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    Dota 2 – Tiny, coming in!

    Every big tournament shows a popularity spike for certain heroes and this time around it is Tiny who took a spotlight, in contrast to the usual Doom and Alchemist we discussed previously. It was a general consensus that the hero was simply not good enough on his own – he needed a Wisp pairing, or at the very least a gifted Aghanim’s Scepter to be effective. However, OG have shown than Tiny can be a strong independent rock who needs no obvious partner to be effective. So what changed?


    6.85 has catered to strength melee heroes in a multitude of ways. Direct buffs to Tiny were quite unexciting – he got his starting stats increased and that was about it. His indirect buffs over the period of the last several patches were a lot more interesting – Manta Style got its melee illusions significantly buffed, while the introduction of Moon Shard has solved two of the biggest problems of the hero – he needed AS while conserving item slots.

    Additionally, the introduction of Lotus Orb made it possible to dispel negative buffs from the hero while the post effect saves him from being kited as much – a very typical problem for melee heroes, less applicable to Tiny with his high MS from his ultimate, but quite annoying nonetheless. Moreover, changes to Butterfly and the introduction of a “flutter” active has further boosted the viability of a hero which does not need to sacrifice stats or game presence for his flash-farming potential.

    Meta Data

    For the most part, the hero is stable in his Win Rate across skill brackets – from <2k to 4k-5k his win rate floats around 48%, and then it suddenly jumps to 52.46% in the highest bracket.

    We believe the main reason behind this sudden jump is the Io win rate in the top MMR bracket – it is much higher compared to other brackets and Tiny is a very natural pairing for the hero.

    Additionally, we feel that higher MMR players have a better understanding of the game and can utilize the fact that most of the damage on the hero is base damage. Vladmir’s Offering, Vengeful Spirit‘s Vengeance Aura and Magnus Empower have a better effect on the hero compared to many other carries. Top players are also generally better at making strategic decisions and are capable of abusing space created by teammates to take towers – something the hero excels at. Finally, there is a flashfarming aspect – teams at higher levels of play are simply better at organizing stacks and controlling them.

    Position & role

    In all honesty, the hero can be played in pretty much any position – he is a very sub-par offlaner and a rather gimmicky support, but these roles are not completely terrible for the hero. (In my opinion, the solo offlane role is completely terrible though).

    For the most part, however, the hero is played as a mid or safelane core – the first maximizes his XP gain and allows for early game dominance, the latter can give a necessary gold boost to secure farming and killing potential of the hero throughout the game. In the mid lane, it is not uncommon to see him come with a lane partner, since his low starting armor and melee range prevents him from effectively trading HP with the enemy and he generally needs help to stand his ground.

    His role can very much depend on the circumstances – he can be a decent hard-carry, a good semi-carry/ganker and, what is very important, he can transition between the roles seamlessly. The changes to gold from creeps/kills which now favors more active (but very careful) gameplay is another reason the hero is currently a top tier pick – he is among the best nukers in the game and this should be abused. Creating space for your other cores to farm or even for your supports to get to the crucial items is a valid strategy for the hero.

    Overall, it makes for a great hero in the current meta which comes online fast, farms fast and peaks really high if played as a core.

    Support Tiny

    The newly used support Tiny in competitive matches deserves a bit of an extra mention. While we would still advise players not to jump straight into ranked with a support Tiny in mind, the idea is quite viable. It generally works better on Radiant, since the pull is a little easier to pull off for you mid, but it can be also played on Dire.

    By tossing jungle creeps onto your own creepwave, you effectively pull said creepwave and deny the opposing mid his creeps. By the time your own creeps have cleared a camp, you can use Toss to pull another camp. The idea behind support Tiny does not solely revolve around pulling the creeps, however.

    To a great extent it concentrates on the utility Toss can give you in the early stages, with teammates who can take advantage from a jump onto enemy. This impromptu Blink Dagger has the drawbacks of not being instant, but can boast an even higher range than the Blink Dagger itself. The hero also has a follow-up stun (albeit with a really low duration and high mana cost) and in many cases it can allow you to finish off unsuspecting enemies.

    Overall, when Tiny is played in as a 4/5 support, his movement around the map is quite similar to the Bounty Hunter – he should try to pressure all lanes (but he needs appropriate teammates for that) and potentially secure an early lead. At the later stage, once he gets a Blink Dagger of his own, he can slowly start transitioning into an independent nuker. His carry potential at this point is out of the question – unless the game goes on for very long, the lost early game momentum will prevent him from becoming a decent semi-carry, and he should generally try to build utility.

    Item and skill build

    The skill build on the hero is almost always the same – you want to have 2/4/0/1 by level 7 and max out Avalanche before taking any points in Craggy Exterior.

    The itembuilds are also less diverse than on the heroes we discussed previously – both Doom and Alchemist can be played in different ways and are a lot more flexible than Tiny.

    Both Phase Boots and Power Treads are viable options when it comes to boot selection. Depending on the relative movespeed of the heroes you are playing against, you might need that extra movespeed burst from Phases, but otherwise Treads give better DPS and are good for a hero with a very limited mana pool if you can tread-switch effectively.

    Drum of Endurance is also one of the most popular pickups and they allow you to be better at catching up or running away from the enemy, as well as boosting your stats. It might be a necessary item in the early stages and it has an easy buildup – without these extra stats you sacrifice farm speed and teamfight potential and the “savings” you get for an earlier Blink Dagger or Point Booster might be lost in a single death.

    Blink Dagger is almost ubiquitously considered a core item on the hero – it gives initiation power and much needed early-game mobility. It also allows you to burst unsuspecting people down with a single Avalanche+Toss (the correct order) combo.

    By tossing the unit in an already cast Avalanche, you can make him take double the damage from the first spell, since he will get hit both on the ground and in the air. The reverse order can achieve the same net damage result, however it will require perfect timing as the window for Avalanche after Toss is only 0.05s

    An alternative or a supplement can be Shadow Blade. It is not the best initiation item, especially against good opponents, but it does provide you with extra MS (while invisible) and AS – something the hero needs. It also builds into a situationally godly Silver Edge.

    Aghanim’s Scepter is what allow Tiny to flash-farm and is one of the mot important items on the hero – I honestly can’t think of a scenario where core Tiny would want to skip this item. Apart from extra attack range and cleave, it also boosts your damage against structures by 75%. Given an already high attack damage on the hero, it makes losing teamfights against him devastating in the late-game. A well-farmed Tiny can pretty much demolish a large part of the enemy base on his own in 30 seconds or less.

    Assault Cuirass complements base destruction and provides necessary armor and AS – it is preferable that tiny gets this item himself, since he needs all the armor he can get. Alternatively, if your teammate has already built an AC (or is building into one), you can go for Butterfly. Your DPS in fights will be even higher (provided the AC carrier is in range), while your survivability is going to skyrocket due to evasion and extra base armor. On top of that, it is no loner a useless item once your enemy gets Monkey King Bars, since the active component can make a lot of difference, especially if you have opted for power treads.

    Moon Shard, as discussed previously, is what made the independent core Tiny come together. Many people underrate the moon shard as a slot item – it gives a huge 120 AS boost and in case of Tiny it is one of the best DPS items – his Attack Damage is already high. The added night vision is also amazing if you can use it properly – 250 units of space where your enemy doesn’t see you while you see him can make a lot of difference.

    Black King Bar might be a necessity, and even though it complements Strength heroes better, it is still not the best slot. If possible, try to play around the enemy spells with self-initiation on enemy disabler or engaging last when spells are on cooldown. Manta Style might be a better option since it also grants MS and AS, on top of giving an option to dispel debuffs. The illusions do not benefit from the extra damage to structures, but they are among the strongest just because Tiny has the highest base damage in the game and has extra melee range. They also benefit from the craggy exterior, making them annoying to deal with if Tiny is tanky enough.

    Mask of Madness can also be an option, but personally I would advise against it – the hero can keep decent tempo without the extra early AS and getting a slot you would ultimately want to sell while sacrificing your own survivability is ill-advised for the hero.

    As seen on Dotabuff

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