After staying in the shadows of underpower for ages, Mortred the Phantom Assassin received a serious buff for the first time in 6.87, namely her Stiffling Dagger dealing damage based on her actual physical attack, along with any and all added effects.
Being a farm-dependant carry, she used to feel quite underwhelming compared to others even after getting some good items. With this new skill though, the Hero is an actual threat.
Stiffling Dagger was useful in the laning stage, and below average afterwards. You had to land a critical in order for it to damage like a decent spell, otherwise it was only a slow. Now, it’s practically an extra 1200 range, six second cooldown attack, dealing up to 75+70% of Mortred’s damage.
When she sits at 250, Dagger and her attack deal exactly the same amount. With less than 250, Stiffling Dagger actually deals more. Getting lucky and one-shotting an enemy from afar isn’t the only advantage here. More innate damage translates into two things:
- Better progression. This means that she both farms faster and her items produce more damage.
- Less expensive Hero. Her direct fight potential is better, which means she needs less farm to fight.
Phantom Assassin, while non-existant in pro matches, has some good potential that can now shine. Contrary to most Heroes of her type, she’s hard to get kited. This isn’t only because of her low cooldown/ long range Slow+Blink combination, but also due to her whole skillset being a constant threat. The only cooldown she has to worry about is BKB.
Simply put, a Sven can be baited to waste his ult, a Void can be caught without Chronosphere, Terrorblade won’t always have Metamorphosis. But Mortred, she can jump and chase and crit practically forever. She’s good at both short and long fights.
To that, add her decent lane control, survivability and gank avoiding mechanism, and you get a pretty independant carry. She doesn’t need too much from her team to survive, compared to other carries. And while she’s not imbalanced, nor probably will she ever be as long as True Strike negates one of her skills, she can now stand her own ground.
According to dotabuff, her win rate has risen by ~2.0% in the last patch. This is more than it first seems, since it covers all skill brackets and all. . . sorts of players. It’s also worth noting she’s currently the most picked Hero, with a ~30%+ pick rate.