7.07 was quite the big balance patch, changing the dynamics of the game and as a result the way certain roles play and approach the game. The offlane position is one of the most notable positions to have changed, with a dynamic that reminds of old times, with tanky offlaners returning, looking to be more utility than playmaking. As supports dual roam more often than before, offlaners often have the opportunity to find themselves in 1on1 scenarios, which is why the following heroes are so popular: they excel in these match-ups and generally come out ahead.
As such, it is only appropriate to look at the meta and its top offlaners both in pub and pro play, analyzing what they do best and what it is that makes them so successful and popular.
Tidehunter has always been a situational pick in the pro meta, with teams resorting to the hero’s strength in playoff games as a fallback. The hero provides a certain stability, both through his ultimate but also through his usually stable laning stage and farm, which enables him to pick up a variety of utility items for the team.
As the offlane position changed over the years, Tidehunter’s popularity and effectiveness decreased over time. Teams and players looked for more aggressive offlaners, heroes that could do more in the midgame, heroes that posed bigger threats throughout the entire game, without relying on a big ultimate.
With the meta shifting back to a more 5on5 oriented meta, players don’t require the offlaner to get kills all over the map anymore. Instead, they need to farm and keep up with the other cores, something Tidehunter excels at. Tidehunter is also difficult to bully in lane and with both supports rotating more often than before, Tidehunter is thrown into more 1v1 scenarios than he would’ve been in previous patches. As such, Tidehunter becomes a valuable pick that can ensure a stable laning stage, as he will generally have farm and contribute to the team’s midgame potential.
His new talents (additional Anchor Smash reduction, additional Kraken Shell block and either 25% cooldown reduction or +250 attack) also allow Tidehunter to scale that much more. The following clip perfectly illustrates the tankiness of Tidehunter with the appropriate talents.
Underlord has been in the game for over a year now and he’s been a top performer since. Topping several pub tier lists of ours, Underlord is a pub nightmare that can largely go unpunished. Popular item builds make him incredibly tanky with pick-ups such as Crimson Guard and/or Pipe of Insight. He has an innate ability to flashfarm and can even be a threat in the laning stage, if the supports have no reliable way of shutting him down. But with 4 Armor at level 1 and at least 700 HP, it is quite difficult to truly zone out Underlord, at least not without dedicating at least one support to the lane.
Similarly to Tidehunter, Underlord fits the role of a utility core perfectly. In addition, he provides teamfight control, can push out lanes reliably and provides good map contro with his ultimate, allowing him to push the limit on sieges and have a generally strong map presence.
Atrohpy Aura also allows him to scale well into the lategame as well and his talents can either turn him into a capable carry or at the very least a very annoying hero, who’s near impossible to bring down.
7.07 focused largely on talents when directly balancing heroes. Brewmaster has arguably received the most notable talent change, catapulting him into the top tier of professional play for the longest time, until a nerf in 7.07c.
His new level 25 talent (-65s Primal Split cooldown), coupled with the additional health for his brewlings available at level 20, made Brewmaster a fierce pick in the competitive meta. The hero’s biggest weakness always has been the reliance on his ultimate, which has a rather long cooldown for its effect. Also, Brewmaster never scaled well into the lategame, as his Brewlings would die easily and his ability to farm is easily outmatched by other popular heroes in this list.
While that generally hasn’t changed, teams have found a more appropriate way to play the hero. With an early Hand of Midas, Brewmaster could reach level 25 quicker, thus becoming more potent. Together with a Radiance, Brewmaster would also be able to farm more consistently. A lategame Brewmaster was no longer a one-trick pony that needed to desperately find a kill, but instead it became a huge nuisance that many couldn’t deal with.
The Storm Brewling also has a basic dispel on top of dealing damage to summoned units, making it an excellent utility ability that often comes in handy against popular carries such as Chaos Knight or Phantom Lancer.
Much like the other heroes in this list, Brewmaster excels in most 1v1 match-ups and provides a lot of teamfight control, but he also has a lot of ganking potential on his own, making him a bit of a special case.
Since his nerf in 7.07c (Earth Brewling armor reduced by 2), Brewmaster has seen less play and success both in pub and pro play. In pro play, Brewmaster doesn’t provide sufficient utility from the offlane position, as he generally needs to build items for himself first, before he can assist the team.
Loading screen by ChiZ
This is arguably the best patch for Omniknight yet, as proven by the 27 bans dedicated to him at DreamLeague, making him the most banned and most contested hero of the Major. The hero has never been so strong both in pub and pro play and there are a variety of reasons for that. Over the course of the years, Icefrog has kept buffing Omniknight, Repel especially. Long gone are the days of purging away Repel with a Diffusal Blade and even Guardian Angel is more likely to stay up as Diffusal Blade doesn’t have the purge ability at all anymore.
Beastmaster has always been a good pick in pro play, but he’s never found a true home in pub play. Not only does the hero require a certain amount of micro skill, the hero relies on timing and coordination, something that is difficult to achieve in a pub environment.
Much like Brewmaster, Beastmaster has started to phase out of pro play, but he is still a strong situational pick. He pushes like no other on this list, but he also provides much less utility as he generally never builds into items such as Mekansm or Pipe of Insight, but instead usually goes all-in on pushing.
A couple of months ago, we illustrated how the offlane position changed over the years. While the offlane position has changed yet again, it still feels rather empowered, with more farm dedicated to these heroes.
At the case of Brewmaster, we can also see that these changes never stop and in a few weeks from now, heroes on this list could be phased out of pro play entirely, but for now these are among the strongest offlaners to pick today.