Disruptor is widely criticized as one of the poorest lane supports in the game, yet both professional and pub players agree that the hero is definitely worth playing. The hero is currently one of the most popular supports in the DPC meta and sits comfortably at >20% pick rate in the 5k+ pub games. So what exactly makes the hero seem so strong?
The Virtus.Pro effect
One of the common misconceptions regarding meta is that the “teams play meta heroes”. There are countless threads on Reddit and other forums that complain about how teams only play meta heroes and the tournaments aren’t varied enough. In reality, the relationship between what professionals pick and what makes the meta is inverse: strong teams pick certain heroes and they become “meta”, not the other way around; even if the end result is the same.
Disruptor definitely belongs to the category of “meta” heroes. A couple of years ago he was considered a “CIS specialty”, mostly picked by teams from the region. He perfectly suits the playstyle of the aggressive teams, allowing them to better capitalize on an early game advantage.
If a team with Disruptor starts winning, he can become an absolutely dominant support: he provides amazing catch, that allows for extra kills on fleeing enemies. He is amazing at ensuring early objectives, since he can always send at least one defendant away, while his ability to shut down underfarmed enemy cores in teamfights is almost unparalleled from a support position.
With the CIS Team now being the top team in the world, at least DPC-wise, it is only natural that the region’s niche picks start becoming more widely acknowledged. VP.Solo loves his Disruptor and his love for the hero now permeates the whole Dota world.
The Professional Way
Disruptor is anything but a flexible support: his skill build in the early game has been static for as long as he was present in the professional scene and it doesn’t seem like it will change any time soon. Realistically, he is good at one thing only, but he is simply unparalleled at it.
First two skill points of the hero are almost always used to level up Thunder Strike and Kinetic Field: these two abilities combined give the hero some resemblance of a lane presence through a rather underrated nuke and a makeshift “disable”.
The reason Thunder Strike is underrated is because not many players realise how much damage this ability actually deals at level 1: a 160 damage nuke is nothing to scoff at, even if the effect is delayed. Moreover, it also provides some very necessary vision over the target, allowing for more right-clicks to connect on an offlaner you are harassing.
However, past the first two levels, all skill points the hero receives have to go into Glimpse, despite Thunder Strike offering a decent ROI in terms of damage. Glimpse defines the hero: it is a very high-utility spell that has both aggressive and defensive uses and can have an impact on both the strategic and tactical levels.
After maxing out Glimpse and getting the ultimate, the build isn’t quite as clear-cut: looking at VP.Solo’s games, we can see different level 10 talent pickups, with more intense games forcing him to go for the +200 Health, rather than +40 Thunder Strike damage. There are also some games where the talents are skipped completely in favor of extra skill points in Kinetic Field and there are even games where Thunder Strike and Kinetic Field are skilled sequentially, with an equal amount of skill points into both, without maxing either ability.
There might be some hidden logic behind different approaches: sometimes you do need that extra damage, sometimes you need to have a low-value ability on a shorter cooldown to break Linken’s and sometimes you need that extra 0.6 seconds of lockdown from Kinetic Field. However, at least looking from the outside, there is a feeling that past level 7 the skill build of Disruptor simply doesn’t matter: once you have your 1800-range initiation tool and an AoE silence, the only meaningful progression for the hero is a potential Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade.
Dressing up for the occasion
While the skill build for the hero is pretty rigid, the itembuild is mostly dictated by the enemy team composition, as is the case with most supports. Unlike heroes like Lion or Rubick, Disruptor doesn’t need or rely on some sort of mobility to become fully effective, hence he is free to build items that are best suited for the game he is in. Or not build any items at all, since as a hard five he rarely sees any farm until much later into the game.
This independence from farm is definitely one of the hero’s strong points: Disruptor is very effective with simple Boots of Speed and while he can get a lot stronger with items, he is free to leave all the space for his cores and position four support.
Depending on the situation and if there is enough money after purchasing all the wards and smokes, we often see the hero go for either Force Staff, Drum of Endurance or Glimmer Cape. Both Force Staff and Glimmer Cape are, once again, situational purchases required for potential counterplay, while Drum simply provides a very decent aura for when none of your cores want to build Drum themselves.
There are two luxury items for Disruptor that are definitely worth mentioning: Blink Dagger and Aghanim’s Scepter combination substantially change the hero and make him a very strong initiation follow-up. If there is no need for the regular support items, making slow progress towards this combo is definitely advised.
There is no denying the hero is worth playing and exploring, however when it comes to pubs it is best to keep in mind that Disruptor might not be actually the strongest support and will require a certain degree of expertise from the player and a decent amount of team coordination.
To get the most out of the hero you need to have an early game advantage and as such he might not be the best pairing with late-game carries. Moreover, if the team with Disruptor does get an early game advantage, it should be abused as much as possible, otherwise the Disruptor pick can get wasted and will have a very hard time transitioning into the late game.
Virtus.Pro is the only professional team that makes Disruptor look incredibly strong: their win rate with the hero approaches 80% this month, while the average for all teams is below 50%. Virtus.Pro most frequently runs the hero alongside either Lifestealer or Gyrocopter, both of which are early fighting heroes. Moreover, Virtus.Pro is really good at outplaying the opponent in the earlier stages of the game, so getting an early game advantage comes to them naturally.
Disruptor himself doesn’t offer much in terms of getting an early game advantage and heavily relies on his team to get to a point where the hero is at his best. It is for you to decide, whether you trust your allies enough to understand this and both get to a point where your team sets the tempo and then actually utilize the tempo advantage. Otherwise going for a support that is a little greedier and has stronger laning presence might be preferable.