DotaPit Minor might have had a rather unconventional format, but it did provide us with a lot of stats to work with and a lot of high quality games for Tier 1—2 teams to practice and experiment in. It was an overall great experience for the viewers and a very healthy tournament for the developing regions and lesser known players.
Meta-wise it was also pretty decent, with a good variety of contested heroes, rivaling previous DreamLeague Season 11 Major. Doom was the most contested hero of the tournament, despite having a sub-50% win rate, while Razor and Enigma joined him in the Top3. But we are not here to discuss what the overall meta looked like. We are here to search for new developments to incorporate in our pubs to make them slightly more varied, while everyone waits for the post-Major patch.
Every time Earthshaker gets into the meta, like he did in ESL One Mumbai, Sand King usually follows. It is understandable: when teams are looking for a decently tanky, flexible position three or four hero with good lockdown and damage output, these two always come to mind.
Recent buffs to Burrowstrike, which increased the cast range by 50 to a total of 400 made this hero a lot more reliable in the early levels. Moreover, it often looked like professional players frequently misjudged the initiation range on the hero, since no one played Sand King for a while, allowing him to set up pretty easy kills.
Most players max his first two abilities first, regardless of his position—it is hard to call Caustic Finale underwhelming, but the buffs to Sand Storm DPS allow Sand King to apply a similar amount of pressure against melee opponents in lane and generally farm faster.
As a position four, most players rushed Blink Dagger on the hero, but as a position three we often saw pros go for stat items and utility: Spirit Vessel or Aura items were frequent pickups, allowing Sand King to frontline with ease, while continuously locking down problematic foes with Burrow Strike.
After receiving a series of buffs over the duration of patch 7.21, Templar Assassin feels like she is in a really good spot. Her Agility growth was increased by almost 1 per level, while subtle changes to both Meld and Refraction made her even more dominant in mid and much stronger in midgame.
Meta calls for mid heroes who can come online fast and keep up their tempo, while scaling decently well and Templar Assassin fits the bill perfectly. She might not have much utility and can’t boast being evasive or tanky, but you don’t really need to be tanky if everyone around you is dead in a matter of several hits.
Perhaps the most underlooked change in the 7.21 alphabetical progression was the fact that Meld now fully stacks with itself and now applies the debuff before the damage calculations. We’ve talked about the importance of armor changes and TA is one of the heroes who can easily cut into the enemy’s “high value armor”, especially with the level 20 talent, potentially one- or two-shotting most squishy heroes.
Another neat and very underused trick is to Meld near Roshan, wait for Meld to cool down and then apply -16 or even -24 armor through two successive Meld hits. This will easily get Roshan into negative armor values at most stages of the game, especially if TA has a Desolator. The same can be done with unsuspecting enemy heroes going up the hill and we’ve seen a couple of attempts from the professional players, but don’t wait around for too long, since TA loves gold and extra items.
Centaur Warrunner was overlooked for a period of time, but now he is back in full force. While on paper he might look similar to Sand King and Earthshaker, the idea behind the hero is slightly different. First of all, he is strictly a position three offlaner. Secondly, he is not necessarily the initiator for his team or the main source of lockdown—he is the frontliner first and foremost.
This is heavily reflected in how professional players build the hero: Blink Dagger is still purchased quite often, but it is usually the third or even fourth item after boots and a couple of auras. The hero already has a tool to quickly engage the enemy or force disables and the fact that Stampede is global means that pretty much any hero on his team can get close to the enemy and use their crowd control.
Stampede also doubles as a disengagement tool that can allow for improbable escapes or well-timed counter-initiations. Later on, with the purchase of Aghanim’s Scepter, it will also mitigate a lot of damage on your teammates, which can’t be underestimated: it is only slightly worse than Ghostship and also won’t deal the remaining damage afterwards.
The hero is amazing in lane, especially against enemies who rely on harassment from auto-attacks. Not only are they punished every time through Retaliate, but they also allow Centaur to hit much harder, either allowing for a turn-around or great control of the lane creeps every couple of waves.
The next Major stats very soon and so far it looks like the meta in patch 7.21 keeps on evolving. There are small nudges here and there through smaller patches, and there are definitely some hidden gems to uncover: every tournament in the patch brought new heroes into the spotlight and we hope Paris will do the same.