The new meta has begun to take shape in Dota now that we are several weeks removed from patch 7.28. With the DPC qualifiers in full swing, there is also a growing pool of data about what the pros are prioritizing. In some ways, the meta is quite similar to patch 7.27 but there are quite a few important heroes to pay attention to. Here is what we have seen so far in the support pool of 7.28a.
The Best of the Patch
Keeper of the Light
Just from reading the patch notes Keeper of the Light seemed like a big loser. The idea of having to purchase back your Will O’ Wisp ultimate for 4200 gold did not seem like a fair trade-off for the return of Spirit Form. In practice, Keeper might be the single best hero in the entire patch. Spirit Form’s 40-second duration and 90/80/70 cooldown structure gives you massive uptime on the ability to globally recall teammates and fight with Blinding Light. It also seemed like without Blinding Light, that Keeper’s laning stage might suffer but Solar Bind has given the hero significant kill potential, and Illuminate is one of the most damaging spells in the game at level one.
All in all, Keeper of the Light takes a bit of coordination between teammates to fully utilize but can empower nearly any lineup to incredible aggression and farm with Recall. Plus, you can still become a huge team fight menace in the mid-game as the hero tends to accumulate more than enough farm to get a later Aghanim’s Scepter just by depushing waves with Illuminate.
Nyx Assassin is one of those heroes that only joins the meta with the right amount of buffs and certain heroes being popular. In 7.28a Nyx potentially counters almost every single popular hero including Keeper of the Light. Nyx is being banned in nearly every pro game because, despite a mediocre laning stage, he is able to shut down most strategies single-handedly. The mid lane Spirit heroes are nearly unplayable against a good Nyx and almost all the popular carry heroes rely on some form of passive or elusivity to be effective.
Nyx Assassin has been getting incremental buffs for a while now and his damage numbers are quite impressive once he hits level six. The new Aghanim’s Shard upgrade is one of the best in the game, allowing Nyx to instantly become the fastest hero on the map and delete support or Intelligence heroes from the game with the added magic damage burst potential.
The hero meta has shifted a bit since patch 7.28 but the game remains focused on the carry role. Late game, farm-intensive carry heroes still dominate the meta and this means that strong laning supports are essential to success. As a hard support, some of the biggest impact you can have is by playing the role of braindead idiot. Tanking damage, winning trades, and running in to die first for the team are all big parts of the role right now. As a result, being a beefcake has a lot of benefits, especially if you provide a lot of teamfight impact by just existing.
Bane has returned to the meta somewhat and continues to be one of the most frustratingly impossible heroes to trade with. The strong lockdown from Fiends Grip can have massive impact and the cool Aghanim’s Shard upgrade rewards excellent positioning in the mid and late game.
Undying continues to embody the hard support role in a big way. A brainless zombie, tanking punches for this team while healing them and waddling around team fights with his zombie horde. This hero has fallen a bit but can still enable even the weakest carry to free farm in most lanes.
Ogre Magi, like Undying, requires little to no effort to pull off and somehow remains quite entertaining to play. The hero is still as tanky as ever and simply puts his body in between any aggression and the farm of his core. As the game progresses, Ogre is still one of the best heroes at enabling a strong right-click-based carry with Bloodlust. As long as you’re buying small support items like Glimmer Cape, Medallion, and Vladmir’s Offering instead of rushing a Midas, this is one of the easiest supports to win within the game.
Elder Titan is a bit of a niche hero but also one of the most dangerous in experienced hands. With good neutral camp management in the laning stage Elder Titan can absolutely annihilate an opposing lane with his Astral Spirit buffed right clicks. After a strong lane, Elder Titan falls back into his role as one of the best team fighting heroes in Dota and can both delay hard games or ramp up the aggression in good ones. Natural Order also continues to be one of the best counters in Dota do the big scaling Agility cores that have taken over the carry role.
The foursome of Earth Spirit, Tiny, Rubick, and Phoenix have been deeply entrenched in the meta since early last year. Even after several rounds of buffs, these primarily position four heroes all make very solid first pick material. Tiny and Earth Spirit both offer some of the best early roaming potential to kick off a hero killing snowball. Meanwhile, Rubick and Phoenix are still reliably winning team fights well into the late game. The Dota player base has definitely learned how to play against all four of these heroes but their impact is still felt in all but the worst of games.
Heroes to Look Out For
Bounty Hunter has begun to make a name for himself thanks to a powerful new Aghanim’s Shard and the lack of gold on the map. Right now, the most effective strategy seems to be four heroes running around fighting while a late-game carry farms. Few heroes are better at this kind of play than Bounty Hunter as successful ganks rapidly turn into an overwhelming gold advantage for the entire team. The hero is also one of the best counters to both of our overpowered overlords Nyx Assassin and Keeper of the Light.
Crystal Maiden has quietly begun to climb the power rankings in the professional scene. The hero is a deceptively strong laner and can earn a ton of early kills when paired with an aggressive carry like Monkey King or Ursa. As always, CM’s aura has a huge effect on a team’s ability to stay active on the map and her strong root from Frostbite has gained a lot of power against the slippery cores like Void Spirit, Ember Spirit, Phantom Assassin, and others.
Shadow Shaman is one of those heroes you often forget about until a really skilled player picks it up. Right now, pros like Crit and GH have been absolutely spamming this position four in their pub matches to massive win rates. Opting for a more fight focused build around the Hex and Shackles, Shaman seems to basically feed teammates kills throughout the early and mid game. His Serpent Wards continue to be one of the best tools in Dota at taking objectives and with the new Aghanim’s Shard and a little extra farm Shadow Shaman can solo kill most heroes with a full combo of abilities.
Whether you are a position four player or a hard support, there are plenty of options available in the current patch. What have been your go-to support picks for patch 7.28?