Every patch has its own selection of extremely popular, but objectively weak heroes. There might be a new, interesting mechanic to play with, or perhaps a recent buff to the hero. The end result, however, is almost always the same: players insist on playing the character in their pubs and unnecessarily lose MMR because of it. Today we are going to discuss such heroes and why they should be avoided.
Mars hasn’t been a good, game-winning hero for a very long time. The reason behind his professional scene popularity is two-fold: he is a block-pick against many ranged carries and he has a way to reposition his enemies, which is valued incredibly high, though it is quite hard to pull off.
In average level pubs, picking this hero is objectively game-ruining. His winrate across all brackets is consistently below 47%, so it isn’t even a question of skill: Divine players and above generally know how to play the game and how to press their buttons well. Even they fail to utilize the hero’s kit most of the time.
In some sense Mars should be considered a specialist, niche hero. Akin to Earth Spirit, Broodmother and pre-Horn Toss Magnus, playing Mars requires a very deep understanding of all the intricacies as well as developed muscle memory.
The hero does have a deceptively high skill ceiling with Spearbacks and double Spearbacks with the Shard. His Bulwark toggling can also create a lot of great moments, and can even allow him to skip the turn animation for aforementioned Spearbacks. Pulling those off consistently will require a lot of practice and even then will not guarantee success, which is why we recommend avoiding the hero for now.
Phantom Assassin had a week of absolute pub dominance, but then, despite receiving somewhat minor nerfs, her winrate plummeted to a point, where she is once again close to unplayable. The hero is at ~43% winrate in Divine+ games this week and there are multiple reasons for it.
One is obvious: the hero is weaker in the laning stage and scales slightly worse. Her good talents are now bundled together at the same level and her level ten talents are now extremely weak.
On top of it, players once again started playing faster. At the beginning of every patch, late-game scaling heroes tend to jump in winrate simply because everyone is experimenting, artificially prolonging the games. Phantom Assassin is a very strong late-game carry with amazing Shard and Scepter, both of which can be consumed without taking a slot. She is fine playing a long game, but she is given the opportunity less frequently nowadays.
Finally, we are slightly worried that something about the hero might not be working as intended. The nerfs in the last patch reduced her Agility and Strength growth by 0.2 points each, for a difference of six attributes at level thirty.
She also lost one Base Damage and 40 starting HP. The latter is a big deal for the laning stage, but even when considering a now underwhelming +0.5 Phantom Strike talent, it shouldn’t have resulted in a 6%+ winrate drop. Do keep an eye out on the hero: perhaps there is an unintended or undocumented change involved.
Puck received pretty harsh direct nerfs for two patches in a row, and coupled with the removal of the small mid camp is now in a pretty tough spot. They are a very high risk, high reward hero nowadays and while there are still very few heroes who can be that great of a setup for a well-coordinated professional team, playing the hero in pubs is a bit iffy.
The biggest problem for the hero is that he no longer functions as well as he used to with Witch Blade alone. Because of his high Illusory Orb speed, Puck could go for stat and fighting items early on, being a great asset during ganks.
The Witch Blade build should still remain the default one, it is still one of the most cost efficient items in the game. But it will prevent Puck from being that much of an asset during teamfights: pre-Blink Dagger finding a good Dream Coil will be considerably harder.
The end result is a hero who can still be very strong, can still be an asset to their team but are now outclassed by many other midlane cores with setups. Very few of them will have the same amount of crowd control, even fewer will be as elusive, but most of them will have a much better time in their lane and will be considerably more useful during the early midgame.