Subs' Bench - Part 1: Earth Spirit and Broodmother
With almost three months until the International 4, we are probably going to see a final, "stable" patch in Dota 2. While some balance fixes are inevitable, I don't think they are going to be as huge as what we saw in 6.80 - an excellently balanced and interesting patch.
What we can get excited about is the possible release of existing heroes into the competitive scene. Today we will have a quick look over some of these heroes and see what they can bring to the table.
Most of you probably remember the 6.79 Earth Spirit, with an instant stun-initiation, great follow-up, high mobility and a decent amount of AoE damage.
After the latest nerf this hero sits at a shameful 32% Win Rate and seems to be rather unfit to the competitive scene. However, much like with the Ember Spirit, it might be the case that it is not the hero who is bad, but rather us being unable to unlock his full potential, before some professional players will show us his true strength.
Any hero that can compensate for his team's poor positioning or is capable of disrupting the positioning of the enemy team can be seen as extremely strong in the right hands. There are several things that come to my mind when I look at his skills.
This surprise factor cannot be underestimated, since it effectively increases the range at which the enemy heroes can be considered "out of position". In a trilane vs. solo offlane situation, the enemy hero will have a harder time getting experience since getting into the range can be very punishable. In a trilane vs. trilane situation this skill can also help saving fleeing teammates, creating some distance between the enemy and the target they are trying to focus. This mechanic is somewhat similar to lanes with Tiny, while not taking the core spot.
Geomagnetic Grip can be used to instantly silence an enemy from a range of 1100, or to save an ally that is caught off-guard. It also won't break any channeling spells performed by teammates, making full-duration Black Holes and Freezing Fields a reality.
Channeling spells are usually very strong on purpose. They have a very significant drawback - any disable will instantly interrupt them. And in most cases the heroes that have these spells belong to the support role. Farming Black King Bar on Bane or Shadow Shaman will probably take quite a bit of time, since they will also have to buy wards and generally lack farming space. Having a hero that can allow his teammates to channel their spells from a safe distance can make a lot of teamfights turn in your favor.
His Ultimate, Magnetize is as annoying as it ever was, dealing considerable amounts of damage, even at level 1 of the ability. Most people tend to disregard that all effects from Earth Spirit skills (stun/slow/silence) will be shared by every enemy hero who is currently magnetized.
In a tight cluster of a teamfight, landing any of these effects is a lot easier. While catching the whole enemy team in your ultimate is somewhat improbable, having several heroes suffer from any of the effects is already a huge contribution to the flow of a battle. And since the magnetize effect can be refreshed, it is possible to land several of these abilities in a succession.
A lot of the aforementioned features are really hard to execute effectively, even by a pro player. It will require impeccable positioning from the Earth Spirit himself, as well as high levels of coordination within a team.
On top of that, the hero's only escape mechanism can be easily disrupted by simply walking in front of the forming boulder, making him a poor choice for an offlane. It is also disrupted by any stun/disable.
In the middle lane, Earth Spirit will probably suffer from his melee range and inability to farm. He will not be an easy target to gank, however he won't pose as much threat mid-game as, for example, Invoker or Ember Spirit would.
If he is played as a support, he will most likely suffer from low amounts of XP - he really needs his levels to be effective. He doesn't offer much in terms of teamfight potential, apart from his positioning tricks until level 6, where his ultimate is capable of dealing a decent amount of damage.
As you can see, a lot of the Hero's effectiveness (or lack of it) comes from the ability of a player to pilot him effectively. On one hand we have really nice early "force-staff" initiation possibilities and "unbreakable channeling" tricks. On the other hand, we have some really unreliable, easy-to-dodge/hard-to-hit stuns.
The hero might be a bit too weak for the competitive scene in its current form, however, minor buffs to the damage/effects on his skills could put him in the category of heroes that are situationally effective, fun to watch and really hard to play.
On top of that, he might fit very well in the current meta of blitz-attacks and constant engagements/re-engagements favored by many professional teams.
In the unlikely event of this hero being released before the TI4, we will probably see a lot of teams running him as a "pocket" strategy. Professional Dota rapidly evolves during the course of big competitions and having one more hero in your pool that your opponent is unaware of can be very useful.
The most unstable hero in the game as of now. With constant reworks to the Spin Web we have seen getting in and out of favor of the pub play. The latest nerf introduced in 6.80 has made her the 8th least played hero in-game, only losing to some micro-heavy supports and Earth Spirit. Let's see what the mother of spiders can bring to the table of competitive play.
The hero is pretty straightforward. You dedicate yourself to a lane and you push the hell out of it, while staying relatively safe.
In later stages Broodmother can even transition into a decent anti-carry akin to Viper, that is not exactly capable of dishing out crazy amount of damage, but can make enemy carry much less of a threat, especially if he doesn't have a Black King Bar.
Coupled with now popular Lycan and some good micro, she is probably capable of destroying unattended towers in seconds and will require constant attention. Though we have to note that the Howl buff will only apply to the original Spiderlings, and not to the secondary Spiderites.
Another very underappreaciated feature of hers is the ability to scout. With a decent sight range of 1400/800 (day/night) a single spider can always keep runes in check, look out for enemy ganks, block creepspawns and generally be a nuisance. I strongly believe that the game of Dota 2 requires not only Gold/XP advantages, but also an information one.
A lot of her utility comes from the ability to push with a lot of small, very fragile "summons". And these "summons" are a double-edged sword, as each of her spiders will give a decent amount of XP and Gold as a bounty.
If played incorrectly, she can and will feed the enemy team their levels and items very fast. And that is where I expect to see a buff to the hero - these "summons" are way to easy to kill with any AoE even if Broodmother is played at a decent level.
Another problem of hers is that she is not exactly useful in a teamfight. In the current meta having a BkB on your cores is almost always necessary, and since her anti-carry ability Incapacitating Bite is blocked by magic immunity she doesn't offer as much utility as other popular picks - Centaur Warrunner, Clockwerk etc. This leaves the team with Broodmother at a disadvantage - 5v4 fights are not fun for the team in a minority.
And last but not least - Broodmother is a rather "greedy" hero, meaning that she needs her items to be effective. Even at something as trivial as pushing. Having [missing item: necronomicon-3] is somewhat of a must, but she also needs her general mana regeneration items to never leave her lane.
Personally, I am not a big fan of Rat Dota - it is usually very boring and frustrating to watch. I acknowledge the level of strategic thinking that is associated with it - not everyone can be an effective rat. But I still prefer big combos, intense teamfights and manly initiations.
At the same time, having an extra hero in the Split-Pushing pool should not be underestimated. And since at some point in Dota 2 history Broodmother was a popular competitive pick, she might come back for a while.
The probability that she will be released into the Captain's Mode are relatively high - an older version of her was already in the game during TI1, with a moderate success. Currently she is a little bit stronger than she was, however now there are a lot of heroes that are capable of withstanding solo lanes better, while retaining the split-pushing potential ( Nature's Prophet) or having more impact on teamfights ( Centaur Warrunner)
Today we had a look at two heroes that are not in Captains Mode and are very unpopular in the pub scene. Both of them have their strengths and weaknesses and it would be very interesting to see some professional players pilot them.
It is really hard to make predictions about the release of the heroes into the competitive environment, especially the ones that have not been tested by the community enough. At the same time, each of these heroes (like every hero in Dota) are unique in their own way. And there are certain lineups that can benefit from each of them. Be it team-fight heavy lineups that could use positioning tricks of Earth Spirit or pushing/split-pushing lineups that could use Broodmother in case Furion was banned.
Thank you for Reading!