Dota 7.13 patch introduced massive changes to the hero attributes, while considerably slowing down the game. Naturally, changes in the meta were to be expected and in fact, in the first couple of days the patch created quite a lot of balance issues. Luckily, they were quickly dealt with in the 7.13b update.
The Strength Effect
Above is the win rate graph for Slardar right after the patch 7.13 introduction and it is probably the most indicative of what was happening in the game in the first day of the patch to almost all strength heroes. Strength heroes were buffed enormously, getting significant increases to their health pools and magic resistances. On average all strength heroes became 10% more survivable against physical damage and 20% more survivable against magical damage.
On top of it, they received a movement speed bonus, previously restricted only to agility heroes. The immediate fall in win rate after the first day is associated with the release of 7.13b, which reduced starting strength for strength heroes, while decreasing their movement speed by 5. As can be seen from this and many other win rate trends graphs for strength heroes, their win rate did decrease after 7.13b, but it is still higher than previously.
One outlier in the whole discussion is Sven:
Unlike the majority of other strength heroes, Sven only got weaker after the patches and given his non-existent presence in the meta, some buffs for the hero in the next hero balance patch are to be expected. With many targets becoming more survivable or faster, Sven is even easier to kite around. Moreover, higher mana pools on intelligence heroes at the start of the game generally mean either more harass or more ways of escaping Sven’s painful swings. It is sad to see this iconic Dota hero being completely ignored and we are hoping Valve will find a way to make him work.
One of the consequences of the patch we expected was that heroes capable of manipulating stats are going to get stronger. Slark, Timbersaw, Outworld Devourer and Undying have the ability to either increase their primary attribute, or decrease the primary attribute of the enemy. Given how primary attributes became more important in the current patch, we expected to see some positive trends for these heroes.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t always the case. Undying more or less followed the same trend as every other strength hero in the game: he got stronger in the first day of the patch, only to get hit hard with 7.13b and return to win rate slightly above what he had before the changes to the attributes.
Timbersaw was completely unphased by any of the attribute change shenanigans. From the looks of it, the hero didn’t care about the patches that much:
Slark recently had a massive breakthrough we missed, but it wasn’t related to 7.13 or 7.13b, but rather to 7.12 from three weeks ago: turns out getting a significant increase for regeneration in lane can result in massive gains in consistency, hence win rate. The hero is far from being a seemingly overpowered nuisance he used to be, but slowly but surely he is getting back into meta.
This leaves us with Outworld Devourer as the only big attribute-manipulating winner of the patch:
The trend is easily explained: there is 25% more mana per an intelligence point, meaning that Arcane Orb deals more damage, as it scales with the mana pool of the hero. Moreover, there is an even higher spell amplification factor for intelligence heroes, meaning that Sanity’s Eclipse deals even more damage and has an even higher potential of one-shotting agility cores. OD is very likely to get nerfed in the upcoming patch, since he already was one of the biggest comfort picks for many teams and only got stronger.
Woe from Wit
Zeus completely ignoring the 7.13 changes
Outworld Devourer is a definite outlier when it comes to intelligence heroes, however. Most intelligence heroes followed a directly opposite trend, compared to the strength ones: in the first day of the patch they lost a massive amount of win rate, gained some of it back after 7.13b, but never truly fully recovered.
The big problem lies in how intelligence heroes became a lot squishier in the new patch, without getting much in terms of their damage output against strength heroes. There is an argument to be made how they no longer have to deal with status resistance in their fights against strength heroes, however the increased magic resistance more than makes up for it.
That means that for the most part heroes with primarily magic damage have trouble dealing with at least a third of heroes in the game, while becoming an easier target for all types of cores. There are certain exceptions, but they are rare.
Despite massive changes, the meta is still in an adaptation phase. Many professional teams still stick to what works best for them, with a varied degree of success. However according to the stats from public matchmaking, it is very likely to change: some heroes are definitely better or worse off after 7.13 and there are bound to be deviations from what we have seen in the last several tournaments.
This patch was a big risk, especially so close to the International. We often bring up our concerns regarding state of the meta during the biggest tournament of the year—as avid Dota fans we want the games to be diverse and for teams to have an identity during the tournament, which is only possible when different playstyles are viable.
It is too early to tell whether this patch is a step in a right direction, as it created as many problems as it solved. But with a tighter schedule of patch releases and the amount of high level professional games there is a good chance the currently chaotic balance will get fine-tuned. And an undeniably positive aspect of this fine-tuning, at least for the pub players, will be that we will see more exciting and significant hero changes in the upcoming days.