By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG DotA Reporter
The past few weeks have been packed with Dota 2 action due to the upcoming International. In an attempt to secure the final three spots for the International 3, teams across the globe are giving it their all. While the Western Qualifiers have come to a conclusion (congratulations Mouse Sports!), there is still a lot to be seen in the Eastern Qualifiers. New strategies and heroes you would never expect to see are bound to be seen.
Being busy with the International, it is not expected for Valve to release many major patches until after the conclusion of the International. I suspect that there will be only one hero and balance release until the end of the International. However, before this patchless period Valve has gifted us with another hero to keep us occupied.
Elder Titan, the Worldsmith is the latest hero to be added to the massive Dota 2 hero roster. Elder Titan was present during the original creation of the world. The Titans wanted to continue on as the creators themselves. By shaping matter to their will, they created the world as we know it. When this became too easy, the Titans turned their tools upon themselves, reshaping their minds and reforging their spirits. While doing tasks with such ambition, there are bound to be those that have erred. Elder Titan broke his soul and fell down to this world. Now he spends all his time seeking to repair and rejoin parts of his broken soul.
Elder Titan is a strength hero that plays the initiator role. Although he is able to effectively setup and decide entire team fights, Elder Titan relies on his team's cooperation in order achieve strong initiations. It is a sleep, not a stun. We'll get more into that by going over his skill set.
Elder Titan's Skill Set Defined
Echo Stomp is Elder Titan's first ability dealing both magical and physical damage to nearby enemies, knocking them unconscious. This composite damage is due to Echo Stomp being cast by Elder Titan himself and his Astral Spirit. Elder Titan deals physical damage while his Astral Spirit deals magical damage.
This ability can knock many enemies unconscious due to Echo Stomp being hit in two locations and hitting a decent sized radius (475). However, one important point to keep in mind about Echo Stomp is that any damage done to unconscious enemies will cause those targets to gain consciousness.
A lot of area can be covered with the Astral Spirit.
The most frustrating part about playing Elder Titan is getting a full team stomp and setting up your ultimate only to have your team wake up the enemies. Remember, it is a sleep! Not a stun.
Astral Spirit is Elder Titan's second ability which summons a controllable spirit damaging enemies it passes through and granting bonus attack damage and movement speed to Elder Titan upon return. The bonus attack damage and movement speed is calculated depending on the number of enemies hit by the Astral Spirit. It has already been mentioned that the Astral Spirit may cast Echo Stomp but it is important to note that even the Natural Order passive effects exist on this spirit. Finally, this spirit has the ability to pass through units and impassable terrain making it easier to chase after enemies.
Moving on to Elder Titan's third ability, Natural Order is a passive ability reducing armor (base + that gained from agility) and magic resistance to nearby enemies. While this ability may seem weak early on, cutting off 80% armor and 26% magic resistance at max level, it is not an ability to underestimate. While it may have a measly 275 range, keeping close to important targets to aid team carries can cause team fights to change in your favour.
Elder Titan's ultimate is the main reason he will be considered as a pick. Earth Splitter is a massive ultimate with a length of 2400 units and width of 300 units and a casting range of 1600 units, allowing you to hit and slow enemies from afar. To make this ultimate even better, Earth Splitter deals 35% of the targets' maximum health. Oh and it is able to hit more than one enemy.
In order to balance this great ultimate, it has a 3 second delay before the crack in the earth implodes and deals damage. Therefore, it is essential and basically required to setup Earth Splitter by knocking enemies unconscious with Echo Stomp. This goes back to my point on Elder Titan's reliance on team cooperation when it comes to initiation.
Now that we have learned about Elder Titan's skill set, it is necessary to know which skills to prioritize and how to use them throughout the game. I have found that Astral Spirit is the most useful skill during the early phases of the game and should be prioritized over all other skills except for Earth Splitter. Echo Stomp should be leveled to at least level two early on to allow for three second sleeps in order to land Earth Splitter. However, in most cases it will be maxed out after Astral Spirit. Natural Order is only useful during team fights and is therefore maxed in the end.
Skill priority: Earth Splitter > Astral Spirit > Echo Stomp > Natural Order > Stats
Unlike Mystic Flare, Earth Splitter feels like an ultimate.
During the laning phase you will be using Astral Spirit to harass enemies and when possible hit creeps to gain additional damage. This damage can further be used to harass enemies or secure last hits and denies. You must be careful to not use Astral Spirit too much due to Elder Titan's early mana problems and the danger gained by pushing the creep wave. Echo Stomp should only be used when it is certain that a kill can be made.
In team fights, aim to knock as many enemies unconscious with Echo Stomp around Elder Spirit and his Astral Spirit. Aim the Astral Spirit slightly behind your target's location as they are bound to run away in an attempt to dodge the stomp. Remember that the spirit can be moved and can always chase after enemies before stomping.
Be sure to let your teammates know beforehand to not attack any enemies until Earth Splitter implodes. No team will intentionally ruin your setup, in most cases they are simply unaware of how abilities function. After the implosion, you will want to continue to attack high priority targets both to make use of the bonus damage and movement speed from Astral Spirit and to lower resistance to allow your carries to deal higher damage.
After this initial combo has been carried out, it is up to your team to secure kills. Elder Titan is not able to cleanup in most cases and is only there to give teams an early advantage in team fights.
Due to Elder Titan's play style revolving around setting up team fights for his team, items that benefit the team should be purchased. This includes but is not limited to Urn of Shadows (the mana regeneration is a bonus), Pipe of Insight, Assault Cuirass and Drums of Endurance. With these items you will be further improving the odds of successful team fights and doing your job as an initiator. Unlike other initiators, it is not necessary to purchase positioning items such as Blink Dagger due to Astral Spirit and the long range ultimate.
Boots are not set in stone and are left up to user preference. If you feel that you are having too many issues with mana and always seem to be low when your spells are needed the most, Arcane Boots are not a bad choice. However, Power Treads are recommended to improve on the effectiveness of bonus damage due to its very welcome attack speed and stat boost. As always, Tread Swapping is a skill that separates the good from the great. You will be most useful during the mid to late stages of the game to setup team fights, at this point mana issues slowly fade away.
I could definitely see Elder Titan being played in competitive situations due to these teams having strong team coordination. Elder Titan's ultimate will only seem useless when teams themselves cause it to miss. This will not be a problem for players that have spent countless hours practicing with one another. I do not predict Elder Titan to be unlocked for Captains Mode until after the International.
Will we reach $3,200,000?
Another major release to Dota 2 has been the introduction of the Compendium. This genius idea rewards players with in game items while also increasing the prize pool of the International. For every $10 purchase, an additional $2.50 is added to the prize pool. Amazingly, the prize pool has gone up from $1.6 million to $2.14 million and is continuing to increase.
Players are rewarded with items as certain goals are reached. For example, the $1.7 million goal rewarded all players with a Battle Point boost lasting until the end of the International. The highest goal is at $3.2 million and allows players to decide on the next Dota hero to be ported over to Dota 2.
As a result of the Compendium, the International is now the biggest e-Sports tournament when it comes to prize pool. Let us hope this trend continues and e-Sports as a whole continues to grow. I would love to see the day where e-Sports is able to compete at the same level as traditional sports such as Soccer.
Be sure to join the OnRPG community in our ever growing Dota 2 thread and follow the events that unfold as the International approaches.