Clinkz was reworked slightly over a month ago. The initial impression of the community on the hero was rather poor and this reaction was more than justified—much like Drow Ranger, Clinkz started his 7.20 career as an incredibly weak hero.
While the Drow buffs eventually led to her acceptance as a good and independent core in the current meta, Clinkz is still looked down on. Even despite statistics for the last month showing he is actually a game-winning hero in 4k+ games. So, what is up with Clinkz?
Clinkz is a hero who starts the game with 416 base HP and doesn’t get much tankier with levels. His stats growth is also pretty underwhelming—his previous ultimate, Death Pact, made up for his shortcomings in durability and damage output departments and that made him a rather reliable and pretty straightforward core.
You used to hit hard, were decently tanky and could burst down a target in a matter of seconds. Typical core things by all accounts, with a small caveat of being at your best for only 3.5 (6.5) seconds—enough to kill one target, but generally not enough to win a teamfight.
That was the biggest problem with the viability of the hero in high level pubs and the professional scene. He could quickly burst most heroes down if they were alone, but better players always adapted with a buddy system making Clinkz’s power spikes less relevant and his late game close to impossible—the hero doesn’t farm creeps, he can only farm heroes.
Current Clinkz now has access to Burning Army, taking away his previous, situational ultimate enemies could play around and substituting it with a new, situational ultimate enemies can play around. Now with a teamfight twist.
It naturally led to questions, whether the hero should now build for teamfight presence and played differently. At the beginning of the patch the answer was a definite “no”—not until the Burning Army skeletons got their damage essentially doubled did the hero truly become playable. In his current form Clinkz can be a teamfight hero and we believe it to be the correct approach.
Your skeletons scale with base damage only, meaning that all raw damage you get from items is going to be wasted. The hero needs stats and lots of them for the Burning Army to be a powerful zoning and damage-dealing tool. The only other things they benefit from are your Searing Arrows damage and attack range bonuses.
Better players definitely understand it, with most of them building the hero with stats in mind. Dragon Lance, Diffusal Blade and even an occasional Yasha derivative became staples on the hero, edging out Desolator and old-school Orchid Malevolence.
In their skill build they also generally ignore Skeleton Walk, instead maxing out Searing Arrows and Strafe as soon as possible. This doesn’t allow the hero to hunt enemies, but it makes his laning stage much stronger.
Instead of roaming around the map, finding kills, Clinkz instead occupies a lane and pressures the tower in the first 15 minutes of the game. The hero has to be answered, but very few heroes are actually capable of standing 1 on 1 with Clinkz after he gets his initial levels.
This solves his farming problem, since laning is more efficient unless you have ways of quickly dispatching the neutrals. It also sometimes allows him to score an occasional kill or create a ton of space—he demands an answer, but can rarely be answered with a single hero. And once the opponent realises it, Clinkz should generally have one core item, allowing his team to group up on him and start making things happen—level one Burning Army with maxed out Searing Arrows either deals a considerable amount of damage, distracts the opponent or forces them to abandon tower and lose map control.
Later in the game, given enough farm and lockdown from his teammates, Clinkz can become a very strong damage dealer. Having six copies of yourself that deal full base damage can stay relevant throughout the game, despite not scaling in terms of attack speed. With good Burning Army placement, that doesn’t allow the enemy to pick off Skeletons one by one, it can serve multiple purposes and even make highground breaching early one much easier. Generally speaking you still don’t want to go late with Clinkz.
Clinkz rework is among the most drastic reworks in Dota. With a change to a single spell, Clinkz turned from an assassin into a tempo, teamfight hero who can occasionally assassinate enemy supports. And we believe it made the hero overall more viable, at least in the higher levels of play, where better coordination and positioning didn’t allow previous Clinkz to fully spread his wings.
We are probably going to see more hero developments in the upcoming months. Clinkz is still very new and people might still cling to the old ways and be relatively effective. Let’s hope professional players are not going to sleep on the hero and showcase how his current toolkit might be utilized even better.