Dawnbreaker may have been molded from the heart of a young star but her time in the spotlight is fading fast. With the lowest win rate of any hero, we take a look at why.

Valora the Dawnbreaker is Valve’s latest addition to the Dota2 hero roster. It’s hard to argue that Valve hasn't knocked it out of the park in terms of her look, with her imposing stature and impressive visual effects drawing praise from much of the community. However, from what we’ve seen from her so far it appears her actual in game impact may fail to live up to her flashy design.

A shocking win-rate of 39% across all skill brackets

In the 24 hours since Dawnbreaker was added to the game she’s already seen play in more than thirteen thousand individual matches with the majority of players choosing to take her in the offlane role which would seem to suit her kit well. Unfortunately, despite the excitement of the community to try her out she currently holds the lowest win rate of all the heroes in Dota2 across all skill brackets.

This is unusual for a new hero as Valve’s design philosophy tends to introduce heroes on the strong end of the spectrum before paring them back to reach a well balanced state.

Dawnbreaker on the other hand will require serious buffs to be able to be a competitive pick. Let’s take a look at why exactly the hero is underpowered right now…

Dawnbreaker's winrate is shockingly bad (<a href="https://www.dotabuff.com/heroes/meta" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Image/Data from Dotabuff</a>)
Dawnbreaker's winrate is shockingly bad (Image/Data from Dotabuff)

The Good

It’s not all doom and gloom! While Dawnbreaker does have serious issues there are aspects of her design that suggest that with the right tweaks she has the potential to be a game changer. Dawnbreaker is durable, boasting excellent starting stats, has a built in escape ability and a passive sustain that should allow her to survive the brutal lane stage that is often the fate of an offlane hero.

In fact, the lane stage is where she thrives! With her high base damage contesting against her for last hits is a nightmare. If you’re playing against her as a melee character, each last hit you try to contest is a gamble as she could reply in kind with her Starbreaker hammer combination dealing a ton of early game harassment. 

Typical Dawnbreaker starting items. That’s a lot of damage!
Typical Dawnbreaker starting items. That’s a lot of damage!

The Bad

Much like the bully who peaked in high school, after the lane phase breaks down Dawnbreaker starts to feel a bit lost. While her Celestial Hammer skill was a lifesaver in lane, using it offensively as you transition to the midgame is difficult.

The projectile speed is too slow to reliably catch fleeing enemies unless used in near melee range and Fire Trail’s slow doesn’t linger very long, making it a minor annoyance at best. Your Starbreaker combo also suffers in the midgame, where it’s much harder to get up in the enemy’s face and execute it correctly with it’s 1.1s delay without being interrupted.

Starbreaker can’t be turned or cancelled once activated and as there’s no initial slow/ministun on the first two hits it can be quite easy to evade before the final stunning hit, leaving her wide open to counter attacks.

It can be hard to land Starbreaker’s damage in the midgame without support help
It can be hard to land Starbreaker’s damage in the midgame without support help

The Ugly

Finally we have to talk about Dawnbreaker’s ultimate ability - Solar Guardian. On paper the ability looks decent, a large AoE heal/damage finishing with a small stun, in practice however without prior setup from your teammates it’s incredibly difficult to get the most out of the spell.

There is no associated slow to keep enemies within the radius and you can’t alter the target AoE once cast, allowing enemies to simply walk out of the effect or even worse - prepare their spells to combo you upon landing. Even used defensively the heal it provides is negligible and escaping teammates will find it hard to stand in the AoE for long enough to benefit much.

With a hefty 250 mana cost and a 100 second cooldown, it’s difficult to find great situations to make offensive use of the skill and it’s most often just used to transport her to a teamfight as it breaks out.

The cast delay and lack of slow makes this AoE Ultimate easy to avoid without setup
The cast delay and lack of slow makes this AoE Ultimate easy to avoid without setup

She also has issues finding good items to build. Her Starbreaker rewards building raw attack damage, but Luminosity rewards attack speed. As a Strength based hero there really isn’t any choice for items that provide both of those which results in an item build inefficiency, further stunting her progression from early to mid game as a carry.

The lack of good true carry items that synergise with her abilities relegate her to more of an aura tank role. She is able to show up to teamfights with her ult and provide buffs to assist others on her team but won’t do much damage herself in fights.

How to play Dawnbreaker if I really wanted to try her?

Overall Dawnbreaker is a hero who has a good time early on in the game but really struggles to carry that momentum forward as it progresses. That’s not to say she’s completely useless however.

If you’re looking to try her out for yourself I’d suggest playing her as an offlaner and building aura and tank items. Assault Cuirass and Vladimir’s Offering synergise well with both Starbreaker and Luminosity, weakening the opponent’s physical resistance to amp your own and your team’s damage.

Dawnbreaker also makes a great Pipe of Insight carrier as being able to Solar Guardian into the middle of your team and pop the active on everyone allows you to always get the most out of it. Your team will be able to rely on your auras assisting them, even if Dawnbreaker doesn't pack as much of a punch as the size of her hammer would suggest.

Typical Aura centric build on Dawnbreaker
Typical Aura centric build on Dawnbreaker

As for teammates, Dawnbreaker works best alongside allies who can either control the enemy to keep them within the AoE of her abilities, or amp her own damage early to crush the lane phase even harder than she otherwise does! Supports with a lot of control such as Lion and Shadow Shaman pair well with her in lane and a roaming Tusk showing up with Tag Team to amplify your Starbreaker combo will deal scary amounts of early game damage to anyone caught in your path.

Final thoughts - how could Valve buff Dawnbreaker?

Dawnbreaker’s core design concept is solid but some of the numbers on her abilities are a bit weak. A bit more damage and a slightly increased final hit AoE on Starbreaker would make her more dangerous in the mid game, as the ability would be both stronger and slightly easier to hit. I also feel like Valve should possibly experiment with adding a minor slow on the ability to slightly change the area targeted during the delay to Solar Guardian to make it easier to use offensively.

But don’t take my word for it! Give Dawnbreaker a go yourself and let us know what you think of the new hero! Do you think Valve should change her? What builds have you tried out? Let us know @esports on Twitter!

UPDATE April 11th: Valve apply a stealth patch buffing only Dawnbreaker

Clearly aware of just how terribly Dawnbreaker was performing, Valve have now uploaded a stealth patch attempting to avert the newest hero being a complete fail. Dawnbreaker was the only hero changed in the update.

List of changes:

  • Dawnbreaker: Strength gain increased from 3.2 to 3.8
  • Dawnbreaker: Base armor increased by 2
  • Dawnbreaker: Starbreaker self stun at the end reduced from 0.3 to 0.2
  • Dawnbreaker: Celestial Hammer Trail burn damage increased from 20 to 20/30/40/50
  • Dawnbreaker: Luminosity healing from heroes increased from 25/30/35/40% to 30/40/50/60%
  • Dawnbreaker: Solar Guardian heal per pulse increased from 40/55/70 to 45/70/95
  • Dawnbreaker: Solar Guardian radius increased from 400 to 500
  • Dawnbreaker: Solar Guardian stun duration increased from 1.1/1.3/1.5 to 1.5/1.75/2