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All guns blazing with no escape, a guide to DPS Sniper

June 12, 2015 by Orion5
Comments: 31    |    Views: 313037    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4
Build 5

Suggested build

DotA2 Hero: Sniper

Purchase Order

Starting items

If you want to go boots first (eg. Pudge)

Keep you safe from harm to farm or gank

Core DPS items

Core option(s) 1: DPS +/- Utility

Core option(s) 2: DPS & Survivability

Sample core build (standard) 'six slotted'

Late game options

Sample late build 'six slotted'

Suggest against Phantom Assassin

Maybe against Wraith King

Juggernaut? Your team deals a lot of magical nukes?

Consider these only once you have sufficient DPS

Great items if teammates carry these

Hero Skills


10 12


1 3 5 7

Take Aim

2 4 8 9


6 11 16


13 14 15 17 18


I'm Orion and I've played Sniper in over 800 DOTA 2 public and ranked games. This guide aims to describe the style of play I have naturally adopted by trial and error which is essentially a pure damage per second (DPS) build with a small touch of situational utility. This guide is current for major patch update 6.84.

The reason why I focus on DPS with Sniper is as follows:
- someone has to do damage to defeat the enemy team and destroy towers
- high DPS combined with Sniper's ability to free hit from his range advantage with Take Aim is extremely useful in the team fight scenario
- high DPS equals faster farming of jungles and lanes
- high DPS equals powerful pushing ability against towers
- high DPS with lifesteal increases your survivability
- with thoughtful positioning, wards, smoke and good teamplay you often do not need much else

This rampage occurred when our team was behind almost 10 kills. No ultimates from either Void or Tidehunter due to Silencer and cooldown. A bit of luck, but also only possible by focusing on pure DPS.

The reason I have written this guide is the quite good results I have been able to achieve, primarily in public games but occasionally in ranked games as well. Using item data collection counters they state I have averaged approximately 11 kills per game (my highest is 36-2-11) and have a godlike spree in about 15% of my games (I have over 140 on record) which are good numbers. Rampages are not as common but I do have 8 on record which I have included in gameplay footage. This does include quite a bit of building damage which isn't measured. Not every game I play is fantastic (DOTA is a team game) and some games I am heavily countered but invariably if given time and space to farm and a careful consideration of the hero draft, Sniper will contribute.

The basic mechanics of Sniper

Sniper's basic attributes can be summed up in these points:

- longest range in the game with Take Aim means free hits and constant damage against the enemy in teamfights as long as you are alive
- very hard carry, very farm dependent

- extra DPS and slow from Headshot
- average agility gain (2.5 per level)
- situationally useful active abilities with Shrapnel and Assassinate

- weak early game
- very low health
- slow movement speed
- no innate escape mechanism

The basic teamfight strategy with Sniper is to take advantage of his Take Aim ability (range 950) to score a whole bunch of damaging free hits for as long as possible, in the presence of a team who will keep you alive. This is why DPS is so important for Sniper.

Each game I play Sniper, I play it as a game of transformation. It is essentially to transform an extremely weak but long-range early game pea-shooter to a devastating powerful artillery type unit, extremely powerful in any team-fight situation but extremely vulnerable alone.

Sniper is without a doubt in my mind, a hard carry. With two passive abilities (particularly Take Aim) this is comparable to other hard carries such as Faceless Void, Drow Ranger, Spectre and Phantom Assassin. Sniper's strengths are his autoattacks if he is sufficiently farmed. His early game is very weak and his active abilities Shrapnel and Assassinate are somewhat average abilities which quickly become relatively weak in the late game. If you want to play support there are better heroes to pick.

When to pick Sniper

The biggest question is to consider how Sniper is going to stay alive and score all those damaging free hits in teamfights against the enemy line up in question. Therefore you must consider:

The enemy team's draft: heroes who are strong and weak against Sniper
Your team's draft: heroes who work well with Sniper
Farming position if you pick Sniper: Do not pick Sniper as position 4 or 5, you already have too many carries

Heroes who are strong against Sniper
These heroes tend to have the following attributes:
- 'gap closing abilities' which eliminate Sniper's range advantage from Take Aim
- stuns and disables, particularly ranged stuns, stopping you auto-attacking
- some degree of durability

I have listed a few heroes who I have found better at fighting Sniper than others. This is not a comprehensive list but this should give you an idea who is good against you.

Strong enemy heroes against Sniper

Spirit Breaker
Nyx Assassin
Phantom Assassin
Storm Spirit
Chaos Knight
Juggernaut (essentially his ultimate)
Pudge (depending on the skill level of the player)
Bounty Hunter
Faceless Void (depending on the skill level of the player)
Ogre Magi

This does not mean you should not pick Sniper if you see a hero on this list such as Phantom Assassin. Your team can develop a strategy to deal with an individual, especially if you have outfarmed the hero in question. But if you see quite a few heroes on this list it might be worth picking another hero because you may find you are very easily shut down in team fights and make little contribution.

Heroes who are weak against Sniper
These heroes I find not as strong against Sniper and they tend to have the following attributes:
- low health
- no stuns or disables
- no innate 'gap closing ability' to eliminate your range advantage

This is not a comprehensive list but this also should give you idea who I think Sniper has an innate advantage against.

Weak heroes against Sniper
Nature's Prophet
Lone Druid (focus on the Druid, the bear will carry a lot of items usually)
Witch Doctor
Drow Ranger
Meepo (target the Meepo with the lowest health)
Shadow Shaman (his ultimate can also give you farm)
Enigma (provided you haven't been Black Hole'd)
Faceless Void (provided you haven't been Chronosphere'd)
Most supports without long-range stuns or nukes.

Again just because you see a hero on this list doesn't mean you should definitely pick Sniper. Again the enemy can develop strategies to deal with you. However all things equal you do have somewhat of an advantage against these heroes.

Allied heroes who are good for you
Sniper plays well with most heroes but some are especially good.

These teammates fit into the following categories:
- Early to middle game heroes
- Babysitting support heroes
- Stunning and disabling heroes
- A fellow carry
- Heroes which make you do more damage, or cause the enemy to receive more damage

Early to mid game heroes
Strong early to middle game heroes (ie. Pudge, Spirit Breaker, Axe) are great teammates as they provide tremendous early to mid game influence (offsetting your extremely weak early game), potentially intimidating enemy heroes in their lanes and giving you (and other hard carries) space to farm safely when you are at your weakest. Ganking middle heroes such as Pudge also generally leave the middle lane to start eliminating the enemy, and you can use this opportunity to farm the middle lane after they leave. Feel free to follow them around and help them gank once you have farmed sufficiently.

Babysitting support heroes
Always great to have, if they keep you safe and farmed early game they have done an awesome job. In exchange you must last hit every creep humanly possible and try to help bail out your allied hero if they are in trouble.

A fellow carry
Solo carrying is a big responsibility for a squishy hero. Having another carry in the team helps share the burden and provides another target for the enemy in team fights.

Stunning and disabling heroes.
Stuns and disabling heroes play extremely well with a DPS Sniper, allowing you to have up to a few seconds to score quite a few free hits, putting your team in front in teamfights, potentially eliminating a hero or two, chase down fleeing heroes, and potentially saving your life in team fights. Often good support heroes will buy items such as Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Force Staff and Scythe of Vyse which can also be used to good effect in the team fight setting.

Heroes which cause you to do more damage
These include buffs which make you do more DPS ie. Ogre Magi's Bloodlust, Vengeful Spirit's Vengeance Aura and Drow Ranger's Precision Aura.

Heroes who cause the enemy to receive more damage
These include Witch Doctor's Cask and Maledict, Slardar's Amplify Damage and Vengeful Spirit's Wave of Terror.

Oracle, Omniknight
False Promise gives you 7-9 seconds of invisibility and temporary invulnerability to all damage types (until it wears off, when you might start to feel the pain) which is extremely powerful for a long range, high damage, low health hero in the teamfight setting. It can be cast every 20 seconds.

Repel gives you 6-12 seconds of magic immunity (which can be cast every 14 seconds) and Guardian Angel gives you 6-8 seconds of physical immunity, again both extremely powerful for a long range, high damage, low health hero.

Chronosphere and DPS Sniper! The ultimate base defense. Despite being underfarmed, one of our players abandoning and being generally dominated by the opposition we were able to hold on, farm up and eventually win the match. My own stats were 27-6-22.

Tidehunter saves the day! With most of the team disabled and in big danger from the Enigma Black Hole and Death Prophet Exorcism combination, a fantastic Ravage stops Engima's ultimate and allows us to steam roll them. In this shot I am caught within the Astral but would have certainly died if not for this fantastic move by Tidehunter.

I end up cleaning up the team fight. Although Gyrocopter thinks it was due to me, to be fair it was as much Tidehunter and other team mates as me. I end up 36-2-11.

Starting items, starting lanes, farming priority

Starting items

There are a number of different ways you could start with items with Sniper.

My starting items tend to be:

Overall this gives me +10 damage to help with last hits. If I level Headshot first, I get a 40% chance of +15 additional damage (ie +25 damage).

Blades of Attack forms part of the Phase Boots upgrade. The increased damage (+24 damage) from Phase Boots helps immensely with last hits and harass in your lane, and the increased mobility given from the item is extremely helpful to run from enemies or chase them down, so it is quite useful to rush this item first.

Tango keep you in the lane longer allowing you to farm longer which is a good thing and feel free to buy more later.

Iron Branch is an excellent cost efficient early game item. For 50gp the +1 damage might help a little getting those last hits and more farm.

Other choices:

Blades of Attack, Iron Branch, two Tango (Shared)
- if your supports are awesome this means more cash for you
- can also buy another Iron Branch/other items to help with last hits if you want, or work towards a fast Bottle

Observer Ward, Blades of Attack, Tango
- use ward to block pull camp in offlane
- if team ultra greedy you can afford to buy one Observer Ward at expense of Iron Branch but in reality a support hero should give you a ward

Band of Elvenskin (replace Blades of Attack)
- useful if going for Power Treads rather than Phase Boots,
- Power Treads gives more attack speed and more overall DPS at expense of mobility and slightly weaker last hits

Boots of Speed first (replace Blades of Attack)
- useful against heroes such as Pudge who's Meat Hook ability was buffed in 6.83
- very hard last hits!

Wraith Band, Iron Branch, Iron Branch and two Tango (Shared)
- this will give you +11 damage for last hits and extra health and attack speed
- can use branches for Magic Wand and Wraith Band for Ring of Aquila

Couriers and wards generally shouldn't be bought by hard carry heroes.

Starting lanes

Middle lane
Mid is a excellent lane for Sniper. Sniper benefits greatly from both gold and levels. Mid gives you lots of exp and gold and excellent creep-wave management near the relative safety of your tower. If the enemy tries to gank you, they will expend a considerable amount of effort (ie. lost gold and exp, and fighting underneath your tower), and this will take the pressure off the other two lanes and hopefully your team mates will take advantage of this. If the other mid hero leaves your lane (ie. for runes, for ganks) you will gain a gold and exp advantage over them. Make sure you report missing and consider TP'ing to another lane to counter gank if you want. Sniper is not the greatest bottle carrier and will tend to want to hang around in his lane until he gets his items so rune control will be an issue your team will need to consider.

If another teammate needs early ganking potential (ie. Pudge), they often leave mid to do their business in the early mid game. If they do feel free to take mid if it is appropriate to do so.

Offlane is a good lane as well for Sniper. The results tend to be better with another player rather than solo. Hopefully your team mate will not push the lane (ie. Keeper of the Light), allowing you to farm. Solo offlane sadly will give the other enemy team's carry a lot of farm which you do not want. Warding the creep camp in that lane will help prevent the enemy pulling creeps or will use the enemy's time and gold to try to deward. Even if they do pull creeps, the subsequent creep-wave when the creep-wave returns tends to be larger and will come close to your tower and you can get a bit of farm and exp from this (but this can be a good opportunity for the enemy to gank, if they are prepared).

Safe lane
If you have a good support hero to lane with you this will be an excellent lane. However I have found in public matches, players tend to provide unreliable degree of support for you (ie. often they do not place wards, may push the lane). For this reason I suspect safe lane has not been as successful other lanes for me. There are also other factors, such as the safe lane tower being the furthest away from your base, and it tends to be a target for ganks with so much surrounding jungle around your tower.

Sniper I generally find difficult to jungle early as he has little health, little health regeneration, and fairly weak damage. This is offset a little by his range which a few guides on youtube try to take advantage of this with jungle. They do tend to revolve around ancients and stacking them which can be a bit painful if you make a mistake when doing this! I would generally advise against Sniper starting in Jungle unless you know what you are doing.

Farming priority

As a carry Sniper's farming priority on your team will be between positions 1-3 (1 being highest priority, 5 being lowest). You should not pick Sniper if you are going to be position 4 or 5, you have too many carries and should pick a support hero.

The exact position between 1-3 depends on the enemy draft and your draft. If the enemy team have limited ability to counter Sniper (ie. no 'gap closer' heroes) then Sniper is clearly first priority in terms of farming. If the enemy have a strong ability to counter you, then it would be preferable to allow another carry hero to farm up big in preference to you and you can cover positions 2 or 3.

Further item selection throughout the game


This is a long section. As a hard carry, Sniper will need a structured item game plan well in advance. The basic principle is to cost-effectively maximise your DPS with some consideration regarding survivability.

I have described my basic core build which is Phase Boots -> Town Portal Scroll -> Mask of Madness -> Maelstrom/ Mjollnir. I would then suggest adding two further items, they can be either two DPS items, or one DPS item and one escape item.

I rarely deviate from my favoured build (except to replace Daedalus with Monkey King Bar for evasion heroes) as it is what I am comfortable using but have created a detailed discussion on item options so you can decide what works for you.

My favoured 6.84 build in most situations is Phase Boots -> Town Portal Scroll -> Mask of Madness -> Mjollnir -> Daedalus -> Moon Shard.

This type of build combined with your long range means the enemy will be eliminated very rapidly in team fights, unless they are able to eliminate you very quickly. Positioning and teamwork is vital to maximise the benefit of this build as you are extremely vulnerable alone but so strong in the team fight setting. As an added bonus you will farm so extremely rapidly with your DPS that you can then spend more time on team based activities.

If it goes ultra late then my build would be Boots of Travel, Mjollnir, Daedalus, Butterfly, Moon Shard (consumed), Heart of Tarrasque and either Divine Rapier or Assault Cuirass. This retains your DPS with the added bonus of extra tankiness (+/- extreme damage if you choose Divine Rapier)

This section has the following subheadings:

Safe farming
Items which increase your DPS
Escape mechanism items
Alternate escape mechanism: burst lightning fast movement speed
Other items

Items which help you safely farm

You need to be able to safely farm as a hard carry. These are items I have found useful.

You must buy boots to give you the option of running away. Phase Boots will make you run faster and is excellent for last hitting. Power Treads probably gives you more DPS overall and gives you the option of tread switching. Boots of Travel are the ultimate boots with the highest additional movement speed and the ability to teleport to allied creeps and buildings anywhere on the map.

Helps you keep your health up, stay in the lane and continue farming. Buy more if needed.

Town Portal Scroll
This is extremely cheap at 100gp. Hide in the trees and teleport out.

Observer Wards and Sentry Wards
In the laning phase place these where you anticipate the enemy will try to gank you. When you are able to jungle, place these at entry points to your jungle to watch for attempted ganks. Sentry wards are valuable against invisible heroes. Wards are valuable to block pull camps in the offlane.

Mask of Madness
This item can increase your movement speed, sometimes allowing you to escape but will increase the damage dealt to you substantially. A cornered Sniper is usually a dead Sniper anyway. Stacks with Phase Boots which is great.

Items which increase Sniper's DPS

Higher DPS can be achieved by either:
- increased damage per hit
-> achieved by +damage, +agility, Headshot, criticals, Chain Lightning from Maelstrom, illusions from Manta Style, Mini-Bash from Monkey King Bar, Bash from Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade
- increased attack speed, this is extremely useful if you have chance skills such as Headshot, criticals, chain lightning etc as it increases the likelihood of the ability occuring

My 'core' build is as follows:


Phase Boots or Power Treads
Either of these boots are excellent choices for Sniper. I tend to buy Phase Boots. It gives you +24 increased damage which helps immensely with last hits in the lane, and burst increased movement speed, allowing you to chase down fleeing enemy heroes or run away and even walk through creeps to do so. The burst increased movement speed stacks with Mask of Madness making you walk very very fast.

I used to purchase Power Treads quite a bit in the past and certainly the +30 attack speed and the extra stats from tread switching is very helpful, higher DPS than Phase Boots but lower movement speed. The increased attack speed is very helpful combined with Headshot, Mask of Madness and Maelstrom. If you don't think you need the movement speed boost then Power Treads are your boots of choice.

Mask of Madness
This is my second core item. I get this in all my games after Phase Boots (or Power Treads) and it doesn't matter what the opposition picks because I simply find this item extremely helpful.

It gives you an extremely cost effective mechanism to achieve increased attack speed, lifesteal and movement speed. +100 IAS for 1800gp is very difficult to replicate with any other item, its almost like carrying two Hyperstones (4000gp) combined with lifesteal ( Morbid Mask - 900gp) and +16% increased movement speed when active - over 4900gp value when it is active. The downside is the increased damage you receive (+30%) which is significant.

It synergies extremely well with Headshot (40% chance of 90 damage with slow if you maximise it first, which I do, and in the early game this is quite substantial). The immense offensive capacities combined with the synergy with Headshot opens up ganking possibilities provided you can farm this fast enough. The increased attack speed stacks very well with orb effects, such as the next item, Maelstrom. The movement speed is good to chase enemies down, or run away (if you can).

It also synergies very well with Phase Boots and as mentioned the combined movement speed from the two items is slightly less than a Haste Rune when it is active, allowing you to kite melee heroes and continue to score free hits.

The lifesteal is excellent for Sniper as with your range, you get free hits, so that means free healing for you. So it allows you to teamfight, farm and jungle for very extended periods of time. I find you can start farming Ancients efficiently once you get Mask of Madness.

The downside is the increased damage you receive when it is active which is only partially offset by the lifesteal. So the increased damage could be lethal against you. However with your very low health, your goal should be to stay out of the firing line anyway, and this is achieved by very good positioning in team fights. If you are in a position where you can get a whole string of free hits off with very little risk to yourself, Mask of Madness takes full advantage of the situation. If you are in a position where you are caught by the enemy team, you are usually dead regardless of whether you have Mask on or not.

One other minor downside of rushing Mask (or other lifesteal items) is that Desolator does not stack with lifesteal, so when I rush Mask of Madness I pick other damage items (there are plenty to choose from).

Maelstrom > Mjollnir
This is my third core item. This extremely useful item gives you increased attack speed, a little bit of extra damage, but most importantly area of effect magic damage. Combined with the increased attack speed from Mask of Madness this can give you devastating teamfight presence as the chain lightning effect goes off multiple times. It also allows you to clear jungles and lanes extremely rapidly. Maelstrom should be purchased as soon as possible against illusion based heroes, such as Phantom Lancer (I would purchase this after Mask of Madness) but against other heroes you may potentially delay Maelstrom for another item (ie Core Option 1) if you feel this is warranted (for example, Monkey King Bar against Phantom Assassin). Mjollnir gives you extra area of effect damage and Static Charge, which you can place on your tanky initiator before teamfights.

Town Portal Scroll
The final obvious core item. All heroes should always carry this unless they have Boots of Travel or their name is Nature's Prophet.

This leaves you space for only two further items until you replace your boots with Boots of Travel in the late game. This will either be two DPS items (I have split them up into DPS item option 1 and 2) or a single DPS item and an escape mechanism item.

DPS item option 1 (DPS +/- Utility)

Pick one of the following:

> >

Crystalys / Daedalus
Daedalus is one of the strongest DPS items in the game and it is somewhat nice that Crystalys, one of the components, is not too hard to farm up and provides critical hits as well. The increased damage from both the item and from the critical hits are extremely useful for Sniper and the critical hits scale well as the game progresses. I generally would suggest purchasing this item for your first core item option unless the situation demands otherwise.

Moon Shard
I think once you get maximum Headshot, chain lightning from Maelstrom/ Mjollnir, criticals from Crystalys/ Daedalus and/or Mini-Bash from Monkey King Bar you really should get this item on Sniper. The +120 attack speed will enhance all of these items / Headshot by increasing the rate they are activated. You can also consume it for +60 attack speed later in the game to free up an additional item slot.

Monkey King Bar
This is a strong DPS item on its own, not as strong and doesn't scale as well as Daedalus, but it provides 'True Strike' which would be the reason to purchase this over Daedalus. True Strike allows you to counter evasion heroes such as Phantom Assassin, Windrunner or Brewmaster. Or purchase it if you see the enemy agility carry trying to build Butterfly. The ministun can be helpful in interrupting channelling ultimate abilities such as Death Ward, Black Hole or Freezing Field but most of these support heroes should die to you fairly rapidly anyway, so I would treat this as an added bonus rather than a reason to purchase it.

Medallion of Courage
This item gives you +7 armor, +50% mana regeneration and the ability to reduce you and your opponent's armor by 7. This sort of item can be carried by anyone, support heroes but also Sniper. It improves survivability with +7 armor if you are under attack from physical damage, but if you are in a safe position to get a bunch of damaging free hits off (which is your goal in team fights), you can completely take advantage of the situation by turning both this item and Mask of Madness on. It is like a cheap version of Desolator at less than a third of the cost. And it stacks with lifesteal from Mask of Madness or Helm of the Dominator. The cast range is 1000 which is longer than maximum range from Take Aim, which is 950. The cast time is instantaneous so you can continue right clicking. The effect lasts for 7 seconds after which you can recast keeping a single target permanently -7 armor. Also doesn't cost any mana. Can also use it in Jungle or Roshan. Goes through Linken's Sphere and Black King Bar's magic immunity active, Avatar. All round cheap and super item for any hero. There are better items as the game progresses and you can sell it later for something else.

Diffusal Blade
This item is interesting because it provides DPS from additional agility and feedback (45/60), mana burn from feedback (which as of 6.83, is no longer a Unique Attack Modifer) and an active skill, Purge (which destroys summoned creatures, removes all buffs on heroes and severely slows them for 4 seconds). The mana burning ability from feedback combined with your high attack speed and range is useful against Wraith King's Reincarnation, hopefully stopping him from resurrecting on initial death (however you might find your DPS is so high he dies before you drain enough mana!). One could argue it could be useful against Medusa's Mana Shield or other heroes reliant on mana for survival. The Purge ability is useful against heroes such as Warlock ( Chaotic Offering) and Omniknight ( Guardian Angel), heroes under the effects of runes, or to chase enemies down who are fleeing. The DPS is probably not as strong as Daedalus but provides extra utility if you want it. Ranged hero illusions (from Manta Style) don't stack with the mana burn ability from Feedback.

The armor reduction is great and will increase your DPS. This is also very useful if your team is very strong on physical damage. The problem with Desolator is that its Unique Attack Modifier (or 'orb') will not stack with lifesteal so given my own build is built around Mask I would generally purchase Daedalus instead or buy this later when I replace Mask. A viable option if you really want armor reduction is to purchase Medallion of Courage as previously mentioned which has a cast range of 1000 and is only 1200gp, less than a third of the cost of Desolator.

Skull Basher / Abyssal Blade
This item provides a chance of stun which combined with your very long range could be very useful. The problem with this item is the very low chance of stun on ranged heroes (10%) which is only partially offset by your very rapid attack speed. So it will take you 7 attacks to get a 53% chance of stun, whereas a melee hero such as Riki or Phantom Assassin will take only 3 attacks to get an essentially equivalent chance of stun. In trials of the item the stun certainly works. One could argue more damage is probably more useful unless your team is completely devoid of stunning abilities.

DPS item option 2 is the second item to complete the 6 slots.

DPS item option 2 (DPS + Survivability):

Pick one of:

This item is sort of the ultimate agility carry item, providing extra damage (60), extra attack speed (60), 35% evasion (reducing your damage dealt to you by about one third), a moderate amount of armor (4.2) and 25% burst movement speed (at the expense of evasion until it wears off). Very expensive but very powerful. I would generally suggest purchasing this item if you get to this stage with your farm unless the situation suggests otherwise.

Eye of Skadi
This very popular item tanks you up, provides extra damage and mana and gives you a Unique Attack Modifier which slows the enemy, preventing them from running away. It won't stack with Desolator but will stack with lifesteal and allow for Chain Lightning chance effects from Maelstrom. Its not a bad choice at all.

Assault Cuirass
This item provides extra attack speed, a lot of extra armor (improving your survivability against physical attacks), a teamfight bonus and an armor reduction aura for enemies. Generally Butterfly will probably be a superior choice, however if the enemy have spammed Monkey King Bar's (to counter, say, your team's Phantom Assassin) then this item might be a better choice than Butterfly.

Manta Style
This item provides extra damage from agility, extra health and mana, extra movement speed, extra attack speed from increased attack speed and agility, and an active ability which produces illusions. It will improve your survivability and allow you to play strategic games against the enemy. Because you are such a high value, easily gankable target, you can use your illusions to get the enemy to waste ultimates or targeted disable skills (such as Chronosphere, Meat Hook) or bait enemies (such as Phantom Assassin) to appear, hopefully taking advantage of this. The illusions are great if you are in a team fight situation and the enemy have targeted disables or nukes, as it is hard to tell which is the real you! If you have a particular strategy you wish to use with your illusions then feel free to take this item. Otherwise Butterfly or Assault Cuirass might be a better choice.

Ethereal Blade
This item is really interesting. It is great for agility carries with +40 agility giving good DPS and tanks you up slightly with other stats. Its active, Ethereal Blast, allows you to disable an enemy hero for 3 seconds, stopping them auto attacking and increasing magical damage to them by 40%, and deals a little damage. Or you can cast it on yourself. This is great against a hero like Juggernaut if he uses Omnislash, when he uses his ultimate just turn it on and smile as it is wasted. Or if there is some sort of 'gap closer' hero, if they get to you, you could potentially disable them with this. If you have a whole bunch of magical nukers in your team you could certainly get this too to take advantage of the disable and increased magical damage for teammates.

Black King Bar
This popular item's active skill provides magic immunity for 5-10 seconds against a number of stun, disable and magical damage skills which is great. However because Sniper tends to be away from the firing line and if your team is switched on and in the way of your opponent, it actually isn't as essential as say, a melee carry such as Phantom Assassin. There might be situations where it might be helpful, for example if there are gap closers with nasty stuns and nukes (ie. Storm Spirit). It would be worth mentioning the cooldown is around 1 minute to 1.5 minutes once you use the item so the active skill has to be used wisely. It will certainly allow you to attack heroes with active Blade Mail with impunity and nasty casters such as Lion or Lina. It gives a little extra damage and health but this is not as strong as other items. So basically you should carefully consider whether you need Black King Bar or not, it is good against all those disables, but only if the enemy can get to you to cast them!

Sange and Yasha
This item gives you a little health, a bit of movement speed (+16%), a little DPS and Greater Main passive, which is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier so it will stack with all your other effects. 5 second duration is quite nice for the slow. Unfortunately with so much other great choices it may be worth forgoing this item for one of the others described.

Linken's Sphere
This expensive item gives you +15 to all stats, HP regen and mana regen, but the most valuable aspect is its ability to block a whole bunch of targeted spells once every 17 seconds. So this could be quite useful against heroes with targeted stun/nuke abilities such as Vengeful Spirit, Storm Spirit, Ogre Magi, Doom, Lion or items (ie. Dagon, Scythe of Vyse). You can also cast this on allies.

Sample core build
So this is what a sample build might look like before you reach the late game:

Late game items

Replace your Town Portal Scroll, Phase Boots/ Power Treads and Mask of Madness with these items.

Boots of Travel
This is the late game boots everyone purchases. Fastest movement speed, ability to teleport to any friendly building or creep, frees up your Town Portal Scroll slot. Certainly worth getting. The level 2 upgrade introduced in 6.84 is expensive and situational and I would suggest buying it only if you have the cash.

Heart of Tarrasque
One of your biggest weaknesses is your low health, you can address this if you are ridiculously farmed by purchasing Heart. You still aren't a frontline tank unit, but you can reduce the odds of you dying by having this in team fights. Combined with evasion from Butterfly or extra armor from Assault Cuirass it simply improves your survivability quite nicely. The health regen out of combat is great as well.

Another ultra-late game item, makes you tanky, gives you lifesteal, and Unholy Rage seriously can keep you alive in engagements (or ignore Blade Mail's active with 275% lifesteal) - provided you are not stunned.

Divine Rapier
In any ultra-late game Sniper build around this time, Divine Rapier needs to be carefully considered. Hopefully it can end the game in your favour. Sniper is usually a terrible Divine Rapier carrier as his health is so low, however if he is sufficiently farmed and has sufficient survivability (for example, from Heart of Tarrasque/ Butterfly or Heart of Tarrasque/ Assault Cuirass) then this should be considered as the +300 damage and your range and increased attack speed this is very desirable. If you think that you are quite unlikely to die then you can get this. If you think there is a high chance you could die you should purchase one of the other optional items previously mentioned.

Other items previously discussed
There are a whole bunch of other great items listed previously which you could buy if you want. For example, if you are getting rid of Mask of Madness you can buy Desolator and rely on regeneration from Heart of Tarrasque.

Sample Late Build

The numbers displayed are better than it looks if you do the math:


Unadjusted Physical damage (without True Strike) to eliminate you:
2654 / (1-0.50) / (1-0.35) = 8166.15

Unadjusted Physical damage with True Strike to eliminate you:
2654 / (1-0.50) = 5308

Magic damage to eliminate you:
2654 / (1-0.25) = 3538.67

Movement speed with Butterfly Flutter:
390 * 1.2 = 468

Damage per second:

Displayed physical damage per second:
(149 + 465) / 0.42 = 1461.90

Additional critical hit damage per second (from Daedalus):
1461.90 * 1.4 * 0.25 = 511.66

Chain lightning damage per second (from Mjollnir):
89.29 (one target) to 714.26 (eight targets)

Headshot damage per second:
90 * 0.4 / 0.42 = 85.71

Overall damage per second:
2148.56 to 2773.53

Gold needed to get these items using described item progression

Tango > Iron Branch > Phase Boots > Mask of Madness > Mjollnir > Daedalus > Butterfly > 5 x Town Portal Scrolls > Boots of Travel > Heart of Tarrasque > Divine Rapier

125 + 50 + 1290 + 1800 + 5600 + 5550 + 5875 + 500 + 2450 + 5500 + 6200

- 645 - 900 - 25 (selling Phase Boots, Mask of Madness and Branch)

= 33370gp

Add 3000gp for buyback and 6200gp in case you lose Divine Rapier

= 42570gp

And now Sniper, you can stop farming, you have maxed out

Unless the teams are completely disorganised you shouldn't really get this far though, an organised team will end the game far earlier than this! But I have described a strategy to outcarry everyone if this is needed (it was needed in the above screen shot!)

Escape mechanism items:


Apart from Town Portal Scrolls, if you want to purchase any of these, I would generally advise ensuring satisfactory DPS first - I think you firstly need to be able to do enough damage to have an impact, then you can get other items such as Blink Dagger to further frustrate your opponents. They tend to be rather expensive.

You can also use items such as Mask of Madness, Phase Boots, Yasha and Butterfly to also escape using very fast burst movement speed from these items, instead of say Shadow Blade which will be discussed shortly (which also does increase movement speed too!)

I personally go for the increased burst movement speed for escapes and don't buy items like Blink Dagger and Shadow Blade as I tend to rely heavily on my positioning and my team keeping me alive in fights - but others do purchase these items and it works for them - so feel free to use what feels best for you.

Town Portal Scrolls
Already been mentioned, great escape for 100gp, allows you to contribute to team fights more effectively, all heroes must always carry one unless you have Boots of Travel or your name is Nature's Prophet.

Force Staff
Pushes you in a certain direction 600 units away every 20 seconds at the cost of 25 mana, also gives you a little health regeneration and intelligence. Cast range is 800. More reliable than Blink Dagger in that if you receive damage you can still use it, but the range of teleport and cooldown is quite inferior. Also takes a bit of practice to use. Can be used in team fights to save teammates or even initiate to a small degree.

Blink Dagger
This item gives you the ability to teleport up to 1200 units away every 12 seconds provided you haven't received any damage in the last 3 seconds. You can rapidly move across the map with this, chase down enemies, reposition yourself if the enemy approach from an unexpected direction, dodge Meat Hook etc. The teleport range is far superior to Force Staff. In terms of an escape mechanism it is a little unreliable in that if the enemy deal any sort of damage against Sniper, he will be unable to blink for 3 seconds, and generally Sniper will die well within within 3 seconds. So as an escape you do need lightning fingers to blink before they damage you.

Glimmer Cape
This gives you 5 seconds of invisibility and 55% magic resistance. At 1950gp it isn't cheap but is cheaper than Shadow Blade and if you need an invisibility escape I would suggest this item. Just remember a smart player can counter you quite easily ( Dust of Appearance is 180gp for two uses!).

Shadow Blade / Silver Edge
This item gives you 14 seconds of invisibility and initiation potential. 6.84 gives you a further upgrade to Silver Edge. Its a good item for initiation purposes but is quite expensive and one will need to consider whether you want to use that money for something else. For escape purposes it is easily countered by Dust of Appearance or Sentry Ward.

Silver Edge when used as an initiation will reduce damage output by 40% and disable passive abilities for 5 seconds as well as deal bonus 225 damage. This is quite useful against hard carries such as Faceless Void, Phantom Assassin and Drow Ranger but whether this is worth the cost or should be carried by another hero is a decision one will need to make. Your range advantage using this ability is clearly very useful. It is blocked by Black King Bar (except the +225 damage) and I understand could be removed by Manta Style?

Alternate escape mechanism: increased movement speed

You can actually make your Sniper periodically lightning fast with these items. What is interesting about these items is that the temporary movement speed boost from these items stack during in-game testing. This is what I use instead of formal escape mechanism items.

Given base Sniper movement speed of 290 and maximum movement speed of 522 (same as Haste rune):

Phase boots (inactive): 340
Phase boots (active): 394
Phase boots (active) and Mask of Madness (active): 452
Phase boots (active), Mask of Madness (active), Butterfly (active): 522
Boots of Travel, Mask of Madness (active), Butterfly (active): 522

So you can basically have a periodically lightning fast (essentially hasted) Sniper able to kite and free hit on enemies with a combination of these items periodically with these items, which is why I have changed my build from Power Treads which probably provides slightly more DPS, to utilize Phase Boots more early game.

Other items
This is a general discussion of other items not discussed previously, useful and maybe not so useful.

Smoke of Deceit
This is an excellent item for ganks for all heroes once you understand its mechanics and I would encourage you to use this.

Aegis of the Immortal
It is generally best for this item to be carried by the hero with the highest net worth, and this might be you.

Sentry Wards are probably better to carry than a Gem of True Sight, which is easily dropped by a squishy Sniper but if you find that you aren't dying you could certainly carry a Gem against that pesky Goblin Techies / Broodmother / Riki / Bounty Hunter. Dust of Appearance is useful in an offensive capacity (ie. to catch fleeing invisible heroes) but not useful in a defensive capacity for Sniper, as your low health usually means you are dead (eg. to Riki or Nyx Assassin) before you can use the dust.

For 700gp you get three charges of 135hp and 70 mana, and can store runes. Its certainly a very good item which can keep you in the lanes to farm. Personally I think this is better used on early to mid-game ganking type heroes (ie. Pudge, Queen of Pain, Puck) who can take advantage of the mana regen better than Sniper but its certainly not a bad item to have.

Magic Stick, Magic Wand
Stores up charges of 15hp and 15mp every time the enemy casts a spell, could be quite useful to keep you in the lane against enemy harassers who use these spells (ie. Zeus, Bristleback).

Hand of Midas
I have never actually needed to use this item, I generally find my DPS does an excellent job in maintaining satisfactory rapid farm and gives me much earlier teamfight presence, but others use it, so a brief discussion.

If you do the math, for 2050gp you increase your gold per minute (GPM) by 114 and gain a moderately useful attack speed bonus. This means it will take 17 minutes to pay off this item. So if you get Midas you really do have to rush it and for it to be maximally useful the game has to drag on late, and if you anticipate this (ie. Techies games) then maybe it might be of value. But maybe it is better to buy other items, get better DPS and increase your GPM from hero kills and faster jungle/lane farming.

Auras are great but probably better carried by others (ie. Drums of Endurance, Ring of Basilus, Vladmir's Offering) - better DPS items can be held in your slots. Vladmir's Offering was recently upgraded so the lifesteal now works on ranged heroes.

Disable items ( Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Rod of Atos, Scythe of Vyse, Heaven's Halberd)
Again better carried by others as better DPS items can be held in your slots.

Mana regeneration items
You generally do not need these, unless you go Shrapnel heavy early (who's mana cost has reduced to 50 with 6.83 - so this is not as essential anymore) or spam Assassinate.

Shiva's Guard
Gives you extra armor, intelligence and an area of effect slowing ability but you tend not to be in the middle of things (unless you are out of position) so this tends not to be the best choice. If you want slowing abilities I would suggest Eye of Skadi or Sange and Yasha.

Helm of the Dominator
Gives you extra damage, armor, lifesteal and the ability to take control of a creep, which is useful for things like ancient stacking. If you want a source of lifesteal and you dislike Mask of Madness you could use this instead. It also can be upgraded to Satanic.

Skill selection

Skill point order:

There are many different ways Sniper's skill points can be allocated. I recommend using what feels comfortable for you.

I personally feel comfortable allocating points into Sniper's skills in the following order of priority:

> > >>

This is a pre 6.83 build which still works in 6.84. In 6.83 many Sniper players would prioritize Shrapnel much earlier than I do - it just didn't work for me as I want to tower hug early and have tight control over the creepwave. With the recent downgrades to Shrapnel in 6.84 (especially the cast duration delay and replenishment rate of 55 seconds) one might see Shrapnel used far less.


Assassinate is an excellent long range nuke in the mid game. It is very useful for eliminating fleeing enemies who are at low HP. They will need to be under 1 bar of health remaining to secure the kill at level 1, and under 1.5 bars of health at levels 2 and 3. It can be used to initiate battles, (causing the enemy to consider carefully whether to engage or not engage), and potentially spammed assisted by the mana regeneration from the fountain in base defenses. It allows you to participate in battles you cannot reach otherwise, helping your teammate with the battle/surviving. It also gives you vision of heroes who become invisible for a few seconds (ie. Riki, Bounty Hunter, heroes who buy Shadow Blade if you do not have dust available, provided you catch them while they are visible. Hopefully your teammates can finish them off when you use Assassinate for this purpose. Your auto-attacks, when the enemy is in range of them, will generally always do more damage than Assassinate so when the enemy is in auto-attack range I generally do not use Assassinate unless they are fleeing or trying to turn invisible. It also provides a small mini-stun which will cancel Town Portal Scroll if you get it off in time.

The downside to Assassinate is the high mana cost so if you plan to spam it, mana regeneration items can help. Also when Sniper uses Assassinate to kill fleeing enemies, it can be countered by items such as Healing Salve, Bottle, Mechanism or abilities such as Leap.


Headshot is a very useful skill for farming, harassment and ganking. I choose to max this as soon as able as it increases your DPS with autoattacks and your subsequent farming ability. It scales slowly but does become quite powerful when maxed out. The slow effect from Headshot can allow you to chase down enemies and slow their attack animation on occasions. Before the recent patch, Headshot used to do a mini-stun, which would interrupt channeling ultimates such as Black Hole and Death Ward, and Town Portal Scroll which was somewhat overpowered. Headshot used to also go through evasion (ie. Windrunner's Windrun) but no longer will do so.

The basic maths behind maximum Headshot is a 40% chance of +90 damage at level 4. This is quite substantial at level 7, which is your first opportunity to maximise this skill. Sniper's base damage at level 7 is 54 (39 + [2.5 x 6]). With a few items you would be lucky to get the damage to 90. So this is basically a 40% chance for more than double damage with your autoattacks at level 7. Your base damage without items at level 25 is 99 (39 + [2.5 x 24]) so maximum Headshot is still relevant as the game progresses, especially if you focus on increased attack speed. This is my basic mechanics behind my Mask of Madness build in teamfights/ganking or even farming/jungling - stay out of danger, take advantage of +100 IAS from Mask, and maximum Headshot.

Take Aim:

Take Aim is your signature skill, and gives you an excellent range advantage. I tend to max this out after Assassinate and Headshot as I tend to find the utility from Assassinate and DPS from Headshot more useful early on. Two points in Take Aim is plenty early game, but I certainly max this asap after I have maxed out Headshot and got Assassinate.

Stats and Shrapnel

I generally get my first level of Shrapnel at level 10 and preference stats over Shrapnel which works more naturally for me. Others don't so I have included alternate builds in case you fit into that category. Shrapnel provides vision, slow and some DPS. The vision is very useful in seeing enemies and towers in higher ground, or fleeing enemies who have blinked into trees (such as Tinker) to escape, and the slow can be used to chase fleeing enemies, or potentially run away. Shrapnel even at low levels can prevent melee heroes such as Axe from using Blink Dagger to try to eliminate you. I think this ability can also disable Templar Assassin's Refraction. If you want to go a Shrapnel heavy build, mana regeneration could be a little useful and getting a Medallion of Courage for the mana regeneration + -7 armor reduction active ability might be more useful than say, Ring of Aquilla.

The Sniper Early Game

Sniper is extremely weak in the early game. Sniper has little influence early game and is easily ganked. Therefore the goal of the Sniper early game is to get out of it as soon as possible. This is achieved by staying in the lane and avoiding dying at all costs.

In game influence starts to occur once you get Assassinate, and then some DPS, primarily through items (for me, its Power Treads/ Phase Boots & Mask of Madness with maxed Headshot). So you want to get to the mid game as soon as possible. This is the hardest part of the game and mastering this part of the game will make the rest of the game much more easy.

Your goals in the lane early game, in order of priority are as follows:
Last hits/Creep wave management

Your survival is highest under your tower. Managing your creepwave so you can farm very close to it is optimal. Warding the enemy pull camp in the offlane is also very desirable. If you have observer wards in the jungle adjacent to where you plan to farm, or a supportive jungler nearby then this improves your odds. Dying will delay your progression, give gold and experience to the enemy and prolong the Sniper early game which you have little impact so whatever you do, your priority is to not die.

An organised team will always find a way to gank you in the early game. Your goal in this situation is to make it as hard as possible to do this. For example, make them tower dive Tier 1 or even Tier 2 towers just to eliminate you. If they lose a hero or two in the process this creates space for your teammates to get ahead.

It is very important to stay on top of regeneration. If you get harrassed a lot, say by Silencer or Zeus make sure you purchase plenty of Tangos, Healing Salves or even Magic Stick/ Magic Wand.

I find getting good boots / movement speed very valuable to keeping Sniper alive. Phase Boots/ Mask of Madness is quite a nice combination allowing you to chase down enemies or run away from dangerous situations.

Towers: Sniper's early game's best friend

In this screenshot I have managed to get the creep wave close to my high ground in the middle lane, near the relative safety of my tower. My tower is only a short walk away.

Last hits/Creep wave management
A good Sniper player needs to be excellent at last hitting. The reason for this is that you get your items faster, and the faster you get your items, the faster you can contribute in team fights and hopefully begin to outcarry your enemies (aka. snowball out of control). Especially true if you have a babysitting support hero helping you in lane - get that farm asap so their time isn't wasted!

Sniper's starting damage is quite low and last hitting can be quite difficult. This takes a lot of practice, and there are certainly tools such as playing against unfair bots which can help with your skills with this. Increasing your damage from items such as Wraith Band or Phase Boots can really help with your last hits, and increasing levels of skills such as Headshot also help with last hits.

What Sniper has in his favor in the laning stage is his immense range and very favorable missile animation which if the enemy plays passively can lead to Sniper completely dominating the lane as time progresses if they are not careful.

Managing your creep wave is extremely important as if you cannot farm safely then you will delay your progression or die/feed the enemy gold and experience. Fundamentally you need your creepwave close to your tower to farm safely. To do this you need to deny and damage your own creeps so it stays safe where you can farm. It can be helpful to keep an extra enemy siege creep in the lane to help you manage the lane well. Once you get out of the early game you can push the lane all you like and go farm jungle or help with ganks etc etc, but until then, secure safe farm is simply so important for Sniper.

In public games you may have a teammate who wants to push the lane. This obviously exposes you, who is a very weak early game hard carry to ganks. Strategies to combat this are:
- ask your teammate to stop auto-attacking (not always successful)
- attack your creeps when they get <50% health as much as possible
- observer ward the jungle adjacent to watch for ganks
- leave the lane, go to mid lane or another lane, or jungle if you still can't farm, farming is so crucial for Sniper

Again this can be quite difficult but denying the enemy farm helps improve your chances of survival and delays their game impact. There are two types of denies, one where you take the last hit on your allied creep and deny both gold and experience, and the other where you damage the creep sufficiently and it dies to an enemy creep, denying only gold. I find taking last hits more important than denies as you do benefit significantly from the gold.

Harass / Gank
Harassing the enemy hero can sometimes be possible with early game Sniper. The less they are in the lane, the less gold and experience they get and the better for you. Particularly good against melee heroes who have to stand next to creeps to secure last hits. The counter to this is Stout Shield (or to gank you). Certainly if there are no last hits or denies on offer, and your survival is not threatened, you should be harrassing the enemy hero(es).

Solo ganking attempts by Sniper in the early game is highly ambitious and rely very much on your opponent making a very serious mistake. Success is far more likely when support or ganking type heroes come to lane to create ascendancy for you. In this situation, provided you can stay alive, help with the gank attempt by hitting the enemy (with your range, or with Shrapnel if this is your play style).

Early game laning summary:
Survive > Last hit > Deny / Manage creepwave > Harass

*Always stay active
**If gank attempt by teammate, Survive > Harass/Last hit enemy hero

The basic concepts for Sniper in middle to late game teamfights

Introduction to the middle to late game
Once you have any sort of useful DPS you can and should participate in team fights. For me this is when I get Phase Boots, Mask of Madness, Town Portal Scroll and maxed Headshot. With your focus on high damage at long range it is important to consider how you can stay alive for as long as possible in team fights and this is where considering Sniper positioning in these fights is important.

What is good Sniper positioning, why is it important and where is a good position for Sniper
There is a lot of discussion about 'positioning Sniper well' in team fights. To make things really simple I define a good Sniper position as one where you get maximal free hits. This means a position which:
- you can hit the enemy from your range advantage from Take Aim
- they cannot hit you back except with exceptional difficulty (ie. your team is in the way of getting to you)
- the above two conditions occur for as long as possible

This is the basic mechanics behind DPS Sniper and teamfights - if you get a whole bunch of damaging free hits off before they can even touch you, all things being equal your team will win many more teamfights than they lose.

The flipside is that if the enemy get you first with your very low health, and there are no other carries, your team may very easily lose the team fight. This is why careful and thoughtful positioning and gameplay are critical to success with Sniper, and having a fellow carry as an insurance policy (to clean up if you fall) can be valuable.

The usual good position for Sniper is in the rear, a variable distance from your teammates, so when engagements occur you start shooting them from a safe position. This is provided you know there are no other threatening enemy heroes coming from the rear.

The other good position is in the middle of your team if you have a blink type initiator (ie. Axe / Tidehunter) so when they initiate with Blink Dagger you can take advantage of it.

How the enemy will try to counter you
The enemy if they are semi-intelligent, will try to counter you by eliminating you ASAP and preferably alone. This is why hiding your position until you engage is so valuable, if they do not know where you are, it is hard to plan a fight against you. It is also why solo ganking or standing in the front of your team with Sniper is generally not a good idea, you lose the considerable advantage which is your team standing in the way of the enemy, and allowing you all these free hits.

Durable 'gap closer' heroes are so valuable against Sniper, as they make Sniper's positioning less effective (but not completely ineffective - they target you instead of another teammate, which is good for your teammate and why having a fellow carry on your team is valuable). If you know they have a high likelihood of getting to you (ie. Spirit Breaker) your best option is to stand in the middle of your team, next to your disabler(s) (ie Enigma, Axe, Tidehunter, Medusa) to counter this. Or a support hero who is able to protect you (ie. Oracle) until the situation is safe for you to engage.

The enemy may try to approach the team from the side or the rear. This is to try to catch Sniper either alone or get Sniper first. They may use Smoke of Deceit or Moonlight Shadow to do this. To try to manage this the ideal situation is to place Observer Wards and/or Sentry Wards around the side and rear approaches to your siege location. If you think they will successfully approach you from an unexpected angle place yourself in the middle of your team next to your disabler(s) or support hero who can protect you.

Song of the Siren is a difficult ultimate for Sniper to counter, but in essence it is difficult for a lot of heroes to counter. It basically allows the enemy to walk right up to anyone they wish and eliminate them first. Usually that will be you. Again support heroes and disablers might be able to protect you. The other solution is Black King Bar (hopefully this is activated before Song of the Siren is used and possibly also Blink Dagger which will redirect funds away from DPS items (which may or may not be important). Or Aegis of the Immortal is another option.

Invisible heroes ( Riki, Clinkz, Nyx Assassin, Mirana, Invoker) may try to get you first. Your best protection is Sentry Wards, allied towers or sensible allied heroes with Gem of True Sight who will make an effort to protect you. Nyx Assassin is particularly tricky to deal with, as your low health, high intelligence (and mana) gain (good target for Mana Burn), and capacity to double stun and double / triple nuke with Mana Burn, Vendetta and Dagon makes you rather vulnerable, and again allied disablers are key to keeping you alive.

How good positioning affects teamfights
Optimal position of Sniper subtly creates circumstances for the enemy team which are very unfavorable for them, forcing them to do one of the following:

Walk through your team, potentially taking heavy losses to try to eliminate you.
- This is very good for Sniper if he is in the rear a variable distance away, the enemy have no gap closers, your team has disables/slows/stuns and can also do a bit of damage.

Continue fighting, you will continue to score free hits
- If you have sufficient DPS this means your team wins the team fight

- As they retreat Sniper can score additional free hits with Take Aim, slow them down with Shrapnel and Headshot, even potentially chase them down with Phase Boots, Mask of Madness, Yasha and Butterfly. If sufficient damage has been dealt by you and your team, you can use Assassinate to minimize the number of enemy heroes who escape.

Utilising Shrapnel and Assassinate in team fights
Shrapnel gives area of effect vision, damage and slow and can be used to scout out high ground or hidden areas. If you do level it up high early you can use it in team fights to do some additional DPS however in the late game the damage is pretty irrelevant. As mentioned this can delay enemy heroes using Blink Dagger. I am sure this would also be very helpful against Templar Assassin's Refraction.

Assassinate can be used to assist initiation before team fights. For example you can use it just as your allied teammate Axe is able to Blink onto an enemy and call them. The initiation potential is greatest on squishy but threatening enemy heroes (such as Invoker or Enigma). It is also very helpful to kill fleeing heroes who are low on health as mentioned, and Shrapnel can be used to give you vision of high ground or around trees so you can land Assassinate. Assassinate will do less damage per second than your autoattacks so generally it is best to continue auto-attacking if they are in range unless your team needs the detection (against say, a Shadow Blade user and your team haven't brought detection).

'Attack walking'
You will get a good sense of your natural autoattack speed, and you can actually move in between attacks without reducing your rate of attacks. This is called 'Attack walking'. Phase Boots and Mask of Madness give you enhanced movement speed and you can use this to 'kite' enemy heroes or chase down fleeing heroes. Shrapnel's and Headshot's slow are very valuable in this situation.

Examples of teamfight plays:

Generic team fight
1. Hide your position (again, like a Sniper does!), strongly consider Smoke of Deceit if appropriate
2. Position yourself at the rear, a variable distance away, place Sentry Wards to protect yourself against invisible heroes, or position yourself with your team if you are confident your blink-type initiator will succeed
3. Others to initiate
4. You engage with teammates in between you and enemy, turn on Mask and/or Medallion on if you have it
5. Teammates cast stuns/disables/slows
6. Eliminate biggest threat to you within your range (ie. Phantom Assassin) and biggest threat to team (ie. Enigma)
7. If they run, use Assassinate if they get out of auto-attack range to prevent them surviving
8. If your team starts to flee (encourage them to stand and fight if you are heavily farmed), you flee with them ensuring your positioning is intact
9. If you are caught and know you are going to die, keep shooting to take down as many of them as possible before you fall, hopefully your team can clean up
10. If you survive and team wins fight, counter push lanes, take towers / end game
11. If you survive and team loses fight, try to farm if safe, otherwise hide in base until team returns

Base defence
As above, position yourself in the rear and a variable distance away, this is usually the around the Tier 4 towers
If you see a squishy enemy hero out of position, turn on Mask and try to shoot them down to low enough health that you either eliminate them, or can use Assassinate to finish them off, +/- teammate stuns/disables to help, then run back into position
Spamming Assassinate from the mana from your fountain could discourage them from engaging, if you are waiting for teammates to respawn

Laning stage ganking with Sniper
Teleport to a lane with a teammate with a stun/disable, preferrably the creepwave not too far from the tower, hide your position and hide behind your teammates.
Request a stun.
Turn Mask of Madness and/or Medallion of Courage on when they stun
Eliminate stunned hero, with active Mask and/or Medallion and maximum Headshot and teammates helping this should be easy.
If other enemy hero is still near by, hit him with autoattacks (hopefully Headshot will proc a few times, slowing them down) and orb walk while you are chasing, if you have Shrapnel cast this also to slow them down.
If teammates still have stuns/slows request further stuns to eliminate this hero
If they are on low enough health while they get away, use Assassinate to secure the double gank
Sneak off to jungle to continue farming/warding etc

Tower defence with Sniper
Gauge whether your team is organised enough and committed enough to defend the tower.
If they are not interested in defending don't go, push another tower, or continue farming/gank a different lane or something like that.
If they are interested teleport in, hide your position at the rear in trees. Once enemies approach, get your initator teammate to initiate. Then turn on Mask and keep hitting them until they run away.
If they run away use Assassinate if they are low enough.

Dealing with certain Sniper counter items

Blade Mail
Essentially you should pick another target until this wears off
If you have Manta Style your illusions can continue autoattacking
If you have Black King Bar you can activate it and continue autoattacking
If you have Satanic you can activate it and continue autoattacking (lifesteal is 275% of damage dealt)
If you have Heart of Tarrasque you could continuing autoattacking a little if other teammates continue to do so if they are a significant threat
If you teammates can cast Eul's or other disables this can also be an excellent counter until it wears off

Blink Dagger
If the enemy knows your position, you need to make sure these enemies have damage dealt to them to stop them blinking to eliminate you
Shrapnel (even at level 1), your autoattacks or Maelstrom's Chain Lightning can do this, or your teammates

Shadow Blade / Other invisibility
You need Sentry wards or a reliable teammate carrying Gem of True Sight
Dust of Appearance is not good enough as they will close the gap and you will die before it is used
Decline team fight engagements against invisible heroes in enemy territory unless you or team have Sentries or you have a trustworthy teammate carrying Gem of True Sight who is aware of your predicament and will make efforts to protect you.

Force Staff
With a cast range of 800 this is difficult to counter, try not to get too close to these heroes if you can, you do outrange the Force Staff slightly (950)
Try to not be facing Force Staff users if they look like using it on you (watch their movements, sometimes their pathing will give away their intent), and focus fire these heroes down hard if it is safe
If you have Black King Bar you can activate this and foil any attempt

Ethereal Blade / Dagon / Scythe of Vyse
These items are nasty for everyone. You can stay out of range and keep shooting carriers of these items them if you can.

Sniper is an excellent hero against Techies. His range allows you to clear mines rapidly if you have detection, and you can exploit Shrapnel to give you vision on high ground and in the Rosh pit to clear the bombs.
Obviously don't go into any potentially mined areas without detection, you are very squishy and die quickly.

A rampaging Sniper: Gameplay footage of 8 Rampages with DPS Sniper

Rampage game-play footage I achieved with my build

This is a quick link to all the Sniper gameplay footage related to this guide.

The following video is one during a base defence.

The game was even but we were 2 heroes down and they decided to attack our base. I was fortunate to be able to stay out of danger for most of the fight and take advantage of some great stuns from Clockwerk and Earthshaker. I end up 29-5-8 and the team win the game.

This is a Sniper rampage defending Tier 1 mid tower.

I was allowed to free farm for most of the game. I managed to get quite good positioning before the engagement even though the Ravage managed to get me. Mask of Madness was available. Notice how I use Shrapnel to get vision to allow me to get my ultimate off. I end up 24-2-5.

Here's a 7 second Sniper rampage I was able to achieve.

Phoenix was able to get off a fantastic ultimate (with the help of Clinkz who harassed and kept Phoenix alive) causing three of their heroes to be stunned. The remaining enemy heroes decided to engage anyway (hoping to finish our two heroes off). My contribution to the battle was 7 seconds worth of gameplay. By hiding my location before engagement I was able to position myself out of danger the entire battle with my range. I ended up 23-2-3, team victory.

Another DPS Sniper rampage. This time from behind, showing you can win team fights from behind, provided you can get some farm.

Behind in levels & exp, poor battle decisions (including by me) and outnumbered in this battle but simply because I focused on DPS somehow we won this battle. Game ended with me 20-3-5 but the team losing

DPS Sniper rampage assaulting the enemy base

Some great plays by teammates, for example with Axe disabling Lion and Slark and disarming Doom with Heaven's Halberd, and Rubick stealing both Doom and Golem ultimates. I finish 20-4-7 this game.

DPS Sniper rampage - clean up mission

Team decided to engage 3v5 in enemy jungle. I go to clean up as we are ahead on farm. Final stats 11-5-8.

Another Sniper rampage assaulting the enemy base...

The game was heavily influenced by Juggernaut (20-6-14) as my influence was heavily countered by both Phantom Assassin and Nyx Assassin for large portions of the game. Here I get a rampage assaulting their base with the team. Very lucky to have the rest of the team (especially Juggernaut with aegis) to keep me alive. I finish 13-4-8.

This rampage occurred right at the jaws of defeat...

With the ancient at half health, and the game seemingly won, Faceless Void (with an Aegis as well!) decides to get greedy to boost his game ending stats up with catastrophic results, almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (many thanks especially to our support heroes Vengeful Spirit and Slardar). This game we lost. I ended up 17-9-4.

Screenshots and other gameplay footage

These are some screenshots of some game ending results:

These are some further gameplay footage videoes:

DPS Sniper: 4 v 5 team fight

Unsuccessful 2 v 4 gank attempt against well farmed Sniper

Sniper Professional Tournament Gameplay Footage

DOTA 2 Asian Championships 2015 ($3 million + US)
Sniper saw quite a bit of gameplay time and this includes right at the pointy end of the tournament. This is not bad considering a prize pool of over $3 million US (first place $1.28 million). Here are references to a few Sniper games by the professionals, you can have a look at their drafts, the opposing team's draft, skill choices, item choices, general team play and the outcome of these. They do tend to level Shrapnel early which is a little different to my own natural playstyle. Item builds tended to focus on Phase Boots, Mask of Madness, Yasha and Ring of Aquila.

Evil Geniuses vs Team Secret Game 2 (Semifinal) 8/2/2015
Big God vs Team Secret Game 2 (Quarterfinal) 8/2/2015
Evil Geniuses vs Vici Gaming Game 1 and Game 2 8/2/2015
Cloud9 vs Team Secret Game 3 8/2/2015
Rave vs Invictus Gaming Game 2 7/2/2015
Team Secret vs Vici Gaming Game 3 6/2/2015
Rave vs TongFu 3/2/2015
Team Secret vs Vici Gaming 2/2/2015
NaVi vs TongFu 2/2/2015

It might be worth particularly reviewing the Team Secret vs Vici Gaming Game 3 match (6/2/2015) where Team Secret had no answer to the Medusa / Sniper combination, which was quite a significant play-off match.

6.84 update changes relevant to Sniper

6.84 update changes relevant to Sniper
Overall Sniper's abilities are slightly weakened but he gets access to new items which can make him more powerful.

Statistical progression
- Sniper agility gain from 2.9 to 2.5

Ability changes
- Shrapnel recharge time increased from 40 to 55
- Shrapnel delay increased from 0.8 to 1.4 seconds
- Shrapnel now gives vision when the shrapnel lands rather than instantly

- Headshot can now miss

- Assassinate damage from 355/505/655 to 320/485/650

Phase Boots
- Overall cost reduced from 1350 to 1290
- Phase duration from 4 to 3.6 seconds

Mask of Madness
- Berserk movement speed bonus reduced from 30% to 17%

Moon Shard
- Created from two Hyperstones and a recipe, gives +120 attack speed, increased night time vision.

Glimmer Cape
- Created at cost of 1950gp, gives invisibility and +55% magic resistance for 5 seconds, cheaper escape mechanism than Shadow Blade

Silver Edge
- Upgrade of Shadow Blade
- Attacking to break invisibility deals 225 damage, disables all passive abilities and damage output by 40% for 5 seconds (disable and damage output reduction blocked by magic immunity)

- Flutter duration from 8 to 6 and bonus movement speed from 20 to 25%
- Total cost from 6000gp to 5875gp

Eye of Skadi
- Cold Attack slow duration for ranged heroes from 3 to 2.5 seconds

Power Treads
- Attribute bonus increased from 8 to 9

Vladmir's Offering
- Aura now grants 10% lifesteal to ranged heroes


Sniper is a very powerful hero but extremely farm dependent. This build discusses the play-style strategies that I have naturally adopted and use in public and ranked games.

Dying early is to be avoided. Farming should always be undertaken until you can contribute in team fights, and continuously undertaken when there are quiet periods. Be as active as possible in lanes provided you stay alive. Farming strategies have been discussed, farming safely is the key. Buy items if needed to secure this, it is in your interests to do so because if you have no farm, you will have no influence in team fights.

Have some sort of item game plan to maximise your DPS. A DPS Sniper is strongest in the teamfight setting. Position yourself in the rear, placing your team in between the yourself and enemy, and try to constantly free hit. Force them to make a decision to either go through your team and take heavy losses to try to get you, die from your high DPS from constant free-hitting, or flee (and fall victim to potential Assassinate). If you are alone, out of position and the enemy finds you, you are usually dead.

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