We’ll be looking at how the map is played in 7.21. For more on 7.21, make sure to check out Part 1 on Understanding 7.21. Where popular heroes, and jungling was explored.
Continuing from our review of patch 7.21, we look deeper into changes of the items and the map.
More On Lanes & The Radiant Advantage
The Radiant side historically has had better win rates than the Dire side. However, there were some innate advantages to being on Dire, such as the Roshan Advantage, which made a case for teams to strategize around the latter side. In 7.21, it’s difficult, and almost impossible to make a case for the Dire side, since every strategic advantage points towards the Radiant. Many community members would shrug off the disparity to being due to the camera angle being more natural for Radiant, but that simply is not a good enough justification as to why the Radiant Advantage is as big as it is (10% advantage on Radiant). So where did the Radiant Advantage originate, and how are teams abusing it?
Generally speaking, every lane is more beneficial on Radiant. The middle lane gives very easy access to the medium camp, making it more viable for a hero to win the lane by just outfarming their opponent. It’s also very difficult to punish this strategy since the camp is extremely close to the middle tower. The camp can also be killed while staying in experience range of the lane, meaning there is almost no drawback to playing like this. On Dire, the strategy is also possible, however, the medium camp is a lot farther to the lane. Although Dire has easier access to the hard camp, midlaners rarely rely on being efficient with two jungle camps, since the return on investment is very low. At the end of the day, the more time you give the enemy midlaner free farm, the worse it is for you. So the closeness of the Radiant medium camp, make Radiants mid lane superior.
- Red lines indicate how the Dire offlane pulls the hard camp
- Green lines indicate how the Radiant safelane pulls the hard camp
This is where the Radiant advantage is displayed more clearly since many losing lanes on Radiant can win just by having control of the hard camp that’s near the tier 1 tower. The hard camp is extremely easy to access for both supports and cores, to completely deny entire waves of experience from the Dire offlane. This is done by breaking 2 trees, and pulling the hard camp to your friendly lane creeps, and have the hard camp kill the entire wave. It’s possible for the offlane to contest the pull, but doing so would either put them out of position and allow you to make an aggressive play, or it leaves your safelaner to be uncontested for the wave.
Dire is also able to pull their hard camp, but it’s much farther away and easier to punish. Not accounting for the sheer difficulty and precision required to complete the pull, pulling and stacking is almost like giving an advantage to the enemy laner on Dire, because your carry will be unable to help in an engagement at that location. It’s also very accessible for the offlaner to contest.
- Red line indicates how the Dire safelane initiates a pull
- Green line indicates how the Radiant offlane initiates a pull
Many of the principles discussed on the “safelane” section carry over for the offlane. Radiant offlane has better access to pull camps, being able to respond to the enemy support pulling, as well as initiating a pull themselves. This is done without having any clear drawbacks at all. On top of that, Radiant offlane has an easier time invading the Dires jungle camps, because of its easy to abuse the fog of war in that area. There are also many ward spots that are difficult to counter, so keeping a vision in that area is very effective. The Dire offlane will lose waves of experience and will have a high chance of dying when he tries to contest the pulls. Teams like Secret and Liquid have tried to adopt this strategy, by playing their offlane hero in the safelane.
This is the nail on the coffin to the Radiant Advantage, and here’s why.
The most effective strategic move once the laning stage is over, is to invade the enemy sides jungle. Rather than visualizing the Dota 2 map as being divided by the river, imagine it being divided by the mid lane. Once a team builds an advantage from the laning stage, they will begin to control the enemy teams jungle, to take away resources, and have control of their shrine area. As the tier 1 safelane towers fall, it becomes too risky to farm alone on your side of the map, because there is nowhere for your team to TP to help you if you get ganked.
And since the team with the net worth lead wants to invade, the appropriate response from the opposing team is to retreat to the other teams jungle. If both teams come out even from the lanes, one big team fight will occur, and the team that secures an advantage through those fights tends to initiate the enemy jungles invasion.
Why is this invasion so important to this discussion? At first sight, both teams will have access to 2 jungle areas, and be in a position to keep 2 lanes shoved in. However, the top half of the map contains the Roshan Pit, which is why the Radiant comes out on top in these situations. If the Radiant is occupying the Dire jungle, and they win a team fight, they have immediate access to the Rosh Pit, Tier 2 mid and safelane Dire towers, and allow them to build an even bigger advantage. If they somehow lose a team fight, the Dire teams response will be nothing at all. This is because there are no objectives near that area for the Dire team. This makes the risk-reward be exponentially beneficial to the Radiant Side during the mid to late game.
5-minute rune and Siege wagons
Although teams would like to sit in their oppositions jungle for the rest of eternity, there is one catalyst that initiates inevitable conflict every 5 minutes; Bounty Runes. Since the addition of the gold being shared on bounty runes, teams have treated them as another objective to be claimed on the map. The gold advantage they provide is extremely strong, and a team that is able to consistently grab all 4 bounty runes will have a massive net worth advantage. This brings an interesting “comeback mechanic” for losing teams, to coordinate ganks during this time. At the same time, the winning side will be looking to position themselves to have control of these runes, to further build their lead. Even at the first 5 minute mark, lanes tend to dissolve in favor of fighting and controlling the rune spots.
Some of the top teams in the world will force an abrupt end to the laning stage, and many analysts agree that the rune spawns are what initiate this bizarre move. Additionally, every 5-minute interval also spawns the siege wagons, which are extremely valuable to taking down towers. As soon as the siege wagons spawn, a big team fight will occur, usually in the middle lane, to take over the first big objective on the map. The reason teams value the mid tower so highly is that it provides clear control of the Rosh Pit. Taking the mid tower also makes that sides jungle more likely to be invaded, deterring anyone from that side to farm in that area.
This opens up the map, and allows the team that destroyed the mid tier 1 to have access to the enemy teams jungle, and have the ability to easily take the enemy teams tier 1 safelane tower. Doing so gives a massive advantage.
The Farm Triangle and Dead Lane
Every side has its own farm triangle that is an extremely efficient location to get safe gold and experience. These locations are next to a friendly shrine and are on high ground so enemy teams will have trouble ganking you at that location. Most position 1 farming heroes such as Drow, Morphling and Medusa, will abuse these locations, since they do a good job of clearing ancient camps, and put them far away from where the enemy team will be.
Carrying over from the jungle invasion strategy, opposing teams tend to avoid this area, since controlling the enemy teams offlane doesn’t reap many rewards. Because of this, high-level teams will avoid fighting in that location during the early stages, not only because its a difficult location to fight in, but also because translating those team fight wins to objective is almost impossible.
Strategically speaking, if you win a team fight in the opposing enemies farm triangle, you will be able to take the tier 2 offlane tower, which doesn’t give you any more map control than what you already have.
How are teams able to group up as 5?
There is a recurring theme of item pickups, with said items being prevalent ever since the twilight weeks of 7.20. Aura items fit the team fight meta extremely well. There’s so little room to have a split push strategy since they are very punishable. Teams would rather move in groups of 4 or 5, and purchase items that reward that sort of style. It’s not uncommon for teams to have a combination of Vlads, Mekansm/Guardian Greaves and Drums of Endurance spread between their cores.
These items reward early aggression, and also punish opposing early aggression. There’s also a resurgence in items such as Crimson guard, and Pipe of Insight.
This item was considered a dead item for many patches because it seemed to be completely outshined by Helm of The Dominator and Ring of Aquilla. Nowadays, after various balance changes, Vlads is an excellent item pickup for almost any team composition.
Mainly due to the incredible sustain it provides during pushes and team fights, as well as buffing all allied heroes attack damage by 15%. It also provides great defensive utility against high physical damage teams, since it provides 4 armor to all your allies in its massive AoE. Any strategy involving heavy team fighting will have this item be a key pickup as early as possible.
Mekansm And Guardian Greaves
Although Mekansm is not a very strong item compared to other aura items, Guardian Greaves (GG Boots) is a top tier upgrade to it. GG Boots provide nearly imbalanced levels of sustain and armor throughout all stages of the game. One mechanic of this item that makes it such a strong pickup, is that if any of your allies fall below 20% HP, they will receive a whopping 15 additional armor, and 16 additional HP regeneration.
This makes everyone on your team extremely survivable, especially against sustained physical damage. And with GG Boots on your team, the longer the fight goes, the more likely you are to come out on top.
The item became so popular, that it is being built by flashy midlaners such as Lina, and Shadow Fiend. These heroes are able to farm up the expensive item extremely quickly and enable their respective teams to be able to close out games as fast as possible.
Drums of Endurance
Although this item is slightly undervalued compared to the latter two, it’s still a high priority pick up for heroes that love movement speed. It has become commonplace for heroes such as Ursa, Juggernaut, and Razor, to rush this item very quickly, giving themselves and their team a small boost in their early team fight potential. Activating this item will provide all allied heroes in its AoE increased attack and move speed.
Special Mention To Rod of Atos
After being ignored for years, Rod of Atos is finally being picked up in a large number of games (144 games in MDL Paris). It’s likely that the item will receive a small nerf, but generally speaking, it’s in a good place. Heroes that grab this item are heroes that have little catch and like to stick on top of their enemies. It’s common on heroes like Viper, Razor, and Leshrac since enemy heroes will avoid man fighting them, and will prefer to run away. Rod of Atos provides a long-range root, that is not only great for holding enemies in place but also gives heroes the ability to cancel TPs.
And these are the main takeaways from Patch 7.21. Overall, the patch gave room to a lot of creativity in the draft screen, but strategies played on the map were almost like clockwork. The way teams were forced to make moves every 5 minutes was exciting, to say the least, but teams avoid making natural rotations beyond these set times.
Icefrog will most likely work to address this issue first and foremost, since other than a few isolated cases such as Drow, heroes seem to be in a relatively balanced state. Hopefully, the next patch will provide some incentive to attempt strategies that don’t involve grouping up as 5 early on, to make room for ganking heroes such as Puck, Queen of Pain, and Tusk to get some more time in the spotlight.
Map changes are difficult to predict, but altering the farm triangle is an almost sure thing to happen since its very boring for both players and spectators to have a hero sit and farm in one location without being punished for long amounts of time. The main focus will be on fixing the massive Radiant advantage since teams are finding fewer reasons to pick Dire after the coin flip.