For the longest time now, midlaners have been the stars of Dota. As gankers and playmakers, midlaners have been able to shine the brightest in the game and are often the position to look at when it comes to individual skill. Recently however, midlaners have transitioned more into carries, with more traditional right-clickers dominating the lane.
After covering offlaners, carries and support, it’s time to look at what the midlaners in 6.88 have to offer.
[missing hero: outworld-devourer]
Outworld Devourer has been a troubled child in the Dota 2 realm for a while. Nerfs, buffs, reworks–the hero’s changelog is a wild search for an identity, a purpose and more so: balance.
His rework about a year ago changed the hero quite significantly and buffed him back into the meta. Together with the addition of Dragon Lance, Outworld Devourer had found a new place as highly prioritized ban and pick in the competitive scene and was on the verge of becoming an obnoxious foe in pubs as well.
6.88e and f nerfed him again, reducing his armor and base attack damage. The nerfs weren’t big, but big enough to stop him from becoming that unstoppable midlane dominator he was about to become again. He still is fearsome and a 52% winrate while maintaining a 21% pickrate in 5k+ MMR games is impressive, but he is not a must pick or ban in competitive play anymore.
Still, OD can dominate the lane and thanks to the aforementioned Dragon Lance, he has a natural item progression that allows him to build up both damage, attack speed and survivability, especially when upgrading to a Hurricane Pike.
For a year now, Alchemist has gone back and forth between being a core and niche pick, to now being a solid one. The hero feels more balanced than he’s ever been, which would also explain that he has not been addressed by Icefrog since 6.87c.
Alchemist as a hero will always find farm and gold naturally. It’s incredibly difficult to keep him down once he hits level 6 and slowing his item progression may only help a little, as he’ll always bounce back.
Often times, Alchemist is not picked as the main core in pro games. He’ll act as a second core and with his early peak timing, he’ll apply pressure when the actual core/carry wouldn’t be able to.
Nothing has changed to how the hero can or should be played, but he’s a reliable pick in the pro scene, something that can’t be said about pub play. Only in the 4k bracket does he field a winrate above 50%–further proof that Alchemist doesn’t work well as the main core of a line-up, yet still needs a line-up that works well around him.
Unlike other fan favorites such as Pudge or Mirana, Invoker fields a below 50% winrate across all brackets, his highest being 49% in the 5k+ MMR range. Regardless, he’s the 6th most played hero overall this month.
In competitive play, Invoker has gone back and forth between extremely popular and then situational again. For the Boston Major however, Invoker has been shaping up as a strong pick again, with the most recent Summit 6 LAN finals seeing 7 out of 13 Invoker picks succeed.
Invoker is a great farmer, splitpusher and teamfighter. Much like Alchemist (and quite frankly many heroes in this category) Invoker benefits from the trend that has moved playmaking capabilities towards the offlane. As a result, Invoker can allow himself to fall back and farm, while assisting with the ever so strong Sunstrike from the safety of his own jungle.
Teams will often pick heroes around Invoker that can set up for the Sunstrike, as Invoker wants and needs a level and networth advantage. With roamers like Ogre Magi and Nyx Assassin rising in popularity, it’s no surprise to see more Invokers as well. That said, these roamers that synergize well with him, are also the key to shutting him down in the laning stage.
The addition of an Aghanim’s Scepter had mixed receptions in the community, but it has arguably made Mirana the strongest she’s ever been in Dota 2. As a result, Mirana was the most picked hero at TI with a 57% winrate and Icefrog needed to nerf her.
Taking away the 2nd Starstorm hit on her Agh’s upgrade decreased her damage output quite significantly, especially if the 1st double Starstorm hit doesn’t connect due to obstructions. Still, it’s a core item for the hero, as the stats are great and it rapidly increases her farming speed. The pro scene still started to neglect her because of the nerf and only a few players favored her, e.g. NP’s EternaLEnVy or EG’s SumaiL-.
In pub play, Mirana absolutely dominated and crushed the scene up until her nerf in 6.88c. She was the most picked hero in almost every bracket and fielded a consistently high winrate as well. The nerf didn’t hurt her popularity as much as it hurt her winrate, as she’s still the 4th most picked hero in 5k+ MMR games and her 50% winrate in that bracket is still solid.
The changes to the lane creeps and their xp and gold bounty give Mirana an edge in the lane. Since Sacred Arrow will reliably kill any creeps, lane or neutral, not only can she farm neutral creeps between waves, she can secure the kill on a ranged creep to reliably gain xp.
The attention this year may have been on other heroes, like Drow Ranger, Mirana or Outworld Devourer, but Juggernaut is the one hero that has prevailed through time and time again and remains relevant. This year especially, Juggernaut has managed to always find his space and more importantly his lane.
For months now, the agility carry has been played both in mid and in the safelane as traditional carry, as he’s a solid pick for both positions. Juggernaut isn’t easy to kill in lane, especially when equipped with a Poor Man’s Shield.
When needed, Juggernaut can very well move around with the team and look for kills, but he also can fall back and farm or splitpush reliably. He’s a valuable and versatile pick that has a variety of different item builds available, more on that here.
Stability more so than skill
The midlane currently asks for more stability in how the lane should be approached. It needs a carry that can be great all game, without necessarily setting the pace. Flashy plays and hunting for kills seems like a thing of the past right now, although some midlaners still have their preferences; SumaiL’s Storm Spirit is still something to look out for.
There are a variety of other heroes that deserve to be mentioned as the top of this patch as well. Timbersaw has had his moments in the spotlight, though seems to have transitioned back to the offlane for now. Nyx Assassin or Ursa are also heroes that have had their fair share of memorable appearances in the midlane, but tend to be player/team specific pick-ups.