Support meta is in a good place right now, with a healthy mix of babysitters, aggressive supports and trilane heroes. Both professional and pub scenes are open for experiments, and there is place and time for pretty much any hero in the game. That said, not all supports are created equal, and today we would like to have a look at the most consistent performers on the support position in the higher levels of play.
Nyx Assassin is arguably the most successful support in the current meta, apart from Oracle who we’ve already discussed at length. He is among the less greedy position four supports, offering less damage than most of them, but having some of the highest utility in the game.
The abundance of AoE, damage-dealing abilities and Radiance carries makes Spiked Carapace simply amazing, and it is the reason the ability is generally maxed out right now. Almost 2.5 seconds of stun on a 10-second cooldown with a 40 manacost is simply too good of a deal to pass. It also ensures consistent Impale follow-ups, for a crazy amount of crowd control.
Mana Burn is also a great ability, but only in certain matchups. It is the hero’s main damage source in most games and can absolutely destroy some heroes. For that reason, when Nyx is picked early on in the Captains Draft, he also dissuades many meta picks from the enemy. The same, though to a lesser extent, can be said about pub players and their picks.
Earth Spirit is simply never out of meta—the hero gives his team so much damage and utility--it is unfair, even after several years of nerfs. Granted, for the hero to be at his best, he has to be played almost perfectly and the enemy team has to make positional mistakes, but you have complete control over the former and the latter is pretty common even in high level pubs.
What we are trying to say is that there is always a reason to learn this hero. He has his off-patches and doesn’t always fit in the overall meta, but having him in your arsenal is probably a must for most high-level position four players.
Dominant in both pubs and the professional scene, Enigma is a lane-stabilizer, a pusher, and an occasional teamfight winner. He offers tons of damage on both defense and offense through Midnight Pulse, can hit crucial team items timings faster than most other supports, can play split-push and group-up push games and is probably among the most versatile supports in the game right now. Versatile and punishable.
The most popular trend among Enigmas right now is pooling their first regen rings to their offlaner, while Enigma himself is farming up the jungle. It creates a very sustainable offlaner, that is really hard to harass and kill in lane, even if they are alone, while Enigma isn’t particularly bothered with the absence of regeneration, since he farms the jungle through Demonic Conversion.
Depending on whether you can actually kill the enemy offlaner, the best course of action is to either keep up the high pressure in lane, or go and disrupt the enemy jungle. First generally involves a support or mid rotation, since most lineups with Enigma have an offlaner that is survivable enough to take advantage of extra regen. Second involves not being complacent on your supports and complacency is one of the biggest mistakes in pub-level play.
First 10 to 20 minutes into the game is your time to shine, especially if you are position five support. Maximize the efficiency of your time, leave your carry in 1v1 after securing the first couple of waves and then pressure Enigma to use inefficient Demonic Conversions, indirectly stabilizing your lane. If that is impossible, the good old “ward his jungle” coupled with “stack and pull” is also an option.
Winter Wyvern is easily one of the most under-appreciated supports in the current meta. The hero wins almost 53% of her 5k+ pub games and is equally successful in the pro-scene. She offers great damage, lane outpush, decent save, and a teamfight reset that can be absolutely broken against certain lineups.
While mostly a situational hero, Winter Wyvern is still worth picking in the first or second phase. Much like how Nyx Assassin dissuades enemies from AoE-damage, high-intelligence heroes, Winter Wyvern dissuades enemies from going full physical heroes. While dissuasion is not the same as prevention, it is still possible to edge out an advantage from it.
Pick Winter Wyvern in position 5 and Nyx Assassin in position 4 and you can create a situation where the enemy will feel uncomfortable in one way or another, regardless of their picks
No longer a CIS specialty, Disruptor is now considered one of the prime position 5 supports by professional players, though his success is not mirrored in pub play. The big reason for it is that pub players are generally much greedier on their cores, while Disruptor relies on his ability to make early plays and place continuous pressure on the enemy, more than it is possible with most other heroes.
For that reason, we won’t recommend picking Disruptor in your pub games without some pre-game communication with your team. Win-more heroes actually work in Dota and converting early game advantage into mid-game dominance is currently one of the most popular strategies, but you really need a specific lineup and itemization for it to work.
Abaddon is the opposite of Disruptor—the hero does slightly sub-par in the professional scene, but is really good in pubs. Mist Coil is probably the most annoying spell to deal with in lane.
120 damage with a 50 manacost on a 4.5-second cooldown is simply unfair. There is an associated downside with it, since it does damage to Abaddon himself, but right now it is mostly used as an advantage, allowing Abaddon to fully use his mana, deny himself, and quickly return to the lane with full resources.
For the most part the hero is currently played like Skywrath Mage in lane, but instead of having to walk all the way to the enemy tower, risking feeding a kill to an enemy hero, Abaddon has a built-in “teleport to base” ability.
Coupled with a strong dispel for your allies and a pretty powerful self-protection tool, Abaddon works amazingly well as a position 5 support. Unlike many position fives, he doesn’t mind standing on the front line, gathering information and tanking the initiation. Though do make sure that your other heroes have some disables, since it is one of the important aspects Abaddon lacks.
Varied support meta is something we’ve been asking for a very long time, especially on the five position. Being a first-pick position is tough, especially if the meta doesn’t accommodate for many different playstyles, but 7.21d actually gives players a good selection of many different heroes to open the draft with.
There is still a problem of following up support picks with suitable cores and naturally some supports are going to be more open-ended, but adjusting and being flexible is part of the game. And for everyone who complains about meta being stale: it is stale because we, collectively, are frequently afraid to experiment and try out something new, even if it should theoretically work.
You don’t need a “permission” from the pro scene to pick a hero. You need to communicate with your team to come up with a playable lineup that should ideally be good at dealing with what the enemy has to maximize your chances of winning. And if the enemy is blindly following whatever the flavor of the month is, they already did most of the job for you.