Gaming

Here’s what IceFrog’s bi-weekly patches mean for Dota 2

© Valve
IceFrog is shifting Dota away from huge, groundbreaking patches to smaller, more frequent changes – but what does it means for casual and pro gamers alike?
Written by Ollie RingPublished on
Every Dota 2 player can remember where they were when the 7.00 patch dropped. Whether it were revelling in OG’s victory over Ad Finem at the Boston Major or out walking the dog, 7.00 was a truly mammoth moment in the game’s history. The first murmurs of talent trees emerged, with leaks circling social media and the majority of fans dismissing them as just rumours, citing them to be too ridiculous to be true. But then, Valve managed to release what looked like official patch notes, but they were written only in Chinese, leading to hysteria as Google Translate fell perilously short at describing what was going on.
Groundbreaking patches with the aforementioned magnitude are now to be a thing of the past, according to the most recent social media activity from IceFrog. The game’s worshipped developer emerged on Twitter for the first time since The International to announce bi-weekly patches, which will effectively see the end of huge patches we’ve grown to love and hate in equal measure.
There’s nothing worse than waiting for what feels like an eternity for a fresh gameplay update – but now there shall be no more obscene shake-ups on a random day of the week. Here’s what we thought of the news, and what it will do for the scene.

A finely tuned competitive scene

At the end of the day, whether public players like it or not, the top echelons of Dota 2 are what truly matter. The state of the game at the summit dictates the livelihoods of so many, and it’s integral that the game is finely nuanced and balanced to perfection. Make no mistake, IceFrog has triumphed over every game developer in this sense thus far. Recent patches have often left analysts and fans debating as to whether it was the best yet in Dota history – and long may it continue.
What bi-weekly patches do is allow the dev team to gently tweak the game so to balance any concerns over heroes. Whilst we’ve had small sub-patches relatively often after a big patch, gentler tweaks every couple of weeks should allow IceFrog to keep the game perfectly in check.

Why is it important for the pro game?

Make no mistake, the Dota 2 Pro Circuit this year has been quite the spectacle for esports aficionados, with a jam-packed schedule each and every week. There’s rarely a weekend where we don’t have a top-tier tournament to feast our eyes on. When there’s not a huge tournament with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, there are qualifiers for the next spectacle.
In the past, debate has raged around over-saturation for consumers and people, quite simply, getting bored of Dota 2. Should there only be significant patches altering the way the game is played twice a year, it’s easy to get frustrated. Previously, with major premium tournaments only three to four times a year, a tournament meta tended to develop and each iteration would bring something new. Now, top teams meet each other week in, week out and it’s easy to see picks and bans repeat themselves.
Whilst it’s of utmost testament to the game of Dota 2 that we’re still seeing new things, there are some heroes that are currently obsolete, and the ultimate aim is to have any hero viable at any given time. With bi-weekly patches, the meta will chop and change accordingly and each Dota 2 Pro Circuit event will feel fresh.

It’s great for the average player too

Currently we’re all fed up of seeing Tinker in every single pub game. We were previously sick of seeing Anti-Mage in every pub game. The patch waiting room became increasingly anxious and our most hated heroes continued to ruin the public experience for anyone and everyone. If one hero is overpowered then in Captain’s Mode it will be banned out.
There’s no such luxury for those that have to play pub games constantly. There’s very few that queue Captain’s Mode on a day-to-day basis, and the ban system in all pick is random at best. There are not going to be months of enduring the overpowered disco pony Leshrac or hearing “ho-ho-ha-ha” through our headphones whilst we pray that certain heroes are just removed from the game. One update every two weeks means 14 days is the cap – and sounds like a huge improvement to us.
A part of every Dota fan is going to miss the seemingly random, utterly massive Dota patches that IceFrog seemed to pluck from the middle of nowhere. Or maybe IceFrog is just baiting the community and we’ll get a huge change once every two weeks? Time will tell, but for the moment, Dota’s never been in a better place than now.