Leshrac: a Dead horse
Usually we complain about those players that repeatedly play the “stronger” heroes of the patch, but we mustn’t forget that Dota 2 has a very balanced gameplay if compared to most of the games on the market. The perfect balance is impossible to achieve and there will always be situations in which a hero is a preferable or situational pick in a meta. Sometimes certain changes can literally kill a hero both in competitive and in public games – today we are going to take a look at one of the “old glories” of v6.84 and to his actual situation in v6.85: Leshrac.
In the previous patch Leshrac was the third most drafted hero - with a 27.1% pick rate and a 49.2% ban rate he could be considered a fearsome hero on the battlefield. During The International 5 his pick + ban rate raised up to 100%, reaching the top 1 tied with Gyrocopter, but his ban rate was “only” 44.2% while Leshrac was also the most banned hero during the event with an astonishing 89% (the second most banned hero was Bounty Hunter with 52.8%). Overall, 440 games and a 58% win rate! In v6.84 his situation completely reversed, he has been played in 56 games with a 42.9% win rate and the total draft rate decreased to 8.4%.
Picture by hawksarts.deviantart.com
The changes that affected him the most in the new patch are the nerfs to his best laning ability, Lightning Storm, and to one of his core items, the Bloodstone. Obviously, the new Bloodstone caused problems to several heroes and the one that received the biggest hit is surely Storm Spirit, with a 3% pick+ban rate and a 30% win rate in v6.85.
- Reduced base attack damage from 19-23 to 15-19 (total attack damage from 45-49 to 41-45).
- Reduced jump distance from 650 to 475.
- Reduced damage from 80/140/200/260 to 50/100/150/200.
- No longer grants 1800 radius ground vision at the death location.
- No longer causes the to hero gain experience within a 1200 radius at the death location.
- No longer reduces gold loss upon death by 25 per charge.
- Reduced respawn timer reduction per charge from 4 to 3.
We think that Leshrac overpowered situation in v6.84 is the final product of a wrong chain of buffs during the previous patches.
In the past Leshrac’s skill build was different, he used to maximize Diabolic Edict, which is a great pushing ability in the early and mid-game. In the last few patches, Ligthing Storm stole its place as priority skill. V6.80 reduced its colldown and manacost, thus giving the chance to spam this spell during the laning phase, but the game-changing buff was the ability to slow its targets by 75% for 0.5 seconds, introduced in v6.81. Starting from this patch the amount of builds with Lighting Storm increased and later on it became the standard. The skill was already strong but the buffs kept coming: increasing the range to 800 and then the slow duration up to 1 second in v6.84 totally broke the skill. IceFrog rarely reverts a change and in v6.85 he “balanced” the skill by reducing its damage and jump distance, but looking at the results in seems that it wasn’t the right route to follow.
Pulse Nova received two damage buffs in v6.81b and v6.82, which affected mostly the early game: from 66 to 100 damage with 1 point and from 144 to 160 with 3. Pro players used to don’t pick this skill before level 9 or 10 because the hero wasn’t able to sustain his cost in mana, but starting from v6.82 the activation manacost got reduced from 110 on each level to 70/90/100. Overall, they reduced the price in mana and increased the damage, of course the skill builds immediately started to change and afterwards to pick Pulse Nova at level 6 became the new standard. Be able to use this skill in the early game exponentially increased Leshrac’s damage.
Our Leshrac Attacks' set created in cooperation with DNADota
Also in pub games the nerf has heavily affected him. During v6.84, in the very high ranked bracket, he was in the top 10 of the most played heroes with a 57.7% win rate – a huge number of picks and a high win rate can self-explain how strong he was. Now, in v6.85, he is in the top 20 of the least played heroes with only a 45.5% win rate. In our opinion, the hero only needed a stun that wasn’t so unreliable due to Split Earth horrible delay and cast point, but Valve decided to act in a different way and to buff almost every skill.
We believe that now Leshrac is in “hibernation”, in fact. v6.85 isn’t a “real and new” patch, IceFrog stated that it is just a balance patch which has been released as soon as possible in preparation for the upcoming Major Qualifiers. Probably now the dev. team is actively working on v6.86, which should be released after the Major and will include bigger gameplay changes. A new meta could potentially arise and maybe the horse will “run” again.