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7.08 came with a lot of minor changes, however their impact was more substantial than one could assume. A total of 23 heroes were changed in the patch, along with 11 items and the combined effect of these changes was enough to shift the meta into a slightly new direction.
7.08 was mostly a nerf patch — a rare occurrence in the world of Dota 2. It attempted to deal with some of the more problematic heroes in rather non-intrusive ways, as was always the case, highlighting their weak spots, rather than making their strong aspects weaker.
The end result can’t be called perfect, but it definitely was a step in the right direction, with overall win rate spread for heroes tightening around the “ideal” 50% mark.
The pub scene is still filled with dominant heroes with 57%+ win rate, but none of it is close to what Abaddon and Omniknight once had: at their peak there were patches where these heroes won over 60% of their games. More importantly, some of the more problematic heroes at the higher levels of play have received some very necessary nerfs, making Dota a healthier game.
A minor change to the critical hit values had a surprisingly substantial effect on the win rate of the hero. Juggernaut lost roughly 5% of his expected damage with this nerf and a slightly over 1% drop in win rate was unexpected.
What was even more unexpected is the reasoning behind the nerf. Juggernaut wasn’t a dominant force in the professional scene and while he was among the better heroes in pubs, he was far from being overpowered. In fact, in the last month, he was winning more than 50% of his games only in the 3k-5k range games, while having ~49% win rate in the lower brackets and in the highest one.
Juggernaut is a stape Dota hero, he is one of the oldest additions to the game and one of the first cores newer players are introduced to. He still retains his popularity, despite becoming a little bit weaker and is still picked in the professional scene, even after his win rate drop he still remains a solid hero for when you need a reliable core with good impact at all stages of the game.
Pugna’s win rate is showing a minor, yet consistent upward trend since the 7.08 patch. After a period of dominance in the professional scene, he was almost forgotten for a short period and seems to be back now. The hero has been consistently picked in the DAC qualifiers and fills the niche of magic damage pushing cores, that has an added benefit of being able to prevent the enemy casters feeling too much freedom.
The changes to his talents in 7.07 coupled with a talent for extra Nether Ward health in 7.08 made the latter a very potent spell that shuts down many supports with high mana cost ultimates, such as Shadow Shaman and Lion. It is also invaluable at dealing with Tinker and severely restricts the Sand King initiation combination. Overall the hero is currently in a good place with almost 47% win rate in pubs, but a very strong presence in the pro scene.
Nature’s Prophet received a rather interesting buff that accelerated his farm and further increased his map pressure potential. The cooldown for level 1 Nature’s Wrath was reduced by almost 25%, allowing him to continuously keep the waves pushed in, while increasing his gank readiness.
The end result is a ~3% win rate increase for the hero, currently sitting at 44%. The hero is far from being dominant, however he does perform better in higher level pubs and in the professional scene. The hero requires some micro skills and a very good understanding of lane momentum and map control to be fully effective, hence it is clear how he only really works in the hands of more experienced players and with teammates who understand the concept of split-pushing and can utilise the provided space to be effective themselves.
Given how the hero is played in high level pubs and in the professional scene, he is probably one minor buff away from becoming a sizeable force to be reckoned with.
The drop in win rate should warm the hearts of most players. It wasn’t a massive nerf, it didn’t take away from the hero's core strengths, but it made dealing with Tinker a lot easier.
Tinker lost 15 Movement Speed, putting him at 290 at level 1. This nerf made him a lot more susceptible to ganks and early rotations, as well as a possible target for the enemy mid solo kill. The impact of such changes should not be underestimated.
His current almost “perfect” 50% win rate is an accomplishment. Late game Tinker is still one of the hardest carries in the game with a permanent disable and a ton of magic and pure damage, but now there is a much better chance of delaying this monstrosity from coming online.
Tinker now is a very risky pick, but the rewards are still as high as they ever were. When playing against him try to shut him down as much as possible and when playing with Tinker on your side try to protect him as much as you can — the hero really needs it now.
When Valve and IceFrog announced a new approach to Dota patching most of the community got excited and for a good reason. No longer will we have long months of stale pub meta or heroes running rampant and if the first of such patches is any indication — it was a step in the right direction.
It didn’t attempt to solve all of the minor problems the game has, instead tinkering with some values in a controlled environment with many variables staying constant. Given how this approach will last all the way until The International 8, we might be in for a very good treat at the end of the competitive season.