No more waiting on the new meta to arrive.
Valve pulled out all the stops for Frostivus in 2023. The first Christmas event since 2019 brings an event for casual players as well as a giant gameplay patch for grinders to dig into. Dota 2’s development team also daringly chose to release a new number patch right in the middle of ESL One Kuala Lumpur. While a headache for pro players, the event became an opportunity to see which heroes pro players are paying attention to.
Now that 7.35 has been out for a couple of days, we can take a look at Kuala Lumpur, matchmaking data, and pro players to learn the best new heroes for every role.
Is Troll Warlord now a top-tier carry?
Troll Warlord was only picked once at Kuala Lumpur, but ever since Valve butchered Battle Trance into Dota 2’s worst ultimate, the hero has been slowly getting buff after buff. His Shard, which was already strong, now has an increased chance of throwing out cleaving ranged attacks. In addition, players now regain control of the hero’s movement once he loses all Battle Trance targets.
The latest changes in 7.35 have finally pushed him above 50% in pubs, currently at 51.99% across all brackets on Dotabuff. The standard build of Battle Fury into Yasha upgrade is unchanged, and picking up Sange or Manta Style increases the hero’s win rate to 60%. Troll isn’t the easiest carry to pick up and play, but 12 buffs in a row make him worth the effort.
Leshrac is the problem child of the patch
For many patches, Leshrac was just a last-pick counter for illusion carries like Naga Siren and Phantom Lancer. However, just a couple of tiny buffs have propelled him to the winningest hero in the entire game. Dota 2 Pro Tracker reports a 59% win rate for Leshrac in top-tier matchmaking, and the hero was a major ban target in the finals of Kuala Lumpur.
The massive win rate surge is strange considering the patch notes. Diabolic Edict now does more damage at early levels while Lighting Storm slows attack speed. The secret is the reworked Bloodstone. It now increases the area of effect for spells like Edict and Pulse Nova. Leshrac already loved the item, but it's now one of the most synergistic hero-item pairings in all of Dota 2.
Timbersaw is one of 7.35’s best off lane heroes
Speaking of Kuala Lumpur, Timbersaw popped up out of nowhere to become one of the most contested picks of the playoffs. Valve gave some major love to the hero in 7.35 with minor strength buffs and Reactive Armor becoming more powerful in the lane. The result is an 8.84% win rate jump according to Dotabuff, making him the second-biggest winner of the patch.
Pro players are abusing the Reactive Armor buff in lane by getting a single value point and then maxing out nukes. The change to Shiva’s Guard also promotes building Veil of Discord before tanking up with items like Sange and Kaya, Eternal Shroud, and Eul’s. This result is an off laner who can tank, burst, and even take towers with a casual Aghanim’s Shard.
Lion in the newest patch - Most annoying laner
Move over Witch Doctor, because Lion is now set to be the first-phase MVP of Dota 2 7.35. This hero arguably got the single best buff in the entire patch with Mana Drain now dealing damage equal to the mana stolen. This one change turns one of the most annoying laners into an absolute menace, able to harass enemies while negating their ability to harass him back.
The most popular build in pro matchmaking is 1-1-2, which allows Lion to dish out 145 guaranteed magical damage for 50 net mana every 15 seconds, and that’s assuming they instantly break the suck. Clever ward positioning can easily destroy a lane as soon as Lion hits level 3, and it's not uncommon to see 1-1-3 at the top level. He still has all of his extra utility and scaling ult, making Lion a first-pick viable hero at every MMR.
Venge ranks among the best support heroes in 7.35
Vengeful Spirit spammers probably expected nerfs in 7.35, but Christmas came early for them. Her Aghanim’s Shard and Wave of Terror somehow got past the balance team unscathed. The rework on Nether Swap now makes it one of the most impactful spells in the game, and even her talents got some nice changes.
The ultimate ganking tool now applies a shield to Venge and an allied target, allowing her to make some pretty nifty plays in team fights. The switch from damage reduction effect to shield also allows for some nifty plays with Blink Dagger, keeping her alive after committing to the fight. She currently sports a 53.9% win rate on D2PT, assisted by generous buffs to many of her favorite items like Pavise and Solar Crest.