We talked recently about the power level of incoming new heroes and their impact on the game. It’s worth mentioning though that many of Dota’s original heroes have evolved with the game and been rebalanced or reworked to fit into 2021 Dota. Take Weaver for example who has gone from a slippery carry hero to a multi-faceted ganking support. Icefrog and crew have especially used talents, the Aghanim’s items and reimagining the occasional skill to breathe new life into many classic heroes.
Many others have struggled to adapt to capitalize on new items and a more mobility focused playstyle. Here are a couple heroes that could potentially use a bit of that imaginative magic to revamp their role and expand their possibilities in Dota.
Omniknight has consistently been near the top of the win rate charts which proves the strength of his niche. Being able to save important heroes, sustain in tough lanes and provide damage mitigation to the game is a powerful ability kit. That being said, the hero has mostly remained a very small part of the meta and his pick rate remains extremely low despite his undeniable strength.
To me this indicates that Omniknight is a mostly unfun hero to play. In Dota, few things are more fun than winning so when a high win rate hero is being ignored there must be other issues, especially when that hero is easy to play. In fact, throughout all of the TI qualifiers and main event, Omniknight was only played once. Additionally, it should be stated that many other save-heroes have been prioritized over this same time period.
Despite Icefrog’s best efforts to push the hero a bit in the direction of a carry-esque fighter, Omniknight remains one of the most supportive heroes in the game. Most of his utility is exclusively being used to help others and Degen aura is one of the worst abilities in the game. When looking at other saving heroes we see that each has some other niche they can also fill. Abaddon for example helps push and can save himself meanwhile Oracle can initiate or nuke for kills. Picking Omniknight feels like essentially tethering yourself to allies without any of the fun mechanics from Io.
It also seems pretty clear that no amount of push towards the right-click narrative will make that playstyle work so perhaps it’s time to change gears. What if Omniknight leaned into the supportive theme harder. His entire kit revolves around being near teammates so reinforce that further. Heroes like Tusk and Marci have very cool supportive utility that encourages playing with allies to unlock their potential. What if Omniknight received a paired benefit from Heavenly Grace like Marci’s Sidekick? What if Degen Aura passively buffed allied movement speed as well or scaled based on the amount of allies around you?
Sniper is another hero that has been essentially the same hero since Dota 1. A long range damage threat with no escape mechanism means that players must approach the game in a very one dimensional manner. There was a short period of time when Sniper felt oppressive in the support role with an overpowered Aghanim’s Scepter stun but that was quickly squashed to force the hero back into irrelevance.
In the current meta, Sniper feels like a hero without much purpose. Despite having a few good matchups the over abundance of gap-closing heroes makes positioning safely almost impossible. The best that most Snipers can hope for is to hold highground against an overly aggressive team and punish their dive into the base.
Support Sniper was definitely an interesting idea but two of the hero’s skills are exclusively right-click related and this pigeonholes his highest value into being a damage dealer. Icefrog has tried recently to give the hero a bit more mobility with his Aghanim’s Shard grenade but it doesn’t really provide much escape. When thinking about long-range, stationary damage dealers there are more versatile options so it might be time to think about a retooling. What if instead of the annoying but low-value Headshot passive Sniper instead had some sort of trap or rooting mechanic that allowed him to watch out for flanks while interacting with Shrapnel?
Icefrog has already successfully reworked several heroes to keep pace with the development in Dota 2 so there is no question that positive changes are possible. What other heroes do you think need to be looked at to make them more fun or viable again?