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43 Votes

A wall-of-text guide to Chaos Knight

January 4, 2013 by Grusin
Comments: 25    |    Views: 228010    |   

Regular CK

DotA2 Hero: Chaos Knight

Hero Skills

Chaos Bolt

1 3 5 7

Reality Rift

2 4 6 8

Chaos Strike

12 13 14 15


10 11 16


9 17 18


Welcome to Chaos Knight, the Ogre Magi of melee heroes carries. As CK, you rely on RNG just as much as the good ol' ogre does, but you perform a bit better if the lady luck doesn't favor you. In competitive, CK is most often used in position 2, meaning he's the person that gets farmed the second most in the team. How does that translate to his gameplay? It means you do not need gold as desperately as the hard carry, but you also don't scale as well. As CK, you're not too shabby in the early game and shine in the mid game, so use that to secure a lead and go for victory before the enemy team can outscale you.

Chaos Knight does not look complicated on paper and is fairly straightforward to play, making him a decent pick for anyone relatively new to the game. He can carry a pub game by himself pretty easily, but he's also useful at higher levels of play. As with any other hero, it is important to know your strengths and weaknesses, and in the case of CK, the former outweigh the latter by quite a lot.

What does CK do well/What does CK suck at?


    Absolutely rapes the opposition if luck is on your side
    Is still useful even if you're the most unlucky chap in the whole ******* world
    Long single-target disable that allows for easy follow-up stuns
    6 second cd Blink strike that also pulls the enemy towards your team, on a relatively tanky STR hero
    Strongest illusions in the game that synergize well with your other skills
    Good base damage and a decent stat gain
    Good Duelist

    Abysmal manapool
    Illusions are still food to any aoe: cleave-based carries (I'm looking at you, Sven) or mass disablers will make your lategame a living hell.
    Your attacks have a whopping 30 damage spread, many a lasthit will be lost because you'll keep hitting creeps for that 49 damage (quelling blade makes this almost a non-issue)

What the hell do my skills do?

Your first skill, Chaos Bolt, is the simplest thing ever: a single target stun/nuke. But since we've got this whole RNG thing going on, the damage you will deal is random, and the stun duration will be random too. Min and max values for both of those will keep improving with levels so it's very important to max this spell first - rank 4 gives you a guaranteed 2 second stun, which makes you a decent disabler even if the lady luck dishinherited you and your whole family. Things to note: DO NOT rely on this skill for damage, even on the max rank the maximum damage is 275, and the minimum is so pathetic that you won't even see their health bars shrink. Therefore: THIS IS YOUR DISABLE AND TREAT IS A SUCH, YOUR DAMAGE COMES FROM YOUR CUDGEL/STICK/BASEBALL BAT THING. What's even more important is that this spell costs a whopping 140 mana, which basically leaves your sacks dry after casting it once early. Be shrewd with your Chaos Bolt, try to save it for a guaranteed kill - when a lanemate has a follow-up stun ready, or when someone else is coming to gank your lane. DO NOT hesitate to use it to save your or your ally's sorry *** - being dry is better than dying at full mana.

Reality Rift is one of my favorite abilities in the whole game. What at first glance looks like a boring Blink/Phantom Strike, turns out to be much more devastating, and, more importantly, fun. Basically, instead of your sorry *** teleporting all the way to the enemy, you pull both yourself and your target to a random point between you (hello RNG).
It looks sort of like this:

(CK)________________________________(Enemy Hero)


________________(Enemy Hero)(CK)_________________

As you can see, CK ends up closer to his enemy's starting position and vice-versa. This might be useful for blocking off their escape paths.
After a succesful Rift, both you and the enemy unit will end up facing each other and you'll automatically keep attacking the poor sob with your spikey black bat, dealing 100 bonus damage on max rank on the first attack. That bonus damage lasts for either 1.2 second or 1 attack - meaning that if for some reason (ghost scepter, decrepify) you can't attack the rift target immediately, your bonus damage is lost. Tough luck. Also, pay in mind that you can only blink to the enemy - no pulling allies into uncofortable spots. Be careful to not pull yourself inbetween trees either, you have no easy way of escaping unless you have a tango or a quelling blade on you.
This ability has one more gimmick that I'll explain along with his ultimate.

Chaos Strike - regular critical strike, 10% chance to deal triple damage on max rank. Now uses the pseudo RNG system, so even the unluckiest mothers can get their grubby hands on occasional crits. Nothimg much to explain, really.

Phantasm. Ok. An illusion skill that lasts 24 seconds on a whopping 140 second cd. On max rank, you get 3 illusions for 275 mana. "That looks weak as hell, Chaos Knight is a ****ty hero" you say. Then read this. The Illusions created by using Phantasm deal 100% of your damage. On max rank, with 3 of them, that's QUAD DAMAGE assuming all your illusions are cudgeling the same target. Furthermore, the illusions take 200% damage, making them pretty tanky after you build up some STR. Don't get fooled though, they still die to any kind of AOE when unattended. On the other hand, have fun killing an underleveled support with illusions alone.
And now for the main course. Remember that one gimmick left on the Reality Rift? Back in the day, CK used to have just a regular blink strike as his second ability. But then Icefrog, may he live long and prosper, thought of a way to buff our fave horseman. He took a hero whose main selling point was the ability to create strong as hell illusions, and gave him a way to let all the illusions close in on the target and start a hooved gangrape on the poor victim. So, on day 666, Icefrog gave CK Reality Rift in place of his old Blink Strike. And God observed, and saw it was good. Cutting to the chase: THE MOST DELICIOUS PART OF CK, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, IS THAT HIS ILLUSIONS (ALL ILLUSIONS HE HAS, INCLUDING RUNE AND MANTA ONES) GET TELEPORTED TO THE ENEMY ALONG WITH THE HERO HIMSELF FOR A MASSIVE HORSERAPE OF CHAOS AND DOOM. FURTHERMORE, ALL THE ILLUSIONS ATTACK THE POOR SOB AT THE SAME TIME, WHICH OFTEN ENDS UP INSTANTLY SPLATTERING THE VICTIM. ESPECIALLY IF A CRIT HAPPENS, WHICH ADDS A GLORIOUS SATISFIED HORSEY NOISEY TO THE MIX TO BREAK THE ENEMY'S HEART EVEN MORE. EVEN BETTER, THOSE ILLUSIONS CAN ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY SURROUND THE ENEMY AND MAKE HIM UNABLE TO MOVE AT ALL. IMAGINE GETTING SPROUTED BY FURION. GOT IT? NOW IMAGINE THAT EVERY TREE IS A BLOODTHIRSTY HORSE INSTEAD, AND EVERY SINGLE OF THESE HORSES CARRIES A CHAOS INCARNATE ON ITS BACK. You do not, you absolutely do not mess with that. (Additionally, with proper timing you can use the ultimate's transformation time to dodge some stuff coming your way).

Got your pants wet? Want to taste the power yourself? Get a manta, grab an illusion rune, cast Phantasm. Now run around with 8 rapehorses and pretend to be cavalry. Also, continue reading this guide.

Ok, I picked CK. What the hell do I do now? (Early game)

As CK, you can go to any lane. You should, however, always have a lane partner, and you should always be the one who's farming the lane. A good choice is a safelane with an agressive support like Lina or Leshrac,who will spend most of their time stacking and pulling creeps to allow you to get solo exp. Them having CC is just a bonus, but it's a damn good one - with your support hiding behind some trees, you can easily score kills by initiating with your rift/stun and having them follow up. This is the most optimal situation, but CK can survive just as easily as a mid hero (with some support). Under any circumstances, do not leave CK laning solo without support against a ranged hero.

Once the lanes are set, it's time to decide on your starting items. They're mostly up for preference: get 3 branches if you want to get a magic wand soon, get a gauntlet if you want to get faster drums. Get some combination of tangoes/salves. With the rest of your money you can buy either a Quelling Blade, a Stout Shield, or more stat items. Quelling Blade will rock your shoes in a lane where you're allowed to freefarm, you should get all the creeps, even under the tower. If you expect a ranged douchebag to keep harassing you, get a stout shield instead - you might miss some creeps but you're not going to be running dry on regen 3 minutes in. More stats (3branches+gauntlet for example) is something inbetween, gives you a bit more base damage while also increasing your Hp a little. In any case, unless you're going mid and bottle rushing, try to spend all your starting gold - if you've anything left, spend it on branches.

Ok, now you're in lane with your items. It's as good of a time as any to analyze your lineup and pick the more suitable role for your team: you're going to do one of those two things:
1. Farm your *** off
2. Roam your *** off
Both include killing and getting gold, but in the former you farm creeps, while the latter has you farm enemy heroes.

How to determine which path to take?
Ask yourself a few questions:
1. Does my team have another, harder carry than me?
2. Do we have lots of hard/soft cc to ensure a gank is successful?
3. Does the enemy team outscale us lategame?
If the answer is no, then you should focus on farming for a bit, only going for the kill on the enemy heroes residing in your lane. If you can answer yes to some of these, then it might be a better idea to become the cavarly unit. You'll move around the map, leaving farm for your hard carry, while you (hopefully) get your income from successful ganks.

A thing worth of noting is that the roaming/ganking CK is a bit harder to pull off for new players. You'll have less gold at your disposal and it requires better map/situation awareness than simple farming. If you're unsure of your ability to roam properly, just stick with farming, but try to be agressive whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I picked stats level 1 and crit level 2

Ok, now for the skill build. You might've seen some Maginas going 1 point in every skill and then just getting stats, or Svens maxing only stuns and ignoring the other abilities in favor of stat points. You might've seen other CK builds recommending to max crit before Rift/Stun. "But I'm gonna farm, I need those stats!" someeone might say. Know this: Your base damage is good enough to get lasthits comfortably, and you're tanky enough to not need the extra hp that leveling up stats gives you. The more important thing is that as CK, YOU CAN GET TONS OF EARLY KILLS BY BEING AGRESSIVE WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES. You need your stun and rift maxed asap. Maxing Bolt gives you more reliable disable (at least 2 second stun) and a bit more damage(meh), while maxing Rift extends its casting range and drastically reduces cooldown (24 seconds on level 1, 6 on level 4). Therefore, the usual CK skill build is Chaos Bolt and Reality Rift both maxed by level 8. Notice we're skipping his ultimate for now. Several reasons for that: at level 1, your ult sucks horses. 1 extra illusion doesn't make too much of a difference. It also costs 125 mana, which could be spent on another stun, which is worth much more than a single illusion at this stage of the game. However, as everything in doto, there are situations when skipping a level in rift to get your ult up and running a bit faster can grant you some benefits. If the enemy is thirsty for blood and you're getting towerdived by 3+ enemies, get that Phantasm on level 6. Even a single illusion is in some cases enough to confuse them, allowing the real CK to escape. You can also dodge stuns with it. Still, don't take it unless you need it.
Now, at level 9 we can either take stats or our first level in Chaos Strike. A matter of preferrence, really. 2 bonus points for all attributes is no biggie, but neither is 10% chance to deal 150% damage - and you're not going to get more points in crit till level 12.
And that's because you're going to get Phantasm on both level 10 and 11. By now, with 3 CKs around, you're ready do dish out some serious pain and push towers like a ******* 3000 horsepower dozer. By this point you have enough damage for the crit to actually matter, so max it asap, and take the last level of Phantasm at 16 - a real no-brainer here.


you might might ask why get power treads and not phase, why get heart/bkb instead of MKB, why get drums instead of [insert random item that gives +damage]. Ok, lemme get this straight. The description of Phantasm says that the illusions deal 100% of your damage. It's a ******* lie. They deal 100% damage based on YOUR PRIMARY ATTRIBUTE AND ITS BONUSES ONLY. that shiny sacred relic will add +60 damage to your hero, but won't benefit the illusions at all. Any damage gained by STR, as well as auras carried on your hero will strenghten your illusions in one way or the other.
Therefore, without further ado: item explanations.

Get:Power Treads - pretty much a staple on CK. You get them for the attackspeed and that delicious STR bonus. When things get tuff and you need that extra 20 mana to cast your Bolt, switch them to INT, and you might just be able to use it. Switch them to AGI before using any kind of regen item in the laning stage, as you'll effectively have more HP healed after you switch back to STR.
Boots of Travel - you might need them lategame for global map presence, 100 movespeed isn't anything to snuff at either. Sell your treads and get those whenever you feel they're needed.

Do not get: Phase boots - illusions do not benefit from the damage, your chasing power is big enough that you don't need the active, and the active might actually screw you over by letting the enemy phase through you instead of being blocked after you Rift them.
Arcane boots - fixes your mana problems forever, but it's not worth it to lose all the sexy stats from treads for it. At least 1 or 2 of your teammates will get arcanes every game, leech off of them.


Drums of Endurance: easy buildup, EXTREMELY cost-effective, good aura that gets even better once you spend a charge. All of your illusions benefit greatly from having this item.. You can skip them if someone else is going for them already. Also, don't bother rebuying the recipe to refill charges, it's not really worth the 750 gold.

Armlet: cheap components, awesome active, you can pretend to be a good player with the armlet switching if you want. More importantly, the active gives bonus STR, which carries over to all your illusions, without the hp drain drawback. DO NOT, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT PHANTASM/MANTA/ILLU RUNE WITHOUT ACTIVATING YOUR ARMLET FIRST ONCE YOU GET IT!

BKB: Bonus str? Check. Bonus damage? Not that important, but check. Immunity do disables on a melee str hero that is a prime target for any CC the enemy team has? Oh god yes.

Luxury items

The big three
Heart of Tarrasque: Gives you a nice STR boost which translates into tankiness and damage for both you and ilusions, also allows you to keep Armlet permanently active due to the passive regen outhealing the Armlet hp loss.

Assault Cuirass: Tons of armor, Negative armor aura for the enemy team, bonus armor and attackspeed for your team and all your illusions. Prioritize this over Heart if the enemy team deals mostly physical damage. Very good for pushing.

Satanic: A good alternative to Heart. You can still keep your Armlet on as long as you're hitting something due to lifesteal, and the Satanic active coupled with BKB can potentially bring you back from null to full Hp when properly used. More STR is always welcome, too.

Other stuff (aim for the big three if you can):
Sange and Yasha: A mediocre item that is okayish on CK due to how much he benefits from faster movespeed and the high bonuses to STR and AGI. Only get it if you plan to dissasemble it later for Manta and Halberd.

Manta Style: Some meaty stats, bonus movespeed, but most importantly illusions that work with your Rift. Activating Manta and then Using phantasm will spawn enough CKs to completely surround the enemy after Rifting. You can use the active to remove some debuffs and dodge stuns, but that's what your BKB is for.

Heaven's Halberd: Okayish item to get on CK if you're hurting for money and desperately need something resembling a disable against a rightclick carry. The disarm active is pretty useful, the stats aren't too bad either. Disassemble your SnY for components for both this and your Manta, prioritizing Manta.


Diffusal Blade: Sounds crazy, but sometimes you need Purge to counter those pesky Guardian Angels and other unpleasant stuff. Get it only if there is no better Diffu hero, aka someone with more spammable but weaker illusions. The mana break orb on Diffusal works with illusions, causing them to deal the exact same damage/burn the same amount of mana as the main hero. Not a big concern for CK - your illusions already deal 100% of your damage.

MKB: GET THIS ONLY WHEN YOU'RE DESPERATE FOR TRUESTRIKE, AND NEVER OTHERWISE. And even then, some of your teammates should have sheepsticks by then, which disable evasion for the duration - much better than you wasting money on MKB.

Butterfly: GET THIS ONLY IF YOU'RE DESPERATE FOR EVASION YOURSELF BUT WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO GET A HALBERD. If your Heart and AC aren't enough to stop you from dying to enemy rightclicks, a Butterfly might be just what you need. Decent damage and attackspeed, pure lategame item.


+Damage items: Daedalus, Rapier - +damage gives absolutely nothing to your illusions, you already have a good Crit built-in and rapier is droppable - bad idea.

Battlefury - totally wasted on illusions, but you'd have no business getting it even if it worked on them - your aim is to get your core items and start teamfighting, leave bfury farming to voids and maginas.

Midas - same deal as above, you want to get online asap, Midas does not help at all for that.

Shadowblade - No, just no.

I have finished farming - what now?

So, you're farming. When does the farming should end? This is very important to know as CK. CHAOS KNIGHT IS NOT ANTIMAGE, HE'S NOT FACELESS VOID, HE'S NOT SVEN. You will not contribute at all if you just keep farming forever. After the laning phase ends, with a decent CS and hopefully with some kills under your belt, you should stop focusing on farming and start moving around with your team and generally being an aggressive douchebag horseman. Depending on the game, this can happen as soon as you get treads + one other item, so get ready. Your core items are cost-effective for a reason - to allow you to become a rolling deathball once midgame hits, crushing enemies with your great disables and almost sick damage output. If the enemy team is being turtlish and you find it impossible to get kills, just go for their towers instead. Once you hit level 11, your illusions become a great tool for pushing a tower down. Pop Armlet if you have it already, then pop Phantasm and a drum charge - no tower will survive the onslaught of several armlet-boosted CKs hitting it at the same time. In general, move with your team, look for pick-offs, tower pushes and teamfights. CK excells at all of those things, especially when his ultimate is off cooldown.

In teamfights, you're the guy that charges in first. Just make sure your illusions are out, and if you're the one who's getting initiated on, try to pop them asap. The illusions spawn with your current hp percentage, so the more healthy you are when using Phantasm, the sturdier they become. Remember to ALWAYS USE THE ARMLET ACTIVE BEFORE PHANTASMING: the illusions fully benefit from the bonus stats gained from it, without the drawbacks of a constant hp drain.
Your Rift can be used as a poor man's pudge hook. If you see a single enemy out of position, you can pull them a bit closer to your team, just in range of your squishier teammates with some disables. This can also pull you very close to the enemy team, so get ready to haul your *** off from there. Or, if you're feeling confident, pop arlmet, summon your gang, pop bkb, stun someone and start wailing on them. Whether or not you can do this is something that you'll learn through experience - sometimes you'll be surprised how fast a CK can splatter a squishy enemy.
If a teammate/ initiates the teamfight, then you do pretty much the same thing as usual - pop all your stuff, summon friends. Because your Rift is still ready to use, carefully choose a target to port yourself and all your illusions to. It can be a support who'll die before you'll be able to even Chaos Bolt them, or it can be a high priority target that will take a bit longer to kill, but will mean one less big disable/heavily reduced damage output for the enemy team. What is causing issues to your team? Is it a farmed Drow Ranger? Is it that pesky Lina instagibbing someone with her nuke combo? Whoever it is, chances are they are your Rift target. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL AROUND ENEMIES TOTTING BKBS. RIFTING THAT ENIGMA WITH BKB WILL, IN 9 OUT OF 10 CASES, MEAN THAT HE WILL POP HIS MAGIC IMMUNITY BEFORE YOU CAN STUN HIM. And then your whole gang gets black hole'd, which even your own bkb won't prevent. Because you rely on being able to Rift and Bolt the enemy to surround them and hold them in place, your effectiveness against magic immune targets diminishes alot (you beome a regular physical damage dealer at this point, still able to dish out rightclicks, but goodbye instagibbing with Phantasm+Rift). You're probably better off finding someone else to kill. DO NOT RIFT NIGHTMARED TARGETS EITHER. Casting Rift dooes not wake it up like most spells do, and because Reality Rift gives you an automatic attack command on succesful cast, you'll end up nightmaring yourself.

To sum it up - be an aggressive douchebag, CK is made to dominate mid game - Exploit that to the fullest. And once you get the ball rolling, try going for the gg as soon as possible, as you start to peak off a bit once ultralategame hits. Remember to always adapt to the situation - focus down the biggest threat, force the other team to defend the towers and try to find pick offs from there, try to avoid big aoe stuff. You are the hero to watch our for, you are the one capable of dealing insane amounts of damage in a short period of time. In the mid game, you are the powerhorse/workhorse/racehorse of your team.

If you get insanely fed by this point, then you can disregard all the advice about being smart and careful. Just pop your Phantasm and go solo the other team. Well, it's gonna be closer to a 4v5 - when you're fed, your illusions are often stronger than individual enemy heroes. Cool stuff.


As with every hero, you might do badly on CK for one reason or the other. You've farmed for too long, you got ganked a million times, or you did everything perfectly but were unable to end before that pesky Sven managed to get pumped up enough to 1hit kill you and all your horse-riding buddies. This is when the fundamental collective representative presses the RESTORE ORDER button. Do not despair, you still have a few options left, but you gotta be smart about it. As a feeding ck, your goal is to get a BKB asap. Chances are, you're *** is their prime disable target. If this is really the case, then getting BKB straight after your treads/drums will make your life a bit easier. You won't contribute as much damage as you would otherwise, but it will be quite respectable. You won't be able to rambo in as much as you'd like to. Basically, you're gonna have to rely on your teammates a bit more - horrible situation in pubs, but, hopefully, if you've died alot that means the enemy has put alot of their resources in keeping you down - which, conicidentally, SHOULD mean someone in your team is having freefarm. If all your teammates are feeding too... well, you can try to go for a miracle, hope for an insanely lucky teamfight or just try to smoke up and catch their farming carry alone - but CK is not a hero known for comebacks, he's the best at getting ahead (or at least even) and staying there. You STILL have one option left. Get BoTs, go push a tower with your ult, tp back/die trying. A splitpushing CK is not the most effective thing ever, but if you can't win teamfights and can't find any pick-offs, you're not in a position to complain.

What if you were doing fine but then the enemy carry suddenly got big? It all depends on the enemy carry, but getting a halberd to disarm them for a bit is generally a good idea. The evasion might help you a bit too, unless you're facing a Sven (cleave damage ignores evasion) or Faceless Void (Chronosphere disables your evasion completely). You have an advantage over the first situation though - if your early/mid was good enough, then you should have quite a lot of items yourself; even if the enemy carry has more, you should still be more than a match to the rest of his team. Do not try to 1v1 the enemy hard carry lategame, always try to gank him with some assists. However, you should still be able to score solo kills on anyone who's not near the carry - and sometimes the lack of that one support toting a crucial disable that now won't be used on you can turn the tide of the fight, despite the enemy carry's best efforts. This does not mean you should not try to finish asap - THE LONGER YOU LET THE GAME DRAG ON, THE BIGGER AND STRONGER WILL THE ENEMY CARRY GET COMPARED TO YOU, so try to end it as soon as possible.

Who's muh buddy?

As the usual case, CK is more effective with some heroes than the other ones. Here are some of the greatest friends of our horseman.

Wisp - Wisp comboes well with pretty much any STR ganker/carry. He can teleport you around, makes you run and hit things faster, and can even help you regen some mana if needed. Worthy of note is the synergy between his Tether and your Rift. Because of how Rift works, the enemy will end up between you and tethered wisp - meaning that Rifting them will instantly cause the tether stun to proc. Now wait a bit and throw your own stun, while whacking the enemy with increased attackspeed - bang, one more frag. Just be careful that you won't break the tether by Rifting outside the range - make sure the Wisp is practically hugging you before casting it.

KotL - CK's antithesis actually works quite well with him. His mana dispenser will solve all the mana problems you could ever have, while your stun is a great way to set up a fully charged Illuminate (Rift can be used that way too, but it's much less reliable). You're also a good candidate to get summoned by his Recall spell. Just don't use Phantasm beforehand - illusions will stay home.

Heroes with delayed disables: Lina, Leshrac, Ancient Apparition, etc. - Having one of those as your lane partner means that you're going to be spilling blood quite often. Your nuke/stun + their delayed stun and nukes + rightclicks from both of you = dead enemy hero. Very reliable method, very hard to counter in pub games - expect getting *****ed at for stun stacking.

Veno - Everyone's favourite little support works very well with the rider, unless the opponents in your lane have easy escape spells like blink. His massive 50% slow will mean almost certain death for anyone if it's chained after your standard Rift/Bolt combo.
Funny gimmick: Try Rifting an enemy into a narrow path, have veno place a plague ward on the other side of him to sandwich him in. Anyone smart will kill the ward and get out, but you'll get a lot of people who'll just panic at being stuck.

Spreading Chaos is suffering - CK's counters

Silencer. Oh god, the Silencer. If you end up laning against him, ask for a lane swap ASAP. An enemy Silencer will mercilessly exploit your main weakness - low mana pool. His Curse will force you to cast a spell in order to prevent Hp and mana loss, which in one way or another makes you go dry. And once you have no mana, he'll keep spamming it on you even more. Thankfully, he's less of an issue lategame, just don't let him steal your INT!


Nuff said.

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