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It's been more than a week since Dota 2 patch 7.31d was released and the metagame in the pub scene has begun to stabilize.
The laning stage dynamics have shifted, a few heroes have emerged as the biggest patch winners, and previous meta heroes have been nerfed.
But not all heroes were treated well by 7.31d. As with every Dota 2 update, some of the more popular heroes of the previous patch were hit with the nerf bat to keep them in line with the rest of the roster.
Let's take a look at the five heroes most negatively affected by the changes in patch 7.31d, and whether these heroes are still worth picking in the pub scene:
Base damage reduced by 3
Spear of Mars
Stun duration reduced from 1.6/2.0/2.4/2.8 to 1.4/1.8/2.2/2.6
Since his introduction into Captain's Mode, Mars has been the god of wa- the offlane.
No matter what the meta is or what region the game is being played in, Mars always makes an impact. The hero has been highly contested in almost every tournament in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) since 2019.
Mars lost three base damage at all levels, making it a little harder for the hero to secure creeps during the laning stage and slightly reduces the damage of his God's Rebuke. It's a small nerf but it adds up over time.
The bigger change was the loss of 0.2 stun duration on all levels of Spear of Mars.
This is also a relatively small nerf, since 0.2 seconds really isn't that long.
However, over the course of hundreds of matches, that tiny stun duration nerf is enough to allow an Anti-Mage to blink away or a Troll Warlord to activate their ultimate and escape.
In the pub scene, Mars has gone from a 49% win rate to a 47%.
It's generally best to avoid picking the hero when grinding MMR unless the player is particularly skilled with Mars or has strong combos to work with such as Phoenix and Snapfire.
In the DPC's ongoing Summer Tour, Mars remains popular in Southeast Asia and China but doesn't even make it to the top 20 heroes most picked heroes in the other four regions.
Going forward, Mars may no longer be first pick or ban in every tournament and more of a niche pick in the future.
Damage reduced from 90-180/110-220/130-260/150-300 to 60-120/90-180/120-240/150-300
Lifesteal reduced from 24/36/48/60% to 20/30/40/50%
Chaos Bolt deals 45 less damage at level one, which is around one auto-attack's worth of damage during the early game.
This makes it a little harder for the hero to secure kills in the laning stage. It's not a severe nerf but Chaos Knight relies on winning the laning stage to snowball and now that his kill potential is reduced, his entire snowballing potential is hurt.
Besides dealing less damage with his stun, Chaos Knight also has reduced lifesteal from Chaos Strike. This makes the hero easier to burst down in teamfights.
In previous patches, Chaos Knight could get a couple of crits in a row and heal himself to full health. While the hero still has significant lifesteal in 7.31d, it's not as overpowered.
In the pub scene, Chaos Knight is still a valid hero to grind MMR despite losing 2.2% win rate.
The hero remains a tanky, high-damage carry who dominates the lane and comes online early. He's taken a hit, but not a debilitating one in the pub scene.
As for the hero's performance in the pro scene, Chaos Knight has been taken down a few pegs.
During the ESL One Stockholm Major, the hero was the most contested in the tournament. Now Chaos Knight is a middle-of-the-pack hero, making it to the top 25 or 30 most picked heroes in a region, but no higher than that.
Base agility reduced by 3
Shard duration reduced from 10s to 8s
Shard AoE reduced from 450 to 350
Losing three agility barely dents Dragon Knight, as the hero naturally gets a lot of extra armor courtesy of his Dragon Blood passive.
The hero is also one of the few cores to benefit from the nerf to Healing Salve, as Davion rarely relied on his supports to sustain him in the laning stage.
Yet despite that, Dragon Knight still lost 2.5% win rate, and that's due to the nerf of his Aghanim's Shard ability, Fireball.
The spell doesn't last as long and hits a smaller area, making it a significantly weaker farming ability. It is also less useful for defending objectives in 7.31d.
With the nerfs he's received, Davion now hovers around the 50% win rate in the midlane, which isn't too bad.
The hero is in a balanced spot right now and a decent choice for grinding MMR in lower-level pubs.
In the DPC, Dragon Knight remains a popular pick due to his flexibility.
Davion is the most picked hero in Western Europe and North America as well as the seventh most picked in both Southeast Asia and South America. So far, only China has steered clear of the hero.
Damage per Used Mana reduced from 1/1.25/1.5/1.75 to 0.75/1/1.25/1.5
Damage reduction reduced from 10/15/20/25% to 8/12/16/20%
Two heroes we wanted to see nerfed in patch 7.31d were Chaos Knight and Pugna and that's what happened.
As mentioned above, Chaos Knight is less threatening early and easier to kill at all stages of the game. Yet while Chaos Knight is still in a decent spot, the same can't be said for Pugna.
Pugna got hit right where it hurts, in his Nether Ward. We've said before that this spell did way too much in the previous patch, and it looks like IceFrog agreed.
In 7.31d, Nether Ward no longer punishes spell casters as heavily as it did in the past and that makes the hero a lot less threatening.
Besides the nerf to Nether Ward, Pugna was also hurt by the nerf to Wraith Pact.
Pugna was built as support who mitigates the enemy's damage, and now that Nether Ward is less impactful and the Wraith Totem easier to bring down, the hero's whole kit is weaker.
Pugna lost a whopping 3.5% win rate and that puts him on our list of the biggest losers in this patch.
The hero is still viable in the Immortal bracket, but only in the hands of people who spam him. In most cases, it's far better to pick another support instead of Pugna.
And the professional scene agrees with the pub players... mostly.
Pugna is the second most picked hero in Western Europe, but almost entirely ignored in the other regions. Even in Europe, Pugna still disappoints, winning only three of his nine appearances so far.
No changes. Seriously.
Poor Storm Spirit. Nobody was hurt as much by 7.31d as he was.
Yet on paper, nothing changed for Storm Spirit. So why did the hero lose 8% win rate in the first three days of the patch, and currently wins only 43% of his games?
Well, the answer to that question is twofold.
The first is that Valve forgot to add the changes to Storm Spirit in the changelog. Storm Spirit was nerfed in 7.31d and these nerfs hit hard.
Ball Lightning cost substantially more mana, while the extra attack speed from Overload was reduced by more than half.
Thankfully Valve reverted those nerfs, and because of that, Storm Spirit only lost 4.5% win rate this patch, still massive, but not as bad as when the patch debuted.
However, the reason Storm Spirit is the biggest loser of patch 7.31d is because Null Talisman no longer reduces the mana cost of spells, something Storm Spirit's entire item build relied on.
All these changes have led to Storm Spirit disappearing almost entirely from the professional scene.
Storm Spirit was the third most contested hero during the previous Major yet right now pros are avoiding him like a plague, except in Southeast Asia, where Storm Spirit has made seven appearances with three victories.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.