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Introducing a brand new series from the Dotabuff team - Everything Can Work. Inspired by two-time TI champion N0taill, we hope to shed some light on some strategies that may or may not get you reported.
In the first edition, position 4 Sniper, is it a bad idea or genius?
The history of position 4 Sniper is a short one. The Dota world first saw support Sniper in the pro scene during ESL One Los Angeles 2020: Europe & CIS. Nigma and their captain KuroKy are no strangers to experimenting but they took it to another level by picking position 5 Sniper in this game.
That game was game two of their lower bracket first round match up in the ESL One Los Angeles playoffs. They were up 1-0 against Chicken Fighters ! and they decided to pick position 5 Sniper in game 2. It was a risky pocket pick and it ended up in a loss for Team Nigma. They then lost game 3 and were upset in the lower bracket, ending their playoff run. Unsurprisingly, that strategy wasn’t copied by other teams for the rest of the playoffs.
Despite the poor show out of support Sniper in the pro scene, it’s not unseen in the pub scene.
In the Dotabuff meta page, when you sort by offlane roles, since position 4s go to the offlane, and find Sniper, his win rate in the Divine/Immortal tier is 53.42% with a 1.96% pick rate. In the Ancient tier, his win rate is 53.74% with a 2.11% pick rate.
That’s good for 17th best win rate amongst all heroes in the Divine/Immortal tier in the offlane role, and 10th best win rate amongst all heroes in the Ancient tier.
So why has position 4 Sniper gained such popularity, and why is he doing so well?
In the 7.23 patch, Sniper’s Aghanim’s Scepter was changed to:
“Reduces cast time on Assassinate from 2 to 1 and causes it to disable the target for 1.8 seconds.”
In the 7.25 patch, it was updated again to:
“Aghanim's Scepter cast time reduced from 1 to 0.5 seconds.”
This rework is what prompted people to theorize Sniper as a support. A long range, near instant, low cooldown, 1.8 second stun, that does high amounts of damage, sounds great in theory. It can lead to long range initiations, it can stop teleports, it can do a lot of things.
In theory, it sounds great, but in the real game, that’s still up for debate. What isn’t up for debate though is the fact that Sniper in the offlane is winning more games than all but 16 heroes in the Ancient/Immortal tier, and all but nine heroes in the Ancient tier.
When discussing position 4 Sniper, I was excited to try it out. I enjoy the idea of playing Sniper but when it comes to the actual game play, the idea is better.
The first game I played, one of my teammates said, “What’s with support Sniper everywhere?” and to stop watching Youtube videos. I said I’m doing research for an article.
The lane stage went pretty good, me and Underlord won the lane against Slark and Lion and during the early mid game everyone was farming so I farmed as well and got an Aghanim’s Scepter by 25 minutes.
It’s surprisingly great. You need a lot of mana to use it often so was ferrying clarities constantly and ended up buying Mana Boots. It stops initiation, channeling spells, and does everything a 1.8 second stun would do, but you can do it at a safe distance and do it often.
We ended up losing that game and I felt pretty useless when I wasn’t casting Shrapnel or Assassinate. My teammates also got tilted easily and I ended up muting three of them.
So expect your teammates to get tilted very quickly and you’ll probably have to mute a few of them. If you don’t play spectacularly, expect to get flamed.
It was an interesting idea to try out, but I’m not a buyer of support Sniper. I am a buyer of the “Everything can work” philosophy and if my teammate decided to pick a supper Sniper, I wouldn’t be against it. But after playing two games of it, I personally would not choose to do that again.
You need a line up that is heavily constrained to work with a support Sniper. Having a frontliner that can demand attention like an Underlord or Axe or Mars would pair well with a support Sniper.
You also need farm and Sniper isn’t the fastest farmer, especially when you’re a support. You’ll be taking away farm from your cores and if you’re playing a carry and your support Sniper is farming the jungle, that can be tilting.
One good thing that can come from playing a support Sniper though is the all chatting potential when you’re about to win.
Would you guys be supportive of your teammate if they picked a position 4 Sniper? Would you try it out yourself?