When we say Revival it isn’t to say that split push once [A]gain becomes the dominant strategy in the meta, so let’s not get ahead ourselves. But it is back, viable as a focus, strong per situation, overwhelming in the outdraft – no longer just the fifth wheel that ends up as the designated tower hitter for a four-hero deathball.
Slowed level and gold progression, nerfs to team kills and tier 1 objectives, tower armor redesign – all the general changes benefit heroes that split up. But there are two kinds of heroes that split up: rats and gankers.
I think pretty much every split pusher moves up a tier: Alchemist, Broodmama, Death Prophet, Leshrac, Lycan, Nature’s Prophet, Queen of Pain, Windranger, etc.
Some like Lone Druid, Centaur (yes he rats), Weaver got personal nerfs but stay in the top tier. Most of the rest rise from very situational to situational (eg. Morphling, Magina) or from dumpster to very situational (eg. Brood, Furion). A select few were already good; I think Lycan once again becomes a power hero with a lot of influence (or just a lot of bans). I think Juggernaut, Chaos Knight become top tier, and Terrorblade, Troll become quite solid.
The effect diminishes for counters. The ganking heroes move up less in terms of power, but they see their situations appear a lot more – similar to Lifestealer‘s spotlight in 7.02. Batrider, Bloodseeker, Clockwerk, Legion Commander, Pudge, Spacecow, Storm Spirit, and every invisible motherfucker gets a boost.
Finally, all those boring team-fight specialists, hp-differential powerhouses with low control and mobility get a sizable nerf, which I think is fantastic because it is a bunch of the high win-rate jerks: Abaddon, Omniknight, Necrophos, Luna, Underlord, Vengeful Spirit and their ilk. They’ll still all be solid, maybe even great, but will no longer cast shadows over the meta.
I think we wouldn’t have a legitimate patch post without highlighting a few big winners:
I think these buffs are very substantial for a hero that is beyond cancer in the right situation. Arc Warden is super effective at ratting and with double midas will see increased level advantage. I don’t think I’ll see him too much in my own meta, but I bet it’ll show up in pro matches a lot more often. In every scene, whenever he gets picked correctly it should be a complete shit show. Consider me afraid.
Eat your heart out, Ogre Magi. That sure is a lot of damage. Great hero for both ratting and ganking, who was already severely under-utilized both in my own meta and in the pro scene. I think the support position is more trend-driven than the other roles, so a lot of strong supports see less action than they deserve. That said we should start thinking about Core Shadow Shaman more often. Maybe we see him running around punching shit with newly discounted Drums.
Already top tier in win rate in my ~4.5k bracket, Grandpa Mario continues to see buffs, and now gets to enjoy a very favorable meta shift. Rats and gankers tend to be, above all else, squishy. Zeus is going to pop people left and right, and satisfy all our vision needs. (sorry Slardar, your time is over). Venomancer as well benefits from a large buff, lower hp meta and nerfs to pipe and hood. Both heroes phase one worthy in my book.
Please welcome your new deathball overlords. Pugna, Jakiro, Dragon Knight don’t care much about proximity armor, they deal magic damage to towers. Plus they are happy to rat when the opportunity arises. With the meta changes and the above buffs, I’d say Pugna and DK become solid phase 2 heroes, and Jakiro returns to 7.01-god glory, and in brand new digs to boot (hood, pipe nerfs apply again).
Overall, I think the patch does flip the script, but not to a favored strategy, rather towards balance in all things. There are a lot of forgotten heroes that we need to respect again, so prepare your drafts carefully. Ban fucking Lycan. Also don’t next level yourself with one of those crazy zoo strats. Eight tower armor isn’t that big a buff, and anyway isn’t zoo actually a deathball variant now that I think about it?
-gg worst captain ever