Image by Hawf
Compared to some tournaments last year, ESL Hamburg 2018 did a lot of things right—bo2 group stage and an 8-team double elimination playoff make for a fair tournament, a healthy amount of matches and a ton of juicy stats.
7.19c is starting to outlive its welcome and it clearly shows, with the field being dominated by the same heroes. Yet, despite meta being for the most part “figured out”, the tournament did have some new, interesting developments we would like to focus on today.
7th most contested hero and an 11th most picked—Enigma handily won 18 out of 24 games he participated in. Played in both support and offlane position, he was also a bit of a flex pick, allowing the team to adjust their draft on the go—a decent advantage in competitive games.
The biggest reason for the hero’s relevance was the slowing down of meta. The longer the game goes, the more chances Enigma gets to find a game-turning Black Hole. That makes the hero a win condition on his own—it doesn’t matter how much more farmed the enemy is—a positioning mistake will be punished severely, even with a 10-15k gold deficit.
The hero is also played slightly differently, from what we generally see in pubs. Professional players fully commit to lanes and jungling is out of the question and Enigma’s Demonic Conversion proved to be a very strong tool in lane.
Eidolons are decently survivable, courtesy of a HP-restoring split. They have a considerable amount of damage and are great at early zoning and harassment. Once split they also become a kill threat, especially against squishier heroes. On top of it, this ability allows Enigma to deny the enemy XP from the lane, creating a very reliable source of incremental advantage.
Later on professional players generally fully commit to pushing, with a Helm of the Dominator rush. This item allows Enigma to occupy a lane, shove it to the enemy tower and continue applying pressure throughout the game. Professional play often revolves around the vision and map control advantages pushing the lanes provides and with Eidolons as well as a converted creep, Enigma is more than capable in this sense.
Not necessarily the hottest news and definitely not as successful as Enigma, Ogre Magi nonetheless deserves being mentioned. Once again, the hero suddenly became a flex pick, sometimes played in the offlane. Compared to earlier builds, with maxed out Ignite and prioritized Bloodlust, currently the hero is all about dealing damage and stunning the opponent. Fireblast is a value skill no more.
Having access to both nukes in lane, as well as a powerspike at level 6 the nuking Ogre Magi is a great frontliner who is more than willing to soak up damage and spells from the enemy, paving the way for his cores. His low agility gain doesn’t really come into play until later in the game, making him a great “initiator” for the first 20 minutes, his “initiation” being simply walking in an being a nuisance.
Infrequently as it was, we also saw Ogre Magi players sometimes going for the +100 cast range talent, instead of a +90 GPM one. Cast Range has a small advantage in pubs and allows the hero to scale significantly better, but isn’t as reliable as a simple economic boost. Do keep in mind though, that when the hero fell out of favor a couple of years ago, it was prompted by a cast range nerf and the cast range talent more or less returns Ogre Magi to his glory days.
Overall the hero had a decent, but not at all impressive showing with a 45.45% win rate. For the most part it was the offlane Ogre experiments that are to blame, as the hero doesn’t do significantly more with some farm. That said, in pubs that go over 45 minutes, with level 25 and a lot of gold he can become one of the most oppressive supports in the game.
Brewmaster was surprising as a hero in the first place, but Puppey’s position 5 Brewmaster makes it that more interesting. Who could have guessed that Brewmaster can be a flex pick?
Regardless of his position, Brewmaster is still a very tough opponent in lane that disrupts the farm of the enemy carry and poses a threat on enemy supports. He is tanky, has decent attack damage and makes trading blows hard for the enemy—[missing skill: brewmaster-drunken-haze-5401] remains to be one of the most annoying abilities to play against in lane.
While Enigmas started striving for early HotD, Brewmasters now completely disregard this once popular item, trying to get Blink Dagger as soon as possible and the going for Vladmir's Offering. The latter is a very underappreciated and undervalued item—the auras it provides give your supports much needed survivability, while considerably boosting the damage output of your carries, especially the ones that rely on their primary stats to deal damage.
Another often underrated aspect of the hero is the purge effect he has on Storm Brewling. While it does little in some matchups, it can completely destroy meta carries with illusions, at least in the first 30-40 minutes of the game. Terrorblade, Phantom Lancer as well as any hero that wants to build Manta Style are at a great disadvantage when playing against Brewmaster and both these heroes and this item are extremely popular in the current environment.
The wait for 7.20 is almost over—we will likely see the new patch once the Majors of the season conclude. While there is no denying the game’s got a little bit stale, there are still some answers to be found and new questions to be asked in draft. Hopefully the Kuala Lumpur Major will be able to deliver in this regard—the stakes at this tournament are going to be much higher, with DPC points and International 2019 attendance on the line.
In the meantime we would advise pub players who want to come out on top in the new patch to start brushing off dust from forgotten heroes they like, but who weren’t a part of the meta. Given the long wait, 7.20 is likely to be huge and will probably shake things up considerably. For the first couple of weeks no one will know what hero to play and the players who simply squeeze out the maximum utility out of what they are playing are going to have a natural advantage.