First of all, I would like to apologise for a small delay between Top Tier Offlaners Blog Posts. The last part of it is scheduled to next Tuesday, but we are expecting a major patch to the Dota client after the Starladder, so it might again be pushed a little further. As always, we will try to provide the Patch analysis as fast as possible, so stay tuned. You can also subscribe to our facebook or twitter to have your Blog Posts delivered to your door in a timely manner.
Secondly - thank you for reading. It is always a pleasure to read your comments and in many cases they provide an extra depth/insight into what is discussed in the Blog Posts. There are always things you are going to miss when talking about a hero, sometimes due to lack of experience, but mostly due to Blog Post length constraints - the comment section definitely solves this problem.
And finally, welcome to the second part of our Analysing Top Tier Offlaners Blog Post. The format will remain the same, where instead of providing a guide to a hero, we assume that the player is well aware of how the hero works and instead concentrate on when and why the hero should be picked to truly shine. This week we are discussing Broodmother, Phoenix and Tidehunter.
Broodmother is probably the ultimate "surprise" pick - in no way should she be drafted early on, but given an enemy team which lacks outpush capabilities or spammable AoE, she can be beastly. The problem is, however, with all the popular heroes in the meta, it is somewhat hard to find such an opening - Sniper, Troll Warlord, Lina, Queen of Pain etc. can all deal with Broodmother's push single-handedly, without the high risk of being killed.
A while ago, in an interview iceiceice said that Broodmother is among the heroes no pro player can currently play to its full potential. I believe it to be true - given the highest potential amount of extra units to manage and effectively utilise. Does that mean that the hero should be shelved for most players in a typical pub match? I do not think so.
There is a line between playing a hero effectively and playing him to a full potential. But in many cases, it might not matter, whether you are successful in masterfully blocking an escaping hero with Spawn Spiderlings or creating multiple stacks at the same time, while farming an enemy jungle.[*]
What I am trying to say, is that if you see an opening for a Broodmother pick - you should go for it, not necessarily without unranked training though. Out of all offlaners, she probably demands the most attention from the enemy and in many cases it has to be a core hero. What it creates is an economic disparity between the rest of your and enemy team - if a single hero which did not have a farming priority requires attention from the hero, which had it, cet. par. the economy left in the other players on the field is going to be in favour of a team with Broodmother.
The concept is especially crucial in situations where the enemy team has a really strong teamfight and/or combo draft, which can't be fully effective without all the pieces on board.
From the information above, it is quite easy to make up an ideal situation for a Broodmother draft. She does not necessarily rely on her teammates and generally prefers a "lone wolf" kind of approach, so the most important factor is the enemy team. There are probably a lot of general purpose guides all over the internet to get you prepared for the game I suggest reading before playing the hero.
Additionally, there is an "unconventional" build that seemed to work for a lot of people some time ago, which does not require micromanagement and is very resilient to AoE heroes. It can be found on our forums. I disagree that it is an efficient build, but it is good when you random the hero or get counter-picked too heavily.
A quick detour away from the offlaners analysis. I have stated that in most cases little things do not matter - and it is not completely true. The funny thing is that these nuances, given a lot of time, can actually make a lot of difference. These little examples include such concepts as tread switching/creep blocking etc., which might not necessarily seem game changing, but in some cases might get you an extra kill.
This extra kill can lead to an extra opening. This extra opening can lead to an extra won game. Even if it will only matter in 1% of the games, over the course of 2k games it can mean a difference of 1000 MMR points, with the average difference between lost and won game being ~50.
And the consistency with which professional players can pull of these seemingly minor stunts is what I believe to be one of the biggest differences between pros and high level pub players.
Back to business at hand - top tier offlaners. To be honest, seeing Phoenix among the most banned/picked heroes came as a surprise to me - after all, the hero is extremely situational and needs a lot of set-up to have his potential unlocked. Furthermore, a meta around fast-hitting, physical DPS, Mask of Madness-rushing carries seems like a very bad environment for the hero.
Despite all that, he was, in fact, the 5th most popular offlane hero. And the reason behind it, I believe, is not his ultimate, but rather his impressive skillset, which can deal with the current meta heroes pretty well.
Troll Warlord, Juggernaut and Sniper all rely on their attack speed to deal damage for the first half of the game - damage items tend to have lower priority compared to Black King Bar and infamous Mask of Madness. Hence, the general idea is to quickly chip down an enemy hero with the help of extra effects from Berserker's Rage, Blade Dance or Headshot. Take away their attack speed and the amount of hits that actually matter is drastically reduced.
That's where Fire Spirits come in - since the enemy you want to focus generally wants to simply stand and hit, landing them is usually trivial against most players. If they do move and try to avoid the spirits, you practically get the same effect - the enemy is not hitting the target it wants to focus and lets it escape, counter-initiate or get an opening for retaliation.
The hero is also extremely mobile, and if facing Sniper or Lina you can close the gap pretty fast - something certain offlaners tend to have problem with. Not only does it allow you to land Fire Spirits more consistently, but it also forces/provokes the rest of the enemy team to focus you instead of some other hero.
Lastly, there is Sun Ray - a skill I personally underestimated for the longest of times. Not only does it provide an extra escape tool/some damage and heal, it is also amazing, I repeat, amazing tool to prevent counter initiation. What a lot of people tend to disregard and/or use ineffectively, is the fact that Sun Ray persists when using Icarus Dive. What it creates is a huge AoE damage zone, which disables Blink Dagger on the enemy. So, after a successful initiation on the enemy hero, simply pressing two buttons will create a 3 second window for you team, where it can focus the target without being disturbed by the enemy Tidehunter, Magnus etc.
Top it with a potentially suicidal Supernova and you can make sure that the enemy will take a while to get close to the rest of your team.
So when exactly is the hero a good pick? For one, he is generally terrible against Silencer. Regardless of his position on the enemy team, laning against Silencer will get you killed frequently or will leave you with little to no XP. Phoenix is also quite irrelevant against mobile heroes and heroes which grant mobility to their allies (e.g. Centaur Warrunner). Finally, any game against Troll Warlord is going to be tough past his level 6, since it will be impossible for you to use your ultimate at all.
Good heroes to have on your team include massive AoE disablers, such as Naga Siren, Faceless Void or even Warlock, since your ultimate, if left unattended, provides one of the strongest AoE stuns that goes through magic immunity. In certain cases, it is also amazing to have heroes with strong "regular" abilities. Even though rushing Aghanim's Scepter is suboptimal, even late in the game having double Tombstone or double Nether Ward can be devastating. As well as a fully refreshed Invoker or a Terrorblade with an extra Metamorphosis.
To be perfectly honest, Tidehunter is not necessarily the hardest hero to play - he has high survivability, decent AoE damage at early levels, which not only allows you to occasionally get extra creeps, but also adds to the already impressive escape capabilities. Ravage is also really hard to miss.
The hero also fits virtually any lineup, since a massive AoE disable is... well... a massive AoE disable. It does not go through magic immunity and therefore should be timed well, but even if only 3 targets are affected by it, the consequences can be brutal. There are also ways to fake it, forcing enemy Black King Bars and retreating with a Force Staff or with the help of teammates. This psychological pressure cannot be underestimated and at the very least you are always forcing the enemy team to be more spread out, than they normally would.
Anchor Smash seems very underwhelming, but in most cases it is going to be an MVP - reducing out-coming damage from heroes, which rely on physical attacks by a percentage will be relevant throughout the game. It is base damage only, so do not expect to get it reduced by a lot, but, as discussed previously, these very little things matter.
Finally, there is Kraken Shell. The damage block on it is good all game, but it is the debuff ability what really matters.
When playing against decent players, you should always expect your initiation being ruined by a timely hex/telekinesis or any other spell with a low cast point. Kraken Shell solves the problem of being disabled until you die, unless the enemy team times their disables perfectly, and it is really hard to pull off. Granted, the enemy will have time to BKB, while you are disabled, but then again - they have time to BKB even if you are not disabled, and in many cases they will, hence the fake-out potential mentioned previously.
Being able to Ravage in 99% of cases with the help of an innate ability is amazing. And the remaining 1% of times when the enemy manages to effectively chain-disable you, without wasting extra disable time to Kraken Shell is well deserved by the enemy team. At the very least, you have managed to soak up several disables/nukes and become a priority target for several seconds - the time your team should use effectively regardless.
It is all for today and we hope we did not betray your expectations, especially with the extra wait time. Next time we are going to look at the last three heroes, which can be named as Top Tier Offlaners - Beastmaster, Magnus and Puck. As mentioned previously, depending on the release of the 6.84 patch it will be up either next Tuesday or by the end of the week. As always, thank you for reading!