Ogre Magi was one of the iconic The International 2019 heroes. The hero wasn’t particularly successful, but remained incredibly popular throughout the whole event. Why was the hero so highly valued among the professional players and what lessons can we learn from them?
Watch and learn
The latest patch introduced one change to the hero, reducing his starting attack damage by four. While it didn’t make the hero significantly weaker, there is now an argument on what his ability build should be.
During the International a particular ability build for the hero emerged: professional players would start to completely skip Ignite in favor of extra points into Fireblast and Bloodlust. This was the trend for both position three and position five Ogre Magi, as it would ensure the maximum degree of farm acceleration for Ogre Magi’s carry, while maximizing his burst damage potential.
This build would also work wonders in lane, since it could easily turn Ogre Magi and his lane partner into a right-clicking nuisances, while being relatively low-upkeep in terms of mana. However, given the decrease in Ogre Magi’s own attack damage, there is now a counter-trend of going back to the basics with a value point in Bloodlust and maxed out damage-dealing abilities.
This is mostly prevalent among position five Ogre Magi players, since they aren’t as concerned about their own farm and don’t level up as fast, however both ability builds are in fact worth considering for both core and support Ogre Magi. Moreover, there is also a third option, though it is only suitable for support players.
The old school 1-4-1-1 build by level seven still has a lot of merit. Ignite is still the most damage-heavy ability in Ogre Magi’s arsenal—it deals 400 damage at level four, which is somewhat comparable to 2x multicast of level four Fireblast.
The problem with it is that it deals its damage over a very long period. Eight seconds is a pretty long time for regeneration to start to matter and for purge effects to come from allies. It means that this ability is at its best when playing against enemies who are low on escapes and saves and when a long, drawn-out fight will benefit you more than the enemy.
It is also one of the better builds to protect your towers if your team is playing a passive game. Maxed out Ignite will kill the enemy ranged creep and give multicast proc will leave the rest of the lane in a one-shot range.
One value point in Bloodlust is almost non-negotiable since the movement speed bonus is a great farm acceleration even at level one of the ability and is a great bonus during teamfights.
Best suited for core Ogre Magi, this build is all about burst damage in teamfights. While Ignite can boast superior reliable damage, maxed out Fireblast has a much shorter cooldown, meaning that as long as Ogre Magi can sustain himself in the frontline, he will out-DPS the previous build.
Sustaining includes both HP and Mana and while Ogre Magi is a naturally tanky hero, he can still be bursted down. Given a pretty low cast range on Fireblast, Ogre Magi will be forced out of position to deal damage and provide disables and it is the reason we often see core Ogre Magi go for Hood of Defiance early on, typically right after their Midas purchase.
Solar Crest is also incredibly good for when you don’t need to immediately deal with the threat of the enemy magic damage, since it provides both Strength and Intelligence, increasing important health and mana pools for the hero. Moreover, Solar Crest’s Shine can multicast and it is possibly one of the most underrated effects in the game right now, at least in public matchmaking.
This build’s effectiveness is usually halved when playing against enemies who have access to mana burning abilities, since at this point Ogre Magi will most likely be restricted to one or two uses of Fireblast, but it can work wonders against most other lineups.
There is an optional pivot towards a 4-1-1-1 build, but the only reason to go for it is when your team really needs the extra slow, since Ignite’s damage at level one is not particularly great after the five minute mark.
Position Seven Ogre Magi
This is a support build for those rare occasions when everything went terribly wrong across the map from the very start of the game. You are facing a strong dual or tri-lane, your position four support can’t realistically help recover it and the only saving grace is that your lane partner can go jungling pretty early.
In other words, it is “my teammate first picked Terrorblade and got heavily countered in lane” kind of build. In this scenario your best course of action is to make sure your teammate gets at least something in a reasonable amount of time and that means going for an extremely painful 1-1-4-1 build.
Your utility in the game will be a 20% slow and a channeling ability cancel. Your damage will be miniscule, you won’t have any items and in case of a loss, you will likely get the most blame. But it is the correct option in the worst case scenario, since it increases your chances of winning the most.
Since you will most likely be forced out of your lost lane, you won’t be able to reliably Ignite the enemy wave and clear it out, hence the Old School build won’t work. Without access to any farm, you won’t be able to frontline and deal enough damage through Fireblast, so it isn’t an option. What you can do is ensure a steady item progression for one of your cores and then start rotating heavily, trying to squeeze out the maximum out of your slow and interrupt. In many cases an attempt to win the other lane is preferable and more realistic than trying to salvage a lost one.
Choosing the right talent
The last part of this blog post is going to be highly controversial, but going for the +100 Cast Range talent at level ten is what we are going to insist on for the majority of your games. GPM talents are great, they ensure a reliable way of getting gold and allow for timely ward purchases, but at least in this case, the alternative is both intuitively and statistically better.
Core Ogre Magi with Hand of Midas doesn’t really suffer from the lack of gold, while a support one really suffers from the fact that he usually gets blown up as soon as he is out of position when trying to cast a sub-500 cast range Fireblast. +100 Cast Range talent comes into play in every single fight, allowing for much better positioning. It also allows catching targets that would be out of reach otherwise.
It doesn’t mean all GPM talents or bad or that you need the cast range talent when facing a primarily melee-based lineup, but in this particular case this talent doesn’t make a quantitative difference, as it may look initially, but a qualitative one.
Given how most ranged heroes have an attack range of around 600 and how Fireblast with the talent has a cast range of 575, this talent effectively says: if the ranged enemy wants to attack you, he has to get into the range of your stun.
For core Ogre Magi, it means that he doesn’t get hit for free, even when slowed, and it is much harder to kite him. That means that he gets to focus on getting defensive and utility items for his team. For a support one, it means that he gets to play the game and be a much bigger contributing factor when it comes to teamfights.
Aether Lens costs 2350 gold and for the GPM talent alone to provide this much gold, almost 30 minutes have to pass, after Ogre Magi gets level ten. Top it with the fact that it gives unreliable gold that can be lost and it makes sense how surviving and contributing more to the fights will most likely result in a more significant economic advantage.
Other talent choices aren’t as important or as impactful. The choice between health and damage statistically favors the damage one, but it is mostly because players generally go for it when they need extra pushing power in games where they already have an advantage.
+40 Strength vs. +60 AS from Bloodlust is highly dependant on the game and your teammates. Most of the time the first option is preferable, especially on a core Ogre Magi, but the second one can come in extremely handy with Strength carries on your team, who generally lack attack damage.
Finally, +300 Fireblast damage is a game-changer for the hero and is an auto-pick in all games you get to level 25 in. Having a chance to nuke for 2160 damage on an 8-second cooldown is ridiculous. +75 MS has a slight win rate advantage we can’t really explain, but it was also only picked in ~10% of games where Ogre Magi got to level 25, meaning an incredibly small sample size that could be easily skewed by players simply having fun in already won games.