With an ever-changing meta and continuous stream of small game-altering patches it is sometimes hard to keep track of what is a safe pick in pubs. In Dota every hero has their game and can be the best fit for the draft, but not everyone can boast the consistent high performance of the five biggest winners of the patch.
Luna got propelled into relevancy off the back of a rather tame buff. Lunar Blessing aura got buffed from providing 10%/15%/20%/25% to 15%/20%/25%/30% extra Base Armor and Damage. Five percent is not nothing, but we didn’t expect the win rate for the hero to increase by almost 3%.
Perhaps the additional explanations can be found when trying to understand the patch as a whole. Outposts now give less vision and Luna is considerably better off at night, compared to most other heroes in terms of vision. Luna is mostly a tempo core and the removal of GPM talents could result in her relative power level spiking slightly.
Finally, the absence of Shrines leads to a lower chance of comeback from the enemy team and invading the enemy jungle is now slightly easier—this, similarly to the previous point, generally benefits tempo cores.
Luna is definitely worth attention in the current meta and while she is at her best in the highest level bracket, she fits into pub lineups of all levels with relative ease.
Getting the first tick of Dual Breath damage instantly is a nice buff, but it would hardly lead to a 1.5% increase in win rate. Neither is +400 Dual Breath Range talent strictly a buff, since it replaced the much-coveted +150 GPM. We believe that the meta simply benefits the hero well.
Jakiro is a strong teamfight support and he was already doing pretty well before the patch. Now, in a game with an even bigger emphasis on map control, he feels amazing. He is tanky, lanes well, can push lanes when needed and is absolutely devastating in teamfights in the early mid game if played well.
The last point is further bolstered by the fact that the enemy cores can longer stack several neutral items. Previously, a relatively tanky tempo hero like Viper or Razor could completely take over the game with the help of several neutral items at the point in the game when Jakiro is supposed to be at his best. Now the Twin-Headed Dragon has a much better chance of fighting back with his team.
Speaking of Huskar—he is also one of the biggest winners of the patch, jumping from ~51% win rate to ~53%. We honestly don’t know why exactly the hero got better in the pub meta since he didn’t receive any direct buffs at all. Moreover, we felt like the neutral items restriction would actually hurt the hero, rather than benefit him, yet we were wrong.
7.23 made the hero better for several reasons: neutral items allowed him to keep his momentum in the mid game while some powerful direct buffs made the hero more than a lane winner. He even got some extra Strength growth in one of the minor patches, but was left untouched since then.
Does the meta really favor him right now? Is going back to his route of stacking several Bracers instead of hoping to fill his inventory slots with neutral items is a better way to build the hero? Is there some undocumented change that was left in the code after a beta test of the client? Time will tell, while we keep a close eye on one of the best heroes in the current meta
Ogre Magi’s win rate rose by roughly one percent and he now comfortably sits at 53.5%. There was a single small change, related to the removal of GPM talents, and we feel like it highlighted the simple fact that copying professional level skill and item builds even in the highest level pubs is not always the best idea.
+20 Ignite DPS at level 10 is a good talent. It is a 40% increase in the damage output of the ability and it brings the total damage to 560 before reductions, if the ability is maxed out. Given how it affects two targets by default and can Multicast on extra targets, it is a great teamfight tool. But we still believe that the reason for Ogre’s increased win rate is not that Ignite is now potentially stronger, but rather that pub players have finally started to prioritize the ability once again.
Last year the only way the Ogre was played in the professional scene was with a 4-0-4-1 build by level 10. While professional players with their amazing farming patterns on core players and the highest levels of mechanical skill could actually turn that build into a sizeable economic advantage, most pub players, even in the Immortal bracket, simply couldn’t.
For most of us maxing out Ogre’s actual damaging abilities was a better call: they are much simpler to gain an advantage from, maybe not on a macro level, but certainly in team fights. By the end of the previous season and at the beginning of the new one we’ve already seen Ogre players returning to their roots and this, in our opinion, is the main reason for the increased win rate of the hero in pubs.
Slardar jumped ~3% win rate and currently wins almost 55% of his games, making him one of the strongest heroes in the current meta. The buff he received was pretty simple, but it had a lot of consequences.
+10 Movement Speed is massive on any hero, but doubly so on a hero that:
As it stands, we strongly believe that rushing Aghs, instead of going for a riskier Blink Dagger purchase, is a safer and better option in most games. Not all of them, certainly, but in most of them.
Aghs gives Slardar the catch he needs and a ton of survivability through extra armor and regeneration. It also gives the hero some much needed stats—it is not uncommon for Slardar to run out of mana in prolonged engagements. Slardar doesn’t farm fast and his first major purchase is crucial and while Blink Dagger is half as expensive and allows Slardar to start making plays earlier, it can also be punished really, really hard.
One or two failed gank attempts, one or two untimely deaths and a Blink-first Slardar suddenly becomes irrelevant as a position three core and will find it very hard to come back into the game. Aghs-first Slardar will take a lot more time to come online and will require more resources to do so, but the payoff, while not strictly larger, is much safer, more consistent and more reliable.
Returning to our discussion of pubs vs. pro: Dota is a lot calmer in pubs. We are not talking about in-game communication, certainly, but about the pace of the game. Pub players make team moves less frequently, they don’t punish mistakes as hard and they generally tend to close the games much later than they ought to be closed and this is also a point towards building Aghs.
In most cases, in your typical pub game, the enemy will give you the time and the breathing room to play slightly greedier than what you see in the professional scene. Embrace it, abuse it and know when to switch to a more proactive playstyle once you’ve ranked up high enough.