Fountain hooking is back, but not in the way you’d expect. A new form of the practice, which sees a Pudge hook a hero and drag them to an unexpected location, is making the rounds on Reddit.
As the name would suggest, fountain hooking is traditionally used to drag an enemy hero into one’s own fountain to secure a kill. But in this case, the ability is being used to drag an allied hero back into their own fountain in order to better protect them during risky plays. The example shown on Reddit is a play involving a Nature’s Prophet making aggressive maneuvers in an enemy’s base.
In the video, Nature’s Prophet uses Teleportation to warp directly into the enemy base. Once there, he quickly uses Necronomicon and begins channeling Meteor Hammer. During the channel, he is pulled back into his own base. Because hooks don’t interrupt allied units’ channeling, the Meteor Hammer goes off, dealing significant damage to the enemy towers.
The way this works is that Pudge’s hooks drag units to the point where Pudge initially used the spell. When the hook registers as having landed, but the unit hit ends up moving away from Pudge, they have regular movement and abilities until the hook is fully “reeled in” by the Pudge. Once it is, they are teleported back to Pudge instantly.
The window is incredibly short, but it does give enough time for players to do some damage, as is the case here. It also has some potential applications with long-range teleporting heroes such as Io and Underlord.
In most situations, this is just a more difficult X Marks the Spot skill, but it does give Pudge an interesting and fun synergy with certain heroes.
In the deciding game of a best-of-three series, Natus Vincere found themselves playing from behind against a favored Chinese powerhouse. In order to swing things around, the team famously decided to lean on a well-known cheese strategy using Dendi’s Pudge and Puppey’s Chen.
At the time, Pudge hooks dragged enemy units to him regardless of where he was on the map. When combined with a well-timed teleportation to base using Chen’s Test of Faith spell, it would allow Pudge to drag enemy heroes into the fountain, almost guaranteeing that the unit is killed outright. Natus Vincere hit a number of these spell combinations to swing the game around in their favor.
Though the sequence is fondly remembered by many, there was a fair bit of controversy at the time over Natus Vincere using a developer oversight to take an arguably undeserved victory. The most famous example of this is video footage of Alliance captain Jonathan “Loda” Berg shouting backstage over how unfair the pub game strategy was.
Regardless, Valve changed Meat Hook in the days following The International 2013 and functionally killed the strategy.