The TI 5 Meta Vol. 7 | 7 Changes The Game Needs After TI 2015

Posted on 11 Aug 2015

Welcome to the last installment of our series of short analytical articles about the meta of TI5.

We should open up by saying that for the first time in a long while the community seems to be in consensus that the patch works as intended and the competitive meta is in a great state. All strategies appear to be viable: early game lineups, late game lineups, heavy ganking, heavy pushing , multiple cores, 4 protect 1, etc. – it is a matter of preference and strategic choice. The basis of the game (the resources and objectives) look like they are extremely well balanced.

This is the main reason we witnessed exceptionally entertaining games – teams were truly able to out-smart or out-play each other, which is the goal of any competition. So, one big job well done to IceFrog and the team behind him.

In conclusion, the only thing we should expect from the next balance patch are minor tweaks, mainly buffs and nerfs to heroes. People are sometimes complaining that the event had a repetitive hero pool (suggesting that the top picks are imba), nonetheless we believe only a handful of heroes and game mechanics deserve change.

I. Stacking

The first and most important thing we believe should be addressed in the new balance patch is the issue of jungle and Ancient stacking. Even though it is not a big deal in pubs, we believe it affects the pro scene negatively in a big way.

Lets illustrate with an example:

In theory you have two ways to approach the early game with your supports. The first way is to use the supports aggressively – to pressure the lanes in order to shut down the enemy cores and to provide space for your own farmers. The second way is to be defensive – to constantly stack the jungle and Ancients and to go in the lanes only to counter-gank and join fights.

When stakes are high people tend to be risk averse. Because of this most rational teams would chose the second option. With big jungle stacks and AoE spammable spells you can ensure that your cores will find their items even if they had a bad start. In the grand finals at one point Sumail’s Storm was successfully ganked three times during the laning stage. Nonetheless, by farming the stacks his team prepared for him, he managed to return to the top of the net worth ranking extremely quickly, essentially nullifying the offensive efforts of the enemy team.

In a few words by stacking you make sure your cores have a resource advantage without taking any risks. Moreover, it very hard for the enemy team to stop you from doing this – you stack in your own jungle and during the laning stage when towers are alive it is almost impossible for the enemy team to take over this territory.

Stacking in itself is a big reason why heroes with very good wave clear are extremely popular nowadays – SF, Storm, Lina, Lesh, Gyro, Luna, etc. Pushing teams away from this tactic and towards more exciting options is a must in our opinion.

Fix: Simply limiting the maximum number of stacks for each camp should be enough to fix the problem (e.g. two stacks for small and medium, one for large and Ancient camps). Stacking camps would still be something you can do once or twice to get some efficient resources, but not something you can do with all of your time during the laning stage.

II. Glimmer Cape

Glimmer Cape GuideDespite receiving multiple nerfs we still think Glimmer is a bit too strong. The fact that the item is bought on at least one support per team every single game speaks enough. Glimmer is too versatile and cheap to skip. Simply having the item forces the enemy supports to constantly buy detection. Consequently, Glimmer works against the philosophy of empowering supports. Being forced into buying an item because it’s too good and being forced to buy items to counter it every single game is not ideal.

The problem is that being able to instantly make anyone invisible from a big range is simply too powerful.

Fix: We think there are only two ways to approach the problem: The first one is to rework the concept entirely. E.g. instead of turning the target invisible it could free it from any movement impairing effects and give it the magic resistance bonus. This way you can still protect your allies but the enemy team isn’t forced into buying detection. The second approach is to preserve the current concept but to tweak the numbers. We think that this would work only if Glimmer becomes a much more expensive luxury utility item (similarly to Lotus Orb) with better stats than it currently has but a much higher price tag.

III. Bloodstone

Bloodstone GuideBS entirely counters the death mechanic. It allows you to suicide, denying any resources to the enemy team. This is a huge deal since rich cores give a lot of money when killed. In pubs the huge CD is enough to balance this, but in pro games where the cores die less often it is still imba. If you make two positioning mistakes during a game and you don’t pay for one of them because of suicide this is a big deal – it doubles your margin for error. Moreover, the reduced respawns time is also huge especially in the late game when buyback is a big deal. A hero with a lot of Bloodstone charges can afford to make a mistake and die without having to spend a buyback.

The reason we don’t see Bloodstone on every core hero is because the stats it gives are quite specific. Most heroes don’t benefit from the mana pool and mana regen too much and need other stats instead. The few heroes that can use the stats of BS well, however, become extremely powerful with the item – notably Leshrac and Storm.

Fix: Removing the suicide active might be the best option. It is a cool mechanic, but it is simply too powerful. You are fighting a snowballing hero with a snowballing item and even if you manage to kill him you get no reward whatsoever.

The deduced death timer should be sufficient to keep BS relevant.

IV. Gyrocopter: Picks: 18 Bans: 27 WR: 66.67%

Gyrocopter GuideProblem: extremely strong in all stages of the game (hard to counter), fast farmer (due to stacks), powerful in team fights.
Nerfing stacking will automatically nerf Gyrocopter as well – it will reduce his flash-farming potential and will make it a bit harder for him to become extremely scary in the late game without fighting.

Making him weak in the early or late game might be a bad idea because it will ruin the concept of the hero. Nerfing a bit his mid game team fight presence, however, could be good.

Thanks to the major slow buff of the second Call Down rocket, Gyro’s ultimate has become a potent team fight control spell. This is a cool concept since it synergizes with the other spells he has. Nonetheless, the control combined with the damage make the ability too scary. Consequently, reducing the damage of the spell to decrease its impact in the mid game could solve the problem. This way of balancing team fight abilities historically worked well for Magnus and his RP when he was one of the most popular heroes.

V. Leshrac: Picks: 3 Bans: 42 WR: 33.33%

Gyrocopter GuideProblem: dominant laner, great at mid and late game team fights, flash farmer.
Lesh was the most banned hero during the event – the hero professionals were scared from the most. Unarguably, Lesh’s huge impact in team fights could be overwhelming, especially nowadays when it is a bit harder to avoid fights completely.

Nerfing stacking and Bloodstone, however, might be enough to make him easier to deal with. During the laning stage you could gank him, and afterwards he wouldn’t have the safety net of farming stacks. In the mid and late game without suicide on BS it will be much more punishing for him to die in fights, especially if he is snowballing hard and has a big net worth. Unlike Storm, Lesh doesn’t have an escape mechanism and if he commits too hard to a team fight he could pay with his life.

VI. Lina: Picks: 32 Bans: 12 WR: 62.5%

Gyrocopter GuideProblem: Aghanim’s pure damage ultimate.

Lina was the most picked hero in the main event for a reason. Laguna Blade with Aghanim’s simply doesn’t have a counter. In team fights she will most likely be able to delete one hero almost instantly (with some help from her team).

Completely removing the Agh’s update, however, will most likely make her irrelevant. There are simply too many items to counter magic damage nukes (Glimmer, BKB, Pipe) and Laguna is her main tool for having an impact in fights.

There are multiple ways to approach this problem – the simplest one being reducing the damage her ultimate deals when with Aghanim’s. It might be a good idea to buff her passive a bit to keep her relevant and to possibly make combat-Lina builds a bit more viable.

VII. Bounty Hunter: Picks: 13 Bans: 28 WR: 92.31%

Gyrocopter GuideProblem: Track gives a huge economical advantage.

The problem here is quite simple – it is all about Track and the benefits it gives. Vision for taking better fights and gold for acquiring an economical advantage – after all Dota is a game of controlling space and acquiring resources.

An easy fix to this problem would be to change Track so that it gives bonus gold only to BH (it might be reasonable even to increase the gold gain a bit). This way when you pick him you will have a very farmed active support that gives vision and information, but in the same time trading kills would no longer be beneficial for your whole team.

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