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Fall is coming, which means it’s time to get excited about Dota 2’s upcoming The Outlanders update that Valve promised to push out this autumn.
The current Dota 2 patch has suffered from The International’s meta. While the event introduced unconventional picks, such as carry Io, support Invoker, and offlane Ogre Magi, it suffered from an extremely weak pool of carries.
Regardless of whether this will be a case of early or late Valve time, fans can look forward to the changes that the major post-TI patch will bring. Here are some of the top changes we want to see in Dota 2’s The Outlanders update.
Safe lane carry pool is weak
The carry pool is in a pretty terrible state right now. While nobody wants to relive the 6.83 Troll Warlord and Sniper reign of terror again, most traditional safe laners feel heavily underpowered.
Stable carry picks like Juggernaut, Slark, and Lifestealer were nerfed even before TI9 started. Alchemist, the most contested hero of TI9, and Faceless Void, a popular carry pick, were hammered by IceFrog. Meanwhile, heroes like Drow Ranger, Luna, and Medusa are slow to start up and easily beatable in lane.
Of course, hard carries aren’t supposed to be great laners. But it’s getting to the point where players are opting to play survivable off-laners in the safe lane, such as Night Stalker, Pudge, and Bristleback. While it’s nice to see variety and evolution in roles, most agility carries (and Lifestealer) simply aren’t up to par right now.
Post-TI patches usually appear with a new set of items. Often, they’ve introduced new mechanics into the game, like Octarine Core’s Spell Lifesteal or Aeon Disk’s damage immunity mechanic. Several have gone on to be meta-defining items and picked up to counter specific heroes.
Last year’s post-TI item introductions consisted of two small, build-up items in Crown and Ring of Tarrasque, allowing Kaya to combine into Sange or Yasha for even more customizability and Holy Locket’s heal amplification mechanic. Holy Locket was the only one to introduce a new mechanic, and it’s generally trashed as one of the worst items in the game due to its easy counter with Spirit Vessel.
There are very few status effects left that don’t have an item replicate. These include mechanics like Leash, which prevents movement spells and teleporting, Fear, which causes enemies to flee toward their fountain, or Taunt, which forces enemies to attack the target. All of these are softer disables compared to a good old stun and they could be transformed into items to allow players to have more options in terms of countering specific heroes.
New mechanics with Snapfire and Void Spirit
The release of Pangolier and Dark Willow after TI7 was exciting because Valve added two heroes in one year and novel mechanics were introduced. Pangolier is the first hero to have a vector-targeted spell in Swashbuckle, while Dark Willow is the first to have a spell that provides targeting immunity to both attacks and spells in Shadow Realm.
Last year, Grimstoke had an innovative kit with a one-of-a-kind ultimate, Soulbind, that duplicates single-target spells onto two enemies. Mars was a relatively simpler hero who still had a powerful, walled ultimate in Arena of Blood that prevents movement and blocked ranged attacks from outside.
Both Snapfire and Void Spirit will almost definitely make waves in the Dota 2 scene. Snapfire seems to be a damage-dealing support hero that bakes buffs into cookies, while Void Spirit appears to have mastery over spatial manipulation. The community waits with bated breath to see what IceFrog and his team can come up with.
Matchmaking changes to help high MMR solo queue
The switch from solo and party MMR to core and support MMR has fundamentally changed Dota 2 matchmaking. In general, match quality has improved tremendously. Pros and highly-ranked Immortals have taken to playing party matches together, thereby increasing average ranks and removing MMR disparity by placing the onus on players to form parties.
While it’s great for viewers and fans to catch phenomenal pub gameplay, Immortal players who prefer solo queue are suffering. Recently, Jaron “monkeys-forever” Clinton solo queued for more than nine hours before finding a match and several other pros have complained about the unreasonable queues.
If Valve doubles down on its focus on party matchmaking, it’s likely that solo queuing might be a thing of the past. There simply aren’t enough players to have a viable pool of players.
One option Valve can consider is to introduce an official in-house league for high MMR players. Since the days of the original Defense of the Ancients, in-house leagues have been maintained by passionate players to host and play matches within a community of vouched players.
While it’s become somewhat obsolete, a league sanctioned and maintained by Valve could help players find each other and connect. Instead of a faceless machine pulling these people together for matches, the league could help these players meet each other in a chatroom and enter a lobby together.
It’d definitely require more work from players and Valve, but it’d surely beat queuing for half a day.