Magnus: Adapting to the meta
Ever since the 7.00 update, the meta has shifted towards an active playstyle with constant fights. This has spelled trouble for heroes relying on ultimates with big cooldowns, since their fighting capabilities are limited. However, there has been one hero who has been able to adapt.
Understanding the implications of timings in a meta
There is always a lot of talk within the Dota community about what constitutes the current meta. But what really defines a meta? What makes certain heroes stick out and others falter? A lot of that comes down to timings. For a hero to be successful, they need to be able to do certain things at a certain time and also in a certain frequency. Whenever a character fails to meet the specific timings that develop throughout a patch, they is going to fall out of favor.
From 7.00 onwards, a very aggressive meta has set the tone. Teams commit to fighting very early on and seldom take time to fall back and farm, making for a high frequency of teamfights. Here, both mentioned aspects of timings factor in. While heroes like Death Prophet or Tidehunter were top-tier picks in many teamfight-oriented patches, they have become a side note ever since 7.00. Even though they excel in five versus five scenarios and meet the timings in terms of coming online, they rely on their ultimates to be effective. Whenever they do not have their big spells up, they struggle to make a difference in fights, meaning that they force their team to delay the next engagement.
In the current meta, delaying fights is hardly possible, causing heroes that revolve their playstyle around high cooldown ultimates to either change up their approach or become unpopular side notes of the patch. A hero that has managed to do the former has been Magnus. With a completely changed item- and skill build he has been able to stay a relevant choice in 7.02.
Adapt or perish- Magnus in 7.02
For a long time, Magnus fell into the same category as Death Prophet, Tidehunter and Enigma. The hero relied heavily on his ultimate, that would make or break a teamfight. Whenever Reverse Polarity was on cooldown, his team would generally avoid fighting. Whenever available, it was crucial for the success of the fight, that the ultimate caught as many enemies as possible. The typical item builds for the hero mirrored that approach, making Blink Dagger and Force Staff the most important items.
However, even before 7.00, there were attempts to change up the normal item progression, fitting in the newly introduced Echo Sabre after the Blink Dagger purchase. With that, the trend towards a more right-click oriented Magnus was born.
Talent usage on Magnus, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
With the introduction of talents, that trend started to gain traction. At almost every stage, there is a talent to pick up that helps Magnus bolster his right-click capabilities. At level 10, he can pick up 25 attack speed. At such an early stage of the game, picking up more than a Hyperstone’s worth of attack speed for free certainly makes a case for a more damage-oriented build.
At level 15, both options can translate into enhanced attack damage. While the 90 extra gold per minute option provides some bonus cash in order to pick up more items, 12 strength not only increases the HP pool of Magnus, but also makes for 12 more base damage. The fact that it is base damage makes it all the more valuable, since Empower does not factor in additional damage from items.
On level 20, a buff to Empower can be picked up as an alternative to 40 movement speed. The 15% more damage and cleave are not only great for Magnus himself, but also for his team. Especially when paired with melee agility heroes that used to pick up a Battlefury, but have recently refrained from doing so due to more effective item builds, such as Juggernaut or Ember Spirit, the Empower buff can provide massive value for the team’s damage output.
On level 25, the choice between reducing Shockwave cooldown by 4 seconds or reducing your respawn timer by 35 seconds comes up. While the reduced cooldown on Shockwave increases wave clear, which helps out in high ground defence scenarios, a reduced respawn timer is invaluable for a Magnus with a more carry-like approach.
Image courtesy of workshop artist Mr.Heisenberg
Building the new Magnus
The new outlook of Magnus players is also reflected in changed skill builds. While maxing Shockwave and Skewer with only a value point in Empower early on was the way to go for a very long time, the latter has become much more pivotal. With the old Magnus, it was essential to maximize your ultimate’s potential. Therefore, maxing out Skewer was a must to ensure mobility, while Shockwave was utilized as a farming tool.
Nowadays, the use of Reverse Polarity has shifted towards a disable for one or two key heroes, that need to be taken out of the fight. In this meta, disabling an important damage dealer of the enemy team is sufficient to winning a teamfight in most scenarios. Landing massive four or even five man RPs is simply not required anymore, since Magnus can contribute to fights with his enlarged right click damage. With that development, mobility has become much less important, making Skewer the ability that is typically left on a value point.
Maxing Shockwave and Empower first unleashes the full farming potential of the hero while also strengthening his laning phase. While he used to struggle in many mid lane matchups, his changed skill build has made him a lane dominator. With early points up in Empower, Magnus becomes very hard to out-last hit in the mid lane, which allows him to pick up items such as Echo Sabre and Bloodthorn quickly in order to make him a hard-hitting core.
Blink Dagger is still an essential pickup on the hero, however it has slipped a bit further down the item progression. A lot of players, including Dendi, go for Power Treads and Echo Sabre before opting for the Blink.
Magnus in the competitive scene
Since Dendi has quickly embraced the new playstyle on Magnus, the hero has become a staple for the new Natus Vincere.G2A roster. Across four appearances, the Magnoceros has posted a 75% win rate with an astonishing KDA of 9,13. Our mid laner has mastered the balance between providing lockdown on key heroes, utilizing his own right-clicks and maxing his teammates’ ability to dish out damage.
This success has made Magnus a priority ban for teams that are facing Na`Vi. The hero has been removed 15 times in drafts versus Dendi and company, making it the most banned hero ahead of meta heavyweights such as Luna, Underlord and Shadow Demon. Despite all the bans, there will definitely be more occasions to enjoy the Dendi Magnus in all its beauty.
KardinalR 16 February 2017, 13:46 19339 0