The top 20 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the off lane during 7.20. We will learn the best picks in the meta, how to play or counter them, and the patch changes.
Article released during 7.20e.
More from this series:
This series differs slightly from the ones published during the previous patches. 7.20 brought several changes (unbalanced heroes included), so I decided to wait a few weeks before writing my usual hero analyses.
Valve continued releasing balance updates and fixes during this whole period, and after about one month from the release of 7.20 we are already playing under version E.
Starting from this series, I will include data on the top 20, and focus my attention on a selected number of heroes. The changes that took place in each version of 7.19 did not require lots of explanations, but now we are talking about a new Dota 2 meta.
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 just a particular patch, so the past 30 days are examined. Statistics from Dotabuff.
|Sand King||16.9%||53.7%||Centaur Warrunner||9.7%||48.8%|
Magnus’ win rate is exceptional because he wins the game independently from his own lane and the heroes he is able to counter. Magnus brings two main benefits to the team: he accelerates the farm of the cores and determines the fate of the team fights.
Empower is an amazing farming tool both for the cores and Magnus himself. You must not steal space to the positions 1 and 2, but with a minimum of coordination it is possible to find sufficient farm on the map to build your own items.
As a plus, Magnus doesn’t even require many items to do his job, but purchasing some expensive ones (such as the Refresher Orb in the late game) will drastically improve his overall power and usefulness.
Thanks to Magnus, the carry of the team is able to farm faster, and thus buy items before the enemy one. In this meta, if you notice a lineup that might benefit a lot from this hero, pick it before them or face annihilation.
Cleave and Empower have a bigger impact on the farm speed
7.20 changed how cleave works. Before, it ignored the amount of armor possessed by a hero while now it is a normal physical damage type, which damage is reduced by the armor of the target.
To make up for the damage reduction, IceFrog rebalanced items like the Battle Fury and abilities like Magnus’ Empower by increasing the area affected and the damage.
This change is a nerf against heavily armored heroes and generally most characters in the late game. At the same time, it is a buff in the early game, particularly against opponents with a poor base armor.
When talking about “opponents” we must not think only about the rival heroes, but also the lane and the neutral creeps in the jungle. Both of them have very low armor values, so buffing the damage of cleave and related abilities also increased the farming speed of all the heroes able to exploit them.
In General, any hero that can use the Battle Fury as a core item (such as Anti-Mage, Ember Spirit, Faceless Void) gained a huge advantage because now it speeds up their farm more than in the past patches.
If we consider Magnus in particular, Empower has always been a buff loved by all melee cores, but now it has become borderline overpowered. For example, Phantom Assassin can use it in combination with her new Blur active ability to farm neutral and ancient creeps without receiving any damage very early in the game.
Melee carries are dominating the meta
Some players believe that PA is the main reason behind the nerfs that are afflicting Magnus in 7.20, but this isn’t the whole story.
There are several successful melee heroes in this meta that can make a good use of Empower. Checking out the pro data, we find Phantom Assassin, Terrorblade, Anti-Mage, Kunkka, Faceless Void, Monkey King, Slark, Juggernaut, Ember Spirit, Tiny, etc.
For example, have you ever tried the Magnus + Juggernaut combo during this patch? 7.20 changed Omnislash, and now Juggernaut performs full real attacks that can proc your crits and items. A Juggernaut buffed by Empower can deal a solid amount of extra damage and potentially obliterate the enemy team.
Valve nerfed Empower in two consecutive patches so far:
Reduced Empower cleave damage from 30%/45%/60%/75% to 20%/38%/56%/74%.
Reduced Empower attack damage bonus from 20%/30%/40%/50% to 10%/20%/30%/40%.
Reduced Empower cleave damage from 20%/38%/56%/74% to 14%/34%/54%/74%.
All the changes to the cleave damage adjusted only the first two levels because those affect the most the farming speed in the early game. Note that the 10% nerf to the attack damage bonus will have the biggest impact as it hurts the overall damage.
In my opinion, these adjustments won’t kill the hero because the farm acceleration provided by the skill is still adequate. Every melee core will always welcome Magnus in the team.
Superb initiation skills
Empower isn’t the only skill that helped Magnus to rise the pick rate chart; and maybe it isn’t even the primary one. He is one of the best heroes in 7.20 also due to his exceptional initiation abilities, which have been boosted by the new Shockwave.
It now pulls the enemies affected towards the Shockwave center while also slowing their movement speed by 60%.
It is also relatively easier to land because the cast range and the width increased.
Shockwave was already a great skill in the past, but now its usefulness in ganks and team fights increased, and the pull helps to achieve an easier Reverse Polarity.
|Skywrath Mage||8.7%||53.2%||Bounty Hunter||7.9%||49.3%|
How to counter the Magnus + PA combo
Unfortunately, the answer is teamwork. You can’t defeat them without a combined effort, and this is a big issue in pub games, even at high ranks.
It is fundamental to deny PA’s farm and delay her core items while waiting for your carry to be online. But, this combo is crazy strong because they have several backup plans.
Pick capable offlaners who can contest the lane.
If possible, maintain the control of the runes to limit any extra gold income.
Act together and destroy the tier 1 tower in the safe lane early on so that PA will be forced to move into the jungle.
Many teams can reach this goal, but afterwards they go back in their own lanes to farm. It can be a game-costing mistake because PA has a free Battle Fury thanks to Magnus’ Empower, and Blur makes her immortal against neutral and ancient creeps, so five minutes in the jungle are enough to build an item.
After destroying the safe lane tower, group up again and focus your resources on the mid lane. Bringing down also this tower grants your team a better control on the map and an easier route towards the enemy jungle.
While your carry farms, the supports and the gankers must rotate into the enemy jungle, control the area with proper wards, and detect and kill (or at least drive away) PA for as long as necessary for your cores to be online.
In the end, countering Magnus and Phantom Assassin requires so many players and resources that it is just preferable banning them, or picking them in your own team.
Previous: 7.19c offlaners