Dota 7.14 is a massive balance patch introducing a lot of smaller changes to the hero and item balance. It will undeniably have an impact on the metagame and some of the general changes will also probably change how certain roles are perceived. In fact, there is an argument to be made that the whole laning stage might become very different.
Techies finally made it back to the Captain’s Mode, without receiving any changes. We’ve recently discussed whether the hero is ready for the professional scene, coming to a conclusion that while he is decently balanced, no one simply wants to see him there. Admittedly, we were wrong on the second part of the argument.
Techies in Captain’s Mode is a big deal. There is a reason to expect him becoming a first phase ban for the majority of games, since teams haven’t trained with or against him in the last couple of years and not everyone is going to be willing to risk to play against this hero in high-profile matches.
That said, there is a chance he will actually see play when teams with almost guaranteed top8 DPC placement are involved: given the time of his release in CM, it is almost certain that he will be a part of The International 2018 and some teams might be more than willing to risk their tournament position to get a feel for the hero in preparation for the biggest tournament of the year. Of course there are scrims, where the hero can be tested in a more casual environment, but it will not be fully indicative of the actual power level of the hero.
Techies release is both exciting and worrying news. If the hero gets too prevalent, we can expect longer games with less action. It will definitely be interesting to see the hero in the professional matches, but the novelty of him might soon wear off and Techies games might start feeling tedious rather than entertaining. Hopefully the hero will prove to be as balanced as we assumed and will fill a certain niche after a couple of tournaments, rather than becoming a meta staple.
No more first wave pulls means even harder offlane and for dedicated offlane players it is certainly disheartening. That said, more and more often we’ve seen offlane occupied by heroes who have no business being there, who fill the role of a third semi-carry, rather than a utility core. Seeing a return of lower impact but more consistent offlaners is a welcome change for the viewers and a healthy change for the meta: it makes heroes like Dark Seer, Batrider and Tidehunter more appealing, meaning that they actually might see more play now.
7.14 introduced a multitude of item changes, mostly altering their intended use, rather than changing their power levels. Skull Basher and Abyssal Blade both lost a guaranteed hit through evasion on bash proc, but they now provides +25 damage, since they are built from Mithril Hammer, rather than Javelin. They costs 500 gold more, but it is probably the price worth paying. It also means Basher in now an actual DPS item once again and it will probably see more use in lineups lacking lockdown or against highly mobile targets.
The Maelstrom now uses Javelin instead of Gloves of Haste and Recipe. It no longer provides increased attack speed, but the proc can no longer miss, while dealing 50 more lightning damage. The item is also 100 gold cheaper.
That means several things for the item: it is now a very good tool for dealing with early evasion or blind effects, it is much stronger against high-armor targets and it is now a semi-decent farming tool with a good late-game progression into Mjollnir. Overall it is a very good buff for the item that hasn’t seen any competitive play in the last several months and coupled with Battlefury nerfs we might both see more ranged carries and less Battlefury spam in the games.
The latter received a seemingly minor nerf, introducing a 300 gold recipe requirement. In reality, it is a bigger deal than it might seem: introducing courier delivery time and extra 300 gold will increase Battlefury timings by at least 30 seconds, meaning that cores will take a little bit longer to start accelerating, delaying their next item further. It is undeniably a welcome change that doesn’t eliminate the playstyle completely, while making it slightly less appealing. Providing more situationally better alternatives should also help in solving the problem.
Both Force Staff and Hurricane Pike received a manacost increase on their active, making them a little bit worse on support heroes. They also lost a sizable portion of health regen, decreasing the sustain of the item and potentially slowing down the farm of the core heroes who opt to go this route. The end result will be slightly higher vulnerability of the heroes who build Force Staff. It also somewhat limits the support pool who can build this item: manacost increase will make it harder to use this item on heroes like Vengeful Spirit.
Both Sange and Yasha now cost 200 gold more, with a recipe cost increase. Sange, Yasha and their derivatives were very popular and some sort of a nerf was more than welcome. Yasha was especially problematic, while Sange now actually does more, potentially justifying the cost increase. Sange and Heaven’s Halberd now both provide Greater Maim, instead of a lesser one, resulting in 26%/13% decrease in AS and MS of the maimed target if the proc comes from a Melee/Ranged hero attack.
HotD got a little bit weaker, losing some regeneration and increasing the bounty on the creep kill, while Magic Wand no longer requires a Mango, with a 150 gold recipe in its place. The latter also no longer provides any regeneration, but can charge up to 20 times.
Finally, Mango now gives 125 mana and 0.7 regeneration, instead of 175 mana and 1 regeneration, but it costs a little bit less. Bonus heroes now also start the game with 2 Mangos.
Most of the hero changes in the patch were quite small, but the end result should substantially change the way the game is played, especially given the item reworks.
Alchemist now has more regeneration from his ultimate and benefits more from collecting Bounty Runes. It is a move in a good direction for both core and position 4 Alchemists and the hero would probably become viable once again, if it wasn’t for the Spirit Vessel and Ancient Apparition.
The latter got nerfed, however, with lower early level damage from Chilling Touch. The change becomes almost irrelevant by the time the skill is leveled the second time, however AA is no longer that much of a threat at level 1.
Broodmother’s spider received another rework: they are easier to kill, with 0 armor, but give much lower Gold and XP bounties. They are still quite hard to deal with auto-attacks, so the celebrations are probably premature. However, there are some new heroes who can now be considered a good counter to the Broodmother, or at least will ensure their survival even from a support position: Dazzle, Alchemist, Slardar, Monkey King and Elder Titan all have AoE spell that deal physical damage and will have a lot less trouble surviving the Brood’s onslaught in the early game.
Dark Willow received some very well-deserved nerfs to Bedlam, which now deals less damage and is easier to react to. A position four support killing an enemy position one carry in a 1v1 with less than a third of net worth was simply wrong and Valve have finally realised it.
Io received a multitude of reworks and QoL changes: Tether no longer applies slow, but the slow is now applied from Spirits. The latter can no longer be toggled from moving in or out, but rather toggle from 700 to 100 range, making it harder to control precisely for experienced players, but making it a lot easier to use for everyone else. Overall the hero should retain his position in the professional scene, but should also become a lot more playable in pubs.
Necrophos is back for vengeance or at least should return to his niche of being extremely punishing against cores who have no buyback money. At level three of Reaper’s Scythe it now adds 45 extra seconds to the respawn timer, instead of the previous thirty. 15 seconds in the late game will often mean an extra set of barracks or a decent amount of damage on Tier 4 towers. Something the hero direly needed was an ability to translate successful teamfights into pushes and this indirectly helps in this regard.
Outworld Devourer received a 40 (25%) manacost increase on level 4 Arcane Orb. The hero was getting out of control after 7.13 with the extra mana pool from intelligence and this is a welcome change. It doesn’t take away from the strengths of the hero, but makes him a little bit more manageable.
Pangolier received a series of all around nerfs to compensate for a huge consistency buff. Rolling Thunder no longer stops completely if you get disabled by a spell immunity-piercing stun or root. Instead, you just stand in place for the duration. The nerfs include small, but noticeable increases to manacosts and cooldowns, while also making early level mana regen talent slightly weaker.
The infamous Riki ultimate also got nerfed. Turns out giving a hero an equivalent of Omnislash on a 30-second cooldown was a bad idea. The hero wasn’t necessarily completely overpowered, but he was strong and consistent in his ability to hunt down squishier supports and cores, while being a drain on the enemy resources. It was a bit too much and RIki is now in a much better place.
Slark received even more starting regeneration and should probably become one of the most consistent laners in the game. Having an equivalent of two starting Rings of Regeneration can definitely impact the win rate of a hero and we’ve already seen some very positive trends in the aftermath of 7.12.
Spectre also received some very interesting buffs that might actually shift her from building Radiance and towards building stats items. Higher levels of Haunt now allow illusions to deal even more damage from primary attribute and with a +40% Haunt Illusion Damage talent at level 25 all of them essentially become fully functional heroes. The hero also received manacost decrease for early levels of the Spectral Dagger and coupled with 7.12 changes it is now a decent tool at level 1. The hero is still incredibly slow, but given how recent patches were aimed at decreasing the pace of the game, there might be a place for Spectre in some specific professional matches.
Sven, another currently ignored hero also received a small buff, but it probably won’t change much about the hero: increased cleave radius doesn't really do much when it comes to Sven’s main problem of being kited. Coupled with larger EHP pools on two-thirds of heroes and even more sources of evasion and mobility in the game, Sven will still have trouble finding his niche.
Terrorblade received another series of nerfs: his starting regeneration has been cut in half to 1.5/sec, making him a lot more susceptible to early game harass and ganks. His early level ultimate is also a lot less impactful: while it can still heal TB himself to full, it won’t allow to quickly burst down the enemy hero to 25% of his HP, since the minimum is now capped at 45% and 35% for levels 1 and 2 of the ultimate respectively.
Tiny received a major nerf, decreasing the cleave damage from Tree Grab to 30%/40%/50%/60% from a flat 100%. It means the hero is less of a threat in lane and farms slower: there is a high chance Tiny will no longer be a phase one pick or ban anymore. In fact, his overall playstyle will probably shift even more in favor of the first two abilities, to maximize his ganking and killing potential in the mid game. The hero retains his massive burst damage and pushing capabilities, but he is a lot easier to lane against and doesn’t accelerate as fast.
Treant Protector received yet another buff: Leech Seed now has an extra pulse, meaning extra slow, extra damage and extra heal. It is an incredibly powerful ability that deals up to 420 damage at level 4. Going for it still has an opportunity cost of not going for another amazing ability the hero has: Living Armor, but when the choice is between two extremely powerful abilities, the question arises why the hero isn’t played more. Perhaps, given how greedy the hero became in terms of XP requirements, he will find his place in the new offlane.
Tusk received a series of substantial nerfs, decreasing his early game utility through reduction of Ice Shards duration. The spell was too good and in certain cases could be considered a very long-duration disable, since it could close the escape route for the fleeing enemy and force him to eat auto-attacks. Later in the game, he also lost a lot of his scouting potential, with Frozen Sigil no longer giving flying vision. Granted, the vision on the Sigil was already limited to 400, but when chasing an enemy juking in the trees it can make quite a bit of difference. It also increases the amount of time required to get vision on some creeps for a Snowball escape.
Underlord received a much needed nerf that didn’t change much about the hero in terms of his teamfight and lane presence, but severely limited his Roshan potential. Having a percentage-based spell that works on Roshan in game for so long is baffling and it was often abused in the professional scene and even started trickling down to the pub scene as well. It had to be stopped and it finally was: Underlord is still a good hero, a serious offlaner and a massive global threat, but at least he no longer gets the extra benefit of being a strong Rosh hero as well.
Weaver received the Slark treatment, now enjoying 1 extra starting regeneration. That substantially increases his lane sustain and we might actually see him being played in the offlane more often now. He was one of the original semi-carry offlaners and seeing him return to this role would be a welcome change of pace. Especially given how he now has an ability to become a high-utility core with a very powerful Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade.
Windranger is still trying to find her place in the game with yet another series of buffs. Extra AS from Focus Fire, extra damage on Powershot and some QoL changes definitely make the hero stronger, but is she strong enough? She still needs Aghanim’s Scepter—a 4200 gold item that doesn’t give much—to become a decent core hero and she still suffers from many new sources of accuracy in the game. Time will tell if she will make a comeback to the meta, but right now she feels like a very risky pick.
Winter Wyvern’s curse now lasts a lot longer: it’s duration has been increased by almost a second, making it an even more powerful disengage and counter-initiation tool. Yet the problem persists: Winter Wyvern is only good at dealing with heroes who fully rely on physical damage and as a support should often be drafted early, allowing the enemy to react. That either makes her less useful than at her peak or, if drafted in the second phase, allows the enemy team to have better core matchups. Neither of those is ideal.
Wraith King received some sizable buffs, with a manacost decrease on Wraithfire Blast. It now has a longer cooldown, but can be used more freely. It also has an early talent progression that increases the slow duration, giving the hero some much needed extra teamfight utility. Both position 4 and position 1 Wraith Kings benefit from the change and the hero is in a much more playable state right now.
Witch Doctor received quite strong nerfs to Maledict, increasing the cooldown of the ability to 50/40/30/20 seconds from a flat 20. That means that the ability now has a much higher opportunity cost at early levels and should be used sparingly with a successful kill in mind. It is a massive change to the hero consistency in the early game, but it doesn’t touch his overall power level.
Finally, Zeus got a small talent buff for level 15 talent that gives extra 1.5% damage to Static Field. It is still a very marginal increase in an overall damage output of the hero, and +40 movement speed does give a lot more utility, but in some specific cases, when playing against particularly tanky heroes, it might be beneficial. Zeus doesn’t see a lot of play in the professional meta, despite being one of the strongest heroes in pubs, but there is a chance professional teams haven’t fully adjusted to 7.12 that made the hero substantially more potent in lane and we might actually see him on the big stage against some particularly squishy glass cannons.