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    Dota 2 – What We Can Learn from ESL Birmingham

    ESL Birmingham gave us a quick glimpse of things to come in the upcoming DPC tournament. With a fair format, prolonged group stage and lower stakes, we have seen a lot of new and interesting strategies and hero picks. Today we would like to have a look at what might stay and what might go, given the recent 7.22c patch.

    Sven is here to stay

    Sven shouldn’t surprise anyone as a top pick of the tournament and will probably continue to be dominant in the professional scene and in pubs. The hero lanes well, farms fast and scales just enough to be at his absolute peak around the time the game ends.

    The average match duration was around 38 minutes, which is around 2.5 minutes longer than in the previous patch, generally allowing Sven to become six-slotted and have enough of an advantage to kill most other core heroes within the BKB-window.

    It should be great news for most pub players, since the hero is quite straightforward to play. Max Great Cleave, hit jungle creeps for ~10 minutes, rotate for defenses, and then destroy the map with the economic advantage.

    Troll Warlord is overrated in both pubs and pro-play

    Sub 50% win rate in pubs and sub 40% win rate in the professional scene make Troll Warlord one of the most overrated heroes in the current meta, given his popularity in both cases. Players have learned how to deal with the hero.

    Moreover, the hero doesn’t really do much in terms of abilities. Slow, Root and Blind are good effects, but their teamfight impact is heavily outclassed by disables. Troll auto-attacks really well, but this meta calls for either much faster farming capabilities or higher independent teamfight presence.

    The whole dynamic absolutely changes when Troll is paired with Magnus, but even then it isn’t an ultimate combination. Given the nerfs to Whirling Axes in 7.22c the hero is now even slightly worse and there are more reliable and consistent position one options in the game.

    Warlock and Shadow Shaman are always worth considering

    Shadow Shaman needs no introductions or explanations. The hero has two really strong disables, offers great pushing power and has considerable damage output when played as a position four hero with maxed Ether Shock. The hero is successful in both competitive and pub scenes, though the starting 10 AS reduction might hurt him quite a bit—the malus for having sub-hundred AS is quite large.

    Warlock is slightly newer, when it comes to the competitive scene and high level pubs. Longer average game time and harder pushes means there is now more reason to pick greedier core heroes, who don’t necessarily dominate their lane, but can become absolute monsters in the later stages. That generally calls for defensive supports and while Warlock is far from his 7.17 days with constant Shadow Word spam, he still ensures the safety of his carry decently well.

    Given how sometimes teams are bringing three heroes to a lane, frequently forcing the enemy team to respond in kind, the changed Fatal Bonds are also much better as a lane pressuring tool, dealing chip damage and disincentivizing the enemy to play aggressively.

    Chen might still be strong

    In our patch overview we highlighted how we couldn’t even guess how well the reworked hero is going to turn out and given almost 75% win rate during ESL Birmingham, we now know he turned out pretty well.

    But then Valve decided to go on and change the hero once again, taking away the extra damage aura from Divine Favor, while increasing the regeneration by one at all levels. That means that once again, we have no clue whether the hero is going to be better or worse.

    On one hand extra regeneration can really help with sustain in lane. On the other hand, the extra damage was frequently a deciding factor during the last hits and denies. The hero definitely got slightly less aggressive and more defensive, but we don’t know whether he’s gotten better or worse overall. Though his trends page doesn’t show much of a change after 7.22c was released.

    Closing Thoughts

    Dota is a constantly evolving game and things that were true yesterday are not necessarily going to be true tomorrow. More importantly, sometimes things change without external output—players simply learn to deal with certain things, discover new things or try out old templates with the new rules of the game and might find them surprisingly effective.

    This blog serves as a guideline for what over performs and under performs the most in the current meta, but it is by no means a definitive answer to what any given player should play in any given game. Be prepared, be knowledgeable, but most importantly, be creative.

    As seen on Dotabuff

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