It's not too often that we see new items in Dota, which tends to disrupt the standing meta. Some items directly affect heroes strengths and weaknesses, but the new Refresher Shard has changed the entire rhythm of Dota. It's opened up doors for both old and new heroes in the meta. But the main strength of Refresher Shard is that it adds value to Roshan, prompting teams to fight when they might have decided to turtle and play safe. It essentially acts as a one-charge Refresher Orb. But since it’s also shareable and has no mana-cost, it opens up opportunities for heroes who were deterred by Refresher Orb’s mana and gold cost. The strength of Refresher Shard adds value to a mid-late game Roshan, prompting teams to fight when they might have decided to play safe and defensive.
Refresher Orb was already a game changing item, and it’s often at such a pivotal moment that players obscure the item pickup before they need to use it. Winter Wyvern, a current meta pick, with Refresher can win a fight and the game. Now Refresher Shard adds just another layer for gamesmanship.
In Na’Vi vs. Empire at MDL Macau, Beastmaster surprises the opponent with a third Roar by TP’ing back to base for a Refresher.
Even the casters were fooled with this one, after counting two Roars by Beastmaster, knowing he was holding the Shard since the last Roshan kill. Refresher Shard adds another step of the bookkeeping that goes with Roshan deaths: when did Roshan die, who has the Aegis, who has the Cheese, and now who has the Refresher Shard. (The addition of a third item also creates an unintentional quirk of having too many things on the ground when Roshan dies—and in unpredictable order and location. The extra milliseconds needed to pick everything up actually gives room for opponents to steal at least one of the drops.)
Even though Refresher Shard drops on the third Roshan, the first Roshan is more important than ever. Momentum matters and can carry into the late game. The team who can net an early Roshan controls the game to spike towards that third Roshan faster.
Long gone are times when teams can surrender Roshan, shift to a defensive stance, and wait out the Aegis timer. Cheese helps, but it wasn’t enough against turtling teams. What happened quite too often was that Aegis or Cheese translated to chip damage on a tower. It would expire, then the game would reset and repeat, until one side was eventually forced to take a risk.
The advantages Aegis and Cheese gave used to be mitigated by buybacks, T4 regen, and base shrines. With those factors either reworked and gone, we’re seeing less of a stalemate in the late stages of high level games.
In high stakes games, both teams could still play safe in a world with just Aegis and Cheese. The addition of Refresher Shard has now enabled the return of heroes who can team fight or make the most use of Refresher Shard. Tidehunter, buffed from 7.07, is seeing a revival. He was a top pick at the Perfect World Masters and favored by Team Secret during their 1st place run at Dreamleague Season 8. Omniknight, who also benefitted from 7.07 talent reworks and the change to Diffusal Blade, is now a menace in both pub and pro games. Like Tidehunter, even at level 25 he barely has enough mana to cast his ultimate twice with Refresher Orb. With Refresher Shard, he’s able to cast the rest of his kit of spells twice.
Notail nabs an ultra kill with a triple Eclipse Luna
Death Prophet is also in the same bank of heroes whose ultimates were too long for them to be viable. They couldn’t fight often enough to be worth it, but now they’re strong around the Rosh Pit and empowered by Refresher Shard in the mid-late game. They’re in the right place and time.
Nightstalker, with his ability to navigate team fights and propel an early game, was the most banned hero in the last two circuit events. During Dreamleague, Team Secret pulled out a surprise pick in Troll Warlord and steamrolled off a 15 minute Roshan for their series winning match.
Shard has added a new wrinkle to the game that’s made Dota more watchable, especially for the proportion of games that devolves into a medieval siege. The fact that the item is a one charge consumable is beside the point. Who doesn’t want to see 3 Ravages, 15 Sunstrikes, or a 105-second long Exorcism? Because of Shard, Roshan is more of a focus in Dota than before, almost to the point of being a mandatory objective. Games might not be necessarily be shorter, but they move faster. For better or worse, it's a refreshing change.