Last time we have looked at the heroes who gained the most from the new patch. As we have figured out, in many cases it was not only the direct buffs to the heroes themselves, but also a multitude of different indirect improvements leading to very impressive Win Rate gains of up to ~6.5%.
Today we are looking at the lowest 3 tiers of our list in an attempt to find the "biggest Losers" of the patch and figure out the reasons behind their demise. While it might not look as interesting or as useful on paper, compared to analysing the "pub stomper" and "flavour of the month" heroes, we believe it to have a similar degree of importance.
Heroes in Dota 2 are surprisingly well-balanced by the fact that for every measure there is a counter measure in the pool. The "loser" heroes might not necessarily be the most versatile or have high unconditional utility, but there will be times when even the lowest Win Rate hero can be considered the best pick.
Sand King, Weaver, Pugna, Windranger, Tiny, Ancient Apparition, Bristleback, Winter Wyvern, Huskar, Lion, Lina, Legion Commander, Death Prophet, Templar Assassin, Storm Spirit, Bounty Hunter, Faceless Void, Lifestealer, Kunkka, Axe, Queen of Pain, Sniper, Nyx Assassin
Seeing Sniper in the "biggest losers" section of the Blog Post is very unsurprising - not only did he receive a multitude of very noticeable nerfs, but he has also lost a bit of his relative relevance, compared to a lot of heroes which have been directly or indirectly buffed. In fact, the hero is the biggest loser of the whole patch with a ~7.7% decrease in Win Rate. Was it a little bit too much?
I really liked the hero even before his Shrapnel was buffed - it was a very strong spell with decent early game damage and an amazing slow. Adding charges to it seemed like a very good idea at the time - the hero was very undervalued and almost never picked in professional matches.
Currently, with yet another Shrapnel rebalance, I think the hero has reached a somewhat balanced state, where he is not as dominant in the middle lane, but has still retained most of his late-game strength.
Should the hero be picked and if so, in what circumstances? Personally, I still think he is annoyingly amazing at disabling blinks from across the screen and he is very good at holding highground - if played correctly he can delay enemy initiation/counterinitiation and push for a very long time. Time he can use to slowly turn into a serious problem.
That said, there are still a lot of counters to the hero in the current meta and even support now have ways to deal with the hero with the addition of Glimmer Cape. Hence, the only reasonable situation where one might think of picking Sniper, is if your team is capable of sustaining you long enough in the early game for you to become relevant (inability to flash-farm is a serious issue for the hero) and create a "wall of bodies" between you and the enemy in the late-game encounters.
Axe has been seeing a lot of play in the past several months and rightly so - the ability to disable through magic immunity on a very low cooldown is something which can not go unnoticed for too long. A multitude of small nerfs in the patch have resulted in a ~4.1% decrease in Win Rate - a lot more than we initially expected.
One of the biggest changes was the cast time increase on Berserkers Call - 0.1 s might not sound like a lot, but it makes disabling a blinked-in Axe a possibility for a lot more heroes, while the ones who were already capable of it find it easier to do so ( Lion, Shadow Shaman, Skywrath Mage etc.)
The changes to Counter Helix proccing on hit land, rather than hit initiation, might not seem a lot, but it certainly makes hero a lot weaker in chase/flee scenarios, where you cannot guarantee dealing damage. These scenarios are quite common, especially in the early game, where blink dagger is not purchased yet.
The decrease in the MS/AS buffs from Culling Blade is also heavily contributing to the aforementioned ~4.1%, amking it harder to "snowball" a fight.
Given the information above, one might assume that the hero is currently too weak to be played. This, however, is not true - the hero is weaker, but his ability to man fight and scare away supports is still there. Most importantly, he can still provide one of the strongest disables in the game - something that is generally only possible with the ultimate abilities.
As such, we believe the hero to remain quite popular with the professional players, while the pub crowd will have to come to terms with the fact that Axe is not necessarily the best damage dealer/late-game plan and try to abuse the more important aspect of his.
Lion did not lose as much as the other two heroes, only going down ~1.8% in Win Rate, but given how all of the Support heroes were substantially buffed, it is still substantial.
What is even more interesting, the hero received no nerfs or buffs in 6.84, showing how global changes have a very significant impact on heroes.
So why did he lose Win Rate exactly? We believe the main reason behind it is the fact that Lion does not benefit from the new items himself, while suffering from their presence in the game - Lotus Orb and Glimmer Cape heavily tamper with single target nukers as well as disablers. Additionally, with the reworked Arcane Boots, leaving a hero with no mana is substantially harder.
Finally, there is a problem of new metagame - not only does he get outclassed by other supports with their new toys, but he is also worse against AoE multi-core spread damage, since there is usually no "single target to focus" situation, which can win you the fight.
Is he a bad pick then? As with everything in Dota, it is very situational. He can still be a great addition to a team with low amount of disables and can still counter a lot of mobility heroes. Pub drafts are extremely volatile, so there will be a situation where Lion can be extremely good - you just have to pay attention.
Timbersaw, Meepo, Clinkz, Skywrath Mage, Doom, Bane, Magnus, Invoker, Visage, Terrorblade, Broodmother, Anti-Mage, Nature's Prophet, Chen, Naga Siren, Enchantress, Rubick, Tinker, [missing hero: outworld-devourer], Ember Spirit, Earth Spirit, Puck, Shadow Demon, Morphling, Lone Druid
Earth Spirit was among the most hated heroes in Dota 2 and for good reasons - his early game burst made the game incredibly unfair for squishy supports. With a different scaling of damage on most of his abilities, as well as a bug fix, which prevented interruption of his escape in certain situations, the hero has lost ~3.5% Win Rate, currently sitting at 42.86%.
Given an already low Win Rate it might seem too harsh to nerf the hero, however, his skill cap is undeniably high and while he does not require multi-unit control, learning to play the hero was a very difficult task and I do genuinely feel pity for ES-spammers. Pity with a hint of malicious joy.
There isn't really a lot I can tell about the hero - I have never played him extensively to possess the required knowledge. But one thing is certain - high level public matchmaking players are definitely sighing in relief.
Morphling has only lost ~2.5% in Win Rate, however his only nerf was the added projectile to Adaptive Strike, which, in my opinion, could not have resulted in a very sizeable Win Rate decrease.
One of the big problems with the heroes could be the "awesomeness factor" on his Aghanim's Scepter upgrade - it does sound really strong on paper and leads to people tunnel-visioning on getting the upgrade, lowering their attentiveness to other items and general gameplay.
Additionally, I still feel people are trying to make Morphling a late-game core. They are not wrong by any means - the hero is amazing lategame, but with no ways of flash-farming he can and will be outfarmed by the enemy cores, making for a very one-sided match. While Sniper can defend the highground for his farm to catch-up, Morphling lacks this potential hence, in my opinion, should no be played in 1-2 positions.
Meepo nerfs are here. The very undeserved buff has finally been retracted and the hero now respawns as any other hero in the game. Not even the DPS increase on Geostrike can outweigh this balance fix.
Meepo falls into the category of heroes which are really hard to master and for some reasons people assume that they should be buffed because of it, while it is certainly not the case. The hero should not be stronger only because he is more difficult to play. I am not talking about high-risk high-reward heroes like Mirana and her Sacred Arrow, but rather about heroes like Invoker, Earth Spirit and Meepo, who got preferential treatment to make up for the inability of players to fully utilise their skillset. Luckily, this trend is finally gone.
Two of the above heroes, namely Io and Batrider are exactly the kind of heroes with a very high skill requirement which did not get preferential treatment. The result is they are both viable and contested professional picks while being close-to-useless in uncoordinated and low-level pubs.
There isn't really a lot to talk about here - both heroes, even after the slight nerfs in 6.84 a-c are still incredibly strong when coordinated properly and do not lack potential.
Alchemist, I believe, currently suffers from high popularity - he was overplayed by pretty much everyone and once the hype dies down (and some professional will play him in 4-5 position) he will probably climb a tier or two. Changes in meta can also make his life a lot easier - current one is too volatile and unstable (which is good) to make long-term plans with a very risky hero.
Finally, there is Oracle and his new ultimate. I do not understand where ~5.6% Win Rate decrease cam from - his ultimate is not necessarily worse - I would even argue that it is better in higher level matchmaking. It does have a longer cooldown and shorter length, but it still very much a Shallow Grave 2.0, albeit on a longer cooldown.
In every other aspect the hero was buffed. As well as the supports in general. I am at a loss here - I do play the hero occasionally and while the increased cd on ultimate does force you to take less fights, the hero is still an amazing support, who is not really hard to master. If you have any ideas as to why the Win Rate on this hero has decreased, do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
The Ti5 Qualifiers are about to start and it is very unlikely that we will see extra patches any times soon. That said, there is still a lot of time for things to change in this patch - not all heroes have been experimented with by the professional players and the general public might be lacking necessary knowledge on how to approach certain heroes build/gameplay-wise.
Given how the patch is in its early days and how there were subtle changes introduced in 6.84c I would take this Tier list with a grain of slat- it provied a nice overview of the trends and changes, but a lot of conclusions you will have to derive for yourself - the meta in the region you are playing in might be different, you might have your own preferences or you might be high/low enough in the MMR spectrum for general statistics to be less relevant to your situation.