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October 10, 2012

A digger's gotta dig, meet Meepo, the Geomancer!

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Written by: GoSuMali

Meepo, summarized in a single sentence, is a highly mobile agility hero who spawns up to 3 duplicates of himself (4 with Aghanim’s Scepter), each with their own ability cooldown timers. These duplicates are not to be confused with illusions. The current Dota 2 competitive scene heavily favors illusions either through Manta Style or abilities that create illusions. Typical builds for Anti-mage and Morphling, two very popular carries, include a Manta Style and it is common to see Naga Siren, Chaos Knight, and Shadow Demon that can all create illusions through their abilities. Morphling also has the ability to create an illusion of a target hero other than himself. There are two main reasons why illusions are popular, illusions carry the same items that are held by the original and they can be used to both farm and deal damage to towers without risking the original hero. Duplicates of Meepo, however, act differently from illusions; they do not take increased damage, they are not limited by a timer, the only items that they share are boots, and when any one of them dies, the rest of them die. That final detail regarding Meepo's duplicates is the most important thing to remember when playing the hero.  Since the opponent only has to take out one of the duplicates, and they do not carry the items of the original Meepo, they are extremely susceptible to burst damage.  Queen of Pain, Morphling with an Ethereal Blade, or Tiny all pose a significant threat to Meepo.   Meepo is a hero with as many advantages as disadvantages and his strength as a pick comes with skilled usage of his abilities.


Earthbind

His first ability is an area of effect ensnare that last for two seconds. Earthbind prevents targets from using Blink (Anti-Mage, Queen of Pain), going invisible (Riki, Templar Assassin, Invoker), and it will interrupt channeling. It will not ensnare or reveal an already invisible unit.  The ability’s cooldown timer (20/16/12/8) and range (500/750/1000/1250) scale with level, but the duration, radius, and mana cost remain static at two seconds, 220, and 100 mana points, respectively. For comparison, Enigma’s Black Hole has a radius of 250, 30 units larger than Earthbind, and Leshrac’s level 4 Split Earth is only 5 units larger at 225. Since each Meepo has a separate cooldown timer, this means that a set of four Meepos, theoretically, could perpetually ensnare multiple targets until he either dies or runs out of mana. This can be a very powerful tool as it can catch an enemy hero out of place and hold them long enough for other members of the team to arrive and finish the kill. The ability cancels channeling, blink, and invisibility, and has an effective range longer than Pudge’s Hook or Blink (Hook: 1300, Blink: 1150, Earthbind: 1250 + 220 radius = 1470), so there is little that can be done to escape from it beyond either killing or scaring off Meepo without a Black King Bar, which blocks the Earthbind. This also means that in a teamfight, Meepo has the potential to stand outside of the effective range of every popular teamfight ability and still ensnare multiple targets. Naga Siren’s Song of the Siren has a range of 1250, so if Meepo is careful with positioning he can stop her from positioning herself in the middle of the team.  All of these factors, however, are dependent on the skill of the player controlling Meepo, and as we have seen with Pudge, competitive teams are wary of picking up heroes with abilities that interact poorly with network latency.

 


Poof

Next is Meepo’s only active ability that deals damage and the source of his mobility, Poof.  Poof allows any Meepo to teleport to another Meepo anywhere on the map. When the Meepo disappears and arrives after a 1.5 second channelling time it deals damage (80/100/120/140) in a 375 radius at both locations. Meepo will teleport to the closest Meepo to the targeted point in much the same way Teleport Scrolls and Boots of Travel work, but the closest Meepo can be the one that cast Poof. Also similar to normal Teleports, this ability is channelled and can be cancelled, leaving that Meepo completely exposed with dire consequences. If you are very comfortable with Meepo and very quick with your fingers, you can deal a large amount of damage to all ensnared targets with all four of your Meepos while ensnaring them at the same time. This ability can also couple with Boots of Travel, since all Meepos share boots with separate cooldowns, to move all four Meepos globally in a short period of time. Similarly, he could also be built with a Blink Dagger/Force Staff to add surprise and even more range.

 

 
Geostrike 

Geostrike, Meepo’s third ability, is passive and provides additional damage over time (5/10/15/20) and a slow (5%/10%/15%/20%) for two seconds. This ability is fairly straightforward: it adds to the difficulty of escaping from Meepo.  With multiple Meepos hitting one target, they will be consistently slowed, and the slow stacks. In some situations with this ability it may make it impossible for a squishy hero with no escape to get away from Meepo even after the ensnare fades.  

 


Divided We Stand

Meepo’s ultimate is the core power of the hero. It is a passive ability that duplicates Meepo 1, 2, or 3 times (2/3/4 with Aghanim’s Scepter). If any one of these duplicates dies, they all die.  If Meepo holds an Aegis of the Immortal, he will be respawned at the location where the original Meepo died. These duplicates can gain gold and experience in the same way as the original, and each has their own ability cooldown timers. Boots are the only items that are shared with the other Meepos directly, but each duplicate receives a 25% bonus from their base stats for any additional stats the original Meepo attains. If we think of Meepo and 4 duplicates as a single entity, each item picked up will give the entity a 100% boost in stats (25% x 4 duplicates = 100%). The downside to this, however, is that since the duplicates do not share any items directly they will be squishier moving into the mid/late game where bonus stats are important factors in survivability and each Meepo is only as strong as the weakest link.

Now that we have an understanding of the hero, what do we do with him? Since he doesn’t have any abilities that help him deal damage later on in the game, and his duplicates can’t sustain focused damage, he won’t be able to fill the primary hard-carry role. He is absolutely dependent on skilling his ultimate and therefore requires experience in order to be useful, he cannot take the bottom three low-farm roles. He will need to build aura items such as Vladmir's Offering, Mekansm, Drum of Endurance, or Assault Cuirass in order to maximize his survivability and damage output. This leaves only the secondary or semi-carry role for him to fill. There may be some situations where he could fit into the tertiary role, but seeing as his power comes from his ability to ensnare and deal damage from a small radius surrounding him, he will need some level of farm in order to survive.

Due to his dependency on both experience and gold, but his inability to play the hard-carry role, he shouldn’t be placed in a trilane. The dependence on experience and gold also means that he would not fit into a roaming role. Without a reliable means to escape, no ranged harassment, and a melee right-click he would not be a viable option for a solo lane. He is also not capable of jungling as he has no means to soak up damage from neutral creeps early in the game. This leaves him either as a component of a dual safe lane if the hard-carry is solo-mid, or taking the solo-mid role himself.  In this solo-mid role he will be powerful at level 6, and has great ganking potential, but he will have a weak presence in the lane until that point. Most solo-mid heroes have at least two abilities that they can skill to give them the upper hand. Queen of Pain has a blink, a nuke, and the a slow/DoT spell; Rubick has a reliable stun and nuke; Templar Assassin has damage negation, a nuke, and a unique passive that allows her right-click to hit multiple targets. Meepo has a disable that deals no damage, an unreliable (1.5 second channel) nuke that requires him to be near the target, and a slow that activates with his melee right-click. He would need to play mid-lane in a similar way to a carry like Anti-Mage, Morphling, or Dragon Knight.  However, since he does have a reliable ensnare, he would probably require help from either a roaming ganker or a dedicated support.

Overall Meepo will likely only be seen in competitive play for specific situations, and not a regular occurrence. While all pros are highly skilled players, there are some that are comfortable with micro than others, and typically it is the support or junglers that have higher skill microing with Chen or Enchantress, not the ones who fill the secondary position. They are typically more comfortable with mobile or ganking heroes who do not require any micro. We may begin to see some experimentation from a few teams to see where he could fit into a lineup, or what heroes he may be effective against, but he will not have an immediate presence like that of Lycanthrope or Naga Siren as soon as they came onto the scene. Meepo can be very powerful, but his role is not entirely well-defined and doesn’t quite fit into the type of DotA that teams have been playing in the past year. Teams who are looking to be able to output damage from replicates will likely stick with illusions which are less risky and are less micro-intensive.

Situational Speculations

Dota 2 is a very complex game due the variety with which a match can be played. A mixture of 10 different heroes on a map with 10 different players all with their own styles of play means that each match is unique and there are no hard and fast rules. However, there is room to speculate as to which combinations may or may not work out based on concrete factors such as stats and abilities. The suggestions that I make are not set in stone, but are ideas on where Meepo may be strong or weak in a given lineup. Breaking it down to its essentials, Meepo has teamfight potential with this ensnare and slow, good pushing power with his global teleport and duplicates, but suffers from any lineup that uses lockdowns to take out one of his duplicates and thereby killing off the rest of them.

If Dark Seer is picked by the team opposing Meepo, they won’t have too much interaction until later on on the game since Dark Seer is either put in the hard lane solo, or in the jungle. The Wall of Replicate will only clone the original Meepo, so its effect on him will not be too strong. Dark Seer will, on the other hand, couple very well with Meepo on the same team. The combination of Vacuum and Earthbind has massive initiation potential. Dark Seer can place down the Wall of Replicate first, then use Vacuum to spawn replicates. Next Meepo can hold down the team so that they cannot escape the replicates. With, perhaps, Morphling and Leshrac for Waveform, Pulse Nova, and Diabolic Edict a large amount of damage can be reliably dealt in a short amount of time making for a devastating teamfight.

Lycanthrope is powerful because he can traverse the map quickly, melt towers with amazing efficiency, and solo Roshan in a short amount of time after farming the early game in the jungle. Essentially Lycanthrope is his own team, so anything that either helps him push down towers or protects him in the early game will be effective.  Meepo will be able to help him push down towers going into the mid and late game, but since Meepo is weak early on in the match he may not be able to provide enough protection to keep Lycanthrope from getting killed in the jungle.  On the other hand, another way to deal with Lycanthrope is to pick teamfight heros like Naga Siren, Enigma, and Tidehunter, each of which can be held in place by Meepo outside of their effective range.  Coupling Meepo with Lycanthrope would could be hit-or-miss.

As far as picking Meepo to counter him, since Lycanthrope usually builds a Black King Bar, and Earthbind does not go through Magic Immunity, Meepo will not be able to lock Lycanthrope down.  Meepo doesn’t have the option to roam into the jungle to kill Lycan due to his dependence on gold and experience.  While the duplicates of Meepo could pose a problem to Lycanthrope in the latter parts of the match, usually Lycan runs from a teamfight to another tower and Meepo won’t be fast enough to catch him.

As I mentioned earlier the benefit to choosing Meepo against Naga Siren is that he can hold her down with Earthbind from a range outside of Song of the Siren. If Naga Siren is able to build up her illusions, however, she should be able to take out Meepo in a live-or-die situation since she only needs to kill one of them and the duplicates do not scale as much as the illusions do with items. She has a single-target ensnare that will force Meepo to use Poof to escape, but any stun will cancel the 1.5 second channeling time.

 

All of Leshrac’s strengths couple exceptionally well with Meepo. Leshrac’s major weakness is his lack of a reliable stun, but with an AoE ensnare Leshrac would be able to guarantee a split-earth as well as deal massive damage over time with Pulse Nova and Edict. When a hero is released from the stun and tries to run away Meepo’s Geostrike will be able to slow them down up to 20%, ensuring that the target is not able to run away from Leshrac.

 

One of the scariest counters to Meepo, or any replicate-based hero is Earthshaker. With a Blink Dagger, Earthshaker can appear out of thin air and cast Echo Slam, an ability that casts instantaneously. Echo Slam’s damage increases with the number of targets it hits. If Earthshaker initiates on 5 Meepos with a level 3 Echo Slam he will be able to deal about 805 damage (340 Slam damage + (70 Echo damage * 5) +115 Aftershock damage) to each Meepo whose raw HP pool at level 16 is 1081. Couple this with a Fissure for 275 and an Enchant Totem hit to boot, each of which proc Aftershock’s 115 damage, and you’re looking at five dead Meepos with both heroes at level 16.  Fissure, Aftershock, and Echo Slam are magical damage, so they completely ignore Meepo’s Armor.

 

Geostrike could make him a viable mid-lane opponent to Templar Assassin, whose power comes from her ability to use Refraction to negate instances of damage (3/4/5/6). Each single attack from Meepo would deal three instances of damage and could quickly negate her Refraction. He has both higher starting Armor and Hit Points than TA and has the same Movement Speed, so she would be forced to make use of Psi-Blades as a means to stand against Meepo. Given that her right click is so powerful, however, she likely won’t have too much of a problem against Meepo.

 

Tinker’s power comes from his high mobility with Boots of Travel. With a Blink Dagger/Force Staff he is exceptionally difficult to lock down. Meepo’s Earthbind does cancel channelling, however, and it is not a targeted spell, leaving open the chance for Meepo to be able to use the large range of the ability to catch Tinker from teleporting out of a tower push.  However, this strategy is likely more of a nuisance to Tinker than anything else as he is only in one location for a very short amount of time and would have to accidentally teleport somewhere near Meepo in order for Meepo to catch him. Also, in a 1v1 mid-lane matchup Meepo is going to have a difficult time against Tinker who has a fantastic ranged harass that can hit two targets at once for high damage, a ranged auto-attack, and an ability that causes all right-clicks to miss for a short period of time.

 

Lone Druid’s greatest weakness is that he must chase down and hit an entangling root in order to kill an enemy. Teams will make sure during teamfights to stay outside of his range. In some teamfights, Lone Druid will spend the entire time running around trying to hit a target. The ensnare from Meepo would benefit Lone Druid because it can be cast multiple times and prevent multiple enemies from escaping. Entangling Root should proc while a hero is ensnared, enabling Meepo to focus on another target. Conversely, if Meepo is against Lone Druid, he can lock down both the Druid and the Bear in a way that only Windrunner can compare, completely stopping Lone Druid from having an effect on the teamfight. A skilled Meepo could present a severe danger to Lone Druid since it will be difficult for him to catch any one of the Meepos and he will have to rely on his teammates to take care of Meepo before he can have an effect on the teamfight. This would be especially problematic for Lone Druid in a situation where he needs to run up to a Tier 3 tower being defended by Meepo.  

 

Earthbind cancels channeling, and is quite easy to hit, but is blocked by Magic Immunity. Enigma’s power comes from carefully locking down a group of heroes with Black Hole, a channelled spell. Meepo would force Enigma to build a Black King Bar before he could reliably use Black Hole, since a well-spaced Meepo would make it impossible for Enigma to land a Black Hole.  If he misses even one Meepo, Black Hole will immediately be cancelled by Earthbind.

 

Article written by Justin "Love is Dead" Blau


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