As of this post I have over 5200 games of Dota 2, and I consider myself not only very good at pub dota, but very good at learning. I see a lot of people trash talk support Necrophos, arguing that in order to get the most out of mid/late game Heartstopper and the low cooldown of Death Pulse, he needs to be in a core role. But with Necro’s disgustingly high 59.06% winrate this patch (which is actually improved to 59.23% for this week) and people believing that most pubbers think that Necro is a support, I thought I’d try playing Necro as a safelane support. Perhaps pubbers are on to something…
My first few games as a support Necro were a bit awkward. I tried to stack the small camp in order to pull, but found myself in an awkward circumstance. My Heartstopper’s Aura reduced the neutrals HP, which meant I couldn’t stack the Hill Troll Camp, as the Priest stayed behind in order to heal. This was a tad awkward, but I prevailed. I was also pretty shitty at early levels. I had very limited protection of my Carry, and had basically no ganking potential. But I could do a couple of things pretty well. In one game I had level 1 Heartstoppers, 47 damage with 550 range, against a solo offlaner. I was able to zone, moreso than an Ogre Magi or Sand King could ever, perhaps even a Crystal Maiden. In fact this game I became ridiculously annoying. Even if I couldn’t hit the enemy offlaner, I could still pester him with Heartstopper. This is one of the strengths of a Support Necro. If against a solo offlaner, you can zone pretty decently, with the constant damage of Heartstopper and decent range. The only problem with this was the terrible base movement speed, so I had to be a bit careful for turnarounds.
Bringing to the Table
Supports bring a lot of different things to the table. Bane for example offers no push nor counter push, but is still widely considered a good support. So what does a Support Necro bring to the table? This zoning was definitely nice, but against dual lanes it was a bit different. If the enemy dual lane had kill potential, I was occasionally a bit weak. If the enemy went on my carry, all I could do was chuck out a low level heal and hope for the best. At least a Lion could stun and hex, I mostly was forced to sit idly by. This was a big weakness, I could prevent some damage with my heal, but often not enough to prevent a potent dual lanes. But the humorous thing was that sometimes this was actually okay. People tended to trade, killing my safelane carry but resulting in me killing them in return. This gave me a massive boost in levels and gold, allowing me to be more effective. On the other hand, if they weren’t too scary of a lane, I just pestered two heroes at once with Heartstopper; It’s a really annoying skill during the laning phase in a 2-1-2 setup. Even though my kill potential was a tad limited, my protect and harass potential was pretty good. By simply existing in the vicinity of enemy heroes, I was harassing them.
Scales of Justice
After the laning phase I felt like I could really excel. There seemed to be two types of people.The first was those who laughed at the idea of a support Necro, underestimating my heal and damage potential, resulting in me doing more than I should have been able to by simply being alive. The other type seemed to be of the mantra “you have to kill Necro first”, which is fairly strategically sound. I am a hero who excels via being alive, so killing me first is a good plan. The problem that arose however was that people would often end up expending more than they should on me in order to quickly dispose of me. Suddenly when the enemy Shadow Shaman is hexing me, my cores can run wild and be more free of disables than they would otherwise be. It put me in the situation where the enemy had to kill me first, but had to expend more on me than an average support in order to do so. This created an opening for my cores to be more free in their movement, creating a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario.
Pubs Know Best
If pubbers manage to get a 59% winrate on Necro, then they must be doing something right. I’ve played Necro a lot as a core, a hero who gets a fast Mek and then starts to deathball and/or save his allies. But this support Necro started to work. I scale so well as a hero, and adding 30% extra respawn to enemy cores was delicious. I would get items that helped my team, Arcanes, Wards, Detection, Basi, Mek, Urn and Force all come to mind. They allowed me to help my team. I didn’t go a Sadist build either, I went 4-4-0-1 with Arcanes and tried my best to help my team sustain. Sadist just honestly didn’t seem worth it early game, and it allowed my Heartstopper to be annoying as all hell. Scepter became rather useful too.
Farm Farm Charm
As far as farm went I managed to pick up a fair bit. If I ult someone successfully, I got the kill gold. I wasn’t getting many last hits within the first 25 minutes, so every successful Scythe netted me a massive influx in gold. It was beautiful. I felt like that Visage who gets really farmed just because he happens to get a bunch of kills via Soul Assumption. I often bought a Scepter as a first or second item, similar to an Ancient Apparition. Every 70 seconds I could ulti someone. With the massive multiplier it hit constantly, stopping buybacks and extending respawn durations. Every time I ulti’d an enemy carry, I gave my carries 30% longer to get ahead. It was like a safety net for noob carries; even if they’re bad I give them a constant head start. I could do this as a core too, but roles tend to have a interesting history. If people believe that a hero can do very similar things as a core when they are a support, then why not just make them a support? Shadow Shaman and Rubick are two heroes who used to be run solo mid a lot more than we see now, but have been more relegated to support since they can do very similar things without a lane of farm dedicated to them. It is reduced, but the heroes strengths remain.
Not Too Shabby
Support Necro is honestly not as bad as some would have you believe. In a very mlg and strategic 5 stack vs 5 stack I probably wouldn’t do it. But in your standard pub, which is an assortment of silly picks, drunk people, Pinoys, Russians, bad matchmaking, last pick randoms, constant Invokers/Miranas/Pudges and an array of other issues, it worked better than you would think. It honestly seemed to just be a matter of getting enough levels early on, and you can impact the team in a positive way all game. Sometimes it’s having the enemy focus you instead of your carry, other times it’s adding 30% extra respawn via a level 1 Scythe. I think it ultimately just comes down to the versatility of the hero. Alch, Naga, Mirana and Nyx all come to mind as heroes who can be played in a vairty of roles and do well in all of them, Necro seems to be very similar for pub play. And Support Necro is ultimately not as bad as people will have you believe. He has a 59% winrate in pubs, that’s higher than what Spirit Breaker had when everyone bitched about him, definitely some food for thought.