Has Pudge Become a Viable Carry in Patch 7.31d?
Ever since Dota 2 launched, Pudge has always been the most popular hero among players and is the most played hero in the game with it being played over 891 Million times in pub games. However, Pudge has mostly been overlooked in professional matches for a long time now and has not gained the same notoriety it has in pub matches. But after several buffs over the past few patches and a major one in the latest 7.31d patch, it might just be time for Pudge to take center stage in the pro scene with teams like Team Liquid opting to give the Butcher a try in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). With pros like Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov, Janne "Gorgc" Stefanovski, and others confident of the hero’s viability as a strong 7.31d carry, it looks like Pudge is finally back in the meta as a carry.
Livestreamers, pros, and DPC teams believe in the strength of core Pudge
Dota 2 livestreamer Gorgc was one of the first popular personalities to try out Pudge in ranked matches after he read about the buffs in the patch notes. And based on his results in pubs, the hero appears to have a lot of potential.
A true testament to how strong the hero can be and how he can endure massive amounts of damage was seen on North American livestreamer Mason “mason” Venne’s stream. Pudge just seems to be one of the tankiest heroes in the game, dishing out a ton of damage in the frontlines.
Division 1 teams such as nouns, TSM, and Team Liquid, have already started picking the hero either as a midlaner or as a carry in the DPC 2021/22 Tour 3. Both TSM and nouns found success with it in their games and while Liquid lost with the hero, it was a closely contested contest against goonsquad spanning 74 minutes, which could have gone either way.
Team Spirit’s position four player Miroslaw "Mira" Kolpakov, during a recent post-match winner’s interview stated that playing Pudge in the core role was their secret strategy but got stolen from the scrims and is being used everywhere now.
While pros have lauded the hero’s ability to play as a core, the win rate statistics back them up. According to Dotabuff, the hero has seen a dramatic increase in its win rate in the past week, climbing from 47.61% to 49.63%. This is the third highest win rate increase, only behind Sven and Terrorblade in the past week.
, Pudge has a 58.3% win rate as a carry in 7000 MMR+ average pubs, making it one of the strongest heroes in the patch. Team Secret’s Nisha, in particular, has found a lot of success with the hero winning eight out of nine Pudge games in his most recent pubs. It will be interesting to see if Team Secret busts out the hero in its upcoming DPC games.
How to play Pudge Carry in Patch 7.31d?
Patch 7.31d has actually allowed Pudge to be played as a carry. The patch saw the hero get increased base damage, a boost to his damage block numbers in Flesh Heap, and a talent buff to top it all off.
Even if these changes do not appear drastic on the surface, it is an entirely new experience to play the hero. Pudge is a mighty hero in the laning stage now with the increased base damage and when paired up with the right support, it is capable of truly dominating the lane.
After the initial Magic Wand/Bracer/Soul Ring purchases, Vanguard is usually the first major item that players need to prioritize. It makes the hero nigh impossible to take down in the first 10-12 minutes.
Once he has Vanguard and his Soul Ring, Pudge can farm relatively quickly with Hook insta killing creeps and Rot dishing out a ton of AOE damage. This is usually when you start rotating around the map and find pickoffs when opportunities present themselves. Pudge is a scary hero to play against without proper vision, so ask your supports to buy lots of sentries or perhaps rush an early gem.
You can farm your Phase Boots and Hood of Defiance (that can be upgraded to the recently buffed Eternal Shroud) or rush your Aghanim’s Scepter.
In any case, Aghanim’s Scepter is a key item timing for Pudge since it increases his effective damage, survivability, and control. If you can get it by 20 minutes, you become an AOE damage monster. Very few heroes can survive the Hook+Rot+Dismember combo once you have your Scepter.
Following this, a Blink Dagger (which can later be upgraded to Strength Blink) is purchased to help initiations. Black King Bar (BKB) is also a viable choice if you have to play a defensive game or if the enemy has too many interrupts for your ultimate..
Late game itemization is highly situational and includes Shiva's Guard (if you’re up against illusion heroes or high physical damage), Bloodstone (if you want to keep snowballing), Octarine Core for decreased cooldowns, Sange and Kaya (if you’re up against BKB piercing stuns) and more.
At the beginning of the patch, Pudge has drawn a lot of attention from casual and pro players. With the patch progressing and teams developing a deeper understanding of it, it will be interesting to see if Pudge continues to shine in official games or if he falls back to being a surprise niche pick. But in any case, spamming Pudge’s carry in your ranked games appears to be a viable option.