While the hero is rarely seen in the pro scene, Riki continues to dominate pubs across all ranks, with a 59% win rate last month. Riki also excels in the Divine and Immortal ranks – where players often exploit Riki’s weaknesses.
We’ve already covered the power of stealth heroes in low ranks. Riki’s win rate drops to 56% in Anicent and 53% in Divine/Immortal, a higher number than heroes like Necrophos, Ursa, Phantom Lancer, and Silencer – the meta picks at MMR rank high in pubs.
There was a lot of anticipation about Riki’s new ultimate, Tricks of the Trade, when it was reworked in 7.12 six months ago. This hero’s win rate, after the change, jumped from 52% to almost 58%. While this number drops at high ranks, Riki still has a win rate of over 50% at Divine and higher games.
As a result, Riki was soon nerfed afterwards. In 7.14, Valve increased the duration between Tricks of the Trade’s attacks, and at 7.16, increased its cooldown as well as Cloak and Dagger’s disappearance time. Not only that, Smoke Screen’s cooldown increased from 11 to 17/15/13/11 in 7.18, and Blink Strike’s cast range decreased from 800 to 500/600/700/800.
Then, two new changes saved Riki. First, Riki’s base damage increased from 4-8 to 11-15 in patches 7.17 and 7.18. Second, Blink Strike damage increased from 55/70/85/100 to 100 at all levels. With Blink Strike damage applied before the attack, Riki can last hit while remaining invisible. Riki can’t use it as often as Phantom Assassin’s Dagger for safe farming, but it does give the hero some relief during the laning phase.
FROM CORE TO SUPPORT AND BACK AGAIN
Liquid.Miracle outplayed Riki in position 1. The hero wasn’t picked in the TI8 main event and won just one game, by Team Liquid, out of three appearances in the group stage.
Roam has become the norm, but the presence of the Bounty rune makes greedy support 4 heroes appear. The success of roaming heroes now depends not only on ganking results but also from moving around the map.
However, the changes in bounty rune spawn times – from 2 minutes to 5 minutes – along with the removal of the experience bonus have somewhat nerfed the roaming role in Dota. Combined with the focus on the laning phase – a lane can be completely changed by just the number of range creeps denied – it makes the support heroes stay in the lane. Since Riki’s laning is weaker, this hero has very little chance to be a support, and is even weaker at core.
Riki was picked 3 times during both TI8 and Liquid was the only team to win with this hero as Miracle took Riki in position 1. Riki appeared 8 times in the Kuala Lumpur qualifiers, with a win rate of just 37.50%. When compared to Specter, Riki has no way back. Riki doesn’t have a global ultimate to get gold from teamfight. However, this opportunity appears a lot in pubs.
Leveraging the Vulnerability in PUB
It’s not surprising that stealth heroes often dominate at low ranks in pubs, but Valve has downsized these heroes over the course of several patches. Shadowblade used to have a cooldown of 18 seconds instead of 28. Sentry Wards (and Observer Wards) can be purchased individually and stacked – making life easier for supports. As for 7.16, Sentry has been buffed, increasing the duration from 4 to 6 minutes.
Overall, Dota players have become much smarter than before. Stealth doesn’t mean invincible. Even in pub 3K, you can find sentry wards right in the lane in front of Treant and Riki.
So, the fact that Riki exploits vulnerabilities in many skill branches is not due to his poor ability to confront stealth heroes in pubs, but rather the tempo of the game. Pub games take longer and people cooperate unevenly.
We also learned from watching OG at TI8 that the meta isn’t just about lane. A couple of excellent mids by Ceb’s Ax helped OG bounce back from the early game disaster. And OG picking Treant in game 1 made sure they could lose early game and have enough time to extend the match.
Of course, Riki has some moves that are considered unbalanced. Tricks of the Trate talent level 25, had a short cooldown, but also turned it into horror when joining teamfight as a support. But Riki’s weaknesses are easy to exploit. Once countered, Riki is completely helpless. But in pub, mistakes are not as expensive as in professional competition, because both sides in pub will make a lot of mistakes. And that is the space that Riki can exploit to dominate the pub.
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