3 Dota heroes that have been redefined by talent trees

Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

7.00 was the singular most impactful change patch that's come to Dota 2 ever. IceFrog made changes to every aspect of the game and made a number of game-altering additions.

One of those additions is the talent trees system, each tree is unique and tailored for each hero, some of which improve drastically on the inherent kits of the heroes, as well as gave some meta-breaking options.

Here are three of the "best" talent trees from the pool of 113 heroes, breaking down their potentially meta-changing benefits, as well as their short-comings.


Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
Strength +6 or Intelligence +10 Damage +45 or Movement Speed +15 Attack Speed +25 or Mana Regen +14 Cooldown Reduction 20% or Avalanche Damage +200

Tiny's place in the competitive meta is much like the hero himself, solid as a rock. You'll be hard pressed to find a point in time where a Tiny pick, especially when paired with Io, was not a safe choice in the mid lane. This stability is mirrored in his talent tree, which does not look to break the meta, but merely builds upon his strengths.

However, while most late-game Tiny builds emphasize his right-click cleave and siege, his talent tree puts much more emphasis on his abilities as a nuker.

A stone's throw

Right off the bat, Tiny has the choice of +6 Strength, which adds to his HP and damage alike, but a possibly overlooked detail is the fact that the +10 Intelligence branch is the highest INT bonus at Level 10, though it's also worth noting that this branch is also shared with five other heroes.

At Level 15, Tiny's branches are nothing special. Extra damage is always a solid choice and has the option to boost it by +45, however +15 move speed is nothing to scoff at either. At Level 20, attack speed +25 synergizes with the right-click focused Tiny, but the +14 mana regen per second branch is the single highest bonus of that type and it's only matched by Skywrath Mage's branch, but his is available at Level 25, a tier higher than Tiny.

Mana is one of Tiny's biggest issues, but his Level 20 branch offers a solution on a silver platter. And just to emphasize, 14 mana regen per second is massive. For comparison a Clarity gives 3.75 mana regen per second for 50 seconds, while Crystal Maiden's Arcane Aura at max level only gives eight mana per second to herself, and four mana per second to allies globally.

Basically, you can have Avalanche-Toss combos for days and that's exactly what you'll want to do with your Level 25 branches. First up is just a straight 20 percent cooldown reduction, which brings Avalanche's 17 cooldown to 13.6 seconds and Toss' eight second cooldown to six. Plus, this reduction also extends to your items and stacks with Octarine Core.

However, the real sexy Level 25 branch is Tiny's bonus +200 damage to Avalanche. At face value it doesn't seem like much, especially since the late game favors right-click damage over spell damage, but this bonus damage is also factored into Tiny's signature Ava-Toss combo.

Here's the quick math, Toss does 300 damage which is bumped up to 495 damage with Grow level three and up to 540 with an Aghanim's Scepter. Avalanche with the Level 25 branch does 500 total spell damage over four instances, while the Ava-Toss combo double's each of Avalanche's damage instances with the target is still Tossed in the air, giving a potential 1,000 damage. All said and done this gives a grand total potential damage of 1,540 before reductions.

Rock Bottom

The good outweighs the bad when it comes to Tiny's talent tree. The worst thing you can say is that there's nothing particularly interesting about it, but it doesn't need to be. Maybe he could have had some more bonuses that emphasized his right-click, but he is far from lacking in that department even if he was specialized into a caster.

A rock solid tree for a keystone hero.

Bounty Hunter

Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
HP +175 or XP Gain +15% Attack Speed +40 or Movement Speed +15 Spell Amplification 10%* or Damage +100 Evasion +20% or Jinada CD -5s

Before getting into the details of Bounty Hunter's talent tree, it appears that the Level 20 Spell Amplification bonus, which has been announced as a 10 percent bonus, shows an in-game bonus of 8 percent. Whether this is a typo, or whether this is a ninja nerf is currently unknown, but it could speak to the over-tuning of his talent tree.

However, while the Spell Amp bonus adds a bit more power to the roaming support-oriented BH, which is the favored path in the competitive meta, the bonuses from BH's talent tree opens up the option for a core, right-click based BH due to the steroids in the Level 20 and 25 branches.

Highway robbery

At Level 20, BH has the option to take an additional 100 damage, effectively doubling his right-click damage without any items. For reference, the highest damage base item is a Sacred Relic, but only gives 60 damage at a cost of 3,800 gold. This means that BH gets some insane value from his Level 20 branch, but in conjunction with his Level 25 branch the hero is transformed into a right-click beast.

With Jinada's cooldown being reduced by five seconds, the skill reduced to an absurd one-second cooldown, that's a 225 percent critical strike every second. This extends BH's burst window significantly, ensuring that a BH can secure a kill outside of his usual Shadow Walk-Jinada-Shuriken opening combo.

BH becomes a sort of analog to Clinkz, whose job is to delete a hero before or amidst a fight, but still retains the added utility of Track and the Shuriken mini-stun.

Expenses, expenses

Like most heroes' talent trees, they mostly look appealing in a vacuum, and such is the case for a core BH. While he has added options for survivability, such as his +175 HP branch at Level 10 and the 20 percent evasion branch at Level 25, the primary issue of a core BH's is his laning phase in the off lane.

Like most invisibility-based off laners, they are completely shut down by proper Sentry and Dust usage, for which BH's talent tree does not give him much reprieve. But should a core BH exit the off lane with a modicum of gold and XP, or god forbid someone plays him in the safe lane, he does have some monstrous potential in the late game.

Elder Titan

Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
Respawn Time -20s or Strength +10 HP +275 or XP gain +25% Magic Resistance +12% or Attack Speed +50 Armor +15 or Astral Spirit Hero Attack +80

There's a lot of similarity to how Elder Titan was used in the competitive meta and Bounty Hunter. Both were initially used as core picks in the off lane, but both have transitioned into the support role. However with 7.00 and the introduction of the talent trees, IceFrog seems to be reminding the competitive community that, "Hey, ET can be a core too."

ET has some of the best overall bonuses out of all the talent trees, as well as a Level 25 branch that is, on paper, ridiculous.

Come, twin spirit

Starting from ET's Level 10 branches, he's one of only four heroes to have a Respawn reduction branch at that level. And a 20 second reduction at Level 10 means your respawn timer goes from 34 seconds down to 14, less than half.

ET also has the highest Strength gain bonus out of all of the heroes' Level 10 branches, gaining 10 Strength, which equates to 200 HP. This is also the same value as an Ogre Club, which costs 1,000 gold. Long story short, at Level 10 ET dies less or is dead for a much shorter amount of time.

Onto the Level 15 branch, ET also has the option to take a high 25 percent bonus to his XP gain, a solid choice all round, but the real value comes from the +275 HP branch. It's the second highest HP bonus out of all the Level 15 branches, and offers a bit more value than a Health Booster which costs 1,100 gold.

The value from ET's talent tree doesn't stop at Level 20 either as his +50 Attack Speed branch is the single highest bonus at that level, tied with Underlord and Broodmother. But a 12 percent magic resistance bonus is solid too.

With all this survivability, ET's potential as a frontliner has increased, but at Level 25 ET has the potential to become one of the scariest right-clickers in the game.

Nevermind that ET also has the highest Armor bonus of +15 at Level 25, tied with Lifestealer and Axe, the real money branch is the bonus to his Astral Spirit skill, which adds +80 more damage per hero hit with the skill. This brings the per hero damage bonus for the skill up from 48 to 128, which means that if you hit five heroes with an Astral Spirit, when it returns to you you've got a cool 640 bonus damage on your right-click.

That's a damage bonus higher than two Divine Rapiers.

The Shaper weeps

Done salivating? Good, cause here's the caveats. Astral Spirit's buff duration only lasts nine seconds, while the cooldown for the spell is 16 seconds, meaning your potential buff uptime is just a little over 50 percent. So while you're hitting like a truck for a good nine seconds, there's the other seven seconds where you're hitting like a smart car.

And while ET's survivability has increased as a result of his talent tree, his kit is not ideal in keeping targets within smacking-range. His only form of crowd control comes from his Echo Stomp, which is cancelled the second any form of damage is taken.

Perhaps there's a scenario where a Daedalus-wielding ET Astral-Stomps five, then proceeds to swag-walk over to each of them, critting them to death one-by-one. It's extremely unlikely scenario, though I would like to see it.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest. You can follow him on Twitter.

Green Bay Packers LB Blake Martinez reveals the 4 NFL players he would form a Dota 2 team with, how Dota has helped him with football

by 14h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

On any given Sunday, Blake Martinez can be found tackling ball carriers at the frozen tundra known as Lambeau Field. But in his spare time, the Stanford alumnus turned Green Bay Packers linebacker likes to kick back and relax by streaming Dota 2 matches for charity.

Related: Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

But Martinez's Dota fandom far exceeds loading into a couple of solo queue games a night. In fact, the young linebacker actively follows the competitive scene and, considering that he named the original No Diggity squad as his favorite professional team coupled with the fact that he participated in and helped cast MoonDuckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier Hub, he's far from a casual.

So naturally, when asked which four NFL players he would draft to his Dota 2 team, it came as no surprise that he picked the reigning Superbowl MVP, one of NFL's most fearsome defensive linemen and two of his Green Bay teammates to play alongside him.

"I would pick Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Mason Crosby, and Ndamukong Suh," he told theScore esports.

"Aaron would be our mid laner and shot caller of the game because of his smarts and skill! Also, he would pick up on Dota quickly. Tom would be the support (Position 4) because his vision is so good we would never get caught out and could make plays as Earth Spirit. Mason would be our position 5 support because he would be able to have a ton of time to strategize since all he does is kick at practice. And Suh would be our beefy offlaner/frontliner like Centaur and Axe that no one could get passed. EZ TI win."

Sure, Dota 2 and football are two very different games, but Martinez does think there are some similarities and even goes as far as to credit Dota with some of his growth as a leader.

"I think the ability to communicate and process a lot of information quickly is the two traits/skills that are extremely similar in both Dota and Football! I think Dota has helped me tremendously in just being a better leader for our defense," he said.

Touching on his rookie season, Martinez said he was encouraged by the way his year turned out — he notched 69 combined tackles to go along with one sack, one interception and four pass deflections — and looks to build on last season as he heads into his sophomore year.

"I think it went really well! It sucked to get injured near the end of the season but excited to grow from my rookie year! The way I want to grow is just seeing formations and plays quicker, stay healthy, get stronger and faster, and improve on the mistakes I made as a rookie and just grow from my experiences."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Sean Tepper is the Senior Supervising Editor at theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Conrad Janzen on Dota 2's top-heavy scene: 'I would just love to see more tier 2 support'

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Conrad Janzen, former Cloud9 player manager and current Twitch partnerships team member, has a few ideas.

Appearing on theScore esports Podcast Monday, Janzen spoke on everything from why he thinks The International’s prize pool will break its own record (again) this year, to how Valve can improve the Major system.

When asked about whether the prize pool for TI7 would exceed TI6’s massive $20.7 million purse, Janzen said the company behind Dota 2 would find a way to make it happen.

“If I had to bet on Valve, it’s always going to be more and they’re going to figure out some way to do it,” he said.

“Valve is going to figure out ways to steal money from my wallet every year in the best way possible,” he said. “They do a really good job of providing value and that’s the one thing I think Dota does a really good job compared to a lot of other free to play games as well as just games in general."

It's all about making the existing player base happy, he said.

“They provide a lot of value to their hardcore users, to their regular users and there’s always going to be somebody who’s willing to spend even more than I think I do.”

Janzen also commented on the Major system, saying that although it was overall beneficial to the Dota 2 scene, is isn’t not without its shortcomings.

“It is bad in some ways, I think it does hurt third parties,” he said.

“Obviously last year we saw Boston Major take precedence over DreamHack, and that was a very unfortunate case.” One solution, he said, would be to model things more closely on Counter-Strike’s tournament structure.

“Things I would like to see is maybe make the qualifiers more valuable, make them a LAN event very similar to CS:GO, right? Where you have all these teams coming in so it’s truly international,” he told theScore esports Podcast.

“What Valve is going to have to do in this case is take a step forward and be like, ‘This is an important part, we want to grow Dota as a whole.' So, very similar to the CS:GO system where they have a regional qualifier that mostly takes place online, and then they bring all those teams together to a major qualifying tournament,” he said.

Improving the Major structure would help showcase rising Dota talent that, at least right now, is getting lost in the shadows beyond the Majors' spotlight.

“I would just love to see more tier 2 support,” he said. “I think that’s the big thing we’re missing, is these up-and-coming stars are not getting as revealed as they used to be. In-house leagues, these sort of concepts, have disappeared," he said.

“To have a healthy, growing esport, you’re going to have to support those tier 2 players as well with smaller Cups, smaller tournaments.”

Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

EPICENTER's second Dota 2 tournament announced for June 4-11

by 2d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of EPICENTER

EPICENTER: Moscow returns with its second Dota 2 event, slated to take place June 4-11, the tournament organizer announced on Wednesday.

The event will see 10 teams compete for a $500,000 prize pool, with qualifiers being held in the European, CIS, North American and Chinese regions in a similar format to the first EPICENTER: Moscow event.

EPICENTER: Moscow's group stage will be held on June 4-7, while the playoffs will take place at the VTB Ice Palace on June 9-11.

The event will also host a cosplay tournament with approximately $3,500 on the line.

Further details are expected in the coming weeks, such as qualifier dates and invited teams.Team Liquid are an expected invite since they were the champions of the first EPICENTER event.

RELATED: Team Liquid defeat Newbee, win EPICENTER

While this is the third event dubbed EPICENTER: Moscow, this is only the second Dota 2 event, as the previous event was a CS:GO tournament. That was won by the former Team Diginitas roster now part of North.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

Packers LB Blake Martinez: 'During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring [an esports] team in the near future'

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez isn't just a big Dota 2 fan, he's also an advocate for the game and esports in general among his NFL teammates.

Martinez has been streaming Dota 2 for charity almost every day since mid-February, and he was recently invited to MoonduckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier hub and helped cast dozens of Dota games in the lead up to the Major. theScore esports caught up with Martinez to talk about how esports are perceived in the NFL, how he got into Dota 2 and his plans to pitch the Packers on esports.

How did you get into Dota?

The way I got into Dota was an interesting story because my friends were all playing in our living room my sophomore year of college at Stanford and kept egging me on to play with them but I was so focused on football that I didn’t take up the offer but after a week or so they finally got me to try and I fell in love with the game and was one of the things I do to get my mind off of football!

Do you keep up with Dota during the season? Either playing or keeping up with the esports scene?

I watch Dota 24/7 whenever I am stretching or in the ice tub or any down time that I get from film watching and all other football obligations. Also I only play on our off days because there isn't enough time on a daily basis during the season to get games in! It was tough my rookie year, I didn't play Dota for about 6-7 months.

What position do you play in Dota? Who are your favorite heroes to play?

I mainly play the carry role and the shot caller of my team when I am in solo ranked, but I know how to play all positions since a lot of Dota players like to instantly pick the core roles regardless of skill. My favorite heroes are Storm Spirit, Luna, AM, Earthshaker, and Juggernaut.

What was your worst solo queue experience?

Worst solo queue experience happened about a couple weeks ago, I had a offlane Underlord that went afk farming the whole game (key note was that we were still winning the game without him). Then at about 30 mins the Underlord came out of the jungle with a rapier and fed it to the enemy team and we lost the game. Then I asked him why he did that and he said "I hate Monkey King pickers so I didn't want to win...."

What's your favorite Dota team? Why?

My favorite Dota team was the original No Diggity team that Synderen started, because I love the underdog role in any situation and they proved to everyone how good they are. It was awesome when they made it to the main stage at TI.

If you could play a game with any Dota pro, who would it be and why?

The one person I would want to play a game with would probably be Fata from Bears because I have just heard how amazing of a player he is, and I would just want to learn from his play!

What prompted you to start streaming? Do you find it hard to balance offseason training with your daily streaming?

The main reason I started streaming was because I play this game so much and it is one of my favorite hobbies, so I thought it would be a great way to use it in a beneficial way! That meaning I use it to donate money to the Saint Jude’s children's cancer research program! All the money I make from streaming goes to Saint Jude’s also every 100 followers I get I donate $50 to the foundation as well!

What do you think of the growing interest from traditional sports in esports? Do you think the NFL is going to get involved, given that it's been mostly from the NBA so far?

I think it is awesome how much sports and esports are meshing together! I knew it would happen sooner than later, because every professional sports player plays video games of some sort and the competitive aspect always catches the eyes of the real sports players! I think soon the NFL will get involved, and it is my mission to be the one that gets that to happen as soon as possible! During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring a team in the near future.

Are esports and gaming things that people talk about in the Packers locker room?

A lot of us talk about gaming because everyone plays console games and we have massive tournaments in Madden, FIFA, and UFC, but not too many conversations about esports competitions until I got there! I think every day I got asked "what are you watching on your phone" and I would always have to explain what Dota is, what Twitch is and the grand scheme of the tournaments, prizes pool, TI etc... and after I talk to anyone about it they think it is the coolest and greatest thing so hopefully that is a good start in easing its way into the NFL!

What is the most played game among the Packers' players?

The most played game is probably FIFA, I think there is a tournament in our game lounge almost everyday!

What's it like casting the Major qualifiers? Is casting something you've wanted to do before?

Casting was an amazing, crazy experience because I had no Idea what I was doing, but the people at Moonduck were extremely helpful in teaching me the ins and outs of casting. Also they just made it a fun and enjoyable time throughout the qualifiers. It was always something I wanted to try but never thought I would be able to do!

Jeremy Lin is noted in the community for being a pro athlete with an interest in Dota, he even has a team named after him. Could you beat Jeremy Lin in lane?

Yes I could easily beat Jeremy Lin in any lane or game!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

theScore esports Podcast ep. 6: Conrad Janzen on The International, Dota's Major system and Kiev

by 4d ago

1:55: Conrad Janzen on Kiev invites, the amount of Chinese teams
3:09: Janzen picks OG to win Kiev, Digital Chaos as the dark horse
4:50: "100 minute games are very easily possible" at Kiev
6:05: Why teams won't be holding back at DAC
7:15: TI prize pool "always going to be more," Valve will find a way
8:30: On the future of Dota 2: "Have we reached peak Dota? I don't think so"
10:03: Ded gaem? Why Dota 2 won't go the way of StarCraft
11:53: How to improve the Major system
17:37: Teams like OG, EG and DC will benefit from 7.03 changes
18:23: "Monkey King is going to be a huge presence" in 7.03
21:00: The time Janzen and Arteezy got drunk and debated swords vs. guns
25:28: Kyle on being on SXSW's esports panel with Dyrus
29:21: Ryan hijacks the podcast and talks about Thorin
31:26: Enter Dennis Gonzales, theScore esports' Valve guy
32:48: What Dota's Major system could learn from CS:GO
34:21: Team Liquid, OG among the teams to watch at Kiev
35:44: Has Valve given up on NA when it comes to Dota?
37:57: Esports audiences are getting burnt out
42:03: Jungling in Dota? "I'd say you're kind of screwed"

Click or tap here to listen in on SoundCloud.

Pick your lane, oil up your meat hooks… and don’t think too hard about that metaphor, because this week on theScore esports Podcast, we’re talking Dota.

Hosts Colin, Ryan and Kyle sit down over Skype with former Cloud9 player manager and current Twitch partnerships team member Conrad Janzen to talk about The International, The Kiev Major, and the state of Dota 2 today.

Janzen breaks down his picks for who will succeed at Kiev and DAC, why The International’s prize pool will forever increase year after year, and gives us some insight into how Valve’s Major system could be improved.

Next up it’s theScore esports’ own Dennis Gonzales, who has his own thoughts on who’s looking hot heading into Kiev, as well what the competitive Dota scene could learn CS:GO.

Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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