Heroes that can contribute a lot to the competitive scene of DOTA 2 sometimes remain unnoticed or ignored and thus stay in the pool for long periods of time without being discovered. The current meta is fast paced and requires heroes to have versatility and survivability through all phases of the game. I believe one such support hero recently played by Liquid can quite possibly fill that role. He provides a spammable heal that not only pushes but counter pushes to allow for turtling or a quick tower. In team fight he provides sustainability to keep your team alive while making the other team pay for drawing out the encounter. His early game is his weakest point but from once the laning phase is over he becomes an extremely strong tool for good ol’ fashioned five man Dota. Let’s take a look at Dazzle.
I want to start first with what most people consider his big weakness and that is the necessity for levels on Dazzle. Poison Touch is the most notable as it doesn’t receive its stun until level three. This requires you to be level five before Poison Touch dramatically increases in usefulness. This makes you forsake the other great skills he provides for your team. I think Poison Touch is a red herring on Dazzle. Meaning it draws your attention away from his true strengths. Shadow Wave is an amazing skill that has great utility for pushing, counter pushing, and is extremely spammable. It allows you to keep your team alive in long teamfights while laying down AoE damage in an area. This skill alone is a great tool early game and is often why I opt for it instead of poison right away.
Shallow Grave is an amazing tool for clutch saves and big turn arounds. It is useful from level one and can save your carry from certain doom. It can be super dangerous to dive a dazzle with shallow grave and a few points in shadow wave, especially when accompanied with a team mate. It becomes almost spammable once it hits four and if a team fight goes long enough you should be able to get it off twice. It does something more than just save a teammate it also buys time for other cooldowns and re positioning. It does have a weakness against DoT spells and can be difficult to use if someone is bursted down too soon but I feel its strengths more than make up for its shortcomings.
Weave is an interesting ultimate. It doesn’t disable or do damage and the cooldown on it is incredibly short. It plays to all the strengths of Dazzle and helps him do what he does best sustain your team while whittling down your enemy. Casting it on enemies causes their armor to lower by 1 each second of the debuff while giving your team more armor over time. It has a massive aoe and a nice cast range and allows you to simultaneously buff your team and weaken your enemy. A fourty second cooldown means that you can use it quite often and that it will always be ready for those big fights. Weave can be skilled right away which is what I usually do. It allows you to push towers and take teamfights even without equal footing. Negative 12 armor has such a huge potential for massive damage it can be quite scary. Heroes that suddenly seemed tanky become paper and supports just seem to melt.
In the Liquid vs. Virtua Pro Raid Call S2 match TL(Team Liquid) last picked Dazzle to support a safe lane Storm Spirit in the bottom lane. They were up against an Undying and Keeper of the Light which can be an extremely difficult lane to deal with. With Dazzle's heal and smart play by Kuroky (Storm Spirit) they were able to secure some farm and levels. Undying could not dive as easily as he wanted because of dazzle being in the lane and thus gave space for Kuroky. This game was heavily in VP favor for most of the early game but the moment TL started to go as five things quickly turned. Suddenly you could’t pick anyone off with Nightstalker and now that Dazzle had levels as well as Storm Spirit he could be kited much easier. Shadow poison works wonders on Nighstalker’s movement and posed problems for him this game.
Now, I want to point out that I am not saying Dazzle won them the game. Kuroky had some great plays on Storm Spirit and Fluff had some fantastic reverse polarities but ixmike’s Dazzle was felt all throughout the game. He kept his team going up against an Undying, a hero that shines in long team fights. Weave allowed them to comeback in teamfights even though Nightstalker had a very strong start and punished Vp for sustaining the fight. Dazzle gave them a means to fight under tombstone, and once the mid game rolled around Kuroky’s Storm started to gain momentum and TL really started to shine.
Dazzle is a great early game hero but his mid game is extremely dangerous for your enemy and incredibly useful for your team. He provides great utility to heroes that also shine in the late game such as Storm Spirit. Will we see him being picked up more? I expect it from Team Liquid since they have picked him and been successful. Will other teams pick him up? It can be hard to make one call in either direction because the meta can be extremely trendy. A team like Liquid could change up the meta a bit but that all depends on how they do. Storm Spirit has been picked up a couple times already and they had great success with it. I hope to see more team experimenting soon with Liquid leading the charge.