own team.
That said, current meta is a good fit for Shadow Demon. With Morphling (27 games), Medusa (27), Tiny (39) etc. being so popular, Shadow Demon can be exceptionally strong — his illusions fully benefit from base damage, and there is almost guaranteed to be at least a single worthy target on either team.
On top of it, he provides a strong magic immunity-piercing slow, a massive damage amplification and a minor, but potentially game-changing scouting tool. Knowing whether the enemy team is taking Roshan or checking highground from a relatively safe distance can go a long way in a professional match.
Exceptional in both pubs and in the professional scene, Bane is one of the go-to supports of the current patch with his unconditional utility, ability to bully out pretty much any opponent in lane and even a potentially decent damage output.
A well-played Bane will be relevant from the first minute of the game and will remain relevant against most heroes until the very end — his ability to shut down two targets at the same time, while providing a clear focusing guidelines to his teammates, is almost unparalleled.
In pubs he can also provide some necessary damage against buildings — it is common for pubs to draft lineups which are notoriously horrible at taking objectives, and unlike most other supports, Bane at level 15 can actually start hitting buildings quite decently. It doesn’t mean the hero should build core items or try to go for right-click DPS, but the talent can be a massive time saver when it comes to breaching highground.
For a very long time Disruptor was a CIS specialty — the hero complemented the aggressive playstyle of the region with one of the best catches in the game. Recent trends have seen a ubiquitous agreement on the high importance of the laning stage, hence more teams have started drafting aggressive cores. International Disruptor popularity was a natural progression to this trend.
On top of providing great catch, the hero is also excellent at shutting down some of the more popular intelligence cores, such as Puck, Queen of Pain, Tinker and Storm Spirit. Introduction of Kaya was a massive boost to the popularity of intelligence cores in general, making Disruptor a reliable counter.
At his best, he can help his team to take over the game extremely early. At his worst, he still has a plan B with an Aghanim’s Scepter ultimate upgrade and Blink Dagger. AoE Doom is something incredibly hard to play against, regardless of pick.
Pubs are a little different from the professional scene — teams aren’t as coordinated, pick progressions are very different, and games generally take longer, so greedier supports can feel better. Yet Bane is a top tier support in pub games as well with the highest win rate in 5k+ pubs at 56.38%. The second and third positions, however, are slightly different.
Shadow Shaman is very different to his initial design, even with most of his abilities left intact. No longer is he a squishy target with almost no damage — the hero currently starts with 620 HP, almost 3 Armor and 71-78 damage. If it wasn’t for the Bane’s sustain from Brain Sap, Shadow Shaman would be the go to lane bully.
On top of it, the hero has a decent level 1 nuke and a waveclear, two or even three disables and an ability to take objectives. This makes him an invaluable support in pubs, where cores are often picked based on their kill potential, but can have trouble dealing with buildings.
Overall, the hero is pretty straightforward when it comes to his playstyle, which is a big plus for pubs. He can be a little bit on the greedier side, but once again, the pub environment somewhat mitigates this drawback. Finally, his late-game rat potential has a chance of outright winning the game for his team — something pretty rare for a support.
Not only is Winter Wyvern one of the strongest supports in 5k+ pubs, but she is also one of the most popular heroes in the bracket as well. Even after all the nerfs, the hero remains one of the most effective counters to high physical burst lineups, while still being effective in the majority of other scenarios.
Strong outpush, situationally game-changing save, scaling damage/slow hybrid and a massive spell immunity-piercing lockdown — this is what Winter Wyvern gets for your team.
More and more frequently, we see her ultimate being used on the enemy BKBed carry as a primary target, allowing for a fight reset. It is not a “deal-damage” ultimate — it is “make enemy waste resources, while we set up or disengage” ultimate 90% of the time. And it is excellent at what it does.
The hero is absolutely worth exploring and learning — the payoff is massive even after all the nerfs and Winter Wyvern will stay a relevant support as long as physical damage exists.
Learning from high level Pubs and Professional scene is the best way to learn Dota. Blindly copying their picks, however, can be a dangerous path, since there are so many nuisances in the game. If you are serious about improving, do yourself a favor and watch a replay for a hero you are interested in — it is unlikely all of the things will be comprehended fully, but some of the more basic concepts can be understood, applied, and built upon in the future.
Looking over all three recent articles hasn't shown an obvious playstyle. I mean, there is one, it just doesn't feel very traditional. Dusa feels very at odds with the aggressive early game play style that these single target lane dominators present. Mid lane feels farmy, kind of although not strictly, offlane is very utilitarian, it all feels weird. I can't quite put my finger on what feels weird though. It's....well rounded? Maybe? There's a clear early game strength, mid game strength, and late game strength across the popular lineups. It doesn't massively feel like the popular picks are throwing their eggs into just one basket.
Where is Rubick?
Bane is super crazy good at the moment. I also like Lich actually, lvl 25 on Lich and you have "fortify" as Ice Armor xD
Venge is clearly missing.
whers ogre magi???
Rubick has been a lacklustre support for multiple patches now, only picked up for the ability to steal huge ultimates, and even then he is sometimes ignored for more versatile supports
I thought lion would be mentioned in this with the buff to his talents.
'nuisances' - Do you mean 'nuances'?
Rubick is kind of one of those heroes that always is only good if you have someone who really knows him. Similar to Silencer, Chen, or Pudge. Honestly I think it's fine that he is in that position. When someone is good with the character, it's amazing.
Would have thought that CM would be here... Also I've had quite a lot of success with WD lately. But that is garbage can Dota for ya.
Where is ogre magi? He was even featured in the picture and I think he and omniknight both deserve their mention. Especially in the pub scene.
Talents just make the game more "weird" and complex. Still some needs to be fixed. Look at lion's lvl 10 talent, its 75 cast range or 75 dmg. 75 cast range is just a fraction of aether lens, while 75 dmg is more than what a nullifier gives u. Its obvious that 75 dmg is 100% better than the latter, but u see there are 30% of idiot lions picking the cast range. Probably give at least 250 range, fix this.
Wow shadow demon has a 77.8 % win rate ? I'm really surprised
Ogre Magi, Omniknight and IO should be mentioned as well
@Potato PC: Omniknight is an offlaner now... And Io will always have a sh** winrate in pubs, no matter what.
@ dreadnought325, the stats for lions talents would disagree with you- cast range is picked 70% of the time with a +0.5% win rate advantage :)
I Just Went 24/4 With Phoenix Off lane And Carried my entire Team Against A PA, Sven, Slark, Shadow Shaman, And Slardar. I'm pretty sure Phoenix needs to be on here, Fire spirits are just so strong.
https://www.opendota.com/matches/3618335431/overview - The Match
not sure why ogre is the thumbnail he is garbage this patch
@Tsuyu Asui | Trade.tf , Herald 4 LMAO
@Tsuyu Asui | Trade.tf
You went up against four melee, on hit effect heroes, three of which are only rng on hit effects and three of which are hard carries.
Fire spirits does wonders against a lineup that relies that much on high attack speed. But if they even had a zeus on their team you would have had a much harder time keeping yourself, tide, and techies mines alive.
I'm sorry mate, but a herald 4 match is hardly representative for the rest of dota community. That being said you're still entitled to your opinion :)
@Tsuyu Asui | Trade.tf
Hey bruh don't lose confidence though, you very much correctly identified what was strong about having Phoenix in that game. Keep commenting and learning, I do it all the time here.
KawaiiSocks gg wp "top tier supp" you mentioned 5 heroes,where the fuck is io omni??Do your job properly or shit post only on forum please.
I wonder why people keep calling Omni is support but yeah I guess almost all low rank player really doesn't have knowledge about this game...my rank is no exception thought Legend people doesn't know Omni is offlaner
While Omni can be used as a support, something he likely will never lose the ability to do, right now top tier and pro scenes are favoring him in the offlane. Skim mentioned Omni in his offlane analysis.
Omni is an offlaner now, just tell me what can omni afford as a support? He has no harass, no mockdown and surely he needs some gold advantage to be effective. I by my self would preffer a techies as lane support better than omni, at least techies can harass more than a ranged creep :D
I agree very much with Shadow Demon's potential. F.E. you can Cast Q on an AM's Ilusion or any HC with Manta, and there you have a huge lane pushing power without disabling your own teamate.
Omni hasn't lost anything that made him useful in lane. He only needs soul ring to be able to healbomb (which arguably negates his need to harass), and repel is only 50 mana. It's just that he is tanky, and that's necessary for the offlane right now. Why wouldn't you run him there and get him a quick six if you can?
It's very hard to last hit with Lion's low base damage and with a quite slow attack animation u_u . I think his lvl. 10 talent - +75 damage is okay because most of the time you are going to be position-ing yourself in a "safe" place to cast your spells and after that if you're against a decent enemy team they're going to "blink" you and -5 shot you cuz this pos. 5 hero only has 1 base armor :D
"In pubs he can also provide some necessary damage against buildings — it is common for pubs to draft lineups which are notoriously horrible at taking objectives ... "
I can assume this will be a bad list
i agree,why no KOTL at the list hes one of those potential supports
y la cm?
nice abuse mm
I went offlane vs KOTL and CK playing Bane without Axe covering me, Axe went to block the creeps and I just Enfeeble CK all the time that his networth is so low during laning phase for a safelaners. If you guys know how serious Bane threat is you will never mention KOTL ever again. Still I go for pos 5 buy wards and even Gem, check it out https://www.dotabuff.com/matches/3656543368.