The top 10 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the safe lane during 7.16. We will have a look at some of the best picks in the meta, and learn how to play or counter them.
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The heroes are arranged by pick rate, and the data considers all games played in any region in the 5k+ (Divine) bracket. Note that we can’t filter data for 7.16 only, so the past 30 days are examined. Statistics from Dotabuff.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
Faceless Void is a balanced hero
Faceless Void will always be relevant in pub thanks to his ultimate. Chronosphere is an absolute disable with which he can freely attack for 4-5 seconds (in the ideal conditions), and that can completely change the outcome of a teamfight.
I believe IceFrog did a fine job with the rework - two years and a half passed already! I was a fan of the off lane build, and I miss Backtrack sometimes, but now the hero doesn’t feel weak neither overpowered.
After 7.07, a patch that altered the talents of all heroes, he received almost no changes. It is only worth to mention that 7.14 increased Chronosphere cooldown from 140/125/110 to 140/130/120.
In May, he was a tier 3 hero in competitive. We don’t see him a lot in tournaments because he entirely depends on items for damage, and has practically no kill potential until level six. We play in a quick meta where even carries must be able to inflict damage at early levels: heroes such as Gyrocopter are popular thanks to their burst damage via spells.
Void can be helpful even if he had a poor game. Usually, there are more than two cores in pubs, so an under-farmed Void can always be used to create opportunities for kills with Chronosphere. A ranged dps like Windranger can attack from outside the disable and crush at least one hero with Focus Fire, and Void might acquire some kills as well, coming back in the match as a real carry.
MoM, Battle Fury, and Maelstrom
Buying the Mask of Madness and/or a farming item first, and which one (Battle Fury or Maelstrom) are among the most difficult questions on Faceless Void’s item build you will have in most games.
- With the MoM you have more kill power immediately after the lane phase, and can potentially snowball with good Chronospheres on the right targets.
Do not buy it if you believe there won’t be enough occasions for kills, or if most of the opponents are quite tanky. The MoM also enhances your farm speed while killing neutrals in the jungle.
I prefer the MoM + Maelstrom combo in most games due to my aggressive playstyle. Their combined price is just 275 gold higher than the Battle Fury alone, and afterwards the Mjollnir provides a lot of dps as both Chain Lightning and Time Lock will proc more with the extra attack speed.
- A farming item works the best in most scenarios, especially if you need to keep up with the farm of the enemy core.
Most players get the Battle Fury, or the MoM + Battle Fury combination. The latter provides both farm speed and an adequate amount of regeneration.
- The Battle Fury’s cost increased by 300 gold in 7.14, but the real nerf took place in 7.08 as now the passive Quell no longer works on illusions. As a melee, you inflicted them a 60% attack damage bonus before the change, which was overpowered against illusion-based heroes.
- The Maelstrom received a rework in 7.14: it costs 100 gold less, but lost the 25 attack speed bonus. The latter is bad news for Void (note that the Mjollnir only lost 5 attack speed). Chain Lightning’s damage increased from 120 to 170 - a substantial buff - and proccing attacks now have True Strike. Overall, I like the change, and believe the item is more effective with the extra AoE magic damage.
- No recent adjustments affected the Mask of Madness.
Void in the off lane
Void can still be played as an offlaner, if your team needs an initiator, and there are heroes that can exploit your ultimate - for example, the classic Invoker.
Ideally, you must survive, get level six as soon as possible, and start ganking.
You aren’t a dps, but only an utility hero, and your disable is the priority. It is essential to block at least 2 or 3 opponents in the Chronosphere to give your team an advantage in teamfight. Later on, you might even turn into a dps if everything goes smoothly.
He isn’t horrible in this position, but isn’t great either, and there are multiple better picks nowadays. At Divine, he has been played in the off lane in only 4% of the games, scoring an average win rate of 50%.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
Reasons behind Warlock’s success
Studying the pub meta, we can find successful heroes that are becoming popular also in pro games. Warlock was a tier 4 hero in April, and a tier 3 in May, but after looking at the 8.16 data, I noticed he has a 54% draft rate so far. Roughly, we may place him among the best tier 2 heroes, and maybe even in tier 1.
He has not been affected by many changes in the past patches:
7.10 buffed some talents.
7.12 increased the golem’s damage from 75/100/125 to 75/125/175.
7.14 increased the golem’s health from 1000/1500/2000 to 1000/2000/3000.
A tankier golem is very well welcomed: at high ranks players know how to behave against it, and it won’t survive for long if focused. Thanks to the passive 100% magic resistance, the HP boost makes it tougher especially against casters.
Anyway, the golem isn’t a decisive factor influencing his pick rate.
Warlock possesses a skill-set that works well in the current meta
Warlock can heal the carry (possibly preventing multiple deaths), is able to deal with more than a hero at once during the lane phase, and can have a huge impact in teamfight.
The golem(s) summoned via Chaotic Offering isn’t his only tool during a clash, and in my opinion Fatal Bonds is the real key spell, witch which he can “boost” the damage of the entire team.
All Warlock’s abilities are very valuable, and you can prioritize any of them depending on the goals of the team. For most players, I suggest to reach level six with a 2-2-1, 2-3-0, or 3-2-0 skill build, and then max out Fatal Bonds.
Protect your core from aggressive lineups
Shadow Word can be used both offensively and defensively - having a skill able to save the life of your carry during the early ganks is invaluable.
The enemy roamers will waste precious time, and they might even underestimate your heal, overextend, and give you a chance to fight back.
A fast paced meta - Be ready to group up
I advice to spend only two (max three) points into Shadow Word because the game isn’t as static as it was years ago. Before, you could even stay 15 or 20 minutes in lane farming safely, but now both teams usually regroup and start pushing very early.
As a support without farming abilities, Warlock can’t earn experience quickly, but you need Fatal Bonds maxed out as soon as possible because it has a great impact in teamfight. Your golem is excellent, particularly during the early and mid game, but affecting 4-5 heroes with Fatal Bonds can automatically win the battle for your team.
Nowadays, there are multiple deathball compositions able to dish out a massive amount of damage, and your ability will deal 25% of that damage to all the members of the enemy team.
Dual hard lane
Being teamfight-ready isn’t the only reason for the preference on Fatal Bonds. Before, we had mostly solo off lanes, thus a single-target nuke made more sense. Now, two heroes in the hard lane are not a rarity anymore, so even without considering the roamer, you will often have to deal against more than a hero at once.
The spell is perfect in this situation because you can affect both heroes plus some creeps (once levelled up), improving your harassing power during the lane phase.
Of course, using Fatal Bonds on the creeps has also a negative effect as it pushes the lane. It won’t be a problem if you did your job properly. Low HP opponents will be forced to wait behind the tower, missing most last hits, and if they are too bold, just punish them with another well-placed Fatal Bonds - maybe your core will even score a kill.
Upheaval is hard to master
Upheaval is an amazing ability that in the right hands, and with an adequate teamwork, can bring multiple kills. For example, in combination with a channeled nuke such as Crystal Maiden or Witch Doctor’s ultimates, or even a simple Juggernaut’s Blade Fury.
It is particularly strong in the early phases on the match when many heroes do not have escape abilities or items to enhance their mobility.
I do not suggest this spell in my standard skill builds because the other abilities are more flexible, and will work in the majority of games. In my opinion, only experienced Warlock players can legitimately make a good use of Upheaval.
Next: 7.17 safe laners.
Header image: Fiend Summoner loading screen for Warlock - 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.