No events
Dota 2

Phantom Lancer: One of the Seven Dota 2 Patch 7.29 Winners

Patrick Bonifacio

We’ve had almost two weeks to play around with Dota 2 Patch 7.29 now, with some of the biggest winners in the hero pool now popular picks. The new metagame has quickly taken shape, with some heroes immediately rising to dominant status as a result. Some of these heroes are being picked frequently both in pubs and in the new Dota Pro Circuit season.

Phantom Lancer

Phantom Lancer is one of the biggest winners in the 7.29 patch series, thanks to his Aghanim's Shard upgrade (Image Courtesy Valve)

If you’re looking for the strongest heroes to play this patch, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the top picks in the metagame for 7.29!

Phantom Lancer

If you’ve seen two-time International champion Anathan “ana” Pham play this DPC season, you’ll know just why Phantom Lancer is one of the best carries right now. His Aghanim’s Shard upgrade is just bonkers if we’re honest. That kind of damage amplification on the Spirit Lance (Q) illusion? Amazing. The fact that it bounces on top of that? Simply incredible.

The Shard upgrade alone was enough to bring Phantom Lancer up to a near 56 percent win rate just a week ago from the time of writing. Patch 7.29b has since brought him back down to a more reasonable level, removing the bonus cast range and reducing the illusion damage on Spirit Lance. Balance master IceFrog also made the bounce radius smaller, but not to a point where the Shard is unusable. It just doesn’t have the insane value it did before the patch now.

So how do you play Phantom Lancer this way? Pretty much the usual way: try to avoid fighting before completing your Diffusal Blade (after Power Treads). Once you get it, you can start joining your team in skirmishes, but for the most part you still want to farm until your Manta Style. When your Manta is complete, buy Aghanim’s Shard as soon as possible. From there, your job is to poke away at the enemy team with Spirit Lance, which will whittle them down slowly. This will give you an advantage to start the teamfight with. In the ultra-late game, things like Eye of Skadi or Heart of Tarrasque will basically make you unkillable unless they have Earthshaker or something.

Drow Ranger

We previously discussed how one of the biggest changes in 7.29 will allow heroes that depend heavily on positioning will be good in this metagame. True enough, Drow Ranger has become one of the better ranged carries in the patch, thanks to the removal of some cast range talents. Drow went from an uninspiring 47 percent win rate last patch to well above 50 percent in 7.29, making her more than playable again.

Besides the aforementioned change, her numbers also went up quite a bit in 7.29. Her attack point was made faster, the mana cost of Gust (W) was reduced, and her Multishot (E) cooldown talent was made slightly better. Moreover, Manta Style on ranged heroes like Drow was made to have a much shorter cooldown, down from 45 seconds to 30. Considering that Manta Style is a core item for Drow Ranger, this means that the item itself offers better value to her. On the flipside, she can also viably go for Satanic again, thanks to the active now providing a basic dispel on use.

Dota 2 Patch 7.29 Biggest Changes Manta Style

Sweet, sweet parity. Manta is now a better item even on ranged carries.

As for her item progression, it’s pretty much still the same as before: Dragon Lance, Yasha into Manta Style, then Black King Bar if needed. We think it’s good to at least consider buying Sange and Yasha, though. That item is just so good for the price right now, especially in the mid-game.

Ancient Apparition

Ancient Apparition was actually already great even before 7.29, boasting close to a 54 percent success rate prior to the update. The Dota 2 balance team made him even better in 7.29, reducing the mana cost of Ice Vortex (W) across every level of the ability. His Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade now also halves the mana cost of Chilling Touch (E), making it actually viable to put him in a core role again.

The metagame as a whole is also very conducive to playing AA, whether as a support or a core. Ice Blast (R) gets plenty of value from a regen/healing-heavy meta like this, so it’s almost never a bad idea to pick him right now. When heroes like Necrophos and Huskar are in vogue, Kaldr shines like the ice he’s made of.

It also helps a lot that he’s very good in the laning phase. Chilling Touch is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to harassment potential, and Ice Vortex is very useful in early gank attempts. Cold Feet (Q) is also great when paired with long roots or similar disables. Chaos Knight is probably the best example of this, thanks to Chaos Bolt (Q) and Reality Rift (W)’s synergy with Cold Feet.


Ironically, Lifestealer is in this list despite the presence of Ancient Apparition as well. AA naturally counter’s Lifestealer’s Feast (W) with Ice Blast, but it’s pretty clear that N’aix has more to offer than just lifesteal. 7.29 made him much more cohesive as a carry, especially after they returned the damage bonus to Feast.

The bonus damage makes him more lethal in the late game against beefy heroes, and just more consistent than he was before. Prior to 7.29, he had a mediocre win rate of around 49 percent. He is now above 50 percent thanks to the buffs and the effectiveness of Sange and Yasha, which is one of his core items.


As mentioned in the section for Ancient Apparition, Huskar is one of the better heroes in this metagame. Some months prior to 7.29, Huskar was basically half a hero, not even able to fill his usual cheese pick role well because his numbers were just so bad. IceFrog then decided to bless him with a litany of buffs. The Inner Fire (Q) Aghanim’s Shard upgrade was strengthened to allow Huskar to cast it even when disabled (yes, even through stuns), and his Burning Spear (W) was made to cost less health per throw.

Huskar was quickly toned down in 7.29b after reaching a 55 percent win rate in 7.29, with nerfs aimed primarily at his agility gain and making Life Break (R) less spammable. Still, even with the nerfs, he’s got a 52.5 percent win rate to his name, thanks to the power of Sange and Yasha and Satanic. He also doesn’t really mind the removal of the blink effect from Abyssal Blade, as he has a natural gap closer of his own.


Grimstroke was basically unplayable in the last major patch, especially in public matchmaking. This came down mostly to the fact that his kit needs the right picks in the draft around him to make it work, particularly when it came to using Ink Swell (E) and Soulbind (R). This of course inherently limits his usefulness in modes like All Pick, where players pretty much pick whatever they want without really giving much thought to synergy.

To counteract this, the balance team gave him an incredible rework to his Aghanim’s Shard, while massively increasing the damage output of Phantom’s Embrace (W). His Shard upgrade alone does an absurd number of things all at once. It heals the target, deals 50 percent more damage to any enemy units it touches (compared to without the Shard), and even applies a strong dispel on expiration.

That last bit is especially important. By design, Ink Swell is all about enabling an ally to just dive headlong into teamfights. The extremely long area of effect stun on expiration is powerful enough, but adding a strong dispel on top of it is just crazy. We recommend trying him with picks like Slark or Phantom Assassin. It’ll be loads of fun, trust us.


Dawnbreaker is the newest hero in Dota 2, and it’s no secret that she had quite a rough start upon her arrival. She had an abysmal win rate of 38 percent in the first few days of 7.29, prompting IceFrog to pump up her numbers sky high some time after.

The result? A huge increase to her win rate, going from 38 percent to a peak of 54.5 percent on April 14th. After receiving the aforementioned buffs, she became a straight-up nightmare to deal with in lane, whether as a support or as a core. Her kill threat is extremely high, even just by herself. Her Starbreaker (Q) alone is ridiculous in the lane, particularly when it comes to setting up kills. Later on, Solar Guardian (R) becomes an easy setup ability, and can even be used to force opponents to disengage from a teamfight

Once she has her core items, she becomes a tanky frontline damage dealer that can be difficult to deal with. Her amazing strength gain also contributes to this; it’s not at all strange to see a Dawnbreaker with more than 3,000 HP in the late game. If you’re looking for an exciting yet reliable pick as an offlaner or a support, Dawnbreaker has you covered. Heck, even Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen thinks she can be played mid.

Of course, the metagame shifts as rapidly as it’s set, so some of these will likely change over the next few weeks. The DPC also influences the pub metagame somewhat, so we’ll be back soon with this season’s edition of the Metagame Report. Until then, we recommend playing some of these heroes when you can!