Patch 6.86 has been out just over a month and the meta is still very much evolving. The Shanghai Major Qualifier displayed various approaches to the new patch and a variety of different picks. Each region showed its own kind of meta and the Americas region had a very special hero in the back of their heads. Enchantress was banned a total of 38 times in the Americas qualifier. In comparison, Enchantress was either picked or banned a total of 23 times in the other three regions together.
What made Enchantress so popular there? The offlane! Even before this patch, a few North-American pro players would play the Jungler in the offlane. Why does it work and what has changed in 6.86 to make her offlane potential even more viable?
Enchantress is a hero that has been buffed quite a lot over several patches. In addition to these buffs, the global HP increase has also helped her a lot.
6.86 Reduced Enchant cooldown from 30/25/20/15 to 30/24/18/12. 6.85 Increased Nature's Attendants number of wisps from 3/5/7/9 to 4/6/8/10. Impetus is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier. 6.84 Increased Untouchable attack speed slow from 30/60/90/120 to 40/70/100/130. Enchant can now be cast on controlled units to refresh the Enchant duration. Impetus now pierces spell immunity. 6.83 Increased movement speed from 315 to 335. 6.82 Increased movement speed from 310 to 315. 6.81 Increased Untouchable slow duration from 3 to 4.
Despite all these patches, she hasn’t seen as much popularity, mostly due to past metas not benefitting her or any jungler in general. She is still not the jungler that most people are looking for, which is why some have taken her to the offlane.
Even though the offlane Enchantress is something very North-American these days, there’s a case to be made that the idea came from the ever so innovative slahser. His guide for offlaning Enchantress dates back to May 2015. With the 6.84 changes, her Untouchable became strong enough to attract the attention of innovators such as slahser. Instead of maxing Enchant in order to jungle or gank, you max Untouchable and Nature's Attendants for more sustain in the lane.
Slahser’s video shows a build that maxes Nature’s Attendants over Untouchable. However, maxing Untouchable is much more effective. The reason you’d go for a maxed Nature’s Attendants is if you fear being zoned out or potentially killed by sustainable magical damage or chain disables. However, that shouldn’t be that much of an issue anymore, but more on that later.
The idea with running the offlane Enchantress is to disrupt the enemies safelane and build up a reliable damage dealer in the mid to late-game. If picked in the right scenarios, Enchantress is unkillable in the offlane, eventually proving to be quite the nuisance.
The whole concept of running Enchantress in a more core position has become even more viable with the introduction of Dragon Lance. We addressed it briefly before, but the new item is a more cost effective version of her Aghanim’s Scepter.
As mentioned above, generally maxing Untouchable is the way to go--it certainly is what the pros usually do in competitive matches. But as always, you wouldn’t want to blatantly copy anything you see online. You need to see where it makes sense. If you face a somewhat magic damage intensive lane, a point more in Nature’s Attendants can’t hurt. Here’s where it gets interesting though. Depending on the lane, you might even want to start out with a point in Enchant. Getting some xp and gold early, as well as a creep to stay in lane with, can help you be more sustainable. The additional camp in each offlane helps immensely, as you do not waste as much time going into your own jungle, or run the risk of going into the enemies’.
In fact, it might even be recommended to start out with a creep, regardless of the lane you face. Unless you are certain to win your lane without a creep, having that additional point in Enchant makes it so you can always fall back to farm a camp. However, that should be the only point in Enchant early on. Often times you’ll see pro players skip putting any further points in Enchant, prioritizing Stats.
As for items, Dragon Lance and Aghanim's Scepter are generally the main items you want to build towards. Before that, however, Drum of Endurance and Power Treads are good pick-ups for the early to mid-game.
After Dragon Lance and Aghanim’s, the world is an oyster for Enchantress. You can build any item catered towards the enemy. Obviously, getting items that improve her Intelligence or Mana(regeneration) are good, because sustaining Impetus can be difficult, even with tread-switching.
In the past year or so, players have found ways to utilize the jungle as efficient as possible, but they optimized it in a way that made it difficult for junglers to exist. Flashfarmers, like Storm Spirit or Shadow Fiend completely edged out any junglers from the meta. Despite the fact that flash-farming is less viable, we still don’t see a huge resurgence in junglers. A push meta still favors certain other heroes, unless they’re Chen.
Enchantress used to be a stellar jungler and ganker, but her potential seems much stronger in the offlane and it feels more reliable as well. Her success in the offlane is symbolic for what the Dota currently has to offer: A wide pool of viable offlaners, while Junglers have yet to find their continuous success. Even Enigma has had a similar transition, although not as successful, in the professional scene, when Vici Gaming’s IceIceIce would utilize him in the offlane.
It seems like it becomes less and less viable to start out with heroes in the jungle. A lot of heroes eventually transition into the jungle to farm safely, but only a few seem really strong by actually staying in the jungle early on. Enchantress certainly seems much stronger in the offlane now and might be here to stay.
Sources: Headline image bny ChiZ