THE BEST AND WORST AGHANIM’S SHARD UPGRADES ACCORDING TO BSJ

The Best and Worst Aghanim’s Shard Upgrades According to BSJ

Notable Dota 2 streamer Bananaslamjamma (BSJ) has joined up with fellow North American personalities Monkeysforever and Jenkins to create a tier list of how effective the newly added Aghanim’s Shard item is for every hero in the game.

While the tier list was somewhat haphazardly put together in places –mostly due to the three streamers taking a fairly light-hearted approach to the exercise– it should act as a good starting place for people wondering which Aghanim’s Shards are actually worth purchasing in the new patch.

Without further ado, here is the tier list:

Aghanim's Shard Tier List

It should be mentioned, this image is actually an updated version of the list made by me. In the original, BSJ used an outdated template, which had Snapfire and Void Spirit omitted. Hoodwink is obviously not on the list due to not yet receiving an Aghanim’s Shard upgrade.

The main things to discuss here are the reasonings behind the S tier, F tier, and the “OD” (Outworld Destroyer) tier. Some of the key aspects of the Aghanim’s Shard upgrades that BSJ and Co. looked at when deciding which tier to put them in were:

  • Is the hero likely to be able to farm the item?
  • Would the hero buy the Shard over other items?
  • Will the Shard help the hero farm or push lanes?
  • Does the Shard help to battle specific counters?
  • Can the Shard give vision?
  • Does the Shard fill a gap in the hero’s kit?
  • Is the hero in the meta right now?

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the Aghanim’s Shards deemed the worst by the tier list and then move on to the ones suggested to be the best.

The “OD Tier”

Sand King

Sand King Epicenter Upgrade

The reason BSJ, Monkeys and Jenkins placed Sand King right at the bottom of the tier list is because his Aghanim’s Shard actively makes the hero worse. Namely, the constant pulses from epicentre make your hero visible while you are under the effect of Smoke of Deceit and when you are in fog of war. In the late-game, much of Sand King’s impact as a hero comes from his ability to be able to jump on top of heroes unexpectedly; this shard is entirely antithetical to that goal and could actually lose you the game.

Outworld Destroyer

Outward Destroyer Essence Flux Upgrade

There is a reason the trio named the bottom tier the “OD” tier. Jenkins explained during the stream that while OD feels like he should have a lot of mana, he actually ends up having very little –mostly due to the mana cost of arcane orb– and in comparison, he has quite a large health pool. This means that more often than not, this Aghanim’s Shard will simply get you killed, as you end up not having enough mana to actually give yourself a health boost in crucial moments —something that’s hard to judge at a glance. The other major issue is that you have to stand still while you channel it, making you vulnerable the entire time.

F-Tier Aghanim’s Shards

Winter Wyvern

Winter Wyvern Cold Embrace Aghanim's Shards Upgrade

This Aghanim’s Shard made it into F tier because it simply isn’t worth 1400 gold on a hero that has limited farming capabilities. The other major issue is that Winter Wyvern generally needs other support items like Glimmer Cape and Force Staff before considering something like this Aghanim’s Shard —which really only offers a bit of extra AOE in a teamfight.

Undying

Undying Decay Upgrade Aghanim's Shards

While Undying’s Aghanim’s Shard is actually quite decent, this once again comes down to whether or not the hero can farm the item —spoiler alert: he can’t. The problem is that Undying is usually a position 5 support and has no flash farming ability. Undying can’t farm the item and his cores don’t want him taking their gold to get it.

Slark

Slark New Ability Fish Bait

There are a couple of reasons BSJ put Slark’s Shard into F tier. Mainly, he suggests that Slark is simply not a good hero at the moment, which has an impact on whether or not the Shard is good or not. On top of the hero not being in the meta, this item is simply something you wouldn’t want to build until very late into the game, after you have already gotten your core items.

Lion

Lion's Mana Darin Upgrade Dota 2

“The worst ability on the worst hero in the game” is how this Aghanim’s Shard was described by the trio during their stream, and I have to say I don’t entirely disagree with them. While 90 attack speed reduction is a huge amount, the fact that you have to perfectly still on a squishy support hero in order to apply it will make you an incredibly easy target.

In the late game you can’t really afford to put yourself in positions like this as a support whose goal it is to take your opponents by surprise with your Hex and Stun. This item might be decent if you were holding high-ground and trying to stop a push, but then you’re simply buying an item not to lose, as opposed to something that will help you win.

Abaddon

Abaddon Aphotic Shield Upgrade

Abaddon’s Shard was instantly lambasted by the 3 streamers for its high cost in comparison to what it achieves. Curse of Avernus is not a powerful slow, even with the 6% increase, and you would likely always be better off buying something like a Vlads or a Lotus Orb as a position 3. A position 1 Abaddon might be able to farm this item reliably with a Radiance build, but would likely be looking towards an Assault Cuirass, Shieva’s Guard or some raw damage with a Mjolnir to boost their limited right-click damage.   

Io

Io's Dota 2 Tether Upgrade

As far as Aghanim’s Shards go, this one is a strange one. The fundamental issue with the Shard’s design, according to BSJ’s stream, is that you are required to break your Tether to activate the stun. Breaking Tether on Io is not something you generally want to do, unless you need to escape or use Relocate in a specific way during a team-fight. This essentially means that this Aghanim’s Shard doesn’t synergise with how Io wants to play and is therefore almost completely useless as an item.

On top of that, the item requires a 1400 gold commitment, which is gold that a support Io player is not going to have lying around. Limited farm priority and several important core items mean that most Io players are not going to want to pick this up.

Axe

Counter Helix Axe Improvement for Aghanim's Shards

You might recognize this Aghanim’s Shard as one of Axe’s old level 10 Talent options. Previously, there was a good argument to be made for picking this Talent up over the mana regen Talent, but as a 1400 gold item it is much less worth it. Axe can farm the item, but realistically, your game stops being about killing creeps after a certain point, and your focus is entirely on picking off enemy heroes. Unfortunately, there are just much better items for Axe to buy before he’s willing to spend 1400 gold on this.

S Tier Aghanim’s Shards

Now that we have the worst Aghanim’s Shards out of the way, we can take a look at the ones considered by Monkeys, BSJ and Jenkins to be the best. There were a lot of heroes whose Shards were placed into the S Tier, so I’m only going to take a close look at the top 5 in the category.

Monkey King

Monkey King's Tree Dance Upgrade

If you were to simply look at the numbers for this Aghanim’s Shard, you would likely think it seemed fairly average. What’s important to note here though, is that Monkey King’s main weakness in the late-game is that if he is knocked down from trees while split-pushing or scouting, he is stunned for 4 seconds and often dies. This Aghanim’s Shard helps alleviate that problem, and in-doing-so, makes the hero extremely strong. Any Aghanim’s Shard that helps to mitigate specific counters to a hero are always going to be valuable, because itemising against counter-picks in Dota can win games.

BSJ also cites a game in which he was able to move away from his team in the middle of the map, push out the creeps at Dire’s top tier 1 tower and then make his way back to his team so fast that the enemy didn’t even have time to set up a gank on him. This ability to move so quickly across the map is incredibly potent in Dota, allowing you to be where your team needs you to be at any given moment.

Nyx

Nyx Vendetta Upgrade

Once again, we have a movement-based Aghanim’s Shard. Movement speed in Dota 2 has always been an incredibly important stat. For Nyx, much of his usefulness in a team composition comes from his ability to scout during his ultimate, and importantly, not to die while doing it.

40% is a massive increase in speed, and it alleviates the issues Nyx would often have in the late-game when detection becomes much more plentiful for the enemy. The unlocking of the movement speed cap is also a nice little boon for Nyx, allowing him to itemise for movement speed in the late game and make it even harder to catch him.

Earth Shaker

Earth Shaker Fissure Aghanim's Shard Upgrade

The fact that this Aghanim’s Shard reduces the cooldown of one of the best skills in the game by 2 seconds might already be enough reason to spend 1400 gold on this item. BSJ, Monkeys and Jenkins all point out how incredibly useful the aftershock effect is in allowing you to maintain the chain-stun that Earthshaker is known for, making your team-fight initiation that much stronger.

What is crazy about this Shard though, is that on top of those two amazing factors, you also gain the ability to walk on your own Fissure. This means you can use Fissure as an escape more effectively and can even use it to path through trees, cliffs and into the Roshan Pit.  

This Aghanim’s Shard is simply one of the best out there, giving you cooldown reduction, more stun, more initiating options, avenues for escape and better control over the Roshan Pit. Whether you’re playing a core or support Earth Shaker, you will definitely be looking to purchase this Shard in every game.

Puck

Puck Waning Rift

One thing that you will notice in high tier pub games and competitive Dota 2 is that vision is king. With that in mind I think it’s fair to argue that we would likely see this Aghanim’s Shard picked up in professional games even if it only provided the ability to see invisible units and wards. Instead, it gives Puck some extra burst damage and also pushes units back, thus making Waning Rift synergise with his ultimate even more. BSJ and Co. point out that this Shard adds so many things to Puck’s kit (perhaps too many) and it is helping to make Puck a very strong pick in the meta right now.

Aghanim’s Shards in the Meta

So, there we have it, BSJ, Monkeysforever and Jenkins have given Dota 2 players some food for thought with regards to how these new items will affect the game of Dota. The meta is in considerable flux at the moment, with the Mistwoods Update shaking things up and the new DPC season setting standards for the competitive scene, but information like this from top players is a good way to get a handle on how the meta will develop in the coming weeks.

If you want to see the full VOD showing the construction of the tier list, go check it out at BSJ’s Twitch channel, here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/868036472?t=1h23m46s