The new Dark Willow Dota 2 hero that came with the dueling fates update back in October brought in some entirely new and interesting mechanics to the game. And, as is tradition, it took a while for the hero to be deemed by the mysterious IceFrog himself as balanced enough for competitive play. To be exact, it took four months for Dark Willow to be added to the pool of heroes in Captain’s Mode, with Donté Panlin still on the outside looking in, along with the spawn of Satan himself, Techies.
With Dark Willow now available in competitive play, however, the question on everybody’s mind is, was it a mistake on IceFrog to add Mireska Sunbreeeze to the competitive hero pool this soon and without any nerfs?
What Can Dark Willow Do?
So far in LANs, we’ve seen the Dark Willow Dota 2 hero played a total of eight times in a competitive setting.
During the Qualifiers for the Captain’s Draft 4 Minor, teams picked Dark Willow five times. Dark Willow’s team ended up winning 3 out of 4 games when played as a support and lost the only time he was played as a core in the offlane. Meanwhile, during the actual LAN itself, Mineski picked Dark Willow two times. The Southeast Asian powerhouse ended up winning both games — Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang posted a 12-0-14 performance on Dark Willow against paiN Gaming. Meanwhile, OG lost when they tried to play the hero as a passive position 5 support for Tal ‘Fly‘ Aizik against ViCi Gaming.
The interesting part of all eight games is the high damage output of the hero. In Mineski’s case, Dark Willow was second on the team in damage as a core. As a support, Dark Willow was responsible for nearly 10% of the entire team’s damage. He ‘Inflame‘ Yongzheng, who posted a 1-11-5 performance in a losing effort on Dark Willow against ViCi Gaming, accounted for nearly 18% of his team’s total hero damage despite dying many times and playing mostly as a pseudo-support to enable the farm of his team’s position 2 and 4 players.
Of course, we have an incredibly small sample size to look at for now. Eight Captain’s Draft games are by no means enough to tell just how Dark Willow will fare going forward. However, from what we’ve seen, she has a lot of flex-pick potential with crowd control and huge amounts of damage; teams can choose to play her either as an aggressive position 5 support or as a playmaker in the offlane, as shown by iceiceice.
We’re currently seeing teams who’re set to play at the PGL Bucharest Major spamming the new Dark Willow Dota 2 hero in pubs, which shouldn’t come off as a surprise. After all, across all levels of ranked matchmaking games, pros and casual players alike consider Dark Willow as OP when played by someone who has at least practised the hero for a bit. That Dark Willow did not receive even a slight nerf before her addition to the competitive hero pool is surprising, to say the least.
How much will Dark Willow be banned in Bucharest?
— Troels Nielsen (@syndereNDota) March 2, 2018
Having said that, it’s probably safe to assume that teams are just going to ban the hero outright. This seems like the most logical decision just so they don’t have to deal with the expected shenanigans that come with picking her. If that happens, this will make her and Tiny as two of the most likely outright banned heroes heading into the Bucharest Major.
Maybe, just maybe, what IceFrog was thinking was that he needed to release Dark Willow into the wild, or so to speak, just so he can see for himself if she really is as OP as most people claim as she is.
With the first set of matches of the PGL Bucharest Major on March 4 coming soon, it won’t be long until we find out.
What do you think of the new Dark Willow Dota 2 hero in competitive play? Do you think she’ll have a huge impact on the overall meta? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.