Dota 2 Hero Alchemist Made A Curious eSports Comeback This Weekend

Dota 2 Hero Alchemist Made A Curious eSports Comeback This Weekend

This past weekend saw Dota 2 descend on New York City’s Madison Square Garden theatre for the eSports tournament ESL One. One thing that surprised a lot of Dota 2 fans was the return of Alchemist, a hero who hasn’t had a huge impact on the game’s pro scene for a while now.

Alchemist is a melee fighter in Dota 2 who was recently buffed in a curious way. The humongous 6.84 patch that was released back in April gave him a unique and very powerful method of using one specific item in the game known as “Aghanim’s Scepter.” Normally, the way Aghanim’s Scepter is it supercharges their abilities. It’s the same effect when Alchemist has and uses the scepter, the only difference that was introduced in 6.84 is that he can cast it on his allies as well as himself.

Alchemist is one of the best heroes in Dota 2 when it comes to farming gold, meaning he can accumulate a lot of currency in a (relatively) short amount of time if he wants to and then use it to buy himself bigger and better in-game items and equipment. The idea post-6.84, then, was that Alchemist players could potentially outfit their entire team with crazy aghanim’s buffs.

Or at the very least since Aghanim’s is relatively expensive (4200 gold), Alchemist could strategically apply it to his teammates that he knows would use it most effectively.

You can see how Team Secret used this exact technique to their benefit in one of their games against CDEC this week at Madison Square Garden, as captured in this highlight video by the YouTuber NoobFromUA:

The specific highlight comes very late in the game, when team Secret is chasing after a single hero named bristleback who looks sort of like an angry, anthropomorphised porcupine:

Notice how the commentators shout excitedly that the kill is proof of “the late game potential of the Reaper’s Scythe with the Aghanim’s upgrade.” The Scythe is a powerful stun move used by an undead hero named Necrophos that adds 30 seconds to an enemy’s death timer if they’re killed with it. Already a pretty killer move, right? But when it’s upgraded with Aghanim’s Scepter, it becomes bonkers: An opponent who’s killed by a Scythe can’t buy themselves back into the game, which makes the supercharged special ability absolutely devastating late in a game when everyone’s death timers are already super long and being a man down can make the difference between victory and defeat.

The tl;dr version of this that I had my Dota 2-playing friends explain to me in painstaking detail is: Alchemist’s upgrade for Necrophos let him take an opponent out of the fight for a whole two minutes late into the game, a play that the commentators described as basically sealing the deal for Team Secret’s victory.

It’s not like a single pro game or individual hero pick is going to change the course of the entire pro Dota 2 meta, so I’m not sure how much of an impact Alchemist will end up having. The other major game from this past weekend that featured Alchemist didn’t go as well for Invictus Gaming, the team doing the picking, as it did for Team Secret. They ended up losing the match to Vega Squadron, who emerged as the tournament’s champions at the end of the weekend. And there’s always the possibility that Dota’s next game-changing update, which is expected to come out soon, could end up knocking Alchemist down a few pegs before he ever has a chance to become a top-tier character — if he’s even capable of such a think in the first place.

Giving a MOBA hero an ability to essentially donate an ultra-powerful item to even one of his allies strikes me as a ludicrous thing to do, but I’m looking at this from the perspective of playing a whole lot more of League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm than I have Dota 2. Adding to an enemy’s death timer would also seem like an insane thing to introduce to League or HOTS as well, I’m sure. So if you’re a seasoned Dota 2 player and eSports fan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what Alchemist’s performance this past weekend could mean.


  • Giving a MOBA hero an ability to essentially donate an ultra-powerful item to even one of his allies strikes me as a ludicrous thing to do

    You’re right, it is. But in hands of most players, an Alchemist won’t reach a point where he can essentially farm a Scepter in four minutes. In that case, farming one for another player comes at the cost of building yourself items.

    • So true. Alchemist still has a very low overall win-rate because in low-skill games he is too hard to farm effectively with and in high-skill games he is fairly easily countered. He is a very difficult hero to play because of his reliance on farm and is one of the weakest early-game characters.

  • I think there’s the potential to run him as a position 1 support – give him top farm priority, and just get him pumping out aghs scepters for the rest of the team. I think it could work as a pocket strat (you need 4 other heroes with upgrade-able ultis), just like it did for secret.

    I think something that people often overlook is that Alch effectively can give his team a 7th item slot – since it’s a buff, the item slot they would have used to hold the scepter can now be used to hold something else. On someone like Tiny, that’s absolutely terrifying – also the fact that Tiny can play as a position 2, farm up a quick Manta / Cuirass / etc. and then be given an aghs on top of that – huge. Timbersaw can rush bloodstone then get handed an aghs – that’s bonkers.

    • Yeah i agree that could definitely be viable if he’s babysat in lane =)

      I’d only be even more terrified of an early Aghs on Zeus, ES, Enigma or Earthshaker.

      • I played a game the other day where the other team had Rhasta, Alch, Abaddon, Axe and Enigma. The alch rushed aghs for abaddon, and we literally could never fight into them. It was disgusting – game was over in under 30 mins.

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