It’s been slightly over a month since Dota’s 7.07 balance update,and there is no denying the effects of this patch were among the strongest in Dota’s recent history. Once again, we are compiling the Pub Tier List using data solely from the Very High Skill bracket so that it’s relevant to both the majority of the players and dedicated gamers.
Omniknight, Centaur Warrunner, Vengeful Spirit
Following the tradition of previous patches, only three heroes are once again part of the “Stompers” tier. This time around, however, the usual suspects are missing — Abaddon, Zeus, Spectre, Necrophos are not in the top category any longer.
Omniknight replaced Abaddon as the top-tier pick for the patch. Changes to his talents opened up a new way to play the hero, and he can be a very decent semi-carry, courtesy of +90 damage on level 15. His current typical playstyle includes going offlane, building an early Radiance if possible, and then becoming an absolute nuisance in ganks and teamfights, where it is impossible to ignore him due to the constant damage output, but is also quite hard to focus down. More on the hero can be found here.
Centaur fills the similar niche, but with more emphasis on teamfights. He is a strong initiator with great damage output, especially in the early levels. Later on he becomes one of the strongest utility heroes, which allows your team to engage or disengage almost at will.
Finally, there is Vengeful Spirit — a hero who is never a bad pick. Turns out, she is also quite frequently a good pick in 7.07. Reliable stun, armor reduction, strong team aura and a specific, but powerful, initiation tool make her one of the most versatile heroes in the game. She can fill the role of either position 4 or 5 support, or can become a very strong tempo-oriented carry. Her stat growth is absolutely ridiculous, with one of the highest Agility gains in the game, coupled with one of the better Strength growth for Agility heroes (third highest Strength growth and second highest Agility one). Altogether it makes her a tanky, high-damaging core that might lack flash-farming potential, but is exceptional at taking down towers and creating space for a true-position-1 mid.
Chaos Knight, Underlord, Spectre, Zeus, Brewmaster, Night Stalker, Terrorblade, Shadow Shaman, Elder Titan, Spirit Breaker, Tidehunter, Lich, Clockwerk, Ancient Apparition, Pudge, Bounty Hunter
Brewmaster is one of the toughest heroes to lane against. With constant Drunken Haze spam, he can deny the enemy carry a lot of gold from last hits, while ensuring his own safety and farm. Later in the game, he is still one of the best teamfight heroes, with a 6-second cyclone on Storm Brewling, making it one of the longest single-target disables in the game. Naturally, the target is invulnerable for the duration, however it doesn’t really matter, since you can just destroy target’s teammates in the meantime and concentrate on the cycloned unit later. And at level 25, with an appropriate talent, the downtime on Primal Split becomes 35 seconds, allowing the hero to constantly have presence on potentially all three lanes, while having access to his extra abilities.
With the introduction of Spirit Vessel, Ancient Apparition was no longer a very lucrative pick against certain heroes and to make up for it he was buffed in other areas, allowing him to jump a tier up, compared to last patch. Having a guaranteed slow on Chilling Touch, coupled with no AS slow for teammates made the ability stronger in most scenarios, despite the nerfed damage. It greatly increased the kill potential for a lane with Ancient Apparition, making him a much more potent laner. He is still a niche pick by all means, but while he became less compulsory against heavy heal and regeneration, he became a lot stronger in all other games, resulting in a significant win rate jump.
Finally, there is Pudge, an all-time pub classic. Over the course of the last several years the hero went from being situational mid to a very potent position 4 support. Without having any waveclear, he is still an apt high-ground defender, courtesy of Meat Hook. He is an extremely strong ganker, with a permanent slow from Rot coupled with a potential nuke. And he scales rather well, is the game is at least even by minute 20. Later in the game, once again, he becomes a target you don’t really want to focus, but can’t ignore.
Anti-Mage, Wraith King, Storm Spirit, Crystal Maiden, Nyx Assassin, Abaddon, Drow Ranger, Luna, Winter Wyvern, Skywrath Mage, [missing hero: outworld-devourer], Visage, Ogre Magi, Treant Protector, Jakiro, Beastmaster, Medusa, Dragon Knight, Slardar, Shadow Demon, Witch Doctor, Bane, Faceless Void, Tinker, Silencer, Huskar, Disruptor, Ursa, Gyrocopter, Clinkz, Warlock, Sniper, Dark Willow, Axe, Undying, Sven
Anti-Mage was considered a top-pick in the beginning of 7.07 and received well-deserved nerfs in the following mini-patches, making him a rather balanced hero once again. He is still one of the best split-pushers and farmers in the game. While he can still take over the game relatively early on, he is no longer as much of a threat ultra-late-game, just like it was in the pre-7.07 era.
Storm Spirit, as well as several other Intelligence heroes, received an exceptional indirect buff in the form of Kaya, reducing his manacost just enough to return him to his glory days. It is still an item slot, and it still delays his Bloodstone or Orchid, but overall his power level has been smoothed out significantly, so that he is no longer a very high-risk hero to pick.
With more Intelligence heroes in the meta and with Medusa receiving several strong buffs, it is unsurprising to see Nyx Assassin among the solid picks in the current metagame. A rather versatile hero, who can be played offlane, as a support and even mid absolutely destroys intelligence cores, while still providing great utility in most game situations. Naturally, landing his stun might require some practice, but it is practice that will definitely pay off.
Finally, there is Dark Willow. For a hero that is slightly over a month old, she is doing exceptionally well. With multiple disables, high damage output and elusiveness from Shadow Realm, the hero will probably continue to rise in the tiers, especially once people stop playing her mid and offlane, and fully concentrate on the support role.
Phantom Lancer, Doom, Queen of Pain, Phoenix, Juggernaut, Riki, Death Prophet, Lion, Earthshaker, Enigma, Kunkka, Bristleback, Enchantress, Sand King, Weaver, Rubick, Viper, Razor, Venomancer, Leshrac, Oracle, Phantom Assassin, Dazzle, Shadow Fiend, Necrophos, Invoker, Mirana, Tiny, Meepo, Bloodseeker, Dark Seer, Earth Spirit, Windranger, Techies, Pugna, Lycan, Batrider
Enchantress is currently one of the hottest picks in the CIS scene. After the hero was introduced to offlane in the NA region last year, she lied dormant for a period, only to come back with full force once again. Enchantress is an extremely punishing lane hero who scales incredibly well and even enables early pushes. She does require some micro-control, making her weaker in pubs, but in the right hands at the right time she can make a lot of difference with her surprising survivability, high damage output and potential utility.
The recently reworked Viper is perhaps the situational hero of the patch. Throughout the history of Dota, Viper was thought of as a lane-dominator with poor scaling. His entire goal was often to prevent the enemy mid from having a good start, while being tanky and survivable enough to remain independent. 7.07 didn’t change a whole lot about it, making the hero slightly weaker in the lane, but giving him a silver-bullet type of an ability. Break is a mechanic that is only as strong as the passive it disables. Therefore, in some situations Viper can and will be the top pick, while in others he will fall flat due to inferior damage output and utility to other mids.
Finally, there is Necrophos. Once a mighty hero who required his own “dealing with’ post is almost forgotten. Given how Diffusal Blade no longer purges and to get a similar effect you need to invest a lot more into a Nullifier, it is especially surprising, but considering how Intelligence caster-cores are on the rise, the once-dreaded Ghost Shroud is a lot less of an issue. Couple it with all-around nerfs to all of his abilities and you get a highly situational pick that is perhaps better suited for offlane, rather than first or second positions.
Magnus, Legion Commander, Troll Warlord, Ember Spirit, Slark, Tusk, Pangolier, Keeper of the Light, Lina, Naga Siren, Monkey King, Chen, Lifestealer, Puck, Timbersaw, Broodmother, Morphling, Templar Assassin
The “Avoid” tier is slightly less populated this time around and given the addition of a new hero it is a good sign — more heroes are focused at the center of the spread, rather than being outliers. Unfortunately, Pangolier, the newest addition to Dota, is, in fact, an outlier. His win rate showed a strong growth since the introduction, but it is now come to a halt. There is nothing particularly surprising about it, however, since the hero does have a very high skill floor. On top of it, he is a new type of situational hero — he can be an absolute monstrosity in certain areas of the map, while being very tame in others. Overall, it might be the case that the hero will follow along the path of Earth Spirit, where he is in fact completely overpowered, but until someone in a professional game shows his prowess, people will deny it and continue underestimating him. Or he can continue being an “Avoid” pick until some heavy buffs.
Speaking of recent heroes, Monkey King is still firmly situated in the “Avoid” category, with not even a glimmer of hope. After the heavy nerfs in one of the patches, the hero was almost forgotten as a position 4 support and is currently outclassed by most position 1 and 2 carries. Given the diverse and unique skillset of the hero, he is probably very hard to balance, with small changes potentially leading to big gains or losses in the win rate department, but for now we advise against trying Monkey King in ranked games unless you absolutely know what you are doing.
Arc Warden, Nature’s Prophet, Io, Alchemist, Lone Druid
Three of the heroes in this category are quite hard to play well and it is understandable how they ended up in the lower tier of a pub tier list. However, at least in the case of Alchemist, the situation definitely looks dire — the hero was slightly nerfed in terms of HP regeneration on top of suffering from the introduction of Spirit Vessel. Overall, he became a weaker hero that there are more options to deal with, hence the overall irrelevance looks understandable.
The presence of Natures Prophet in this tier, however, is a surprise. The hero has one of the highest base damages in the game, can retreat to jungle when pressured in lane and is overall very apt at both farming and pushing. His fight potential severely depends on his itemization, which can be seen as a plus or a minus, but teamfights are not the reason the hero’s generally picked. Perhaps the Complexity approach with position 4 Natures Prophet is a way to go for the hero at the moment.
The Attribute Perks
One of the things in the patch not covered yet is the impact of the attribute perks on the metagame. Turns out, they had a lot less of an influence on the overall power levels of heroes than might have been assumed. On average, the Agility heroes have lost ~0.9% of their win rate, while Intelligence and Strength heroes have received ~0.7% and ~0.4% win rate respectively. For a completely new mechanic, the introduction was close to seamless, with the exception of Status Resistance potentially leading to mistimed spell combinations.
Yet again, the patch has outdone the previous iteration of Dota in terms of pub balance with an even tighter spread of heroes around the 50% mark. There are still slight problems and the introduction of “bonus heroes” might have had a slight impact on the stats, but overall the game seems to be in an excellent shape meta-wise, with many open strategies and variety of paths to victory.
For such a drastic follow-up to a very good patch, 7.07 was definitely worth the wait — it refreshed the game, without noticeable negative impact on an overall game balance. And given the amount of big LAN tournaments this year, the fine-tuning of the patch will probably become easier.