For some time now, Underlord has held the highest win-rate for players in the high-skill bracket. Most would expect the character to make an appearance in the internationals but, surprisingly, he didn’t. While the pros aren’t beholden to following the meta, one would at least expect them to use the most effective tools. So what made Underlord so unappealing?
What makes Underlord Good?
The great thing about this hero is that he’s a natural carrier for auras. From his Atrophy aura to items such as Guardian Grieves, Underlord does a lot in the background. Because of how tanky he is, Underlord will endure the worst while giving his team health regen and reducing incoming damage. He’s also a good carrier for Blademail, Pipe of Insight, and Crimson Gaurd. With all of these items, Underlord becomes a questionable target for his enemies. He has a lot of early game potential because of his abilities, Firestorm and Pit of Malice, and can push lanes effectively. With his arsenal, he can do it all: harass the enemy team’s carry from farming, push the lane, and lock a hero down. Best of all, people are sleeping on the potential of his Aghs ability. Providing fifty percent of your bonus damage to your team is nothing to sneeze at.
The secondary benefit of this character is his ability to transition into late game. Most supports will have a capping point should they not pick up fighting items. Their abilities are more suited for team use rather than farming. Underlord, however, is a character who can farm early on using Atrophy Aura and Fire Storm. These moves allow him to either farm creep waves or endure jungle creeps. With efficient moves to gain gold, he can afford to buy an array of items that help suit him for late-game. Clearly he has a lot of benefits, so why wasn’t he at the international?
Underlord may be too Passive
While we’ve seen how much he can do behind the scenes, Underlord doesn’t have many active uses. Generally, a support has a specific role in mind based on their abilities. Ominknight heals and grants immunity to damage, Crystal Maiden can harass and provide mana, but what does Underlord do?
While he is a king of passive abilities, his active uses don’t contribute much to a team fight. Fire Storm deals damage based on the percentage of a player’s health but has a very limited area of effect. To get the full damage of the ability, one would need a form of lockdown. While Underlord’s ability, Pit of Malice, has the capability of ensnaring an enemy, the duration they’re caught in is too short. This limits his ability to chase down enemy heroes. This means he would either need a character who is better suited for chasing enemy heroes to be with him or to buy an item.
To sum things up, Underlord is a character who needs to buy items if he wants to be a more active use in team fights. After watching this year’s international, it became clear that the meta was favoring active uses. A solid stun, burst of damage, or heal was of more use than a passive buff. The only exceptions would have been abilities that increased armor or attack speed or became attack modifiers.
Should Underlord be apart of the Meta?
Despite the prior criticism, Underlord should definitely be a more common hero in the current meta. While the pros favored more active uses, the value of passive abilities should not be underestimated. Underlord is an easy hero to learn that has options when building items. Even at his worst, Underlord is a hero who can tilt elongated fights in your favor just by living, and he always has the ability Dark Rift to ensure an escape for his team.