Technically this is another Skill Build Analysis, but on one hand I wanted a title that was a bit more inflammatory, and on the other, there’s not a lot to analyze.
Ever since the 6.75 nerf to Treant, people have been really down on him. In 6.74, he was quietly a pubstomper extraordinaire at the lower levels of the skill bracket, thanks in a large part to his completely passive global aura. 6.75 revamped Living Armor into an active global ability with the potential to make him more viable at higher skill levels, but for various reasons it never really worked out, and couldn’t offset the removal of all ultimate damage that he received in the same patch. Every patch since has come with a litany of minor buffs for Treant to the point where anticipating Treant buffs in every new patch is a running gag. But 6.77c’s buff was different in that it finally plugged the final weakness of Living Armor. Relatively speaking, Living Armor is a silent contributor, but it’s also one of the most potent abilities in the game right now and I have the stats to prove it.
Let’s start by looking at how players adjusted their skill builds in light of the new patch. If you need a refresher on the methodology I’m using to generate these charts, you can find it at the top of my Silencer Skill Build Analysis. And for a quick reminder:
Q: Nature’s Guise — single target tree stealth.
W: Leech Seed — single target DoT and AoE lifesteal
E: Living Armor — global single target HoT and damage block
Pre-patch Leech Seed and Living Armor builds were neck and neck at all skill levels. Post-patch, we see an unsurprising surge in Living Armor builds that gets stronger the further up in the brackets we go, likely reflecting that a higher percentage of Very High players are aware of patch notes. You’ll also note that the vast majority builds are either W->E or E->W. Having looked through the stats, I don’t feel any other build has a statistically significant representation, so we’re basically going to be doing a head-to-head comparison.
And for those of you who like this kind of thing, that .08% of Q builds in Very High 6.77c represents 4 games. They were not very successful.
Moving on to win rates, I mentioned a few weeks ago that Dotabuff was showing a 6.5% surge in his win rates between patches, but if we wait a bit and break things down it turns out that 6.5% was actually quite an understatement.
That’s an 8.4% bump in Normal and a rather amazing 12.3% bump in Very High. Living Armor builds outperform its nearest competitor by a minimum of 4.5%, a gap not seen in any SBA I’ve done before. Treant’s aggregate performance now scales greatly with skill level, capping out at a startling 62% win rate for Living Armor builds in Very High (out of a sub-sample of ~2700 games). For reference, if we were including these stats in The Heroes With the Greatest Improvement in High Skill Games, Treant would now come in very close to Nyx Assassin who placed 4th.
To be fair, we only get 62% after we filter out his less performing builds, which could also have the side effect of filtering out less informed players. For reference, Crystal Maiden’s top performing builds in her second SBA came in at around 63%, but they were minority builds and all of them combined didn’t have close to the 50% representation that the Living Armor -> Leech Seed build has.
It’s also the case that there’s no guarantee that any of this means Treant is competitively viable. There have been plenty of heroes with high public win rates that don’t translate to competitive success for whatever reason. That being said, he’s being tried more often, and I’m not convinced that the teams trying him out have him completely figured out. There’s still a lot of room for team comp improvements, and it could be that the first team to put him in the right place and surround him with the right heroes will surprise a lot of people.
But for the average pub-player the message here is simple. 4 ranks of Living Armor by 7. No exceptions. 0-2-4-1 appears to be the strongest performing level 7 build, but maybe a relatively early point in Nature’s Guise is ok situationally. You exist to cast Living Armor on things. Is someone possibly in a fight? Cast Living Armor on them. Is your carry missing HP in lane? Cast Living Armor on him. Are you going in for CS? Cast Living Armor on yourself. Has a tower taken damage? Cast Living Armor on it over and over. Your initial item goal is to find enough mana that you can cast Living Armor essentially on cooldown while also being able to Leech Seed and Ult.
And maybe you hate this playstyle; that’s fine and totally understandable. But if you do, I advise avoiding the character entirely. His kit is balanced around the idea that Living Armor is insanely good for the first 20 to 30 minutes, and you absolutely have to take advantage of that if you want consistent success out of him.