Root mechanic: Changes and impact
With the advent of 7.00, changes swept the game from the implementation of talents to a revamp of the map. During the chaos, adjustments to the root mechanic seemed to slip by, nearly unmentioned. These differences will undoubtedly affect numerous heroes and have a noticeable impact on the professional scene.
At its core, the root mechanic prevents heroes or creeps from moving. There are several different additional effects that may accompany this ability, such as disarm, cancelling channeling abilities, revealing invisible units by granting true sight, or issuing stop commands. New to patch 7.00, root now disables most movement and repositioning based abilities. This could be a rather substantial nerf to many heroes that rely on their escape, depending on the opposing team’s draft.
Additionally, Rod of Atos has been reworked to launch a projectile that provides a 2 second root to an enemy hero. This root does not interrupt channeling and cannot be used to cancel an enemy hero’s teleport scroll, but it can be used as an early counter to any heroes reliant on an escape mechanism. It also provides true sight on invisible heroes, which can be useful against to catch out an enemy Bounty Hunter or Riki.
Image courtesy of Valve
The heroes that will be punished the most by the root changes are those who use their skills as an escape mechanism. This could be devastating to Anti-Mage, Queen of Pain, or Phantom Assassin who rely on blink abilities to escape any incoming ganks, as roots can now be staggered intermittently with stuns in order to provide extended control. Mirana can no longer Leap away from ganks if rooted, and it can even prevent Faceless Void from casting Time Walk to slip away from any early rotations if caught out. Perhaps the most affected hero is Storm Spirit, who relies on his ultimate, Ball Lightning, in order to have maximum mobility around the map. A well-timed root can quickly put an end to the snowballing hero.
Some abilities that are affected may be less obvious without knowing the nuances of the changes. Puck cannot Phase Shift under the effect of root, potentially causing a more devastating ability to land that would otherwise be dodged. While Riki already suffers from the potential true sight granted by some root abilities, he is also unable to cast Tricks of the Trade or Blink Strike, likely leading to his demise.
While Town Portal Scroll can still be used to escape root, Nature's Prophet can no longer use his Teleportation ability, possibly giving more reason for any players to carry a Town Portal Scroll, despite having an ability that performs the same function. Meepo is also stunted by these changes, as Poof is now prevented by root as well.
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Although escapes are not able to be cast while rooted, if the ability has already been initiated, it will still be completed while under the effect of root. This is something important to keep in mind for heroes like Sand King or Timbersaw, as their abilities could be cast before being rooted, allowing them to secure distance that could potentially be life-saving. Being vigilant and honing your reflexes is vital while playing one of these heroes to prevent being caught out and killed before escaping.
Few heroes were lucky enough to have access to a root through their normal abilities. Crystal Maiden only hard disable is Frostbite, which will make her more useful against heroes with previously reliable escapes, especially since it has no associated projectile, meaning it cannot be disjointed by blinking away. Frostbite additionally causes a ministun, cancelling any channeled abilities, as well disarm, so opposing heroes are not able to auto attack while under the effects of the root.
Treant Protector's ultimate, Overgrowth, is an even more powerful initiation technique, as the disable is now both more reliable while still causing disarm, leaving your opponents helpless without an alternative escape mechanism. Similar to Crystal Maiden’s Frostbite, Overgrowth also stops any channeled abilities the opposing heroes may be casting.
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Ember Spirit can cancel channeled abilities as well with Searing Chains. Since it is an untargeted ability, it can also catch invisible units, as it provides true sight onto anyone caught out. At level 25, he can choose to extend the length of Searing Chains to a staggering 5 seconds, providing unparalleled crowd control in a late game scenario. If playing against an Ember Spirit, keep in mind that Searing Chains only issues a stop command, cancelling any autoattacks or abilities being cast, but you can still turn and continue to auto attack any nearby hero by initiating another command.
Ember Spirit’s escape with Fire Remnant still works under the effect of root, further solidifying his buffs from 7.00. These buffs are reflected in his pub win rate, which increased by a whopping 7% in the past three months. The hero still has a high skillcap, keeping his win rate below 50% in pubs, but he will likely be a more appealing pick in professional games in the coming tournaments.
Win Rate over past three months, Image courtesy of Dotabuff
Lastly, Entangling Claws from Lone Druid's Summon Spirit Bear functions the same as Searing Chains, forcing a stop command and providing true sight, but still allowing you to turn and attack while under this root effect. As a final note of importance in regards to buffed heroes, Oracle’s Fortune’s End is not a root, but instead sets the enemy hero’s movement speed to zero. This is important to keep in mind, as the buff to the root mechanic does not affect this ability, and you are still able to escape using movement-based skills. These changes will undoubtedly impact drafting and introduce new hero counters, as well as force heroes to situationally purchase other escape items they may not find optimal.
With the increased lockdown caused by root, players may now find themselves in need of alternative escape mechanisms, depending on the situation. Since root only disables movement based abilities, if a hero can rid themselves of the root through itemization, they will be free to use their escapes once again.
There are a few options when it comes to finding a way to prevent being locked down by root, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each. To prevent being rooted in the first place, a hero may choose to purchase a Linken’s Sphere. The benefit to this is that there is no interruption of any channeling or abilities, however, any area-of-effect (AoE) abilities will still affect a hero under the effect of a Linken’s Sphere.
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Lotus Orb offers an option for utility when needing to counter a root or a team heavy on targeted disables. This dispels debuffs from a hero upon use. Since this is cast on teammates, it may be a wise choice as a position 3 or 4, as it can provide a lot of utility by disabling hexes or stuns on your carries, along with Echoing any abilities cast back to the enemy caster. If you are rooted, you can use the Lotus Orb on yourself to dispel the root (or silence), possibly preventing a gank attempt. Similar to a Linken’s Sphere, this will not trigger when hit by an AoE ability, but you can always use the item after being rooted or silenced, providing a more reliable escape.
Another option is the always-popular Black King Bar (BKB). This artifact grants spell immunity, which again can prevent a hero from being rooted. The downside is that some root abilities pierce spell immunity, such as Overgrowth or Entangling Claws. It may be wise to hold off on activating the BKB until after being affected by one of these abilities if the team lacks other reliable disables, as using a BKB under the effect of root will instantly dispel the root from your hero.
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A final popular item option to escape a root is the Manta Style. This item also provides some split pushing and spell dodging capabilities. This will neither prevent nor dispel any stuns or hexes like the items above, but the Manta Style will purge any root or silence from the user. You can also dodge any projectiles, as activating a Manta Style will disjoint almost all abilities directed at the hero. This tends to require better reflexes compared to the items above but can provide extra benefit from the illusions and stats associated with the item. When a team drafts heroes that rely on escapes and are counter-picked by heroes with root abilities, these items are likely to be purchased more in order to counter the otherwise overwhelming lockdown.
The change to root may seem minor at first glance, but it can have a devastating impact when playing against specific heroes. Keep these ideas in mind when drafting your next hero, and you may find yourself in a favorable position before the match even begins. If you happen to be counter picked, remember to itemize properly, even if it isn’t ideal - you may be able to rebound from a difficult laning phase. The seemingly obvious choice is not always the best decision, and wise choices may lead to previously unexpected victory.
DPayne 8 February 2017, 01:33 24917 0