With the OGA Dota PIT Minor completed, and in preparation for the MDL Paris Major. Let’s take a dive into what was broken, and what wasn’t in patch 7.21 so far.
Disclaimer: All stats were obtained from www.datdota.com
TL;DR of patch 7.21
With every new patch, the pace of the game gets faster and faster, and 7.21 is no exception. The theme of this patch is which team is able to win that first big teamfight and secure a massive early advantage. This means that popular heroes should have extremely high impact abilities on short cooldowns, or alchemist-esque heroes that secure a massive early net worth advantage faster than any other hero on the map.
After the laning stage and various skirmishes, one big team fight takes place in either teams jungle. The winner of that fight tends to have a really good chance of winning the game. That’s why heroes like Enigma, Sand King, and Elder Titan are prevalent; they have extremely powerful team fight abilities for when a big fight happens.
- Winrate: 61.34%
- Games Played: 238
Nyx is by far the biggest winner of the patch, rocking a 61.34% winrate in 238 games compared to last patches 64% winrate across 14 games (14 in the entire patch!). It doesn’t take an expert to figure out why this happened, but its all because of two extremely strong abilities.
Impale is a slightly difficult to land spell but has a sizable aoe and stuns for a whopping 2.8 seconds. Not only is it an excellent ability for solo pick offs, but its on such a low cool down that its available for when any small skirmish takes place. But the biggest reason why its very strong, is that if a good impale lands on multiple heroes, the teamfight is basically won. The second ability is his ultimate, Vendetta. Vendetta turns you invisible, making you an excellent scout before a big fight, and Nyx being able to take down a crucial squishy target before a fight takes place, puts his team on a very good advantage for the coming fight.
- Winrate: 61.34%
- Games Played: 105
Viper is the Alchemist of this patch. From a 62% winrate across 8 games during 7.20, to a 61.34% winrate across 105 games. Viper is one of the oldest heroes in the game, and no one saw this massive rise in popularity coming. The play style of the hero was, win your lane, fall off late game, and lose the game. But now, Viper’s use their second ability, Nethertoxin, to be one of the fastest farmers in the entire game. With that farm, Vipers build tanky and utility items, and win the game with his absurd team fight sustain. He’s also the OG Guardian Greaves builder of 7.21, the item winner of this patch.
Vipers second ability, Nethertoxin, drops a small puddle of poison, that deals a massive amount of damage on a 6 second cooldown. This enables Viper to farm creeps all around the map extremely fast, and he does it earlier than any other hero. Most heroes need an item like a battlefury, or even a bottle, but viper just needs a couple levels. This ability is also extremely strong in fights, reducing enemy heroes magic resistance and breaking them, causing your predominantly magic damage to hit hard. Viper also makes heroes that rely on passives like Bristle Back border-line unplayable, making Viper a solid deny pick as well.
- Winrate: 57.64%
- Games Played: 229
Ursa was always an extremely strong hero in almost every meta, but he was susceptible to getting kited. The one thing he needed was a small move speed buff. Naturally, Icefrog gave him a massive movespeed buff, making him one of the fastest heroes in the game. All of a sudden, you have a melee lane dominator, able to chase almost any hero down, and able to kill Roshan very quickly. Ursas move speed is so absurd, that players skip Blink Dagger in favor of drums, not only to have a better chance of winning teamfights, but also because it makes Ursa run even faster. What will you do when a bear runs at you at max move speed 20 minutes into the game? You might as well do nothing, because if Ursa wants you to die, you are gonna go down.
- Winrate: 54.15%
- Games Played: 253
Ah, another episode of “who saw that one coming?” Phantom Assassin (PA) was in a similar boat as viper, the hero has been around for quite some time, but never was a dominant force in the meta. PA just started finding her stride at the tail end of 7.20, and here’s why. Since PA was never a strong hero in the meta, Icefroge made sure to give her a stream of small buffs and tweaks to her numbers, in the hopes that he makes her strong without making her overpowered. After a couple years of these small buffs, everyone’s best guess is that he said screw it and reworked one of the heroes abilities.
Lets talk about Blur. Now, smoke of deceit is a very powerful item, crucial for winning team fights, getting pick offs or taking Rosh. PA has a built in smoke of deceit in her blur, and its actually a much better version of it. It should help everyone better understand why the ability is so good with the help of this diagram. Long story short, PA had the ability to safely split push very dangerous parts of the map without being seen, as well as being able to farm massive ancient stacks safely.
- Winrate: 54.15%
- Games Played: 290
With the fall of trilanes, and the rise of the dual lane meta, Dark Seer has found his way into this lane focused meta. Although the hero can be easily countered, hes able to invoke other strategies to win his lane. If Dark Seer has a less than favorable match-up, he creep cuts into the enemy jungle, securing mass amounts of farm. If Dark Seer has a winning lane, hes able to completely bully out the enemy safelaner.
Aura items at hand, Dark Seer transitions to a late game team fight power house. With the help of his insanely powerful AoE surge talent and excellent teamfight control abilities, Dark Seer is the king of the late game for all offlaners. It’s about time too, Dark Seer has all been forgotten for many patches, but his return is a welcome one, since the hero is a fan favorite with his flashy vaccum ability.
- Winrate: 53.75%
- Games Played: 320
Similar to Ursa, Lifestealer is a hero that is very susceptible to getting kited, and values movespeed very greatly. Icefrog gave him a lot of it too, making him one of the fastest heroes in the game. On top of that, Lifestealer was already buffed an excessive amount of times before getting the movespeed buff, so he was extremely powerful in the meta for a short while. But Icefrog giveth, Icefrog taketh away; Lifestealers movespeed has since been reduced once more, and although the hero is situationally strong, there is not a lot of room for a very greedy strength hero in this mid game focused meta. That, as well as Hand of Midas nerfs, all pushed Lifestealer out of meta. But no one will forget his short but commanding reign of terror, even if it only lasted a couple of weeks.
- Winrate: 36.65%
- Games Played: 221
Grimstroke was added to Dota 2 in August 2018, and many considered him to be an Earth Spirit 2.0. The hero was able to dish out massive amounts of damage and control in the early game, making him an extremely valuable pick for many top teams. He also had many strong synergies with other heroes, mainly Lich, allowing for a devastating teamfight combination. However, Icefrog proved to everyone, Grimstroke was in fact an Earth Spirit 2.0, and has received a large amount of nerfs. From being one of the most contested picks in the previous patch, to being an underpowered hero in the matter of months, Grimstroke is a hero who’s reign has rightfully ended. And its for certain, no one misses him.
- Winrate: 39.29%
- Games Played: 168
Tusk just found his way into the meta during the 7.20 patch, holding a respectable 50% winrate, however hes since fallen out of favor due to a multitude of factors. Namely, Tusk has no team fight presence by design. The hero is excellent in ganking lanes during the early portion of the game, but with the Tier 1 mid towers being so close to the river, ganking the mid lane just isn’t a viable strategy anymore. Tusks Tag Team ability does make his laning stronger, being a constant threat, but as soon as the laning stage ends, so does he. If we ever want to see tusk back into the meta, it will take more than a couple number tweaks, but a vast shift in the meta game. He’s definitely a fun hero to watch, so everyone is looking forward to his return.
- Winrate: 39.84%
- Games Played: 123
Pugna has always been a strong last pick hero, able to completely dismantle enemy team drafts. On paper, he makes a lot of sense for the current patch, he’s a midgame focused hero, with very strong pushing potential, but with the rise of Vipers and Ursas, Pugna just cant be as effective with his low HP pool and susceptibility to getting focused. Other heroes also conflict his timings, since Pugna relies on being the strongest hero on the map during the mid game, but items such as Guardian Greaves, and Pipe of Insight, make him completely useless.
- Winrate: 40.97%
- Games Played: 144
Tidehunter has received a number of steady nerfs since patch 7.18. However, Icefrog made one change that completely altered the dynamic of the hero, and that is his Anchor Smash ability. Anchor smash was treated as an attack, and made use of attack modifiers such as Armor Corruption, and Lifesteal, as well as being scaled with Tidehunters attack damage. He was being played in all sorts of odd lanes, such as the mid lane. However, similar to Pugna, with the rise of Vipers and Ursas, as well as the presence of aura items, Tide is no longer a threat to any team. Sure, he has a strong teamfight ability; Ravage, but with the level of Dota right now, players are able to accomplish the same effect of Ravage with something as simple as a Nyx impale. There really isn’t a good incentive to pick Tidehunter, since everyone else does his job better than he does.
- Winrate: 42.46%
- Games Played: 358
Tiny is in the same boat as Tusk, the concept of both of these heroes are extremely similar, gank lanes and look for pickoffs. Tiny has fallen out of the meta for similar reasons; a very weak teamfight presence. The changes to Avalanche did make him a stronger teamfighter, but no where near the impact that some other heroes have to offer. However, the nail on the coffin was the large nerf to his tree grab ability, making one of his strengths; his laning, very weak. From being a hero that was able to deny every single creep from the enemy carry, to not even being able to do that as well as he did in the past, Tiny just struggles to find his place in the meta.