Although it seemed like there was no end in sight, a new day has finally dawned in DOTA 2 and Patch 6.85 has been released to the waiting community. It brought about many small changes to a lot of heroes and items (to avoid disrupting the meta too much before the Frankfurt Major in November), and made a few larger changes as well. Before you charge into your next pub game, here are some preliminary thoughts on the important changes, so you know what to expect:
Batrider– Flamebreak’s damage got a pretty significant boost, but his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade is where Batrider truly shines in this patch. Giving him the ability to lasso two targets really amplifies his late game pick-off potential. Don’t be surprised to see a rise in offlane Batrider picks.
Bloodseeker– The heal on bloodrage has been lowered at early levels. This, combined with a pretty hefty nerf to his Thirst passive, means the Bloodseekers you see in your games are going to be healing and moving a lot less quickly than they were before.
Bounty Hunter– Being one of the strongest heroes in 6.84c, primarily due to his Track ability, he was due for some nerfs. The bonus gold rewarded from Track kills has been lowered at all levels, and the vision provided by tracked enemy heroes has been reduced, now showing only the target, rather than the area around them.
Chen– Penitence gets a small buff, Test of Faith gets a heavy mana cost and cooldown reduction, and there were even buffs to the abilities of Ancient creeps; Chen is getting a good amount of love this patch. His late game is going to be a significant amount better than it had been in the past.
Elder Titan– Getting some much-needed offlane buffs this patch, the mana cost of Elder Titan’s Ancestral Spirit is getting a hefty reduction at early levels, and it gives him more auto-attack damage per creep. This, combined with the increased radius on Echo Stomp, makes his early laning significantly better, able to more effectively use the spirit to farm and fight.
Lina– Lina is taking a big hit this patch. She, like Leshrac (who will be discussed a little later) was one of the best heroes last patch, so she’s taking a heavy hit to her Light Strike Array damage as well as to her Laguna Blade damage. This, combined with the nerfs to items (which will also be discussed later) she likes to buy, make her a much less stable midlaner/carry than she had been in the past.
Necrophos– With significant early-level damage buffs to death pulse, and much better regen off of his Sadist passive, Necrophos seems poised to become a stable midlane pick this patch.
Nightstalker– Going from .2 health regen to 2 health regen is just the movement of a decimal point one space to the right, but it makes a world of difference to an offlane Nightstalker. Now he has regen akin to that of Nyx Assassin, in a much more stable package. Plus, with the nerfs to Bounty Hunter, his nighttime vision isn’t so easily used against him.
Ogre Magi– Adding an additional point to his already crazy amount of base armor, Ogre Magi sits at a whopping 8 armor level one. That, combined with some nice bloodlust buffs means we could be seeing a resurgence of this hero in competitive play.
Techies– Longtime enemy of people who want to have fun in DOTA 2, Techies received some interesting changes this patch. Their landmines got their cooldown and mana cost cut in half and they can place an infinite number of them, but their damage was halved as well. In addition, they no longer trigger when destroyed as opposed to being stepped on, they cannot be stacked on top of one another, they give a 10 gold bounty, and they no longer block camps. It’s a lot different than what we’re used to, but it’s hard to say if that’s a good or bad thing right now.
Tusk– A very popular offlane choice in the competitive scene, Tusk got hit by some nerfs this patch: a mana cost increase to his Ice Shards, the max launch time of his Snowball is now 3 seconds instead of 4, and his Frozen Sigil no longer pierces BKB. Despite these setbacks, he’s still one of the premier roamers and gankers in the game, this just makes him have to work for it a bit more.
Warlock– A hero on the fringes of viability, Warlock received only one massive change this patch: his golems can no longer be destroyed by the purge from Diffusal Blade. This makes his midgame push insane, as many teams will have trouble dealing with the damage and health of the golems, without diffusal to instantly dispatch them.
Wraith King– A hero that couldn’t really hack it as a carry or a support, Wraith King had trouble establishing dominance in a solo lane. With a buff of 7 to his base damage, he is now much more viable as a carry, able to handle a lane on his own and maybe even get a kill or two while he’s doing it.
Bloodstone– It was one of the best snowball items in the game. For heroes like Leshrac and Storm Spirit, it meant nigh-unlimited amounts of mana for them to use to fight and farm at low risk. Now the item gives less regen per stack, does not reduce the amount of gold lost on death, and does not give experience/vision at the location of the death, making it a weaker pickup on these midlaners.
Eul’s Scepter of Divinity– This item took a steep reduction in range this patch, making it harder for burst carries like Lina and Leshrac to execute their combos without getting closer to their target.
Glimmer Cape– A strong item even after the nerfs, Glimmer Cape was the best support item in the game due to the safety it gave to an ally. Now the magic resistance buff has been reduced, the cast range reduced, the fade time increased, and it can now be purged from the target.
Medallion of Courage/Solar Crest– The debuff from these items is now only half as effective against Roshan, making attempts to take Roshan in the early game a lot slower and thus, a lot riskier.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, – Terrorblade
Terrorblade, despite spending so much time looking in the mirror, has always had a bit of an identity crisis. When he was first released, he was considered by everyone to be brutally overpowered, and he’s been in a constant state of flux ever since, going from over-tuned to under-tuned to over-tuned ad infinitum. Going into patch 6.85, Terrorblade was in a not particularly great state: his stat gain was weak, his illusions were too easily dispatched to splitpush well, and his ability to teamfight was much weaker than other carries, as he had to play around a 140 second cooldown for his damage, and his other abilities failed to offer much in the way of utility/damage for his team.
Reflection, in particular, has always been the sort of “black sheep” of Terrorblade’s kit; a short range, single target, slow (admittedly, significant one), that created an illusion of the target hero that attacked them relentlessly. It was clunky, hard to get in range for, and it wasn’t very good until you put more levels into it, and those skill points very generally were better spent on stats.
With patch 6.85, his role as changed greatly. Reflection is no longer a nearly useless, single target slow. It now has a 900 radius AoE, centered on Terrorblade, that creates slowing, untargetable illusions of all enemy heroes in the radius. The slow is less powerful, but this makes Terrorblade into a much more powerful, teamfight-based carry. At max rank, these illusions last five and a half seconds, and deal 100% of the base damage of the enemy heroes they reflect. Additionally, any auras that those heroes had are shared with Terrorblade for the duration. This makes him a monster in teamfights, allowing him to participate in fights, and make a difference, even without Metamorphosis activated. Already, the statistics speak for themselves, as his winrate has jumped up 5% since the patch was released. However, as he’s currently disabled in Captain’s Mode, it will be a bit before we can see how strong he is in the professional scene.
The Bad, – Leshrac
The King of 6.84c has been dethroned, crown knocked from his head by IceFrog’s mighty Nerf-Hammer™. One would think that a reduction to his base auto-attack damage and a significant reduction in the damage of his Lightning Storm ability would be enough to slow his roll, but the nerfs to Bloodstone, Eul’s Scepter, and Glimmer Cape (all discussed earlier), Leshrac has been hit harder than any other hero in terms of strength this patch.
His fall from grace has been a sharp one indeed, and it seems doubtful that Leshrac will see nearly the amount of competitive play he did last patch. He is certainly no longer “first pick/first ban” material. Despite this, don’t be surprised if he pops up every now and again. The things that made this hero strong are all still in the game, and he’ll always be waiting in the wings for a surprise pick in a professional game, or a player in a ranked queue wanting to try something more off-brand. Till then, he’ll be returning to the relative anonymity from whence he came.
and The Ugly – Oracle
Oracle has yet to find his way into Captain’s Mode. He’s a very odd hero in many regards, able to both help and harm his allies, depending on how well he can combo his abilities. Played well, he can be a great defensive support, offering heals and magic immunity to his allies, with the ability to root, disarm, and output great burst damage against his enemies. Without getting too deep into the intricacies of his kit, Oracle’s major problem was how easily you could make life harder for your team if you messed up; turning sure kills on enemies into near escapes, or getting an ally killed that may have lived without your intervention. His root was clunky, needing to “charge up” to get a longer duration, and it’s cooldown was rather long.
6.85 has granted Oracle a bit more consistency. Fate’s Edict no longer makes heroes more vulnerable to physical and pure damage, meaning it’s harder to get allies killed when casting it on them, and Fortune’s End now has a scaling cooldown, from 15 seconds at level 1 to 6 seconds at level 4. These changes come at a cost though. The strength of Oracle support was his low base attack time (the lowest in the game), and this, combined with the physical damage amplify and the disarm from Fate’s Edict, made him exceptional at trading with offlaners, whom he could disarm as they walked up to farm, hitting them with two or three beefed-up autoattacks as they retreat.
As for Fortune’s End, its level 4 damage has been heavily reduced (from 300 to 180). The six second cooldown means his primary burst combo (Purifying Flames into Fortune’s End) can be performed more often, but is weaker, and it also means that his chase potential late game is insane. What do these changes mean for Oracle? It’s hard to say at this time. Keep an eye on him though, he may just surprise you.
The great thing about DOTA 2 is that each patch brings new opportunities: kings lose their crown, and paupers scramble to claim it. With the fall of Leshrac and Lina, and the nerfs to BKB-piercing abilities in general, there is an opportunity for new heroes to insert themselves into the meta. Lifestealer, Luna, Ogre, Warlock, Wraith King, and more, all have the opportunity to become powerful heroes this patch, don’t be surprised to see them crop up in pubs and professional matches. They may just be the next heroes you find yourself or others complaining about on Reddit.