The Summit 9 was a good glimpse into current meta trends as The International approaches. Quickly following the end of the tournament however, there was a small patch, 7.19. While there were only minor adjustments made to some of the core heroes picked, they can result in major changes to the competitive hero pool. For example, previously strong heroes such as Crystal Maiden and Necrophos saw changes that could make them less viable.
Survivability was one of the main features of a hero that teams were looking for at the tournament. Heroes like Enchantress, Oracle and Winter Wyvern are a few picks that fit this criteria. For example, Enchantress was a first pick or ban every game because she is very difficult to kill in the early game. Her spell, Nature’s Attendants, saw an increased mana cost from 110 to 170 at level one making her much less viable in the early game. This change makes her less powerful early on which means she is less of a threat during the laning stage. Ultimately making her a less desirable pick. Necrophos saw changes that would make him weaker in the late game. An increase in his ultimate cooldown and cast point changes his item build entirely, but might not change his status as a first round pick or ban.
The changes made to some heroes may affect other heroes’ pick rates, even if they saw no direct changes. One example is physical damage carry heroes that struggled against the reign of Enchantress. Because she is less viable, teams will not waste a ban on her, and she likely will not be picked. This allows an additional ban to be spent on other offlane heroes that bully the carry more effectively.
As a result, heroes such as Sven and Alchemist may enter the competitive hero pool. This would make even more sense considering the health and armor buffs that many heroes saw in patch 7.19.
One disappointing aspect of the 7.19 changes is that some of the very strong heroes did not see a nerf at all. Spectre comes to mind as a hero that was picked very often at The Summit 9 but did not receive any changes. Her laning ability is not weak enough to justify how strong she is in the mid and late game settings. Her ability to farm is unhindered by the notion that teams must increasingly play as five as the game goes on.
This is due to the fact that her ultimate, Haunt, allows her to teleport right into the fray from anywhere on the map. There were no cooldown changes made to this spell and additionally no changes made to her ability to farm in the laning stage. Ultimately teams will have a difficult time shutting her down which could result in her becoming a 100% ban hero.
Some heroes, despite being nerfed, still feel as though they are too strong for the current meta. Again, survivability was the key at The Summit 9 so viewers saw numerous Pudge picks. Pudge’s ability to pull any hero into a bad position is a very difficult spell to nerf. This ability, Meathook, saw a slight nerf through an increase to the early game cooldown. Although it was an increase of 10 seconds at level 1, 17 to 27, it does not feel like enough. Teams can still pick the hero but will just have to play around gank timings.
Overall patch 7.19 brought a myriad of changes that will shake up the current competitive meta. Although this is most likely not the final patch before The International, many teams will boot camp on it. Although some hero changes will be made in coming patches it is unlikely that core strategies will change. Viewers should expect to see survivable heroes picked early and often. This fits a team fight play style which results in exciting and high action games.
Featured Image courtesy of Wykrhm
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