We get a chance to see the Masters group stage in Riyadh, and while the meta is generally in a healthier place, there are still some problematic things about it that aren’t necessarily hero-related, but rather concept-related. Today we’d like to talk about some potential changes that could make the meta even more open.
The Dispel mechanic is very strong and is one of the reasons why some heroes are either completely out of the meta, or seem incredibly weak by 25 minutes. Heroes like Magnus and Ursa are not popular in the pro scene because they struggle with a 5000 gold item. even Bloodseeker is much weaker than it was just a few months ago simply because since then most players realized how powerful Nullifier is.
The problem we have with it isn’t how well it works, but that it works through Debuff Immunity. There’s simply no counterplay: you can’t hide behind Black King Bar, if only temporarily. Maybe this could be the thing that changes in the next patch, with the Nullifier effect being suppressed during Debuff Immunity.
This would allow for more counterplay on both sides, require more strategic use of BKB and Nullifier, and make some heroes viable again. Additionally, it could theoretically make the Nullifier less popular, increasing the survivability of supporters who might otherwise not get full benefits from their save items.
7.33 introduced a large indirect nerve in Sphere of Linken. It is now possible to detonate it through the Black King Bar, making the item much less powerful. It’s still pretty good and is still needed against some big finals, but we think it could use a little tweaking, especially in games with Rubik. Right now it’s almost impossible to defend yourself when using any channeling magic.
Because of it, for example, The puzzle needs to be changed in some of its other aspects. malicious it’s now a 165 damage per 100 mana ability, making it the best tier one “stun” in the game in terms of damage and mana conversion damage. But this inverted ability is necessary to keep the hero stable in a game where he can no longer be protected by the BKB+Linkens combo.
Indirectly, it also lowers the effectiveness and durability of heroes like Warlock, which are simply not needed. You can always close Enigma’s Black hole (or some powerful channeling spell) with Rubick or basically any free target ability or item. So having a BKB piercing AoE stun is simply not necessary, even though it is very strong in theory.
There’s no elegant solution to this problem that we can think of, and we’re not even sure how much of a problem it is, but maybe Linkens could become a little less efficient in terms of damage on Universal heroes, while he’ll be better when used for his intended purpose.
Finally, there is an elephant in the room. Universal heroes are still a bit too powerful as right click cores. Nerf Empty soul and Abaddon, we get it Wind Ranger. NERVOUS [windranger]? Well, there is Breast mother. after Nerfs the nursing mother, now it is Lycan and Snapfire Time. Six of the ten most contested heroes of the Riyadh Masters are Universal heroes.
Additionally, these nerfed Universal heroes usually take massive stat drops, resulting in some of the weakest heroes in the game who are pretty much unplayable at any skill level above average. The end result is that some Universal heroes are the trendsetters of the patch, dominating the larger race list. While some, like Dazzle, can’t be picked unless you are deliberately trying to break the game for your team.
We feel like a beginner 0.6 damage per level was more balanced and we’ll probably see some of the changes return at some point. As it stands, many Universal heroes are currently known not for their unique properties, but simply for their stats, robbing them of their identity. The moment we see Bane hold on, we’ll know the game went too far.
It’s very hard to complain about the current meta. There are only three heroes with 80%+ contest rate and only seven with 70%+ popularity. It’s definitely not as heavy as it was during the Major, and it’s generally a lot more varied.
That said, there are still some worrying trends, and in preparation for International we hope to see some minor tweaks to heroes. Or at least some fans of the eight heroes completely ignored.