For Dota, it’s been a busy month since Oracle's release. Cloud 9 fulfilled their 2nd place prophecy at both Dreamhack and The Summit, and the Nemesis event is finally over. Why did Oracle send Phantom Assassin on contract kills anyway?
Oracle seems to have fallen out of favor relative to other new hero releases. Techies ignites flame wars when it appears in our pubs, Ember Spirit is picked competitively, and we still glare at those dirty, dirty Earth Spirit and last-pick-Broodmother players. What has Oracle done so far?
As with all new hero releases, they become rampantly popular in the first few days then steadily decline in popularity. Oracle faced some competition with the new Phantom Assassin, but now rests at a pick rate of 6%, near the top half of the pack in popularity. By comparison, Chen is the least played hero, with a pick rate hovering around 1.5%.
New heroes tend to spark much debate on where the hero fits in the meta, how to build the hero, and a slew of tips and tricks from the public. The hero has been touted as overpowered, broken with certain hero pairings, and deserving of a nerf. However, the Dota public may not be as well informed. Oracle's win rate rests near the bottom at 41%, in good company with losing heroes such as Chen and Shadow Demon.
We don’t expect Oracle’s win rate to change without any buffs or nerfs. Oracle is in that category of high skill ceiling, high skill bar heroes, like Wisp and Shadow Demon. These are heroes that can be effective in competitive play but can be disastrous when used incorrectly, which is the case in all our pubs.
In my pubs, everyone tried to make core Oracle work. How else can you test a hero if you don’t take all the farm? This may explain the prominence of item choices such as Dagon. However, the way Oracle has been trending is more towards a defensive role than an offensive one. Mekansm being the 2nd most popular item shows that Oracle players are settling more into a support role. False Promise is like Shallow Grave, Aphotic Shield, and a better Shadow Amulet all in one, while doubling the effectiveness of all heals.
Oracle's item builds are dependent on how you skill him, and currently he is in a grey area. His nuke is also a heal, his ultimate saves allies and also enables them to fight while immune, and his Q can be an effective 2.5s stun, but puts him in a compromising position.
By far the most popular build maxes Purifying Flames before Fortune's End, with the next build doing the opposite at half the frequency and less success. Oracle's nuke, combined with Fate's Edict, has some of the highest burst damage potential in the game. Whether played as a core or a support, his nuke is better suited to skill first, since the stun duration for Fortune's End is dependent on channel time instead of skill level.
Until Oracle enters the competitive meta, we’ll have to look at how it’s being played at the top levels in pubs. This isn't uncommon, as many trends that appear in professional play first surfaced in our pub trenches, for example Blademail on Nature’s Prophet and Maelstrom on Lone Druid.
This is a selection of Oracle games played by 5th ranked player M_Fortes. Among top Oracle players, Meknasm is ubiquitous, paired with other mobility items such as Force Staff, Blink Dagger and Eul's.
There are exceptions, as we can see by 11th ranked player Very Balanced's Oracle build.
Phase Boots, Orchid, Skadi, and Mjolnir are some of the least popular items on Oracle, but he seems to have made it work over 100+ games with a 60%+ win rate. His build lacks any mobility or heal items, building more towards a carry role.
Though Oracle seems to fit in the support role more than others, you'll always have players who can bend a hero to their success. Part of the fun of new heroes, particularly ones not yet in Captains Mode, is that we can experiment without there being an established build. We're partially exempt from the flaming that meets players who go carry Abaddon or Omniknight. There's still more time to figure Oracle out. Remember Arcane Boots Ember Spirit? It was a thing.
Fate's Edict is an incredible Rosh killing skill. It disarms and increases the damage of your team by 50%. Though it needs to be tested, Oracle may accelerate a Rosh kill faster than Vengeful Spirit with Medallion and Wave of Terror.
You're able to channel Fortune's End on a Cycloned target (Eul's). Eul's cyclone duration is 2.5s. Fortune's End max channel is 2.5s. There's potential with this item for high level plays, using Eul's to purge the heal off Purifying Flames, then channeling Q, and nuking again once the target lands.
Oracle has 620 range and the fastest ranged base attack time at 1.4. Some may take this as a reason to build him as a core, but it's also a reason to play him as a support that can effectively zone offlaners.
In pubs, Dagon 5 is more popular than Force Staff and Urn of Shadows. Take from that what you will.