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The Stockholm Major is done and dusted. Vici Gaming emerged the champions of the third Major of the 2018-2019 DPC season and have secured their direct invite to TI9. With the end of a Major comes a new patch, 7.21d. Most of the community was probably hoping for 7.22 with a big overhaul, but that wasn’t the case. The patch that has been conferred upon us by 7.21d and it brings with it a series of nerfs and buffs, to both, items and heroes. Let’s take a look at the important changes this patch brings with it.

GENERAL

-Dire hard camp pull is now easier to do

Radiant has always been the favored side for teams for a number of reasons. One of those is the fact that it has been significantly easier to pull the safelane creep wave with the hard camp on the Radiant than on the Dire side. The hard camp on the Dire side is far away and their path is made a bit tricky by a few trees. Ease in pulling that should make laning a bit better on the Dire side.


ITEMS

1) AEON DISK

-Recipe cost reduced from 1250 to 1100

An item that was quite popular around the TI8 time, Aeon Disk is barely seen these days. A reduction is recipe cost helps, but the item also needs some improvement in what it provides.


2) GUARDIAN GREAVES

-Recipe cost increased from 1700 to 1800

Greaves have risen out of the dead and become quite popular on multiple role heroes. You see Greaves on mid heroes like Viper and Necrophos as well as supports. The sustain from Greaves helps a team to stay together and fight as five. Not the biggest nerf as the item already costs more than 5000 gold.


3) ROD OF ATOS

-Cooldown increased from 16 to 18

-Cast range reduced from 1150 to 1100

Rod of Atos is the new popular inventory that is being made on a lot of mid heroes. Heroes like Viper, Razor, Death Prophet and even Leshrac, who didn’t really prioritize on the making Rod of Atos, have started making it as their first item. Atos provides really good stats as well as the ability to keep heroes grounded for 2 seconds. And it has an INSANE range! The range has been nerfed, but not a lot. All in all, Atos continues to be a good item. These two changes should just bring a bit of balance to it.


4) SOLAR CREST

-Target attack speed increase/reduction changed from 70 to 80

Solar Crest is hardly ever seen after it was changed in 7.20. The new Solar Crest is quite costly not something supports can afford. Supports usually get a Medallion of Courage to help with an easy Roshan and keep it at that. The attack speed buff will not really make it popular again. It needs a reduction in cost.


HEROES- WINNERS

1) ARC WARDEN

-Agility gain increased from 2.1 to 2.4

-Tempest Double duration increased from 16/18/20 to 16/20/24

Before 7.21, the Tempest Double duration was 18 seconds. With it going up to 24, it’s a big increase in a period of two months (33.33%). The Agi gain is a nice boost as well. We might see more of Arc Warden in the tournaments to come.


2) CENTAUR WARRUNNER

-Double Edge damage increased from 40/60/80/100% to 60/80/100/120%

-Level 20 Talent increased from +50 Retaliate Damage to +70

The good thing about the buff to Double Edge is, the buff is uniform through all levels and doesn’t scale; a straight 20% increase throughout. Just pile on the strength on Centaur and watch enemies getting demolished! Also with the +50% Double Edge Strength Damage, it goes all the way up to 170% at level 4. A centaur with 150 strength will have a 555 damage nuke every five seconds!



3) DRAGON KNIGHT

-Elder Dragon Form slow increased from 30 to 40

Talents

-Level 10 Talent increased from -20% Breath Fire Damage to -25%

-Level 15 Talent increased from +300 Health to +350

-Level 20 Talent increased from +150 Gold/Min to +180

-Level 25 Talent increased from +1.75s Dragon Tail to +2s

That is a lot of buffs for Dragon Knight across the board.  All the talents buffed, according to Dotabuff, are the unpopular ones. Maybe these changes will make them a bit popular? The +180 gold per minute definitely make a case, especially now that the 2 x Dragon Blood talent has been moved to level 25.


4) DROW RANGER

-Agility gain increased from 2.5 to 2.8

-Base agility increased by 6 (base damage unchanged)

Drow ranger does seem like a strong hero right now. According to Dotabuff, she is the 15th most popular hero, but the professional scene does not seem to think so. The increase in Agi gain as well as the increase in base Agility not only helps her, but all the ranged heroes in the team from the very start of the game. Hopefully, Drow Ranger gets a bit more attention in the upcoming tournaments.


5) SAND KING

-Sand Storm damage increased from 20/40/60/80 to 20/45/70/95

-Burrowstrike cast range increased from 350/450/550/650 to 400/500/600/700

Most played hero of the 2017-2018 DPC season, hardly every picked in the 2018-2019 DPC season. Sand King has had a rough time in the past few months, but seems like on the way to dig his way to the top again. Burrowstrike stun duration and damage received sizable nerfs at level 1 in the past year, but the increase in the range might make up somewhat for that. But it might be worth maxing out Sand Storm at level 7, looking at the y damage potential of the skill. The damage at level 4 of the skill is more that 1.5 times the Radiance damage (which is 60 per second).


6) STORM SPIRIT

-Intelligence increased from 22 + 3.7 to 23 + 3.9

-Static Remnant damage increased from 120/170/220/270 to 120/175/230/285

-Electric Vortex pull distance increased from 140/180/220/260 to 180/220/260/300

Virtus Pro’s Noone styled his team to victory on the Storm Spirit in game four of the Stockholm Major grand finals. The hero surely did not seem weak then and this will only make it better. A buff to two skills which have already seen minor buffs in the recent patches will make a strong case for Storm. Increased Static Remnant damage along with the +30 Overload Damage at level 10 will gives Storm the ability to get early kills as well as farm the jungle very quickly.


7) TEMPLAR ASSASSIN

-Agility gain increased from 2.8 to 3.2

-Meld debuff duration increased from 10 to 12

Templar Assassin is not a weak hero at this point in the game. The thing just is, there are better mid heroes. Especially with Viper, who is TA’s natural counter, gaining popularity. TA was bound to be ignored a bit. But Viper has seen some nerfs thrown his way and TA’s Agi gain going from 2.3 to 3.2 since 7.21 was released, it makes a good case for her. Also, Meld duration now lasts 12 seconds and the Meld debuff from multiple attacks stacks. Which means there is a 4 second window where a target could have two Meld debuffs on it, leading to an armor reduction of 16!


8) ZEUS

-Intelligence increased from 20 + 3.1 to 21 + 3.3

-Static Field damage increased from 4/6/8/10% to 5/7/9/11%

The Thunder God got nerfed out of the game after his involvement at The International 2018, where he was a popular hero. Mostly so with OG’s Topson, who was on Zeus in the last game of the grand finals. But there is hope again for the hero, with a nice buff to his base intelligence and intelligence gain.  The hero suffers a lot from mana issues, and this should go some ways in mitigating the problem. Increase in the Static Field should provide a good boost to Zeus’ damage, especially in the late game, as it is percentage based damage.

Other heroes worth mentioning are Naga Siren and Sniper, who have received considerable buffs as well.


HEROES – LOSERS

1) LIFESTEALER

-Rage cooldown increased from 16 to 18

The Rage downtime, which earlier was 10 seconds, will now be 12 seconds at level 3. If the +2 seconds Rage duration talent is taken, it will revert back to 10 seconds. Two seconds might now seem like a lot, but in situations when Lifestealer is trying to survive or make an escape, it can be the difference between life and death. A good recent example would be PSG.LGD’s Ame’s Lifestyle against Vici Gaming. He had a Death Pulse following him for a while and managed to outrun it until Rage was off cooldown. Had it been two seconds more, Ame would have been a goner!


2) ORACLE

-False Promise cooldown increased from 100/65/30 to 115/80/45

-False Promise manacost increased from 100 to 100/150/200

-False Promise cast range rescaled from 1000 to 700/850/1000

Be popular for a couple of tournaments, get nerfed like crazy. Oracle falls in that unlucky category of heroes which IceFrog nerfs after they get popular once in a blue moon and then are never heard of again for a long time. And there is a good chance that will happen to Oracle as False Promise is kind on a big deal about the hero! The cooldown at increase means at level 3, Oracle probably won’t be able to use the skill twice in a fight. Earlier, Oracle could get away with just Brown Boots and an Urn of Shadows. There’s a chance Arcane Boots or an Aether Lens might be needed now.


3) PANGOLIER

-Lucky Shot can no longer apply both silence and disarm at the same time

-Lucky Shot chance reduced from 20% to 17%

-Rolling Thunder manacost increased from 100 to 100/150/200

Pangolier had gotten quite popular in the past few weeks, especially in the mid lane. The nerf to Lucky Shot is harsh. The problem is, let’s say while facing a Puck, Pangolier disarm him. Puck has no problems with it and can just use Illusionary Orb to get to safety. Application of the disarm takes out any chance there was of the silence being applied. For another hero, like a Bllodseeker chasing enemies with Thirst, silence might not be a big deal but disarm will be. This is a bigger nerf to Lucky Shot than it might appear. Now Pango won’t just have to hope that it procs, he’ll also have to pray the right one procs.


4) VIPER

-Agility gain reduced from 2.8 to 2.5

-Nethertoxin cooldown increased from 5 to 6

Viper was nerfed in 7.21c as well, when his Agility gain was reduced from 3.3 to 2.8. Coming the two patches, that’s reduction of 0.8, which is substantial. Granted, the Viper being played nowadays relies more on magic damage, but when he’s not putting out toxic puddles, he does rely on his right click for damage. Also, it brings down the armor the hero gains. These changes along with the nerfs to Atos and Greaves are really going to take a hit on Viper’s popularity.

We will have to wait and see if this is just a trailer to the actual movie which is 7.22. If that is not released in the next few days, it will probably be released after the Paris Disneyland Major. However, the meta seems to be in a very good place right now with games in the Stockholm Major turning out to be a lot more interesting than the last two Majors. We might get another couple of balance patches here and there, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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