Image by Cuong Le Manh
Dota is a tough game to balance as small changes have unknown effects across the game. Every patch and every meta has some heroes that emerge as overpowered and other heroes as weak.
The 7.23 patch was no different and like every follow-up patch Valve made some small changes to these heroes to try and balance them.
It seems unlikely that Dota will ever be a very balanced game across all the heroes as Valve keeps implementing radical changes to the map and gameplay. With each large change, the complexity of the game increases and the effects of abilities and heroes goes up and down.
Still, Valve is doing their best to make Dota as fair and balanced as possible. Here are four heroes that are the biggest losers of the last patch.
Disruptor is a hero that’s been flying under the radar for the past few months. He wasn’t a staple pick or a common pick or a pick that you would expect. It seemed like all of a sudden he became a strong meta hero which was showcased in the last Dreamleague Major.
He was picked 86 times in that tournament, ahead of common tournament heroes like Kunkka, Omniknight, Venomancer, and Ember Spirit. Disruptor was even used by beastcoast in game 3 of their elimination match against Nigma as mid and he won over w33’s Pugna.
Well Disruptors short time as a strong hero is over as he received two nerfs in the last patch.
Thunder Strike now costs more mana and his Scepter upgrade was nerfed. This Scepter was the 2nd item Chris Luck built in game three against Nigma.
With these nerfs, Disruptor was weakened in the early game and mid to late game. With the Thunder Strike nerf, he can’t harass as well in the laneing phase. Thunder Strike is a spell Disruptor players loved to spam early on to harass and gain vision of the enemy.
beastcoast put Disruptor mid to get an early Aghanim’s Scepter which is a huge upgrade for team fights. Now with this change, will we no longer see Disruptor as a core?
He’s still a solid hero and a well-timed Glimpse can be devastating. It can lead to an extra kill which could lead to easy tower pushes or Roshans. Now, he’s just not as unbalanced as before.
Three nerfs to Doom, what did he do? Other than being the lord of darkness, he was picked the 6th most often in the Dreamleague Major with a 55.75% win rate.
A common theme around nerfing heroes is to nerf their early game. This stops their momentum going into mid and late game where their strengths begin to shine.
Doom had some minor early game nerfs with his movement speed reduction on Scorched Earth but his strength gain reduction doesn’t affect him until mid to late game. The same applies to Devour HP regen, the level one skill remains the same and then reduces by one at the 2nd level.
So does this mean Valve thinks Doom’s early game was fine but his late game was the problem?
In the upper bracket finals, lower bracket finals, and grand finals of the Dreamleague Major, Doom was picked four times going 2-2. If teams are picking him in these important matches then they must believe that he’s a strong hero.
These nerfs indicate that his overall tankiness was reduced. No other changes were made to his core abilities like Doom, or Infernal Blade so it seems as if Valve just wanted to make him less tanky.
The nerfs to Lich have come after the Dreamleague Major where he was picked 8th most often but only had a 47.71% win rate. In the upper bracket finals, lower bracket finals, and grand finals of the Dreamleague Major Lich went 3-1.
The nerfs to Lich target his early and late game. The lower base damage reduction on a support is rare but when considering his strong ability to harass in the early game with Frost Blast it makes sense. Frost Blast was also nerfed with an increase in mana cost at all levels of the ability.
With the Sinister Gaze duration reduction his late game was nerfed too. Sinister Gaze was recently upgraded with an Aghanim’s boost which turned this spell into an AoE ability. This made Sinister Gaze a mini Black Hole though of course as a position 5 it’s a hard item to get.
So with a subpar 47.71% win rate on the 8th most popular hero, was Lich really that overpowered? His strength is in the early game with strong harassment abilities which was nerfed. His late game is still strong with a strong damage reduction spell in Frost Shield which was untouched and Chain Frost which forces the enemy to move in a certain way which was also untouched.
With these minor changes, it’s possible that he’ll go back to being an average support pick rather than a high priority one.
At the Dreamleague Major, Treant was only picked 52 times with a 42.31% win rate. Still, this hero has been very strong since the 7.23 patch and the nerfs continue to come.
Nature’s Grasp quickly became one of the most annoying spells in the game as soon as it came out. In the laneing phase, a well placed Nature’s Grasp plus a follow up stun is a very bad time for any hero. By increasing the mana cost of this spell, Treant players can no longer spam it to get kills repeatedly (unless they buy mangos).
Living Armor is a unique ability because it provides global healing and protection for towers and allies. It made pushing towers and killing enemies slightly more difficult as you had to get rid of the stacks of armor and regeneration before you started doing full damage.
The change to Living Armor boosts the early game but nerfs the late game. The strength gain reduction from 3.5 to 3.4 is almost nothing but hey, we’ll take it.
These heroes weren't the only losers of the last patch but they were some of the hardest hit. The up and down nature of meta heroes continues and the next batch of heroes will be ready to shine. Until then, I hope Disruptor, Doom, Lich, and Treant players enjoyed their time.
Do you agree with these changes? Were these heroes overpowered in your opinion? Which heroes do you think will become meta next? And which heroes need more nerfs?