Patch 7.21 is here and the meta is shook. Gone are the 20 minute deathballs, replaced by what promises to be a more reasonably paced, but still aggressive meta. Let’s walk through the most significant changes and then take a look at the top 5 winners and losers of Dota 7.21.
The game is slower.
Lane creeps give less gold. Levels 7 to 12 require more xp. Strong early game pushing items are nerfed (Mekansm, vladimir, buckler). Towers have a little more armor and give a little more armor to heroes. Yasha gives less movement speed and battle fury gives a flat cleave instead of a percentage based one. An ancient camp is replaced by a large camp.
As I said earlier, these changes reduce the impact of early to early mid game pushes. They also serve to reduce the speed of farming, particularly for heroes who get yasha or battle fury. With both the early game nerfed and the late game delayed I think we’ll see a more important mid game.
Attributes are tweaked.
Heroes no longer receive a 25% effectiveness boost from their main stat. Instead they get 15% more of that stat when leveling. Strength gives 20hp instead of 18.
Attack damage gained from your main stat is up 15% while everything else about it is down 8%. (1-(1.15/1.25)) The 15% boost does not apply to items so you get 20% less effectiveness of your main stat from items. The small boost to strength compensates for the 8% loss and actually makes str heroes gain 2.2% more health from levels. Non strength heroes also gain the health boost and are therefore stronger in comparison to strength heroes. I’d say the biggest impact of these changes is a nerf to cores who rely on stats from items and a buff to those who prefer other types of damage items (or abilities).
With a very rough understanding of 7.21, let’s look at the winners and losers of the patch.
Huskar was a ridiculously strong laner in 7.20 and now he’s had his attack speed steroid nerfed at the earlier levels. Not only are the raw numbers quite substantially lower but this also makes fights against him more predictable. There’ll be less snowballing on the back of opponents failing to predict the outcome of low level fights. Huskar is still a very strong fighter in the early- and mid-game but he drops off quite hard and when you take away his ability to snowball early you make his window of opportunity to impact the game smaller and weaker. Having a worse talent for his burning spears is also a nerf with impact and in total huskar is worse for wear.
With 7.21 there are a lot of ways in which anti-mage is getting worse. He’s a loser in the stat changes, both from levels and from items. His favorite farming tools, battle fury and yasha both got nerfed. The movement speed on yasha isn’t the biggest deal seeing as he’s already so mobile but the damage reduction on battle fury puts a nice little dent in his gpm. Losing a camp of ancients further contributes to this dent. There was also a bug fix removing the extra magic resistance his e would give him. In total one would think this makes him overall but what makes it not so is the overall slowing down of the game.
3. Storm spirit
Storm spirit is a hero that uses mana for mobility and damage. As long as you have mana your opponents must play cautiously or be punished in an instant. When you run out of mana it’s pretty much game over if you haven’t killed your opponents by then. With 7.21 he gets less of this critical resource. The mana and mana regen from levels are reduced and most of the items he tends to get are int stat items which are also weaker. Aside from this aforementioned drop in mobility and damage you are that much more predictable and your opponents will have an easier time counteracting the confusing blitzkrieg tactics that storm spirit brings to bear. The one redeeming quality is that treads are back to giving attack speed, an important stat to get off passive procs in between spells. On the whole though it’s a big loss for storm.
Timbersaw has two bad things happening to him this patch. The first detriment is the change to his passive. Each individual stack is now worth less and despite a larger cap to the number of stacks, the total bonus is reduced. Especially in smaller early game trades he’ll be weaker and the laning stage is so important in a fast meta. The second change that curdles the milk for our lumberjack friend is once again the general stat changes. Timbersaw has the rather unique ability to make people lose percentage numbers of their stats. Now that the game is less suited for those stat reliant heroes timber does well against you’ll simply be battling opponents who aren’t as faced with losing a few stats.
I think we need a tombstone for slark this patch. His entire premise is to steal agility, with which he can steal more agility to snowball into an agility monopolist. Now every point he steals is worth less which is not only bad in itself but means he’ll have a slower attack speed and a harder time getting more stacks. To repeat, less and worse stacks of his passive, both the temporary and the permanent version. This means trouble for his midgame and even more trouble for his lategame since he relies on crushing midgame fights to scale competitively. The removed damage on his pounce further exacerbates this midgame problem and if he does get to lategame, the items he’d typically build there are stat items which are now also worse. Did I forget to mention that everybody has more hp this patch? Nothing in the Dota 2 Patch 7.21 is good for slark and that’s why he’s the loser of 7.21. RIP
5. Legion commander
Legion commander was never bad and now she’s better. At early levels she has the tools to trade favorably with almost anyone, more movement speed let’s her get into those trades more easily. With the percentage based bonus to movement from your q you can even count on an extra 3 movement speed from this new buff. In the midgame you’re going to have an easier time roaming the map for fights and chasing down any enemies you find. Extra movement won’t matter all the time since you’ll be relying heavily on your blink dagger/shadow blade to do your initiation but those times an extra 15 movement makes the difference between getting in range for your ultimate or not you’ll praise the dota gods for blessing you with such a plentiful bounty of speed.
Now we’re getting to the 20 talent and you’ll start questioning the sanity of these so called “gods”. With ghost marchers you have 430 speed, activating them gives you 510. If you hit even a single hero with your q and and then activate your ghost marchers you’re almost breaking natural laws at 543 movement speed. Add a creep you’re right there, cruising past god(s) at 550 speed as he’s doing his morning jog in preparation for ragnarok. But nothing could have prepared him for you. You’ve become ragnarok and you’ll be blazing down midlane, through enemies and towers alike to get to sweet, sweet victory in record time. Legion commander will usually win fights she gets to and that makes a buff of 15 movement speed really good.
The next hero on the list is nowhere near as fast as legion commander (except for you know when he is) but he doesn’t have to be to be fast, especially with his recent change. Clockwerk had the cast point on his q removed. This is good for a couple of reasons. First it’s essentially a buff to range when you’re trying to catch fleeing enemies, versus a 300 movement speed hero you’ll have 120 extra range compared to the earlier 0.2 cast point. You’re less vulnerable to the 180 degree juke and you can add an extra auto attack. What this cast point removal also means is that you now have a somewhat reliable enabler for your w outside of ultying people. With a q that works better independently you can reduce overlap between your spells and get the most effectiveness out of them.
3. Arc warden
Arc warden received a few buffs to his skills this patch and he also benefits from the stat changes. Aside from the occasional yasha arc warden tends to not get the stat items that were nerfed in this patch. He does require some amount of farm to get off the ground and with the game being a bit slower he can achieve that. Of the two buffs to his own skills the 2 second increase on the ultimate is the bigger one. Simply having more time on his illusion to do more things is great but more importantly it lets you put down two magnetic fields at level 18 if you just have a little bit of cooldown reduction. This lets you have an uptime of almost 75% for your magnetic field. That’s pretty significant!
Lifestealer likes to be close to you. As long as he’s on top of somebody he can output more damage and get more life from his passive and e. A buff of 15 movement speed lets him do just that. Couple this with the fact that he’s a midgame hero who adores all that extra hp people are running around with and he’s one of the winners of 7.21. He does build items with a lot of strength but his damage output doesn’t really rely on the strength part of items like echo saber and armlet.
1. Iron Branch
From a 200 range regeneration crutch to a 400 range rod of masculinity, Iron branch is now a contender for one of the strongest items in the game. Okay maybe not, maybe iron branch isn’t even a real entry on this top five list but there’s just something I love about the reshaping of useless things into objects with distinct identities. The new iron branch can be used to catch fleeing enemies, especially by blocking the entrance to a treeline. You can also use it with treant protector to build a ganking super highway. It’s probably an insignificant change but it feels so brimming with possibility. Hot stuff!
Okay, here’s the real number one.
Ursa as a hero is very similar to lifestealer and gains from 7.21 for much the same reasons. He’s a midgame powerhouse that doesn’t use stat items and who likes high health enemies. What puts Ursa above lifestealer in my book is how he can take advantage of the 15 movement speed. With it you can start to bully opponents from level 1. Lifestealer uses it to trade advantageously but ursa gets a lot of kill potential from it. In the midgame lifestealer has a targeted slow which you can use to catch up to fleeing targets. Ursa’s aoe slow is much worse at this and the 15 extra ms makes up for this weakness. Now ursa has the option to just steamroll somebody with auto attacks, perhaps forgoing the slow entirely.
Another difference is that ursa plays alone a little bit better than lifestealer. As lifestealer your ult wants teammates and your slow also benefits from having people around to get the lifesteal. These teammates will hopefully have abilities and items that could make up for a slower movement speed. Heroes who play more alone, like ursa, live or die depending on whether they can catch up to their targets and this makes the extra movement speed a little more important for Ursa. Now that this main weakness is remedied, I crown Ursa the winner of 7.21. Not that it’ll make him any less angry.