We shall not beat around the bush - Doom in the initial 6.85 release was overpowered. He instantly became an MMR farming machine for all skill levels and was a first pick in most tournaments. His ability to farm fast coupled with immense presence at almost any stage of the game have made him a very scary adversary to face. Today we would like to do a rundown of what changes have resulted in his popularity and win rate spikes as well as look at the most popular builds on the hero. As previously, it will be followed by a discussion on how to deal with him in your pub games.
After almost a year of being stuck in nerf hell, Doom has resurfaced in 6.85 with one really strong buff. This single buff has outweighed the decrease in damage, increased cast point and no "break" mechanics on non-upgraded ultimate. I am talking, of course, about a ridiculous 60% increase in level 4 Scorched Earth's damage and regeneration.
Being an AoE spell it has more than outweighed the damage nerfs to the ultimate while added regeneration has ensured that a low-armor hero did not die too easily.
The reduced cooldown on LVL? Death was a nice touch, yet it is comparatively insignificant. However, the ability on its own is incredibly strong and should not be disregarded - it scales amazingly well and in the late game can be game-changing given an increased manapool on Doom.
Some of the changes have already been made to the hero in 6.85b and the cumulative effect on Win Rate has been quite noticeable - a ~4% decrease. An increase in cooldown of Scorched Earth, I feel, is a much bigger deal that a 3 DPS reduction at level 4, but at best it has made Doom players a lot more more susceptible to frequent fights.
A bigger change was the damage reduction on upgraded Doom - the ability has lost 20/25/30 Pure DPS at each level. While still primarily being a disable, the damage aspect of the spell is undeniably strong given how it pierces spell immunity and any resistances. This fact, however, does not take from the current main strength of the hero - ridiculous survivability and high AoE damage over time. If anything it pushes Aghanim's Scepter into more situational territory, but not more.
One of the biggest strengths of the hero is his high versatility. Primarily played in the offlane, it is not uncommon to see him in the 4th position/jungling or even as the main core - not necessarily a full on Carry, but with a high farm priority.
The core positions in different lanes are all more or less the same - you try to farm your core items and get ahead in terms of Net Worth and XP, possibly with the help of Midas. In the offlane you generally want extra Armor or Regeneration from the Wildkin/Satyr large camps. In the safelane, especially if sharing it with a mana dependent teammate, the Hill Troll Priest is also an option, since his mana regenerating aura is equivalent to level 3 Arcane Aura of Crystal Maiden only with a much smaller radius.
As a support/jungler we have seen him eat Mud Golem/Dark Troll Summoner to gank unsuspecting mid with a disable. While the latter does provide higher duration disable with no projectile, the former's Hurl Boulder ability costs no mana and can be used in suicide tactics against heavy priority targets with the help of Shard Split. It is also amazingly entertaining to look at Doom who supposedly carries his own hell with him wherever he goes split into two smaller Doomies.
Given a great farm booster in Devour, Doom can easily afford most items earlier than other cores. It also takes away from the enemy ability to shut him down if he is faced with tough laning enemies. Finally, jungling is also an option at later stages of the game - slightly less so with the current cooldown increase on Scorched Earth though.
So what does a typical Doom win with? Looking at the guides page we almost always see several core items.
Hand of Midas is great for gaining a level advantage and provides reliable gold which, given how aggressive Doom wants to be early on, can be quite handy. It also makes clearing neutral camps faster - you devour/midas two of the bigger creeps and finish off last with your auto-attacks. Finally, it also provides a nice AS boost, so the item is not completely useless in teamfights.
Blink Dagger or Shadow Blade both allow single target initiation. Given how hero is among the fastest under the effects of Scorched Earth, it is really hard to run away from him after he casts Doom. While Blink Dagger is a more reliable option, there are definite upsides to Shadow Balde as well - it, once again, gives decent AS boost as well as extra damage. Perhaps what is even more important, it can be upgraded into Silver Edge in the later stages to provide decent stats and an extra "Break".
Aghanim's Scepter is there to turn the fight into an unfair 4v5 - taking out spells and passives of one hero out of the equation can either be good or completely awesome. While the 30 DPS decrease certainly takes away from the item, the fact that the debuff timer does not tick while Doom himself is in the proximity makes item worth it. At the same time it has to be noted - in its current state it feels like a "Win More" item - it is godly if you are already steamrolling the opposition, but can be somewhat useless if you cannot survive long enough for it make a meaningful impact. As mentioned above, the item is currently quite situational and there might be better ways to spend 4200 gold.
Shiva's Guard has two things Doom truly needs - Armor and Manapool. I was personally surprised to see no featured high MMR games had an Assault Cuirass build, but given poor agility growth (0.9 Agi/LvL specifically), it is understandable why one would try to avoid building Doom as the main right-click carry of the game. Moreover, in the recent Nanyang tournament no pro-player went for AC either, sometimes getting a cheaper Vladmir's Offering.
Refresher Orb is an obvious choice to compliment a high-impact spell Doom is. It also provides decent regeneration to further boost survivability and sustainability of the hero. Additionally, it makes double BKB/Scorched earth possible for a truly unkillable enemy.
Black King Bar allows the hero to get into the centre of the action and not get immediately focused. It also provides immunity to debuffs which might tamper with your ability to chase down the enemy. To this day very few spells pierce spell immunity and since your primary objective is to survive while slowly burning down the enemy, the item fits in like a glove. And given that Doom is a strength hero, no stats from the item can be considered sub-optimal.
Apart from the mentioned items, there are still quite a lot of options which can be very game-specific. Since the hero is usually played in the offlane, sometimes you will have to do some heavy-lifting in the support department.
Both Solar Crest and Heaven's Halberd can be considered good choices. For one, they make Doom a lot less susceptible to physical attacks and/or increase his health pool. They also make lives of your dear supports much easier - Dota is a team game after all. Finally, in case of Heaven's Halberd you also get a decent damage boost as well as a potential slow - sometimes these small numbers can make a lot of difference.
Heart of Tarrasque is another great option if you are facing a nuke-y lineup ( Zeus excluded - don't go full health against Zeus or Lifestealer). This item is great in-between fights and in drawn-out pushes. Being a walking fountain is really helpful and can also open up some interesting tricks with Refresher Orb.
Eye of Skadi is also good if you absolutely need/want to auto-attack. Stats the item provides are amazing and the slow goes well with the hero's playstyle. I would still regard the item as situational, but it does net you quite a bit of HP/Mana and even tiny amounts of armor.
Given a massive HP pool on the hero (3.2 Str/LvL) getting resistance can be a good option. Pipe of Insight is currently underrated, in my opinion. Not as strong in the current meta, yes, but still a great item against certain lineups.
There are many other things which might be situationally good. Doom is certainly not as versatile as Alchemist we discussed previously, but it should not stop you from experimenting. I, for one, really want the good old Radiance/Manta/Octarine build on the hero. 95 damage/sec and crazy heal seems like a generally good idea.
Here comes the interesting part and the question many of us had in our mind ever since 6.85 has been released - how do you deal with the hero?
Typically played in the offlane the hero can be harassed out of the lane early on making him lose precious XP. He is not that much of a threat until he gets level 4-5 with 2 or 3 points in Scorched Earth. Yes, he can regen really fast, but on a very long cooldown. He will also generally come to a lane with Devour skilled and possibly a neutral creep eaten - this is the best moment to make the hero feel insecure. Trading hits with anything that has 0 starting armor should be easy enough for most ranged heroes and certain melee ones.
As such, Doom usually comes to the lane with a partner and there are a couple of options to make the enemy team pay for it.
Your aggressive trilane can leave Doom practically freefarming against most solo safe-lane heroes (QoP, Viper and Necrophos excluded), but can ensure that the enemy carry has very little. This, however, opens up your jungle which is generally a bad idea against Doom. It also makes ganking/stacking neutrals harder.
A more typical safe trilane should revolve around strong supports with high burst damage and/or decent amount of disables/slows - it is really hard to kill a fast-running/regenerating hero otherwise. And if you don't kill him you might as well give up on the trilane - Doom will get at least some farm regardless and your team is suffering from shared XP (pulling-stacking is a priority in this scenario, as well as rune control to a lesser extent).
Dual lanes facing Doom should revolve around a self-sustained core and a stacking/pulling "tanky" support. Kill potential of Doom is surprisingly high - a wrong move or an outpushed lane can leave your core extremely vulnerable.
Laning stage aside, there are two items which should never be ignored - Linken's Sphere and Lotus Orb. First one is generally out of reach for most supports and cores should generally consider the item themselves. Yes, it will probably be broken by something trivial, but it gives you a lot of time to react in case Doom jumps you. This is more than important on heroes which rely on mobility - Queen of Pain and Ember Spirit are the ones that come to mind first.
Lotus Orb does not cost a lot and can be built by most supports by the time it will matter the most. What this item does is it turns around the 4v5 concept Doom revolves around and makes the fight a lot fairer. It also dispels hexes and other debuffs, which is a nice cherry on top. With 0.5 cast point on Doom it is quite possible to react to it in timely manner, but it can also be used preemptively. The item can also be disassembled - yes you lose half the recipe cost, but can make an extra Linken's later in the game. And have a Plate Armor for potential Shiva's (+10 armor is not too bad on its own as well).
Disengage Heroes - if you can make sure the target survives even under the effects of Doom you will have higher chances of winning the game. There are several options in this regard - Naga Siren, Centaur Warrunner and Earth Spirit are all excellent at pulling teammates away from danger. And then you re-engage when Scorched Earth and Doom are on cooldown.
Illusion heroes - it is sometimes hard to pin-point the proper target. Making it harder is a generally good idea. You can idenify the main target after jumping in with Scorched Earth, but it will lose a lot of precious time and will ensure some time to react. To a certain extent Meepo can also be mentioned in this sense.
Minus Armor Heroes - if you can kill him before he casts his spells - you are in luck. But even after Doom, there is still a lot of damage coming out from the hero himself - Scorched Earth and LVL? Death are very potent spells, not to mention infinite upgraded ultimate. If you can kill him really fast at the very least you are saving a lot of health on all of your teammates and Doom is incredibly susceptible to minus armor, as mentioned previously. Especially before he can get his hands on Shiva's, Vlad's or AC.
Supports - AA takes a lot of Doom's survivability while the % based shatter effect is excellent on heroes with huge health pools. Rubick is amazing at turning around fights with his almost instant disable and spell steal. Additionally, he provides your team with a very boring and underrated aura which does save from Scorched Earth. There are also heavy nukers such as Visage which can destroy Doom in lane since his damage is immense, but spread thin. Fully charged soul assumption is strong even at level 2.
Zero Cast Point disables - with 0.5 cast point on Doom, it is quite possible to interrupt it mid-animation with a multitude of spells and items. An early Orchid can take away a lot of his potential and/or force him to go BkB earlier than he would like to - at the expense of Armor. There are also many support heroes with Hexes which can do wonders.
Non-Sumail heroes - any hero which does not necessarily need to press keyboard buttons to be effective is better off against Doom. Think Sven - even if you disable his active abilities, he can still stand there and fight, even more so if he has already pressed his ultimate. Wraith King is even less susceptible - at the very best a non-upgraded ultimate on him will be a long duration silence with some damage. And then he has his second life. There are a lot of other heroes which fit into this category and can be able to fight under the effects of Doom - Viper, Dragon Knight, Lycan etc. Some of them can get heavily crippled with the "Break", however, so you should know your limits.