Our bear friend is the last of the 6 Heroes that were remade in 6.86. He was revered as the arguably most dangerous offlaner back in the TI3 era, as both his lane control and carry potential were not easy to deal with. Paired with the heavy push meta, he was considered first pick/ban material, but before long, the nerfs came.
A lot of his numbers were decreased, with the exception of his Spirit Bear’s bounty, which reached a whopping 300 gold, paired with the farming mid Heroes meta and the easier offlaning, through the creeps clashing now further away from the enemy tower, gave space to more utility-based offlaners, and so Sylla was quickly forgotten.
Now, he’s considered to be valid again; in pubs, people often get the “Lone Druid Picker reported” treatment, and he’s seen some play in professional matches as well.
This is mostly due to the fact that he’s the only one didn’t get any nerfs. Similarly to Death Prophet, his passive, Synergy, was removed and the bonuses it provided were pretty much built in the Hero and Alfredo the bear themselves. In return, they both got the Savage Roar, the single weirdest skill in the game.
Despite it being weird though, Savage Roar means that Alfredo isn’t a walking pouch with 300 gold coins anymore, and that Sylla is even harder to kill. Considering that 1 level in this skill is enough early on, allowing extra levels in Rabid, and the recent buffs in Radiance, it’s easy to see why where all those LD pickers have come from.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Yes, skills like Synergy can be very old-school and outdated, especially on a Hero with mostly passive capabilities and no real burst damage or insta-lock.
However, Savage Roar does something that very dangerous for balancing reasons: it removes 2 of his weaknesses, which may have been his only ones.
One was the lack of disables, and the other was the bear’s high bounty.
Yes, they were both very real flaws, and Heroes should have those. Completely removing them is the way to making them broken, pretty much what happened with Invoker, who despite all the nerfs is still a magical, instakilling, permastunning beast.
Perhaps it’s better to focus on boosting their strengths a bit rather than taking away their weaknesses.
Not to say he can’t be balanced as he is, of course. He should be fine with some slight nerfs. I’d like to see the ability to dodge spells if True Form is timed correctly removed, since it’s really a mechanical abuse implemented from Dota 1.
And it also makes no sense. How does bear transformation equal invulnerability, anyway?
Other than that, we could also do without the extra movement speed in Savage Roar.