The Viper-Chen Opener

Couple days back we put together this fun draft opener of Chen + Viper, then moved into a 4/5 Drow strat with a siege makeup, kind of a “Come at me bro” style lineup. Early death-ball with meat shields, heals and disengage. I think the overall meta is actually a bit slower than reputed, so going hard early can be so jarringly effective it feels like cheese.

  • One big signal of success here is the banning of arguably the two strongest turtle heroes of 7.02 in Sniper and Tinker. Neither of these heroes are power heroes (maybe Sniper borderline) which I think is telling of how weak turtle drafts are right now. Of course there are still middle of the road counters like kotl and winter wyvern.
  • Chen is a power hero right now, one of the few not backed up by winrate due to skill floor. Viper however is pretty average, not usually worth a phase-1 pick; a more God tier opener would be Chen + Lycan / Centaur / Vengeful Spirit. But he fits the style, is a comfort hero, and is quite potent as an Ogre counter.
  • This opener is essentially a lane wrecker. If the lanes are already in good shape, we just turn Chen into a 4th core – if a lane needs winning, Chen goes over with a Satyr or Wildkin etc. and wins it. Chances are, especially with Tinker banned, we have a lane already won by the Viper.
  • I think with this advantage it doesn’t make sense to try too hard to “secure late game” with a Medusa, Spectre, TB etc. That doesn’t mean we need to all-in on tower push; but we should at least narrow our strategy towards capitalizing on early advantage. Often that does mean pushers but it could also mean tower divers, or flash farmers that quickly gobble up the extra available resources we get for controlling the map.
  • We do end up going push when the Banana pick prompts us to take Drow Ranger. She melts plague wards and spreads out fights to minimize the value of Gale and Nova. Lycan is another fantastic veno counter here but we don’t have a player, and even if we did it is safer to build synergy around the Viper rather than around the Chen. Captains are usually quicker to counter the Holy Knight; they know what happens if they don’t.
  • Won’t go too much into the Horse God and Rotundy picks, standard counter and synergy heroes that luckily also happen to be tier 1. Dire wanted to counter Trax by running at her with PA + Slardar – we picked CW + Necro to stop that from happening.

Overall I think having a plan isn’t totally necessary, but since there are a number of legit openers right now I recommend at least knowing some, and using bans as context for your first phase. Maybe you don’t know what you want to pick, in fact maybe you prefer to wing it – but if the bans come back with WeaverLone Druid maybe instead of opening Underlord + Ember Spirit you look at Pudge + Omniknight now that the tier 1 fast, ranged carries are gone.

Quick final tangent: actively thought about our lanes this game for once – I expected to see PA safe, Venomancer mid, Broodmother off; wanted to match up well with that so I sent Drow+Necro off, Viper mid, Centaur safe. Instead they had Veno jungle, Broodmother mid, Slardar off, so we had to swap Centaur to mid, Viper to off.

Glhf, as always don’t next level yourself with that Drow + Sniper opener just because Pudge + SB are banned (honestly I’d be really tempted to do exactly this :v).

-gg worst captain ever

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