dota 2, seasonal matchmaking, matchmaking, mmr, dota 2

Does the new matchmaking system work?

On November 22nd the DotA 2 matchmaking system was changed. For better or for worse, the new system has partially done away with numerical MMR. In its place is now a badge system that looks to quell the woes of many players who were getting tired of the constant grind. Also looking to boost game quality and reduce the number of account buyers and smurfs. The first week of the Seasonal Ranked system has come and gone in a whirlwind. Instituting a new system is one thing, but is it actually working?

The roller-coaster of re-calibrating

With a new system in place all players were forced to re-calibrate their matchmaking ranking. Resulting in a pub environment that really felt competitive again. During calibration there was a much higher emphasis placed on winning rather than just stacking up kills and items. Cores were showing up to fights and even supports were being picked!

A large part of this can be credited to the structuring of the medal system. Before there was mention that numerical values had been, mostly, done away with. This is because it was replaced by an interesting badge system.

dota 2, seasonal matchmaking, medals, mmr, ranking

(In-game client)

These medals are all tied to numerical MMR values, according to the DotA 2 Wiki, but they have done a very good job of grouping players based on skill. This was a large knock on the previous system as games would almost feel over before they began if one team’s average MMR was much higher than the other. Being the high MMR in a game either made you a target or focus for blame. Overall, the grind for MMR could become a toxic environment with every +/- 25 being held close to the chest.

Initially, the sticker shock of re-calibrating set the community ablaze. Many people were saying it felt like supports were being favored and calibrating in at higher rankings. There are many reasons this could be, probably the most obvious being that a team with a support is much more likely to win than a team with five cores.

What was most glaring were the massive losses some professional players were taking in MMR. Check out Sumail’s surprisingly calm reaction to losing 3K MMR. Well aside from throwing a little shade at his Evil Geniuses teammate, Arteezy.

A slightly less uphill battle

Now the task of climbing through the rankings seems much more doable. Instead of focusing on climbing a full 1000 pts in MMR, manageable goals are tangible with the new badge system. If you calibrate at Archon 2, for example, it’s much more feasible to say “I want to get to Archon 4 by (insert time here).” This can be echoed for all the rankings as players can now focus on climbing within their badge group with stars before transitioning into the next badge.

Your MMR still matters and you can still see it. So for those of you who really care about the number, have fun. But what is interesting is that the badge system takes into account both ranked and unranked MMR. While solo MMR is weighed more. This is a great change. It allows for a player’s ranking to be largely based on their individual skill, rather than who they are stacking with. A sort of regression to the mean for DotA that has deemphasized the grind of climbing MMR. Honestly, this is a quality of life change to those who may not have the time to grind game after game to go up in ranking. Allowing for a fair representation in skill no matter how much time is committed to climbing.

This is not to say the new system is without any hiccups. Losing 3K MMR like Sumail did is probably an issue that needs to be corrected. As calibrating in at Divine 5 does not feel like such a high ceiling. Though it just doesn’t seem to matter that much when you’re already at the highest badge? So far, the new matchmaking system has been nothing but a positive. It will be interesting to see what adjustments are made for the next season.

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dota 2, storm spirit, 7.07

Balling back into the meta

Sometimes some of the smallest changes can propel a hero back to relevance. That’s not what happened with Storm Spirit once 7.07 rolled around. The patch brought along a lot of large changes to the game. Many of which benefit Storm Spirit’s play-style.

Return to lane dominance

Storm Spirit has always been a hero best utilized in a solo lane. This is because of his heavy dependence on levels to be relevant. But the other reason he excelled was the ability to magnify a skill gap between two players. As a midlaner there was nothing worse than being left alone to get zoned out by a competent Storm player. Frequently resulting in a huge advantage in both Gold and XP for the Storm. His remnant along with his passive allow him to dominate the laning stage. A 180 magic damage nuke (one remnant, one overload) at level one is nothing to laugh at.

Though it was this hero’s need for levels and an early advantage that hampered him in the previous patch. The mid lane was so much different back then that each hero was constantly babysat by a support. If they weren’t careful they could sap away a ton of XP from the Storm. Thus slowing him down from his first power peak in the early mid game. With the traditional dual lane setup in mid on the last patch, Storm’s early gankability was also an issue. Before getting Ball Lightning at level six the hero is very slow and has no save. Something that is not as easy to exploit in the current meta that has re-emphasized the laning stage.

dota 2, storm spirit, remnant

Improving Storm’s item scaling

Even at his previous popularity, Storm’s itemization was a little bit odd. You would always start off with a stack of tangos and a Null Talisman. The end goal was a Bloodstone, as it still is, but the item is really expensive and there was a huge lull between getting the Soul Ring and the Soul Booster that left you in limbo with your gold. You didn’t want to spend it if you could snowball properly, but you also still felt squishy enough to lose it at any time.

That is no longer an issue with the introduction of Kaya. An item seemingly handed down by IceFrog to Storm players. For a poultry 1950 gold you can give your Storm a bunch of mana, cooldown reduction and spell amplification, providing the perfect bridge from your early game items to the reworked Bloodstone. Though now more expensive, it is arguably even stronger on Storm Spirit due to the addition of a Perseverance instead of a Soul Ring. This regen allows you to show up to more early fights to farm heroes instead of creeps. On top of talents that are already incredibly strong, this hero now scales without having to rely on snowballing out of control to dominate a game.

dota 2, storm spirit, talent tree

A Storm Spirit can take over a game if left alone for too long. But that does not mean the hero is broken. If you see one pop up in your pubs there are two easy ways to counter him. Drafting stuns and silences makes a Storm Spirit’s life absolutely miserable. Coupling those mechanics with large amounts of burst damage is the best way to attack a Storm. Heroes like Templar Assassin, Silencer, Viper, Anti-Mage and Juggernaut can be very effective.



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Na’Vi impresses at DreamLeague Qualifiers

The inaugural Dota Pro Circuit is underway and DreamLeague Season 8 is already turning heads, heralding the return of one of Dota’s proudest franchises: Natus Vincere. Taking games off of both OG and Virtus Pro, they clinched a spot in the upcoming Major. A great opportunity to grab some early points in the season. Whether it’s the new patch, roster or something else, Na’vi is back.

Midlane reworks allow Dendi to shine

A large reason that Na’vi has found its way back into relevance is the 7.07 changes to the midlane. The terrain changes to this lane have severely impacted the laning stage. Previously, mid was full of heroes throughout this part of the game. Sometimes with a support almost dedicated to sitting midlane and ensuring their teammate a better start. In many matches this could balloon into a trilane happening mid. But now the extra creep is gone and there is much more space around the tier one towers to position for last hits.

One change that stands out as benefiting extremely high-skilled players is the narrow point at the meeting of the initial creep wave. Dendi and other mechanically gifted mids are able to manipulate the creep wave from high ground. The concept of high ground has always been important in Dota 2, but these midlane changes allow for the best players to exploit it. Keeping the creeps closer to your high ground, as a midlaner, allows you to remain much safer and easily out-lane your opponent. The miss chance along with the vision advantage are enough to secure any lane.

These changes have also driven mid back to a true 1-v-1 matchup. Further compounding the advantage Dendi has over the opponent. A knock against Na’vi for most of their struggle last year was that Dendi could not carry games with the way the midlane worked. Now he can truly exert his immense individual talent in order to snowball out of control.


dota 2, ancient apparition, dendi

Dendi with the farm on an Ancient Apparition at 26 minutes (Dota 2 Client)

What have you done for me lately

This year it’s all about the points. That’s what decides who goes to TI. Currently, Na’vi does not have any points in the Pro Circuit. Which is almost certain to change the way they have been playing lately. In their last 11 series, Na’vi is 7-2-2. Boding very well for them with 1,800 points up for grabs over the next 30 days. They will be competing in the MDL Macau Minor as well as the DreamLeague Winter Jonkoping Major.

As a team they have been playing top-notch Dota. Reasserting themselves as a top level team while taking care of business against teams they should beat on paper. Their 2-0 over Virtus Pro came after a hard fought Grand Final in the Dota Summit 8 Minor Qualifier. They did lose 3-1, but proved they could adjust with the result at DreamLeague the next day. They even made a mid Ancient Apparition work.

Na’vi seems to have a pretty good read of where their strengths are within the patch. Their most picked heroes on 7.07 as a competitive patch are Winter Wyvern and Vengeful Spirit. Two heroes that they have helped bring into the meta. Rounding out their five favorite heroes are Enchantress, Viper and Earth Spirit. Hard to argue with a winrate on average of 71.57% across their top five most-picked heroes.

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dota 2, casting, lyrical

Lyrical on casting, new heroes, and more

Earlier this week, I was able to chat with Gabriel “Lyrical” Cruz. We had a great conversation about casting, the evolution of DotA as an Esport, among a lot of other things. Huge shoutout and thank you to Lyrical for taking the time to chat with me. You can find his Twitch and Twitter accounts at the links provided.

You can also listen to the audio of this interview at our new DotA Podcast “Secret Shop Talk”. Part of The Game Haus’ Soundcloud lineup.

Without further adieu, enjoy!

Eli: Well we’ll start out with just an easier one. So when did you know that you wanted to make Esports casting a career specifically in DotA 2? And when did you know that it was something that could actually take you somewhere?

Lyrical: I think it was always going to be DotA probably if I was going to be doing anything. I didn’t really have an idea that I wanted to do something until it had kind of already happened. If that makes sense? I was casting in-house leagues just for fun with my friends because they would, you know? They have these matches that would go on every night after work I would come home and play some DotA. Or I would like sit in the lobby and watch those people who would be casting them just for fun because you know you want to make it feel like the game has a little bit more meaning.

Somehow it feels like that’s the case; people are casting it and talking about it it feels like it kind of elevates it something beyond just a regular game that you’re playing. It’s cool to hear people talk about stuff. And so from that I kind of just started casting. And then people said I should keep doing it. And it kind of just grew from there so it was never really like a conscious thought of what needed to happen. It was more just something that happened.  

And I think the first time that I realized it could actually go somewhere was when I had been doing it for a little bit. And there are a couple different points but probably the first time I had made you know that it could be something was around the time that I started to get noticed by this company called HeflaTV which I put out a big reddit post saying that I was going to cast these games for TI5 because I wanted to cast the group stages for it and I just wanted to see if people would be interested in it at all and then I got in touch with HeflaTV which is somebody that used to do the Tier 2 scene. And they brought me on for some more stuff so that was probably the first time.

Eli: You’ve been around the scene for how long would you say then?

Lyrical: I think that it was October. Around the time that 6.20 came out. When I first started playing DotA. Actually like being a person in the scene the first event I ever went to, the first time I think anybody really heard my name, was the Frankfurt Major Qualifiers so however long ago that was. I’m not exactly sure how long ago that was.  

Eli: And yet it really just with every patch that comes out every tournament feels like years and years ago when it might not even be that long.

Lyrical: So the fall of 2015. And that’s like two years ago I guess.

Eli: Where the scene’s at right now, you’re almost a seasoned veteran.

Lyrical: Yeah, I guess!

Eli: How have you watched the scene change over those two years and how do you think it might have changed for the better and sometimes for the worse?

Lyrical: Let’s see. How has it changed. Probably the biggest thing will be the implementation of the Major-Minor system. That was obviously something that had just gotten started with the Frankfurt major because that was the very first one that came around, and it was an experiment. They kind of made a first iteration of it that it had its ups and its downs.

The ups was that there was, you know, these big tournaments that everybody had kind of plan around. The downsides with those big tournaments is that everyone still has to plan around. Where it kind of ran into trouble with third party events, then they made the new iteration of it which is the next year where there are just two majors. That was a little bit stronger I think because you were planning around the big tournaments that were happening but there was more room for third party events and now we’ve moved on this year where it’s very different in that the third party events have become the majors.

Also they’re more marketable. So it feels like each time we’re kind of moving in a direction that’s aiming to fix the problems that happened before and it feels like we’re getting closer. I just want to see what the next round of iteration is. Besides that there’s not really a ton outside of the game specific things. You know obviously has been a ton of changes to DOTA. But that doesn’t really affect the macro sense of what’s happening in the scene.

Eli: So moving on. As a caster, how have you had to adapt specifically this year with all the increase in Tier 1 events?

dota 2, dotapit, newbee, liquid, 7.07


Lyrical: The biggest thing for me is all the qualifiers. There’s a ton of them going on right now. And in some ways it’s kind of tough and in other ways it’s good. On the one hand you get a lot of new opportunity for up and coming casters. For instance I know that today was some Moonduck stream games going on that they couldn’t have the main Moonduck casters on it because they’re all coming back from Dotapit so they had other people that were filling in for them. That’s really cool because it gives a lot of opportunities for up and coming people that you know try out their hand. From my point of view it’s really tough because if I’m going to some events it means that I’m not able to cast as many of the qualifiers. And I kind of just go from event to event when they’re happening and that can be tough to keep up with what’s going on in the rest scene.

But it just means that it’s more opportunity to put in hard work and grow from that. The other big thing is that it’s sometimes a little bit nuts. So for instance during the games that I was casting today it was like Vega versus Empire which normally is this absolutely huge event but because there’s like three other tournaments that are going on. It also means that the viewership is split between those three whereas before it would just be like one main headlining stuff. So it means that there’s more opportunities for viewers to pick and choose from what they want. And also it’s less clear that this tournament is going to get this amount of viewership which can be kind of tough, I’d imagine, for tournament organizers.

Eli: Do you think with all the planning that went into doing all these majors this year is that saturation going to show up in the marketing numbers. Like the business side of it. How do you think that saturation might affect the scene?

Lyrical: I think whenever you have competition, I mean really because that’s what it is that you’re talking about, is saturation, is mainly just competition. So you’ve got tournament organizers that are competing against each other for viewership and the tournaments that have the best or the most work put into it are going to get the best viewers so that at the end of the day can only be good for a tournament.

The problem becomes if you have so many high class tournaments that then like I don’t know I think that it can only be good. But it sort of also depends upon what teams go to which events because of a lot of viewership is also based on what teams are going and which teams are playing. No matter what if it’s a South American tournament or a North American tournament the North American one is going to be getting viewership regardless of production value.

Eli: You also do a little bit of streaming on top of being a caster right?

Lyrical: A little bit yeah.

Eli: Do you think that with the scene going right now are you going to have to move more towards casting or are you going to be able to stream? How do you think that’s going to affect what you want to do?

Lyrical: I mean I’m always going to like the idea of playing games on my own stream but I know that that’s also not what people are going to be as interested in me for I’m not as good of a player as these other people. So I think that it’s just going to be more casting which is understandable and makes me happy I love casting Dota. That’s when I first started streaming before I started playing games on my own. So I think that it’s just going to mean that I’m going to be playing a lot more which I’m not upset about at all. Like I said love casting so it’s not like I’m losing much.

Eli: On this thread of of casting and streaming. if I’m wrong correct me but I remember seeing something about you casting people’s pubs for them?

Lyrical: I do that every now and that. It depends on what it is that that’s going on. If I haven’t had like a lot of stuff going on for a while an old cast goes. There was a time recently when I was doing it for charity stuff because I was just thinking thatd be a cool thing to do. It was right around the time when all the hurricanes were coming through the Texas and Florida area. So I said if somebody donated 10 bucks to the Red Cross that I would cast their pub. So I did that for a couple of people. And also there was some for a Reddit charity thing happened too.

Eli: Would you be interested in doing more of these like charity based kind of events? Because that’s one thing that I think is lacking in the scene in form of identity of corporate social responsibility so to speak. Would that be something that you’d be interested in?

Lyrical: For sure. I think it all depends upon working around the schedule because at the end of the day if there’s something where I’m going to need to be able to pay my rent because I’m casting games versus being able to do charity stuff that I’m going to pay my rent over it.  But there’s usually a good amount of free time. I certainly wouldn’t blame anybody for not wanting to do it. Sometimes the hours that people work in Esports are pretty ridiculous. At events it’s not unusual for it to be a 12 to 14 hour day and that’s all like the whole time you know being on camera and being in front of lights and stuff like that. And then when you’re doing the same thing for casting online qualifiers 14 hours isn’t uncommon either and afterwards you do need to take time for yourself as well. But it’s also tends to be like seven days a week. But you know if you have downtime and I think some people should be down.

Eli: That’s something I’ve always wondered. What’s it like being in those super long days where it’s 14 hours of casting and you have to be on your A-game and you have to be in front of the camera and you know people are watching you. What’s that like? How do you motivate yourself to push through those?

Lyrical: It’s not too hard because we’re doing what we love. I think for everybody that’s doing it. So it’s just about making sure that you’re going to be excited and it’s tough to do that. The thing that’s toughest about it is that it’s just like remembering what the stakes are because if your casting, particularly you meet somebody who still, I wouldn’t say by any means I’m established in the scene, that people sort of know me, I think generally speaking. But there’s going to be a lot of people from casting on a big tournament are going to be like “Who is this caster?”.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the end of a long day or if it’s the beginning and I’m completely fresh. Their first impression of me is going to be what they run into when they hear. So you have to keep in mind like what the stakes are in that if you have a bad first impression that’s the impression that you’re going to leave with these people forever. So. Just sort of like reinvigorating yourself drinking caffeine a ton and that type of thing. I don’t know it’s sort of you go through stages of sort of where your beginning casts are really really really really good. And then it steadily drops off as you become more and more tired and your casts become worse. Then eventually it hits this point weren’t like suddenly spikes up and you’re so exhausted the kind of don’t care what you’re saying anymore. You just kind of run off of instinct and that’s when casts become really good for a little bit and then they really drop off the deep end and they become terrible. But if you sort lose all of your inhibitions that’s when the coolest moments come out.

Eli: Could you give me an example of one of those moments that just kind of happened upon you? Maybe in a game and all of a sudden you’re going back and forth and there’s this huge teamfight that comes in and you just kind of run with it.

Lyrical: Yeah I think I have some that are on my YouTube channel actually. Let me see if I can find them because one of the things that came up was that there was this period of time where I was doing, it was like maybe a year ago or something, I was casting from midnight until like 8:00 in the morning and then I was sleeping for four hours and then I was casting for another seven hours. And then I would sleep for another four hours and then it was midnight again. I did that for like two weeks. And it was just insanity. It was like in the throes of all of that when I started to cast this one game that was for WESG Europe.

Eli: I was going to say was this during the WESG stretch because I remember listening to you on a ton of those games and you were just so entertaining. It was just a great run for you right before TI, too.

Lyrical: You know I think that’s what it was. And the one that it was I think was Alliance versus Horde. No no no. It was the SingSing stack, yeah. I don’t remember all of it . I literally don’t remember this game except that there were like a ton of kills right at the start. And beyond that I don’t remember whatever else happened. It was just insanity.

Eli: That’s wild. Do you want to try and play it?

Fight for First Blood right at the beginning of the game. 

Lyrical: Wow. That’s pretty good. It was a good couple of games.

Eli: I mean that’s a great sound clip though. I mean just overall, you’re flying around. You can just tell. I’ve taken on to listening to some of these streams and listening to stuff like this and not even watching the audio because I think the casting is at such a high level right now. Do you think there is an avenue for DotA to go to a non-visual? Like there’s a lot of podcasts and stuff out there right now but there’s not a lot of like audio streams for matches and stuff.

Lyrical: Maybe. It’s tough. It’s really tough. There is this thing that was a while ago that came out called “DotaRadio” which Toffees did.I think it kind of fell by the wayside. It was an experiment to try and be exactly what we’re talking about there. But I don’t know. I like listening to a lot of podcasts usually because, you know, cleaning up around my house or something and you know I’ll need something to do during that time. But it feels to me like it might. It’s never going to be as strong as the visual aspect but it could be and it’s sort of a problem that you run into with like you know sports talk radio or something like that or a radio broadcast of a basketball game or something like different styles where you have to say what’s happening visually describe it visually see paint the picture and somebody else’s head which you can do in DotA.

I could say something that describes the picture that formulates in somebody’s head. But I have to use all these key words that are saying where exactly the person is relative to each other and allow the person to visualize the map in their head. And then I’m helping them direct through it. That’s not what’s important when you’re doing an audio cast. So I think it’s harder to do an audio cast it’s a different skill set to an audio cast only. Versus doing a cast of a game that h as the picture there as well. So you need to specialize in it yourself and I don’t know what the market would be like for that.

Eli: No I agree I think DotA is an extremely visual game that a lot of points there’s a lot of visual cues and stuff happens so fast that it just feels kind of difficult to be able to encapsulate it in just audio. Moving on from that, what do you think of the new patch so far? We talked a little bit that you’re going to you know dive into it, I’ve played if I play a bunch of it too. I just kind of want to pick your brain. What do you think’s going on right now?

Lyrical: I still don’t have much of an idea. I don’t think you can take much from the Dotapit results. Or rather that the Dotapit meta that was formed because it was literally like the day before. And so teams didn’t have fully fleshed out ideas. I don’t think of what was happening and what the what should be happening. But I do think that if you get towards probably the Perfect World Masters I think is going to be the next big tournament that’s going to be where a lot of the meta evolves. You’ll be able to get to see some of it during the qualifier events. And I’ve got to see some but it’s still team specific what everybody is doing. So as far as which specific heroes are important it’s kind of hard to tell. Also the teams that are playing in the qualifiers that surely aren’t going to be as good as the top tier teams.

The meta that evolves there’s going to be different anyways. So the biggest thing to me is what I’ve seen hasn’t looked that different from what we are seeing at the end of the last patch. But that’s also because teams haven’t developed their own strategy yet. There are a couple of heroes that feel very strong to me. I saw Chen today looked really really good. What he was doing was they ran Chen/Sand King dual-lane and then Chen would send back the ranged creep in the Sand King offlane that way the wave would naturally push because you can send back a level one with Holy Persuasion and Chen’s not doing anything during that period anyways. And then what would happen is Sand King would naturally get towards about level 2.  

He could basically expend his whole health and mana pool onto the safe lane, bringing him down very low. And then Chen would send back the Sand King and then Sand King can TP back to lane his free TP. He would basically be really far ahead in the lane. I think that’s possible with a lot of other heroes. I think that maneuver might need to be nerfed in some way but I’m not exactly sure how you can do it. But the big thing there is that it feels like it enables your offlane to get a good start and then he can roam mid.

Chen feels like a very strong hero to me. And also I’ve seen other times where Chen feels completely terrible. So it’s like which specific heroes are actually good in which instances. I think it’s going to be like a really long time before we get a clear picture. Maybe the end of Perfect World Masters. Even after that there’s going to be new stuff being discovered

Eli: You have Chen 2.0 with the level 4 Call of the wild on Beastmaster you just get a random creep now.

Lyrical: Oh yeah. I mean he’s he’s actually the best hero in the patch right now. Beastmaster. And I don’t think we’re going to be seeing him at all. I think he’s going to be first banned every time.

Eli: What do you think adding another ban to both sides is going to do for the meta?

Lyrical: It just means the teams have to be more versatile. That’s the biggest thing. And for specific teams that’s really important. You think about Liquid, they had three heroes and you had to ban or pick them and get them away from Liquid and you just couldn’t do that every game. Or else they would be able to run strategies that were just so strong that it didn’t matter. So to me it feels like it’s making sure that teams have to be able to beat you with more than just you know the things that they’re very comfortable with.

Eli: Right it just takes a lot of that comfort picking out of the game and makes you kind of adapt in-game. It seems like in Dotapit a lot of the series kind of formulated into these micrometas almost depending on how they played each other.

Lyrical: Yeah definitely. It’s just sort of to be expected but I think that Perfect World is probably going to be the big instance where we see a lot of the top teams getting together and these metas have been resolved and some issues have been figured out. Like people understanding a little bit better what’s happening. I was looking I’ve only played 23 matches so far on this patch and most of those are Turbo Mode so I don’t have a ton of familiarity with it yet. I have been casting more DotA than I’ve been playing. But it’s been it’s been good. I’m excited to see what it brings. I think that there’s a lot of cool changes.  

Eli: Turbo Mode is interesting. I’ve only played one Turbo Mode game and I’m not going to lie, I hated it. I thought it was terrible. DotA is already so hard for me that a Turbo Mode game, there is just way too much going on.

Lyrical: It’s a lot going on but I think that that’s what’s cool about it. It is a game mode that’s different and it’s for people that have trouble getting into DotA. You’re not going to be able to come at the game as tactically as like sort of you know; you go here, you take down this tower, then this tower, then go for Roshan. It’s too chaotic for that and that chaos also means that everybody is kind of on the same level of “What the hell is happening? What do I do?” Because you’re not used to those timings that are sort of built into your brain.

It means that it’s an environment where you can get people into the game more easily. I really like the mode a lot because it it feels like it’s an answer for casual fans that want to enjoy pro DotA like they can watch pro DotA themselves. They don’t have to invest like an hour into the game if they’re like not going to have fun with it. And you know sometimes games suck and it’s cool to be able to have turbo mode where you sort of have that out.

Eli: I do see a lot of utility there for having the casual DotA 2 pro fan come in and just being able to interact with the game in some form where they don’t have to worry about their positioning or going to what shop. And it just seems like a lot of quality-of-life stuff for the casual player base.

Lyrical: Yeah and it doesn’t take anything away from people that enjoy a more hardcore experience.

Eli: Very true, very true. So do you enjoy the more hardcore DotA experience? What is your role in pubs? What do you like to play?

Lyrical: I have switched off a lot. When I first started I was like strictly a hard support. Then I switched over to playing a lot of mid. Then I became an offlaner. I would say right now probably my most comfortable role is either offlane or carry. As far as like more casual/more hardcore, the main reason I’m playing turbo mode is because I’ve been playing a lot of the new heroes and I’m playing a lot of heroes that have been changed really heavily. Because I want to get a feel for what those heroes are like. And that’s really sort of the crux of it is as a caster you got to be able to understand. I don’t have to understand the intricacies of like high level DotA. But I do need to be able to understand DotA enough to make a call in the middle of a teamfight saying this fight is going well for this team and if I say that and it’s wrong and it’s actually not going well for them that’s not as good. That’s pretty bad.

Eli: What do you what do you think of the new heroes? Because I hear a lot of “Oh, Dark Willow is super OP right now and then I hear a lot of why isn’t Pangolier as good as it should be?”

Lyrical: I think it’s just getting used to the vector targeting. Pangolier feels very strong to me. People aren’t  either playing him right like understanding the potential from him. I think that his “Q”, I need to learn all the spell names still, is quite good. Swashbuckler? I think?

Eli: It’s Swashbuckler or Swahbuckle. But yeah I would agree with you I think Pangolin is very strong played correctly.

Lyrical: Yeah ad his ulti is quite good as well. I think that [Shield Crash] moving forward now is a pretty good answer for some of the problems that he was having before. Just gives him more maneuverability. He can use swashbuckle now and then afterwards jump out with his “W” and then he’s like in a little bit of a better spot. So I think he’s fine. I think Dark Willow is very very good. And it’s not surprising. It feels a lot like Puck when I play her. Just not as maneuverable. Illusory Orb. You really miss a spell like that on Dark Willow, but it still feels like it’s a pretty frickin good hero.

Eli: Touching back on Pangolier since people are kind of split on him. What do you think the right way to play him is?

Lyrical: I am not entirely sure about that. I think you can’t play him offlane. He’s got some escape. And if you get levels on him that ultimately becomes really really strong especially with how low the cooldown is. So probably offlane right now is where I put him as the best role. You don’t need to get a ton of farm on him although you can and it becomes quite strong. But, you can use them as more of like him fight hero and maybe pair him together with a Lifestealer or something and do some Lifestealer bombs. Who knows.

Eli: Yeah that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. I’ve been getting a Diffusal Blade, getting a Skull Basher, and “Q” my way straight into a fight. Pressing “W” getting all that damage reduction. Then just kind of being a pain after that is good. Anyway, let’s talk a little bit about TI7. You were there as a caster. What was that like?

Lyrical: It was awesome. You know everything that I wanted. It was really cool like being a part of the event and being able to do so many things. Obviously casting at it was the was the very very fun part of it because you know it’s casting TI. But I was only casting in the group stage so it was very low key. Actually I brought four suits with me and I brought like maybe 15 different shirts and maybe like 20 different ties before I found out that I was never going to be on camera the entire time. I did like casts in my sweatpants when we were in the hotel because that’s all we had to do. We were like in a hotel room just chilling during the group stages which works well I think. The group stage casting was fine.

I did the newbie stream during the main event which was also really cool. I was working with Torte De Lini and I would switch off where he would take like the first two games of the day and I’d take the next two and then he’d take the next two and I would take the next two and we just sort of run it back and forth that way. Then I also got to work with a couple of people from Valve that I got to work with pretty closely and they’re really cool. That was probably the coolest thing about TI, outside of being able to cast it, was meeting the people behind the game. Like everybody from Valve is very very competent and really really cool. I don’t know. Sort of you build them up in your head as the sort of this mythical faceless thing, but they’re actually people. Which is sort of a strange realization to have.

Eli: What do you mean when you say they’re competent? Like in their knowledge of the game or just kind of in general?

Lyrical: In everything. I mean I don’t want to reveal too much about any one person in particular, but in talking with people they have very interesting backstories, places that they came from, things that they’ve done. If you look at valve and some of the stats behind it there’s some of the most productive people monetarily in the world. I think that the dollar that they make per person or something is like the highest in the world or something. Might be talking out of my butt here but I feel like that’s the stat that I read somewhere. But they’re there. They know what they’re doing and they do it well.

Eli: You said before you don’t really think that you’re that big time of a caster yet. Getting to go to all these events like TI7 and StarLadder that you’ve done. I remember even listening to you cast a lot of like Mineski games and stuff. I had no idea who they were and then I come in and listen to you because I see you’re on the cast. What do you think your name brings to some of these tournaments? Do you think you have that power yet of “Oh, Lyrical is casting this game. I want to go listen to this”?

Lyrical: I think I might have some fan base that feels that way. I have always gotten pretty positive perception. There’s some people that don’t like my cast. I think that, if anything, is more indicative to me that I’m sort of making it. The worst thing that you can have is somebody that’s indifferent. If they actually know you and then they hate you. That means that you must be doing something right because there’s probably an equal number of people if not more that really like what you’re doing as long as you sort of get a variety it means that your overall numbers are going to be increasing.

I think that there are some people that definitely tune in because it’s me casting but I think for anything it’s just…there is the thing that’s been cool it’s that I think that there are people that know the scene and people that understand the industry then are starting to recognize that I have something of value to offer. I think that’s the coolest thing that’s happened over the last year for me.

Eli: How would you classify that? What do you think your style as a caster is? What do you think you bring to the table specifically?

Lyrical: Authenticity. I feel like I’m very authentic and when I get excited about stuff I think you can hear it and feel it. When the cast happens I would I would agree with that as somebody who is partial to your cast. I would agree.

Eli: Yeah. So I wanted to kind of ask for some of your favorite players some of your favorite teams to cast is there a certain style that you find better suited to kind of the way you like to cast teams players.

Lyrical: I always get into trouble with those because I feel like I think that the natural implication of biased caster’s something like that that always gets thrown around. It’s so frustrating to hear it right. I don’t think any caster has a stake in any team. There might be a couple here and there but it’s really very very rare that a team with B or a cast would be like really rooting for one team or another to win to the point where it would affect the way that they cast. It’s like subconscious. But that would only happen if like they really eat somebody or really dislike somebody and even then I think that I’ve tended to notice that caster’s who really like certain players would tend to be more harsh towards them than they would be otherwise. But I would say that for me I tend to just really enjoy action packed though.

Lyrical: I think that that’s you know the normal you look at it. See I don’t know that was a classic. I’ve really come to love SEA DotA throughout the past year or so since I started casting like one of my first tournaments was the BTSA Series Number Two and it was like it’s just there’s so much action that happens particularly like one of the things that always feels like it comes around is as a puck played in the offlane where they play these off winners in a one 1-v-1 matchup. So you basically have to one of the ones that are happening the off lane. And then 1-v-1 in the middle lane and then it’s like a 3-v-3 bottom and that always feels like very cool.

Eli: Yeah there is that period of games where you were casting a lot of like Raging Potato on Puck and that was just wild.

Lyrical: There are definitely I think probably one of my favorite players is KuKu. I really like him a lot from TNC just because he’s always he’s either like he’s either going to win the game or he’s going to lose the game but he’s definitely going to do one of those too. He is not going to be a neutral party in any game.

Eli: Yeah he’s a very he’s very high impact guy on well otherwise man that’s really all I had for you. I think this went very well this was a lot of fun definitely for sure.

Lyrical: Thanks for the interview!

Eli: Of course, man. I really appreciate you and all you do and I’m going to enjoy watching you this year and I just want to say again thanks for coming in taking the time out of your day to do this.

Lyrical: Yeah definitely hope that it all goes well for you.

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pangolier, dota 2, immortal, dueling fates, dota 2

Pangolier build to crush your pubs

Dueling Fates is upon us! The new patch brought some of the biggest changes the game has seen since 7.00 aka Reborn. Two new heroes, Pangolier and Dark Willow, were introduced to the DotA community on Halloween. Building these heroes in the infancy of their DotA lives is always interesting. DotA has so many nuances in each game that must be accounted for. Builds change based on a myriad of factors in real-time. So how do we figure out a brand new hero like Pangolier?

Pangolier’s ability to control a lane

Admittedly I have been spamming Pangolier in pubs since his release. Mainly in the safe lane, but I think he is better as an offlaner now. He’s a ton of fun to play. His spells have a lot of utility. You really only have to itemize to fight. With abilities that point this hero towards an initiating role.

pangolier, dota 2, dueling fates, 7.07, swashbuckle


pangolier, dota 2, shield crash, dueling fates











Let’s start with Donte’s first two skills as they are most important to success in the laning stage. You can use his Swashbuckle to do anything you want. Effective for last-hitting, escape, initiation and even harassing once you get used to aiming it. One skill point on Pangolier’s “Q” provides a 96 physical damage nuke over a huge range. Moving onto his second ability, Shield Crash. This is going to be your bread and butter in the lane. Many of the early builds for Pangolier max his nuke which I think is detrimental. Only two points in Shield Crash will give you a 10% damage reduction buff per hero hit with this ability. Hitting two heroes with a “W” does 150 damage to each of them while Pangolier takes 20% less damage for the next ten seconds; allowing you to be very tanky with minimal items. Which is why I prioritize this ability over Swashbuckle in lane. While the latter provides great damage it’s much more useful for escape and harass in the early game. Shield Crash‘s stacking damage reduction buff and increasing magic damage is too hard for me to pass up. I am able to sustain in lane much more with multiple points of Shield Crash.

They see me rollin’ they hatin’…

heartpiercer, dota 2, dueling fates, pangolier


dota 2, dueling fates, pangolier, dueling fates, rolling thunder













Moving on to his passive, Heartpiercer. It is not at all what I was hoping for. The Dueling Fates preview led a lot to believe that Pangolier was going to have an ability that provided a “break” mechanic. Which would have been extremely novel as “break” itself is a rare mechanic with immense impact. Overall the skill is underwhelming as it only lasts for two seconds with a 15% proc chance. Comparatively Spirit Breaker’s Greater Bash has a 17% proc chance. The saving grace for this ability is that it becomes very powerful once you get a couple items on Pangolier and are able to instigate fights. Until then it just does not feel as worth the skill points as his two active abilities.

His ultimate ability is aptly named Rolling Thunder. Another ability that has a bushel of uses, especially in teamfights. With only a 40 second cooldown Rolling Thunder is a 6/7/8 second Black King Bar with a stun and a knockback that does 200/250/300 damage. Seems legit right? You can also cast your Shield Crash while rolling around the map like a Techies dream. It is most effectively used as a counter initiation. The channel time means you should cast it while out of range and then roll into the fight stunning the enemy. Cast Shield Crash on top of enemy heroes right before you pop out. Doing a whopping 600 magic damage and reducing your damage taken by anywhere from 14%-70% of damage. Go ahead and right-click to your hearts’ content because you aren’t dying!

Itemizing the ultimate fighter

Right now it’s impossible to know what the “best” items are on this hero. I’ll share what I have been trying lately as it has felt strong. Starting off with a mango, sages mask, ironwood branch and a stack of tangos. Quickly building into a Magic Wand and Ring of Basilius. You have enough base movement speed to get away with this before building a pair of Power Treads. After this my core items are a Vladimir’s Offering and a Maelstrom. The complete removal of unique attack modifiers allows for Maelstrom to proc off of your Swashbuckle providing another nuker and a farming tool. Transitioning into the reworked Diffusal Blade allows Pangolier to scale his damage and adds onto the effectiveness of your “Q” even further. Anything after this is situational. Adding a Mjollnir for even more damage is an option. More defensive players can build a Vanguard into a Crimson Guard to tank up. Any item that allows you to keep up the aggression is a good choice.

Pangolier has a unique toolkit that allows him versatility in all areas of the game. While no build is perfect, he is a hero who benefits from fighting. Teamfighting at a peak in the mid-late game when teams tend to group up is best. Move around the map with your team once you have your items and you’ll slash your way to some easy MMR.

Featured Image courtesy of DotA 2 In-Game Client

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Two nerfs and one buff for 7.07

Besides adding two new heroes, patch 7.07 is set to shake up DotA 2. It has been over five months since we have seen more than balance changes. That is all set to change on November 1. While 7.06 has been a fun patch the prospect of new heroes and tweaks to other heroes who are dominating pubs is needed.

The only thing this hero can’t heal is pubs

Necrophos has been a scourge on pubs for what feels like a while now. The pace of the meta brought about the perfect storm for this hero. Continuous skirmishes became normal and this hero has the perfect spells to withstand this fighting. All beginning in 7.00 when his passive, Sadist, was absorbed into Death Pulse, opening the door for the creation of Ghost Shroud. Adding this ability to the hero propelled Necro into relevance. Boosting his heals by 75 percent, nullifying physical damage and only amplifying magic damage taken by 25 percent. Let’s hope this hero gets hit hard by the nerf hammer.

A welcome change that wouldn’t completely render useless would be lowering the amount of regen provided by Death Pulse kills. At level four, kills with Death Pulse provide seven regen per second to both health and mana. Stacking once with creep kills, but ten times on a hero kill. The first remedy would be providing a stack limit instead of just a timer, along with a re-scaling of the overall regen. Hopefully, this would nerf Necrophos enough in the laning stage to give teams a chance.

bloodseeker, dota 2, hero


No more blood left to give

Another hero that is seemingly in every single game is Bloodseeker. For good reason as he is incredibly strong right now. This hero needs almost no regen if you can last hit enough thanks to Bloodrage. Bloodrage has 100% uptime at level two and provides a 30 percent damage increase on top of healing the hero for 21 percent of a killed unit’s max health at no mana cost. Add onto this one of the games most powerful teamfight spells in Blood Rite. Not his ultimate, Rupture, that does pure damage anytime a hero moves. Blood Rite is arguably more powerful in teamfights due to its burst damage, large AoE and six second silence at level four.

Tweaking Bloodrage by adding a mana cost seems inevitable, though this hero should see numerous nerfs to all of his spells. Reducing the burst damage and silence duration on Blood Rite should help balance this hero out, while letting Rupture and Thirst define him.

tusk, hero, dota 2


Snowballing into the meta

One hero that could really use a buff is Tusk. The hero has zero base regen. According to Dotabuff his winrate is a pathetic 42 percent. Which is odd because one would think Tusk would benefit immensely from the current fight-heavy meta. This is partially because of the high cooldowns on his abilities before they reach level three, on top of a high mana cost on his Ice Shards at all levels. Really detrimental for a hero that wants to push tempo, but suffers from a small mana pool.

Adjustments to the early game of this hero could very easily make him relevant. Damage and cooldown boosts at the early level of both Ice Shards and Snowball would provide him with a great toolkit to be a four-position support. Putting him firmly in the niche of other roamers with spammable spells such as Earthshaker.

The upcoming patch is one of the most anticipated in recent memory. Carrying with it the ability to change the roles of heroes with any simple adjustment. Some heroes that were highly picked are bound to fall to the wayside, while others will surge to the forefront with the help of new builds. Patch season is always an exciting time in DotA 2.

Featured Image courtesy of DotA 2 In-Game Client

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Aghanim’s Scepters that could be and should be

Earlier this week I made a post on r/Dota2 about a horrible idea I had for a Techies Aghanim’s Scepter. Feel free to check it out for a few good laughs. After that, I started to think about the potential with the upcoming patch Valve has announced with a November first date. Before then, it might be time to try out some interesting Aghanim’s Scepter abilities.

The ultimate high-ground defense

As if this wasn’t already hard enough. Many games have been lost due to the enemy team holding high-ground, killing your whole team, walking down mid and ending the game. You’ve lost a lot of sleep and even more MMR over it. With a couple Aghanim’s Scepter’s you could create the ultimate defense.

Start out with Zeus’ Nimbus that he gains from having a Scepter. This ability in front of a tower already gets pretty annoying to push into, especially with Lightning Bolt gaining another half-second Ministun with his level 20 talent. Add onto this an Omniknight and Sniper both with Aghanim’s and you will never lose high-ground again! Sniper’s upgraded Assassinate becomes a ground-targeted spell that hits all visible player controlled units in a 400 AoE for a 2.8x critical strike while also proccing a Headshot, also changing the ability from Magic damage to Physical damage.

If this doesn’t make you hate 7.06 even more, then wait until the Omniknight comes in. Actually, he wouldn’t even need to as his Aghs upgrade makes Guardian Angel a global ability that also effects buildings for ten seconds at level three. Just imagine you walk up to high-ground into a Nimbus, Arc spam, a Sniper with a Mjollnir/Aghs and this Omni. Might as well gg.

dota 2 , omniknight, scepter


Space cow or clown car

Spirit Breakers resurgence into the 7.06 meta really drove the pace of games, transforming DotA into the chaotic mess of fights we see today. How could this get any better? Well, one of Spirit Breaker’s favorite heroes to play with is Lifestealer. Naix’s ultimate Infest has obvious natural synergy with Spirit Breaker’s Charge of Darkness. It provides a gap closing mechanism to two heroes that want to force fights once Lifestealer reaches level 6. The combo itself is already very potent. Adding a Scepter to Lifestealer grants him a new ability called Assimilate which allows him to swallow another hero. While inside Naix the other hero still gains gold and experience while maintaining auras.

This would allow for heroes like Alchemist with a Radiance to ride around with Naix and his Space Cow pal. On ejecting from Lifestealer the other hero would cause an explosion dealing 300 magic damage in an AoE. Very much like Infest which deals 400 magic damage in an AoE. Pair this with another global hero that does tons of magic damage like Meepo. In theory, Spirit Breaker shows up and bashes you. A Lifestealer jumps out hitting you for 400 damage. Then a Meepo pops out for another 300 damage and nets you while poofing as well. This would make a Black King Bar mandatory on every hero., while still not doing anything against Spirit Breaker. Properly executed, this clown car could dominate the map, making life miserable for all in its path.

Honorable mentions

Finally, I wanted to make sure I thanked the community for this awesome inspiration. Here are some of my favorite comments/theories from the thread.

“TheGreatGimmick” provided an incredibly interesting and well put-together list, but these were my favorite:

Slardar – True Strike now grants True Strike and is only purged by strong dispels.

Ember Spirit – If Flame Guard expires or is dispelled before it has absorbed all the magical damage possible, it deals half the remaining capacity in an AoE as a magical damage nuke. Additionally, Fire Remnants now possess Flame Guard as well as maintaining nuke damage on activation.

Both of these would be extremely fun to see. While the Slardar change would be the Phantom Assassin counter we have all been waiting for. Ember’s fire remnants having flame guard would probably need a little more balancing.

Another great idea came from “acbasco” who might have finally figured out how to help Terrorblade scale into late game.

Terrorblade – Metamorphosis is now a toggleable ability, consuming x mana per second.

This would be really cool for TB who is almost useless without Metamorphosis after the mid game. Also, I don’t think it would be too overpowered as Terrorblade’s mana pool isn’t the best. Regardless, it would be a fun change to the hero that would amplify the reasons that he is already good.

See you all November 1st for Dueling Fates!

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dota 2, talents, bulba, draft, heroes

Three of the most insane talents in DotA

Talent Trees have been the best addition to DotA

The addition of Talent Trees came with the Reborn patch along with a breath of fresh air into hero composition. Allowing for in-game adjustments to core aspects of your hero within each game. Simultaneously removing stat upgrades that were only useful on a handful of heroes. Talent Trees have also pushed the creativity of DotA players to new levels due to the nature of some of the upgrades.

Early, a few heroes became basically broken thanks to their talent trees. Most memorably was Lina’s first talent tree that allowed her a respawn timer reduction. A small oversight on a hero that can easily justify a Bloodstone to further reduce her time off the map. This would spell the end for respawn talents. All of which were patched out a couple months later. Talents have seen a lot of touch-ups since, but a few remain extremely impactful. Not just Puck’s ridiculous Level 25 talent of +420 Gold/Min.

puck, dota 2, gpm, talents

Puck being blessed by IceFrog

Crazy Coconuts and a Scorched Earth campaign

Witch Doctor’s talent choice at level 15 is between +90 Damage and +2 Paralyzing Cask Bounces. Too bad carry Witch Doctor isn’t a thing. But, support Witch Doctor is boosted with another 2 seconds of lockdown and damage. On the surface this may not seem so powerful. A level 4 Paralyzing Cask already bounces 8 times. Though adding another 2 bounces adds another second of stun in a teamfight. The value of this cannot be underestimated. Coupled with Maledict, a Death Ward, or both can provide devastating damage from a support.

Another hero who’s teamfight presence benefits from a Level 15 Talent is Doom. Scorched Earth is already a powerful ability:

doom, scorched earth, dota 2


So let’s add another 15 Damage and Heal per second to that. Doom has largely fallen out of the meta as an offlaner and support. But, this talent turns him into a very tanky frontliner in any teamfight. Think about it in terms of HP alone. With this talent Scorched earth does 640 magic damage over 16 seconds before reductions. in a 600 range area. While also healing Doom for the same amount. If you were to catch two heroes in a gank for seven seconds; that’s an HP swing of 1155 in favor of your team. In the early-mid game this is incredibly annoying to fight into before even taking into account his ultimate.

How much regen is too much regen

The answer is a Timbersaw with max Reactive Armor stacks at Level 15. Because this is when he gains a passive +14 Health Regen. If you haven’t played against this yet, pray you never do. A Timbersaw with no items and max stacks of Reactive Armor at this point would have a cool 46 HP regen/second. Add in another 21 HP regen with a Bloodstone and you have a real problem chaining all over the place. Physical damage becomes almost useless with all Timbersaw’s armor and regen. You would need a ton of magic damage burst just to make a Timbersaw think about leaving a fight.

DotA has always been a game about talent. With MMR dividing up players into skill brackets. A pro scene rich with extremely skilled players who are always pushing the game’s limits. Talent Trees just provide a in-game nuance that further ensures no two DotA games are the same.

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witch doctor, dota 2, support

Making the case for Supporting in pubs

Supporting in DotA 2 pubs is not the most glamorous way to play, but it can be extremely effective when climbing MMR and enjoying the game.

We have all had games that start with fights over who buys the courier. Then someone caves and drops one in the Fountain, allowing it to sit there until First Blood. Meanwhile, the other mid already has a bottle, your offlaner is hiding in the trees waiting for the Shrine to be up, and your safe kaner keeps dying to get to the Side Shop.

Overall, it’s a pretty abysmal start to any game. This all stems from a vast majority of players wanting to pick core heroes and just trying to carry games. DotA is a team game, though it sometimes doesn’t feel that way. Playing the support role can give you a tangible leg up on a team that chooses not to draft at least one.

Supporting in pubs has incredibly high impact

There is so much going on during any given game. Every role is complex, coming with unique wrinkles in movement, play-style, farm pattern, item timings and teamfight participation. The list goes on. As a support, you have to be aware of all of this while also deciding how to best utilize your role. It becomes both an extremely challenging and rewarding task. Just buying wards and having vision down on the map can teach you something new each game. A well-executed early smoke can boost morale.

support, dota 2, crystal maiden, pudge, sven, drow ranger, faceless void

While these things seem trivial from an individual perspective, they can make or break a game. For example, pushing high-ground without any wards is the easiest way to throw away a lead. When playing against a team who is warding ganks becomes so much harder without counter-wards or smokes. The main knock against supporting is it’s “just not as fun”. Agree to disagree there. Nothing is more fun than winning games.

Supports that feel like Cores

The current meta is also allowing for a lot of heroes to be played in the 4 position while still having the ability to get kills. Heroes like Spirit Breaker and Earthshaker have insane win-rates. Both heroes are also a dream to play as a support due to their lack of early item dependence. Spirit Breaker can be anywhere on the map at any time thanks to his Charge of Darkness. Earthshaker can sit in trees and provide initiation from a distance while staying off the map. Both of these heroes benefit from early rotations, becoming a serious issue for the other team after 2-3 items have been farmed up, all the while boosting the performance of their kills by dominating lanes with early kills or pressure. While these heroes can be played as offlaners, they thrive as aggressive supports.

Currently, Witch Doctor is a traditional support hero that can have a significant impact on a game. If you were to craft the dream support toolkit it would probably end up pretty close to Witch Doctor, as he has a stun, heal and huge damage potential, not to mention one of the coolest Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades in the game.

dota 2, witch doctor, aghs


Overall, Witch Doctor’s ultimate is a very powerful teamfight ability. Most important is that it deals physical damage and carries a true strike mechanic, making it a great counter to heroes with high evasion like Phantom Assassin. Every so often you’ll start channeling your Death Ward and the enemy will pop a Black King Bar charge while they take 150 damage per second anyway. One of the more satisfying feelings out there.

Playing support may not be the most glamorous thing to do in DotA 2. But its impact on games is hard to argue. Having a good support in a game can make even the closest loss enjoyable. Supporting is also so different than the other roles that you learn much more about the game, making for a better experience for your whole team.

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Centaur Warrunner: A pub stomping dream

After losing 200 MMR in ten games, Centaur Warrunner stampeded in and saved me from one of the worst stretches of solo-queuing I have ever had. I went back to a hero I hadn’t played in a while. Centaur Warrunner isn’t the most flashy of heroes, but his abilities and items allow him to get so much done during all aspects of the game. A hero that can tank and initiate with confidence. I hoped this would help the pains I was feeling while playing lately. Messy initiations and teamfights had really stood out to me, but this hero really made an impact on my overall enjoyment and performance in-game.

The Risk of Initiating in Pubs

It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Initiating ganks or teamfights and pubs can be one of the most thrilling/terrifying feelings in DotA. Thoughts like “will my teammates TP in or will they just leave me to farm?” will always haunt you. But Bradwarden the Warrunner will save you!

Centaur is one of the most tanky heroes in the entire game without any items due to a strength gain of 4.3 per level. That’s 86 health added per level. Already starting out with 640 health at level one, Centaur hits level ten and has 1,520 health without any itemsThis allowed me to buy just a pair of Tranquil Boots before rushing a Blink Dagger.

The hero is also essentially the world’s tankiest ward because his daytime vision is 1,800, greater than the 1,600 wards have. This innate vision buff makes early roaming and ganking that much easier.


dota 2, centaur, warrunner, stats

(Dota 2)

Possibly the biggest knock against Centaur is that he has a small mana pool with a high mana stun. But, his level 10 talent gives him +2 Mana Regen and essentially nullifies that. His most useful ability only costs 100 mana anyway.

Not to mention the rest of his talents are also incredibly strong. Adding magic resistance to a natural Pipe of Insight carrier is a no-brainer. A bonus 15 strength grants Centaur 1,290 HP. Gaining a Return Aura in the late game at level 25 is impossible to fight into without some sort of magic immunity.

Skills for All Occasions

By far the most valuable part of Centaur Warrunner’s toolkit is his ultimate Stampede, a global ultimate then once cast provides an arguably broken buff.

(Dota 2)

This buff has no cast point and can be used to initiate, escape, and even save your teammates. Following up an ultimate with a Hoof Stomp is easy to line up and effective.

Enemy heroes have to invest in a Silver Edge against Centaur due to a powerful passive. Return does exactly what you may think. It returns damage to the attacker based on Centaur’s strength. His high strength gain makes him very hard to lane against with this aura and the HP that comes with it.

Centaur’s lack of dependence on items makes him very flexible in-game and you can justify buying almost any teamfight item. For instance, a Pipe of Insight, Glimmer Cape, Aghanim’s Scepter and Lotus Orb all have their use on this hero.

Overall, this hero is in a great place right now while being present in only 5 percent of games, despite a win-rate above 50%. If your looking for a hero to play in pubs in a patch that’s getting old, try Centaur.

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