Since patch 7.28, the Aghanim's Shard has become an integral part of the way we play Dota 2. It provides a necessary and often unique way for heroes to approach the mid-game and sometimes even eliminates one of a core weakness.
There have been reworks to several Shard upgrades since then, but mostly for the good. Supports, in general, have pretty good upgrades. But it is easy to identify the really good ones, as a 1400 gold investment is not the same for a support as it is for a core. Let's take a look on which heroes the item is truly worth buying.
Abaddon's Shard upgrade causes Mist Coil and Aphotic Shield to apply a Curst of Avernus stack on enemies, while also lowering their cooldown by 1 second. On top of that, it increases its base slow by 10%.
This makes support Abaddon even more of a menace than he already is. He's been sporting a pretty good win-rate for most of the year. And the added level 25 talent which reduces his Curse of Avernus stack requirement by 1 synergizes well with it too, even if it is in the super-late game.
A 35% damage reduction on Shadow Walk and reduced cooldown of 5 seconds would have been enough to make Bounty Hunter's upgrade viable. But the fact that it stuns enemies when attacking out of invisibility makes it an attractive purchase.
It is potent against squishy support heroes that generally need to react quickly to defend themselves. Combined with the level 10 talent, you can stun and slow enemy heroes for an absurdly long amount of time.
Crystal Maiden's Aghanim's Shard was already quite powerful after its rework in patch 7.28. It allows you to move, cast spells and use items during Freezing Field, essentially removing the channeling component. But with patch 7.29's buff, it’s become even better.
It increases the number of explosions by 20%, which makes her Aghanim's Scepter upgrade look tame in comparison. Take note that it does slow her movement speed by 75% and does not prevent Freezing Field from being interrupted by stuns and silences.
Mireska's Agh's Shard upgrade was somewhat underrated before, but with time, players have grown to appreciate it more.
It provides a reduced cooldown and stun delay on Cursed Crown, while also creating four Brambles around it after the stun, which is quite difficult to get out of in an actual game. But the icing on the cake is the fact that it triggers even upon dispel. This is the perfect solution to the problem Dark Willow faces in the mid-game against heroes with dispels.
This upgrade is actually something Earth Spirit players had been asking for quite a while. The hero always struggles in the mid-game due to his limited Stone Remnants, but the Shard solves that. Getting 4 extra charges is massive, but that's not all there is to it. It also causes the remnants to provide a small circle of vision around them.
You can use this to find wards on a cliff or ward hill while placing a sentry on the ground. What's even better is that enemies can't do anything to remove this vision since Stone Remnants are invulnerable.
This is another underrated Shard upgrade, probably because IO isn't played all that much in pubs compared to other heroes. Allowing Tether to stun enemy heroes and deal damage seems pretty basic.
But in the right hands, it can absolutely cripple enemies. The upgrade does require good positioning on IO or the unit they are tethering to. But it also increases Tether movement speed by 10%, which certainly helps. Given IO's bump in win-rate, its possible we'll get to witness the true potential of this upgrade at the International 10.
Phoenix is one of the strongest late-game support heroes, and has been for a while. The Aghanim's Shard upgrade allows you to use Sunray during Supernova, while also slowing enemies by 12%.
It makes it all the more difficult for heroes to stay in range of the Supernova to try and hit it. This was previously part of the Aghanim's Scepter upgrade, but was deemed too strong, and rightfully so. But now that it’s available at a cheaper price, it is a must-buy on the hero.
Rubick's Shard upgrade is favoured quite a bit in the pro scene. Since players tend to focus on teamplay a lot, Telekinesis provides a saving mechanism on the hero who normally doesn't have one.
You can even cast it on yourself to get out of a sticky situation. Furthermore, it reduces its cooldown by 30%, and the 85% bonus throw range synergizes very well with the level 20 talent which gives an added +240 land distance.
The Aghanim's Shard upgrade for Venomancer has stayed the same since its introduction in patch 7.28. If something isn't broken, don't fix it! It causes Venomous Gale to spawn two Plague Wards when it impacts an enemy hero. With an increased cast range of 400, it compensates for the hero's lower-than-average attack range and guarantees a Poison Sting debuff to get applied immediately.
Previously, Warlock's Aghanim's Shard upgrade only caused Shadow Word to increase movement speed on allies and reduce it on enemies. In patch 7.29, it also turned the spell into an AOE ability with a 450 radius. Since then, it has almost become a core component of the hero's build.
The combined slow from this upgraded spell and Upheal absolutely cripples enemies. Not to mention, it becomes all the more potent with his level 15 talent that reduces Shadow Word's cooldown by 5 seconds.
Such as it is with these types of lists, there are bound to be several Shard upgrades that are pretty good in general, but don't make the cut. A few such examples are upgrades for Ancient Apparition, Dazzle, Disruptor, Earthshaker, Kunkka, Pudge, Shadow Shaman and Windranger.
We talked about AA's Shard upgrade in one of our previous articles, as it allows him to push waves safely and be a menace to enemy heroes that initiate with Blink Dagger. Disruptor's upgrade isn't very popular. It seems saving the gold and rushing Aghanim's Scepter is just a better choice instead. But it has been buffed a couple of times, so we may see it being prioritized in the TI meta.
Earthshaker's Shard upgrade probably would have made it to the list, had it not been for the immediate nerf that followed its release. Kunkka's upgrade Tidal Wave is a great follow-up to his X Marks the Spot combo, repositioning heroes to your advantage.
Windranger's upgrade Gale Force may be the most underrated of them all, as the spell has a global cast range, which is only utilized to its full potential in professional matches rather than pubs.
That brings us to the end of our list of the best Aghanim's Shard upgrades for supports in the game right now. If you are a support player, it’s good to know whether it’s worth buying a Shard, and what other item you could have bought instead. 1400 gold is a lot for a support, so it is important that you spend it wisely. In the next article, we will talk about all the best Aghanim's Shard upgrades on core heroes in the current patch.
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