The top 20 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the safe 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.
Note: I have talked extensively about Phantom Assassin in the Competitive Tier List of November.
Lich is a new hero
7.20 reworked two Lich’s skill, which completely changed how the hero is played and his impact during and after the laning phase.
Lich has always been regarded as an easy hero to play due to his former ability: Sacrifice. Independently from the opponents faced and their competence, any Lich player could just deny experience and gold, replenish their own mana (used to harass via Frost Blast), and influence the lane equilibrium with this unique skill.
Similarly to Keeper of the Light’s Mana Leak, also Lich’s Sacrifice has always been considered an anti-fun skill (for the adversaries), and it might be one of the reasons behind this rework.
Sacrifice has been replaced by Sinister Gaze, which introduced a new form of disable in Dota 2: hypnosis.
How hypnosis works
Hypnosis requires some explanations as it is a new disable type introduced by 7.20, and I believe many players don’t know how it functions precisely.
Currently, there are only two sources of hypnosis in the game: Lich’s Sinister Gaze and Keeper of the Light’s Will-O-Wisp.
Hypnosis is a strong disable that forces the units affected to move towards the source of the disable. In particular, Sinister Gaze sets the target’s movement speed to 32%/38%/44%/50% of the distance between Lich and the target, and lasts for up to 2.4 seconds. Note that the unit hypnotized can’t be controlled.
Hypnosis’ interaction with taunt
If there is Axe in your team, be aware you shouldn’t use Sinister Gaze while his Berserker’s Call is active.
Taunted enemies will try to attack Axe, but your hypnosis disables their attacks, so in the end they will just follow him at the speed set by Sinister Gaze. After the taunt expires, the effect of your skill will kick in again, and vice versa if the hypnosis ends before Berserker’s Call.
Both Axe and Lich could literally destroy the initiation attempt of their respective teammate if they don’t know how the mechanic works or if there is no coordination among them. Sincerely, I believe this is happening in hundreds of games already, but many players didn’t notice it yet.
Differences between hypnosis and stun
These two disables have many similarities as both of them render the target uncontrollable, unable to use skills and items, and interrupt channeling abilities (great when ganking as the enemies can’t escape using teleports).
There are a few main differences:
Most stun abilities also have a damage component while all the current sources of hypnosis deal no damage.
The stun blocks the target in place, instead the hypnosis forces it to move towards a specific direction.
Sinister Gaze can have a great impact as an initiation or ganking tool at all stages of the game: imagine defending a high ground and suddenly being forced out of position.
The spell has a 575 cast range, which can be increased to 725 with the level 20 talent +150 Cast Range, add then to 975 thanks to the extra +250 provided by the Aether Lens. The total range is massive!
Sinister Gaze or Sacrifice
Many players are wondering what’s the best skill. I could talk about all the benefits Sacrifice provided such as free infinite mana to spam Cold Blast and the level advantage you could achieve early on, but it would not matter.
The two abilities have a different goal and any comparison is irrelevant now, so I suggest adapting to this new skill and enjoy the game. What matters is that Lich now has a strong disable at his disposal, which improves his versatility and usefulness in the mid and late game.
Sinister Gaze is a more team-fight oriented skill and works well in combination with Chain Frost (but also with Frost Shield) because now you can force a hero to move in the area where the projectile is bouncing.
There are hundreds of abilities who can exploit this forced movement. For example, you could pull an opponent towards a bunch of Techies’ mines :D.
Finally, do not forget that Sinister Gaze grants True Sight over the target for the full duration, so it can be used to counter heroes with invisibility skills or items; your teammates will be able to damage them for 2.4 seconds even without Sentry Wards and Dusts (how to counter the 2k MMR Riki).
|Shadow Shaman||8.2%||50.9%||Ancient Apparition||5.5%||47.8%|
Soul Ring on the new Lich
In my opinion, the Soul Ring is a bad idea. You must understand that now (as almost all supports) you can’t just spam your nuke endlessly.
Lich has an attack range of 550 and an attack damage of 46-55 at level 1, which is enough during the laning stage, so you don’t need to rely just on Frost Blast. He has some mana problems, but a few Mangoes and/or Clarity Potions will be enough. “Lich gonna have your mana” is only an old meme now ;).
I suggest buying the Magic Wand as soon as possible to gain charges (we are still in a dual lane meta, so there are often casters on the other side) and the Infused Raindrop for survivability and mana regeneration (it is always underrated, especially at lower ranks).
Overall, adapt to the new hero, and spam your spells only when they can guarantee a kill or if the adversary is in a perfect placement to maximize the potential damage inflicted.
Frost Shield is a clear upgrade from Ice Armor
A short summary of Frost Shield if you have not played Lich yet:
You can cast this buff on any allied unit, including buildings.
The allied unit receives less damage from incoming attacks (up to 60%).
Every second, the nearby enemy units receive damage and are slowed down (35%).
The total AoE damage is 300 if the enemies remain in the area for the whole duration (6 seconds). With a 15 seconds cooldown once maxed out, you can use this skill also to farm creep waves.
The cast range is huge (1,000) and the ability can be upgraded by the level 25 talent Frost Shield provides +60 HP Regen, which basically transforms Lich in a healer (360 health per cast); it works also on buildings.
Frost Armor is amazing as an harassing tool in the laning stage and as an initiation one in ganks and team fights, if used on the right target. You can slow the opponents trying to escape, inflict a solid AoE damage, and even preserve the life of your cores thanks to the damage reduction.
It is a flawless ability with a very low skill-floor. Just utilize it on any melee auto-attacker or initiator in the team and you won‘t commit mistakes.
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