Dota 2: 5 biggest changes in 7.34 to look out for in the TI 2023 qualifiers

The game's latest update introduced a new stat, tweaked the map, reworked multiple heroes, and more.

Dota 2's long-awaited 7.34 update will be the version of the game to be played in The International 2023 in October and its upcoming regional qualifiers later this month. (Photos: Valve Software)
Dota 2's long-awaited 7.34 update will be the version of the game to be played in The International 2023 in October and its upcoming regional qualifiers later this month. (Photos: Valve Software)

Dota 2 developer Valve Software released the much-awaited 7.34 update on Wednesday (9 August), which will be the version of the game to be played in The International (TI) 2023 in October and its upcoming regional qualifiers later this month.

With Dota 2's metagame shaken up ahead of this year's world championship tournament, pro players and fans alike have been busy poring over the patch notes to learn what's good and what's not in 7.34.

Here are our picks for the 5 biggest changes in Dota 2's 7.34 update you should know about ahead of TI 2023:

New Captain's Mode draft format

The most consequential change in 7.34 for TI 2023, its regional qualifiers, and Dota 2's competitive scene as a whole is arguably the changes to the drafting format in Captain's Mode, the default game mode used in pro play.

The new draft format in 7.34 will start with a total of seven hero bans in the first ban phase and only one hero pick for each side in the first picking phase. Three more bans will follow in the second ban phase before each team gets three picks in the second picking phase.

The final ban phase will have both sides get two bans each before they make their last picks.

In addition, the number of bans each side will get will now depend if they get first or second pick. The team with first pick will get three bans in the first phase and two in the second phase while the team with second pick gets four bans in the first phase and only one in the second phase.

There will now be more mindgames going on between the teams when it comes to deciding who gets to pick first, as the four bans the team with second pick gets can be very influential in a draft in the hands of a capable drafter.

But if all this is too complicated for your average Dota fan, that's alright. Casual players won't need to worry too much about it as this change largely affects pro teams. Even so, its impact cannot be understated.

New Slow resistance stat

Another major change in 7.34 is the addition of a new 'Slow resistance' stat, which used to be a part of the overarching 'Status resistance' stat introduced in 7.33.

With Slow resistance now being a separate stat, heroes with Slow-focused abilities like Venomancer and Viper have become better as Status resistance now only affects the duration of their Slows and not the actual slow component itself.

While this won't mean the likes of Venomancer and Viper will suddenly become first pick material, their niche becomes more valuable especially when considering how big the map has become since 7.33.

If anything, more heroes becoming more viable with these seemingly-innocuous changes can only be a good thing for both casual and pro play.

Watcher, Outpost changes

This new update also came with some map changes focused on the Watchers and Outposts, which are very useful for maintaining map control.

In 7.34, the main jungle Watchers for both sides have been moved to different locations while the positioning of the Watchers in each side's 'triangle' area has also been adjusted. Killing Roshan will also no longer grant the killing team control of any Watches on the map, forcing them to do so manually to maintain map control.

Finally, the Outposts have been moved from the main jungle area of each side to their respective triangles.

Map changes in Dota are notoriously hard to evaluate early into a patch's release even if they are some of the most impactful tweaks that can be made. We'll need to see more data on it from pro players making adjustments to how they play before we can make any judgments.

In any case, the changes to the Watchers and Outposts introduced in 7.34 seem to incentivise more defensive playstyles as they are now closer to important objectives and are more defensible. The metagame since 7.33 has largely favoured aggressive playstyles that took over the map as early as possible before snowballing to victory off that map control. So, it's nice of IceFrog to shake things up and allow for more varied styles of play to become viable.

Reworks for Invoker, Lone Druid, and other heroes

The most exciting changes for any Dota patch is almost always hero changes, and 7.34 came with plenty, including reworks to multiple heroes. Two of the most eye-catching ones were to Invoker and Lone Druid.

After spending much of Dota history as the quintessential Intelligence hero, the Arsenal Magus Invoker has now been changed to a Universal hero whose damage scales off of all his stats. His Quas, Wex, and Exort orbs have also been reworked, now granting Spell Lifesteal, Cooldown Reduction, and Spell Amplification, respectively, with every level.

Invoker being changed to a Universal hero should bring him back to the meta, as the huge damage potential of Universal heroes have made them very attractive picks in both casual and pro play since 7.33. While Invoker should still be the spellcasting machine that he is, his new Universal status also lets him dish out some serious physical damage — which should entice more teams to pick him for their midlaners. Great timing too, as one of the most exciting Dota heroes to watch deserves to get the spotlight in TI 2023.

Lone Druid also gets the Universal treatment. Well, he was already Universal before, but 7.34 also made his Spirit Bear summon a Universal creep-hero unit. As you can probably guess already, that boosts the Spirit Bear's damage potential as it builds up more stat items. But that's not all, it can now also get Aghanim's Scepter and Shard upgrades.

Aghanim's Scepter allows the Spirit Bear to attack regardless of how far away it is from Lone Druid, while also letting it survive if the hero dies. Meanwhile, Aghanim's Shard gives it a new ability very reminiscent of Batrider's Flaming Lasso that lets it pull heroes away.

Lone Druid has always been a niche pick, but the changes he and his bear received in 7.34 makes him an enticing hero for teams with players capable of playing it. As we said before, more and more heroes becoming viable is always a good thing.

Spirit Vessel makes a comeback

Finally, the Spirit Vessel is looking to make a comeback as the defining item of this new update after what feels like ages of neglect. The item now requires Urn of Shadows, two Crowns, and a recipe with its 2,980 gold cost remaining unchanged. But what makes it enticing are the +12 to all stats it gives for its relatively low cost, making it a very enticing pickup for Universal heroes in particular, including the reworked Invoker.

With the likes of Rod of Atos, Heaven's Halberd, and Harpoon receiving some much-needed nerfs, the path is open for Spirit Vessel to become the item of choice for many core and support heroes alike.

The item's function also lends well to watchability, as it incentivises its wielder to go out and fight to make good use of it. Let's be honest, we all love Dota when both teams are just going at it in teamfight after teamfight, right?

You can check out the full list of changes in Dota 2's 7.34 update in the patch notes here.

Dota 2 version 7.34 will be the version of the game played in the upcoming TI 2023 regional qualifiers, which will take place from 17 to 31 August. Teams from the six regions of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) will compete to be among the eight teams joining the 12 directly-invited squads in TI 2023 fighting to be Dota 2's new world champion.

For everything you need to know about the TI 2023 regional qualifiers, check here.

TI 2023 will be hosted across multiple weekends from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States. This year's world championship tournament features a revamped format with two distinct phases, called 'The Road to The International' and 'The International' itself.

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