If you’ve been watching The Summit 9, Phoenix has been a mandatory first round ban against team Evil Geniuses. So far, Phoenix has a 72% win rate over 11 games at the event. A small sample size, but it’s a trend that was non-existent in previous tournaments. The China Supermajor, for example, had 3 Phoenix picks and 0 bans out of 104 matches.
The hero has fallen out of favor for sometime in the pro meta, but it has still been effective in pubs. Phoenix this month has the 15th highest win rate at 53.58%, the highest its been over the last 5 patches, where the hero rested at 51.8% in 7.13.Fly swoops in to clean up in EG’s match against Optic Gaming
Phoenix has been just about the same hero for several patches, with some minor buffs. That may have tipped the scales, along with a few other factors.
Phoenix had suffered a bit by being shoehorned in a role as a solo offlaner. The hero became too dependent on levels and had little recourse against a bad lane to come back later on. Items help, but sometimes all you need is the egg—Supernova.
What shifted was both Phoenix’s viability as a support hero, and the shift towards dual lanes. Patch 7.16 buffed Fire Spirits from 10/30/50/70 to 20/40/60/80, essentially doubling the spell’s damage at level one. And the talent changes in 7.07 most importantly gave the hero one of the best gold talents, +90 GPM at level 10.
paiN.Duster with the Midas build on Phoenix against Let’s Do it. Why not?
Top this off with 7.17’s buff to Supernova’s stun from 1.5/2/2.5 to 2/2.5/3, and you have a hero that doesn’t need to tick level 3 to be effective, an ultimate that stuns just as long now at level 1 than at level 2 in the previous patch, and has enough passive gold gain to pivot towards a support role.
As a support hero, Phoenix has less pressure to dominate the lane than when it was an offlaner, while being buffed enough to be capable in the early levels. And in a dual lane meta, there’s another hero to mitigate its long cooldowns.Pairing Phoenix with a strong right clicker can give an edge in the lane
While Phoenix doesn’t have an early game stun, teams have been able to leverage the strength of Fire Spirits by pairing the hero with a strong right clicker. Even with a 45 second cooldown, it can grant a significant advantage for trading hits or being able to CS just one lane of creeps. PaiN Gaming put Phoenix and Weaver together, netting them a first blood in the above clip. And for a few games, EG has been laning Phoenix with Bloodseeker, another pesky combo when Blood Rite surrounds the Supernova egg counting down.
As we approach TI, it’s a welcome sight to see that the landscape of meta heroes can shift with just minor changes between patches. The Summit offers a peek into the kind of innovations that might happen at the largest tournament of the year, which will no doubt echo throughout our pubs.