Might as well just tl;dr myself in the title. You all know how this works by now (if you don’t, check out the beginning of the Silencer Skill Build Analysis), so let’s cut to the chase.
Necrolyte: Dota 2 Wiki page
Q – Death Pulse: Hero-Centered AoE Nuke and Heal
Scaling — Damage, Healing, Cooldown, Increased Mana Cost
W – Heartstopper Aura: Passive HP Removal to All Enemies in 1,000 Unit Radius
Scaling — Health Lost per Second
E – Sadist: Temporary HP and Mana Regen from Creep and Hero Kills
Scaling — Regen Rate
And the basic usage table
It’s no surprise that Death Pulse(Q) starts are as dominant as they are, but it does make problems for our Win Rate chart since most of it is now greyed out and unreliable. Notice how E->W goes from 0% to 100% between High and Very High? That’s because there are literally zero E->W builds in High and only one in Very High. If we want to make sense of Necrolyte’s build priorities we’re going to have to look exclusively at Q Prime builds. There’s just not enough of the rest to judge them reliably, but from what we have the outlook is not especially positive.
Also of note, Necrolyte is a pretty successful hero in public matchmaking, though this success wanes in Very High. Neither fact is surprising. He’s been significantly above average in win rates for as long as I can remember. He’s a simple and reliable source of teamfight contribution between Death Pulse and Heartstopper Aura, but better players will find ways to punish him early on if you leave him 1v1. This also makes it difficult for teams to lane him in tournament play.
But anyway, we know that Q Prime is the dominant build, so we need look at the success of the sub-builds. The chart suggests that despite being less common, Q->W outperforms Q->E, so let’s look at it in detail.
Since this chart is based off Q Prime builds at level 90, that leaves 4 points available to be split between W, E, and Stats assuming the builds take their ult (spoiler alert, the vast majority do). What we see is that at every level Death Pulse -> Heartstopper outperforms Death Pulse -> Sadist. This advantage gets significantly smaller in higher skill level games, likely because Sadist requires good last hitting skills to be of any worth early and Heartstopper is perfect for those terribly passive 2v2 lanes that lower level players run all the time.
Based off this, I’d suggest that both Heartstopper and Sadist are viable as secondaries. If you’re in a low level game or a game where you won’t be getting much CS for whatever reason, you’re probably better off with Heartstopper. Otherwise it’s up to your own personal judgment, but Death Pulse -> Sadist builds appear to perform better when they treat Heartstopper as a one point wonder rather than holding off until 10 to level it. Keep in mind that the first point you put into Heartstopper is twice as effective as every additional point.
I’ve made this case before, but Heartstopper is the kind of skill that people undervalue because they don’t immediately see it’s effects. Yeah, it’s a small amount at the beginning of the game when health pools haven’t filled out. But .6% of 600 is 3.6. 3 iron branches are worth 57 hp. After just 16 seconds of standing within 1000 units of a 600 HP opponent you’ve nullified 3 iron branches worth of HP, and 50 HP alone is more than enough to reverse the outcome of an early game fight. And don’t even start with the “It barely counters their natural regen” line. That one’s wrong on so many levels it doesn’t even deserve a response.
The real take home from all of this is that Heartstopper is underrated as a skill. This doesn’t mean that you must go Pulse->Heartstopper or you’re doing it wrong, but it does show that Pulse->Heartstopper builds are surprisingly viable and that even for a Pulse->Sadist build you should consider grabbing that first point of Heartstopper sometime before 5.
This will probably be the last SBA for a week or two. I’ve been working on some other stuff, and until the API gets changed I can only grab so many matches at a time. Tune in next week for some (hopefully) interesting stats about overall hero usage rates plus a new roundabout study into the sizes of the Normal/High/Very High brackets.