Since 7.26, pushing heroes such as Wraith King and Spectre have been dominating the pub matches, but with 7.27 up for more than a week, a new contender rises. With 56% win rate since the latest patch, Zeus proves that he is not to be ignored.
Magic damage at the cost of defense
Before, people play Zeus exclusively as a mid laner that has tons of magic damage, but after his Aghs changed to having a Nimbus, players have explored the offlane and support Zeus.
According to Dotabuff’s data, 65% of the picks are played in mid, while the remaining are juggled between an offlane or a pos 4/5. Despite the variety in laning, Zeus boasts over 50% win rate in those situations.
What makes him flexible is the use of his skills. As a core, getting Arc Lightning gives him a wave clear, while his Lightning Bolt provides at least 125 damage early on. Combined with his Static Field, core Zeus is able to harass decently and stand against tanky lanes as his passive gives additional damage based on a percentage of the enemy’s current health.
On the other hand, a support Zeus prioritizes Lightning Bolt and Static Field for dewarding and provide his lane with a strong harassment tool. Unlike a core Zeus, the support counterpart focuses mainly on getting Aghs as his major item.
For both roles however, Thundergod’s Wrath is the key skill that will make them effective. At 450 damage at level 3, Zeus’ ult not only provides damage, but also a vision of the enemies. With a 90-second cooldown, Zeus can regularly cast his ult to set up kills for his allies or even secure one for his own.
Lastly, having an extra ability with Nimbus allows Zeus to interrupt enemy channelling skills with the mini-stun; push creep waves from a safe distance; and provide vision as well as follow up for his ult to land kills.
What makes Zeus very effective all throughout the game is that items such as Aether Lens, Kaya, Octarine, Refresher, Eul’s and/or Blink allows him to deal damage even when he is far in fights. However, Zeus has not found a place in both Pro and pub matches in 7.26 as the Zoo meta limited his farm. With teams grouping up for early pushes, Zeus did not find enough space and farm to build himself some mobility/defensive items. Because of this, players sacrificed the massive magic damage output of Zeus to other heroes who are not very susceptible to ganks even with a few items.