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Valve released the 7.21 patch a few weeks ago and the first balance is out in the form of Dota 2 7.21b. The patch has one gameplay change, one item balance and a series of balance changes to heroes. Let’s look at the prominent changes Dota 2 7.21b has brought along with it.

General

  • XP earned when being denied increased from 25% to 30%

This basically means if you deny a creep, your opponent will get 30% of the creeps XP instead of 25%. To be honest, it should not make the biggest of differences. It’s just a small bump up for someone who is getting owned in the lane.

Items

Hand of Midas

  • Gold bonus reduced from 200 to 180

Hand of Midas is an item that has skyrocketed to popularity after 7.21. No change was made to Midas in the patch, but the game was slowed down in 7.21. Also, with melee creep gold going down and a set of ancients removed from the jungle, there was a dearth of farm on the map. Solution? Hand of Midas! With the item getting so popular, there was bound to be a nerf and here it is. The Transmute bounty is the lowest it has ever been since the reworked Transmute of patch 6.72. In patch 7.06, it was 220, was reduced to 200 and now it’s 180. However, because of the lack of farm on the map, I believe cores will still continue going for the item to scale well into the game.

 

Winners

1) Bane
  • Strength Gain increased from 2.4 to 2.6
  • Agility Gain increased from 2.4 to 2.6
  • Intelligence gain reduced from 2.8 to 2.6

With the 15% increase in every hero’s primary attribute in patch 7.21, Bane lost his unique status of having the same gain for all three attributes. Well, the unique status has been restored back with patch 7.21b! That’s more of a win than anything. His overall stats gain per level has gone up from 7.6 to 7.8, so it is a buff of sorts.

2) Crystal Maiden
  • Freezing Field armor increased from 10 to 20

20 armor? That is a crazy amount of armor. Her armor at level at level 6 is approximately 4, from which it will go to 24. The effective HP (EHP) goes up from 19% physical resistance to 61% physical resistance! Good luck trying to kill CM without burst damage while taking a ton of damage.

3) Omniknight
  • Heavenly Grace duration increased from 10 to 12

Heavenly Grace already got a sizable buff in patch 7.21. At level 4, it gives 28 extra strength, which is 560 extra HP. This effect, along with 50% status resistance for 12 seconds seems broken. Oh and just in case you forgot, it is also a strong dispel with 20 bonus HP regen. I might be wrong here, but once teams get warm to Omni and Heavenly Grace, this hero is going to be one to watch out for.

4) Storm Spirit
  • Static Remnant manacost reduced from 100 to 70/80/90/100
  • Electric Vortex cooldown reduced from 22/20/18/16 to 16

Storm Spirit has seen his pick rate go down and with the introduction of the Leash mechanic, there are more ways to lock down Storm. These changes will make laning and early neutral farming a bit easier. With the Electric Vortex mana reduction in 7.21 and the cooldown reduction in 7.21b, there are more reasons to get a value point in the skill.

5) Treant Protector
  • Living Armor damage block increased from 25/50/75/100 to 40/60/80/100

A 40 damage block for 4 hits is nearly no damage taken at all. Most heroes have early game damage ranging from 45-60 (of course, there are exceptions with high damage – Shadow Shaman and Tiny would like a word). A level 1 Living Armor blocking 160 damage can easily be the difference between conceding and getting First Blood.

6) Warlock
  • Base intelligence increased by 3
  • Upheaval manacost reduced from 100/110/120/130 to 70/90/110/130

Warlock is slowly getting to that stage where everyone will suddenly realize he was buffed for a lot of patches and is a super good pick (just like what happened with Clinkz and Wraith King at TI8). Although Upheaval is not a skill maxed out at the start, in a trilane, a couple of early points with a well positioned Warlock are guaranteed to get kills with the slow.

7) Weaver
  • Geminate attack now deals 10/20/30/40 bonus physical damage on the second hit

Weaver was shut down after being one of the favorite picks at TI8, but this should give him a bit of a comeback. This could be a good change for a support Weaver because the damage does not depend on the invent. A position 3 or 4 Weaver who builds into Spirit Vessel and Scepter can definitely benefit with this for that edge in damage.

 

Losers

1) Grimstroke
  • Ink Swell stun duration reduced from 1.4/2.2/3.0/3.8 to 1.0/1.9/2.8/3.7
  • Soulbind slow reduced from 15/30/45% to 10/20/30%

Since being introduced to Captain’s Mode, Grimstroke has been the recipient of nerf after nerf after nerf. Although he is picked up frequently, his win rate in professional games is a meager 42.17% (288 games, 123 wins, 165 losses). For a hero who isn’t doing too well, this is pretty much the equivalent of kicking a man who is already down. There’s a good chance this came because of his high pick rate (31.57%) in games in the Immortal bracket. I’m not saying he should have had a buff, but a nerf was uncalled for. Too much use of the word ‘nerf’ there.

Grimstroke’s changelog since Dota 2 patch 7.20 (image taken from dota2.gamepedia.com)

2) Io
  • Tether no longer makes you unslowable
  • Spirits no longer has a toggle cooldown
  • Spirits min range increased from 100 to 200
  • Spirits rotation interval from every 2.4 seconds to 2.7
  • Spirits no longer does a micro animation interruption when initially casting (already has zero cast point)
  • Overcharge damage reduction reduced from 15/20/25/30% to 5/10/15/20%
  • Relocate manacost increased from 100 to 175
Talents
  • Level 15 Talent changed from Tether Grants Scepter Bonus to +8 Health Regen
  • Level 20 Talent changed from +16 Health Regen to Tether Grants Scepter Bonus

Let’s start with the problem the Dota 2 community (well, the higher tiers of the Dota 2 community) had with Io. Even though the hero was removed from CM mode, Io was more broken than before which made high level pub games quite one sided. Vega Squadron’s Madara recently tweeted about the problem and it seems, with 7.21b, his prayers might have been answered.

Tethering to a teammate gives Io the ally’s movement speed, and Io did not slow down when tethered due to any spells like Ignite. That change in itself is a big one. Maybe now Io players will think of getting boots. Increasing Overcharge damage reduction to 30% in 7.21 was a completely unnecessary change, which has been reverted back. The additional 75 mana to Relocate might actually make Wisp turn to Arcane Boots. The level 15 Scepter Bonus was a major boost for Io while playing with heroes like Gyrocopter or Luna, who tend to gain a lot from the Scepter effect. Having that moved to level 20 should slow down the time at which that advantage is gained. At the end of this, Io is still a strong hero. IceFrog will probably gauge how it does in high level pubs before taking a call on whether to introduce it back in CM mode or whether further changes are needed with the Wisp.

3) Keeper of the Light
  • Will-O-Wisp being cast a second time will follow the same tick interval as the first

There go the Refresher plays. A Refresher on KotL kind of guaranteed a team fight win with two Will-O-Wisps keeping the entire enemy team locked. To be fair, it did seem a bit too strong, with the opposition literally looking at two bright lights as they got hacked down. But maybe Refresher still can be a good item for one ultimate following the other.

4) Lich
  • Movement speed reduced from 305 to 295
  • Sinister Gaze duration reduced from 1.6/1.9/2.2/2.5 to 1.3/1.7/2.1/2.5

The movement speed reduction is going to hurt Lich quite a bit. With so many melee heroes having their movement speeds increased, lanes are ruled by heroes like Lifestealer and Ursa. Not really fun to be a slow walking skeleton in their midst. Lich does have two abilities that slow down opponents, but those are bound to be on cooldown at some point. Sinister Gaze duration reduction is a minor one, but something that will be noticeable for the first two levels at least.

5) Lifestealer
  • Strength gain reduced from 3.6 to 3.2
  • Feast reduced from 1.75/2.5/3.25/4% to 1.5/2.25/3/3.75%

Fast moving, high armor Lifestealer will be taken down a notch when his strength gain takes a hit along with Feast damage percentage. A 0.4 decrease in strength gain is 10 strength on the whole (10 damage, 200 HP). As for the 0.25% decrease in Feast damage, it might seem small, but it surely makes a difference when attacking tanky strength heroes like Centaur and Axe. It’s a good balance for LS, but he still should be one of the better carries of the meta.

6) Magnus
  • Strength gain reduced from 3.7 to 3.5
  • Skewer slow reduced from 25/30/35/40% to 10/20/30/40%
  • Empower manacost increased from 30/50/70/90 to 45/60/75/90

Eventually, it will come to a point where Empower is completely removed from the game! In the last three patches, Empower cleave damage has been reduced twice and the Empower bonus damage has been reduced as well. The nerf in patch 7.21b is not a big one though (for Empower) and the hero should continue to remain popular as he literally can bestow a 4400 gold item on a melee hero.

7) Tiny
  • Tree Grab bonus damage reduced from 25/30/35/40% to 10/20/30/40%

Decent chunk of damage taken away at level 1. Don’t have to worry as much about being hit by the tiny Tiny’s big tree at level 1 and 2 in the lane.


8) Ursa

  • Base armor reduced by 2
  • Overpower cooldown increased from 10 to 16/14/12/10

For a classic run-at-opponents hero like Ursa, the movement speed buff he received was perfect and mroe than enough to start terrorizing lanes again. The Overpower cooldown reduction should go a long way in curbing that. The reduction in case armor will bring Ursa’s armor  5 to 3 (at level 1), making him more susceptible to physical damage (physical resistance down from 23% to 15%).

 

Not too many changes to usher in a new set of heroes, but enough to keep the ones that are getting away rooted and maybe introduce a few new faces to the mix. The new patch will first be tested at MDL Macau, which will be starting on the 20th of February.

 

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