The Biggest Changes in Dota 2’s Patch 7.30c
Everyone loves to remember the big plays. The largest tournament for any game will be defined by iconic, risky plays that result in complete turnarounds. Audiences love to watch dominating, individual play that drives team momentum to those final, game-winning moments. Dota 2’s The International is defined by such moments, like The Million Dollar Dream Coil by Alliance’s S4 or The Six Million Dollar Echo Slam at The International 5 by Evil Geniuses’ Universe.
Some Internationals sit outside of the memorable moments, and they’re typically defined by teams exploiting cryptic mechanics to build a lead or using a cheesy strategy that even the best players struggle to counter. A good example of this is The International 4, which had the last two games of its best of five series end before 20 minutes due to the popularization of ‘death ball’ strats which saw teams grouping up, killing towers, and snowballing off of early tower gold into early item timings and overwhelming enemies.
Valve’s learned from these lackluster Internationals, which explains Dota 2 patch 7.30c that’s been released this weekend. This patch will be the latest iteration of the patch release of 7.30 as Valve attempts to encourage teams to pick a handful of heroes and explore alternatives that can lead to the flashy moments audiences expect from the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year.
We’re going to briefly cover some of the biggest changes in the patch and highlight heroes that we may see make a big impact on the main stage of The International this year.
Gameplay Changes in Dota 2 Patch 7.30c
Before we discuss heroes, a few gameplay changes are sure to influence this year’s International. Dota 2 patch 7.30c introduces some changes to neutral stacking and ancients and brings a new hero to Captain’s Mode.
Neutral Stacking Changes
Stacking neutral creeps now provide 15% less experience and gold for whoever kills the neutral creeps. However, the player who stacked the camps still receives their bonus gold as before.
Lately, Dota 2 at the pro level has been defined by stacking neutrals and stealing an opponents’ stacked neutral camp. While clearing stacked camps provided safelane carries with a good comeback mechanic if they had a bad lane matchup, it was also being abused to skyrocket a lane advantage and create substantial leads that were hard to overcome. Stacking will still be useful as a comeback mechanic, but they won’t be prioritized over lane farm if a carry has an equal or advantageous lane. Early game fights will now be a means of securing an advantage rather than securing an opponent’s stacked creep camps.
Dawnbreaker Comes to Captain’s Mode
Dawnbreaker’s kit makes her a capable offlaner or hyperactive, ganking carry in the safelane. She provides utility to her team through her ultimate Solar Guardian, which provides teammates a healing pulse before she lands on the target area, stunning enemies. While she may not have any steroid abilities that increase her farm potential or passives that scale hard in the late game, she does suit the pace of Dota 2’s current meta of active early game fighting.
With the neutral stacking changes, we may see Dawnbreaker become a contested pick at The International due to her ability to clear individual camps and waves with Starbreaker and Celestial Hammer. The passive healing from Luminosity gives Dawnbreaker the sustain and damage potential to bully her opponent out of lane. Her strength gain makes her a capable melee core, and items like Soul Ring will allow her to use her abilities to secure kills or ramp farm. Her inclusion at the pro level will set the tone for the rest of Dota 2 patch 7.30c.
More Fighting, All the Time
With the changes to stacking neutral camps, Dota 2’s pacing will slow down as carries can’t immediately spike off of stacked camps and will have to rely on pushing lanes and tower gold for a reliable farm. This change may lead to more ganks, more team fights, and more roaming as teams will try to disrupt and destabilize the farm of each other’s carries or simply win the game early to prevent late-game turnarounds.
Expect to see more gankers along with teamfight initiators this patch as teams experiment with mid-game lineups. We may see heroes that spike early but have little late-game presence come into popularity as teams look for new ways to prevent late-game dominance of an enemy team’s cores.
Heroes to Play in Dota 2 Patch 7.30c
Patch 7.30c sees some changes to heroes we haven’t seen in pro Dota 2 for some time, and their buffs may introduce a new vein of play that focuses on ganking lanes and dominating team fights. We’ve already seen teamfight-centric offlaners become a part of Dota 2’s meta, but the pool could grow to include some gankers from the mid lane.
Changes to Shadow Fiend’s Shadow Raze and Requiem talents could see the hero return as a bursty spellcaster that can easily farm the wave and side camps in the middle lane. The biggest issue Shadow Fiend has to overcome is that he’s incredibly item dependent and gets ganked easily. Still, with the game’s pace slowing down, there’s a possibility that enemy teams won’t be grouping up as five early to tear down his mid lane.
Items like Eul’s still work well on Shadow Fiend to set up Requiem kills, and new items like Ocean Heart can help his regen mid. It’s not entirely likely that we will see Shadow Fiend come back as a super popular pick, but he may make surprise appearances with teams that have mid players that feel comfortable on the hero, like ChYuan from Team Aster.
Changes to Weaver’s health regen and the decreased cost of Shukuchi could see the hero return to the safe lane as a slippery, reliable pick against gank heavy lineups. Being able to spam Shukuchi in lane will help Weaver against lineups he struggles against so he can reliably farm. In contrast, the regen will help against offlane picks like Viper or Venomancer.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Shukuchi changes will affect Weaver’s matchup against zoo meta heroes like Lycan and Beastmaster. If Shukuchi can reliably kill minions, it may boost his pick rate among pro players.
Shadow Shaman’s regen being increased to one may help his laning stage against popular supports of the meta like Keeper of the Light, Shadow Demon, and Bane. The increased range on his Serpent Wards can help him provide a better screen for his team or allow him to sneakily take towers while his team is elsewhere on the map.
The increased popularity of strong, single-target supports in patch 7.30b has been seen in Dota Pit. The buff to Shadow Shaman increases the pool of these heroes, which can only benefit hero pick diversity. Hopefully, the hero’s strong single target control and tower pushing abilities will increase his pick rate at The International.
Fade Bolt’s decrease to an opponent’s attack damage and his mana regen increase will improve his ability to harass an opponent in-lane and the health of his laning stage overall. The hero’s potential as a counter pick was weakened because his laning presence was seldom felt. That Fade Bolt didn’t feel impactful as a harassing spell or farming spell. The spell offers a 14% damage reduction at level 1, which can severely undermine an enemy carry’s farming tempo, plus neuter an opponent’s gank attempt should Rubick rotate to help that lane.
Rubick’s the source of many counterplay interactions, so it makes sense that Valve would buff the hero before The International. With patch 7.30c neutering neutral stacking, Rubick should see a rise in popularity as roaming becomes more prevalent among professional teams.
Slardar’s decreased cooldown on Guardian Sprint will help him gank earlier and have a more reliable escape tool against opponents. The hero always felt like he was on the verge of becoming a priority pick, but there were always better offlane heroes that were more prioritized. With Slardar gaining +125 damage on Slithereen Crush, he should stand a better chance against zoo meta heroes like Lycan and Beastmaster, especially with his Aghanim’s Shard upgrade.
Slardar needed a way to farm and push waves for a while now reliably. With the zoo meta becoming weaker with patch 7.30c, Slardar may finally become a viable option for teams that want a tanky initiator with some built-in movement speed increases and reliable wave clear.
Dota 2 patch 7.30 was supposed to pull the game out of an incredibly balanced yet shallow pool of heroes that made the game feel stale. While 7.30 brought more variety, it introduced new problems with heroes uncharacteristically being drafted for roles they’d never seen before and stomping all over a careful draft of hero picks. The zoo meta also dragged games for far too long as Lycans and Beastmasters would spend most of the game pushing lanes, forcing teams to respond even if they had significant gold and experience leads.
With less than a month to go to The International, Valve is certainly looking to increase the popularity of heroes that lead to ‘wow’ moments for the audience. The game’s impact on the esports scene relies on the amount of attention The International gets. While the prize pool of $40 million certainly commands a lot of attention as the biggest paying esports tournament of the year, the game still needs to draw audiences who are unfamiliar with the game.
Esports titles like League of Legends, Valorant, and even Apex Legends provide a flow of visuals that are streamlined to make sense to audiences. Dota 2’s struggle with audience retention typically originates from its complex mechanics and lack of visual flair. The buff to heroes that always entertain at Dota’s main event may help offset its cryptic nature.
We’ll know for certain once it’s time for this year’s International.