With another Major done and dusted and the next Valve tournament being The International, the Dota community have been eagerly awaiting a gameplay patch. There’s been several different patches since December in which the huge transition to the 7.XX era occurred. We were expecting one significant gameplay patch and a few small tweaks before TI7 arrives in August but it’s safe to say that 7.06 came somewhat out of the blue considering the scope of the patch. The patch notes are extensive and there’s not just been tweaks to talents. A staggering 42 respawn talents have been removed and replaced with an array of interesting alternative options. Illusions have been reworked, Roshan has again been altered and less glamorous yet absolutely vital mechanics have been chopped and changed to usher in another new era of Dota 2.
We had an extensive read through the patch notes and put together what we believe are five of the biggest takeaways from 7.06 and how it may well shakeup the professional metagame.
‘Solo mid’ could well be a thing of the past
The changes to the deny mechanic should not, and cannot be underestimated. With denies now granting the denying team 30 percent of the XP bounty, the incentive for strong laning has never been more abundant. Add to that IceFrog’s addition of an extra melee creep to the middle lane for the first 15 minutes (i.e. the laning stage) and there’s a whole lot of experience to be had in the middle lane. It’s safe to say that heroes like Bane, Ogre Magi, Earth Spirit have been picked in previous meta games to harass the enemy mid and guarantee farm in the middle lane at the expense of other lanes.
Now we’re not saying that dual lanes mid are going to be guaranteed every game, but with more experience on the line in what is often a hotly contested lane anyway it’s safe to say that frequent dual lanes would be unsurprising. It may also see the best mechanical players excel. Sumail “Suma1L” Hassan of Evil Geniuses is known for his laning prowess and thus if he’s able to destroy opponents the snowball potential is even higher.
Efficiency is back
One of the biggest, and most lauded changes with the introduction of 7.06 was Valve reverting jungle respawn times to just one minute. Whereas since 7.00 it’s been a two minute neutral respawn time, a 20 percent early game reduction in XP and Gold has justified a return to jungle camps every minute. It will see the faces of certain carry players light up who are known for their efficiency. Supports will be able to stack regularly and we may see the prevalence of heroes that can clear early stacks. Mid heroes such as Templar Assassin and Shadow Fiend and carry heroes such as Sven may be more common as teams look to take early stacks and build a significant net worth advantage.
The jungle change may well have wider ranging implications and see traditional jungle heroes like Chen and Enchantress rise to the fore once more. With a wider array of creeps at their disposal and the fact that lower respawn time now means it’s harder to shut down junglers, we’re looking forward to seeing the best Chen players reap terror across the map. The jungle change has professional players licking their lips. Pub players, on the other hand, will likely see more Legion Commander jungle players than ever. Prepare yourself.
Ending games may have become a whole lot easier
There’s been a wide range of alterations that should theoretically shift the meta game and make earlier finishes more than possible. Firstly, the number of shrines in base has been reduced from five to three. The mana regeneration that shrines provide has also been lowered. By removing shrines situated by the top and bottom barracks, diving beyond tier three towers has become infinitely easier. There’s no shrine just behind the tower to provide seemingly overpowered regeneration and thus providing the defending team with a huge advantage.
Another two factors that could prove vital are Roshan dropping Cheese after his second death (as opposed to third) and the cooldown on buyback being increased from seven to eight minutes. All of the signs, at least on paper, suggest that pushing high ground should not be as difficult as it was last patch.
The game could get a whole lot more messy after 40 minutes
Should the above changes not have their desired effect and the game goes beyond the 40 minute mark, we could see situations where games come to a very abrupt end. A Double Damage rune late in the game can swing the match in one team’s favour. If there’s a six slotted Phantom Assassin glowing blue and jumping onto a support, there’s inevitably one result, and here’s a spoiler, it’s not likely a fairytale ending for the position five. Now Valve have decided that every two minutes past 40, not one, but two power-up runes will spawn. That means that there’s an increased chance of a lucky Arcane or DD rune that can very quickly lead to an opponent’s destruction.
With Valve deciding to remove all minus respawn talents, they’ve replaced them with overpowered elements of heroes that had previously been patched out. The bulk of these seemingly obscene talents come very late on in the game. Io’s Tether once stunned enemies, and now should the hero reach level 25, the talent tree dictates that the stun will return. Earth Spirit’s allied pull was removed from his skillset and added to his Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade but now it’s been re-added to his talent tree.
Then there’s Warlock spawning a Golem upon death from level 20, Nature’s Prophet having no Teleport cooldown at level 25 and even Techies being given +250 damage at maximum level. There’s a whole lot of changes that almost seem gimmicky but will provide another fascinating gameplay element should these heroes reach maximum level.
Illusion heroes may well have had better days
Every patch in recent history, we’ve speculated that nerfs to illusion based heroes could spell the end for the likes of Naga Siren, Terrorblade and Alchemist. As it turns out, we’ve been wrong every time. OG showed that quite frankly, they know best, utilising illusion heroes brilliantly in Kiev to take home their record-breaking fourth Valve Major. Radiance still seemed overwhelmingly strong on the likes of Naga, and Terrorblade could still wreck towers at a whim.
Illusion gold and XP bounty has again been increased whilst illusion building damage has also been reduced. Add to that the Radiance damage on illusions also being reduced and it seems that IceFrog is maintaining his crusade against the heroes that, quite frankly, no one truly enjoys playing against. We’re not going to go out and say that these heroes won’t have their place as we’ve been proved wrong time and time again. They do look the weakest they’ve been in a while, though.
If one thing’s for sure, this patch should attract a hugely diverse range of strategies. Some analysts have suggested that this patch could have wider ranging implications for the professional meta than the transition from the 6.80 era to the 7.XX era. With a busy eSports schedule fast approaching and The International on the horizon, teams will be looking to try and test different strategies as they look to put their name at the front of Valve’s mind when it gets round to The International invites.