Image by SLIMEfaceKEEN
Less than a month ago no one even thought of Gyrocopter making a comeback into professional Dota, yet at the last ESL One Katowice the hero became the second most contested hero in the professional meta.
The story of Gyrocopter is very similar to many heroes in the meta. Much like Dragon Knight and Medusa, who were extremely popular in the last patch and still remain viable, Gyrocopter's popularity comes from an early talent providing Attack Damage. With the nerfs to Medusa and the climb of Terrorblades popularity, he quickly became a very decent replacement for the position one or two core.
There are also added benefits of having a much higher early game impact, compared to Medusa. His ultimate has a massive AoE and deals decent damage, while slowing the enemies, while both Rocket Barrage and Homing Missile are exceptionally powerful laning and early skirmishes tools.
Pretty much every single successful team in the tournament played Gyro with a skillbuild that focused on Rocket Barrage early on, with Flak Cannon maxed out second. Moreover, some professional opted to completely skip early levels into Homing Missile, however this approach is highly situational and is generally at its best when your lane is uncontested and the enemy is unlikely to apply any pressure.
When it comes to item builds, the progression was almost as ubiquitous. The typical Gyrocopter progression involved Phase Boots into Drum of Endurance followed by a Yasha or S&Y and Black King Bar.
This item and skill build allows Gyrocopter to be extremely effective in the early fights, with high survivability and MS from Drums, without tampering with his farm speed. The last time the hero went off the grid it was as a result of Flak Cannon cooldown increase, but the players have adapted to maximize the efficiency of the latter to a point where the previous nerfs are somewhat mitigated. And most of this mitigation comes from the talents.
+25 Attack Damage at level 10 and +3 Flak Cannon attack at level 15 more than make up for the 6.78 changes to the skill which added 10 seconds of cooldown, completely phasing the hero out of the meta. Combined, these two abilities provide the hero with enough power to take on almost any stack of neutral creeps, greatly accelerating his farm at the same exact moment his teamifght potential start dwindling.
For the most part the hero is played extremely aggressively, with many teams using him as a position two core. His main priority is to get to level six and drums as quickly as possible and then start rotating around the map to create space for the second carry. Alternatively, he was also used to out-pressure the enemy early, gain complete map control and start starving the enemy.
His skills, item and talent progression support this heavily. Flak Cannon is not only a great farming tool, but also provides massive teamfight damage. To counteract the 50% cooldown increase, the hero was receiving some buffs to the AoE of the ability and it now finds targets as far as 1250 units away. Basically, as long as you have vision of an enemy in a teamfight, you will hit it and the damage output of the hero is no joke. And now you get +50% Flak Cannon instances as early as level 15, more than making up for the increase in cooldown.
Image by RocketAlex
Professional Games are usually finished earlier than pub games. Better players are better at exploiting the advantages that they might get in the early game and Gyrocopter is exceptional at getting an early game advantage. But for when playing your typical pubs, you should expect to have to keep on getting farm and get more items to be effective in drawn-out games.
The most logical and most useful progression for the hero is Butterfly and this stays true for the majority of Agility cores in most games. There are arguments to be made in favor of MKB, if you need Accuracy, or a Daedalus, if you are playing against heroes with Attack Damage reduction, but overall the Butterfly is the most cost efficient item.
Yet, it still leaves several open slots for the hero and this item might not be the end of the build. One interesting interaction that is underutilized in drawn out games is the combination of any source of lifesteal with a Side Gunner Aghanim's upgrade.
Side Gunner is generally regarded as a joke. It provides very little DPS and is generally not worth the item slot. However it fully benefits from the effects of lifesteal and can be a worthwhile purchase when you have Satanic. By popping the Satanic active, you can almost guarantee your own survival, regardless of enemy disables, since the Side Gunner is never disabled and keeps providing you with HP.
Moreover, Satanic itself is a very natural progression for the hero after the DPS item, since at this point the enemy is very likely to have ways to initiate on you and you might need the extra tankiness to survive. The usual Eye of Skadi will be mostly wasted on Gyrocopter, since he doesn’t benefit much from the slow, as ideally you want to stay on the edge of the battle, providing DPS with the Flak Cannon and not your regular right-clicks.
There are, of course, much more specific alternatives involving either Nullifier or Bloodthorn, however neither of these items grants much protection from the enemy burst damage. When playing against heroes with high burst or multiple Dagons, having a decent HP pool is very much worth it, as is lifesteal, as otherwise you will have to pop your BKB much earlier than you want to, to prevent getting nuked down.
With nerfs to Medusa coupled with Terrorblade rise in popularity Gyrocopter finally found his niche in the professional meta. The hero is undeniably strong right now, but not in the same sense as Medusa was in the previous patch.
Gyrocopter doesn’t guarantee you a late game advantage, as TB or Dusa do. He doesn’t have an ability that can win you any fight, regardless of the state of the game, like Faceless Void does.
Gyrocopter is an extremely reliable and consistent pick with above average scaling, damage ouput and early game presence. He is not exceptional at either of these factors, but he is never a bad pick.
This makes him both good and bad for your everyday pubs: you can safely pick the hero early and not worry about getting counterpicked, but don’t expect him to win you the game if you aren’t actively trying to close it before the 45-minute mark, since around this point the hero starts falling off extremely hard. Be smart, coordinate well and don’t waste time, and Gyro will reward you with a lot of easy victories.