theWonderCow, December 16, 2016

What Dota 2's 7.00 Patch Means for Pro Play so Far

If you haven't booted up Dota 7.00 yet, you might be underestimating the impact these changes make to the pace and strategy of the game. In pubs, the game has changed radically into a 5v6 beat-'em-up more than Dota, which pairs well with the new game intro. That's likely due to the public's slowness to adjust to the unprecedented level of change and overexcitement.

You can expect that experience to slow down slightly. The "new patch" mentality has hit many patches in the past and almost always expired within a month. But when that honeymoon period does expire, the pace of play won't be returning to where it was. It'll still be quite a bit faster than we've seen in the past.

The pace of play has been faster at all levels, including the professional level. Since the patch's release earlier this week, we've seen a sharp decrease in games with fewer than a kill per minute. Pro games from China's i-League and Europe's Dotapit typically have close to 1.5 kills per minute. In Dotapit, the average kills went from 47 to 49 per game, not an enormous spike overall, but half of all games on the new patch were only 20-30 minutes long, a sharp decrease from Dota's previously longer matches.

The increase in action can be traced to quite a few factors. First, the change in jungle creep spawn times makes for less stacking potential, forcing rotations out of the lane formerly known as safe. Increased bounty rune count (now four scattered around the map instead of one) increases experience gain for roamers and reduces the cost of rotations for cores. Presumably, it'll take a few weeks for teams to begin to figure out optimized stacking and farming patterns, at which point combat rotations may wane somewhat. Right now, the best move is usually to invade opponents' space rather than maximize returns from your own.

Dota 2's 7.00 update reinvents the game

For pro players, the importance of contesting map resources spiked through the roof. With a decrease in overall neutrals available per minute and increased difficulty stacking ancients, these resources are far more valuable than they were before. That is especially true for the Radiant side, which has access to early Ancient stacks within attack range from their southern shrine, allowing very early scaling if their opponents are not pressuring early.

The addition of shrines, mini wells which heal for over 600 HP/200 MP, makes it so teams need to return to fountain less often and stay in the fountain less long. As hero trees become active, they usually give players combat-encouraging skills, including greater damage of a certain type, stats, range, or mobility. Only 34 heroes are able to gain extra passive gold from their skill tree, of which many would be offered the farm so late in the game that it is rarely an optimal choice.

The metagame's drafting preferences haven't changed radically (yet), but it has shifted toward damage-dealing heroes such as Visage and Shadow Fiend in Europe. It's too soon to tell if those changes are due to an increased value of the hero or a single team's preferences. The changes to Tome of Knowledge, which scales into the game much more effectively, also give supports more permission to roam away from experience sources early.

We haven’t seen that many pro matches on this patch, but what we have seen implies that my initial read of this patch was on-point, at least for now. Teams that have been doing well (the so-called safe bets) are going to continue to be those who performed well before 7.00, specifically those with faster-pace, pressuring strategies.

So what does this mean for you as a viewer?

Expect OG, Ad Finem, Elements Pro Gaming (who have gone 5:3 in Dotapit since the patch’s release) to do well, along with any teams who prefer to have an early active farming carry and a high-damage mid hero. Teams like Secret would like have trouble adjusting to this patch, even if they didn't have major roster issues, due to the greediness of their play. MVP Phoenix, if they manage to stabilize their roster, have a combat-preferring play style that would likely fare well on this patch.

When you’re scouting through games to bet on toward the end of this year, just remember that the pace of the game has spiked drastically, and as such teams with combat, preferences may be better underdog bets. Otherwise, though, I’d stick to odds-on-favorites until a team has proven they understand the patch. This shift is unprecedented in pro Dota, both in scale and rapidity. There will certainly be underdogs who rise to the occasion, but less-successful teams often have less time to devote to learning the new patch in general, slowing their progress in the first weeks of a new patch regardless of their potential.

theWonderCow

With years in esports publishing, broadcasting, and analysis, Gorgon's specialized focus on locking down trends in Dota has landed him as a featured writer for joinDOTA, the Score, Dotabuff, and more. You can reach him on twitter.com/theWonderCow.