When drafting, supports should be chosen first most of the time so the adversaries won’t have the chance to counter your cores. Find out the most first picked supports in 7.07.
I utilized the data from the latest 30 days of competitive games via Datdota, but will illustrate the heroes from a pub perspective because this is where we play them.
First picked in 230 games.
Shadow Shaman is one of the strongest supports you can have in a pub team because he is effective at any stage of the game. He has a strong laning phase so no carry will ever complain about your babysitting abilities.
- Superb attack damage: 71-78 is a lot at level 1. Many offlaners will lose loads of health points trying to trade hits with you. You can generally get a first blood with some help.
- HP pool. 620 health points at level 1 and 2.1 str per level.
- Doesn’t require farm. While some items, and particularly mobility ones such as Force Staff or Blink Dagger, would be beneficial to use his disables, SS needs nothing to do his job.
- Farming abilities. When there is the chance, he can quickly farm entire creep waves using Ether Shock: 320 damage (720 with the +400 Ether Shock Damage talent at level 25) to 7 targets every 8 seconds.
- Two hard disables. Hex and Shackles are excellent during the entire game. In lane and ganks you can save lives and secure kills, and in teamfight you can knock out a nasty hero for a total of 8.5 seconds (11.5s with the level 20 talent +3s Shackles Duration).
- Low skill floor. You need some practice to figure out when it’s the best time for a push and how to use your ultimate, but overall the hero can have satisfactory results even in the hands of a new player.
- Able to take objectives. Shadow Shaman can easily destroy towers even on his own thanks to Mass Serpent Wards.
- A major help in high ground pushes. Mass Serpent Ward helps to zone out the enemy team and take control of the tier 3 tower area.
First picked in 165 games.
Bane is another hero with a good laning phase. Achieving success in the early game will boost the morale of the team and contribute to less toxic games. His ultimate is great for ganks and to eliminate dangerous/mobile targets such as Anti-Mage.
- Solid lane phase. Only a few offlaners can trade hits against him in the early game: 60-66 damage at level 1. Brain Sap boosts his early prowess even more as he can deal pure damage while healing himself.
- Tanky against auto-attackers. He starts with a 4.83 armor at level 1, so can withstand ample physical damage in the lane stage. 660 hp and 2.4 str gain per level.
- Reduces the enemy damage. Enfeeble weakens the auto-attack damage of the target, making last hitting and physical harassing very difficult.
7.07d nerfed the duration of the skill from 20 to 14/16/18/20, but thanks to the low 8 seconds cooldown you can still have it active permanently even with just one point invested.
- Improves ganks putting the enemy to sleep. With a 7 seconds duration, Nightmare is a perfect tool to incapacitate an enemy and give your team the time for an ideal placement during a gank.
- Bane can attack nightmared units. Starting from 7.07, he can hit any target affected by Nightmare without waking him up. Do not underestimate this change as you can inflict considerable harm with the level 15 talent Enfeeble Steals Damage.
- Long single target disable. Fiend’s Grip is amazing in ganks as it disables the target for 5 seconds - 12s with the level 25 talent +7s Fiend's Duration - giving your team plenty of time to subdue him.
Bane has only one flaw: no farming skills. This isn’t a big issue as a support, but you won’t have the chance to take advantage of extra free farm available on the map.
First picked in 132 games.
Ancient Apparition brings a lot of utility to the team. While he isn’t as strong as the other options on his own, he can amplify the damage of the entire team and have a huge impact both in ganks and teamfights.
- Improved harassing with Chilling Touch. While AA has an attack damage of only 44-54 at level 1, he can augment the auto-attack of the lane thanks to this skill. In a trilane, 30 extra damage at level 1 on each hero can easily contribute to a kill.
If the team works together, maxing this ability and raising everyone’s damage by 75 will make a big difference in all early and mid game battles.
- Ice Blast prevents lifestealing and healing effects. His ultimate is outstanding against some high tier picks of 7.07 such as Omniknight, Winter Wyvern, and Medusa.
The healers are hard countered, while Medusa can’t use the lifestealing provided by the Mask of Madness - a core item which effect is boosted by the level 25 talent Split Shot Uses Modifiers.
- Ice Blast also limits Blink Dagger based heroes. It is a 10 seconds long ability - 17s with the Aghanim’s Scepter - inflicting damage over time. For the entire duration, the Blink Dagger of the heroes affected will be on cooldown.
Mobility is a key requirement for some heroes, and thus impeding their movements will give your team an advantage.
- Ice Vortex boosts the magic damage of the squad. 30% magic damage reduction - 38% with the level 20 talent +8% Ice Vortex Slow/Resistance - makes a big difference in a lineup with many magic users.
On the other hand, Ancient Apparition requires more coordination if compared to other supports, and a lockdown from the team to make use of Cold Feet. His entire skill set is marvelous if you have a partner or more you can rely upon.
Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on @SkulzDota.