The Curious Case of Treant Protector

Too distracted by Centaur to get anything important done. It’s a shame the API is down because this last week would have some pretty fun stats. Can only get bits and pieces from Dotabuff. Did you know that Centaur singlehandedly improved Blademail’s win rate by 10%. It’s true.

Anyway, Treant Protector. Treant in 6.74 was one of the trio of near 60% win rates, along with Lycan and Ursa. Lycan and Ursa are pretty self explanatory. Fairly mindless right clickers, jungle capable, massive built-in steroids and relatively gear independent, capable of putting Roshan into play very, very early, etc. Treant was weird though because as successful as he was at pubbing no one seemed to notice. He went completely ignored in competitive games, and he wasn’t terribly popular outside of them either. No one really knew why he was successful, and no one really seemed to care either.

But I found it curious. Treant being successful in pub isn’t too surprising. His closest analogue is Tidehunter, who typically maintained a ~55% public win rate. The complication with this is that Tidehunter’s win rate is generally attributed to his Ravage. Treant’s ult was at the time widely considered inferior in all possible comparisons.

The one clue I came across is that Treant’s win rate definitely deteriorated in the upper skill brackets. Whatever it was that he had going for him was something that worked disproportionately well against weaker players. Treant wasn’t alone in this. Omniknight and Death Prophet exhibited similar, but weaker trends, probably due to the fact that players in the lower end of the skill distribution don’t know how to deal their ults. But Treant’s ult was similar to Tidehunter’s, and Tidehunter didn’t experience the same kind of fall off. Clearly something else in Treant’s kit was bumping him up to top 3 status.

The two clear possibilities was Treant’s invisibility and his passive. Invisibility seemed unlikely. If it was boosting his win rate it would be doing it in an environment with teamwork and communication, which is pretty much the opposite of the games he was actually winning. The passive was the much more likely possibility, and honestly the much more intriguing one. It’s hard to believe that some small global healing and armor half of the time could be one of the most game-changing abilities in low level play. But one aspect to consider is that the passive did apply to turrets, so perhaps it was an incredibly successful anti-push ability in an environment that rarely featured coordinated pushing.

Then 6.75 came along. Treant saw two major changes. His ult lost its damage, but received a duration boost and reduced cooldown in exchange, and his passive was revamped to an active, single target global heal/refraction. As a result Treant’s near 60% win rate dropped all the way to the lower mid 40s.

I think the net effect of Treant’s ult changes was a slight nerf in public play, but the passive revamp was the much larger change and reinforces the hypothesis that his old passive was surprisingly one of the most broken abilities in the game in low level play. In light of this, I wonder how successful a player in the normal bracket could be if they specialized in Treant, building a quick mana boots, and then just literally using his global on (its now 15 second) cooldown. Mana boots alone should be able to cancel the mana cost (15 sec cooldown, 4 uses per minute at 25 mana per use, 100 mana a minute, Arcanes restore 110 mana every 55 seconds). You should be able to get more out of it than the old passive, and it would probably be decent practice for map awareness. On a 15 second cooldown you can basically just guess if a fight is about to break out and barely be losing anything if you’re wrong. If a turret is damaged, you can just chain cast on it until it’s back to full. And always cast it on a turret taking damage either before or after glyphing. Theoretically this could even be more broken than the old Treant, and more than easy enough to pull off as a solo suicide in lower level games.

That does it for today. Hopefully I’ll spend some time in the next day or two figuring out the best way to integrate the chartiest charts you ever charted into this thing. Until then.

10 Responses to The Curious Case of Treant Protector

  1. xdv says:

    I think the ult change hurt him just as much as the passive change did.

    It was not uncommon to build refresher on him, because he’s naturally tanky and has an in-built escape mechanism, you could just run around with boots and refresher and be fine. His ult positioning was easy in pubs (invisibility on treant isn’t countered much) and you could snag most of their team in it. Before it did 400×2 = 800 damage with double ult, then it get reduced to 300×2 = 600 damage with double ult… now it’s 0.

    There was strong synergy with Leech as well, as you could Ult + Leech, refresher Leech + Ult and if the enemies were clustered up during a push it was about 1200 damage to everyone and 6 seconds of immobilize.

    I don’t think anyone makes refresher on him anymore and people get confused as to what to do with him.

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s entirely possible that I’m underestimating the impact of the ult change. Short of a targeted patch we’ll probably never have a clear idea of which change contributed more to his drop in win rate.

      That being said, I don’t think Refresher plays much of a role in this debate. As an item it was only built on 1% of heroes in the Normal bracket and .5% of heroes in the Very High bracket. Treant has never been a high farm character, so I suspect instances of Refresher Treants are far too rare to have much of an impact on the overall hero win rate.

  2. xdv says:

    A 1% usage is a decent rate of usage, considering that only Treant and Tidehunter utilize it.

    All other initiator type heroes have more pressing needs they need to solve instead (positioning / survivability).

    I’m just speaking from observation, but you’re right we’ll never really know why. Just some fun speculation.

    • phantasmal says:

      For what it’s worth, Treant does have the 3rd highest Refresher Orb usage rate in the normal sample behind Zeus and Warlock, with Zeus ahead of the rest and Warlock, Treant, Tidehunter and Shadow Shaman narrowly grouped. It could be interesting to compare this to post 6.75 stats and might be something worth doing once the API comes back up.

  3. Did you try your low-level Treant pub strategy?

    • phantasmal says:

      None of my accounts are at the range I would be interested in testing it in. Besides, queuing up for a game takes up time I could be using to write my tomes.

      But seriously, I still don’t have anything empirical to back it. I’d just really like to see if the rate of Living Armor usage goes up significantly in higher brackets and correlates with Treant’s win percentage. Not crazy about his current design even if it does, but it would be an interesting test case for how a single factor could greatly influence a hero’s overall win rate.

  4. Thanks! You haven’t played much DOTA 2, but you have a high win rate, so you must have played a lot of the original.

    (Mine is FWIW.)

    I just tried your Treant idea and it worked well. I couldn’t resist getting a blink dagger and joining in the teamfights of course, but I spammed Living Armour and it worked very well.

    • phantasmal says:

      Don’t read too much into the win rate. The account’s pretty old, so I probably got the privilege of beating up on lower rankings far longer than current matchmaking would allow. I also originally made it to play with a friend who was pretty new, which might have influenced my MMR progression. I noticed that my older account made it to High (in the 2011 match rating system) in less matches with a lower win rate, and maybe the early duo queuing played a part in it. But that’s just speculation and I have nowhere near enough evidence to prove anything.

      I’m glad spammy Treant’s working out for you. I don’t know that it’ll stay viable at higher ranks without some serious team coordination, but it is at the least an excellent way to practice map awareness.

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