How did this happen: Release Monkey King

by Daniel Rosen Sep 20
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.

When Dota 7.00 launched in December 2016, it came with one of the most exciting new additions to Dota 2: Monkey King, the first brand new hero since 2012. His reveal was exciting, and he came packed with fresh, new abilities.

But turns out, he was as busted as any new Dota hero has ever been.

Not all heroes are created equal. Especially not those who are launching with an Arcana and a major game update.

How did it Work?

There were a lot of messy things about Monkey King on release, but most of the issues stemmed from his passive, Jingu Mastery. Every fourth auto attack gave him four charges of a stronger version of his auto attack that granted bonus damage and lifesteal.

The trick was that Jingu Mastery's lifesteal didn't work like any other lifesteal power in the game—it ignored armor when calculating the healing. This meant that even if your armor negated most of the damage Monkey King dealt with his auto attacks, he'd still heal as if you had no armor, bringing him back to a decent chunk of health from even a sliver.

On top of that, Monkey King had Boundless Strike, a long-range ability that dealt 200 percent damage on hit and applied an area-of-effect stun. Yes, you read that right, 200 percent damage and a stun, meaning that Monkey King could walk up and basically get his four charges of bonus damage and healing for free every 25 seconds.


That wasn't all that was frustrating about Monkey King. On release, his Ultimate, Wukong's Command, allowed his clones to apply Skull Basher's effects on hit, meaning each of the dozens of hits the ultimate produced had a 25 percent chance to stun on top of damage and the real Monkey King's Jingu Mastery damage bonuses and Boundless Strike stuns.


Monkey King effectively out-dueled any other hero in the game, and if things got hairy, he had an easy time escaping with his Primal Spring ability. While Monkey King himself was pretty squishy, his insane range for a melee hero made him a serious threat at any stage of the game, when he could initiate with Boundless Strike and essentially fight forever if he didn't get outnumbered.

What Happened?

There was plenty of outcry from the Dota 2 community following Monkey King's release, much of it stemming from how absurdly easy it was to secure kills with him and the fact that he launched with an Arcana, making it feel like Valve purposefully broke the hero to sell more Arcanas.

But the nerfs came fast. Jingu Mastery was nerfed to apply armor in lifesteal calculations just eight days after he launched. The same patch also reduced Boundless Strike's critical damage to 140 percent at level one, only reaching 200 percent at max level.

The next month, Jingu Mastery got a bit of a buff to lifesteal percentage, but lost some of the bonus damage, and Valve set Monkey King's armor to -3, meaning he took even more damage. That was enough to get Monkey King into Captain's Mode in the following patch, though the Wukong's Mastery monkeys lost the ability to wield Skull Bashers five months later. These days, Monkey King is still decently scary, but he isn't the early, mid and late game killer he once was. He's killable, and maybe that's enough.

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