Heroes that require multiple units haven’t been very kind to the average Dota player. Chen, Enchantress, Naga Siren, and Lone Druid are historically at the bottom of our win rate charts, even in eras where they were considerably strong. These are heroes with inherently higher skill floors, compared to the “press R to win” heroes that tend to dominate the top of pub charts. Brewmaster has managed to evade the curse of micro-intensive heroes, with a greater than 50% win rate across all skill brackets.
While we’ve seen competitive teams pick heroes that can be flexible in a core or support role, there’s been an evolution in this theory to even the most traditional of offlaners. Both CompLexity Gaming and Team Secret have experimented with a 5 position Axe, as well as Brewmaster. CompLexity also dug Puck out of the dumpster and put it in the hands of Zfreek, their support player. Moving these traditional cores to support heroes also sidesteps the kind of attention opposing teams place on countering them. How much resources should one team dedicate to shut down a support hero?
These are heroes that scale well, so it would seem counter intuitive to place them lower on farm priority. But it’s those same strengths that benefit them as supports. Puck has excellent right click animation, high base damage, and a mobility spell--great traits to have as either an offlaner or a support. The same goes with Brewmaster. Decent base stats and a solid AoE slow makes him sturdy in the lane against opposing support hero. Brewmaster is now decent flex pick in the draft, leaving opponents guessing at which lane the hero will land in. Team Secret has been a proponent of playing Brewmaster in the 5 position, with much success back at ESL Hamburg.
Puppey’s Blink-less build against VP at ESL Hamburg
Support Brewmaster won't have the same kind of impact and initiation as one in the core role. He won't have Blink and BKB to maximize his Thunder Clap and Brawler damage. Instead, support Brews leverage all of their impact on his ultimate, which is most likely the reason he's in the draft in the first place.
It's fairly straightforward to just sic all the Primal Split summons onto one hero and call it a day, but there are a few small things players can do that can lead to a greater impact. Hurl Boulder is usually the go-to spell for most Brew players. It's a single target stun on low-cd, and it follows what players want to do with their heroes--kill other heroes. It's also the primary summon you'll have to micro if you want to survive after the Split iso ver.
But Brewmaster's greatest impact comes with controlling a fight, and that's the territory of the Storm summon. Cyclone, with its 6s duration on a 8s cooldown, can completely nullify opposing carries in a fight. His AoE Dispel deals 1000 damage to illusions on a 4 second cd, makes it a solid counter to two of the top carry picks of this patch: Phantom Lancer and Terrorblade. With very few sources of dispel in the game, Brew's Dispel is underrated in its impact to purge off offensive and defensive buffs. In this meta alone, it can negate Ogre's Bloodlust, Necrophos' Ghost Shroud, Ursa's Fury Swipes, and the attack speed debuff from Phoenix's Fire Spirits.
Because stat items don’t carry over to Brewmaster’s summons, players used to depend on armor and aura items like Shiva’s Guard and Vlads to keep their summons alive in the late game, where carries could have enough physical damage to delete them off the map within a BKB duration. Talents have mitigated this kind of item dependency with heroes across the board, and support heroes are one of the greatest beneficiaries of this change.
Brew’s level 20 Talent, +1500 Health to Primal Split Units, is a boon to his survivability under his ultimate, and his final level 25 talent, -65s Primal Split Cooldown, leaves his ultimate with only 15 seconds of downtime. Even without his core items, Brewmaster can impact the mid to late game, pushing towers and controlling fights with impunity.
This may all change when the long-awaited patch 7.20 reshapes the meta. But Brewmaster has a fundamental skillset that runs core to Dota--laning, teamfight, and pushing--which has given him the kind of staying power that has persisted across multiple patches.