Throughout the history of Dota, many heroes have been considered overpowered and to a certain degree it is normal—some patches are going to favor certain heroes more. Very few, however, have ever reached the degree of strength [missing hero: outworld-devourer] once had—in the last year only 6.83 Sniper could potentially boast the same degree of popularity and success. Today we’ll discuss the return of OD into pub and pro metas and what changes have resulted in his rise to the top.
Reading the Changelogs
The hero has been substantially reworked in 6.86. Players were at first cautious about OD losing a substantial amount of Intelligence growth as well as changes to the way his spells worked—the numbers did not seem right and the hero was unheard of until later changes.
In the 6.86—6.86c transition, the hero received a series of extremely strong buffs to the [missing skill: outworld-devourer-arcane-orb-5391], where the intelligence steal went from 0/1/2/3 to 2/3/4/5, as well as getting an increased duration. This has put the hero onto the radar for many players—once again he was a dominating force in mid, who could potentially leave the enemy without mana. He could also out-cs/deny most opponents with the help of now static 4-second duration [missing skill: outworld-devourer-astral-imprisonment-5392]—a change which was underlooked by players who simply refused to play him initially.
Little by little the community has adjusted to the changes, resulting in several new builds for the hero and a popularity spike in higher MMR brackets:
The metadata for the hero is among the most interesting ones. His win rate peaks in the lowest MMR bracket at 53.06% slowly falling to “near-perfect” 50.09 in 5k+ games. The pick rate has an inverse trend, where it starts off at 8.50% and rises up to 17.35% in top games.
These trends can be explained in a variety of ways. The hero has a limited amount of natural counters, many of which are somewhat more complicated— Anti-Mage, Nyx Assassin, Pugna etc. need some understanding of the game and decent mechanical skills to be used effectively. At the same time, this limited amount of counter-heroes are all exceptional at dealing with Outworld Devourer. These heroes take away from his main strengths and turn them into weaknesses—with high intelligence and massive mana pool he is an ideal prey for them. It is unsurprising that 5k players are generally more prepared in the drafting stage and more flexible in their hero choices.
The negative win rate trend can also be explained by the fact that the hero is somewhat easy to play. There is a high return on the skill of the player, but the general concept is easy enough and does not require heavy micro or multiple button-presses, as is case with the Invoker, for example.
The positive pick rate trend can be easily explained by the higher degree to which high-MMR games follow the professional meta. The hero has made quite an appearance in several tournaments so far, the last of which was MDL, where he went 23-16 across 39 games—a very respectable result for any hero. It is worth noting that in a competitive environment there are more ways to protect an easily-counterable core—Captain’s mode offers more tools in the drafting stage and the effect of it is underrated by many high-level pub players.
Overall, the hero in his current state seems quite strong in games where he does not get hard-countered. Once again, flexibility of the players and their ability to play a multitude of heroes is rewarded in this patch—keeping in mind these exceptionally strong “glass-cannons” in the drafting stage is important.
Looking through the most popular skill-builds for the hero is somewhat baffling. While the majority of professional players generally stick with a single value point in Astral Imprisonment, most pub players max it out first.
Moreover, pub players generally tend to undervalue the effects of Arcane Orb, sometimes getting a single value point in it until later levels.
Professional players on the other hand tend to max out [missing skill: outworld-devourer-essence-aura-5393] and Arcane Orb roughly at the same time, giving higher priority to both, more often than not even skipping ultimate at level 6.
We are in no position to tell you how to play the hero, yet we can still provide arguments in favor of both builds and discuss their usefulness.
The pub way
Astral Imprisonment used to be the go-to build, when the ability stole intelligence, instead of dealing damage. In its current state, it deals 300 damage in a decent AoE, which is normal for a level 7 hero. Its scaling also offers lower cooldown, all the way down to 10 seconds for a total uptime of 40% in terms of team-fight utility “disable”.
What it does not offer, however, is the flash-farming potential players might be seeking. 10 seconds cooldown on a single nuke will not let the hero take stacks effectively, especially in the current patch.
The level of synergy between Astral Imprisonment and other abilities Outworld Devourer has is also miniscule.
This build is best suited for a game where the start is quite rough or you are at risk of being shut down. It is slightly more reliable and offers more than a failed attempt to snowball with a professional build.
The pro way
The only build for the hero present in the pro-scene revolves around maxing out Essence Aura and Arcane Orb as early as possible, with a potential value point in Astral Imprisonment.
This build offers better harass in lane, where each hit is going to set back the enemy more. It also doesn’t take away from the mid dominance aspect if Astral Imprisonment is taken at least once. On a 22 second cooldown, it can be used once every wave of creeps, won’t unnecessarily push out the lane, and provides an option to contest the rune.
This build also scales better into mid-game and requires less levels total to reach the potential snowball state—the limiting factor on -5 intelligence is a lot stronger early in the game.
The Arcane Orb also synergizes better with the ultimate—[missing skill: outworld-devourer-sanitys-eclipse-5394], since each hit with maxed out Arcane Orb will increase the damage Eclipse deals by 80/90/100 on the target you’ve hit and 40/45/50 on other targets. With multiple hits it is clear why this has a much higher damage potential than maxed out Astral Imprisonment.
What this build does not offer, however, is the ability to farm jungles early on. Not in the sense of flash-farming, but the general, slow process of taking neutral creeps out for gold and XP in case you get harassed out of lane or lanes are not safe.
It also offers less utility in teamfights—the hero becomes a pure damage dealer. It is generally a better option, but while the strategy behind the draft in pro games is set in the initial stage of the game, it might not be the case in pub match-making. It can be the case your team will lack utility and AI build would offer more.
The resurgence of the hero was also followed by several new item-builds.
The previous go-to build of Force Staff into Black King Bar is still present and offers the good net result of high utility and decent damage, while giving decent amount of health. This is by no means an inferior build, but it is certainly less interesting and exciting than the new way.
Drum of Endurance has been found out to be an excellent pick-up for the hero. As a potential snowballing machine, OD desperately needs stats for less gold. Previously, it was not uncommon to see him build several Null Talismans, but Drums are more conservative to the item slots and also give heavily underrated speed passive/active. On a hero with an excellent starting MS of 315, it is even stronger.
Next “new” item choice is Blink Dagger, which is extremely effective in a multitude of scenarios. It is decent as an initiation tool for the hero, as well as a chasing one, but what a lot of people do not realise is the synergy it offers when combined with Astral Imprisonment. Becoming invulnerable for 4 seconds means that you can almost always blink out when surrounded by enemies, not unlike Puck—one of the most evasive heroes. It will also disable blinks on surrounding enemies, making the escape cleaner.
These two “core” items are generally followed by the usual Black King Bar and Rod of Atos, which has proved itself to be a good pick-up on snowballing/tempo intelligence heroes. We have seen Lina utilize it effectively in the previous patch and with the new “Accuracy” buff it is even better. Monkey King Bar is inferior to stats items on OD in terms of DPS and Rod of Atos somewhat fills the missing gap if you are facing evasion, while remaining relatively useful as a strong pre-BKB slow.
Later slots are generally filled with Intelligence stats items. The usual Scythe of Vyse and Shiva’s Guard are all welcome additions to the hero. Scythe is generally better against strong enemy cores and offers more EHP against magical/pure damage (which you should try to negate with BKB), while Shiva’s Guard is better when facing heavy physical damage heroes and provides a decent extra AoE slow/nuke.
It is also worth noting that while having both Blink Dagger and Force Staff might be seemingly redundant, this is not the case. Force Staff is a highly versatile item which can potentially outshine many more expensive items in terms of utility and the stats on it complement OD well. For the same reasons, Eul’s Scepter of Divinity is also a decent pick-up.
From the looks of it, Outworld Devourer is here to stay as one of the staple heroes of the patch. He offers high damage, decent utility and scales really well, while not being useless in early-mid/mid-game. His ability to safely farm mid in the laning stage as well as high damage spikes make him a good choice as a surprise pick, if he can’t be easily countered.
An un-countered “underpowered“ hero is generally going to be stronger than even the most OP heroes if the enemy team is prepared. Saving OD for last pick or forcing the opponent to make suboptimal choices in the drafting stage to counter the hero is a skill to master on its own—be flexible and mindful in your drafts and exploit the openings in the enemy team, without creating them in your own.