They're back! We look at the return of three forgotten heroes in 7.21

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The new patch has brought with it a brand new meta, and certain heroes have made a comeback because of it. We look at three heroes who have made a resurgence in 7.21.

None Forget the Bite of Viper

The Netherdrake has made quite a return in the recent patch and was featured prominently by the best team in the world Team Secret at ESL One Katowice 2019. The hero has always been picked for his natural defensiveness as well as his power during the midgame, but in the last patch he was largely ignored due to—among many other reasons—the fact that he did not contribute enough to the kinetic style of play that was the hallmark of 7.20.

Now, however, it seems that the slight damage and cooldown buffs he has recieved as well as the overall balance he brings to a team is of much greater merit. His mix of defence, offence, and crowd control is incredibly strong against specific drafts; in a team fight he is a poor first target and his ability to spam Nethertoxin makes the battlefield hard to navigate for enemy heroes. In 7.20 Viper was picked in 7.23% of matches, holding a 50.30% winrate. As of 7.21 he has been picked in 10.74% of matches and seen a commensurate winrate increase of 53.82%.

He was picked 7 times at ESL One, and most notably, was victorious every time the hero was played by Yeik Nai 'MidOne' Zheng. In all three games MidOne built Rod of Atos and Guardian Greaves. Both of these items give Viper a lot of stats and synergize well with his skills (e.g. Atos' Cripple + Nethertoxin). Situational items were built around these two items to help address the specific context in all three games. This highlights why Viper is currently picked: to create a steady platform in the lineup that allows other heroes space, and also helps fill in whatever gaps there might be in the draft.

Keep Your Gold, I Want Your Life

It seems as though Naix bounces in and out of the metas as they change. In some metas he is one of the most treasured cores, in others, he is an afterthought. In 7.21 he is back as a premier pick. A large reason for his return (as well as the return of many strength heroes) is that he is no longer so clearly outscaled by Agility heroes in the lategame. The nixed stat gains from primary attribute has allowed non-Agility cores back into the meta in 7.21.

Another large win for Lifestealer is his base movement speed increase (now 325). He can become very fast, reminiscent of his old "Racecar" build, with effectively just Phase Boots, which supplies a +22% movespeed bonus. This allows him to get kited less easily at all stages of the game. Also, the slightly less combat focused meta in 7.21 has made builds like Radiance much more popular, as it allows Naix a way to not only contribute to overall teamfights, but also helps his farming scale to the lategame.

Naix was picked 8 times in Katowice and banned a whopping 15 times with a combined winrate of 65.22%. In 7.20 he had a 3.90% pick rate with a 46.51% winrate; so far in 7.21 his popularity has surged, being picked in 14.85% of matches and boasting a ridiculous winrate increase up to 55.72%. He is strong in every stage of the game and can adapt his item build to actually compete with enemy Agility cores. While he still does have weaknesses, right now 7.21 is looking like the Lifestealer meta.

With Razor, You Get the Edge

The Lightning Revenant saw huge buffs in 7.20, but there were simply too many other better heroes to pick for him to viable. Further, if he was ever in a situation where he could not snowball, it was extremely difficult for him to mount a comeback. But with 7.21 bringing the resurgence of many right-click oriented heroes—such as Phantom Assassin, Naix, and Ursa—Razor has found new life in his anti-carry role.

In 7.20 he was picked in a mere 3.62% games with a 48.82% winrate; in 7.21 these numbers have only increased slightly with a 5.61% pick rate and a 49.94% winrate; however, his great potential was seen in Katowice, where he was picked 7 times and banned 10 times. He still remains a situational pick, but can be devastating to a lineup that revolves around a single true core. His Static Link is a powerful skill at all stages of the game: it helps him win lanes, and during teamfights, the stolen damage can be catastrophic towards backline heroes. His backswing reduction allows for easier last hitting early on, and Unstable Current can now also be used as a viable farming tool as well.

Andrey 'Afoninje' Afonin had particularly strong showings with the hero at ESL One, with AS Monaco Gambit often picking Razor as a counter to Lifestealer. The midlaner would build a mixture of speed and defence on the hero, allowing him to maintain Static Link contact with the enemy carry as well as stay durable if he was ever turned on. Although Razor may not be an instant pick/ban in 7.21, so long as the rushdown cores stay in the meta, Razor will remain a powerful counterpick.

What other heroes do you think are experiencing a resurgence in 7.21?

Photo Credit - Valve

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