Last week, we started a discussion on the overrated supports in the current meta. One argument we think is worth adding to the previous discussion is that perhaps a non-trivial portion of the losses for these support heroes comes from primarily core players, who are simply farming their ranked role tokens. This can’t be an argument in today's discussion, however, since we are going to be talking about the most overrated cores in the current patch and why consciously picking these heroes in the later phases of the draft might not be the best idea for everyone.
Mars is the fourth most popular hero in the Divine+ bracket, but his win rate is below 48% across the board. The hero received a pretty sizable boost to both his popularity and win rate when the patch was released, but it seems players have found ways to play against this potentially scary hero, and the Mars mains are taking a bit too long to adjust.
Both Mars' Shard and Scepter are excellent. One is a pretty powerful farming and outpushing tool, which makes going high ground against Mars excruciatingly painful. The other is a pretty significant late-game potential boost for the hero, both in terms of DPS and a little bit in terms of control.
Overall, in the last couple of patches, the hero certainly didn’t get weaker. He is still the same decently reliable lane oppressor and teamfight initiator. The problem is, it is simply not enough right now.
The first big problem is that a lot of currently popular position one carries just don't care about Mars in lane. Heroes like Monkey King and Ursa can even win this matchup, while other popular heroes like Juggernaut and Wraith King can survive through it in relative comfort.
The second big problem is the lack of a reliable lockdown and spell immunity-piercing control. That’s always been the case for Mars, sure, but we’ve pointed out multiple times how the current meta mostly revolves around mobile and elusive heroes. Connecting Arena of Blood into Spear of Mars on a hero like Puck or Void Spirit is hard. While connecting it on position one carries is mostly impossible in a high-level lobby, since players at this level build and use their BKB well.
In the end, we get a hero who can no longer reliably dominate his lane and who can no longer be a reliable initiator for his team. Once again, a lot of the problems the hero is facing is not with his design, but rather with current trends in higher-level brackets. Mars can be a dominant force in the game even in his current state. It just requires specific games against specific heroes, who are not being picked too often right now.
Shadow Fiend is an iconic hero. Back in the old days, he was used to determine the better mid player, and interestingly enough, it feels like this “SF 1v1 mid” method was developed independently across the globe. There is no denying: Shadow Fiend requires skill to pull off.
Skil is something players in Divine+ don’t typically lack, yet the hero is still underperforming. Even after getting a small laning stage buff and a pretty strong magic SF catalyst in the form of Aghanim’s Shard, that gives spell amp.
Is it once again the trends and fashion to blame? Is SF actually good, but just doesn’t fit into the current meta of mobile and elusive heroes? We think both yes and no.
There are certainly meta-related problems and they are more or less the same as the ones Mars has: it is hard for SF to connect his spells and even Eul’s into requiem combo can be dodged by a multitude of popular heroes. But that’s not all of it.
SF has been underperforming even before this hard meta-shift. His win rate across all brackets was below 50% for a long time now and while it is understandable in the lower level brackets, where SF players might be struggling with execution, low win rate in Divine+ perhaps points to his overall conceptual weaknesses.
Once again, not so weak he is unplayable, but weak enough that he is rarely a good or the most optimal choice. We think the big problem the hero is facing right now is the lack of hard identity. Flexibility is great, but it is at its best when there is a choice between two distinct and effective playstyles.
Shadow Fiend is outclassed by any dedicated right-click DPS hero in terms of auto-attack damage, and he is outclassed by most magic damage heroes in terms of magic damage output. More importantly, while magic SF can be pretty strong in terms of damage, especially with the new shard, he still doesn’t bring as much utility as other magic damage heroes. At least until after he gets his level 25 talent and something like Scythe, but by then it can be a bit too late.
This one doesn’t really need a long explanation: players who pick PA rarely pick her to win games: they just want to hear the sound of gore flying around, or the high-pitched “zing” if they have an Arcana, every time they crit. That’s more or less the only reason to pick the hero who wins less than 46% of her games in Divine+.
We’ve had this discussion before and were met with a bit of an interesting backlash: apparently a pretty sizeable part of the community think Phantom Assassin is a strong hero. The reason for it is probably not the actual strength of the hero, which is very low, but rather the perceived strength based on how the hero wins her games.
This is a Tinker-type situation, where losing against a fed PA is pretty frustrating. These games, especially if you are a support who couldn’t get to Ghost Scepter in time, are very frustrating and memorable. Considerably more frequent games where you faceroll a hero with very limited damage, very limited survivability, unexceptional laning stage and not necessarily the strongest late game are simply not as memorable.
Phantom Assassin was painfully weak before the 7.28 patch and she got a mixed assortment of both nerfs and buffs for some reason, with the net result of still being independently underpowered. She can work with strong buffs on her side, but Magnus, PA’s best buddy, is in a pretty sorry state himself. She can work with strong armor debuffs on her team, but Slardar, Dazzle and Shadow Fiend aren’t particularly good either, and even if they were, there are better heroes to exploit negative armor effects.
PA is currently balanced around lower-level pubs, with perceived strength rather than the actual strength being the deciding factor, so she is really, really weak. We think it is best to leave the hero be if you are playing solo and think twice if you are playing in a party.
What are your thoughts on the heroes discussed today? Do you agree with us, or do you think there are better candidates to be called overrated? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comment section below.