In a very rare move, Valve has released a patch right before a Dota Pro Circuit event. Although in comparison to the patches that have come in the months before, the 7.21c update might seem small but the changes drastically shift the meta in some important ways heading into key tournaments.
It seems the main goal of this patch was hand out several smaller buffs and nerfs to a bunch of heroes in order to balance the meta right before both the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor and then the DreamLeague Season 11 Stockholm Major that follows right after.
Only two items were touched in the update, with both the Drum of Endurance and Hand of Midas being nerfed slightly. The Midas hit makes a lot of sense, but the 20 gold decrease probably won’t change the insane attach rate it has in the current meta. Giving an additional 40 attack speed is just too valuable when that boost can make or break certain builds. The extra gold and experience a player gets from purchasing Midas is just a bonus for upping their strength hero’s attack speed.
Moving into the heroes, Valve did make some very key changes to heroes that made big impacts in recent tournaments. Specifically in the form of changing Viper, who was a key hero in Team Secret’s recent run at ESL One Katowice.
It looks like Viper will be slightly less viable following these nerfs. His agility gain is down from 3.3 to 2.8 and his Nethertoxin ability is going to be a lot less viable in the late game with a switch from constant 75 mana cost to an increasing 70/80/90/100.
In no way does this make him unplayable, in fact, he will likely still be seen a lot in the current meta. This just means players will have to build less freely with him, especially if they plan on making the most out of his poison.
It isn’t a big nerf, but Monkey King can no longer use Mischief as a way out of any situation. It now grants a period of immunity, but that does not make the character invulnerable like it used to.
Another pretty big change hit Ursa in this update, bumping his movement speed down by five. He will still come out as one of the faster heroes, but this might make him more manageable in fights where a team can zone him out.
One buff that might bring a character back into a more meta heavy role was the change to Alchemist’s Acid Spray. His radius got buffed from 400/475/550/625 to 475/525/575/625. That leap of range at level one lets him more easily cover lanes without being too close for enemies to take advantage of. Expect to see a few more picks coming his way in certain situations as teams try him out again.
The last big nerf is Kunkka losing his massive edge in denying enemies. His Tidebringer ability no longer provides a bonus on denies, taking him from a great pick in either offlane or mid and making him a very situational pick.
A bunch of small changes to heroes like Pangolier, Windranger, Nature’s Prophet, and Phantom Assassin might make teams think twice about using them in certain situations, but for the most part, the other heroes’ changes will shape the meta until the end of the month.
This patch will be in effect when the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor takes place March 7 to 10, but the real ramifications of the changes will hit the scene on March 14, when the DreamLeague Season 11 Major begins.