Keep calm and carry on, part 2
Will Storm Spirit come into his own as a counter to Tinker and Nature's Prophet? Will Shadow Fiend rise from his current obscurity? Will we see the pure damage monster that is Outworld Destroyer? Read on and take a look at our opinions; don't forget to add your own in the comments below!
Giving "spitting mad" a new meaning.
Viper is a fun hero. A headache to lane against, he's almost unmatched in 1-on-1 fights and can even turn a 2-on-1 gank around due to his huge damage potential, especially against low-HP tower divers. Add in his natural tankiness due to his passive and his carry-devastating ultimate, and you have a neat little package. Then why is he picked so rarely?
Aside from a brief stint in the Asian scene a few years back, Viper has never been particularly popular. The reason is potentially due to his lack of stuns and his lack of area-of-effect damage, which forces him to focus his DPS. Frankly, there are some heroes who do focusing better, such as Clinkz. What Viper really relies on his ability to force a confrontation: if he decides to focus on a hero who is even slightly out of position, the enemies have to choose between saving them or cutting them loose. If they choose the first, counter-initiation is easy, and if they choose the second they suffer from the 4-against-5 disadvantage
Most recently seen in The Defense finals with coL vs. mouz, Viper was played as a semi-carry by mousesports, using his orb and his Viper Strike to chase like the devil. In theory. Unfortunately, Viper got repeatedly chain disabled and--possibly due to his odd pickup of Mekansm over Pipe--often died without contributing significant damage. Will we see him in The International? Maybe, but don't hold your breath.
Because triple-digit crits are too mainstream.
The Phantom Assassin hits harder than a truck carrying a cargo of dynamite. Unfortunately, the driver of this truck is drunk, unreliable, forgetful and prone to moments of.... Where was I?
Picked a few times since her release, Phantom Assassin brings a lot of killing potential to the table, while also dragging along a fair share of drawbacks. Even though her melee range is almost fixed by her Blink Strike, she is still susceptible to being slowed to the point of impotence. Her would-be poor laning is assisted greatly by her Stifling Dagger, which allows her to last-hit creeps very easily at a massive range. The drawback? Even with Blink Strike as an escape mechanism, and Blur as an early warning sign, Phantom Assassin has a difficult time dealing with well-executed ganks, suffering in the face of nukes and stuns. Without a fast BKB up, she is easily focussed and eliminated from the lineup.
So, when would one want to play Phantom Assassin in a game? Very few answers come to mind. Against a Lone Druid or a Broodmother she will most likely get raxxed by minute 20; fighting a Clinkz will make her ultra-vulnerable to early game executions; Morphling will be immune to her aggression for a long time thanks to his Ethereal Blade. The only possible hero I see her taking on is an Anti-Mage and even in this situation it is more likely that she will get outfarmed. Will we see her? Don't bet on it.
Cold. Frosty. Mother-in-law material?
Yet another hero with a big history in DotA that is currently forgotten by teams. Everyone has good memories from battles between Drow Ranger and Medusa, BurNing and ZSMJ. Drow Ranger is definitely strong if farmed, Frost Arrows are excellent in the lanes and her silence is stronger than people think. But the cold, hard truth is that it will be very hard for her to find a spotlight at TI12.
It's easy to be snarky with a free rapier.
Razor is a strange hero. Equal parts right-click DPS hero, carry-tank and agility caster, the Lightning Revenant provides a large portion of teamfight presence provided he stays alive.
Provided he stays alive.
With items like Pipe, Vanguard, Manta Style and Heart, this can be accomplished. Furthermore, ground-targetted Static Link can penetrate magic immunity, if you have good aim. When the storm cloud appears, Razor effectively releases an ultimatum; the ultimate "COME AT ME BRO", if you will. He makes the transition into late-game quite readily, and while he might start losing power against the heavier carries he will always have the ability to swing a teamfight if he casts a good Link. Furthermore, he is fairly potent in a tri-lane or as a solo hero, and while I cannot back up this claim I imagine that a Link and Unstable Current focussed build would let him face up against the popular dual-lane mid that some teams are employing. I think we'll see him at least once; possibly more, depending on his success.
He's hiding his potential under the hat.
Necrolyte used to be a big hitter, functioning as a carry-tank who did his part by keeping up a high rate of heal and damage over an area, alongside an ultimate which could often destroy a carry after the first wave of initiation. So what happened: why the fall from glory?
Simply put, it is difficult for Necrolyte to get tanky enough to survive to the point of being a force to be reckoned with. Do you make him push with the team, or farm by himself? Doing the first leaves him vulnerable late game, and the second robs his team of the heal that he brings to the table. It's easier to just focus on dedicated pushers, like Leshrac, Chen and Enchantress, or stronger late-game carries such as Anti-Mage and Morphling. Necrolyte gives half of both worlds, and this unfortunately means he's only being half-useful in most scenarios.
Take a few minutes and listen to this music. Good, isn't? It's one of the greatest compositions of all time, and made by a man that people thought crazy and useless.. This is the current state of Shadow Fiend: because he's the definition of a glass cannon and thus very fragile, teams find it hard to place him in lineups. He's not uncommon as a pick that it's quite hard to point out who's the Shadow Fiend maestro in every team (and not having a maestro in your team is heresy).
But some teams fighting on The International 2012 use Shadow Fiend from time to time. Na'Vi gets Dendi to play Nevermore when XBOCT is not playing a big carry, MiSeRY plays it on CLG from time to time. With a well timed BKB and Blink Dagger, Shadow Fiend gets himself into a timing window where he can kill any hero in the game, because one does not simply live after Requiem of Souls and three razes. The most effective way to use it is to abuse this timing window and try to press an advantage when you get both items. People avoid Shadow Fiend because it's very hard to find the line between owning and throwing: sometimes, staying one second more in the fight means landing that extra raze that you grant you a killing spree, and sometimes means you'll get killed and crippled from the souls you'll lose.
Far more handsome than we thought.
Back in The International 2011, people raged because Storm Spirit wasn't a panda. It took some time to people understand and fall in love to this jolly, sombrero-wielding charmer, but it took no time for teams to understand his power. The hero was used all the time at TI11, by the old M5 and EHOME mostly. What's great about Storm Spirit is that he can focus a hero down with ease, no matter where he is, as long you can predict his movement or have some vision advantage.
Storm's biggest strength is his ability to counter Tinker and Nature's Prophet, simply by jumping in and destroying them before rapidly popping out. With God and Dai released in The International, you can always expect Storm Spirit being picked.
But inside? But inside does matter.
Lifestealer has a considerable history in DotA, being a hero that was used a lot in the competitive scene. Fear, for example, is known for playing a lot of Lifestealer back in the MYM days. With Armlet of Mordiggian, Rage and even a possible BKB, Lifestealer is so durable that's actually laughable. And he can hit like a truck, assuming the positioning is good, which is the reason the competitive players used to buy a Blink Dagger for him in the past. He can even jungle if you're desperate for farm. It's not as efficient as other junglers, but still better than nothing.
Lifestealer still has all these things, but the difference from the past is that his ultimate now does damage! Could you ask for more? Well, yeah, he's still melee and needs a lane for himself. He'll be a very situational pick that will be part of mobile lineups that can make the best of Infest, alongside heroes like Storm Spirit, Nature's Prophet and Wisp.
A samurai and his toolbox.
Juggernaut is a really powerful carry. Assuming optimal farm, he goes on head to head with any hero. Omnislash can snipe enemies in no time. But the edge Juggernaut has against the others is utilities in the early game. Because of Blade Fury, he's excellent to deal against aggressive trilanes, as shown in the recent Na'Vi-Infused game. If he's not dealing with trilanes and is given space, he can get together with other heroes, pick some early levels on the Healing Ward and push like hell. It is different options like this that can make Juggernaut a popular hero in The International 2012, as teams want to have all kinds of options to work with.
Forgotten, or hibernating?
NEXT.kz isn't playing at The International 2012, so we won't see Ursa being picked, right? While I fear this is true, it's not because Ursa isn't viable. With his ability to destroy Roshan in seconds, Ursa has an edge compared to other heroes. As long you're ready to commit him a lane and some support, Ursa will land a huge impact in the mid game. Who will be the team to honor him now that NEXT.kz isn't around? Maybe Mushi can revive the days of Cybertime and own everyone with Ursa?
A hero who almost always provides interesting games, Clinkz has appeared recently as a single-target DPS carry, tower killer and support hunter. Clinkz provides an unparalleled ability to hunt down heroes all over the map with his blinding movement speed and jaw-dropping burst damage. Unless the opponents have warded every square inch of the map--and trust me when I say that Clinkz's supports will be frantically dewarding--Clinkz can break from Skeleton Walk almost anywhere and annihilate low-HP heroes without taking so much as a retaliatory attack. Pair this damage with some brave supports and you can apply him to towers with ferocity during the mid- and late-game stages, even being able to overcome tower backdoor regeneration once he has his core and Death Pact up.
I'm almost certain this hero will be seen in The Interational. Against pushing strategies, he can single out key heroes and wreck the lineup; Chen is countered particularly hard by his Death Pact. Against ganking strategies, he can simply out-run opponents in case of truesight and return a few minutes later to devour any stragglers. When fighting a turtle game, Clinkz can hunt carries with impunity or assist in pushes to end the game early. As a fast, mobile hero who brings so much to the table, I expect to see this fiery chap fairly regularly.
Outworld Destroyer came into the Malasian scene in a big way in 2011, where he existed as a powerful counter to Anti-Mage and Weaver. In Dota 2, however, he has seen very little play, which could be due to his farm dependency and his lack of a solid escape mechanism. To play Outworld Destroyer is to take a huge gamble and place a massive responsibility on your semi-carries to keep the game together until you start to hurt. If your gambit succeeds, he has the power to instagib supports with his ultimate alone, and take out heavier carries in just a handful of hits. If you fail, he is reduced to a very fragile, easily eliminated hero without much to offer.
How was he played? Popular items ranged from Force Staff (providing him with an escape mechanism), Scythe of Vyse, Black King Bar and Orchid Malevolence, while less common items included Bloodstone and Shivas Guard. Taking the solo mid or a long safe lane, he is a fairly strong laner unless against a ganking-oriented team. My prediction: we'll see him played as a surprise Anti-Mage or Clinkz counter, but not as an initial pick. It's too easy to counter-pick against him.
It's not just the glaives that bounce.
Luna is another hero with a considerable history in DotA, being the hard-carry of choice back in 6.52e era that faded away and is struggling to return. With the right farm she's definitely strong, but her lack of mobility makes her not as seductive as other heroes. Depending on the mood of the captains, we might see her in some aura-stacking strategies, where she's together with Lycanthrope and Vengeful Spirit to push that bases faster than light, but aside this, it is hard to imagine Luna becoming popular.
Don't you dare eat your greens.
Nature's Prophet is a versatile hero. Why? Simply put: when you farm up as much gold as he does, the sky's the limit. Mekansm? Sure. Disables? Be my guest. Aghanim's Scepter? Farm away! More importantly, a build we are seeing more and more often is the Prophet right-click build, where he will get a fast Midas (and on occasion a Scepter) and then proceed to grab every DPS item he can get his leafy fingers on. Mjollnir, Daedalus and Monkey King Bar are not uncommon. His true strength lies in his ability to both put amazing pressure on faraway lanes and his capacity to easily select where he will be standing in a teamfight. If picked out, his low health betrays him.
Played as a carry, semi-carry or Mekansm-wielding support, I think we can all agree that Nature's Prophet will be a big player in The International.
It's a bug-eat-creepy-time-controlling-ant world.
Weaver doesn't have much success in comparisons to other carries according to the statistics. I don't really expect to see Weaver played at the position 1, but as a 3. In some situations, Weaver can perform well in the hard lane, which is a really good thing about this hero. I always remember a game between iG and TyLoo, where TyLoo had Lycanthrope in the woods and Weaver in the hard lane. Because of Lycan, Weaver didn't need that much items to deal damage, instead getting items like Linken Sphere and Scythe of Vyse. If we end seeing Weaver at TI12, it'll be at the hard lane, more as an utility hero than a damage dealer.
For my brothers Carl and [Johann] Beethoven
Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me? You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, me heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was ever inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled to withdraw myself, to live life alone. If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly I was I flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet it was impossible for me to say to people, "Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf." Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed.--Oh I cannot do it; therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you.
My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be noticed. Thus it has been during the last six months which I have spent in the country. By ordering me to spare my hearing as much as possible, my intelligent doctor almost fell in with my own present frame of mind, though sometimes I ran counter to it by yielding to my desire for companionship. But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended me life -- it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence -- truly wretched for so susceptible a body, which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition to the very worst. -- Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so -- I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the thread. Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready. -- Forced to become a philosopher already in my twenty-eighth year, oh it is not easy, and for the artist much more difficult than for anyone else. 'Divine one, thou seest me inmost soul thou knowest that therein dwells the love of mankind and the desire to do good'. Oh fellow men, when at some point you read this, consider then that you have done me an injustice; someone who has had misfortune man console himself to find a similar case to his, who despite all the limitations of Nature nevertheless did everything within his powers to become accepted among worthy artists and men. 'You, my brothers Carl and [Johann], as soon as I am dead, if Dr. Schmidt is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my malady, and attach this written documentation to his account of my illness so that so far as it possible at least the world may become reconciled to me after my death".
At the same time, I declare you two to be the heirs to my small fortune (if so it can be called); divide it fairly; bear with and help each other. What injury you have done me you know was long ago forgiven. To you, brother Carl, I give special thanks for the attachment you have shown me of late. It is my wish that you may have a better and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery. Thanks to it and to my art, I did not end my life by suicide -- Farewell and love each other -- I thank all my friends, particularly Prince Lichnowsky's and Professor Schmidt -- I would like the instruments from Prince L. to be preserved by one of you, but not to be the cause of strife between you, and as soon as they can serve you a better purpose, then sell them. How happy I shall be if can still be helpful to you in my grave -- so be it. -- With joy I hasten to meet death. -- If it comes before I have had the chance to develop all my artistic capacities, it will still be coming too soon despite my harsh fate, and I should probably wish it later -- yet even so I should be happy, for would it not free me from a state of endless suffering? -- Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee bravely. -- Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead; I deserve this from you, for during my lifetime I was thinking of you often and of ways to make you happy -- please be so --
Ludwig van Beethoven
October 6th, 1802