Jakiro’s popularity rises and falls with the meta. With push strategies dominating the scene, Jakiro is seeing increased play, especially with Chinese teams. Multiple teams picked him throughout SL i-league Season 9, while VGJ.Thunder favored the hero throughout the EPICENTER XL China qualifiers. As with the deathball meta, it was Chinese teams that had refined their strategies to a point where everything came together—heroes all peaked at just the right window to rumble down a lane for a surefire victory.
The meta today isn’t nowhere near the imbalance given to teams who took down early towers. You can’t snowball as you did before. But familiar faces in Death Prophet and Razor are part of the game. Then there’s Jakiro, with his own share of buffs since 6.84, who is now in the right place and the right time. He was once a robust offlaner who was a constant threat to towers, but in today’s game he’s a viable support.
iG.Q’s Liquid Fire build in his match against Keen during SL i-league
Items were a luxury for Jakiro in his offlane days. An early Eul’s Scepter gave him catch with Ice Path, and because of Jakiro’s farm potential, a Blink Dagger pickup wasn’t too far long after that. But that role for Jakiro isn’t as necessary in today’s meta. Naga’s popularity and her synergy with Jakiro plays no small part in that. In a pushing lineup, the farm is better used on core heroes who tend to scale better in the late game. And while Jakiro with items can create a tremendous amount of space, now needs to be with his team who is constantly pressuring towers.
Jakiro was good in the offlane partly due to his tankiest, and as a support he’s one of the toughest heroes to trade hits against. Patch 7.06 increased his Strength gain (2.3 to 2.6), then 7.07 increased his base health regen (0 to 1.5).
Dual Breath at level one is Jakiro’s go-to harass skills, and there are few offlane heroes that can win that fight one on one. Dual Breath alone has been buffed for nearly forever. 6.81 increased both its range (500 to 550) and travel distance (700 to 750). 6.82 increased its movement slow. 6.85 its travel speed and damage per second. 7.06 buffed its radius. And then 7.07 capped it off with a reduction to Dual Breath’s cast time and a new level 15 talent that increased its damage by +40 per second (up from 25 in 7.02).
His other spells, with the exception of Liquid Fire, were also buffed but not to the same extent. Ice Path got close to a 10% duration buff across its upper levels. Macropyre received a non-trival Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade, which extends its radius beyond a screen length. Liquid Fire did get a nerf to its damage back in 6.83, but the spell at the time was pecking down towers with impunity. It’s still potent today, and a part of why Jakiro is relevant in the meta.
Leaving your lane unattended against a Jakiro is asking for a lane without towers. Jakiro has a fairly decent win rate in pubs, almost 52%, especially for a support that has some tricky spells to land (perhaps a reason why Liquid Fire is skilled at level one more frequently than Breath Fire).
Even though the cast point of his skills make him error prone, he makes up for it in the reliability of Liquid Fire and his resiliency in the lane. He’s inherently tanky and less reliant on items—in terms of mana needs, survivability, and impact in the game.
Jakiro’s reliability and innate strengths is what makes him good for pubs as well as pro games. He can push and counterpush, contribute without many items, and he can zone opposing heroes. He's not the automatic early-tower killer as before, but since then he does everything else better.