Anomalina's Ardent Assessment: The TI8 qualifiers patch
The developers at Valve generously handed out buffs to a huge number of heroes, while still addressing some meta heroes with nerfs, in preparation for the Open and Regional Qualifiers of The International 2018.
The conclusion of the China Supermajor marked the end of the first season of the Dota Pro Circuit, leaving us at the brink of the biggest and most anticipated event of the year, The International 2018. With the format, schedule and dates announced for the Open Qualifiers starting this week, it was time to address some heroes, particularly those that were highly contested and successful at the last Major.
Let's take a look at potentially the most relevant changes of patch 7.17...
Eul's Scepter of Divinity
- Bonus movement speed reduced from +40 to +30
A rightfully deserved nerf that will be lamented by the likes of Shadow Fiend, Lina, and Leshrac, who naturally gained a tremendous amount of movement speed through either their abilities or innate design.
- Night vision increased from 300/150 (base/consumed) to 400/200
While it looks good on paper, it won't have the greatest impact, especially because most Moon Shards are purchase super late into the game, only to be consumed immediately due to a lack of slots and excess of gold.
- Recipe cost reduced from 1800 to 1700
An understandable buff to an item that saw some loss in popularity due to the introduction of Refresher Shard. It is possible we will see another buff to this item in the coming future.
Talisman of Evasion
- Evasion reduced from 20% to 15%
- Cost reduced from 1450 to 1400
While the reduction to the evasion was compensated for by the reduction in cost, this is an overall nerf to the item. Upgrading it to Heaven's Halberd now looks more attractive than the alternative in order to sustain and/or prevent physical damage.
- Base evasion reduced from 20% to 15% (active application is still 20%)
A nerf similar to the Talisman, which makes the already popular item a little weaker. No doubt, one of the best items to pick in most situations will still be just as good to take down Roshan.
- Level 10 Talent increased from +20% XP to +25%
- Level 15 Talent increased from +60 Mist Coil Heal/Damage to +75
- Level 15 Talent increased from +6 Armor to +8
I wouldn't be surprised if these changes herald the return of the hero to the meta. With the fast past and aggressive nature of the teams, a hero with multiple saving mechanics looks good on paper. It may, however, make the players adjust their playstyles away from the current norm.
- Chemical Rage now applies a basic dispel on cast
One of the worst heroes in the meta gets his regular, customary buff. The question is, how many more will it take to make anyone besides OG even consider it?
- Viscous Nasal Goo now has a -2 base armor reduction
Perhaps the most underrated buffs in the patch. A single, early point in the spell can now make the hero's laning stage a lot better.
- Base armor increased by 1
- Strafe dodge now works against non-player units
- Strafe attack speed increased from 80/140/200/260 to 110/160/210/260
These are some of the most talked-about buffs in this patch, and rightly so. Combine with the ones that came before, they make the hero exceptionally strong in more than a few situations.
- Crystal Nova cooldown reduced from 12/11/10/9 to 11/10/9/8
- Level 15 Talent increased from +120 Gold/Min to +150
Reducing the cooldown on the support's nuke is definitely welcome, but it doesn't even bring her close to Bane's superb capability of trading hits with an offlaner. However, the buff to the strangely more popular talent only makes it all the more favorable compared to the alternative, that is in fact, more successful.
- Bramble Maze cooldown reduced from 40/35/30/25 to 34/31/28/25
- Level 10 Talent increased from +20 Damage to +30
It remains a mystery why this hero continues to get so many buffs, especially with the crowd control and damage she can deal. Meanwhile, the duration of her ultimate Terrorize goes untouched.
- Echo Slam now has 100 Initial Damage
Earthshaker players can now rejoice. The crucial buff makes the once underwhelming level 1 ultimate deal a fair amount of damage since its rework.
- Nature's Attendants cooldown reduced from 45 to 35
- Enchant slow rescaled from 3/4/5/6 to 3.75/4.5/5.25/6
Much needed buffs that do not change the fact that the hero was only very popular in the days of the Drow Ranger strat, that has peeked through now and again.
- Demonic Conversion mana-cost reduced from 170 to 140/150/160/170
- Demonic Conversion Eidolon HP regen increased from 0.25 to 4
Increasing the HP regen of Enigma's Eidolons 16 times is no joke. Combine that with the reduced mana-cost of the same spell, and it shouldn't come as a surprise if the hero wins his lane in most cases, an attractive attribute for professionals.
- Level 25 Talent changed from 0 Inner Vitality Cooldown to Burning Spears Pure and Pierces Immunity
- Level 25 Talent increased from +125 Attack Range to +150
It seems logical to buff the hero's level 25 talents, especially since he is one that falls off hard in the late-game. It gives him a toolkit similar to that of Enchantress', but unfortunately, comes online a bit too late into the game.
Keeper of the Light
- Chakra Magic no longer has a 25/35/45/55 mana-cost
A single line of buffs makes a world of difference for this hero, especially one that uses his skill to provide mana for his allies and not just himself. Who knows, if the meta evolves in the right direction, Team Liquid may return to a favored pick for their position 4 player.
- Frost Blast attack slow increased from -20 to -30
- Frost Blast cooldown reduced from 8 to 7
- Level 10 Talent increased from +175 Health to +200
You may be surprised to know that Lich has been getting more buffs than nerfs since as far back as patch 6.83. The ones above make the hero even more intimidating, but still don't change his status as a niche pick against physical damage-heavy lineups, a rare sight these days.
- Base strength increased by 1
- Skewer slow increased from 2.5/2.75/3/3.25 to 3.25
- Shockwave damage increased from 75/150/225/300 to 90/160/230/30
Patch 7.16 was great at improving Magnus's Empower ability, which now matches that of Battle Fury's Cleave. This patch attempts to improve his laning capability, which doesn't look so terrible now.
Image courtesy of TrungTH
- Level 15 Talent increased from +16% Ghost Shroud Slow to +20%
- Level 25 Talent increased from -1.5s Death Pulse Cooldown to -2.5s
- Level 25 Talent increased from +0.6 heartstopper Aura to +0.8
Another hero to get his customary buffs, which will most likely fail at reviving him from the dead. This is simply due to the fact that his only defensive spell reduces his magic resistance massively in a meta populated by the likes of Ember Spirit and Leshrac.
- Fortune's End can no longer be disjointed
- Level 15 Talent increased from +90 Gold/Min to +120
Huskar's favorite supporting partner gets a few buffs to go with him. Sadly, Oracle will remain one of the weakest lane supports in the game who is too easy to mess up with.
- Stifling Dagger slow rescaled from 1/2/3/4 seconds to 1.75/2.5/3.25/4
- Level 20 Talent improved from Double Strike Stifling Dagger to Triple Strike Stifling Dagger
While the changes above may not bring back support Phantom Assassin back to the meta, they certainly look good on paper. Keep in mind that the additional daggers from the level 20 talent do not proc attack modifiers.
- Level 10 Talent changed from +5 Armor to +30% XP
- Level 15 Talent changed from +75 Damage to +12% Rot Slow
At first glance, it is hard to tell whether the changes to Pudge's talents are buffs or nerfs. However, on further inspection, it seems good to improve his utility as a support rather than give him bonuses that fit a carry better.
- Base intelligence increased by 2
- Hex mana-cost reduced from 110/140/170/200 to 70/110/150/190
- Level 15 Talent increased from -4s Hex Cooldown to -5s
- Level 25 Talent reduced from +60 Wards Attack Damage to +50
Shadow Shaman players should be plenty happy with the multiple buffs coming their way. It was surprising to see the hero fade out of the meta despite his incredible skill set and level 1 attack damage. The buffs certainly help him in earlier levels, but it remains a mystery whether he will rise in popularity in the dual offlane meta.
- Arcane Curse penalty duration increased from 4 to 5 seconds
Do not be fooled by what may look like an inconsequential buff to Silencer. He can completely destroy certain heroes that love to spam their spells, and those are largely popular as position 4 supports right now.
- Assassinate cast range increased from 2000/2500/3000 to 3000
- Level 10 Talent changed from +15% Cooldown Reduction to +25%
Cooldown reduction talents should not be underestimated, which they often are on core heroes that largely dish out physical attack damage. A massive bump from 15% to 25% is no joke, and also affects items like Black King Bar and Hurricane Pike.
- Level 15 Talent increased from -8s Spectral Dagger Cooldown to -10s
It may be time to stop buffing a hero that has received such a massive boost in popularity in the pub meta. Sometimes, the pro meta is slow to catch up, but sooner or later, will make the developers question whether they went too far.
- Greater Bash disable duration increased from 1/1.2/1.4/1.6 to 1.2/1.4/1.6/1.8
- Nether Strike damage reduced from 150/250/350 to 150/200/250
- Level 10 Talent increased from +400 Night Vision to +600
The news for Spirit Breaker is not all buffs, but a general improvement overall. One of the few heroes that can be relegated to position 5 because of his global presence and ability to do so much with little to no farm should not be ignored.
- Storm Hammer Manacost reduced from 140 to 110/120/130/140
Its no surprise for Valve to buff heroes that perform miserably at a recent tournament, and Sven is no different. This is not the first time in the past few months that he has received buffs, and it won't be the last. There is still more to improve for this one.
- Base movement speed increased from 280 to 285
- Throw splash damage increased from 130% to 150%
- Grow Status Resistance increased from 20/30/40% to 30/40/50%
Finally, some buffs to pull Tiny out of the trash tier, and yet, they don't look enough. After the first major rework and a few necessary nerfs, the hero kept getting punished due to his rising popularity. The result: weird territory for the once mighty and flexible hero.
- Overpower duration increased from 15 to 20
- Level 20 Talent changed from +1s Enrage Duration to +1.5s
Another hero that suffers from much of the same problems that Sven does. A very short-term impact in team-fights that relies on not getting kited. The key thing to watch here is the duration of Overpower, which lasts twice as long as its cooldown.
- Mortal Strike skeletons now have 30% Magic Resistance
- Level 15 Talent increased from +25 Skeletons Attack Damage to +35
Looks like IceFrog likes to only focus on the new and improved spell for Wraith King i.e. Mortal Strike. It felt like the Skeletons were only extra food for the flash farmers that cleared them away. Now, they are legitimately strong.
Image courtesy of luisaduffles
- Base damage reduced by 2
- Brain Sap mana-cost increased from 70/100/130/160 to 90/115/140/165
First in line for the nerf hammer is the most contested position 5 support in the recent China Supermajor. No surprises here, and no disappointment either, as the pick was making games just a tad bit stale.
- Base armor reduced by 2
Another hero that has shined in the limelight for far too long. One of the most contested offlaners in professional meta gets his base armor cut down to half.
- Base damage reduced by 4
The first of the nerfs that I do not agree with. The poor hero has been nerfed for far too long and far too many times. Once an incredible and flexible hero that could fit the position 3 or position 4 role with ease is now extremely situational.
- Thunder Strike cooldown increased from 15/13/11/9 to 18/15/12/9
Even though Disruptor has been picked a lot in combination with Naga Siren, is not as strong as he seems to be. Nerfing his ability to harass offlaners in the early game by forcing him to level up Thunder Strike by an extra point seems unnecessary.
- Level 15 Talent changed from +3 Flak Cannon Attacks to +0.5s Homing Missile Stun Duration
- Level 20 Talent reduced from +45 Movement Speed to +40
This patch may be the final nail in the coffin for Gyrocopter. Even though he was very popular, he was not very successful in recent professional tournaments. It looks like he officially belongs in the dumpster thanks to the removal of one of his best talents.
- Spirits damage reduced from 25/50/75/100 to 20/40/60/80
- Tether movement speed reduced from 7/10/13/16 to 5/8/11/14%
- Level 10 Talent reduced from +60 Damage to +45
- Level 20 Talent reduced from +20 Health Regen to +15
If you have been following and reading my last few patch analyses, you know how strong Io is to the point of being broken. The nerfs in the last patch were not enough, and neither are these. Although the overall reduction in his damage output hurts Io as a core, his support utility is still too strong.
- Lightning Storm cast range reduced from 650/700/750/800 to 650
Like so many other heroes that see a resurgence after a string of buffs, then get punished with immediate nerfs, Leshrac follows suit. Limiting the range of Lightning Storm hurts the hero in the position 4 role, making it easier for opponents to retaliate.
- Feral Impulse damage reduced from 15/26/37/48% to 12/24/36/48%
The new meta these days is to put Lycan in the offlane role. He makes the opponents stay on high alert, pushing rapidly and sieging structures like no other. The most minor nerf to the damage of Feral Impulse at early levels is almost laughable, since it does not change what the spell allows him to do in the mid-game.
- Song of the Siren mana-cost increased from 100/150/200 to 150/175/200
Disruptor's best friend of the meta, Naga Siren got a decent and rightfully deserved nerf. While her mana pool is not the worst, it is certainly quite limited. Considering the fact that she casts Meteor Hammer in team-fights, this hinders the number of spells she can use.
- Crippling Fear cooldown increased from 12 to 24/20/16/12
- Void cooldown increased from 8 to 11/10/9/8
The undeniable king of the offlane (and also the ban phase) gets weaker as the weeks go by. While the last patch addressed his impact on vision, this patch nerfs his utility with longer cooldowns.
- Base damage reduced by 3
- Caustic Finale slow reduced from 21/24/27/30% to 15/20/25/30%
Similar to Night Stalker, another versatile, impactful and popular hero gets the same treatment. Caustic Finale has been focused on as of late, making the arbitrary single point in the skill seem less and less worthwhile.
- Lightning Bolt mana-cost increased from 75/95/115/135 to 90/105/120/135
The king of pubs when it comes to kill-involvement and damage dealt, Zeus was getting buffed recently to make him seem more likable to the professionals. Unfortunately, they went one step too far and now made Lightning Bolt a little more expensive at early levels. The skill is a nightmare for safe lane heroes when they face a dual offlane with a position 4 Zeus.
There are a few more patches left before The International 2018 begins, which means this will not be the last patch to sort out the issues in the game. However, as we get closer and closer to the ultimate tournament, the changes get smaller and smaller. There is one more patch expected to arrive in the midst of the Regional Qualifiers next week before we take a break from professional Dota and rely on the pub meta to show us something new.
The meta has been stale for the past couple of months, with a select few heroes dominating the ban and pick charts. However, they have also been addressed multiple times. Their popularity may not have declined that hard, but their win-rates certainly have. This goes to show that the teams will now have the qualifiers and the main event of The International itself to find a new batch of heroes to dominate with. Either that or they take the Wings Gaming approach and be prepared to try anything and everything depending on the situation.
Let us know in the comments below what you felt was unwarranted and what was left ignored that should be fixed in the next patch!
Do you think the game is ready for The International Qualifiers?
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