The latest Dota 2 update (patch 7.14) has come and it’s a laundry list of small changes that will no doubt have a massive impact on the meta. But, of all the changes, perhaps none will shake up the meta more than adding Techies back to the competitive Dota 2 hero pool after a long hiatus.
In determining the winners and losers, I took a close like at the list of changes and how I believe the changes will affect the success of the hero in competitive games. For example, meta heroes, likeWitch Doctor, is a sure loser. For months, Witch Doctor was the bane of offlaners everywhere and boasted early-to-late game kill potential even without any item. However, with the changes to Maledict (rescaled from 20 to 50/40/30/20), the hero just became a whole lot less viable. This is especially true in a meta where matches end fast and supports don’t get nearly as much experience anymore.
Click here for the official changelog of the latest Dota 2 update (7.14).
Whoever Has a Techies Player on their Team
The latest Dota 2 update brought Techies back to the competitive hero pool nearly two years after Valve removed it from Captain’s Mode. Now, the question is, how will Techies affect the current Dota 2 meta? Well, for starters, probably not as much as the hero once did back in 2015 where Evil Geniuses used the threat of picking the hero for Kurtis ‘Aui_2000‘ Ling to win The International 2015.
As discussed in our previous article, Techies is not an unbalanced hero. If anything, Techies needed a buff before being added back into the competitive hero pool. But, then again, we don’t really know for sure. The sample size for Techies has been relegated exclusively to pub games, where the level of play is completely different from tournament games, even amongst those played by the game’s most elite and skilled players.
Maybe, just maybe, the reason why IceFrog decided to add Techies back into the competitive hero pool is to see whether or not the hero deserves to be there and how the hero can be balanced if necessary ahead of The International 8.
Either way, with so much uncertainty surrounding the balance of the hero, Techies is just one good performance away — we’re looking at you Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang — from being a first-phase ban at EPICENTER XL.
Maelstrom / Mjolnir
Maelstrom and its upgrade Mjolnir has not seen much use in competitive games for quite a while now. Especially these past few months, where Battle Fury has emerged as the go-to item for melee cores as it offers a little bit of regen and a whole lot of farming. However, things should change, at least, for the next two weeks.
Though the nerf to Battle Fury is inconsequential — a +300 recipe gold cost isn’t much in the grand scheme of things — the buff to Maelstrom makes it too good to pass up in certain situations. The loss of the attack speed bonus is not much compared to giving the Lightning Storm procs a 100% chance of hitting and an additional 50 damage by swapping out Gloves of Haste and the recipe for a Javelin and Mithril Hammer.
The additional Chain Lightning damage (from 120 damage to 170 damage) makes Maelstrom a much-better farming tool now and should help many melee and ranged cores come online much faster.
Spectre and Slark
For so long, building Radiant + Heart of Tarrasque + Manta Style was the go-to build for Spectre. But, because of the hero’s inability to flash farm combined with a weak lane presence and lack of early game kill potential, Spectre became a non-factor in the competitive scene as games grew shorter and shorter over time. However, the latest series of direct and indirect buffs — Spectre arguably stands to gain the most now that there no longer is a temporary farm gold penalty for buying back — including increasing the damage of Haunt (from 40% to 40%/50%/60%) and reduced mana cost for Spectral Dagger (from 130/140/150/160 to 100/120/140/160), might just be enough to bring the hero back into the proverbial fold.
Speaking of bringing back heroes, Slark seems like he’s on the up-and-up as well. The hero has seen buffs for multiple patches now, and the latest Dota 2 update gives him a whole lot more staying power in the lane (increased HP regen from 2.75 to 3.25) and kill potential (increased Shadow Dance movement speed from 30%/35%/40% to 30%/40%/50%). We’ve already seen Slark’s win rate and pick rate go up by a noticeable amount in high-level pubs because of the changes. Somehow, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before pros pick up on this.
For the past two years, the offlane has gotten easier to play. The combination of Poor Man’s Shield and Iron Talon meant that all offlaners had to do was play alone, not fall too far behind in levels compared to the enemy safelaner and force enemies to send someone to rotate to the lane. If they didn’t have farm, they could always go jungle. The addition of shrines helped as well, although this was later nerfed as well. But, over the past few months, IceFrog seems intent on forcing pro teams to forgo sacrificing their offlaner and force teams to send help so the mid becomes a true 1 vs 1 lane.
The change to offlane creep pulling — a mechanic commonly used where offlaners go in between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 safelane towers to try and pull an entire creep wave (or an entire creep wave) to the offlane tower — might just be the final nail to the 3-1-1 meta’s proverbial coffin.
With the addition of Hurricane Pike into the game, Force Staff became a must-have item for everybody. This included playmaking offlaners, supports AND ranged cores. However, it wasn’t until in 7.06 that this became more evident with the change in recipe and increase in regeneration (from 4 hp per second to 6 hp per second). As months passed, Force Staff saw a number of changes in an attempt to balance it. This included reducing its health regeneration bonus (from 6 health generated per second to 5 health generated per second in 7.07) and changing its force speed (from 1500 in 0.5 seconds to 1200 in 0.4 seconds in 7.08) but none were enough to dissuade players from picking it up.
The latest change might just be the one that do it. This is because now, Force Staff has significantly less health regeneration bonus (from 5 health regenerated per second to 2 regenerated per second) and a significant increase in mana cost (25 mana to 100 mana).
Majority of carry heroes probably won’t mind the increased mana cost. They can spam it in perpetuity and the utility is just too good to pass up, albeit they might have to pick it up a bit later than usual. It’s the supports that stand to receive the brunt of this nerf. 100 mana per instance is simply too much for an item that doesn’t give them much health nor mana regeneration.
Underlord / Witch Doctor / Tiny
Considering that these three have consistently been among the top picks over the past few tournaments, the nerfs that came with the latest Dota 2 update was pretty much expected. Witch Doctor is no longer that much of a pest during the lane phase with the increased cooldown of Maledict at lower levels. Meanwhile, Underlord should no longer turn any lineup he is in into a Roshan lineup. This because Firestorm no longer deals damage to Ancient Creeps, including Roshan. Finally, Tiny’s cleave damage from Tree Grab; 7.14 rescaled the skill to cleave only at 30/40/50/60 instead of a flat 100. This should make teams play less around Tiny’s flash farming capabilities and value him more as an initiator with insane burst potential.
All in all, these three heroes should see less priority at least at EPICENTER XL, which hopefully gives way to other picks to enter the competitive meta.
Necrophos feels like a much better hero now with the latest Dota 2 update. However, he’s still far from as toxic as he once was. But, who knows? Team Liquid might consider giving Necrophos back to Lasse Aukusti ‘MATUMBAMAN‘ Urpalainen once again.
The verdict is still out for the others. Tusk, in a way, is the new Earth Spirit. The hero received a nerf, again, but he’s not that bad. At least, not yet anyway. Alchemist should enjoy the buff to its health regeneration. Unfortunately, Spirit Vessel exists now and is an extremely cheap counter to the hero. Meanwhile, Broodmother’s spiderlings may be easier to kill now, but they also give much less gold. So, don’t expect teams to avoid jumping on the chance of picking the hero whenever the opportunity presents itself just yet.
The strong nerfs to Pangolier and Dark Willow came as no surprise either. If anything, it was expected. It seems that IceFrog wanted to see how both heroes fared competitively first before laying down the nerf hammer.
What do you think of the latest Dota 2 update? Which heroes do you believe will emerge on top of the competitive meta at EPICENTER XL? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.