Over the next week or two I’m going to be doing some requested hero skill builds analysis to fill the time while I finish up something a bit larger. Sniper is the first of these because it turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected. Some of you won’t be surprised by the results, but this is the most pronounced case of popularity and success being completely inverted. Here are the skills we’ll be looking at:
And here’s how people are skilling him:
In the Normal bracket Take Aim(E) is the dominant Sniper build, maxed first in over half of the games. As we move up to Very High, this dominance declines significantly as Headshot(W) builds gain in popularity. What remains consistent in all brackets is that approximately 66% of all players are maxing both passives before investing anything in Shrapnel(Q). Shrapnel builds are always the distinct minority, though they do become more popular in the upper end of MMR.
And if you’re worried that 2.6% is too small to draw conclusions from, don’t worry (too much). The Normal sample for this test is 22,000 games. Sniper is pretty popular in that bracket. Anyway, moving on to win rates.
So what we have is that Sniper’s most popular skill Take Aim(E) is consistently the least successful in all three brackets, while his least popular skill Shrapnel(Q) puts up his highest win rates. To be fair to Take Aim, it’s at it’s least ineffective in the Normal bracket where it’s only 1% behind Headshot(W) and 3% behind Shrapnel. The 11 point gap between Shrapnel and Take Aim in High might be exaggerated some by sample error, but the 6 point gap in Very High probably isn’t significantly off.
In actuality it’s not that surprising of a trend. Headshot has decent scaling, 15 damage per proc for the first point but 25 damage for each additional point, but at a 40% proc rate that only comes out to an average of 10 extra damage per attack. Sniper’s big weakness is opponent’s negating his range by jumping him, and forcing them to catch you through a 30% slow or sit through up to 480 damage to melee you is a decent little deterrent.
But let’s take it another direction. Pugna is a pretty hot hero in professional Dota in 6.79 with a 7th highest ban rate of all heroes at 37.4%, and he’s largely picked for the pushing power of Nether Blast. Well Shrapnel does a virtually equivalent amount of damage to towers as Nether Blast on a cast-by-cast basis. Of course Pugna is still the better power pusher because Nether Blast has the much lower cooldown (5.5 vs 15) and much better int growth, but Sniper’s ability to attrition outer towers from 1800 units away is a non-negligible advantage of the hero that people just completely ignore.
So yeah, if you actually find yourself playing Sniper, consider saying ‘no’ to the all passive build and maxing Shrapnel first. Oh, and as usual I looked at Sniper’s item choices, but they’re kinda boring so here’s a summary of the most popular big items.