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    Dota 2 – Analyzing 7.28: Hero Changes

    It has been a couple of weeks since 7.28 dropped a whole bunch of changes on us. While there were no earth shattering changes to the core game or even the carry-centric meta of Dota, quite a few heroes had their fortunes changed.

    Biggest Winners

    Mirana seems well on her way once again to being one of the most important heroes in the game. The hero had really started trending upwards at the end of the last patch cycle and she only got stronger in 7.28. Mirana had already seen lots of play in both the support and offlane roles and the new Aghanim’s Shard has pushed her towards being a core damage dealer now as well. We have already seen several pro players adopting a right click mid or carry Mirana in 7.28 making her possibly the most versatile hero in the game. Mirana is good at all stages of the game in all roles and her team wide invisibility has never been more annoying for supports who have gotten progressively poorer over the last several patches and have limited Sentry Wards to work with.

    The one true king seems to have risen from the grave in patch 7.28 and it’s about time. Ever since the Radiance damage nerfs several patches ago, the hero has fallen out of favor despite heroes like Sven and Faceless Void being uber popular. Wraith King, for obvious reasons is one of the best counters to ultimate reliant carries but has been somewhat forgotten in the meta. With 7.28 shifting around his abilities Wraith King can now skill his lifesteal and also get the farming boosting power of skeletons at the same time. This means that Wraith King can sustain in lane while also accelerating his farm instead of having to spread his skill points around. He is also one of the few heroes to really take advantage of the hefty raw damage bonus that Radiance provides, thanks to a powerful crit. All signs are pointing to a return of the 15-16 minute Radiance Wraith King who marches down lanes and uses his two lives to win fights earlier than most other carry heroes can.

    Nyx Assassin has always been a fun hero conceptually but often a difficult one in practice. His almost complete lack of pressure in the laning stage makes it a hard hero to justify picking. With another round of buffs in 7.28 it seems like Nyx might be nearing that point of no return where his mid game damage and utility output makes up for most other deficiencies. We are in a meta where carry heroes like Spectre, Faceless Void and Phantom Assassin are super popular but rely heavily on passives to be viable. This meta has also slowed the pace of play significantly in Dota allowing for greedier builds and heroes like Nyx to go unpunished for their poor early game. Between the Break, the buffs and the difficulty of dealing with invisible heroes Nyx could be a sleeper pick in 7.28

    Puck is coming for your MMR. Nearly every single part of Puck’s ability kit was buffed in 7.28 and the hero was already being played in the last patch. Puck has long been a great answer to slippery mobile heroes and is one of the most aggressive early game heroes in Dota. With most of the meta slowing down, Puck has a lot of early kill and snowball potential. Items like Witch Blade or Falcon Blade give the hero some extra early game impact and all signs point to the right click based, Phase Shift Attack, carry Puck making a comeback. Puck seems to be nearing that point where the hero is good early, very strong in the mid game and can carry late as well.

    The Zoo (Lycan, Beastmaster, Visage) should be very happy with patch 7.28. Lycan specifically got a nice buff with global Feral Impulse allowing minions to threaten buildings without Lycan present. More importantly however, are the buffs to Helm of the Dominator and Necromonicon. Any time both items get a buff in the same patch you need to be wary of the Zoo Meta making a strong comeback. Lower cooldown on Necrobook and a stat-based upgrade to Helm of Dominator allow any hero that buys either to find a lot of extra value from the items. Additionally, it’s a new patch so everyone is experimenting with random stuff and playing suboptimally now which lets the Zoo punish slow builds and end the game super fast.

    Bane is back in a big way in patch 7.28. Getting his pure damage on both Brain Sap and Fiends Grip back helps the hero scale a bit better. He also received major buffs to the early game, where the hero has always dominated anyway thanks to the new Enfeeble changes. Not only can Bane trade even more effectively in lane but he can completely replace Spirit Vessel against regen based heroes. The new Enfeeble might end up being one of the best spells in the game for that reason. Bane also got a nice little night vision buff as well to help him catch heroes fleeing the Nightmare of playing against him.

    It’s been a long time since the damage dealing days of Midas/Exort Invoker. 7.28 might herald the return of that build if the pub trends in pro level pubs are any indication. Invoker now gets a free extra Forge Spirit at level 8 making Exort/Quas a much more viable build. As mentioned several times now, the pace of play has slowed down quite a bit allowing for greedier builds like this to work. Additionally, heroes like Faceless Void and Mars continue to see tons of play making a damage based Invoker extra intriguing to consider. It’s not entirely about Exort/Quas either in this patch as an item like Wiitch Blade seems to fit perfectly with a Quas/Wex build. This versatility and overall buffs to damage in general could make Invoker a very scary hero in 7.28.

    Biggest Losers

    Supports in general. For yet another patch support heroes have received a blanket nerf to their economy. Losing 10% of the stacking gold and neutral creeps no longer giving extra gold as the game goes along means less overall gold for supports. Many of the new neutral items seem to be more focused on helping out core heroes. Likewise, the new shop items are almost all core-centered build up items or late game upgrades for cores that are 6-slotted. At the same time, there are a lot of incentives to pick greedy cores meaning that early game supports who often fall off in power still need to be picked. Finally, with the game starting at night time it is a bit easier but also more dangerous to go on a pre-game warding mission.

    Lifestealer basically had one of his abilities split into two and now has to spend 1400 gold to get his only reliable pseudo disable. The hero originally got strong when they combined his attack speed and lifesteal mechanics into one skill and that has now basically been reverted. The slow on every attack seems kind of nice but is probably too low of a number to really matter. The truth is Lifestealer is an early game carry who now needs almost twice the number of levels to hit his power spike. Not good news for N’aix

    Sven pretty much had every important part of his kit nerfed. Like Lifestealer, Sven now needs to buy an Aghanim’s Shard to basically become his pre 7.28 self. While he’s still a good farmer and does a lot of damage he feels much easier to deal with and comes online later as a result. Additionally, it seems like players were beginning to figure out how to play against him already so these nerfs came after he had already lost a bit of popularity.

    Outworld Destroyer got a new name, old abilities and honestly who really cares. This hero has been worked and reworked so many times that it’s getting hard to keep track of what the hell his skills do. Honestly, he might be decent since the old right click Orb based OD used to be pretty beastly in the past. At the moment though it seems like no one really wants to spend the time figuring it out since he will likely have all his skills swapped once again next patch.

    It’s been a LONG time since Pudge was even remotely useful in the game. It seems like every change Icefrog does to Pudge is either a sidegrade or a slap in the face to Pudge spammers around the world. This hero straight up sucks. His laning is horrible, his mid game is horrible because his laning is horrible and his late game is pretty good but you’re rarely going to get there without half your team giving up and reporting you for griefing. Pudge desperately needs some laning presence and the ability to cast Meat Hook more than twice every five minutes from lack of mana. He didn’t get either of those things in patch 7.28 and the hero continues to lose market share to other better heroes. It’s never a good sign when a hero only has a positive win percentage in the absolute lowest MMR brackets.

    Despite being mostly irrelevant ever since the multiple nerfs to Blinding Light, Keeper of the Light got the same treatment as Sven and Lifestealer, only worse. You now need to buy a 4200 gold Aghanim’s Scepter just to get your Will-O-Wisp back. For reference, Will-O-Wisp was pretty much the only thing that made the hero remotely viable in the first place. Keeper’s new skill, Solar Bind, is cool and I can think of plenty of fun combos but it will take a while for the average player to learn what it does. It really seems like we are back to the days of Keeper of the Light running around taking tons of farm with Illuminate and then having little to no impact when a fight breaks out. Definitely a hero that will seem some play in the professional scene but not a great pick in pubs right now.

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