There’s always been a disconnect between what is popular and effective in the professional matches and what works really well in pubs. However, with the general level of play increasing, the differences became much smaller and the heroes we are going to discuss today are viable at the highest level of play, while being quite a bit of a nuisance in regular matchmaking.
The problem with Lycan is not necessarily the hero, but rather his current Necronomicon build. Summoned warriors, when boosted with Shapeshift, Howl, Feral Impulse and a potential Helm of the Dominator aura simply do a bit too much.
70% extra base damage gives Necronomicon Warrior and Archer close to 50 extra auto-attack damage at level one and when wolves and a possible dominated creep are added to the equation, we get a hero that wins close to 60% of his games in the highest level bracket.
He's also a hero that farms incredibly fast. Necronomicon I can be purchased by minute 8 under most normal circumstances and that speeds up the hero’s farm immensely. It is not unreasonable to expect Lycan with Necro III and HotD by minute 15 and at this point in time, very few heroes can deal with him.
Falling off in the late game is also not something Lycan does in the current meta, since his oppressive map control almost always ensures your enemy is either underfarmed or frequently dead. The worst part is that there are almost no hard counters to the hero and even the counters the hero has can be played around by an experienced Lycan player. Right now the hero is simply way too efficient with his time and while not unbeatable, he is certainly overpowered.
Beastmaster is a slightly less annoying version of Lycan. Once again, he is a “zoo” hero who goes for early Necronomicon, farms incredibly fast, is a tower threat if left unattended and a kill threat if against a solo outpusher.
While the hero doesn’t provide his team and his army with extra attack damage, the attack speed bonus more than makes up for it. Later in the game, in fact, his Wild Axes can be an even bigger upgrade to overall DPS, when compared to Feral Impulse.
Instead of running around the fight with impunity, Beastmaster provides one of the best lockdowns in the game. Primal Roar does have a lot more in-meta counterplays, but is still an ability that should be respected at all stages of the game.
The only key characteristic the hero lacks is mobility, yet his scouting potential allows him to be a very effective split-pusher nonetheless. It is also incredible in teamfights and when controlling map objectives and is frequently underestimated by pub players.
The last hero who has been considerably less dominant in pubs, while remaining incredibly popular. The biggest reason for his pub sub-50% win rate is that players still attempt to play him as a support. While he can be quite strong during the laning stage, as a support he falls off incredibly hard: the hero has no innate lockdown or even a slow and his utility is very limited without farm.
What the hero does have is massive attribute growth. For some reason this intelligence hero gets 2.6 Str, 3.6 Agi and 3.7 Int growth, making him a very tanky and painful hero with levels alone. He has close to 14 Armor with no items by level 15 and coupled with a decent HP pool that makes him a very unexpected potential frontline hero for your team.
When building hybrid defensive and offensive items, Nature’s Prophet is at his best. Blade Mail is a popular choice, since it works very well both in terms of damage output and survivability through armor. Aura items, such as Assault Cuirass, are also pretty popular on the hero.
Perhaps the biggest strength of the hero, however, is his flexibility: he does have some default, “always good” items, but with his farm speed, global mobility and great stats he can purchase whatever item is the most necessary for his particular game. It can be an Orchid, against high mobility targets, or a Spirit Vessel for when you need to deal with heal and regen. It can even be Necronomicon, if you are feeling cheesy.
Patch 7.26 is certainly overstaying its welcome. “Zoo” drafts have become the norm and while there are tools in the game to deal with it, they are much harder to execute than the simple “select all + A-click”.
Perhaps we are going to see the aforementioned heroes nerfed, or perhaps Necronomicon will get a very necessary decrease in power, but we would also like to see some potential buffs to long-forgotten heroes such as Winter Wyvern and Leshrac who can deal with a full screen of units better that most heroes.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the game and are you patiently waiting for a new patch or are you fully committed to the current trend and gaining relatively free MMR while it is possible?