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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.
|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.