What happened to the position 4?

posted by EskayDota,
Over the last year we’ve seen a number of changes to the game that have slowly dissolved a much loved meta. The role of the position four was traditionally seen as the playmaker role. A position four would roam around the map in the early laning phases, leading engagements and pulling off big plays. Heroes like Earth Spirit, Tusk or Rubick would be picked, thrown around the map and create chaos.

Nowadays, there’s less of a focus on the position four. From big playmakers to just a less impoverished support, the landscape of the game changed drastically for this to happen. What were the changes that made this occur?

YapzOr mastering the playmaker role

In the jungle

As position four heroes were often playmaker types, teams used to prioritise a position four who could act as a semi-core hero. Jungling heroes, traditionally position four, such as Doom, Enigma or Natures Prophet were all very suitable picks. It’s unlikely we’d see these heroes in a jungling position in the current patch.

Back in 7.07 jungle experience was nerfed massively, with XP and gold obtained from jungle creeps being reduced by 20%. The introduction of this wasn’t necessarily quite as dark of a time as the patch where the jungle camps only respawned once every other minute, but it certainly marked the downfall of jungle heroes.

Puppey on the position 4 jungle Doom a few years ago

With the jungle out of the way, the roaming meta was weakened. Players couldn’t rely on jungling a few camps to catch up or to find extra gold when there were few or no other opportunities across the map. It just wasn’t worth the time.

The death of the trilane

The meta had been reliant on a trilane for such a long time. What changed? Once again revisiting patch 7.07, the items Poor Man’s Shield and Iron Talon were removed from the game. Offlane heroes relied pretty heavily on them to have a good time. If their lane was poor, they could fall back to the jungle, and use these items to keep their game alive.

With the help of Iron Talon, Miracle was able to jungle an IO efficiently.

However, with the changes to jungle creeps and the removal of these two cheap and efficient items, the lane was left far more vulnerable than before. Just a few patches later, the natural creep equilibrium was moved to be slightly more favoured towards the safelane – another blow to the offlane position.

With teams looking to not sacrifice an entire lane every game, trilanes started becoming less favourable. A support was needed to help the offlane as they were shooed away from the jungle as well as the lane. The death of the trilane saw a shift in requirements in a position four, but not a position five.

Bounty runes

Bounty runes never gave much experience. Prior to 7.07c, they provided 50 experience, a minimal amount. After 7.07c hit, they provided 25 to the collector, when it takes 230 experience to reach level 2. Shortly after, they stopped providing experience at all.

DC prioritising bounty runes in a time before 7.07 hit

Players hoped that the Tome of Knowledge would receive a consequential buff, which it did to some extent. However the Tome suffered from its own problems; it wasn’t available soon enough in the game, and it wasn’t enough to replace the experience from both the jungle and bounties. This notably affected the four role.

With the increased gold for your team from bounty runes, there’s even more reason to run a support in both side lanes to ensure you can contest or secure the bounty runes. The required actions from a position four changed; the playmaker role just doesn’t make the cut.

Mid towers

If the experience problem wasn’t enough to deter a position four from roaming, the midlane also became harder to gank. A number of small changes to mechanics such as the Tower Protection buff, or armor and health of a tower being increased made ganking mid a more tasking act.

Dendi being caught out by the new tower position

On top of this, the mid tier 1 towers were moved to be more central within their respective lanes. This, once again made mid harder to pay a visit as a roaming support, as tower range and tower vision range were placed much more tactically, in favour of the respectively defending side.

Position four: A new life

The position four role has changed. Reworks to jungle creep and bounty rune experience mean a hero probably has to stay in lane to get experience. The offlane being made more difficult pressures a team to not deprive the lane of resources, and encourages them to send a hero to help.

Mid lane is safer, and there are just purely fewer objectives for a position four to be able to complete. They can still roam around the lanes and create whatever chaos they can, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a position four or jungler dominate a game from the offset. Perhaps 7.20 will bring even more changes to the role. We are yet to see.

What do you think? Will we see a return of the trilane in 7.20? Let us know in the comments below!

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