In the comment section for our blog post about meta developments in the DotaPit Minor, we teased that we will be discussing the unpicked heroes of the patch. We had a short list of heroes who made no appearances throughout patch 7.21, over the course of three DPC events, but MDL Disneyland made this list even shorter. Pudge and Silencer are finally heroes worthy of being picked in the professional scene, or at least worth experimenting with.
Pudge became a zai specialty, who tries to abuse Flesh Heap in lane as much as possible with the extra regeneration it provides.
Position three Pudge is not unheard of in high level pubs, but most of the time we see the hero as a roaming position four support or, occasionally, in mid. Yet it seems the offlane is where the hero belongs and being frontlining utility core is where he has the most success and value.
We’ve already discussed this concept in out previous blog post: current offlaners are rarely the Plan A initiators for their team. They don’t rush for Blink Dagger, instead focusing on getting aura items and getting tanky, so that they can stand in the front of the teamfight, provide necessary vision and bait out enemy spells.
What makes Pudge unique in this regard, is that unlike many other position three cores played in the same way, he is a lot less susceptible to magic damage, while being slightly more vulnerable to physical damage. As such, he is a pretty great pairing for cores who are susceptible to magic damage.
During the draft the enemy essentially has to decide between having more options of dealing with the enemy tempo-setting offlaner or having more options later in the game against their primary core. It is really hard to burst down Pudge with Magic Damage and you can’t completely ignore him during the fight.
At the same time, if you don’t have enough magic damage across your team, it will be harder for you to successfully complete ganks on the popular carry and semi-carry cores, such as Terrorblade, Troll Warlord, Monkey King or Morphling. The latter two were frequent choices for Team Secret.
Overall it means that few heroes can be overwhelmingly effective against your whole lineup with Pudge, at least not until late-midgame. All while Pudge himself can achieve similar results to Centaur Warrunner and such by simply standing in front, dealing some damage and annoying the enemy, forcing spell usage and reactions through Dismember.
It was really hard to understand why Silencer suddenly became a thing and it is hard to predict whether we will see more of the hero. The hero sounds ok on paper as a support — he has decent stat growth, decent starting armor and somewhat decent starting HP pool. He can harass enemy heroes in lane without drawing aggro through Glaives of Wisdom, while Arcane Curse is annoying to deal with for heroes who like to spam their spells.
At the same time the hero has an abysmal starting movement speed of 290 and has no hard lockdown and as such offers a lot less utility than most other position five supports. He can be decent in lane, slowly poking into enemy health pools and preventing them from using spells to retaliate, but come midgame, it is mostly just Global Silence.
It seems so far Oracle is the only reason Silencer is picked at all. In both games Silencer was present in, he was picked as a direct response to Oracle during the draft. Dealing with a good Oracle player is quite problematic — despite the nerfs to cast range on False Promise it is still an ability that can turn around teamfights.
Most teams defaulted to hunting down Oracle at the start of their initiation, but it frequently leaves them in a pretty bad position, since they have to somehow go past the frontline and be cut off from the rest of their teammates.
You can burst down Oracle, or force him to self-ulti, but then you’ve probably already spent a considerable amount of resources on a position five support. Silencer is a solution to this problem that is pretty easy to execute, since you can use Global Silence as an immediate follow-up to your initiations on other targets.
In a similar manner is also works decently well against many other counter-initiating heroes or heroes who can help with disengagement, such as Earthshaker or Centaur Warrunner. Silencer solves many very specific problems and allows for clean pick-offs every couple of minutes, that can snowball into great teamfights as well. The hero can be worth it for teams who have a clear gameplan of pick-off into objective and have mobile enough cores to fully utilize the extra seconds of relative safety.
For pubs, however, Silencer doesn’t feel like a good fit. Why have a hero that is a silver bullet against some very specific scenarios, when you can have someone like Shadow Shaman or Lion, who simply have more of everything and require less coordination?
MDL Disneyland already brought a couple of surprises and maybe more will come. There are only four CM-available heroes left, who were completely ignored throughout 7.21 long lifespan and three DPC-tournaments: Riki, Techies, Tinker or Treant Protector still might appear on the big stage in Paris and we would love to see and discuss the situations they might be good in.