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The qualifiers are not over yet, but there are definitely some trends worth paying attention to. Today we would like to highlight three heroes, who overperformed or are overperforming in all regions, making them the best candidates to spam in your everyday pubs.
The hero was decent in the previous patch already, but 7.34 definitely pushed him over the edge. Between ways of mitigating slow effects, extra night vision and extra target for the Sidegunner upgrade, we get a hero that feels at home in the current fight-oriented meta.
The best part is that when Gyro is played in the core position, he still retains his farming speed, if there are stacks ready for him to farm. Most professional players build with Flak Cannon priority in mind, and it is the ability usually maxed out by level eight, after two points into Rocket Barrage. This gives the hero good laning presence and some kill potential.
Professional players also stopped taking attributes, instead getting extra levels in Rocket Barrage first and maxing out Homing Missile last. Given the Slow Resistance buff you get, maxing out Rocket Barrage second makes sense, while the reduced cooldown on Homing Missile is also nothing to scoff at, even when Gyro is played as a Carry.
Finally, it is absolutely necessary to point out that Aghanim's Scepter is the highest priority item for the hero. It is his farming tool that also got buffed in the previous patch and the only small item Gyro can theoretically go for is Falcon Blade and usually when having an amazing laning stage with multiple kills.
Total damage reduction is a very powerful concept. Naturally, it is dispellable and is fully blocked by Spell Immunity. However, with a ten second cooldown, applying it twice in a fight is possible. The end result is a hero who can create a massive damage disparity between two teams and ensure favorable engagements.
That was true before, but now Vengeful Spirit also has a respectable stun in Magic Missile and much better laning stage, courtesy of extra starting AS. Considering how she is a Universal hero and has access to Armor and Damage reducing ability, it is no surprise her early game became much better. You can out-right click most heroes in lane.
Later on, she transitions into a somewhat unreliable, but still powerful save support. Most importantly, if she ever gets to Aghanim's Scepter, the game just becomes very hard for the enemy. As a save hero she should usually be the target of initiation, but because she essentially has a second life, it can be problematic to play this way.
As long as she is on the field, she has to be addressed, but prioritizing her often proves to be a trap. There is usually no good initiation option against a late game Vengeful Spirit, only multiple sub-par ones.
It is very hard to argue against a global support with a potential 200 damage DoT effect and a flat damage steroid. Nature’s Prophet used to be balanced around his over-reliance on items and levels to contribute, with his utility and damage being conditional and, frankly, quite weak. It is no longer the case and the hero can be played as a very effective lane support who makes ganking other lanes trivial, even by the post-Twin Gate world standards.
The hero also scales as well as he used to. It is possible to turn Nature’s Prophet into a full DPS core by the late game. This is already noticeable in the professional scene, where constant global presence allows the hero to get a lot of assist and kill gold. It is going to be even more noticeable in pubs that tend to last much longer. As long as you have decent map awareness and communicate well, Furion will be an asset.
Later on, he can still transition into a strong pushing character, but with the regular Solar Crest into utility build, we would advise against it. Leveraging global presence with a global Wrath of Nature setup through Aghanim's Scepter is usually the play. The new Rod of Atos also fits the hero extremely well, though the Gleipnir transition is understandably skipped in favor of extra crowd control in the late game.
Nature’s Prophet is definitely unfair and will get nerfed pre-TI, of that we are almost certain. That said, even if the numbers change, as long as he can be played effectively without getting early levels of Treants, his pub presence will be noticeable and strong. The hero got better and easier to play and should not be disregarded even after he gets some tweaks.
It feels like the meta is in a decent enough place. There is good variety across all regions and outside of a couple of outliers, the patch is definitely TI-worthy.
That said, there is still over a month until the biggest esports event of the year, so there is still time to make some small and necessary adjustments. And hopefully, we will see even more diversity of pick and strategies in the upcoming WEU and SEA matches.