Regardless of the collective opinion towards yesterday’s TI4 Grand Finals, 6.82 is almost certain to be a reaction to TI4 just as 6.79, with its buyback nerfs and sweeping off-lane changes, was a reaction to TI3 . The task at hand then is to establish what it is that actually happened at TI4.
I’ve read talk that Newbee’s domination of VG displays the weaknesses inherent to VG’s strategy, but my problem with this narrative is that Newbee, VG, and the often overlooked LGD were three variations on the theme of extreme early aggression. Take a look at datDota’s International Main Event Predictions. The teams in the top 8 with the three shortest match times are, unsurprisingly, VG, Newbee, and LGD. This stat might have changed some for LGD at the Main Event, but VG and Newbee’s average game length length remained just above 30 minutes, thanks in part to the seven extremely quick games (average length of ~24m if I recall correctly) they played against each other in the Upper Bracket and Grand Finals.
What you end up with between the three is a sort of strategic continuum. At one end, LGD was oriented around aggressive laning and forcing early fights with heroes like Centaur Warrunner, Viper, and Invoker. At the other end you had VG, who was heavily devoted to all-out push lineups with Shadow Shaman, Nature’s Prophet, Venomancer, Leshrac, and Luna showing up over and over again. Between the two you have Newbee, a team that was capable of playing both variants as the situation demanded. In all three cases you have hero compositions almost exclusively designed to win before that 30 minute mark, and they just so happen to be the three teams that most over-performed their pre-event expectations.
So what I expect in 6.82 is another patch built around systems changes designed to slow the pace of the game. There’s always a balancing act to be had between aggression and investment, but the results of TI4 suggest that the changes in the last year may have cumulatively favored aggression a tad too much. Of course it’s impossible to say whether Newbee and VG style strats would remain dominant in some alternative reality where 6.82 never comes out, but Dota patches tend to be more about creating a environment of constant uncertainty over allowing the lifespan of a perceived to be dominant strat play out.
I also expect these changes to overshadow hero nerfs to an extent. Take Shadow Shaman. Looking at his TI4 stats (3rd most picked, .557 win rate) he looks pretty plainly overpowered. But with Newbee and VG you have Shadow Shaman showing up over and over in their strats because he provides two forms of CC that can be useful for early fighting while at the same time he also gives you the strongest push for the least investment of any hero in the game. He ended up the most popular hero for both Newbee and VG with a combined 21-4 (.840) record on the two teams; when played by every other team he was a pretty mediocre 23-31(.426). So if system changes succeed in slowing the game down, heroes like Shadow Shaman and Brewmaster might not really need much in the way of nerfing. Lycan and Doom will probably get the Morphling treatment regardless though.