No one asked for it, but suddenly there are two carries on your team. It’s a familiar curse for anyone who wants to play core, which is everyone. Usually it starts with the mid lane, where “mid or feed” has evolved into such a cliche that it comes off as partially serious. Everyone marks the mid lane during the pick phase, and then no one budges.
Another familiar situation: it’s the final pick for your pub game, your team already has a carry, and your last teammate is hovering over another one. And he picks it anyway, against the behest of his teammates. There’s a reason positions in Dota are numbered 1 through 5.
But conventions can be broken. Positions and roles offer a good place to start, but they can shift through the course of the game. Usual carries can be supports, who can eventually become carries again. That was the case with Naga Siren, traditionally a slow-building, Radiance core, but also such a potent support that she was a first phase ban against EG during TI5.
Pro teams constantly experiment, but it’s also not hard to imagine that various strategies with 5 position carries came out of the happenstance of multiple pub players wanting to play carry, and one of them was edged over to support. The advantage here is that the focus of pub players tends to fray in the late game, where win conditions are vague and high ground pushes are poorly planned. The long game benefits the team with more cores. This case is as true for low tier pub games as it is for pro games.
Now, the door is open for support Weaver.
VP.Lil Shows The Way
Most recently at The Boston Major qualifiers, VP picked support Weaver and won, validating the many internet theories around how his new Aghanim’s upgrade—allowing him to cast Time Lapse on Teammates—could be used in the support role.
The Swarm duration rescaled from 14/16/18/20 to 16
The Swarm damage from 15/20/25/30 to 20
The Swarm attack rate from an attack every 1.35 seconds to 1.4/1.25/1.1/0.95
Geminate Attack now launches the second projectile 0.25 seconds after the initial one fires instead of after impacting the target
Geminate Attack no longer has a range limit
Added Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade to Weaver: reduces the cooldown of Timelapse to 20 seconds and allows Timelapse to target allied heroes. 1000 cast range
This was only the beginning of some of Weaver’s buffs, leading up to 6.88. From patch 6.84 to 6.88, his base damage increased from 36-46 to 41-51, Time Lapse now disjoints projectiles and its Aghanim’s upgrade cooldown reduced from 20 to 16, and Shukuchi phased him instantly, rather than requiring a fade time.
Weaver can be a solid safe lane carry, because the damage output of Geminate Attack and Shukuchi is more than enough to zone offlaners. It’s for the same reasons that Weaver can be a solid support, despite not having any of the usual skills that supports have, such as stuns and heals. VP.Lil skills Geminate at level 1 and buys Blight Stone first, just to bully the offlaner.
One interesting progression for Lil in VP’s Boston Qualifier game was working towards Diffusal Blade before Aghanim’s Scepter. It’s reminiscent of an old suggestion by slahser. It made sense in Lil’s game because of an opposing Omniknight, but Diffusal Blade also has other benefits. It’s an efficient source of damage, and it provides a cheaper way for Weaver to protect himself than Linken’s Sphere. The purge effect on Diffusal Blade can be used to remove Silence effects, as well as Dust of Appearance (a familiar tactic for Riki players).
Where To Go
Another advantage Weaver has is that he can be invisible, which sounds a little obvious, but it’s an underrated aspect when it comes to support heroes. There’s Riki, Bounty Hunter, and that’s about it. Maybe a lone Treant. Shukuchi not only makes him a resilient support, but also one of the best courier killers.
In VP’s Boston Major game, they leveraged Weaver’s high damage output in a dual lane against Liquid’s safe lane. Supports don’t always need to stun. Weaver’s skill set can zone offlaners, disrupt safe lane farm (why he’s been a viable offlaner in the past), and mess with support’s pulls.
VP steamrolled into the late game, where their 4th position Weaver became another split pusher. Aghanim’s Scepter wasn’t even helpful in the process. It was the final purchase after all of Liquid’s raxes were destroyed.
For this particular match, Weaver was a situational pick, but he has broader viability in pubs, where invisible heroes fare better than they should. One issue may be getting your teammates onboard, but the fact that he has an Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade that benefits teammates may make them more amenable to the idea of a support Weaver, even if he doesn’t really need it to be successful.