Last week we discussed a couple of heroes who are struggling in the current meta. Today, we are going the opposite direction. There are always some slightly overtuned heroes in Dota and we will highlight the most egregious examples of the current patch.
Naga’s rise to power was slow, but very steady. Little by little her playstyle was refined to a point, where she managed to become a meta character in a patch where Leshrac was one of the strongest and most popular picks. Now, with the Disco Pony gone, her reign feels even more oppressive.
There isn’t a particular trick or a significant change to how one would approach playing Naga. She is still a flash-farming, illusion based hero. The changes mostly came in terms of the hero’s itemization, but given how fast Naga can farm, Itemization is basically her whole game.
Gone are Diffusal Blade builds. Ever since they made the item mostly irrelevant on Illusion heroes, its days on Naga were numbered. It is simply not worth spending gold on, with Yasha, one of the best acceleration items in the game, rightfully taking the first slot space on Naga.
Later progression also skips Aghanim’s Scepter. That was the go to build for a while: with an upgraded, powerful Ensnare and stats from Aghanim’s, Naga could meaningfully contribute to the early game fights. She can contribute even better by going Orchid Malevolence right after Manta Style though.
The way the hero is played right now is by initiating with the Song of the Siren, getting on top of supports and obliterating them in seconds with the help of Ensnare+Orchid combo.
There is nothing most supports can do about it: Glimmer Cape is fully countered by Ensnare and given the current speed and cast point of the ability disjointing it point-blank is impossible. Force staff provides a momentary respite, but it is far from being enough: Ensnare lasts for a very long time and Naga Will catch up to you.
There is very little a support can do, essentially making it so every fight starts off as a 4v5 in favor of Naga. Between her own high stats and her high farming speed, there is a good chance the hero would fare well even in a fair fight. In a 4v5 taking on Naga after she gets her Survivability item, be it Heart of Tarrasque or Eye of Skadi, is a very tough proposition.
The hero needs to be bonked with a nerf hammer, though we are not sure about the direction of nerfs. Personally, we feel like her farming speed is a little bit too high and Ensnare is just a little bit too good against support heroes who can’t afford early Dispels. Maybe a lower duration on Ensnare could solve the problem?
Another sea-dweller who made it to the top of the Dota world. Slark appears in almost 20% of all high level games and wins 54% of them. This is not normal, though making Slark work is definitely a little bit less trivial than making Naga work.
Slark is not a flash-farming hero. He can farm ok with a maxed out Dark Pact, but one can’t expect to see him six-slotted thirty five minutes into the game. What the hero does offer is a lot of disengage potential and a ridiculous amount of survivability, especially for a hero with <2 Strength growth per level.
The problem is, if you don’t kill Slark outright and he gets to momentarily get out of your vision, you have to run. His team most likely teleported in already or in the process of doing so, while Slark himself is regaining most of his lost HP in a matter of seconds.
As such, it is a hero that requires good crowd control overlapping, while also punishing any greed. If the hero isn’t stunned for even a 0.2 second, he gets off Dark Pact and Shadow Dance and is ready to counter-initiate.
The worst begins when Slark gets to make his teammates similarly annoying and elusive. He doesn’t necessarily have a teamfight presence per se. He is a single-target focus hero and it’s not like Slark kills heroes too fast. He is not even a burst-type character like Ursa.
The problem being when Slark gets to play this long fight and his Aghanim's Shard is perfect for that. Not only does Slark himself get a second ultimate, his whole team gets to benefit from it. We can’t but admire such a brilliant design from a gameplay perspective, while also being slightly annoyed by it.
Dealing with the hero should probably involve dealing with his elusiveness first and foremost. Maybe Dark Pact self-purge could last a little less, or the delay on it could be reduced. Perhaps Depth Shroud could have its cast range reduced from 800 to something melee-range, so that Slark can’t save his teammates as easily. After all, it is the same treatment Weaver’s Aghanim’s got back in the day.
Perhaps Slark could lose the ability to deward perfectly, though it will take some creative thinking. Any support player knows how annoying it is to play against a good Slark and how impossible it is often to gank them.
What we wouldn’t like to see is further stat nerfs on the hero. Slark has one of the lowest if not the lowest combined stat growth in the game and reducing it further could break the hero in half. We hope there is a creative solution, we are just not sure what it is.
We feel like a lot of our readers expected to see Razor here, but the latest trends show a significant fall in his popularity and success. People are rediscovering Wraith Pact, that does wonders against almost full physical Razor. Players also have more respect for heal and regeneration-reducing items, identifying that the problem might not be Razor himself, it is Spell Lifesteal from Bloodstone that is overpowered.
What are your thoughts on the current meta? Do you think Slark and Naga are the two most nerf-worthy heroes or do you feel like there are better candidates? What are your thoughts on Bloodstone? Share your ideas in the comment section below.