Team Secret is a trendsetter in Dota 2 and fans have gotten a great example of that over the last couple of weeks.
During the Omega League Europe Immortal group stage, Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg raised eyebrows by locking in Bloodseeker. The hero has been struggling for relevance since being reworked in version 7.27b, but that didn’t stop zai from using him twice as Secret scored quick victories over OG.
Dota 2’s pro scene is always quick to emulate winning strategies, and zai’s success on the hero didn’t go unnoticed. Off lane Bloodseeker became a hot trend in the week that followed at both the professional and casual levels.
zai’s Bloodseeker wasn’t just the typical version of the hero, though. The Swede put his own unique spin on Bloodseeker that will likely completely change how he is played.
Bloodseeker is traditionally a core hero focused around his right click attacks, finding strength in his versatility and ability to run over backline heroes and chase down stragglers. That usually has players investing in items that improve Bloodseeker’s attack speed and damage.
Instead of doing this, zai focused on Bloodseeker’s tankiness and the powerful AOE spell Blood Rite. Instead of building up items like Sange and Yasha or Black King Bar, he instead rushed towards items that increased his magic damage and mana pool. This consistently started with Veil of Discord followed by Eul’s Scepter.
The pair of items gives an excellent combination of stats and mana regeneration alongside increased magic damage and a bit of additional movement speed. In zai’s two games, his builds diverged wildly as he moved towards Guardian Greaves in one, and Phase Boots and Dagon in the other. Other teams dabbled in this build as well and Greaves with other support and sustainability items such as Linken’s Sphere, Force Staff, and Solar Crest were all attempted to varying degrees of success.
The itemization by zai was unique, but even more quirky was his skill pathing. Blood Rite is consistently maxed by level seven, followed by Thirst. He then maxes out Bloodrage. While Rupture is picked up and leveled as normal, talents go untouched until there aren’t any abilities left to level. Attack-based talents are ignored in favor of spell upgrades and armor.
Zai’s unique take on Bloodseeker quickly caught on in and out of Omega League. The hero’s popularity in public matchmaking spiked in popularity and other pro off laners including Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev and Sébastien “Ceb” Debs tried out the hero in competitive games.
Alongside this was a major spike in Bloodseeker’s popularity in casual matchmaking. His win rate also spiked several points, going above 50% for the first time in over a month.
Though zai’s Bloodseeker is certainly novel, it hasn’t quite taken over the meta quite yet. The hero has been picked just a handful of times so far and the results haven’t been consistently great. Watch to see how the hero fares in the coming months, and whether zai’s unique take on Bloodseeker sticks or if he reverts back to the racecar attacker he is better known as.