Gyrocopter's Tryst with Dota’s History
A GenealogyNamed after a Romanian pioneer of early flight, Aurel, the Gyrocopter settled on the Ash Archipelago. A veteran of many wars bygone and mechanical experiments hassled with, the engineer set his sights on providing the universe with the magic of a non-magical aviation device. Days and weeks of frustration went by. In the moment of an exercise in despair, Lady Luck shone upon him. He took flight, and much to the irritation of Monkey King, joined the timeless conflict between the Radiant and the Dire on July 26th, 2010.
Added in the patch 6.68, Aurel’s tinkering in his workshop added an increased payload for rockets to the bow. Garnered from his days at the Ultimyr University, his calculations on aerodynamics and explosives for massive impact gave birth to the machine’s largest missile. The ‘Rocket Barrage’ and ‘Homing Missile’ abilities, combined with a flak cannon and two gigantic harbingers of mass destruction, brought to life the ‘Gyrocopter’. IceFrog has never found a reason to fiddle with the main abilities. The numerous tweaks, however, have shaped his longevity in the meta from never being picked at The International 2 to being the 2nd most picked hero at The International 5 to settling towards mediocrity, before its apparent rebirth.
Our excavation shall shed light on the various meta changes that traverse through the history of Dota 2. Its implications on the Gyrocopter and his standing within the pool will then be examined. We begin from the heady days of 2012 up until the start of 2018.
Global Call Down
3 Homing Missile Charges
-25s Call Down Cooldown
+50 Movement Speed
+11 Rocket Barrage Damage
+3 Flak Cannon Attacks
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6.74 to 6.78 - Humble BeginningsYear 2012. Juggernaut could be omni-slashing the entire game and Broodmother was just a big broodling among numerous bugs. The heady days of Na’Vi’s mid-Rubick and Puppey’s Lycan were the showstoppers. China was the beacon of a shining lighthouse around which assembled most tournaments. By the beginning of 2013, a squad of 5 Swedes were on the rise with Nature’s Prophet and Puck. The question is: where was Gyrocopter? It was the erstwhile ROOT Gaming who ‘discovered’ the hero. They picked him every match in late 2012 leading them to qualify for the Thor Open. Their and the hero’s achievements did not go unnoticed.
After this crucial insight provided by the North American squad, a plague for picking the hero begun spreading, his role dependant on crucial early game lead. The meta was slowly removing the requirement of a hard carry such as Anti-Mage. From the Thor Open to TI3,Gyrocopter became the 4th most picked hero and the most picked safelaner. Black^ extensively used the Gyrocopter between these times, winning 68% of 58 games on the hero. Illidan experienced a few moments of glory with the hero as well but he was unable to translate them into important wins.
Next in line was Loda. It was this hero that saw The Alliance’s crucial and sustained rise. From the end of 2012 to The International 2013, he played the Gyrocopter with a 74% win rate. That number was to change at The International, where he won every single game he played on the hero. The meta can be summarized as ‘Rat Dota’. Stacking ancient camps would have huge impact alongside being able to push lanes quickly and safely. While game 5 is the one many remember when it comes to the TI3 grand finals it should be well remembered that Alliance’s 15 minute victory in game 1, and eventually win in game 4 which pushed the series to the final game, were both done with Gyrocopter.
The Alliance had another card up their sleeve. Gyrocopter was also experimented with as a support. Infamously called the ‘Akkecopter’, their strategy which centered around split-pushing and getting early pickoffs to gain map control worked wonders. It paid dividends when they beat Team Liquid 2-0 at D2L, among other instances. OG’s n0tail was to attempt a replication with Tranquil Boots and Urn which brought some success as well.
From the Chinese, It was Hao erstwhile playing for TongFu who popularized Gyrocopter’s use. Attempting to secure an early farming hero by pressurizing other lanes, the then twenty-two-year old’s Phase Boots into an early BKB won many games. We most famously remember him as part of the infamous Upper Bracket finals at The International 2013 against Na’Vi as the recipient of the Fountain Hook. The bleak past aside, TongFu would find grounding in team fights that secured objectives. Much of its credit goes to Hao’s Gyrocopter.
6.79 to 6.83 - The LarvaWith The International 2014 on the horizon, the name of the game was ‘Deathball’. Teams looked towards Razor, Skywrath, Brewmaster, and Doom gleefully. The idea would revolve around shutting down the safelane carries as soon as possible. This resulted in a substantial diminishing of certain carries being picked. With a potential for early kills alongside the ability to farm much faster early on, it was Mirana and Skywrath Mage most frequently picked. The Gyrocopter was not picked as often as it once was, but its popularity was ascending a step at a time. It is interesting to note that 6.83 brought the hilarious addition of being able to Force Staff a homing missile.
Having said this, Aurel had only but a glimpse into prominence. Meta-bound, the Gyrocopter never received significant game-changing buffs during patches. Neither was it’s Aghanim pick-up a wise idea nor did it receive any tweaks. The changes to Manta Style (which was Hao’s early-mid pick-up) worked very slightly in its favor, but the change in BKB (spell immunity duration tied to the hero instead of the item) could have affected its late game potential. It was at the tail-end of 2014 with 6.81 that the Call Down AoE was increased and a change in its two missiles potential to slow.
The ‘Alliance nerf’ patch cursed Loda. Gyrocopter became his 9th most picked hero with a 33% win rate whilst undergoing an essential change in their game play. Post this period, the Gyrocopter never saw the TI winner’s backing. While one legend of the hero was waning, another was on the rise. Xboct had begun his affair with the aviator. It became his most picked hero during this time and dazzled the meta with his insistence on this hero.
It was Silent from Team Empire who dared to enter the uncharted waters too. He secured a 55% win rate with 29 games on Gyrocopter. For Newbee, the winners of TI4, heroes that could farm and push faster were prioritized as it was the Luna and Morphling that won them the Aegis. Agressif’s rendezvous with the engineer remained a year away.
6.84 to 6.86 - MetamorphosisTechies becoming a viable and even game-winning pick speaks volumes about the meta during this time period. The horizon for heroes to pick was extensively widened. 6.84 was the omen of a colossal tide to shift the meta. The entire focus shifted the pace of snowballing between 20 to 30 minutes. This meant a return of certain traditional carries. The Mid was confronted as the axis around the game. Carried amongst the waves was Gyrocopter. He went from being a blip on the radar to become the 10th most picked hero in the entire year. He faced nerfs with the onset of 6.85. A major asset and liability affecting his gravitation is how Drums progressed as an item. 6.83 onwards, it’s successive refinement only bolstered the Gyrocopter. It is his story during The International 5 that is of concern.
Gyrocopter was vastly picked, being second in line only to Queen of Pain. His win rate also was higher than most relevant heroes. CDEC’s unbelievable run nested on the performance of Agressif, and Agressif’s exceptional results were nested on the Gyrocopter. He fossilized his name on the Gyrocopter with 10 games and a 70% win rate. Exceeding him in this discipline, however, is the veteran Fear. While the man in blue had been creeping towards the hero, his trust with it was cemented with The International 2015. It was his most picked hero, and the end result of the tournament speaks for itself. He popularized the common Helm of the Dominator into Drums of Endurance build that was soon replicated in many pubs. That would transition into an MKB by which time they would be knocking at the door of their opponent’s base.
Another name for the milestone of impregnable Gyrocopter players is Xboct. There is little to be said about this Ukrainian legend. He played the hero 10 times at TI5 with a 50% win rate. Nevertheless, it remained his favorite pick throughout the entire season of 2015. The quintessential ideal of gameplay for Na’Vi was diminishing because of meta changes. During the regime of the men in yellow and Xboct’s career, it would surmount to be his 2nd highest picked hero. He retired from professional Dota 2 with a tally of 111 games on Gyrocopter and a win rate of 62%.
With 2015, the times never were better for our hero in the spotlight. Thereafter, the sluggish meta with OD and Spectre was to take over. Gyrocopter would focus traditionally on Phase Boots and a Ring of Aquila. The next step was either towards an early-game focused Drums and Helm or a Sange and Yasha into a BKB. Both of these itemization's diverge into the two strains of possibilities for the Gyrocopter. There were instances where necessity would demand an early BKB, as seen in EG vs CDEC’s game 3. However, MKB, Butterfly, and Satanic were the mainstay items that win late games to this day.
And herein concluded the golden era for the pioneer aviator.
6.87 to 7.00 - The Rainy Day6.87 was a massive patch even among Dota 2 patches. With it came items like Bloodthorn, Hurricane Pike, and Echo Sabre, the Infused Raindrop, and even Tomes of Experience now so critical for supports that need to hit level 6 in a timely fashion. During this patch OG made use of a wide array of heroes, most notably Batrider and Invoker. They made use of centering their entire gameplay around one player, namely Miracle-. EG made their game work similarly with Mirana and Medusa. At The International 6, the multifarious Wings Gaming led to the destruction of any semblance of a ‘meta’ governing the drafts and gameplay of teams. They had bizarre picks and even more bizarre ability to make them work. It made many proteges and veterans alike question their understanding the game. DC’s insane run comprised of Beastmaster and Timbersaw picks. At an average, the games were centered around team-fights and 40-minute long matches weren’t surprising. Gyrocopter was relegated somewhere between a very structured plan or barely fitting the meta. He was the 27th most picked hero during this time.
His status wasn’t quite as bad as that of Bloodseeker and Troll Warlord who, after one spike in picks and being the belle of the ball were tossed aside. All aforementioned prominent players had moved on all the same from Gyrocopter. It is interesting to note that the Gyrocopter fits within the description of the meta prescribed above. It fell of grace by the virtue of relatively better heroes doing the same thing as Gyrocopter, just better. The Juggernaut could push faster without the vulnerability of Gyrocopter early on. The same advantage was seen in Lifestealer. The first item BKB was now a distant past for the entirety of Dota 2. 6.88 still is considered one of the most evenly balanced patch, but to see Gyrocopter reign for over 3 years consecutively would constitute heresy for the Frog.
Agressif picked him 20 times, winning half the games. Xboct picked him 6 times, winning 1 game. We saw Gyrocopter earlier be the rising meteor that would be everyone’s center of attraction in the draft. The International 2016 saw him picked 13 times with 8 losses. This year diminished its value not with major changes to it but with an overall displacement of its role in the meta. The tweaks provided towards the end of Source 1 were of no comfort to the hero. 3 changes to the Side Gunner saw Aghanim’s being bought in the professional scene for a win by Aui_2000 and a loss by Moogy. The item overall remains an underwhelming pick till this date.
7.00 - EpignosisOnto the Reborn era. Leshrac deteriorates among the lowest rungs of being picked. Same is the story with other predominant heroes from antiquity such as Chen and Pudge. With all teams coping with the new changes post-7.00, nearly everyone was focused on their position 4 and his/her plays. From 7.00 to 7.06, Rubick, Earth Spirit, Earthshaker, and Sand King were among the top picks for professional games. Early game movement across the map and training the mid-lane was the prerogative. The idea was to secure the early lanes and push towards the 25-30 minute mark. Herein excelled the versatility of Juggernaut and Lifestealer. The squishy Gyrocopter was picked 73 times. It delivered subpar performance with a 46% win rate and an abysmal 4.5 KDA. No notable talents could prove palliative.
At The International 2017, the meta still remained centered around perfecting movement and pickoffs across the map. Cores such as Puck, QoP, and Lina prospered. Lycan was most picked among traditional safe lane carries by the virtue of being able to run-down enemy heroes and push much faster than almost any other hero. The crowned, Team Liquid, never picked Gyrocopter. Gyrocopter’s once surging popularity came to a sudden and abrupt halt as he joined his counterparts, Spectre and Wraith King, not necessarily bad but with no place for them to fit in with the current state of the game. The hero ended with 21 games played, accomplishing a 42% win rate, and dampened hope for its revival without some major changes.
Enter 7.07 with improvements to Homing Missile and a revamped talent set, the Gyrocopter rose in consideration. From being the 75th most picked hero from 7.00 to 7.06, he jumped into the 31st rank. His attunement to certain support heroes in a lane that rose to prominence's such as Ancient Apparition and Rubick certainly helped him. The focus on early Drums to attempt an early push as well as securing map control placidly helped the succession. It was the Chinese who pushed towards its resurgence with 7.07 and 7.08. Monet, Moogy, and Paparazi led the charge with startlingly high pick-rates and win-rates. Resolut1on comes next with 10 picks while Miracle-, Ace, and MidOne settled with 2 picks each.
Here, Now, and BeyondGyrocopter is the most picked hero in 7.09 and 7.10, with a 53% pick-rate. No[o]ne has excelled with the hero, earning a 77% win rate which is among his highest for his hero pool (which must be said is quite large). Arteezy and Matumbaman have also tampered with the hero with limited success. The most common items on the hero are Phase Boots-Drums-MoM-SnY, in a way we have come full circle back to 2015, minus the addition of Helm.
And with that, we come to our conclusion.
Throughout the ages, most of the build and playstayle around Gyrocopter has been stagnant within the waves of patches. Alongside the classic Phase Boots, SnY and MKB, he now transforms into an absolute beast around level 20 with the +50 movement speed talent. The itemization alongside his Rocket Barrage paves the way for domination from the onset till the late game. He remains one of the very few heroes that scale excellently till the end due to Flak Cannon. It comes as no surprise that professional players have picked him the most in 7.10 with games averaging at 38:00 minutes for the last two patches, it is increasingly clear how he was the mainstay heavyweight. At DreamLeague Season 9, he was the 3rd most picked hero with a 50% win rate. With Epicenter XL concluded in 7.14 we saw Gyrocopter picked up 28 times, 3rd most of any hero, and boast a 67% win rate on top of it. Not bad for a hero who had his Flak Cannon nerfed with a 10 second cooldown increase (from 30 seconds to 40) in 7.12. Gyrocopter has remained more or less the same while the game changes around him, that means whenever we find ourselves drifting towards an older approach to the game it is likely that Gyrocopter will be right there alongside it.