We had several days to get more acquainted with the patch and gather some stats and we are eager to share our findings with you. The shake up was massive and there are a lot of unbalanced heroes, and they are the ones we want to talk about today.
Phantom Lancer feels a little too good stat-wise, in our opinion. The biggest buff the hero received was the universal attack range increase and getting ~10% win rate off the back of that feels wild. Perhaps there is an undocumented change doing some work, or perhaps we are underestimating his new Aghanim’s Scepter and Shard.
The latter is a frequent purchase in higher level pubs. Sometimes players also get it from the Tormentor and it is probably the better way to go around it. Having old Doppelganger back is a nostalgia trip for sure, though spending money on it feels a bit wasteful.
For the most part players simply follow the old progression: optional Hand of Midas into Diffusal Blade, optional Vanguard and Manta Style. There is way too much farm on the map to completely shut down Phantom Lancer, so a good player should always manage to progress.
Having a decent Diffusal upgrade in Disperser is also nice, though it is better reserved for the later stages of the game.
Starting with level two Greevil’s Greed for free is huge for Alchemist. The latest trend for the hero was quite aggressive: a lot of players would get a couple of points in Acid Spray and Unstable Concoction early on for the laning stage. Now Alchemist gets to be aggressive and farm well at the same time.
We and most professional players also agree that Corrosive Weaponry isn’t that good. It is ok as a laning stage value point, but even that is entirely skippable. Instead, getting Acid Spray maxed out is the priority. Skyrocketing net worth-wise through an early Radiance is still the name of the game for Alchemist and it is unlikely to change any time soon.
Bristleback received a massive buff. Having the ability to stack Warpath for “free” while also getting more consistent with passive Quill Sprays was more than enough to breathe new life into the hero.
It seems the new Eternal Shroud is also huge for the hero. Between it and Vanguard, Bristleback can become close to unkillable, while having almost infinite sustain. Though most of the time concentrating on one of those items is preferable, at least until after you get your Aghanim’s Scepter.
Riki is just silly. The hero is supposed to be this trickster-type character, but this is getting ridiculous. Reading patch notes you get to be excited about Valve finally removing Sleeping Dart only to be greeted with one of the strongest new mechanics: ally untargetability.
This means no teammate saves and no defensive items. Between this, the seven armor reduction on Smoke Screen and extra experience from kills, Riki is the strongest snowball hero in the entire game.
The hero received multiple buffs, but the biggest one is probably the BKB nerf. Having the ability to deal damage through debuff immunity is a game-changer for Venomancer, since now he gets to be exceptionally flexible and potent even in the later portions of the game.
Becoming a Universal hero without losing much Strength gain is also pretty huge and there are attempts to make the hero a decent right-clicker, though we don’t necessarily agree with them. Instead, playing the regular magic damage and teamfight Venomancer through tankiness auras and potential Spell Lifesteal seems like the best way to go.
Getting Guardian Greaves and Pipe of Insight seems like a good idea in most games, while getting Aghanim’s Scepter and perhaps Bloodstone should allow Veno to be a decent frontline tank that can’t be ignored, but who won’t go down quickly. And even if he does: post-mortem Poison Nova can be terrifying.
The new patch is definitely fun, but what is even more surprising is that despite all the changes, we don’t really have a lot of OP heroes. The only two that truly stand out are Phantom Lancer and Riki, with most other biggest winners still having sub-55% win rate.
That said, there are a lot of very underpowered heroes and we are going to discuss them in our next blog post. Stay tuned to learn more about the new patch.