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How did this happen: Brewmaster's Infinite Primal Spirits

by Daniel Rosen 19d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

In ‘How Did This Happen,’ theScore esports takes a look back at some of the most busted, broken and insanely overpowered things to ever make their way into the world of competitive gaming.

Do you like Brewmaster? Do you like his Primal Spirit ability? Well, what if I told you there was a way you could play as even more Brewmasters, all at once?

What if I told you that you could have infinite Primal Spirits?

How did it work?

In mid 2014, one intrepid Dota 2 player tried something weird. He had Lone Druid's Spirit Bear hand Brewmaster a Bloodstone, which he then used to kill himself while casting his Primal Spirits ultimate ability. Primal Spirits separates Brewmaster into three spirits, but if he dies during the cast, nothing happens.

Instead, when Brewmaster died, the three spirits stuck around, still under his control from beyond the grave. Every 300 seconds, when Bloodstone's Pocket Deny ability came off cooldown, he did it all over again, making sure that the Spirit Bear was next to him, and that he used the Bloodstone during the cast.

Every single time, the Primal Spirits stuck around. They didn't despawn, like they should have, they just sat there, waiting for a command. So he kept on dying, over and over again to generate dozens of tiny little Primal Spirits, ready to take orders.

WTF?

It's not exactly clear why this bug worked, but it was wide spread enough that Dota 2 pro team Natus Vincere made a video explaining how to do it. It was likely hotfixed out of the the game as soon as people started realizing how effective it was, because — surprise — having a near-infinite source of player-controlled creeps with individual abilities is pretty strong.

Teamfights weren't 5v5, they were 5v50. You didn't have to lane against one Brewmaster, you had to lane against him and 30 of his ghostly element pals. You weren't playing against a team, you were playing against an army.

Anyone the spirits caught out was effectively dead. The earth elemental spirit had access to an ability that dealt damage and slowed, and an ability that caused a two-second stun, effectively letting a gang of earth spirits stunlock anyone they captured. The storm spirits could dispel all units in an area and disable chosen targets, and the fire spirits had an AOE damage aura that stacked with each one surrounding you.

If the spirits got near you, your death was guaranteed. They could push faster than you, they could kill faster than you. They were legion.

What Happened?

That's not to say the glitch was extraordinarily practical. It was cool, sure, but having your Lone Druid build Bloodstone while your Brewmaster built Aghanim's Scepter wasn't exactly efficient. On top of that, you could also build Refresher Orbs to mitigate the long Bloodstone Pocket Deny cooldown, but that made it even more impractical, and it didn't get around the fact that you had to wait for Brewmaster to respawn, or ensure that he always had buyback.

Either way though, losing to a small army of Brewmaster and boozy spirits wasn't exactly fun, and Valve quickly and quietly hotfixed the glitch out of the game. These days, the Primal Spirits leave the party when Brewmaster dies, like a good guest over for drinks should.

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

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