Undying was one of the most popular support in the recent qualifiers, which raised a lot of questions. Is this hero actually good in the professional scene? Does he do anything past the laning stage? Is it worth picking him in pubs? We will attempt to answer those questions.
It is hard to call the hero successful with 66 picks and 48.48% win rate. When looking at the regions separately, however, we can see that in the EU and CIS the hero was actually above 50%, while the NA qualifiers were the biggest culprit for poor overall stats on the hero with a 23% win rate.
The pub stats for the hero are also nothing special, but he holds his own with a 50%+ win rate in the highest level bracket and pretty disgusting 57%+ in Ancient games.
That answers most of our questions—the hero is not a misguided professional pick, at least not for the CIS and EU teams and neither is he bad in pubs. So now we would like to think about why.
Pretty much everyone knows that Undying is one of the most annoying supports to lane against. By continuously stacking Decay on the enemy, he greatly shifts the HP balance in lane, creating opportunities where there otherwise would be none.
In a meta filled with hybrid damage cores that are capable of fighting early on this can quickly allow the lane to snowball and give a massive advantage.
There are two main skillbuilds for the hero, but both start the same: by level three almost every Undying takes one point in Decay and two points in Soul Rip. Level two Soul Rip, given enough surrounding units, is comparable to pretty much any level four nuke or heal, while having a relatively low mana cost.
After that, most professional players either start maxing out Tombstone or go for extra levels in Soul Rip. The end result is a strong healer and a potential nuker who is extremely survivable, and has massive teamfight presence under the right conditions.
Tombstone is the de facto ultimate of the hero. It is game-changing in the early game, but gets progressively weaker as the enemy gets more items. Good Tombstone placement, so that it is out of immediate reach of the enemy, but still captures them in its AoE, is hard to pull off, but is possible.
Look for highgrounds and impassable terrains to make Tombstone a non-target for enemy melee heroes and possibly focus on enemy ranged heroes during the fight to ensure there is a healthy amount of zombies on each enemy. These zombies pack quite a bit of punch, especially with the level 15 talent, but they also have one of the most underrated, spell immunity-piercing slows in the game. If the Tombstone survives for at least ten seconds, your team is almost guaranteed either a good chase or a clean escape. The fact that they provide vision on the enemy targets is just a cherry on top.
Flesh Golem was changed so many times it is still a bit confusing to many players. In its current form it is pretty much an amped up Heartstopper Aura with a slow in a much smaller AoE. It doesn’t work nearly as well on targets below 50% HP, but can be massive at the start of the fight and, perhaps more importantly, makes Undying a target that is hard to ignore and not so easy to burst down.
We’ve said time and time again how the current offlane is a place for tanky heroes who go for sustainability first and initiation second and Undying, while not being played in the offlane too often, fulfills a similar role. He can walk in, use Tombstone, pop Flesh Golem and suddenly a position five support creates two unignorable targets for the enemy, while his team can fight with relative ease.
Naturally, it is a lot harder to pull off in practice than in theory, but that is what the hero is supposed to do. Given how he can also secure himself a decent start in the majority of games, some survivability and utility items are not out of the question either.
Undying is absolutely worth exploring in the current meta. Given how the meta has shifted towards more aggressive and fight-ready position once cores in the safelane, Undying can truly shine in lane and that will allow him to transition into the midgame even better.
There are some attempts to make this hero a position three right now, with a varying degree of success. We’ve mentioned how in an ideal scenario the hero is played pretty much in the same manner as the offlaners, being a frontline for his team, but Undying doesn’t farm nearly as fast to justify such an approach in our opinion and the draft should heavily favor aggression and kills for him to actually accomplish his goals.