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6.79: The Shifts

6.79: The Shifts

by Common | 13th November 2013 | 14 comments

Every once in a while, things just need to change. In our little corner of the online competitive world, this tends to come about when a new version of our beloved Dota 2 is released. It's been over 3 weeks since 6.79 was patched into the main client, and the proverbial dust is beginning to settle on the professional scene. Plenty of heroes were hit hard by Icefrog's Nerf Hammer, but at the same time a lot of heroes are enjoying the limelight after some sizeable buffs. I'm going to be looking at the raw stats to see what's HOT in the competitive scene.

All stats are correct at the time of publishing. To be fair to every hero, I've decided to only look at the stats for heroes with at least 40 professional games played.

 And it's already icing over!

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 6.79 update is the unexpected popularity of Crystal Maiden. She's currently topping the board as the most picked hero in the current version with 248 games played. The reason this is unexpected is simply because, well, she didn't actually receive any significant buffs:

Crystal Maiden
- Freezing Field AS/MS AoE slow increased from -20/-30 to -30/-30
- Freezing Field Scepter AS/MS AoE slow increased from -50/-30 to -50/-50

What does this mean?
The only buffs Crystal Maiden received were to her Ultimate ability, Freezing Field. While Freezing Field can be a brilliant spell when used effectively, it simply isn't the reason for picking Crystal Maiden.

So why is she picked now? 
She received a pretty substantial buff in 6.78 and had pretty rapidly increasing popularity in the weeks prior to the release of 6.79. The biggest reason, however, is that the new meta tends to be leaning towards heavy early-game action, an area which Crystal Maiden excels in. The Brilliance Aura gives her team a fantastic advantage in early-game engagements, as well as longevity in pushing ventures.

Hero Games in 6.79 Wins-Losses in 6.79 Win % in 6.79 Difference to 6.78
Crystal Maiden 248 129-119 52% -2.5%

 For Selemene!

One of the very first heroes we saw played competitvely in 6.79, Luna has been treated well with some pretty healthy buffs.  Speed Gaming jumped straight into the new patch with a win over Ukraine Na`Vi as Luna was piloted by Canada EternaLEnVy. Luna is a hero that we very rarely saw in competitive play and had not received any buffs since 6.76. These are the changes she received in 6.79:

- Moon Glaive can now bounce back on the same units if it already hit all other units nearby
- Moon Glaive bounce damage reduced from -30% to -35%
- Eclipse Scepter beam count limit per target removed

What does this mean?
We can discard the final part of her change, as thus far, Aghanims Scepter hasn't been built on Luna in 6.79. The big story here is the huge buff to Moon Glaive, which can now return to damage units again if no other units are available to hit in the nearby area. Put simply, if Luna was attacking two units, with no other units nearby, her Moon Glaive would bounce between the two units six times. This not only increases Luna's presence in isolated teamfights, but also increases her farming speed by a significant amount.

So why is she picked now?
Currently sitting as the 9th most picked hero with 124 games played in 6.79, it is a huge increase from 51st in 6.78. Like with Crystal Maiden, early pushing and fighting are big in 6.79, both things which Luna is now capable of with her buff to Moon Glaive. But that's not all. 6.79 saw the introduction of a revised Day/Night time schedule, and with at least one skill point in Lunar Blessing you'll have 1800 vision range at 4 minutes into the game. Big deal? Big deal. A lot of carries are left vulnerable during the first night time, this is simply not an issue with Luna. With new early game strength, Luna now gives you the fighting and pushing power for an early game advantage as well as the security of an incredibly strong late game carry. What more could you want?

Hero Games in 6.79 Wins-Losses in 6.79 Win % in 6.79 Difference to 6.78
Luna 124 63-61 50.8% +5%

 From the frozen pool, I rise.

Another hero we saw in the very first competitive game played on 6.79, Lich is everyone's favourite floating cadaver. It's no surprise that he's become a top tier pick/ban with some very hefty buffs. While he's sitting at 18th in the most played list of 6.79 with 84 games played, this is partly because he's often a first round ban and is almost as many games as he played in the entire of 6.78. Just 3 weeks into the new patch we can see just how big of a deal Lich's changes are:

- Frost Armor has half effect against ranged heroes
- Frost Armor slow now stacks with the slow from Frost Nova
- Sacrifice cooldown increased from 35/30/25/20 to 44/36/28/20
- Sacrifice mana gain increased from 15/30/45/60% to 25/40/55/70%
- Sacrifice no longer denies enemy XP
- Sacrifice now converts your own creep for XP (shared in AoE as normal creep xp bounty)

What does this mean?
A lot of these are pretty self explanatory, but the big change is the XP bounty of Sacrificed creeps being split among everyone in the normal creep XP range. This basically means that if Lich uses Sacrifice on a creep with no one else around, he gets an entire creep's worth of experience all to himself, as well as that delicious mana. Not only that, but the lane you just stole that creep from is going to have one less creep in it, meaning an entire creep's worth of XP that your enemy isn't going to get. Because of this, Lich's Average XPM in 6.79 is more than 30 higher than in 6.78, increasing to 312 from 281.

So why is he picked now?
Experience is very important for any hero on the map, and the changes to lich make him viable in any position from 2-5. As a mid he can cripple the enemy mid hero, as an offlaner he can come out with a huge advantage that other offlaners might not be able to get, and as a support he can power level and have a bigger impact in the early-mid game. Lich also benefits from the changes that now give ranged heroes the full XP of denied creeps AND the XP range is now bigger. Slap on that his Frost Armor now effects enemy ranged heroes and he comes into 6.79 very much on top of the competition. Nerf this man!

Hero Games in 6.79 Wins-Losses in 6.79 Win % in 6.79 Difference to 6.78
Lich 84 44-40 52.4% +12%

 So begins a new age of knowledge!

What an arsenal of amazing abilities our dear Archmage Invoker has, but his somewhat weak laning stage and lack of reliable escape made him a very situational professional pick. But one huge buff in particular now makes Invoker a pretty nasty hero to lane against. He's currently sitting on 63 games played in 6.79, the same amount as Puck, arguably one of the strongest mid heroes there is. His 6.79 changes are as follows:

- EMP now restores Invoker for 50% of the mana it drains from heroes (excluding illusions)
- Invoke max spells rescaled from 1/2/2/2 to 2

What does this mean?
Invoker can now Invoke 2 spells as soon as he levels his Ultimate, so as early as level 3 he has 4 spells at his disposal. The most popular build we are currently seeing is 4 points in Quas and 4 points in Exort, allowing Invoker to have 2 Forged Spirits coupled with Cold Snap by level 9, as well Ice Wall and Sunstrike available to him. This combination makes his laning stage much more tolerable than it was in previous patches, letting him have much more of an impact at much earlier in the game. The other change also means that a well placed EMP can give Invoker a big edge in teamfights.

So why is he picked now?
The laning stage is where most mid heroes prove whether they are worth their salt or not. Having a lane presence means that Invoker is relevant at all points of the game, which is generally something you'd want from any hero, not just a mid. As we've seen from other cases, the changes to heroes is all about their early game impact, and a big improvement in early game for a hero with a potent presence in all stages of the game now is kind of a big deal. 

Hero Games in 6.79 Wins-Losses in 6.79 Win % in 6.79 Difference to 6.78
Invoker 63 34-29 54% +1.5%

 Dripping venom, I arrive.

Dripping venom is perhaps a little bit of an understatement. As of 6.79, Venomancer has left his foes pretty much soaked in the green stuff. Buffs almost all across the board for this one, and boy does he fit straight into what the meta is shaping out to be: Pushing. While never a particularly weak hero, Venomancer simply couldn't find his place, with there always being a better option. Although often a part of some cheesy Level 1 Roshan or early pushing strats, it seems that all he was good for was helping his team gain a big early game advantage, but this was very situational. But with some changes, he bursts back into professional Dota:

- Poison Nova no longer ignores invis/fogged units
- Venomous Gale no longer ignores invis units
- Venomous Gale damage over time rebalanced from 15/30/45/60 to 0/30/60/90
- Poison Sting duration increased from 6/8/10/12 to 6/9/12/15
- Poison Sting dps no longers dispels healing or disables dagger
- Plague Wards now have Poison Sting for 50% of the damage at the current skilled level (When both Venomancer and a Plague Ward affect the same target, only the highest dps is applied)
- Plague Wards XP bounty increased from 12/12/25/25 to 20/25/30/35

What does this mean?
All of Venomancer's skills were buffed in some way, although some of them a bit more than others. The biggest change here is to Plague Ward, which now applies the slow and 50% of the damage of Poison Sting to their target. This lets Venomancer zone out enemies incredibly easy, and plenty of skill points into Plague Ward is rewarded with easy towers and easy kills. Also notable is Venomous Gale's ridiculous dps when fully leveled. With a Venomous Gale coupled with Poison Nova, Venomancer now deals 1765 magic damage before reductions. Just by hitting those two spells. Throw in an auto-attack and you get an extra 300 magic damage at max level. Now remember that those two spells are AoE, that's some unhappy opponents.

So why is he picked now?
Once again, big buffs to supports and pushing in general means that it's a hero like Venomancer's time to shine. His massive damage over time even at such a low level can cripple the enemy team in big fights, as well as completely zone them out of lane. Venomancer can unleash a never-ending slimy Hell on his enemies, and his new Plague Wards are a huge factor in 6.79's meta. One of the perfect picks if you're after a high-impact early game powerhouse.

Hero Games in 6.79 Wins-Losses in 6.79 Win % in 6.79 Difference to 6.78
Venomancer 138 78-60 56.5% +13.1%




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    14th November 2013
    Where is Pugna? He is picked quite often these days.
    14th November 2013
    I think you also missed the fact on how frostbite interacts with orbs now, That was a pretty significant buff in regards to her viability. It wasn't directly related just to her, but units not being able to orb walk in ghost scepter and frostbite was a massive change.
    13th November 2013
    Reminds me of Puppey's 4-man Gale and Poison Nova follow by Tide's Ravage. Ouch
    13th November 2013
    I haven't been following the competetive scene very closely since 6.79, so when I witnessed a couple of games featuring Invoker, I just thought those were some of the few exceptions. Seeing that he is picked regularly really surprises me, but I think it only leads to more interesting and entertaining games, as is the case in general, with the focus shifting to early-game and pushing line-ups.
    13th November 2013
    New HERO ????????????????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    13th November 2013
    Nice article! I'll add that venomancer is now doing about 6 times the damage on average with Poison Sting since the debuff now applies to his plague wards. Also, we've actually seen quas-wex invoker builds make a huge comeback on invoker- we saw QW builds in 11 straight pro games following the patch, about as many times as in 100 pro invoker games before 6.79. Keep up the great work :)
    13th November 2013
    @Framby, Broodmother was removed from CM due to the changes...One thing for sure, I hope that Pit Lord is implemented and added to the CM pool before TI4.
    13th November 2013
    Broodmother not played in pro games, but just insane in pub games...
    13th November 2013
    Yeah, i can't say i've been watching the pro scene that much. Mostly just play pubs, but yes; the frequency for Brood and BS has gone up a hell of a lot. Pre 6.79 you hardly ever saw BS picked. Now everyone wants to do invoker + BS sunstrikes.
    13th November 2013
    bloodseeker more like a nerf.