At this year's Dota 2 International, Lich proved to be the most sought after support hero. Despite having a 50% win rate, he was picked first or second. In addition, he played fifth position. What about this hero made him so desirable for such a low position? Well, there's more to this hero than most expect.
While his abilities aren't outright amazing, Lich's moves have longterm potential. His arsenal includes Frost Blast, Ice Armor, Sacrifice, and Chain Frost. These abilities, along with the 7.06 updates, made Lich one of the most substantial supports in the International. I'll examine some of his abilities to demonstrate why.
Upon targeting an enemy unit, the ability will deal a moderate amount of damage to that enemy and the surrounding area. Movement speed is reduced by 30% and attack speed is subtracted by 20. While the move isn't initially dangerous, it's a continuous source of damage during the laning phase since it has a cooldown of eight seconds. It's also a great tool for chasing an enemy down since it cripples their attack and movement speed. In a meta where chasing an enemy down is crucial, this move is a godsend.
This ability adds armor to a friendly unit or structure that also attributes attack slow to any attacking enemy. While it's intended for defense, it may also be used offensively. For offense, Ice Armor can be cast on an initiation hero. For example, Venomancer with Ice Armor has the potential to blink on the enemy team, cast Poison Nova, and apply attack slow should he be attacked. This provides the initiation hero the chance to also escape should things turn for the worse. Even if it's just one less attack, that minute difference can be the deal breaker.
For defense, Ice Armor enhances heroes' and structures' endurance. Should an enemy hero attempt to take a tower, Ice Armor forces them to have to expend more time to damage the tower, leaving them prone to a counter attack. This move works well against heroes whose focus is attack speed. Heroes such as Troll Warlord, Ursa, and Legion Commander despise attack slow. With this move available to reuse every five seconds, Lich is a downright counter to them. It's not outright amazing, but the longevity of its use is phenomenal.
I won't mention all the talents available, but there are three that make Lich a great choice for late game. At level 20, Lich has the option to gain 150 damage. This talent is crazy and is the very reason some players have adopted a semi-carry build. Between spells, Lich can continue to fight, making him a threat regardless of what position he's playing. At level 25, Lich can either choose an attack modifier that slows attack and movement speed by 30% or add an additional 35 armor to structures. Depending on whether you'd like to play in a defensive or offensive manner, Lich will make himself a problem for the enemy team.
Personally, I favor the attack modifier because the armor only applies to structures. While the armor is useful, it has its limitations. It can't be used in a fight, it's only useful on your side of the map, and it relies on the enemy team to push. The attack modifier is practically a free Eye of Skadi and has more options. Whether it's to catch a fleeing hero or to escape, the additional attack and movement slow provides options. Nonetheless, the armor is still significant. Should you be pushed back to you tier-three towers, that armor will allow your team to hold them off.
Lich's value is his ability to hamper the enemy team through all stages of the game. From manipulation of lane experience to slowing the enemy, there's almost no time that Lich can't be of use. The majority of his moves are consistent and easy to use. This means that both new and professional players can make use of him. For these reasons, Lich was the best support for the Dota 2 2017 International.