Dota is at its best when experimentation and creativity are allowed to shine. This usually coincides with the beginning of the patch lifecycle. Today, almost six months into patch 7.30, finding something new and exciting can seem impossible, but we don’t believe it is the case. So instead of adding to the complaints about how long we’ve been playing the same exact game, we will concentrate on several heavily underutilized heroes who could break the perceived monotony of your pubs.
You can’t go wrong with a support Omniknight and yet he is still among the least popular heroes of the current patch, despite a 53%+ win rate across all skill brackets, going as high as 54% in Archon.
With Phantom Assassin and Wraith King being the most popular carries, there is a lot you can get out of a timely Guardian Angel, but even against other popular meta heroes like Queen of Pain and Spirit Breaker, he can do a lot. Heavenly Grace is, without a doubt, one of the best save abilities in the game that can also be used preemptively.
One of the reasons Dark Seer made it back into the meta was his Aghanim’s upgrade, which adds 275 HP to its targets. Omniknight and his Heavenly Grace add 760 HP. Naturally, it keeps the current health percentage and when appropriately used as a save on an initiated target it will probably give slightly less, but even on a target with 50% remaining health points it is a 380 HP heal. With a potential 300 HP heal follow-up from Purification.
While it might be at its best when paired with a Strength hero like Wraith King, so that the benefits of extra Strength also translate into extra DPS, it also does wonders on every single squishy Agility core in the game. For a hero like Phantom Assassin, for example, it more or less translates into 50% extra total HP, which is stupidly overpowered and can completely change the item progression and tempo of the hero. Same logic and reasoning can be applied to a vast majority of other carry heroes.
Yet, barely anybody plays the hero. His most popular skill bracket is Archon, where the hero is picked in less than 3% of the games. Even somewhat similar Abaddon gets twice as much love as Omniknight and perhaps it is time to give this support a try. Or even try the hero out in the offlane role, but do make sure you have an initiating position four support on your team, otherwise it can be really hard for your lineup to start a fight.
Very few players like to micro. Even fewer know how to actually do it well. Of this already limited subset, only a portion plays Brewmaster and we believe it is a mistake, especially in the current patch. Because Brewmaster isn’t hard. He isn’t complicated. And he is borderline overpowered.
A seemingly complex micro hero has to be busted to win 52%+ of his games in Crusader and below. Chen, Visage, Brood etc. are all well below 50% win rate in this bracket, with Meepo being the only exception and we all know who the majority of “Meepo players” in Crusader and below are.
Brewmaster is busted for several reasons, but the most important one right now is probably the Aghanim’s Sceptre upgrade. Having two charges of Primal Split allows the hero to be extremely aggressive, while the ability to fold back into one entity at any Brewling location makes an already elusive and hard to deal hero even more so.
Moreover, across three Brewlings, you have a total of three active skills, making micromanaging them not particularly hard. You have your basic ranged stun, your annoying tornado effect and you also have a dispel, which can be really handy in some games, especially against heroes like Pugna, Necrophos and most illusion-based carries.
There is also Void Brewling which isn’t overly impressive, but for 1400 gold can be a worthwhile purchase after the core items, if only for an extra 3.2k HP target with decent DPS for the enemy to deal with. While the attack damage on the Void Brewling is pretty low, it has very low BAT, which in conjunction with disarm can be devastating against Templar Assassin specifically and many other right-clicking cores in general. Though auras and survivability should generally take priority.
We never thought we would have to remind players about Rikimaru, but here we are. Somehow the hero has fallen out of favor and while he isn’t as obscure as the previous two entries, he is still below 5% popularity in 3k+ games.
He shouldn’t be. A potentially highly aggressive core that can heavily punish many of the current meta staples with an early level of Smoke Screen and has decent late-game scaling on top of a solid laning stage should not be ignored. Riki is a very high risk, high reward hero who is as likely to obliterate the de-facto meta trendsetter in Queen of Pain, as he is likely to be obliterated by her. But it is always going to be fun.
Overall, the hero didn’t change much in the last couple of years. He is still mostly played around his Diffusal Blade timing, with a potential Orb of Corrosion or Falcon Blade pit stop. He is still mostly reliant on Tricks of the Trade to deal damage and survive the first couple of 5v5 teamfights and he still does nothing to towers, which is something to keep in mind when drafting Riki. It’s good to have something like Jakiro on your team.
The only deviation from how the hero has been played historically is perhaps his shard. Sleeping Dart is not a Diffusal Blade substitute for the early game, but it can free up a slot later on, once Diffusal loses some of its relevance. Moreover, much like Brewmaster’s Cyclone, it can turn a fight into a 4v5, and Riki generally doesn’t like head-on fair engagements. Overall a worthwhile consideration, but once again, survivability and elusiveness should take priority.
Patch 7.30 will be the longest patch in the game’s history, but over its course we actually had several slightly different metas, which makes it less of a problem. We’ve had Tinker annoyance, followed by TI meta, followed by a short OP Marci period. Then Spirit Breaker and OD started creeping up with their incredibly disruptive gameplay and right now we and the meta are mostly being dominated by QoP.
The last several developments were on the same alphabetical version as well and the point we are trying to make is that while the game might have had the exact same map, abilities and items for 95 days and counting, there is still room for meta development. So let’s stay positive, patient and have fun playing this incredible game.