The initial impression of the community on Sven was far from positive. Given the cleave mechanic changes and a year of lackluster results, the hero was quickly dismissed as unplayable, however recent trends show the exact opposite—the hero currently wins more than 53% of his games in the highest skill bracket. Today we would like to have a closer look at the hero and figure out where we went wrong with our initial assessment.
Sven deals a ton of damage and farms very fast—these two aspects of the hero remained unchanged for as long as he was a part of the game. Over the years, however, players got better and better at kiting him, avoiding fights with him when he has his ultimate up and not grouping up when he does get a chance to hit heroes. It wasn’t the patches or the meta that left Sven mostly irrelevant throughout the last year, it was the increased skill level of the players.
Reworked Warcry attempted to change all that and largely succeeded. When seeing the rework for the first time, our first impression was that it now might be good against Tinker, since you could walk into March of the Machines and still have access to your Blink Dagger, while providing the same benefits for your teammates. However, the ability only blocks attack damage.
There are so many heroes in the meta that have long range attacks, capable of disrupting Blink Dagger initiation. Allowing yourself and your team to remain mobile cannot be overestimated. It also allows you to frequently catch the enemy off-guard, at least for now, while players aren’t fully accustomed to it.
With 24 seconds cooldown, it is generally possible to use it twice in a fight and that also means you can use it to prevent Blink Dagger from breaking even after the initiation, when you are surrounded by enemies. It can be used as a way to escape a bad situation or reliably get to your next target. For a hero who fully relies on being able to get to the enemy, the new Warcry turned out to be pretty much irreplaceable.
With the hero’s main problem of not getting to the enemy being partially solved, it is only natural he will get better, even despite the nerfs to cleave. How much of a nerf it is, however, is up for a debate.
We all know and remember how Sven can pretty much wipe the whole enemy team in a couple of hits, if they don’t position correctly, but how often does it happen against good players?
Spacing and positioning improved over the years to a point where a three-man Black Hole or Reverse Polarity are now considered above average. Even Echo Slam is now valued more for its 0-cast point, rather than its ability to deal massive damage. Dota players are smarter, faster and more aware of their positioning, at least in the higher brackets and in the pro-scene.
In an environment like this, does losing a considerable amount of damage to armor even matter? It probably does, but not to an extent we think it does. A better question to ask then becomes whether the increased farming speed for an already fast-farming hero is a good trade-off, and in all honesty, it might be.
Neutrals don’t have much armor, so Sven is now pretty much unparalleled in taking stacks and that means he gets to his Blink Dagger and Black King Bar faster, at least if his supports do their job well. That means that he gets to start jumping on people earlier, creating a space-taking and space-creating loop for himself more or less independently—farming and killing heroes is what the hero is best at.
An extra teleport scroll slot and backpack ensure that the hero can get truly six-slotted and no space is wasted. Consumable Moon Shard is also something to keep in mind—DPS maximization is achieved when Attack Damage and Attack Speed values are as similar as possible and Sven naturally has a ton of the former.
That leaves us with a hero who farms fast, can set the tempo, is capable of creating space for himself and is good when you are ahead and when you are behind. He also provides extra safety for his supports, allowing them to continue disabling or distracting the enemy, setting up kills for Sven.
Being proved wrong is an exciting feeling in Dota—it means that there are still so many new things to learn and factors to consider and we are glad we were proven wrong with Sven. Turns out he is actually a good, playable hero.
It also means there are probably still some heroes we at Dotabuff and the community as a whole were wrong about and that means we get to continue exploring, experimenting and then exploiting aspects of the game other players might underappreciate. Share your secrets with us in the comment section below.