A true God in pubs, Zeus has a win rate above 55% up to 4k rank. Learn what makes the hero so strong and the nerfs that affected his enemies in 7.08.
The Spring Cleaning 2018 update has brought no changes to Zeus, but the hero is even stronger than before due to indirect buffs and gameplay adjustments.
Below 3k MMR, Zeus has an astonishing 57% win rate. It declines at higher ranks, but he is still able to maintain a very positive 51.5% even at 5k+.
I believe IceFrog continued buffing the hero in the previous patches because pros are completely ignoring him - Zeus was only a tier 5 hero in January. Undoubtedly, all the buffs pushed up his viability and effectiveness in pub games, where he may be even a bit too powerful now.
The entire analysis is carried out on a pub perspective.
Black King Bar nerfed
Cooldown rescaled from 80/75/70/65/60/55 to 70
It is a noticeable nerf to the BKB in the late game, which generally benefits all magic users. It was a necessary change because - since the introduction of the talent system - the cooldown was ridiculously low on some heroes.
In Dota 2, there are many hero perks to decrease the cooldown of spells and items. For example, Shadow Fiend’s level 25 talent grants 40% reduction. Before 7.08, he could literally use the BKB in any fight as it had a cooldown of 33 seconds - and even now it is only 42.
There are many other heroes with such talents, but most of them “only” have a 15% to 25% reduction. You can find all talents in this comparative table, but the only other hero with a huge cooldown reduction is Drow Ranger with 50% at level 25.
A special mention goes to Windranger with 30%, but at the moment the hero has terrible results both in pro and pub matches.
Other mid laners
Nerfing a mid hero indirectly helps all other heroes played in that position. As an example, today I will talk about two popular mid picks: Shadow Fiend (2nd most played hero in the game) and Tinker (11th).
Necromastery max souls reduced from 18/24/30/36 to 12/20/28/36
Shadow Fiend is an excellent mid laner as he can rely both on his high physical attack - after harvesting enough souls - and the magic burst damage of Shadowraze. 7.08 decreased his damage in the early game, while the maximum number of souls is untouched once the ability is levelled up.
This adjustment also gives less value to the Power Cogs “exploit”, employed particularly at high ranks to give him an early boost. Note that while Clockwerk has an average popularity in pub games, at 5k+ MMR he is in the top 10 among the most picked heroes.
Base movement speed reduced from 305 to 290
It is a huge nerf that touches him the most during the early stages of the match. Now, it is far more frequent for him to die due to ganks, and every team should capitalize on this weakness pressuring him as much as possible.
Right now, Tinker is quite a nuisance, and the addition of Kaya in 7.07 really boosted his gameplay. With some well executed ganks, you will delay his core items, and he will be a lot less problematic in the mid game.
Note: Tinker’s level 15 talent gives him +40 movement speed, which is a lot. He has a harder time in the early game, but is still a very mobile hero in the late game.
Wards now require a constant 2 hits to kill (both Observer and Sentry Wards)
This change is well-welcomed by all supports as dewarding is really risky. Before, in the early game a support needed 3 to 5 hits, and usually in a pub game you can’t even rely on the protection of the team while doing this vital job.
Zeus is directly concerned by this change because Lightning Bolt provides vision and True Sight in the targeted area. In a pub environment, especially at lower ranks, he is often the only one dewarding.
If you are on deward duty, I still recommend to carry a Quelling Blade for a quick job. Considering the vast amount of Pudge players nowadays, being hooked while dewarding is an ordinary occurrence.
Huge burst damage at all stages of the match.
His passive Static Field scales well in the late game as it inflicts damage based on a percentage of the enemy’s current health.
Easy farming tool with Arc Lightning.
The Aghanim’s upgrade, Nimbus, is ridiculously strong and can contribute to fights anywhere on the map.
He can deward with Lightning Bolt and give global vision with Thundergod's Wrath.
Easy to play even for new players.
Mana regeneration issues
Zeus requires a high amount of mana to be effective, but this isn’t such a serious issue as in the past. Now, we have more gold at our disposal during the lane stage, and Clarity potions are borderline overpowered.
In the early and mid game you have multiple viable choices, such as Soul Ring, Bottle, and Arcane Boots. The Bottle is the best option in the lane, but be sure to alert your teammates to leave you runes to charge it (this is not as obvious as you would think).
Clarity potions are a must, not only in the early game but also afterwards, until you have your first big mana regeneration items.
Reddit user The_Markie explained how the Clarity works in detail:
"The mana regeneration of Clarity potions is now boosted by intelligence, making it insanely cost-effective.
Prior 7.07, a Clarity would give a flat bonus of 3.8 mana regeneration for 50 seconds - 190 total mana. Now, it gives 3.2 flat mana regeneration that is augmented by intelligence: with 50 INT the amount of mana is doubled, with 100 it is tripled.
- Base Clarity: 3.2 mana regeneration.
- With 50 INT: 6.4 mana regeneration.
- With 100 INT: 9.6 mana regeneration.
While farming, in the lane and in the jungle, you can safely drink them without finding enemies ready to cancel them, which means you can reap the full benefits. At almost any stage of the game, for 50 gold you can get a massive amount of mana.
Finally, even strength-based heroes only need 6 INT to boost the mana regeneration past the previous rate of 3.8. There is no reason to not buy a Clarity now!"
Flexibility against many opponents
From a pub perspective, considering a low number of ganks per game, Zeus can properly farm against virtually any opponent.
Even when facing strong midders such as Viper or Queen of Pain, he can just farm with Arc Lightning while staying safe in his side of the map. All you need is constant mana regeneration via bottled runes or clarity potions.
On the other hand, the adversaries can just deploy a farming hero in the mid lane - such as Storm Spirit and Invoker - ignore Zeus, and freely farm their own items.
Note that from 7.07, Viper is a slightly worse lane dominator. He can’t permanently poison his opponents anymore, and Corrosive Skin no longer slows movement speed. Overall, these changes benefited Zeus has now he has an easier time when facing Viper in the mid lane.
Header Image: Valve
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.