It usually takes a while for a new patch to be released after TI. With that in mind, a look at the most successful new meta developments is definitely in order. We may not play at the International, but we can definitely learn from it.
Gyrocopter ended up being the most successful niche carry of the tournament, but we think he could be a lot more popular given the breadth of his abilities and ability builds. Fast farming, a decently tanky stance, high late-game impact, and a potential damage output that pierces disable can be a force to be reckoned with in many games.
However, understanding which build to go for can be a bit problematic. There’s the old-school 0-0-4-1 with maxed stats that maximize your farm speed, right-click damage, and survivability. There’s a 2-1-2-1 lane build that prioritizes early aggression but then wants to farm up. There’s even a hyper-aggressive 4-1-1-1 build for early-game Skirmishes when you need to make room for your greedy mid.
They’re all useful depending on the situation, but itemization should also be kept in mind: Falcon Blade isn’t really needed with the old-school build, but it’s possibly the most important early item for a hyper-aggressive one. Likewise, you can’t afford to go with the hyper-aggressive Aghs in Crystalis as it will delay your BKB in the early fights. There are some nuances to itemization with Gyrocopter, so think about where you spend your gold for the most success.
The hero has a win rate of around 50% across all skill levels and doesn’t really stand out, but we think a lot of that has to do with how rigid some players are towards the hero.
Mirana is definitely a high-risk, high-reward hero, but her skills in the current meta are undeniable. She did incredibly well at the International and is a good pub hero too. Her secret to this newfound success? Ignore the early Sacred Arrow.
This may not make sense to many old-school players, but 2-0-1 in lane does Sneyking’s favorite build. It makes a lot of sense in terms of the hero’s lane presence. Mirana has a slightly above average attack range and while her attack damage is pretty low to start with, she has a bit of extra attack speed to compensate in terms of trading.
At tier three, she also gains a potentially massive ~300 damage nuke if the second meteor hits a priority target. This is a recipe for lane dominance. Rather than relying on luck, your teammates’ setups, or other external factors, Mirana can become a very powerful and very reliable lane support, only turning into a post-night ganking hero once she hits level four.
You should definitely try this type of Mirana, but make sure you have access to your pull storage as this playstyle tends to push the lane quite heavily.
After the Null Talisman changed, Storm Spirit fell out of favor, but there are still ways to make the hero work. The most consistent, successful, and perhaps pub-worthy is the Witch Blade build.
Storm Spirit can’t dash around as much as it used to. Its mana requirements are high, insane regeneration is almost impossible, and the only way to manipulate mana costs is to get lucky with neutral items or runes, or get an arcane blink. The latter might be worth discussing, but in a regular game, fueling up and relying less on Ball Lightning is probably a better option.
To do that, Storm Spirit needs a little more resilience and extra momentum for its attacks, and that’s where the Witchblade comes into play. It’s a relatively inexpensive item with a very high impact during gameplay that can turn Storm Spirit into a right-click threat. This item allows Storm Spirit to use Ball Lightning as a Blink-type ability since he doesn’t have to trigger Overload for DPS on every hit.
Short, controlled bursts to dodge incoming projectiles are still a necessity for the hero, and he still requires a fair amount of skill to play, but with Witch Blade and BKB he can be very powerful and easy in most skirmishes assert. This ability allows the hero to conserve mana when he actually needs to pursue his goals.
Try Witch Blade and you might find it much more engaging. Alternatively, the Kaya and Sange build is still very viable if you either can’t kill supports alone or need status resistance to deal with potential instant Hexes or Silences. Going BKB as your first point is an option, but we strongly discourage it in pubs, especially pubs below Ancient level.
This International had five heroes with a 70+% competitive rate and only one hero with a 90%+ competitive rate, making it pretty great meta wise. Strategies varied, although there were a few notable absences.
Despite this, we believe there are still things to discover in this patch. Next time we’ll cover the away squad and try to figure out why pub stars like Clinkz didn’t even get a chance to show up.