The top 10 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the safe lane during 7.19, the patch played at The International 8. We will have a look at some of the best picks in the meta, and learn how to play or counter them.
Base Intelligence reduced by 2.
24 less mana is completely irrelevant.
Juxtapose Illusion incoming damage increased from 500% to 600%.
His illusions will receive even more damage than before. I believe this change is necessary to deal with PL in the actual meta.
Why carries do not pick the Battle Fury
The Battle Fury is one of the best items to counter Phantom Lancer as it grants AoE damage to any physical auto-attacker. But, it isn’t as popular as in the past due to several changes:
The 7.07 update reworked it, and even if the attack damage bonus decreased from 55 to 50, it became a must-have item in most games. In order to diminish its pick rate, IceFrog lowered the damage to 45 in 7.07b.
Starting from 7.08, the Quell passive no longer works with illusions. Honestly, before the effect was overpowered against illusion-based heroes, and basically annihilated almost any chance to play them.
All the adjustments so far have been of great help for the comeback of Phantom Lancer, and 7.14 gave the last push increasing the total cost of the item by 300 gold.
A typical core wants the Battle Fury as soon as possible to boost his farm, but it became a too expensive option for the current fast-paced meta. It weakens the entire lineup because the supports must devote resources and time to secure the farm of their carry.
By the time you complete the Battle Fury, Phantom Lancer might have already wrecked your team. He is a solid laner, and very hard to kill thanks to Doppelganger, so if everything goes according to plans, his support can even leave him alone and help the other lanes.
Reasoning behind the nerf to PL Juxtapose’s illusions
The Maelstrom is now the most popular AoE alternative for auto-attackers, and indeed it became an amazing item after the 7.14 buff. Among the other changes, the Chain Lightning damage increased by 50 (it was reduced by 10 only recently in 7.18).
The item partially works versus PL during the mid game because you have enough damage to kill some illusions and find out the real hero, but it is less efficient in the late game once he acquires enough stats and health points. A PL with the Heart of Tarrasque can ignore the Maelstrom procs.
With 7.19, illusions will receive more damage, and it will be slightly easier to deal with them, or to find the real hero. I believe the high demand of the Maelstrom might have influenced the update, but the current meta heroes had the biggest impact:
The standard AoE physical attackers are not prevalent in this meta, and thus they aren’t picked to deal with Phantom Lancer. One typical example is Sven: if we look at the Divine rank data, even if there is a PL in most games, Sven’s pick rate is only 3%. Also note that his win rate is negative at all ranks but at Crusader and lower.
All the popular casters with AoE spells will benefit from Juxtapose illusions' increased incoming damage as it will be easier to kill them with magic, or at least identify the real PL. Heroes such as Crystal Maiden, Phoenix, and Necrophos are in the top 10 in pubs.
Slark, Monkey King, Bloodseeker, and Jakiro dropped from the top 10, and have been replaced by Crystal Maiden, Ursa, Pudge, and Shadow Shaman.
7.18 and 7.19 have a longer lifespan than the previous bi-weekly patches, and this factor deeply influenced the meta heroes. We will have a look at the changes in 7.19 that affected each hero in the new and old top 10.
Thirst bonus rescaled from 16/24/32/40 to 7/18/29/40.
Thirst is the first ability to max out, so you won’t notice the difference once level 5 is reached, but before that Bloodseeker will experience a dramatic nerf to his laning stage. The change was indispensable as he used to gain too much damage, get all last hits/denies, and dominate the lane.
Level 25 Talent reduced from +20% Max Thirst and Damage to +18%.
A small nerf to his late game.
Blade Fury damage increased from 80/105/130/150 to 90/115/140/160.
A tiny buff to the laning phase. Juggernaut was a great pick when trilanes were a thing because with two disablers slowing and stunning the solo-offlaner, he could easily get one or several kills during the early game. In fact, Blade Fury inflicts a tremendous amount of damage starting from level one.
In the new 2vs2 meta, it isn’t easy to keep an opponent within the range of spin, so he doesn’t have a guaranteed kill, and might waste the CD for nothing. Considering both the huge 42 seconds cooldown and the 120 mana cost, he can’t just use Battle Fury to harass or deal damage without a purpose.
The slight damage increase might help him secure a kill in the first few levels: up to 450/575/700/800 magic damage during its full duration.
Base armor increased by 1.
Shadow Shaman is really tanky for an intelligence-based hero as it starts with 614 HP and 3.56 armor at level one. He can deal with both magic and physical harassers in the lane phase, and possesses a solid 73-80 damage to trade hits. Most players will underestimate your auto-attacks as they consider you mostly a disabler.
Pudge and Crystal Maiden
I featured Pudge, Crystal Maiden, and Enchantress in the Competitive Tier List of July, analyzing their strengths, place in the meta, and all the changes that affected them from 7.16 onwards. Check it out for the full explanations - below you can find a quick summary of the 7.19 nerfs.
Meat Hook cooldown increased from 17/15/13/11 to 27/22/17/12
What makes Meat Hook so valuable is the 1,300 cast range at level one. We know that IceFrog rarely reverts changes, so he is trying to balance it by nerfing other components of the skill.
27 seconds is an eternally long cooldown, and Pudge might miss some gank opportunities after this adjustment, but the cooldown becomes acceptable after investing the second point. The hero doesn’t possess a big mana pool, and he requires time also to find a proper target to hook, so he can’t really spam the skill.
It is still a nerf because now we are forced to spend two points into Meat Hook, while before one was enough, and we could give complete priority to Rot.
Crystal Nova mana cost increased from 100/120/140/160 to 130/140/150/160
A nerf to her early game, but it is basically not noticeable once you spend some points into the skill, and you want to max out Crystal Nova first because it is your best nuke.
130/170/210/260 AoE damage is reasonably strong in the lane phase, especially considering that nowadays you always fight versus two heroes in any lane - the movement speed debuff is perfect for harassing and ganking as it lasts for 4.5 seconds.
Header image: One's Legion loading screen for Phantom Lancer - Valve