The Lead up to The International
Coming into TI this year, Alchemist was a known troublemaker in the public scene. However, his impact at the event exceeded even the most ambitious estimates. Having gone unchanged for quite some time before the tournament, Alchemist avoided nerfs for the majority of 2019.
While competing carries were tweaked before TI, the lack of patch attention towards Alchemist led to him garnering an astonishing 40 bans during the main event, more than any other hero.
Conversely Io had an extremely quiet performance leading up to the year’s biggest event, being picked up very rarely in public matches and then almost always in the support role. Ana’s carry Io innovation on the TI mainstage required a lot of guts to pull out in such high stakes matches. However, the young Australian proved that this build was more than a meme.
Despite playing only two matches during the event on this unique hero, the manner in which Ana dominated forced opposing captains to ban the hero, opening up potential Alchemist games.
These two carries were particularly dominant through the strength and quickness of their peak timings. While other carry heroes such as Juggernaut and Void will often forgo farming in favour of joining an early teamfight with their level 6 power spike, Alchemist and Io strictly farmed the jungle in an effort to play for their hero’s strongest points in the game.
While this playstyle may prove frustrating in public games, OG consistently drafted 4 other extremely active heroes which could fight for the first 20 minutes of the game to allow Ana to come online and end the game.
With these significant teamfight items acquired already at 15 minutes into the game, Alchemist becomes an unkillable monster for the opponents to deal with.
Similarly, Ana’s Carry Io was able to hit the combined Aghanim’s + level 15 power spike by 20 minutes, providing far too much magic damage for OG to be contested for the rest of the game.
Both heroes also benefited significantly from the 7.22 patch which added Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades for the heroes in the game who didn’t already have them. Aghanim’s constantly spawning spirits was the crucial item which enabled the carry Io build Ana employed at the event.
Alchemist receiving bonus attack damage when giving Scepters to teammates also added to his ability to scale even after quickly becoming Six slotted thanks to Greevil’s Greed, although the games were often decided at TI before they got that late.
Nerfs to address the speed of these two heroes
Recognizing the absurdly fast timings that these two heroes reached at TI this year, IceFrog used the annual post TI patch to slow down the pace at which these two heroes operate in the carry role. Alchemist’s farming abilities were drastically reduced, with the biggest nerf perhaps being that Chemical Rage no longer gives mana regeneration, limiting the spamability of Acid Spray while farming the jungle.
By pushing the +75 Spirits Hero Damage talent up to level 20, the absurd Aghanim’s + level 15 timing has been delayed for a significant period, slowing carry Io down to a point where opponents will be able to start picking up BKB to counteract the magic damage.
Delaying the timing of these two heroes to bring them more in line with other carries was a necessary change that achieved the desired effect, with the win and pick rates of both heroes dropping significantly after the patch.