Image by MrScrake
One support hero has slowly, but surely been creeping back into meta and is now the fourth most successful position five support in higher-level games. And he's the second most successful support that doesn’t require very specific skills to execute, as Ancient Apparition only loses out to Bane, Chen, and Elder Titan. The hero’s high win rate across all skill brackets tells a pretty simple story: the hero is good regardless of your mechanical skill or macro understanding. Today, we would like to figure out how to harness this power for ourselves.
Ancient Apparition’s shard didn’t make it to our top five, but it is still one of the strongest upgrades in the game, with several pretty important caveats. The biggest one being the fact it is pretty hard to rush it. Ancient Apparition doesn’t exactly have any wave clear or a way to farm up early in the game, so getting the Shard at the 20-minute mark might be a little bit problematic, especially given how you could also probably use a save item, be it Glimmer Cape or Force Staff.
That said, once you have your initial save item, and unless you really need to solve some problem the enemy is presenting you with, going for Shard is advised. This shard combines so many things together into one neat package.
It gives you damage and AS slow, which is already quite nice, but, perhaps more importantly, it is also a very safe outpushing tool, which means it is also a very safe, albeit slightly unreliable, farming tool. 1500 cast range on a damage-dealing ability with a 4 (2) second cooldown is also ridiculous, frankly, because it becomes close to impossible to play any blink-initiator against a competent AA.
Add to it the already inherent vision advantage it gives, how trivial it becomes to check high ground and how much easier it becomes to chase tree-juking heroes, and you get 25% of Ancient Apparition since all of the above is one ability.
Ice Vortex, with or without the Shard, already makes Ancient Apparition at the very least decent when it comes to mid and late game engagements. But it’s not like the hero is weak in the laning stage.
Chilling Touch doesn’t have a particularly strong nuking power and neither is it very good utility-wise. What it does have, however, is the annoyance factor and this annoyance factor is worth a lot, regardless of what heroes you are facing.
Even at level one of the ability, the enemy heroes in your lane will have to contend with getting poked twice every creep wave, without the ability to retaliate. With level it goes to three, four, or ten times per creep wave, and that last massive jump at level four is probably why we keep seeing the ability maxed out in half the games.
Personally, we feel the extra levels into Chilling Touch are a bit redundant: it is unlikely the laning stage is still going on when AA is level seven and no matter how high AA’s attack range with Chilling Touch is, it might not be the best idea to keep on spamming it during teamfight against anything remotely gap-closing, but perhaps we are wrong. With some excellent positioning from AA himself and his tankier teammates as well, a lot of damage can be theoretically dealt with the ability.
Though even looking at a game by Dubu we remain unconvinced: Chilling Touch was used very infrequently outside the laning stage. We firmly believe that players should get two, perhaps three levels of the ability if the laning stage is exceptionally long and then concentrate on other things.
Ice Vortex does not have the strongest progression, so Cold Feet is probably what you want to max out before level ten. The most important part here is the cast range, which increases by 100 with each level. At level three, it matches your attack range with Chilling Touch and at level four it becomes 1000 units.
This is what allows AA to stay alive, keep on applying annoying effects and dealing damage and, ultimately, connect a slightly chonkier Ice Blast. The stun duration is also very nice and goes up to a very respectable 3.5 seconds, but it is rare to see enemies get frozen. That said, you can consider the initial cast a soft-disable as well: the enemy isn’t prevented from acting as they please, but they are highly incentivized to move away from their position, instead of attacking or using spells.
The latter is especially important against right-clicking carries and they should usually be your priority target. Enemy casters use their spells and then want to reposition anyways, but slap some wet socks onto Troll Warlord or Wraith King and watch them suffer, as they try to figure out whether to fight or flight. A rather short cooldown of seven seconds also means that any dispel, while effective, can be pretty much brute-forced through, as long as AA is alive.
Ancient Apparition didn’t quite make the cut on several occasions already: he was among the possible heroes in top Supports post and was almost mentioned in the Best Shards post. A month into the patch, however, he is among the top picks across the game and is absolutely worth discussing.
What are your thoughts on the hero? Do you think Chilling Touch should be maxed out or do you think that Ancient Apparition’s Shard is overrated? Let us know in the comment section below.
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