Over the past two weeks, Drow Ranger’s pick rate in pubs has increased by 7%. From the events happening at the Disneyland Major, that’s bound to rise. She’s been so far a first-phase pick/ban hero, capping a trend that was also seen at last week’s Minor tournament, where finalists EHOME and NiP found success with the hero.
In pubs, she has a staggering 57% win rate in Legend and Ancient MMR brackets (54% in Divine+). She’s a solid counter to two of the most successful heroes in pubs: Necrophos and Viper. For pro players, Drow Ranger provides a win condition, a hero that has an early-mid game power spike, and talents and skills that scale well into the late game. They also don’t have to deal with one of Drow’s better counters in Mars.
With a coordinated team, Drow can clear ancient stacks as early as level 6. One common strategy is to just TP straight out of the lane and into the triangle once she gets her ultimate.
The trend runs counter to what seemed to be a series of direct and indirect nerfs to the hero. Two changes appear most prominent: one to the bonuses applied for main stats and the other to Wraith Bands.
Wraith Bands not only gave less Agility, but Drow would no longer receive a 25% bonus from it. With a core skill that scales with Agility, the change initially hamstrung the hero. She’s an item dependent hero, whose strengths hinged on a stack of Wraith Bands and mid-game items. It also didn’t help that Power Treads, during this time, also had its stat bonus reduced from 14 to 10.
Drow once was a hero with a gimmick—the ability to seal a game before the 30 minute mark, with a deathball lineup of ranged and teamfighting heroes. But the rework to Marksmanship (proc chance for +120 piercing damage and to instantly kill creeps) and Precision Aura opened up her versatility in the game. She was just a few, minor change from getting over the hill and into the meta.
With Precision Aura now granting raw Attack Speed, her +25 attack speed talent was redundant. With the level 15 talent change to +10 Agility, Drow now has one of the largest win rate differences, +13%, in talent choices. The Gust/Knockback talent can be situationally useful, but it has the habit of knocking heroes out of Drow’s attack range.
Then in 7.21d, Drow’s attack damage and base Agility was tweaked, netting her the same base damage, but now 6 more Agility, and .3 more Agility gain per level. This also comes after a previous Agility gain bonus in 7.21 (2.2 to 2.5). It was just the correctives Drow needed.
With a few of her natural counters, like Slark, Phantom Assassin, and Centaur falling out of the meta, Drow is in a prime spot to dominate. Pro players used to draft Drow lineups in a slow reveal, opening with a few inconspicuous picks and then unveiling their Drow pick later to bring it all together. Today, Virtus.Pro started with Drow+Brewmaster as their opening first picks in their matchup against Team Liquid. So far, Drow has been picked or banned in nearly every game at the MDL Disneyland Major.
Drow Ranger’s power in her current state has existed for some time, about six weeks since the release of patch 7.21d. But her spotlight at both the recent Minor and the Disneyland Major is bound to prompt Valve to take a closer look at her place in the meta, especially with an expected patch around the corner. For Drow fans, it’s probably best to play her now before she falls out of the meta, once again.