How 7.06 Promises a New Golden Age
In December, Valve released the largest patch Dota 2 has ever seen: 7.00. It changed the map. It changed every hero. It changed some of the most basic mechanics of the game and introduced enormous new implications.
It also changed the way Valve has approached patches for the following half a year.
Today’s release of 7.06 appears to indicate that the Dota 2 team feels the many changes from December are finally close to balanced, opening the game up for new improvements. It is arguably the first patch in 2017 to promise widespread metagame changes across all skill brackets.
“There must be a drive towards improving meta diversity for this new age 7.0x
Any real stagnation seemed to have two causes: a change in the rate and the focus of patching.
Prior to December, the average notable
The former method reliably increased hero diversity nearly every patch, benefitting pub and pro players alike and creating increasingly competitive professional events in which teams with diverse
As of this week, we’ve seen six complete patches since December. The average full patch lasted less than a month, with 7.03 barely lasting a week and offering fewer changes than most
Most patches between 7.01 - 7.05 were larger than a traditional
“I imagine post-Kiev we’ll see a medium to major patch, with either new items or significant balancing, with nothing more than minor adjustments until after The International 2017,”
As usual, he’s been right so far.
However, the fact that the game spent months and six patches largely balancing out changes dropped in December led to draft stagnation — at least in pubs, where the top heroes won nearly over 58% of their games while more than a quarter of heroes had a 45% of lower win rate.
Hero win mobility has been substantially reduced during this period. Across six patches, only three heroes (Techies in 7.01, Earthshaker in 7.02 and Bristleback in 7.04) have crossed from below to above a 50% win rate by moving at least a full percentage point. More heroes dropped across that line, meaning fewer heroes were winning more often as the patches moved forward.
In other words, the game was less balanced. Whether this patch will continue that trend is still undetermined, but with more than 80% of the heroes in the bottom quartile buffed, it looks like 7.06 may be the first patch this year to seriously close the gap between haves and have-nots in Dota’s heroes.
It also continues a trend of strategic broadening set forth. Presumably, this was a goal of adding talents — one the game failed to live up to at first since many talents have not been considered viable.
7.05, which was launched less than a month before the Kiev Major, created the potential for a great deal more diversity in strategy despite having negligible impacts on hero success across the board, at least in pubs.
However, those strategies did give small boosts to heroes such as Nature’s Prophet and mixed up the professional scene’s tactical execution. It was the sign that Dota was nearly out of its post-birthing phase that was largely spent adjusting the vast additions from 7.00.
Only nine heroes were completely untouched by teams at the Kiev major. Before the event, Austin “Capitalist” Walsh told me, “[7.05] opened up opportunities for split pushing.”
With regards to pubs, he added, “I don't think pub stagnation impacts pro games too tremendously. It may play a factor in that certain surprise pick could have more effect due to the enemy players not having much experience playing against it in a certain patch.”
Recent patching trends have definitely impacted professional players, though. Treant Protector was added into the hero pool only three weeks prior to the Kiev Major and ended as the most contested hero at the event. This patching style created far less prep time for teams in anticipation of major events, including the major, and that creates uncertainty and confusion among players and analysts.
Here’s a perfect example: Ioannis “Fogged”
It won’t develop. It’s gone.
It’s been replaced by a promising patch featuring serious early-game compression and a longer mid game, which is likely to increase to
The patching trends over this winter may be a large contributor to China’s continued performance depression. With almost eerie accuracy, Jack told me before Kiev, “Chinese teams play each other incredibly frequently [...] but this fish bowl has both pros and cons, mainly that training methods and habits can make teams more or less resilient[...].“
Sure enough, their training habits seemed to leave the bulk of China less resilient in the face of change. Throughout most of Dota’s history, would likely benefit the region, large patches occurred months before The International on a more-or-less understood pacing.
Capitalist pointed out that some teams are clear winners of the new world order: “I think OG is one of the teams that benefits the most from increased tweaks because they seem to have a knack for figuring out patches faster than other teams. They find a couple notable strats or heroes that become their baseline for important tournaments like the Majors. Despite having a high Dota IQ, EG seems like one of the slower teams so perhaps they'd benefit more from a stable, long-term patch.”
In fact, OG do win more consistently in periods with more patches. If the rate is about to return to normal, will they struggle to hold their spot at number one?
Either way, 7.06 is the first large patch not to be dominated by talent shifts — other than the removal of respawn timer reduction talents — and instead mostly adjust heroes by changes to their base attributes and skills. Additional changes to the game’s mechanics follow suit, helping to open up strategic options.
Presumably, this patch — or a patch very similar to it — will be featured at The International 2017. Noxville predicts we’ll see “one more minor patch” before the event, and looking over trends of the recent and distant patch, it seems likely that he’s right.
Regardless of how long this patch is here to stay, today’s launch is seemingly an indication that we are out of the growing pains of 7.00 and that Dota will continue to evolve. Whether you love or hate the changes in it — which have already widely been seen as positive shifts — it should give you hope for Dota in the days to come.
To learn more about the specifics of 7.06, you can read the full patch notes on the Dota 2 blog. Stats provided by Datdota and DotaBUFF.