Is there anything more frustrating in Dota than sitting in your base trying to repel and endless army of illusions from whittling down your towers? For the past year, give or take, Shadow Demon strats have been a cornerstone of Dota in both pro games and pubs. The boost SD gave to illusion strats, especially when paired with Luna, was unbelievable and very few heroes were able to reliably counter this combination. Shadow Demon was nerfed hard in 6.88, and has fallen out of since 7.00 was released, but is it possible for Shadow Demon to return to the meta in Patch 7.04?
Shadow Demon and Luna: Illusions for Days
Shadow Demon’s Disruption ability was always the main reason to pick this hero. By casting Disrupt on your carry, or an illusion of your carry, SD sends forth illusion armies on a relatively short cool-down. While heroes with strong area-of-effect abilities were able to deal with these illusions, such as Timbersaw, it was often almost impossible to kill them quickly enough to prevent your buildings from taking damage. With potentially five farmed Luna illusions (Manta Style + Disruption) hurling those bouncing glaives around, support heroes were unable to even approach a fight. But Naga, Terrorblade, and many other heroes combined well with Shadow Demon and he became a high-priority ban for almost every team at TI6.
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Shadow Demon: Noteworthy Hero Combinations
Shadow Demon was also a relatively strong early game hero and combines well with various other supports. Disruption is a great setup for Mirana’s Sacred Arrow, for instance, and provides plenty of burst damage for Dazzle’s Shadow Wave. We’ve even seen him combined with Centaur to allow his passive to wear away at towers. Soul Catcher was also extremely effective at helping your team find early kills or pick-offs on important carries later on, and Disruption also provided an excellent counter to enemy illusion heroes–disrupting an Alchemist, for example, give you a free Radiance for a little while.
Shadow Demon: The Patch 7.03/Patch 7.04 Metagame
Unfortunately for Shadow Demon, IceFrog hit him hard with the nerf hammer in 6.88. His illusions started taking more damage, the cooldown on Disruption went up, and IceFrog added a gold bounty for killing illusions. With the release of Patch 7.04, it’s become clear that SD simply isn’t the powerhouse he once was. It’s worth noting, too, that his talents have less of an impact on the game than other supports. In the right illusion strat, he’ll still be effective, but Shadow Demon just isn’t first pick material on the current patch.