Welcome to the first, of hopefully many, Sunday hero spotlights. In the first spotlight, we take a look at Morphling. Morphling is a Ranged Carry with a versatile skill set, which makes him a force to be reckoned with.

Morphling’s Lore

Morphling

Image courtesy of reddit/r/dota2

“For dark eons the comet circled. Held in thrall to a distant sun, bound by gravity’s inexorable pull, the massive ball of ice careened through the blackness between worlds, made strange by its dark journey. On the eve of the ancient war of the Vloy, it punched down through the sky and lit a glowing trail across the night, a sign both armies took for an omen. The frozen ball melted in a flash of boiling heat, as below two forces enjoined in battle across the border of a narrow river.

Thus freed from its icy stasis, the Morphling was born into conflict, an elemental power at one with the tides of the ocean, capricious and unconstrained. He entered the fight, instinctively taking the form of the first general who dared set foot across the water, and then struck him dead. As the motley warriors clashed, he shifted from form to form throughout the battle, instantly absorbing the ways of these strange creatures–now a foot soldier, now an archer, now the cavalryman–until, by the time the last soldier fell, Morphling had played every part. The battle’s end was his beginning.” [Courtesy of www.dota2.com/hero/Morphling/]

Overview

Morphling is an incredibly powerful hero when given the right amount of farm. He is a Ranged, Carry, Disabler, Durable, Escape, Nuker. Morphling is generally played as a Safelane Carry, but has previously seen play in both the mid and support roles. Morphling has a very unique set of skills that make him capable of bursting down one hero, whilst also being incredibly difficult to lock down and kill.

Skills

Waveform –

Image courtesy of dota.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Damage – 100 / 175 / 250 / 325

Mana – 140 / 155 / 160 / 165

Cooldown – 11

Morphling’s first skill is Waveform. Waveform is a point target ability that can be used to cause good damage or to provide mobility. Waveform can be used to disjoint projectiles, meaning that it is a useful tool for Morphling to escape most dangerous situations. Whilst using Waveform, Morphling is invulnerable and cannot be clicked on. Morphling can also use items whilst in Waveform, which can be helpful for getting the jump on an opponent.

Adaptive Strike –

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Damage Type – Magical (Does not pierce spell immunity)

Base Damage – 100

Damage Min AGI Multiplier – 0.25

Damage Max AGI Multiplier – 0.5 / 1.0 / 1.5 / 2.0

Stun Min – 0.25

Stun Max – 1.25 / 2.25 / 3.25 / 4.25

Cast Range – 600 / 700 / 800 / 900

Mana – 100 / 90 / 80 / 70

Cooldown – 10

Adaptive Strike is a projectile that moves at 1150 speed. Upon hitting the target, Morphling’s stats are checked to decide whether to apply the max damage or max stun. Adaptive Strike also applies a knock-back between 100 – 300 units. Adaptive Strike has massive burst potential and is a major part of the shotgun build.

Morph (Agility Gain)

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Toggle ability

Mana per second – 30

Points per shift – 1

Shift rate – 05 / 0.25 / 0.125 / 0.0625

Bonus Agility – 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Agility Morph is the first of the two different Morph abilities. This skill is what makes Morphling so interesting to play. With the ability to Morph his Strength stats into Agility, he has the ability to increase his damage and armor, but also reduce his HP in a short space of time. Most people will start off with more focus on Agility, as this is his primary attribute, and only use the Strength side when Morphling is being focused and needs more health to survive.

Morph (Strength Gain)

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Toggle ability

Mana per second – 30

Points per shift – 1

Shift rate – 05 / 0.25 / 0.125 / 0.0625

Bonus Strength – 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Strength Morph is the second Morph ability. Morphing to Strength will increase Morphling’s HP, and in most cases is used when Morphling is at risk of dying. Strength Morph makes Morphling very difficult to kill, as it can be toggled on whilst Morphling is stunned.

Replicate –

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Duration – 30 / 45 / 60

Replicate Damage – 80%

Replicate Damage Taken – 100%

Cast Range – 700 / 1100 / 1500

Mana Cost – 25

Cooldown – 80

Replicate is Morphling’s ultimate, and it allows him to make a clone of any hero on the map, apart from himself. Replicate has the ability to pierce spell immunity, and has a lot of different uses. The main use is that it allows Morphling to be extremely mobile, and unless he is stun locked, give him a get out of jail free card.

Morphling has the ability to push a lane by himself and send the replicate with his team. Once a fight starts or Morphling no longer feels safe, he can then jump to his Replicate at the cost of 150 Mana. If Morphling dies, then his Replicate will expire

Aghanims Upgrade – Hybrid

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Duration – 20.0

Mana Cost – 200

Cooldown – 60

Hybrid works in the same way as Replicate, apart from the fact that Morphling now has the ability to use all of the copied hero’s non-ultimate abilities. Morphling rarely ever picks up an Aghanims Scepter as it does not fit into his item build.

 

Talents

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At Level 10, 70% of players chose to select the +8 Agility talent instead of +200 Mana. The main reason behind this is that Morphling is a very stat reliant hero and will often spend the majority of his time in fights auto attacking.

At Level 15, 63% of players chose to select the +25 Attack Speed instead of 12% Cooldown reduction. Again, this is because Morphling wants to be able to dish out as many auto attacks as possible in the shortest amount of time; increasing his attack speed will allow him to do that. In higher MMR matches it is common to see the 12% Cooldown reduction talent picked up.

At Level 20, 77% of players chose to select the +40 Damage instead of the +25 movement speed. This is because by the time you reach level 20 on Morphling, he may already have Boots of Travel, which provide +100 movement speed. Having the additional + 40 damage suits the Morphling toolkit more than the movement speed boost.

At Level 25, 75% of players chose to select the +400 Waveform Range over the +30% Replicate Damage. The reason behind this is that Morphling does not tend to use Replicates for damage purposes; instead they are positioned in a safe area of the map to allow Morphling to escape safely from most situations. The Waveform range means that Morphling has even more mobility, and gives him the ability to stay on top of heroes that he may be chasing.

Skill Build

Shadows build against Newbee. Courtesy of dotabuff.com

This was the build that Wings.Shadow went in Game 2 of the ESL One Genting semi-finals against Newbee. He focused on maxing both Morph and Waveform. He took the points in his Ultimate at the appropriate 6 / 12 / 18. Adaptive Strike is generally left until last as the skill is mainly used in conjunction with the shotgun build.

In terms of talents, Shadow followed the majority of people, opting for +8 Agility, +25 Attack speed, +40 Damage and +400 Waveform range, at levels 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 respectively.

Suggested Items

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

According to Dotabuff, the most picked up item on Morphling is Linken’s Sphere, followed by Ethereal Blade. The reason that Linken’s is nearly always picked up is that it provides the things that Morphling loves.

Linken’s gives Morphling +15 on all stats, + 15 Damage, 6 HP regen, 150% Mana regen, and the ability to block a targeted spell every 13 seconds. It seems as if Linken’s was made specifically for Morphling and is a must in the majority of games.

Ethereal Blade is the second most picked up item on Morphling. This is because it gives him two things. The first is stats; from E-Blade he gets +40 Agility, +10 Strength and +10 Intelligence. The second, is E-Blade’ s active ability, Ether Blast. Ether Blast launches a projectile which converts the target to ethereal form. Whilst in Ethereal Form, the unit takes 40% more magic damage and is immune to physical damage.

E-Blade is the main component of The Shotgun combo, which has the ability to wipe out most heroes in the game. Firstly, you Waveform in, while Waveforming E-Blade your target (before you Waveform through him, for the increase damage), and instantly Adaptive Strike him. Use your ult to get out afterwards. Doing this will often eliminate one hero straight out of the fight, giving your team the advantage.

Counter Picks

Image courtesy of dotabuff.com

Morphling is an extremely mobile hero that has great escape. He is, however, vulnerable to a couple of things in Dota. The first is burst damage of the heroes on the list of bad matchups; both Meepo and Techies appear. This is not a coincidence, as Meepo has the ability to use Poof and cause extreme burst damage, capable of killing Morphling before he has the chance to Morph Strength. Techies also provides a similar problem with the use of his Mines, which provide heavy burst damage and stop Morphling from escaping.

Secondly, Morphing is weak to heroes that can lock him down before he can Replicate away. Anti-Mage is an effective counter against Morphling for a couple of reasons. AM has the ability to burn through Morphling’s Mana, making his effectiveness in fights dramatically reduced. Also with AM’s Spell Shield, it reduces the effectiveness of the shotgun combo that Morphling relies on.

It is important for players to remember that switching up item builds can in some cases reduce the effectiveness of the counter picks from the enemy team.

Final Thoughts

At the moment Morphling is in an interesting place. Hypothetically he is still as strong as he was last patch. The main difference however is that games are ending before Morphling has time to come online. As a hero, he generally starts to peak at around the 30 minute mark. In this patch, games are ending at that time, meaning that games are often ending before Morphling gets a chance to make a big impact.

If a team draft around him correctly, Morphling has the power to 1v5 the entire enemy team. At present, Morphling is very much a niche pick that fits into certain lineups. It seems as if this will continue moving forward. Morphling also has the ability to punish lineups that are lacking lock-down and will often be picked up in pro games for this exact reason.

Let’s hope that the Mighty Morphling Power Ranger begins to see some more play in upcoming tournament games.

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