We’ve been experimenting with Phantom Lancer lately.
Kimahri got some really substantial buffs in the big 7.06 release, which has seen his winrate rise almost three points to a now serviceable 45.7%.
Pinktops from my Echo League stack, Five Potatoes, inexplicably plays this hero very well, and holds it in high regard. So he may not be pleased that I’m disrobing the cat’s pajamas here, but I’ll throw him a bone and offer this caveat: PL is probably not worth drafting outside pretty favorable conditions.
I felt similarly about Viper in 7.05, and now the hero is top tier (somehow buffed again in 7.06c). Just happened to be a good meta for the drake. Maybe in a patch or two PL will shine, but for now I think we’re just seeing great PL games; teams just aren’t drafting much AOE and leave themselves vulnerable to getting marched over.
Let’s take a look at some drafts:
This match is a good example of how we like to answer certain picks almost 1 for 1. Perhaps this kind of information leaves us vulnerable to other captains steering our picks in the future, but I feel like these counters are pretty well known by now already. Still, if they had picked up Anti Mage with their fourth selection it would have been a hard game.
- Crystal Maiden first pick is about as strong an opener as a team can have, but is also so popular that we see her all the time. It’s rare that a CM pick does well against us. Pudge has been our go-to against her for a while now, and the matchup is even better than before with her recent movespeed nerf. We’re still playtesting Shadow Shaman, but two disables and natural blink-buyer bodes well for the rhasta.
- Picking Venomancer into Lion is pretty standard for us, basically any blink dagger hero makes Plague Wards amazing, and the squishier the better.
- Another straight counter, Zeus into Bloodseeker turns Bloodrage into a huge liability, and Thundergod’s Wrath has sweet synergy with Poison Nova.
- Finally the Phantom Lancer last pick. The first prompt for a PL pick is of course lack of AOE – their only reliable spells are CM’s Nova and Freezing Field, and Lina’s Dragon Slave. We don’t have to worry about them too much, because the sisters have a really hard game already among hook, hex, and Zeus / Veno nukes. The second big indicator is just a lot of ganking power; PL is one of the most difficult carries to gank successfully, and is a natural manta builder for Crippling Fear and Frostbite.
- We actually fed a bit this match and succumbed to their tempo – PL and Zeus definitely take longer to get going than BS and Lina. We tightened up, played safe into the Nightstalker, and basically won off two good fights.
This match we again looked to exploit a ganking lineup with little AOE. I thought we did a really good job adjusting the lanes to the enemy picks. When they picked Axe into our PL, we moved Lancer to offlane, where he performs much better against Troll. We felt like Silencer vs Axe, Pit Lord vs Storm was better than swapping those, so we ran the Pit Lord mid.
- Underlord + Clock gives us two top tier heroes that are both extremely tough kills for Spirit Breaker, and gives us some lane flexibility despite almost assuredly revealing our 3 and 4.
- Unlike the previous game’s picks, this Crystal Maiden selection is mostly for synergy. Her spells help set Clock up to get in range with Battery Assault before Hookshot is learned, and have synergy with Firestorm as well. Pit of Malice and Cogs can create really good Freezing Field opportunities. And, of course, she has Brilliance Aura. Frankly, there aren’t a ton of traditional pos 5s that excel against Space Cow + Rubick; you basically want disablers and tanky heroes like Treant and Jakiro, but they give Rubick really good spells.
- We 4th pick Phantom Lancer this time, but having 2nd pick means we can’t dictate the lane matchups we want, and it leads into them getting Axe. Our workaround for this sort of situation is to at least pick a carry that does well against their carry, so that we can run an aggro lane if it seems feasible – this game it was.
- We’d been wanting to run some Clockwerk, and this attempt felt really effective. I’m planning to start prioritizing the hero, but I’ll quickly note that Phantom Lancer is a hard counter to Clock, so as Rattletrap starts dominating the meta, PL may continue to see good situations, even if he’s not quite yet a solid hero.
- Silencer last pick gave us a great Storm counter and a high dps backline hero to sit behind Clock and Underlord. Hookshot into Global Silence is one of the best ways to start a fight.
- This game was an utter massacre, always feels good when a draft fires on all cylinders.
I think every meta has these gems – okay heroes that warrant a lot of play just due to the power heroes around them. Dark Seer and Venomancer were two big ones during Lifestealer-Slardar-Ember meta. I think Phantom Lancer is going to enjoy today’s 7.06c Echo League meta quite a bit, especially if heroes like Clock, Troll, Viper, SB, and Bristleback are as prevalent as I expect.
We’ll try not to next-level ourselves with say, Earthshaker and Legion Commander bans.
-gg worst captain ever