Avec Aplomb! Why Pangolier Has Been Rolling Over Teams in the SEA DPC
With Southeast Asia’s top Dota 2 teams clashing in Division 1 of the Dota Pro Circuit, one hero rose to prominence with a staggering 83% win rate combined with a respectable 28% pick rate – the elusive but classy Pangolier. Despite the hero's low win rates in public games - 46% throughout all brackets and a decent but not great 49.13% in the Immortal bracket, he still finds himself picked in a meaningful number of professional games.
What makes this hero strong? Why do teams love this hero so much? Today we take a look from both a statistical as well as from a methodological perspective, on how this Disney-esque swashbuckler turned into a rolling ball of terror.
Moving the slow effect from Lucky Shot to Shield Crash increased Pangolier’s reliability
IceFrog rebalanced Pangolier in version 7.30 so that Lucky Shot no longer slowed, and moved it to Shield Crash instead. This made Pangolier much more reliable in providing disables because you no longer need to rely on randomized procs to provide a form of crowd control, especially before level 6 when Rolling Thunder is unavailable. The cooldown reduction was also welcomed, especially enabling position 4 Pangoliers even though Pangolier was traditionally played as a position 3 offlane core.
This change allowed Pangolier, whether played as a position 3 or 4 in the offlane, to have more laning partner options, such as in this game where Team SMG picked a Pangolier and Weaver duo and scored a win against Motivate.Trust. Previously, due to a lack of disables, picking Pangolier with heroes that had no reliable slow or stun such as a Weaver, Io or a position 4 Monkey King would result in a weak lane. Now that is not necessarily the case anymore.
Flexibility in drafting made teams favour first-picking Pangolier
As Pangolier can be played in multiple positions (Position 2, 3, 4 and even the occasional 5), drafters favoured picking him in the first phase to conceal their actual strategies and keep their options open. Pangolier also does not have any real drawbacks other than his weak laning stage. However, in this teamfight-centric meta, winning the lane is less important than simply hitting level timings, hence when Pangolier comes online at level 6, he can still wreak havoc in skirmishes or even large-scale team fights.
Out of the most recent 10 matches in SEA DPC Division 1 where Pangolier was picked, 7 of these were during the first drafting phase, while in the other 3 matches, he was picked in the second phase. No Pangoliers were last picked, further elaborating the fact that this slippery fencer’s flexibility didn't require teams hiding their intention to play him.
Pangolier is one of the few heroes that can reliably switch roles mid-game
Even if you picked a Pangolier for the intent of playing a position 3, he can be switched to position 4 and vice versa as the game state changes. Support Pangoliers favour Euls or Blink Daggers for reliable disables and to combo with his spells, while core Pangoliers generally opt for a Maelstrom or Skull Bashers to provide quick burst damage thanks to Swashbuckle’s ability to proc items. However, you can buy a Skull Basher as a support to rectify the lack of disables in the team, or defensive items like Lotus Orb, Aeon Disk and even a Shiva’s Guard no matter what role your Pangolier is playing the game.
Requires minimal gold to function but does well with it too
If teams are planning to play a support Pangolier, they generally want Pangolier for Rolling Thunder in team fights to sow chaos with his spells, which means not having farm is less of an issue compared to position 4 heroes like Rubick. For example, in this game, BOOM Esports picked Pangolier for Tims against TNC Predator. He functioned with minimal farm as a position 4 due to the fact that the Phantom Assassin, Ember Spirit and offlane Outworld Destroyer on his team were soaking up all the gold on the map. He opted for cheaper items like Lotus Orb, Urn of Shadows and Aeon Disk to ensure his hero was always relevant in skirmishes and team fights.
However, if a support Pangolier ends up farmed, options like more disables in the form of Scythe of Vyse or a Spirit Vessel are great options to further beef up your capability to annoy enemies in team fights. The hero also has the option to switch to a core playstyle, which players like Fnatic.DJ are known for (even picking up a Refresher Orb in this match against Motivate.Trust to score a victory despite being down in terms of the kill count).
Now that we went over why Pangolier has been performing well in the SEA DPC, it is time to know where to catch the action. The SEA DPC Division 1 by Beyond the Summit is available live on eGG Network Channel 800 via Astro or Astro GO, if you plan to watch on your mobile. Make sure you don’t miss out on the action!