Starting from 7.07 up to now, there have been 4225 professional games. Some heroes were picked a lot with Sand King topping the charts with 1185 picks and Tiny coming in second with 1056 picks. There have been those however, that saw a very few games to their name and deserve a new chance at life in the upcoming Dota 2 7.20 patch. A few heroes like Clinkz and Wraith King are in the shallow end of the pick pool, but they did get their chance in the spotlight at The International 2018 so probably won’t be shown too much love in 7.20. A lot of the heroes that need buffs are safe lane carries, simply for the reason that we are hardly seeing any except Terrorblade, Morphling and Phantom Lancer. These three dominate the carry picks and it is high time they are sent packing and some new heroes make a bid for the position 1 slot.Let’s look at the ones that do deserve love though, and how it can be conferred upon them. The perspective will be from picks in the professional scene, but a hint of pub outlook will be added to it as well.
1) Sven (154 games since 7.07)
The last time Sven was relevant was in 7.06. After that, he received a series of nerfs including the increase in base attack time from 1.7 to 1.8 (which was totally unnecessary, I felt). For one, Sven needs his BAT back to 1.7 and some good talents to back it up. But more importantly, he needs the jungle. The Rogue Knight depends on ancient stacks to hit his power spike, because let’s face it, without Blink and Black King Bar, Sven is pretty much a non-factor. The jungle needs a to be buffed as well, because right now the gold and XP are not good as compared to the lane. Hopefully, we get to see more of him as the new season unfolds.
2) Bristleback (42 games since 7.07)
When do think the last time Bristleback was relevant? Same time as Sven. Sven got popular as a counter pick to Bristle, someone who could man up to the porcupine thanks to the Warcry armor. Since 7.07, both haven’t been heard of. Bristle seems to have suffered more with just 42 games last season. According to Dotabuff, Bristle is ranked 23rd by popularity and has had a win rate of about 50% in pub games. Hopefully, IceFrog has worked his magic so that the hero comes back into the professional scene.
3) Oracle (116 games since 7.07)
Oracle needs to not just have future foresight, he pretty much needs to mend the future and make himself more relevant. Oracle used to be a hot pick against Dark Seer, to purge off Ion Shell. But with DS pretty much neglected at this point, Oracle has lost his appeal as well. Another hero Oracle works well with is Huskar, but now-a-days, Huskar is picked up without Dazzle or Oracle. It is a lane based game and Huskar is a lane winner. Does not need healers to support him as long as he destroys the opposition’s mid. What surprises me a little is that no one even considers Oracle to be picked up with Terrorblade, pretty much the most popular hero of the meta. With False Promise, Terror Blade has ample time to get off Sunder but somehow, teams prefer a Dazzle over Oracle. The hero by itself isn’t bad. The only reason I believe Oracle wasn’t really considered is that he doesn’t have a skill like Poison Touch or Brain Sap to dominate the lane. With how important the lanes are in the current meta, no wants to take a chance with better heroes available. Changing the deny mechanic will make a lot of difference not only for Oracle, but for a lot of other heroes who cannot really get too close to the opposition in the laning stage.
4) Phantom Assassin (124 games since 7.07)
I had given up hopes of PA ever making the list in the professional scene, until I saw a miracle unfold and Wraith King become popular pick. Wraith King was not a popular pick for a long time (or ever?), but the patches leading up to TI8 made it happen. Something similar needs to be done to PA. She falls into that category of heroes, like Riki, that have the potential to dominate pubs but cannot be viable in professional games. There was a time, when Pangolier was admitted into Captain’s Mode, that people believed that Phantom Assassin was the solution to Rolling Thunder. In a way she is, but her squishy nature makes her very unreliable. Again, a difficult hero to balance, but hopefully, more of hero in the 2018-2019 DPC season.
5) Slark (164 games since 7.07)
Slark was back in business towards the end of the season. At the Supermajor in Shanghai, he was a common pick and was even seen in the grand finals, picked up by Virtus Pro. But, for God knows what reason, totally ignored in the next two tournaments: The Summit 9 and TI8. From what BSJ said during one of his streams, the hero is really bad until level 6. Slark’s HP regen has been buffed, but it is still easy to ensure he has a bad lane. And sadly, we are at a point where if a hero can’t do well in lane, it won’t be picked at all. An increase in Essence Shift duration for the first couple of levels or a reduction in cooldown in mana for the first couple of levels in Pounce is what Slark needs to make it though the laning stage unscathed. He is force to be reckoned with once the game goes late.
6) Pudge (65 games since 7.07)
Pudge’s story is a sad one – Buffed to be first picked at the Summit 9 only to receive a level 1 nerf (Meat Hook cooldown increased from 17 to 27) to Meat Hook and hardly be seen at TI8. It meant that if one Hook was missed, the enemy could basically free farm for half a minute without any worries. The nerf hit him hard and it was as if the hero didn’t even exist in Vancouver. As much as I hate the thought of a Hook coming at me from the shadows, the abomination deserves a shot on the big stage. Unsurprisingly, according to Dotabuff, Pudge is the most popular hero in pubs. So hopefully there will be a few buffs, but not so much that they will start ruining pub games.
7) Slardar (209 games since 7.07)
Does anyone even remember what Slardar looks like? It has literally been that long since he was a prominent pick at a tournament. This again, comes back to the deny mechanic. Slardar was an offlaner who didn’t mind not getting a lot of farm as long as he got levels. He isn’t really a hero that dominates lanes and that makes him very unsuitable in this 2-1-2 meta. To be fair, he did receive buffs throughout last season. Maybe a few more of them coupled with change to the XP mechanics will bring Slardar back to life. This would go a long way in helping other offlaners like Abaddon and Tidehunter as well. The current offlane pool is pretty ridiculous with Ursa, Weaver, Mirana and the likes. The traditional offlane heroes have just gone missing!
8) Outworld Devourer (442 games since 7.07)
The mid pool is a bit more diverse than the safelane pool. It hasn’t yet come down to just 3 heroes, but there are some who are not being picked at all. Outworld Devourer is one of them. OD seems to be Astraled for eternity and even though he did get a sizable buff right before TI8, was not a hero who was considered good. I believe it is time to change the intelligence guard from Silencer (who has had his time in the limelight) to the Outworld Devourer. Even a small change such as increasing the range on Astral Imprisonment for the early levels will go a long way. It ensures OD can get off the skill and have a tool to dominate the lane, especially against ranged heroes.
9) Chaos Knight (200 games since 7.07)
Chaos Knight would have gone unpicked at TI8 had it not been for Team Liquid’s choice to pick him up in their final series against Evil Geniuses. They lost, which meant CK ended TI8 with a played 1 lost 1 record. CK is not a flash farmer. In the lane, he doesn’t really have enough mana to keep up the constant harass like a Weaver. What he is good at though is making heroes disappear in a second. But if he loses the lane, there isn’t too much that can be done for CK. With the jungle being weak as it is, there is nowhere to turn to. Sure, he can pop Phantasm and get a kill or two, but the team is them at the mercy of the enemy for the next 100 seconds. Another reason for being unpicked, I think, is that CK does not have good level 20 talents. Reality Rift pieces piercing spell immunity is a very situational talent that doesn’t uplift the hero in any way. The other talent, +150 Gold per minute is underwhelming for a position 1 hero. Teams always give the safelane carry farm priority and for a hero playing close to a GPM of 600, the additional 150 GPM is not something that helps him a lot. CK definitely needs better talents in 7.20.
10) Puck (614 games since 7.07)
Puck has a lot more games then most of the others on the list, with a good 614 games last season. At the start of the season, Puck was still popular with the hero being played in the mid lane as well as the offlane. But as the biweekly patches came along, the Faerie Dragon’s involvement went down. It was also a good counter to the mid Broodmother, but once the XP and gold were reduced for the spiderling kills, it didn’t make a lot of sense. The nerf to Dream Coil finally caught on with the hero and that is something that could use changing back to the way it was. IceFrog is sure to buff Puck in some one, I am curious to see how though. One thought that comes to mind is to make the Scepter upgrade into a talent instead, so Scepter does not become a necessary inventory. But that has the potential to make the hero overpowered.
The 7.20 patch is less than a week away. Personally, I believe the heroes mentioned above are in line for a good buff (except maybe Pudge, considering his strong pub status). Others that deserve an honorable mention are Juggernaut, Queen of Pain and Elder Titan. The changes to heroes coupled with change in the lane mechanics (assumption, but a good one) is going to bring in a whole new way we look at the game. Enjoy the last bits of Terroblade, Morphling and Phantom Lancer till the 18th of November because from the 19th, it is going to be a new world order!
One an ending note, here is a list of heroes that will probably be nerfed in the Dota 2 7.20 patch: