If you haven’t been paying attention to Dota 2 since The International 6 in 2016, you missed out on some big changes. There are two new heroes, a handful of new items, and most importantly, the changes wrought by the massive Patch 7.00.
For reference of just how big 7.00 is, consider that Dota had been in its 6.xx version since 2005. 7.00 gave the map a complete makeover (along with a new position for Roshan), added a backpack players can use to carry around extra items, and swapped out the “gain attributes” option when heroes level for a talent tree unique to each character.
Listing every way the game has been made new over the past year would take waaaaaay too long (here’s a video of Dota 2 educator Purge going through just 7.00 that lasts almost ten hours), so this is a quick overview of what you’ll need to know to enjoy The International 7 (TI7).
Easily the change that has affected the game most is the introduction of unique talent trees for each hero. Gone are the days of putting points into just buffing up your attributes. Now, at levels 10, 15, 20, and 25, players get to choose between one of two talents to specialize their hero’s development.
The bonuses offered by talents range from granting more stats, like attribute points or movement speed, to increasing the amount of experience a hero gains, to adding new effects for spells. Take a look at Phantom Assassin’s talent tree.
Early choices are generally between increasing her offensive capabilities or making her more durable through raw stat bonuses. But once you hit level 25 you have a very interesting decision on your hands - do you want +25 agility, giving you huge amounts of damage, attack speed, and armor, or do you want your Stifling Dagger to shoot an extra dagger at a random enemy, doubling your harass potential and adding the possibility of one-shotting an enemy you weren’t even aiming for with a critical hit?
Every hero now has similar choices that the player has to navigate, and the way professional players build their hero’s talents largely impacts their choices during a game.
At last year’s TI, Valve revealed the long-awaited hero Pit Lord during the All-Star Game. Pit Lord, renamed Abyssal Underlord due to copyright issues, was released last August and is now firmly a part of the game.
What you may not know is that Valve released another hero last year with Patch 7.00, Sun Wukong the Monkey King! Here’s a brief rundown of what each hero does:
A big demon rhino with an infernal basketball hoop on his head. Abyssal Underlord is a tough melee support with great area control.
What he does:
- Firestorm rains down on an area for six seconds, dealing a percentage of maximum health as damage per second.
Pit of Malice creates a circle that roots any enemies who step inside for a couple seconds, and can reapply the root to enemies who inside for too long.
Atrophy Aura passively weakens enemies around him, reducing their attack damage. To make Underlord even scarier in fights, if an enemy dies in the Atrophy Aura, Underlord gains an attack damage buff for up to a minute.
Dark Rift opens a portal on a friendly unit. After a few seconds, Underlord and allies near him will teleport to the portal. Once Dark Rift starts channeling, enemies have no way to stop Dark Rift short of killing Underlord, through Underlord himself can cancel it before it goes off.
The most club-ready monkey man you’ve ever seen. Is that a silk half-shirt he’s wearing under his armor? Ladies.
What he does:
Monkey King is an extremely effective roamer and ganker, possessing high damage, crowd control, and natural mobility.
Tree Dance allows Monkey King to climb on top of trees and leap around the jungle to move swiftly and undetected. Once he’s near a lane, Monkey King can use Primal Spring to jump from a tree onto an enemy hero and slow them.
Jingu Mastery gives Monkey King a massive damage bonus and lifesteal for his next four attacks if he hits the same hero four times in a row.
Boundless Strike stuns enemies in a line and hits them with an automatic critical basic attack (and yes, if he uses Boundless Strike with Jingu Mastery up it adds that bonus damage to the hit).
Wukong’s Command creates a circle filled with clones of Monkey King, who attack any enemies around them. Additionally, Monkey King gains a bunch of bonus armor while his ultimate is active. Wukong’s Command lasts for 13 seconds, but it ends early if Monkey King leaves the circle.
While talent trees might have been the most game-changing new feature of 7.00, the most visible addition was the redesign of Dota 2’s map. Even small things like ward spots and hiding places shifted with the new layout. These were the map’s biggest changes:
The Radiant and Dire teams now possess a new structure called Shrines. There are a couple Shrines for each side on the map and a few in each base. When activated, Shrines grant massive health and mana regeneration in an area around them for five seconds, then go on a five-minute cooldown. They can be used to provide relief from a tough lane opponent, juice up after a gank, or turn the tides of a teamfight. Shrines also have backdoor protection, making them virtually unkillable, until a tower in the enemy base is destroyed. This durability means they’re a reliable spot to teleport to for most of the game.
Previously, two runes would spawn in the river - a power-up rune on one side, and a bounty rune on the other. Now, only one rune spawns in the river (at a random spot, could be either northwest or southeast), but four bounty runes spawn in the Radiant and Dire jungles. This gives roaming supports reliable access to gold and experience, and lets players who pick up a Bottle refill it more often (though bounty runes only grant two Bottle charges instead of the full three granted by power-up runes).
Roshan has completely switched sides on the map, and his pit now sits in the northwest part of the river rather than the southeast. It’s also now a free standing feature, rather than carved into a wall.
Jungle creeps now spawn every minute, rather than once every two minutes. However, they don’t grant as much gold or experience. There’s also a new medium camp for each side. The Ancient camp now has a new kind of Ancient creep that can spawn, The Prowlers. These goat centaur-looking fellows can reduce armor and root players, making them especially tough to fight for fragile characters.
You could spend endless hours researching all of Dota’s 7.00 changes, but the above info should keep your head above water while you’re watching TI7. While not every viewer should need to know the nuanced details behind patch 7.00, this guide should provide just enough to follow along with everyone else on a Twitch channel, in a Pub Stomp, or if you’re lucky, at TI7.
Stay tuned for our lowdown on the teams competing this year, or check out our Dota 101 article, originally posted for TI4, to give you a more basic rundown.