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Why Spirit Breaker is suddenly stunning the meta at The International 2023

In front of an unstoppable force, everything — and everyone — appears quite moveable.

There is no choice but to move aside in the face of Spirit Breaker, who has broken more than a few spirits at The International 2023. Through the TI12 group stage, Barathrum is the ninth-most picked hero and boasts a nearly 60 percent win rate, according to Liquipedia.

He’s become a staple pick in the offlane, but why does this hero suddenly feel so powerful at this tournament?

Why can’t people stop Spirit Breaker?

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Spirit Breaker’s latest buff in 7.34d seems minor — a flat five percent increase in damage for his Greater Bash — but it makes a big difference at the speed he clears out creeps. He can one-shot creep waves and most neutral camps easily with just Phase Boots and Wind Lace, instead of needing to invest in more movement speed.

This has given rise to a new build on the offlane hero — rushing Hand of Midas, then straight into Octarine Core, popularized by Team Spirit’s Magomed “Collapse” Khalilov.

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Spirit Breaker has also seen a considerable amount of flex into position four and even the midlane, almost purely by LGD’s Cheng “NothingToSay” Jin Xiang. This ensures the hero scale well into the late-game, with items like Kaya and Yasha, Black King Bar, Aghanim’s Scepter, and even Refresher Orb further boosting the hero’s capabilities.

Offensively, what the hero provides isn’t just stuns — lots of stuns — but damage output that goes along with consistent crowd control. The hero’s Greater Bash might be an RNG fest, but his Charge of Darkness takes the guesswork out of the equation.

The hero pairs this offensive potential in a package that’s frankly difficult to kill. Even when playing from behind, the hero requires a disproportionate amount of effort to catch.

Can the opposing team find a way through Barathrum’s Bulldoze that gives him tons of status resistance and movement speed? If yes, make sure you have enough stuns to catch him before he Charges away to another lane.

Then, he’s still bulky and requires time to take down. It’s not the in-your-face tankiness that a hero like Bristleback presents, but it’s a big threat that demands attention.

It helps that the biggest item counter to this hero, Nullifier — which dispels continuously, making Barathrum unable to use Bulldoze — has seen a massive decrease in popularity.

It just isn’t a popular or synergistic item for this tournament’s meta carries like Muerta, Sven, and Templar Assassin, leaving supports often needing to do the heavy lifting in this case.

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Playing keep away? Good luck hiding from Spirit Breaker

The meta has slowed down considerably, and high grounds have become a more dangerous proposition than ever. Instead of teams going to siege the base, many are instead aggressively farming the enemy side, thus cutting off resources to the opposing team.

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Should any of these heroes ever dare to step out, Spirit Breaker is exemplary at catching them immediately. Yes, heroes like Primal Beast and Earth Spirit possess similar long-range initiations. But none of them can track a target as effectively as Spirit Breaker, giving his allies valuable information.

He also serves as a fantastic complement to support heroes like Enchantress and Skywrath Mage, who provide a lot of damage at the expense of crowd control. This opens up drafting stages for these sort of lane-winning supports that can pump out a lot of damage both early and late, instead of needing to fulfil crowd control duties.

All these culminate in a hero that’s seemingly unstoppable in a teamfight, a relentless mountain goat that rams their head into the wall until it breaks. The hero seems poised to take over the current tournament meta, and it remains to be seen if he can be stopped.

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