Invoker + Brewmaster = Discount Tiny
Awaiting artists' depiction of earth panda as aghanims tiny— Jack Chen (@KBBQDotA) February 24, 2017
(We're still waiting for someone to accept this challenge)
When Wings first picked Brewmaster and Invoker, it seemed like just another wild Wings draft at first, but as late game approached it quickly became obvious why they chose this particular combination. The 7.00 change to the Earth Brewling’s Demolish from 150% to 300% with Alacrity attack speed on top means that the Earth panda can take towers and barracks extremely quickly.
7.00 may have been released a while ago, but this combination seems to have remained undiscovered in high level competition until its StarLadder debut. A search through the big events of the past couple months reveals very few Brewmaster picks, and no instances of Brewmaster and Invoker on the same team.
Perhaps Wings Gaming are secretly Reddit fiends? As Shane and Skim pointed out on Twitter, there was a thread a little over a week ago which pointed out this same strategy.
Warlock's hibernation is over
Warlock was the hottest kid on the block headed into The Boston Major after Team Faceless popularized the potent support hero pick, but lately he’s been mostly ignored. It wasn’t Warlock that changed, but rather the rest of the game around him.
Maybe teams were too busy experimenting with the new patch before, but at StarLadder everyone quickly remembered that Warlock is a pretty good hero. Over the course of the LAN event, he was the third most picked support after Rubick and Slardar, and had the highest win rate of the three at 76.9%.
As far as builds go, pretty much everyone got a Hand of Midas as their first non-boots item on Warlock. He was mostly played as the position five hero, so Midas keeps him from falling too far behind. Next up was often a Glimmer Cape or Force Staff, then Aghanim’s Scepter if things were going really well.
Storm Spirit is back?
Storm Spirit has been out of the meta for a very long time. These days, SumaiL is probably the best-known Storm player, but he hasn’t played it since a Dota Pit qualifier game in November. In fact, that was one of only eight times in 2016 that he was drafted his most played competitive heroes.
Storm was picked eight times at StarSeries and had a respectable 62% winrate, so what happened?
7.00 happened (and Freeze happened, he played four of the eight Storm games). His level ten 20 damage talent gives him a nice early game spike and at Level 15, 200 health or 10 intelligence is a versatile choice depending on the situation.
Plus, shrines give him an easy way besides Bottle to maintain his health and mana in lane. This allows him to dominate with plenty of mana to cast Static Remnant, and harass with the resulting Overload charges (if maxed first, that's an extra 100 damage per charged hit at Level 7!). In fact, Electric Vortex was never skilled before Level 8 in any of the StarLadder games, and often not take until Level 9 or 11.
While Storm has been mostly ignored for almost a year now, teams certainly won’t be sleeping on this hero’s potential now.
Nerfs? What nerfs?
The first LAN post-patch confirms that yup, the 7.02 nerfs to Lone Druid’s talents don’t seem to have slowed the old man down much. The Dragon Lance into Maelstrom build remained largely the same at StarLadder – only N0tail opted for Sange and Yasha as a starting item instead.
Two heroes can claim the title of “most contested” at StarSeries, and they are Slardar and Lone Druid. Both were picked or banned in 91% of games, but while Slardar had a 33% winrate over 15 games, Lone Druid had an 85.7% winrate over seven games. Every time he was picked, he was picked first overall, and he almost always paired with a support in the first phase (Team Liquid opted to grab both Lone Druid and Invoker first phase against Wings, and the gambit paid off).
Unless this hero gets nerfed further, he’ll remain first pick or ban material.
Honorable mention: Meepo isn’t an auto-ban anymore. He was picked twice at the event (100% winrate!), but otherwise the hero seems to have gone back to a pocket pick instead of the common first phase ban as seen during DAC qualifiers.
Header image source: StarLadder via Flickr