Templar Assassin had the second-highest pick-rate out of all mid-laners in the Dota 2 WePlay AniMajor.
The pick rate has historically been low through numerous patches. In fact, she was largely considered a weak choice against most meta midlanes up until 7.28. Add to this a litany of other drawbacks, and it becomes clear why even TA-main streamers like Blitzspanks think the hero is weak. Till the recent Major, Templar picks were a much rarer sight, even in the post-7.29 regional leagues. So what changed in the AniMajor?
What makes Templar Assassin unique in Dota 2
Like many who make her out to be, Templar Assassin is not a "weak" hero per se. In fact, some of the tools in her belt are nearly unique in Dota 2. Q, for example, is the sole ability that can grant absolute immunity from several instances of damage, the only other source in Dota 2 being Aeon Disk.
Psi Blade (E) is, surprisingly, the most unique of all. Templar’s right clicks spill through the initial target to hit others in the back. This is the only spell in Dota 2 that can hit secondary targets in this manner, but the tale does not end here.
Psi blade spill can hit targets far away from the initial range, up to 1470 without Dragon Lance. Moreover, all spill damage is converted to Pure damage after the first target.
Under the right circumstances, this means that Templar Assassin can out-damage any other Dota 2 hero midgame. With her usual Desolator pick-up, she hits low-armor support like a truck. The unbridled damage is then converted to Pure spills for targets behind the support.
As designed in Dota 2, Pure damage ignores all armor. So these spills can melt high-armor Dota 2 agility carries like Naga Siren. But none of this is what sparked the Templar Assassin resurgence in the Dota 2 AniMajor. It has more to do with the teamfighting mid-game dominance meta that emerged in the tournament.
The keystone in the Templar trend is an addition in Dota 2 patch 7.22. The Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade was reworked into a new skill: Psionic Projection. This allows Templar to teleport to any pre-placed Psionic Trap (R). After subsequent buffs in patch 7.29, it is a 1.2-second channel teleport that does not break Meld (W) and costs less mana than a TP scroll.
This essentially gives Templar an escape on par with Ember Spirit, and in favorable games, essentially makes her an alternative Nature’s Prophet. Without Boots of Travel, Templar and Nature’s Prophet are the only Dota 2 heroes with a potentially global teleport now.
Templar Assassin is naturally good at taking towers even without Aghanim’s. The ability to teleport to different sides of the map near-instantly enables her to be elusive and split or keep up the pressure with deathballs and towers. Needless to say, the correct draft coupled with this can close the map very early on, which is exactly what the last tournament meta emphasized.
The Templar Assassin bandwagon might not be for everyone
All said and done, Templar is extremely dependent on her mid-game power spike. Her win conditions depend entirely on being top net worth at 20 minutes. TA does not number among Dota 2 heroes who can reliably bide their time for a comeback. Moreover, there are any number of counterpicks to Templar that can completely shut her down early-game.
There are many Dota 2 checklists she absolutely needs to fill. She absolutely needs to be last-picked. She absolutely needs to win her lane. If not, she absolutely needs to take ancient stacks to close the net worth gap and get her items up early. Item timing for Templar has to be perfect to a fault.
Such efficiency is very uncommon in the lower brackets of Dota 2. The lure of a 60% win rate across 35 picks in the Dota 2 AniMajor is of no substance there.
And thus, despite some utility in her new Shard-enabled 3.5-second silence and her global-teleport Psionic Trap, Templar Remains an extremely situational pick. She is certainly in a better place than previous Dota 2 patches but far behind traditional picks like Puck outside of the pro meta.
Also ReadArticle Continues below
Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer.