This article is an extensive analysis of the current meta in Dota 2. Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers of 7.21b first, and later I will talk about many of the popular trends in Dota right now.
Note: Biggest losers of the patch are the heroes that got the most massive nerfs, not the worst heroes of the patch. In fact, the heroes that I have listed here are still extremely strong right now.
- Tether no longer makes you unslowable
- Spirits no longer has a toggle cooldown
- Spirits min range increased from 100 to 200
- Spirits rotation interval from every 2.4 seconds to 2.7
- Spirits no longer does a micro animation interruption when initially casting (already has zero cast point)
- Overcharge damage reduction reduced from 15/20/25/30% to 5/10/15/20%
- Relocate manacost increased from 100 to 175
- Level 15 Talent changed from Tether Grants Scepter Bonus to +8 Health Regen
- Level 20 Talent changed from +16 Health Regen to Tether Grants Scepter Bonus
The blue ball of life had become such a menace in pubs that it had to be addressed. Io was so strong that many pro players lost interest in playing pubs. It only took IceFrog 18 days to come up with 7.21b and finally Io got some nerfs.
I would love to stream some DotA pubs but wisp is out of control and it makes me angry.
— Peter Dager (@Peterpandam) February 6, 2019
Ever since Tether granted IO the same movespeed as the target unit, he became surprisingly elusive and hard to deal with. This made it so that IO needed to stunned in order to keep him truly disabled. Now since he is no longer unslowable while tethered, we have more options to keep IO in check.
The Spirits changes are not very significant and wont change much about the hero. However, having no cast point is good for IO.
Overcharge finally got the nerf that it deserved. Having 15% damage reduction at level 1 was absolutely ridiculous, considering the fact that Overcharge doesn’t deplete IO’s HP anymore.
The Aghanim’s Scepter talent was moved to level 20 from level 15. This is a giant nerf to the hero. He no longer has the power spike at level 15 and has to wait till level 20 now.
- Great Cleave reduced from 45/60/75/90% to 30/50/70/90%
- Warcry bonus speed reduced from 8/12/16/20% to 5/10/15/20%
- Warcry shield base capacity reduced from 80/110/140/170 to 60/90/120/150
- God’s Strength cooldown increased from 80 to 100
Sven was one of the best and most contested position 4 heroes in the previous patch.
Support Sven generally maxes Great Cleave last. Since Great Cleave got nerfed in the early levels, this will slow down his farm significantly.
Warcry has been getting quite a lot of nerfs but it was still a very significant spell in teamfights. Although this seems like a pretty harsh nerf, I doubt it will affect his popularity in pubs right now.
Generally, IceFrog is really good at balancing heroes that are picked in several different positions. However, this time he might have overdone the nerfing a little bit. Increasing the cooldown on God’s Strength is definitely bad for Support Sven but it is extremely crippling for Carry Sven. Carry Sven has barely any impact without his ultimate and I doubt anyone will play him as a carry anymore.
- Base armor reduced by 2
- Overpower cooldown increased from 10 to 16/14/12/10
Ursa was one of the deadliest heroes in the previous patch. Although these nerfs look rather tame, they hurt the hero more than it seems.
A base armor nerf is very harsh for any hero, specially for melee heroes. Having 2 less base armor makes him much more susceptible to harass in the laning phase. This combined with the Overpower nerf makes Ursa’s laning phase much worse than before.
However, this will not be enough to stop his domination in pubs.
Grimstroke and Lich
- Ink Swell stun duration reduced from 1.4/2.2/3.0/3.8 to 1.0/1.9/2.8/3.7
- Soulbind slow reduced from 15/30/45% to 10/20/30%
- Movement speed reduced from 305 to 295
- Sinister Gaze duration reduced from 1.6/1.9/2.2/2.5 to 1.3/1.7/2.1/2.5
IceFrog keeps nerfing these heroes every patch and they continue to dominate pubs nonetheless. Consequentially, I end up talking about these two heroes in every Dota analysis article I write.
Originally Ink Swell’s max stun duration was 2/2.8/3.4/4 and the max damage was 220/280/340/400. Currently the max stun duration is 1.0/1.9/2.8/3.7 and the max damage is 100/200/300/400. This spell was terrifying at level 1 and now it feels more like any other level 1 spell. IceFrog keeps nerfing it but I think its at the right spot now. Meanwhile, Soulbind also got a pretty massive nerf.
At this point, everyone is quite aware of how much of a difference, a movement speed change can cause to a hero. Ursa and Lifestealer were forgotten heroes before 7.20 and currently they are on top of the charts after they received the MS buff. Lich has always been a fast hero and sadly he belongs among the low MS ranged supports now. His Sinister Gaze also got nerfed but it is way too negligible to be impactful.
The funny part about this is that all the heroes that I have listed here are doing extremely well in pubs and have a high win-rate. This just proves how much they needed the nerfs.
Ursa, Sven and Io are currently in the top 10 highest win-rate heroes in the Divine/Immortal bracket.
Grimstroke and Lich are currently in the top 7 most picked heroes in the Divine/Immortal bracket.
Note: Biggest winners of the patch are the heroes that got the most massive buffs, not the best heroes of the patch.
- Heavenly Grace duration increased from 10 to 12
Heavenly Grace replaced Repel in patch 7.20 and has only received buffs ever since it came into play. Currently, it is a 12 second duration buff that gives 50% status resistance, 20 HP regen at max level and 28 bonus strength at max level. And it only has a cooldown of 14 seconds at max level which can be further reduced to 6 seconds through his level 25 talent and even lower with an Octarine Core if desired.
Although the hero is not doing so well in pubs currently, I believe that he is one or two more buffs away from being a bigger threat than Io was in the previous patch.
Currently he has a win-rate of 43.03% win-rate in the Divine/Immortal bracket which puts at number 4 on the heroes with the least win-rate in that bracket.
- Freezing Field armor increased from 10 to 20
Previously many players used to skip Freezing Field at level 6 and go for more points into other spells. I don’t think anyone will ever skip Freezing Field anymore though. Getting 20 extra armor on all levels while channeling the ultimate is extremely strong. Previously, players had 2 options while CM ults, either kill her or stun her. Now the only option is to stun her or kill her with magic damage. This becomes even more of a problem when she builds a BKB later on which is quite doable for a CM due to her +150 GPM talent at level 15.
Currently CM is sitting at number 20 on the highest win-rate heroes in the Divine/Immortal bracket.
- Meld debuff now stacks
Currently TA is not very popular in the meta. There were many general changes in the recent patches which made things worse for her.
For example, having only 1 Ancient camp is a big problem for TA as she heavily relies on Ancients for farming. Moreover, Melee Creeps average gold bounty reduced by 3 which means that she gets lesser farm overall.
Later down the article, I have written a detailed analysis on how these general changes impacted the meta.
The meta is just not right for the hero, but the hero has a big potential to be strong when the meta shifts. If she gets a few more buffs like the one she got here in 7.21b, things might change for TA.
- Phantom Rush agility bonus increased from 6/14/22/30 to 9/18/27/36
We all know how scary PL can be. Although he is not a hot pick in the meta right now, PL is a very dangerous hero to meddle with. Simply put, it is very hard to buff this hero without making him overpowered.
This buff looks like nothing right now, but this hero just needs a few more tiny buffs like this to become the overpowered ‘Cancer Lancer’ again that ruins all our pubs. IceFrog, you better be careful while tweaking PL, we’re all watching you.
- Strength Gain increased from 2.4 to 2.6
- Agility Gain increased from 2.4 to 2.6
- Intelligence gain reduced from 2.8 to 2.6
This one’s for all the folks out there with OCD. Bane has had the same attribute gain for all Strength, Agility and Intelligence since the beginning of time, until it was ruined in 7.21. Now we’re back on track.
On a serious note, this change is completely inconsequential.
These trends are currently popular not just because of the changes in 7.21b but also because of many of the changes in 7.21. A lot of things have changed after these 2 patches hit the game, so let’s have a look.
The Hand of Midas Meta
As we all know, Hand of Midas is very popular right now. There is generally always a reason for a trend like this to start and I am positive that I have figured it out. Let’s take a look at some of the general changes we got in the recent patches.
- Melee creeps average gold bounty reduced by 3 (7.20)
This might seem like a very small change but let’s analyze it a bit.
3 less gold per melee unit means that you will be getting 9 less gold per wave of creeps. There are 2 waves every minute, so by 10 minutes, we have 180 less gold per lane than we had before. Which means in total, there is 540 less gold on the map by 10 minutes than before. This fact combined with the next change that I am going to talk about, played a huge role for this trend to start.
- Replaced the primary jungles’ ancient camps with big camps.
This is a big change as it reduces the total amount of XP and gold that can be earned from clearing the jungle. XP is the bigger factor here, since clearing a 3 stacked ancient camp gives huge amounts of XP which is not available anymore.
Since there is less amount of gold and XP on the map than before, Hand of Midas is the perfect item to make up for it. This paired with the fact that heroes like Lifestealer and Bloodseeker received buffs, adds up onto that because Midas is naturally a good item on these heroes.
The Meta abusers
Currently, Lycan and Visage have the highest win-rate in the Immortal bracket. In fact, Visage has the highest overall win-rate in every bracket currently. There is a very obvious reason for this.
Visage and Lycan are death-ball heroes. They do not need many items to be strong in the early-mid game. All they need is a Helm of the Dominator + one more item and they can start taking early objectives with their team.
Since everyone is busy buying a Midas in pubs, smart players started abusing these death-ball heroes since they can start taking objectives very quickly while the opponents try to farm a Midas and go for late-game.
After taking all the objectives, it is very easy to take control of the entire map and Roshan. By this time, your team will be so strong that the opponents will not be able to defend and turtle till the late-game.
The fall of Agility heroes
As we all know, Agility heroes were extremely popular until recently. So why did all the TBs, PAs, and Drows vanish from our pubs?
- Heroes no longer gain 25% more benefit from their primary attributes (affects attributes from both items and the hero)
- All heroes’ primary attribute growth values increased by 15%
- Health per strength increased from 18 to 20
This is a direct nerf to the mass Wraith Bands build and to Agility heroes as well. As an attribute, Agility is superior to Strength and Intelligence. Here’s why.
Every point in agility increases:
- Attack speed by 1.
- Armor by 0.16.
- Movement speed by 0.05%.
Every point in strength increases:
- Maximum health by 20.
- Health regeneration by 0.1.
- Magic resistance by 0.08%.
Every point in intelligence increases:
- Maximum mana by 12.
- Mana regeneration by 0.05.
- Spell damage by 0.07%.
And of course, the primary attribute gives you 1 damage per attribute which is common among all of them.
The primary benefit from all the 3 attributes i.e. Attack Speed for Agi, HP for Strength and Mana for Int, are all equally important. But among the secondary benefits, Armor and MS are much more significant in-game compared to the benefits from Strength and Int.
Since Heroes no longer gain 25% more benefit from their primary attributes, this is a bigger nerf to Agi heroes than Str or Int heroes. This also means that stacking Wraith Bands is not as beneficial as it was before.