The Mistwoods Update has given Dota players a massive amount of changes. Heroes have been buffed and nerfed, as usual, but the addition of Aghanim's Shards has created a great environment for supports to thrive in. Many of the Shards are huge upgrades for support heroes and can swing games in your team's favour. Importantly, at 1400 gold, the item is cheaper than a lot of core items, such as Blink Dagger and Force Staff.
The new patch still has a lot of the old supporting faces in it, but has also brought in some new blood. This list isn’t comprehensive, by any means, but it should give a good starting point for players looking to play the best Dota 2 supports in 7.28.
Outworld Destroyer has gone through so many changes throughout Dota 2’s history that often it can be hard to determine where he lands in the meta. Patch to patch Outworld Destroyer will often flit between total dominance and complete irrelevance. In Dota 2 Patch 7.28, Outworld Destroyer has changed more than just his name and has risen to prominence in an interesting way, not only as one of the best Dota 2 mids in Patch 7.28, but as a support as well.
There are a few reasons for this shift in role, mainly, the tweaks to Astral Imprisonment in the Mistwoods Update:
- Cast range increased substantially
- No longer does area of effect damage
- Single target damage increased slightly
- Manacost reduction
- Astral Imprisonment now steals max mana again
The increase in cast range allows Outworld Destroyer to initiate from further. This is important for a support hero, as you are generally going to be weaker and want to play from a safer distance. The removal of AOE damage on Astral, along with the buff to its single target damage, puts the focus on ganking and initiating with the spell, rather than on farming. The reduced mana cost allows you to use the spell more in team-fights, without having to worry as much about receiving Essence Flux procs to use it as often.
Arcane Orb Changes
Perhaps the most important change is that Astral Imprisonment now steals mana again, as opposed to Arcane Orb performing that role in previous patches. OD’s main goal in team-fights used to be to auto-attack enemy heroes to build up his mana pool, causing his ultimate to do huge amounts of damage. With this new changes in Patch 7.28, the hero can gain damage for his ultimate by simply using a defensive or initiating spell, without putting himself in a dangerous position to get extra auto-attacks in —this makes the hero more position-focused, as you want to be as a support.
Another important factor is that your Arcane Orb now costs a percentage of your mana, instead of a fixed amount. This means that you can always use your Arcane Orb and can therefore do a lot more damage in team-fights overall. On top of all of this, a flat increase in damage to OD’s ultimate, along with a lower cooldown, means that the hero’s ultimate is more effective at all points in the game.
Meteor Hammer is the patch-defining item for this hero, and is it probably what makes him one of the best dota 2 supports 7.28. With the new focus on Astral Impisonment, the hero can pick this item up and get a guaranteed follow-up-stun after initiating. The new meteor hammer combo with Astral does around 800 damage and more importantly, doesn’t allow the hero to react, meaning that it allows consistent follow-up damage on top of the initial nuke.
With only a meteor hammer you can gank enemy heroes easily and pair well with most supports and nukers for ganking. Not only that, but meteor hammer allows you to transition these ganks into early tower pushes —something OD struggled with previously.
Outworld Destroyer’s incredibly simple execution and powerful lockdown allow him to outshine a lot of supports this patch. There is an argument to made for him not just being one of the best Dota 2 supports in 7.28 but instead being the top of the pack.
If you play in higher MMR brackets, you likely won’t be surprised to see this hero make the list. Earth Spirit has been a top pick among high-skilled players since the hero came out and is essentially a staple in professional games, with the highest pick-rate of any support in patch 7.28 and the second-highest overall pick-rate in the patch. The hero was effectively untouched in the Mistwoods Update, with a minor change to his stone remnant duration and a slight buff to his Aghanim’s upgrade. The story of this hero in 7.28 is not one of buffs and nerfs, but instead of a hero that has been consistently strong due to his inherent toolkit.
The Swiss Army Knife of Dota 2
Most heroes in Dota 2 will have one or two methods of crowd control, Earth Spirit has three. With a slow, a silence, and a stun, Earth Spirit at level 3 is generally one of the scariest heroes on the map. The trade-off, of course, is that hitting all of his abilities can be difficult. Earth Spirit is a notoriously difficult hero to play, hence his pick-rate being much higher in professional and high-skill games than it is in the lower brackets.
The crowd control that Earth Spirit possesses is only part of his kit though, as he also has an ultimate that does AOE magic damage and synergises with his skills incredibly effectively. All of this means that the hero is not only good on his own but pairs well with a huge number of heroes, as he has the ability to enable any other roaming support or core.
Earth Spirit’s only real weakness is his early laning stage, which can be helped with an Orb of Venom purchase and decent regen for effective trading with enemy supports. Once he reaches level 3 he has a multitude of disables and can be an incredibly strong counter-ganker for other lanes.
Is Aghanim’s Shard a Factor?
Unlike a lot of other heroes this patch, Earth Spirit’s Aghanim’s Shard has not had a significant impact on the hero, even in competitive play where he is played a lot more. According to Datdota, in 180 games the item was only picked up 35 times. The average time the item was purchased was around 32 minutes. This means that most Earth Spirits were only buying the item as a late-game bonus after they had picked up their core items —things like Vessel, Euls, Force or Blink.
The fact that Earth Spirit doesn’t need any items other than an Orb of Corrosion, Vessel and Tranquil boots in the mid game is another great strength of his. As a hero, he likes to make space for cores rather than take it up. Even without items, Earth Spirit is one of the best Dota 2 supports in patch 7.28.
Keeper Of The Light
There is a lot of talk about Keeper of the Light at the moment. The Mistwoods Update altered this hero a great deal. The hero now functions much like he did in the past. His ultimate gives him Blinding Light and Recall again, along with some extra movement speed and removes the channel time for Illuminate. Will-O-Wisp is now his Aghanim’s Sceptre instead and his old Aghanim’s Sceptre upgrade –a 40% heal on all allies hit with Illuminate during the daytime–is now on the Aghanim’s Shard.
All of this is a lot to unpack and with his win-rates being below average in pub games at 43%, you have to question why the hero is considered so strong right now.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Yes, Keeper of the Light has a 43% win-rate in public matches at the moment, however, he has a 55% win-rate in professional matches —with 119 games played at the time of this article. The main reason for this is how the hero is utilised in professional games. While it may seem that the hero would be picked for its ability to push creep waves and to stop enemy pushes with his Illuminate, the fact is that most competitive teams are picking him is because of Recall.
Recall is an incredibly powerful skill when used by a coordinated team. The ability to instantly bring a hero to your position from across the map with only a 3 second delay has a huge amount of impact in all parts of the game. Split-pushing becomes much more effective when you can instantly bring your core out of danger and back to their team. On top of that, you can surprise the enemy team. In competitive matches, the ability to take the other team off-guard is of immense importance. If they think they are running into 4 heroes, but it’s actually 5, that can be a massive advantage.
Keeper Of The Light Aghanim’s Shard
While Keeper of the Light’s Aghanim’s Shard isn’t the main factor for his increased pick-rate in Dota 2 patch 7.28, it is still a factor. You are essentially getting an ability that was considered to be worth 4200 gold a few patches ago, for 1400 gold in this patch, and this is what makes Keeper of the Light another one of the best Dota 2 supports in 7.28. Keeper of the Light’s strength in team-fights is his constant supply of AOE damage thanks to Illuminate and his ability to turn fights around with Blind Light.
Hiding Illuminates in the trees or in fog of war also means he can do large amounts of damage when the enemy isn’t expecting it. With Aghanim’s Shard, Keeper becomes a very strong counter-initiator. The enemy team jumps your team and starts using their nukes and then an Illuminate sweeps through and not only hits them for around 500 magic damage (before reductions), it also heals your allies for 210.
Once again though, as the Shard is only effective during the day-time, it requires coordination from the team to be useful. If you are constantly taking fights at night, the Shard is 1400 gold wasted.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why Keeper of the Light is being picked so much in competitive games. With some teamwork, he can easily be one of the best supports in 7.28.
Nyx Assassin is a hero who has become strong in direct response to other heroes experiencing power creep. He did receive some small buffs in the Mistwood Update –an increase to his base Intelligence, more Vendetta damage and a slight reduction to the cast point of his stun– but these ultimately aren’t why he is being picked up. So why is he considered one of the best Dota 2 supports in 7.28?
The big story of the Mistwoods Update was the introduction of Aghanim’s Shards, and for some heroes, they are the defining reason for their strength in 7.28. For Nyx, his Shard gives him a 25% movement speed buff during Venetta and reduces the enemy’s magic resistance by 20% upon hitting them. This all amounts to one thing: Dagon Nyx Assassin builds are back! Nyx’s role in most previous patches was to try to be disruptive in team-fights with spiked carapace and to buy a blink dagger to hit important impales and set up his team.
In the old days, Nyx was far less complicated. He would go mid, get level 6, gank a lane with his ultimate and then use gold from subsequent ganks to build towards a Dagon 5. Effectively your job was to blow up one hero with your powerful nuke combo in team-fights and secure important pickoffs throughout the match.
In 7.28, you will want to take on a mix of these two roles. Nyx doesn’t have a particularly long laning phase, with weak harass spells and a low mana pool. However, once you exit the laning phase and begin ganking and counter-initiating, the hero starts to become come online. Getting the Aghanim’s Shard after the 20-minute mark will allow you to scout incredibly effectively for your team, thanks to the movement speed increase, and with a Dagon you can easily kill any support (often cores as well) you find.
Nyx as a Counter
While Nyx is a strong hero in his own right in Dota 2 Patch 7.28, the reason for his increase in pick-rate comes down to the other heroes that are strong in the patch. Mostly, he is a strong counter to the meta mid heroes, who are highly-illusive heroes like Puck, Void Spirit and once he gets Blink Dagger, Outworld Devourer. With his Vendetta allowing him to catch heroes unaware and a low cast-point stun to stop movement abilities, Nyx can successfully shut down these heroes where other supports can’t.
Nyx’s Mana Burn also does high damage to strong intelligence heroes, so popular mid heroes like OD, Puck and Void Spirit will all suffer in the late-game against him. All of these cumulative factors have made Nyx one of the best supports in 7.28, but also a strong hero in a core role.
Supporting in 7.28
Back in my day, if you were playing support, you would be lucky to have Arcane Boots and a Magic Wand by 25 minutes into the game. These days, with gold distribution changes, Bounty Runes and a vast array of powerful support items, supporting is a much more lucrative experience. Aghanim’s Shards are a big boon to a lot of supports as well and give supports more options for becoming stronger in the late-game.
Overall, it’s a great patch to play support, so put down that Battlefury and buy some Observer Wards —you don’t even have to upgrade the courier anymore!