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The last two LAN finals saw the return of two heroes who have been forgotten for almost over a year. Both Jakiro and Razor seem to make a comeback to the professional meta, filling the second phase “core pool” pick niche. They are not incredibly flexible or particularly overpowered, but they get the job done and they start doing it from the very start of the game.
When it comes to buffs, the hero has received some very strong quality of life improvements: Eye of the Storm no longer has a cast point or cast backswing and prioritizes Static Link targets. It makes the hero’s damage and armor reduction significantly more consistent, making him a much stronger “anti-carry”.
Razor does not necessarily deal a lot of damage on his own. Neither does he bring a lot of utility, apart from formerly unreliable armor reduction and some flying vision once in awhile. But he doesn’t allow the enemy team to deal damage either.
During a rather large timing window, depending on his skill build, he can completely shut down one physical damage carry, making heroes like Templar Assassin, Sven and even potentially Ursa completely useless for the second half of the fight. It makes fighting against the hero pretty hard with a lot of currently popular meta heroes. And what’s even worse, a lost fight will allow the hero to quickly take down an objective, given it took place close to one of your structures.
It leaves the enemy in a weird place—on one hand teams with Razor generally take a lot of time to take down structures and fighting them can be very problematic, especially in the early-mid game, when your initiators do not have gap-closers and you might lack necessary burst. On the other hand—giving away objectives for free, even if the process is quite long, is ill advised in a patch where map control importance is at an all time high.
Skill, item and talent builds for the hero reflect his position as an “anti-carry” rather than conventional carry. Most players opt for an early stats item in the form of either Drums or Dragon Lance and the start building towards Aghanim’s Scepter. If the game pace doesn’t require or doesn’t allow them to go straight for Aghs, the next slot is usually filled with either Sange and Yasha against melee cores for increased kiting potential or Blade Mail, if Razor is facing a lot of AoE, teamfights and burst damage.
Talentwise, most professionals seem to agree on a +15 Agility into +175 Cast Range into +400 Health progression. The finishing talent is the Static Link buff, which increases the maximum potential stolen damage to 336.
There is also the diminished focus on Static Link and Unstable Current in the early game and an increased one on Plasma Field. Previously, in certain games, it was a value point skill—you got it once for the flying vision it grants, to make juking you impossible. Right now, after the 7.00 took away attribute bonuses, it became a viable option and a distinct source of damage as well as a farming tool. It also allows Razor to passively stack the closest sidelane neutral camps, while dealing some damage to them, all without leaving the lane. Alternatively, he can stack two neutral camps at the same time. It makes farming a bit faster for a hero who is somewhat lacking in that department, potentially allowing him to extend his timing window and stay a relevant core for longer.
Jakiro fills a similar niche to a recently discussed Shadow Shaman. He is a reliable support with good pushing potential. Unlike Shadow Shaman, he also deals a lot of damage and can be incredibly powerful in aggressive tri- or dual-lanes. His teamfights presence is also slightly higher, given the amount of AoE spells he has access to.
He is also one of the tankiest supports in the game, rivaled only by selected few. He pays for it with rather annoying cast points and attack animations, but once you get used to it, the payoff can be massive. His spells have relatively low cooldowns and mana cost, allowing him to constantly use Dual Breath in lane. Once the enemy is under the effect of this spell, he has no other option but to run—fighting with more than -60 Attack Speed and under the effects of slow is close to impossible.
The hero is also excellent at taking down early towers. While the damage on Liquid Fire is not by any means overpowered, the AS reduction on the towers greatly increases the lifespan of your lane creeps. Given the increased power of siege creeps, timing pushes with Jakiro are strong both in theory and in practice. While tower is dealing with the regular wave, you can secure several extra catapult hits and against certain lineups taking a sub seven minute tower is almost trivial.
His pushing potential doesn’t diminish too much later in the game and he can be an actual split-pushing threat in the later stages. Given how fast he can deal with a creep wave and how well he can protect his own creeps, solo Tier 2’s are not out of the question and the hero is also amazing at cutting creeps.
His build is quite flexible, but has one thing in common across all pro-players: they generally focus on Liquid Fire and Dual Breath Early on, for 3 to 5 levels, ending up with a 2-0-3 or 1-1-3 build by level 6, but then fully switch and commit to Ice Path as a premier disable for the hero. When split-pushing is not an option at all, even maxing out the Liquid Fire becomes unessential—the added damage and AS slow is rather small for it to make a big enough difference to compensate for 0.5s of Stun.
Talentwise the hero is more or less in line with most other supports—he highly values early extra XP and GPM, even when the latter is contrasted with a +400 Attack Range. The “siege engine” Jakiro is powerful, but it is not always you get the chance to fully utilize the ability to slowly chip down towers. Take it only if you have absolutely no other options to push with your team, otherwise the usual in and out with Liquid Fire will do the trick.
Level 25 talents are both extremely powerful. 3.75 AoE stun is massive, but so is a huge amount of spell immunity piercing damage. And given the early +25% XP talent level 25 is an actual possibility. It also generally comes at a time, when enemy BKBs are at 5 seconds, making the second option seem a little bit weaker and making the first one slightly more appealing. Nonetheless, either option is extremely powerful and your decision should be based on the situation you are presented with.
When it comes to itemization, the hero can be quite flexible. As a position 5 support hero, Jakiro rarely gets access to a lot of items, especially early on. But he doesn’t suffer from mana problems or lack of survivability as much as typical supports do. This allows him to save for bigger utility items from the get go and even a first pick-up Lotus Orb is not out of the question. There is also an argument regarding Midas, for the same exact reasons—the hero is well-rounded and doesn’t need too much to already be effective. However, if the situation asks for it, Force Staff can and should be a number one priority.
The heroes discussed today are gaining momentum in the pro scene, but their fate in pubs is uncertain. Both Razor and Jakiro are highly effective heroes, but they can be pretty boring and tedious to play. They are hard to make flashy plays with and they are rarely worthy of highlights. The latter is also very dependant on team coordination to be fully effective both in teamfights and during split-pushes. Sadly, it means that both heroes are going to remain in the second half of the popularity list.