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Countering common pubstomp heroes

June 10, 2015 by Hamstertamer
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Introduction

This guide will give you a list of guidelines on how to counter the most common pubstomp heroes. I will be talking about ways to counter these heroes:


I chose these heroes because they are currently sitting at the top of the chart in terms of number of kills per match (http://dotabuff.com/heroes/impact), and also at the top of the chart in terms of the most picked heroes. From a point of view, you could say that they are currently the most successful heroes in pubs.

These heroes are very popular in pub games because they are mostly low skill heroes : they are extremely easy to play, and they make it very easy to own pub games because people don't know how to deal with them. All these heroes are almost never seen in high-level games (with maybe the exception of Pudge, but just because Dendi plays him doesn't mean that he is viable in competitive). They are terrible picks against competent players because you can counter them easily, however they are still able to own pubs because people still don't know how to.

Explaining how to counter them is the purpose of this guide. However, this guide is not about counterpicking (even though I do mention counterpicks). This guide is about countering these guys with any hero, simply by adapting your playstyle. You don't need a specific counterpick to deal with these guys : not only is counterpicking a form of abuse if you are doing it in all pick (or at least a form of heavy tryharding), but it is completely unnecessary if you are aware of how these heroes work. You simply need to identify their weaknesses and adapt your item build and your playstyle to take advantage of them.

The basic idea : adapt your build!

The main point I would like to get across about countering heroes is the following:

No matter what hero you are playing, you should ALWAYS make your item choices depending on the enemy heroes you are facing.

You shouldn't follow "standard" item builds, you should always, always adapt your build to the situation.

For example, suppose that you are playing Lifestealer. He is a very simple right-click carry, all he does is right-click people with a free Black King Bar. So essentially you can build any right-click item on him and it will work. The standard item build tells you to go Armlet of Mordiggian, Assault Cuirass and Skull Basher (for example). Should you get this every game in that order? Absolutely not!

  • Say that the enemy carry is a Drow Ranger. Then all these items won't really help you because she will simply kite you and slow you. However if you get, say, a Shadow Blade, you can use the invisibility to walk up to her without getting attacked, then Open Wounds her and get the kill easily (a Blink Dagger can also do the same job).
  • Say that the enemy carry is a Phantom Lancer. This build won't help you against him either, because they are single-target items and they won't do anything against illusions. But instead, if you get a Battle Fury, then you can clear his illusions extremely quickly and then focus down the real PL (I actually played a game like this, battlefury naix against PL, and the battlefury worked wonders to outcarry him even in the late game).
  • Also, any other build that you can make up 'on the fly' may work just as well...and could even be more adapted to the situation. For example if you want to go Manta Style + Daedalus on naix after your Armlet of Mordiggian, there is no reason why it would be a bad build! Could work to outcarry an enemy Spectre for example, since manta illusions disable Desolate!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that battlefury naix is a good build (^^), there's a reason why you don't usually go for battlefury on naix (having garbage attack speed early/mid game is one of them for example). But my point is that a lot of heroes in the game can be countered very hard by purchasing one specific item, and you should always take advantage of item counters instead of building your hero the same way in every game just because a guide told you so.
DotA allows for a lot of creativity in terms of item builds and you can really make up your build as the game goes on. In the following I will give examples of item counters, so that you can simply adapt them to the specific hero you are playing.

In short, don't choose your items depending on who you are playing, always choose your items depending on who you are playing *against*.

Riki



The nooby hero by definition, Riki is surprisingly successful in pubs. I even tried to play him myself a while ago just to see how bad people are at countering him, and...since that time, I can proudly say that Riki is my most successful hero with a 90% winrate :)
So clearly people have no clue on how to deal with him. Actually the worst of all are the people who say "just buy sentry wards and he's useless". Well, no, it's not that simple. Obviously to counter him you need invisbility detection. But it's not enough. permanent invisibility is only one of his skills, and it's also arguably his weakest skill. Let's see the details:

Strengths:

  • Can jump on you at any time with invisibility. You can't safely solo farm or even jungle without the risk of being ganked.
  • Good ganker and chaser. With the right items ( Diffusal Blade, Skull Basher or Sange and Yasha), he's really good at picking off single heroes.
  • Very high damage output with Backstab, but only if you try to run away from him (if you fight him head-on, he hardly deals any damage however).
  • Has one of the best AOE disables in the game : Smoke Screen. For an insane 6-second duration, it prevents you from attacking AND casting spells, and it even slows movement and attack speed. Forget his invisibility, Smoke Screen is by far his strongest ability, and this skill is the only reason why Riki still gets some (extremely rare) picks in competitive - he's just picked as a utility hero simply to have access to this skill, because it counters escape heroes like Anti-Mage.

Weaknesses:
  • Extremely weak lane presence. You can easily harass him to prevent him from getting ANY farm. You can even harass him out of experience range.
  • Deals almost no damage if you turn on him and manfight him instead of trying to run away
  • Countered by any kind of invisibility detection : Dust of Appearance, Sentry Ward, Gem of True Sight, Necronomicon
  • Silences disable his invisibility (e.g Orchid Malevolence)
  • Weak in teamfights. Essentially, if he gets revealed and your whole team starts focusing him, he can't do anything. He can't manfight you and he can't escape.
  • Hard countered by Monkey King Bar, which allows you to attack him under Smoke Screen.
    Note : Black King Bar also blocks Smoke Screen completely.
  • Riki is hard countered by getting specific items. This is why Riki drops off completely past a certain point in the game (no matter how much farm he has), because once your team gets the items that counter him, he becomes useless in teamfights for the rest of the game. He's a good ganker throughout the game because his damage scales very well, but if you counter him with items, he just can't carry - you will ALWAYS win late-game teamfights against him.

How to counter:


  • Before he hits level 6, you should pressure him as much as you can. Harass him in lane, and ask your mid to gank him as much as you can. He should be going back to base a lot, even die a few times. If he isn't, you're doing something wrong.
  • When he hits level 6, he will start ganking the other lanes. Notify your team immediately (a simple "riki level 6" does the job). At this moment, ALL your lanes should buy Sentry Wards and place them immediately to prevent him from ganking. If you stop him at that moment, he can't really do much.
  • Get Dust of Appearance on every hero. It doesn't matter if you are a carry, a support, anything, just carry dust wherever you're going. Invisibility is NOT an escape mechanism, make sure to remind him of this at every occasion.
  • Necronomicon 3 is in my opinion the hardest Riki counter in the game. Necro 3 is a very underrated item against invisible heroes. Necro 3 gives you 40 seconds of True Sight. It's like a gem...without the risk. Besides, Necro is the standard pushing item in the game, and 5-man pushing counters Riki very hard already.
    Having a Necronomicon in your team means that Riki cannot rely on his invisibility in teamfights anymore. Summon your necros before the teamfight starts and focus him down.
  • Force Staff and Ghost Scepter will save your life if you are a support. Force Staff is especially good because it allows you to push people (or yourself) out of Smoke Screen.
  • If you are a carry, Monkey King Bar is a HUGE help. Riki relies completely on his Smoke Screen to do anything, and you get a massive advantage against him if you can counter it. Walking out of Smoke Screen is not an option because he will just backstab you. Your only choice is to fight him under Smoke Screen, and MKB allows you to do this. Black King Bar blocks smoke too, if you get smoked in a teamfight, don't run away, pop your BKB and fight back.
  • Disables and silences. Scythe of Vyse and Orchid Malevolence are great pickups, especially since you can still use them when you are silenced by Smoke Screen.
  • Radiance is not the hardest counter, but it allows you to "see" him when he is in the burn radius. You see a "shadow" of him that you can't target, but this should be your cue to use Dust of Appearance on him.
  • Gank him! Riki is a very easy target for ganks. When you see him solo farming a lane, just use revelation and kill him, he has no way of escape.
  • If all else fails, then 5-man Dota is the way to go. Grab a Gem of True Sight or summon your Necronomicons, and start 5-man pushing. He can't do *anything* against this.

A few counters:
  • Bounty Hunter and Slardar. Their ultimates reveal invisibility for a long time.
    But then, so does Dust of Appearance, so you don't really need that :)
  • Zeus. Lightning Bolt gives true sight for 4.5 seconds, on a 6 seoond cooldown -> you can reveal him 3/4 of the time by spamming it anywhere on the ground!
  • Doom Bringer. 15 seconds of silence which reveals him + huge damage.
  • Silencer. His combo Global Silence + Last Word silences (reveals) him for 12 seconds non-stop AND disarms him for the last 6 seconds. Add an Orchid Malevolence so you can do it at will (orchid + last word). And then laugh when you see he has 75 maximum mana :)
  • Faceless Void. His Chronosphere reveals invisibility, and seeing how squishy he is, you should kill him whenever you use your chrono. You still need MKB though.
  • Lycan. Possibly the only carry on which building a Necronomicon makes sense. Shapeshift allows your Necronomicon units to chase Riki with maximum movement speed, providing permament true sight on him, and dealing huge damage, all while chainstunning him with Skull Basher. GG Lycan OP.
  • Dark Seer, Nature's Prophet, doom bringer, Enigma... : when it comes to farming utility items as fast as possible, these guys are probably the best at it. Rush that Necrobook, group up your team, and push! Early push strategies make Riki useless : he can't gank anything if you group up early.
    (Furion actually does really well against Riki. Just push with your team and not alone. My personal favorite anti-Riki build on Furion is Necronomicon + Eye of Skadi, this way Riki gets slowed and revealed permanently by Necro units)
  • Naga Siren. Her Ensnare disables him for 5 (!!) seconds, and reveals his invisibility. Makes him a really easy kill...
  • Lone Druid. His entangle disables Riki for 3 seconds and reveals his invisibility. Also a pretty tanky hero who can manfight Riki without difficulty. Besides, Radiance, Skull Basher and Monkey King Bar are pretty common items to build on the bear in the first place.
  • Meepo! Earthbind locks him in place and prevents him from becoming invisible for...10 seconds! (with 5 Meepos)
  • Luna / Dragon Knight / Gyrocopter / Sven/ any good teamfight-oriented carry. The strategy is pretty simple : get your Monkey King Bar/ Black King Bar, and win teamfights.
  • Beastmaster : long stun? Check. Necronomicon core item? Check. Add in a 35% slow from his boar. Roar him, and send your private army on him, there's no escape possible.
  • Bristleback. Never tried it in practice but it sounds awesome on paper :)


But seriously, you don't need to counterpick that little prick, just get a Force Staff or two, get Monkey King Bars and/or Black King Bars on your carries, get mass Necronomicon 3, go push with your team, and watch him become completely useless.

How to counter Riki...in video

This game is a great example on how to counter Riki simply by grouping up and pushing. It shows perfectly well that as soon as you have 2 Necronomicons, Riki becomes useless. And why Lycan is the best pick if you want to make Riki pickers rage :P

Bloodseeker



Pub Seeker, Noob Seeker, Blyat Suka, this hero is known by many names and is the nightmare of people who don't know how to play against him. For those who do however, he's a bit of a joke hero, and the winner of many "worst hero in DotA" contests.
Bloodseeker is extremely easy to deal with, because avoiding getting killed by him is insanely simple. This hero is very dependent on ganks to snowball, but the problem is that...he's not very good at ganking :)

Strengths:


  • A strong counter to mobility-based heroes and heroes who rely on escape mechanisms like Blink.
  • Thirst vision is very easy to forget about. Always keep in mind that he sees any hero with less than 50% HP. He even gets an alert (Bloodseeker saying "I smell blood") whenever a hero drops below half HP. It prevents you from juking completely, and it prevents you from ever farming with low HP in the jungle (always keep this in mind if you are jungling!). Also beware combos of Thirst with global spells (e.g Sun Strike)
  • Heals a large portion of his HP whenever he kills a hero. Don't ever underestimate Bloodrage!
  • Rupture goes through Black King Bar completely.

Weaknesses:
  • Actually a very poor ganker, because you can escape him easily with a Town Portal Scroll. If he uses Rupture on you, just TP away. If he chases you, just TP away. His damage output is extremely low and you can survive his right-clicks for 3 seconds without any problem.
  • Very low damage output. Besides a very poor right-click and an ultimate that you can avoid completely just by standing still, this hero does absolutely no damage. Don't be afraid of him or run away from him, you have no reason to.
  • No farming ability whatsoever. Sure, he has the sustainability to farm the jungle with Blood Bath, but he farms extremely slowly. If he doesn't snowball with kills then he will have zero farm. He can't recover from a bad start.
  • Pretty useless in teamfights. Rupture does nothing if you stay and manfight him.
  • Bloodseeker is not a carry, at least the way he is built currently. Players always get gimmicky mid-game items on him, like Sange and Yasha, Radiance, Force Staff or even Dagon, and all these items are completely useless in the late game. Use this to your advantage, and consider that you win the late game against him.
  • Bloodseeker is one of the weakest mid heroes in the game, if not the weakest. Winning the mid lane against him is extremely simple. First off, he has no way of killing you : if he ever tries to kill you, you can just TP out. Second, blood bath regen is easily countered by harassing him enough so that he can't even come close to the creeps (or else he dies) ; nuke spamming and constant right-clicks from a ranged hero will do the trick. And third, BS has no rune control/counterpush whatsoever, you can easily push the lane before the runes spawn to get all the runes and thanks to the Bottle regen you will eventually out-harass him and send him back to base. And fourth, in a passive farming war you will always win, because you can get Quelling Blade to get all the last hits without him denying you, and BS doesn't want to farm anyways because he is a ganker - he'll have to leave eventually. Seriously you can even go and lane your hard carry mid against him...even a solo mid Spectre (the most useless laning hero in the game ^^) can win the lane against him :)




How to counter:


  • Don't feed him. It's that simple, and it's really easy to do. This hero absolutely needs kills because it's his only way to farm, but he shouldn't be able to get them because you can escape him easily when he comes to gank you. Always carry a Town Portal Scroll. When he comes to gank you, just TP away.
  • Gank the mid lane.. He's a melee hero, he has to always be next to the creeps because of blood bath, so basically...he's always sitting in the middle of the river, and he has no escape mechanism. Free gank anyone?
  • Get Observer Wards. When you have wards, you can't get ganked, ever. No, seriously, when is the last time you saw a Bloodseeker dewarding or using Smoke of Deceit?
  • 5-man Dota. Bloodseeker is useless in teamfights.
  • Tank up. Bloodseeker is essentially a nuker, at least the way he is built currently.
  • Farm up and outcarry him. It's not really hard to outcarry a hero whose only items are Sange and Yasha, Radiance and Force Staff!

A few counters:


There's no dedicated counter to Bloodseeker, but you should avoid getting counterpicked. You should definitely avoid any hero who relies on escape/mobility spells. This includes a lot of heroes.
Against Bloodseeker, avoid picking heroes who rely on their escape skills : Weaver, Anti-Mage, Puck, Mirana, Earth Spirit, Timbersaw, Windranger, Lycan, Queen of Pain, Phoenix, Clinkz, Slark...


Here's a few heroes who do really well against him :

Sniper



A very squishy right-clicker, Sniper is infamous for his extremely high attack range which keeps getting buffed in every patch.
Essentially to counter him you need to catch up to him at melee range and burst him down. Here are a few tips on how to do this.

Strengths:

  • Insane attack range. At maximum level, Take Aim gives him 950 attack range. This is much more than the cast range of any spell (cast ranges are usually between 500 and 800). A ranged hero in his max range has to walk for more than 1 second to attack him. A melee hero in his max range has to walk for almost 3 seconds (!!) to attack him.
  • Good right-click damage. Does as much damage as any carry. Not more, not less. Actually it seems like he does more damage but that's simply because of his range.
  • Damage scales really well into the late game

Weaknesses:
  • Besides Take Aim which is completely OP, all his other skills are extremely weak. Shrapnel is a very weak slow. Assassinate is just a weak nuke that is hardly worth being called an "ultimate" (just think that instead of Assassinate, he could have Eclipse or Requiem of Souls for example ^^). Headshot is indeed very annoying but you could hardly call it "strong" either, it's just +36 damage in average to every attack at max level, nothing gamebreaking.
  • Terrible movement speed (290 base), and no escape mechanism whatsoever. If you catch him out of position he is a free kill.
  • Thinks that Shadow Blade is an escape mechanism. It isn't. This item actually slows him as he's trying to escape when you use Dust of Appearance ^^
  • Extremely low HP, especially since his item build has no survivability items. This hero usually sits at around 1000-1200 max HP, so clearly bursting him down is extremely easy.
  • No farming ability whatsoever. If he doesn't snowball with kills then he will have zero farm. Can't recover from a bad start.
  • Completely useless in teamfights if you focus him first (what you should ALWAYS do)
  • Blade Mail destroys him. He deals much more damage than his own health, so he will kill himself before he kills you.
  • Countered by gap closers and initiators


How to counter:


  • Gank the mid lane. Gank mid every time you can. Gank mid at level 1 if you are playing a support with a good stun. Sniper is really a free kill at low levels. Pub players often have the misconception that you can't gank mid, but in reality you can gank mid just like you can gank any lane :)
  • In a 1 vs 1 mid situation, play extremely aggressively against him. Don't hesitate to walk up to him and trade hits with him. He has extremely low damage and no armor, so he can't win the trade. Harass him a lot, and control runes. This will push him out of lane.
    Also...block your creeps! This will give you a huge advantage by forcing him to move forward.
  • Get Dust of Appearance on every hero if he goes Shadow Blade
  • On supports, get a Ghost Scepter, he won't be able to attack you. Also a Force Staff is a good pick : besides being a great escape mechanism, you can also use it offensively on Sniper to push him out of position towards your team (800 range on forcestaff is more than enough for this).
  • On any hero with decent HP, get a Blade Mail. Sniper's damage is much higher that his HP, so he will end up killing himself before he even notices it. A Blade Mail on every hero will make Sniper's life a nightmare.
  • On carries, you need an initiation mechanism that allows you to initiate on him at melee range. Shadow Blade is one of my favorite picks against Sniper. Turn invisible, walk up to him, and start punching him (don't forget that Shadow Blade is a ganking item, not an escape item!). Alternatively...get a Blink Dagger! Blink is the ultimate Sniper counter in the game, because it allows you to jump on him instantly. Don't hesitate to get Blink Dagger on heroes who don't have it recommended in their build when you're playing against Sniper. Ever wondered how well "weird" heroes like Outworld Devourer, Timbersaw or Dragon Knight could use a blink dagger? Now's a great time to try it out.
  • Skull Basher is an *extremely* important item against Sniper. One of the biggest advantages of melee heroes over ranged heroes is that melee heroes can buy basher. Say that you get Blink Dagger and Skull Basher on your Lifestealer. You blink on Sniper, and start attacking him. He can't run away, and he can't fight you back because he'll just get chainstunned. With a basher, you are sure that any melee hero can win a 1 vs 1 manfight against him.
  • Disabling him is extremely effective with a Heaven's Halberd (which is especially strong against ranged heroes with a 4.5 second duration), or a good old Scythe of Vyse.
  • ALWAYS focus him first in teamfights. Never start a teamfight if you don't know where he is.
  • Smoke of Deceit allows you to dodge Assassinate. Use smoke when you see the Assassinate debuff on you and it won't hit you. This only works with smoke, other types of invisibility don't work.

A few counters:
TLDR : Sniper will kill you before you can walk up to him. Don't even try walking up to him, Blink or Shadow Blade on him instead.

Sniper is a terrible, terrible hero...and the winner of many "worst hero in the game" contests. The only reason he is still a viable pick at low level is because Snipers in those games can get away with escaping with Shadow Blade. Shadowblade Sniper sucks, only n00b Snipers get a shadowblade, it's a terrible item on the hero because it's just so easily countered. But you need to *actually* counter it : if you don't counter the shadowblade, you make Sniper actually become a "good" hero, and you don't want that to happen do you? Get Dust of Appearance, jump on him, and kill him. That's all there is to it really.

How to counter Sniper...in video

Dendi playing Sniper. A great example on how to gank the mid lane :)

Huskar



One of Huskar's lines is "You must learn to sacrifice". I think that it is a pretty accurate description on how to counter him : you can't really stop him from jumping you and dealing a lot of damage to your team, but you can definitely make sure that it turns against him when he does it.

Strengths:

  • Insane damage output from Burning Spear. This skill gives him a total of 40/80/120/160 magic damage ON EACH HIT and it stacks indefinitely with itself. It doesn't refresh the cooldown, it STACKS. So 10 attacks from him deal...1600 damage, on top of his basic right-click damage that is. Yes, this is completely broken :)
  • Very good harasser in lane...if you let him get close to you (only 400 attack range)
  • Highest magic resistance in the game. With maxed Berserker's Blood he gets up to 98% magic resistance when low HP. Essentially he is immune to nukes when he has low HP.
  • Some heroes just can't deal with him at all. Nukers, squishy supports, melee mid heroes...these are just Huskar food.

Weaknesses:
  • Low attack range. Huskar has only 400 attack range, so any ranged hero can easily stay out of range to avoid Burning Spear harass
  • No escape mechanism
  • Very low starting armor, and low armor throughout the game.
  • Extremely weak to disables when he is low HP. Just stun him, and he won't do any damage.
  • Weak to Pure damage nukes and to Physical burst damage
  • Huskar is not a carry. He has a strong early-mid game presence, but he falls off extremely hard in the late game, because any carry will kill him in a second.

How to counter:



A few counters:

Viper


Notorious for being an extremely annoying harasser in lane, you'll quickly find out that harassing is essentially the only thing that Viper does well. Apart from that, he is neither a good carry nor a good ganker.

Strengths:

  • Possibly the best harasser in the game. Constant spamming of Poison Attack with his high attack range makes laning against him a nightmare
  • Very strong early game. Since he deals pretty high damage with his skills AND he slows your attack speed (don't underestimate his attack speed slow!), you can't fight him 1 vs 1 early - he will win.
  • If he starts attacking you, you can't escape him. At least, you can't escape him just by trying to run away. You need to either turn the fight around or find another way to escape.

Weaknesses:
  • Terrible movement speed (285 base), and no escape mechanism whatsoever. If you catch him out of position he is a free kill.
  • All his abilities are single target. He is completely useless when outnumbered (e.g during a gank). Illusion heroes, summoned units and pushers do really well against him.
  • No farming ability whatsoever. If he doesn't snowball with kills then he will have zero farm. Can't recover from a bad start.
  • Viper is not really a carry. He has a strong early-mid game presence, but he scales terribly into the late game (no scaling skills). He falls off extremely hard around the 35 minute mark where any hard carry can outcarry him easily.
  • Countered by Force Staff! With a forcestaff, escaping him is extremely easy, and you can use it on teammates too.
  • His most important weakness is one that nobody ever seems to exploit : he is hard countered by a Town Portal Scroll (!!) .

How to counter:


  • Gank the mid lane. Viper is actually really squishy early due to his low armor, and his slow movement speed makes killing him mid really easy. Gank mid early (as soon as level 1 if needed) for an easy kill. Especially easy since he will be out of position most of the time (e.g in the middle of the river) because he is harassing your own mid-laner.
  • Always have a Town Portal Scroll. This way you can't get ganked by a solo Viper, ever. If he ganks you, just TP away, he can't do anything.
    The first thing to know about laning mid against Viper is that he can harass you, but he can't kill you. If he tries to kill you, just TP out.
  • If laning mid against him, control runes. Viper is good at harassing, but harassing is completely worthless if you can heal up every time with your Bottle. Also the mana allows to spam spells on him to harass him out of lane
  • Viper is all about slowing you, and kiting you. Having an initiation mechanism such as Shadow Blade or Blink Dagger allows you to jump on him at melee range and prevent this completely.
  • Skull Basher is great against all right-clickers. Basher is the ultimate manfight item, with a basher any melee hero will win against him 1 vs 1. You just need to get in range.
  • Manta Style on carries is a pretty good pick to confuse him and counter his purely single-target attack.
  • Heaven's Halberd shuts down any right-clicker and is especially effective against ranged heroes
  • On supports, Force Staff allows you to escape him or save teammates from him. And Ghost Scepter prevents him from attacking you.
  • Observer Wards prevent his ganks completely and can often turn them against him.

A few counters:
  • Lycan. His Shapeshift makes him completely immune to slows, and Viper is all about slows. He can chase Viper easily and kill him ( Skull Basher is a great pick for this), and he can also escape him easily.
  • Lone Druid. Pretty much the same as Lycan for the chasing ability, but he can also go mid and win the mid lane heavily against Viper thanks to his bear. Lone Druid is also "immune" to slows because Viper can't slow both LD and the bear at the same time.
  • Weaver is immune to slows thanks to Shukuchi and can chase/kite Viper easily.
  • Illusion carries : Phantom Lancer, Naga Siren, Terrorblade, Chaos Knight are great against him because Viper is only a single-target hero.
  • Vengeful Spirit can Nether Swap him in the middle of your team for an easy kill. A great hero for ganking the mid lane also.
  • Dark Seer's Surge can make any of your allies immune to slows. This is a huge help because it allows any of your teammates to chase or escape Viper easily.
  • Solo mid Broodmother. With his single-target attack, Viper can't do anything when he gets surrounded and body-blocked by a million spiders...Solo mid Brood owns him completely.
  • Invoker can win the mid lane against him by fighting him with Forge Spirit + Cold Snap.
  • Solo mid Windranger = easy mid easy life. Windrun allows you to block his harassment completely and trade hits with him. 6 seconds of evasion makes a right-click hero like Viper completely useless. And she can solo kill him pretty easily with Focus Fire.
  • Enchantress mid with Untouchable will always win a harassing war against him.
  • Spell spammers and pushers can win the mid lane against him. Generally mid heroes have a spammable spell that can clear the creep wave and harass at the same time (example : Shadowraze). Always stay at a distance from the creeps, and spam spells to get last hits and harass him. Your Bottle will give you the sustainability you need. Spell spammers like Death Prophet, Shadow Fiend, Tinker, Shadow Demon, Leshrac, Silencer, Windranger or Razor can simply harass him out of lane. Just before the rune spawns, clear the creep wave with your nuke and secure the rune, Viper has no way to deal with this.


How to deal with Viper mid...in video

Fear ( Shadow Fiend) versus S4 ( Viper) in a 1 vs 1 mid matchup. Notice how Shadow Fiend manages to out-harass Viper simply by controlling runes and spamming Shadowraze for both last hitting and harassing. Any mid hero with an AOE nuke can do the same. Also notice the Town Portal Scroll :)

Drow Ranger



Everything I said about Sniper and Viper also applies to Drow Ranger, word for word. For how to counter Drow, refer to these two sections.

Still, a bit of advice specific to Drow : if you're laning in a dual lane vs dual lane situation against her and she's harassing you with Frost Arrows, to counter her harass, just go freaking kill her. Drow is one of the squishiest lvl 1 heroes in the game, her HP is low and she has less than 1 starting armor, so she's extremely weak to right-clicks. 2 stuns, or a stun and a nuke = dead Drow. Do NOT play passively and if she's harassing you, go aggressive instead.

Zeus



Notorious for being one of the "best" killstealers in the game ( Axe being his only serious rival in that respect), Zeus's specificity is that he is a nuker...and nothing else. What makes him really weak is the fact that he can't do anything besides throwing nukes : he doesn't have any spells that would make him more useful, like disables for example ^^

Strengths:

  • Extremely annoying to lane against. His constant spamming of Arc Lightning and Lightning Bolt will harass you like crazy.
  • High damage output in teamfights, which affects the entire enemy team. Don't forget that Static Field is his best skill by far, never underestimate the damage it can do.
  • Scales decently into the late game because of Static Field
  • Reveals invisible units. Both Lightning Bolt and Thundergod's Wrath give true sight in a 900 radius for 3 seconds.

Weaknesses:
  • Low movement speed (295), low HP and armor, and no escape mechanism : basically a free kill.
  • Completely mono-dimensional hero. He has 4 nukes...and nothing else. Nukes are easy to counter.
  • Has no disables
  • Terrible team player. He killsteals his teammates all game long, just to get a lot of farm on a hero who doesn't scale well with items anyways.
  • Will ALWAYS go for Aghanim's Scepter + Refresher Orb. This is actually a very poor item build, because it makes the hero even more mono-dimensional and easier to counter.
  • Useless against high HP heroes
  • Useless against Black King Bar
  • Deals only magical damage. Hard countered by Hood of Defiance and Pipe of Insight.
  • Thundergod's Wrath doesn't hit invisible units.

How to counter:



To counter Zeus you just need to tank up. Seriously it's that simple. No matter what hero you are playing, you need AT LEAST one item that increases your max HP. If you can absorb his damage then you can kill him easily.
  • Magic Stick counters his harass in lane. Get it as a first item when you are laning against him.
  • Heart of Tarrasque (+1060 HP) and Eye of Skadi (+725 HP) are the two best HP items in the game. If you are playing a carry, then getting one of these two is highly recommended. If you are low on farm, just grab a casual Vitality Booster or Point Booster, this way you can make it into a heart or skadi later.
  • Mekansm is a huge help against him (+250 HP for your whole team).
  • On intelligence heroes/support heroes, Aghanim's Scepter (+390 HP) or Soul Booster (+450 HP) can be good picks if you can fit them in your build.
  • Hood of Defiance counters Zeus extremely hard, because it reduces all his damage by 30%. It also heals you up whenever Zeus spams Thundergod's Wrath. Getting a hood means that you won't have to worry about Zeus ever again.
  • Against Zeus, your team NEEDS a Pipe of Insight, so upgrade your hood into one if your team doesn't have one already.
  • Don't forget a casual Cloak. This item costs almost nothing so you can get it very early.
  • Black King Bar blocks everything he does. I wouldn't recommend getting a BKB simply to counter a Zeus, but if there are also disablers in the enemy team then BKB is the way to go.
  • Invisibility allows you to dodge Thundergod's Wrath. If you are running away with low HP, you can use Smoke of Deceit or Shadow Blade and Thundergod's Wrath won't hit you. Beware that you still need to stand far from your teammates, so that you are not in the true sight radius. (thanks to Sando for pointing it out)
  • Also...Gank the mid lane. He's a really easy kill mid since he'll be standing next to the creeps (terrible attack range).

A few counters:

Pudge



All right, Pudge is perhaps not such a nooby hero in comparison to the previous ones (although this is debatable). Still, I think that Pudge has DEFINITELY his place on this list.

Pudge is without question the most overpicked hero in pubs, always sitting as the #1 most picked hero far above all others. So if you play pubs, you'll have your fair share of Pudge games, and knowing how to deal with him is very important.

Having some sort of a personal grudge against Pudge pickers (which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm fed up with playing offlane Shadow Fiend simply because of some prick who last picks Pudge ^^), I'm really committed to giving any tips I can to counter this annoying fat butcher :)

Strengths:

  • Has one of the strongest solo killing potentials in the game. If he lands Meat Hook on a lone hero, this is almost a guaranteed kill.
  • Extremely high burst damage combo...he is able to solo kill most heroes from full HP.
  • Can kill and shut down your own mid-laner early in the game, as soon as he hits level 5.
  • Can snowball into a tank, where manfighting/turning against him becomes almost impossible
  • Still useful in the late game, where he is played as an initiator (especially obvious when pushing the enemy base for example)

Weaknesses:
  • Pudge will always be going mid. This is so predictable, you know this before the game even starts. By knowing this, you can adapt your lanes in order to counter him.
  • Pudge will always lose the mid lane to any hero. Harassing him is insanely easy for any ranged hero (he has almost no armor). Zoning him away from the creep wave to get every single last hit/deny possible is a walk in the park. If you are laning mid against Pudge, you will get freefarm without even trying.
  • His usage of Meat Hook is very predictable and can be countered. If laning mid against him, you know that he'll be standing on the high ground and trying hard to hook you, because he can't do anything else. With good positioning behind your creeps, you can avoid it.
  • Garbage movement speed (285), and no escape mechanism whatsoever (except suicide, but you can counter it with nukes). If you spot him with Observer Wards, you can countergank him for an easy kill.
  • Very low armor. Weak to physical damage throughout the game.
  • Scales extremely poorly with items. Even if a Pudge gets 30 kills, this is not a big deal, and it doesn't mean that your team has lost the game. A Pudge getting fed is just...well...a Pudge getting fed, nothing more. No matter how much farm he gets, it doesn't make him stronger in any way. However, if your hard carry gets farmed, he will dominate Pudge easily.
  • Dismember is easily stopped with stuns.
  • Useless against tanks, who can just survive his combo and manfight him
  • Extremely dependent on kills and good momentum to snowball. If he doesn't get early kills, he'll just be useless for the rest of the game.
  • Pretty useless in teamfights, apart from initiating with Meat Hook. If your team is the one initiating, he can't do anything.
  • Can be counterpicked pretty hard. If he gets picked in captain's mode, you can counterpick him easily to win the mid lane before the game even starts!

How to counter:



The main reason why Pudge is so successful in pubs is because no-one ever picks supports. To counter Pudge you need Observer Wards, and since you have no supports, you have no wards, so you just get picked off like the noobs you are. This stuff shouldn't happen, ever.

For those who don't know how to play support, the first thing you need to know about supporting is that the "buy Observer Ward" button should always be on cooldown. Always :)
Also, you need to actually place the wards at some point. Preferably at places from which you could get ganked. If you don't know where to put them, then just put them at any place where you have no vision. This way you'll know what's actually going on on the map instead of playing blind all the time. It's pretty useful, trust me ^^
Voil , you now know how to play support. It wasn't that hard now, was it? :)

Maybe you're thinking some nonsense, like "it's boring to play support" or "supports don't have any impact in the game". Well, that's just garbage. It's not boring, because the only thing you have to do as a support is get wards, that's all there is to it. As long as you get wards, you can do whatever the hell you want! If you want to get Mask of Madness, Armlet of Mordiggian and dagon 5 on Crystal Maiden then by all means go for it! No impact? Well I'm probably at my 4th or 5th rampage as Crystal Maiden...more than I ever got with any carry :P

Just pick supports guys, that's how you win games...you need 2 supports in each game. Don't listen to what others say, Crystal Maiden OP, best counter to Pudge in the game ^^

Okay, I digress, back to the point of beating Pudge :
  • Put an Observer Ward on the enemy high ground in the mid lane. This will allow you to see him whenever he's trying to hook you. This way, you can always stand between him and your creeps, and you won't get hooked.
  • Ward the rune spots, and get all the runes. Denying Pudge the runes is extremely important, I can't stress this enough. Without the runes, he won't have the sustainability to stay in lane or to gank.
  • Play aggressively against him in lane, and harass him out of lane. This will prevent him from going for a kill, because if he hooks you you can just manfight him and kill him since he's already low HP.
  • If he hooks you mid before he hits level 6, don't try to run away : you can't run away from him because he's slowing you. Instead, fight him back! Most of the time you can win a manfight because Rot damages him just as much as it damages you.
  • Bottle is a huge help if he hooks you mid. A level 1 to 3 Rot doesn't disable the Bottle heal (a level 4 Rot, however, will). This means that you can just Bottle up when he hooks you. If he right-clicks you he can stop your Bottle, but him right-clicking means that he has stopped moving so you can just walk away. And if he doesn't right-click you, you have gained HP and you can probably turn on him.
  • Heroes with escape mechanisms do extremely well against him in the mid lane, because it allows you to escape Rot easily.
  • The best way to counter him mid is to lane against him a hero that he can't kill (see the next section).
  • Don't hesitate to lane a hard carry mid against Pudge, this is often the best solution! You just need a hero with a good escape mechanism to avoid his combo. Your hard carry will be freefarming the lane, and as soon as Pudge leaves the lane to gank you will have even more freefarm!
  • Put Observer Wards all over the map to prevent him from ganking the sidelanes. You *know* that he'll be ganking as soon as he hits level 6, so just put wards so that you see him coming.
    Note : Pudge can "somehow" counter wards with Smoke of Deceit, but 1) smoke is a very limited resource with a long cooldown and 2)he has only one shot at hooking whenever he uses smoke.
  • Armor reduction melts him extremely fast : just get Medallion of Courage or Desolator and see that he's not that tanky after all :)
  • Get Force Staff on your supports, it's the best item to get against Pudge. It allows you to escape him, push your allies away from Dismember, push Pudge himself out of position, etc. Forcestaff counters Pudge really hard.
  • Orchid Malevolence : a silenced Pudge is a useless Pudge. Silence him and burst him down.
  • Linken's Sphere blocks Dismember
  • Gank the mid lane for an easy kill. Just remember that you have to do it early, because Pudge will leave the mid lane to gank when he hits level 6 or 7.

A few counters:

These heroes are good against Pudge throughout the game. If you have them in your team, don't hesitate to lane them mid against him. You will win your lane, get a ton of farm, and perhaps even be able to kill him a few times.
  • Lifestealer is probably Pudge's hardest counter in the game. When he hooks you, just activate Rage and fight him back, not only will you be immune to all his damage, but you will also turn him into a walking fountain of lifesteal. You can also Infest your teammates, have them bait hooks, and come out for the kill. Go mid against him and enjoy the best free farm and free kills of your life.
  • Abaddon. Pudge simply can't kill you no matter what he does. And you can save allies from Dismember by casting Aphotic Shield on them.
  • Magic immunity. Lifestealer, Omniknight or Juggernaut can become immune to all of Pudge's damage simply by pressing a button.
    Especially good with Omniknight who can cast repel on any ally.
  • Seriously, solo mid Juggernaut owns him so hard it's not even funny.
  • Illusion heroes : Phantom Lancer, Naga Siren, Terrorblade, Chaos Knight. Meat Hook and Dismember are purely single-target abilities, and Pudge can't aim them when he is facing illusions.
  • Any hero with summoned units. Again, they prevent you from getting hooked. Example : Invoker, Lycan, Lone Druid, etc.
  • Escape heroes in general. Anti-Mage, Morphling, Weaver, Faceless Void, Slark, Lycan, Mirana, Storm Spirit, Queen of Pain, Puck...if they get hooked, they have an easy way out.
  • Lone Druid. Always keep your bear between you and Pudge so you can't get hooked. As soon as you hit level 6, True Form makes you one of the tankiest heroes in the game : you can survive Pudge's combo easily and manfight him for an easy kill. Your entangle stops Dismember also. Go lane mid against him!
  • Tanks with a good stun are great against him. They can simply stun him when they get hooked, and even if Pudge gets Dismember off they can simply stun and get away. Slardar, Tiny, Centaur Warrunner or Sven can survive getting hooked without problem, and can even get a kill in return.
  • Silences. More of a gimmick than a hard counter, but Pudge can't turn Rot off when he is silenced, so he will damage himself. If you have a silence, use it in lane to harass him when his Rot is on.
  • Outworld Devourer. Astral Imprisonment is the key, spam it against him so he won't have the mana for Meat Hook, and if he ever hooks you, astral him to escape. OD can use the freefarm very well.
  • Earth Spirit can use Geomagnetic Grip to pull back any ally from Meat Hook/ Dismember.
  • Clockwerk can Hookshot him whenever he hooks an ally. And Battery Assault allows you to counter Dismember. Go mid against him!
  • Undying in a good counter against strength heroes. He can tank up his combo easily, and turn the fight around with Decay.
  • Also Timbersaw is great against strength heroes with Whirling Death.
  • Vengeful Spirit. Nether Swap is a hard counter to poorly positioned heroes. And Pudge is very, very often out of position. Swap Pudge in the middle of your team! And save yourself with Force Staff.
  • Batrider can win the lane against him easily and can even kill him a few times. In the mid/late game, Pudge is a prime target for Flaming Lasso, which also punishes poor positioning.
  • Invoker : lots of things about him counter Pudge. From Forge Spirit to block hooks and deny runes, to Cold Snap to win any manfight against him, or Tornado to save allies from Dismember, also EMP to burn his limited mana, etc. You have lots of options.
  • Invisible heroes can simply stalk Pudge wherever he's going, and countergank him.
  • Solo mid Morphling. This one is just ridiculous, and IMO it's the hardest lane counter to Pudge in the game. He simply can't kill you : you can Waveform away from hook, and EVEN if he gets off Dismember, you can simply morph strength gain to have potentially 1500 max HP or something, especially since you can still morph when you are stunned! Basically he can't ever kill you, no matter what he does. Meanwhile, you just sit in lane and enjoy the free farm. And you can kill him easily whenever he makes a mistake such as missing a hook.

    There's a trick I really like to use to go for a kill on Pudge if you're laning mid aginst him. It only works on heroes with a Blink like Queen of Pain, Morphling, Anti-Mage, Storm Spirit, Phantom Assassin, Ember Spirit, etc. Bait the hook (stand deliberately in front of him), and as soon as he throws the hook, blink on him. The hook will miss, and you'll be on top of the Pudge with no hook, so you can burst him down (remember that Pudge's biggest damage nuke is his hook - if he wastes it he's useless). You need to dodge the hook first, and then go for the kill, not the other way around.


How to beat Pudge mid...in video

Two examples of 1 vs 1 mid matchups of Shadow Fiend versus Pudge. Notice the positionning behind creeps and the high-ground Observer Wards to avoid hooks. Also notice the purchase of low-cost survivability items ( Bracer, Magic Wand, Drum of Endurance, Vitality Booster would work too) which allow to win a 1 vs 1 manfight against Pudge.
Note that Shadow Fiend normally has a pretty big disadvantage against Pudge (very low HP and no escape mechanism).

Howto : ganking the mid lane

Ganking the mid lane is just as easy as ganking any other lane. You may even find out that it is easier to gank mid than to gank the sidelanes because people won't expect it.

There is only one possible path on each side for ganking mid:



The yellow line is the path you should follow if you are Radiant, the blue line if you are Dire. Both paths are on the left side, you can't come from the right side because you would be in tower range.

You need to wait until the enemy mid hero is standing near the river (at the edge of the high ground). If he is in the middle of the high ground near his tower then you need to wait outside of vision range until he comes forward.

Ganking mid is easier at night because of the reduced vision, but still possible during the day. If you do it during the day then it's advised to wait until your target is in the river (the low ground) so he won't see you coming.

Great heroes for ganking mid are heroes with a good disable (e.g Mirana, Vengeful Spirit, Venomancer, Crystal Maiden, Lion, Shadow Shaman, Disruptor, Shadow Demon, Earthshaker, Sven, Naga Siren...), or heroes with a good nuke (e.g Juggernaut).
Some heroes can also just tower dive for the kill (e.g Night Stalker).
Enchantress and Chen are pretty much designed for ganking mid too, thanks to the disables from their creeps (trolls or centaurs)

Something you can do also is ask your mid to push the lane and then dive the tower. Since the tower will be attacking your creeps, you can walk under tower range without problem.

Don't hesitate to gank mid early, even at level 1 if you have the right hero for it. It's a great way to get first blood.

Bonus points for using a Smoke of Deceit to avoid being seen by enemy wards.

Addendum : additional heroes!

This section covers the hero suggestions I have received.

Right now there are Ursa and Slark. It may be expanded in the future.





Ursa deals a lot of damage to anybody standing next to him. However his only disable has a very short range so he cannot really disable effectively. He is countered by kiting (staying out of his range).

Items :



Ursa will Blink Dagger on a hero, slow him and try to burst him. Ghost Scepter is an abolute must on squishy supports because it makes him waste his initiation. Force Staff to push yourself or teammates out of his range. Eul's Scepter of Divinity to cast on Ursa to kite him after he initiates, also disables his blink dagger. Diffusal Blade, Rod of Atos or Eye of Skadi to slow Ursa : a slowed Ursa just can't chase so he cannot get any attacks in. Radiance disables his Blink Dagger so he can't escape. Halberd and scythe to make him unable to attack.

Best counter to Ursa is to slow him. Skadi is especially good because it goes through BKB. But even disables that don't go through BKB are good picks, Ursa is way too dependent on his BKB and it will get drained of its charges very fast.

Any kind of purge is really the way to go against him. Besides the slow which already hard counters Ursa, purge dispels Enrage, and apparently since 6.82 it dispels Overpower as well. Diffusal Blade, Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Shadow Demon, Oracle are probably the hardest Ursa counters.

Counterpicks :

- Bane : disable through BKB. And Nightmare him to save allies.

- Venomancer, Viper, Drow Ranger, Phantom Assassin, Templar Assassin, Queen of Pain, Lich... : any hero with a heavy slow is great against Ursa, since a slowed Ursa is just so easy to kite. Lich can cast ice armor on allies, and the slow is a complete nightmare for Ursa.

- Shadow Demon : Demonic Purge makes Ursa unplayable. It slows through BKB, and it has potentially 3 charges with Aghanim's Scepter to keep it up permanently. And it dispels Enrage! GG.

- Storm Spirit, Weaver, Earth Spirit, Morphling, Anti-Mage, Windranger, Puck... : any hero with superior mobility can escape him easily

- Lone Druid, Naga Siren, Beastmaster... : can disable though BKB for easy kiting.

- Templar Assassin : put Psionic Traps on Roshan. When he tries to do Rosh, ez gank. Mining Rosh with Techies is even more fun if you like to troll.





Slark is a hit-and-run type of ganker. He generally builds Shadow Blade or Blink Dagger : he jumps on a hero who is slightly out of position, kills him, and slips away with his arsenal of escape mechanisms. His Essence Shift gives him pretty insane snowball potential if he is allowed to right-click a lot.
Extremely slippery fish, but if you manage to lock him down he can't do anything.

Items :



You need to disable him so he can't escape. Orchid Malevolence is probably the best item against him since it disables all his escape mechanisms. And luckily he hardly ever builds Manta Style, the only way he could dispel silences. Slows are pretty good against him also, so he can't reach the fog where he gets additional movement speed. Blade Mail when he jumps you.

Counterpicks :

- Doom : the most obvious counter : no escape allowed, and disables his passives with Aghanims.
- Bloodseeker : Rupture punishes him hard for running around and forces him to stop. Gets vision on him when he's at low HP, disabling his regen. And has a silence.
- Slardar, Phantom Assassin, Storm Spirit, Queen of Pain, Anti-Mage... : any hero with high mobility can just chase him around. Heroes with blinks can escape his leash.
- Legion Commander, Bane, Naga Siren, Faceless Void, Beastmaster : any hero with a long disable can lock him down completely for the kill.
- Puck : Stay near! Or get hit by a 4.5 second stun that goes through BKB.
- Disruptor : Glimpse back that annoying fish.
- Earthshaker, Nyx Assassin, Lion, Centaur Warrunner , Axe, Tiny, Slardar, Leshrac, Sand King... : any hero with an AOE stun can stun Slark when he is under Dark Pact, countering his ultimate.
- Timbersaw : Chakram him when he is under Shadow Dance.


But the best counter is still 5-man dota. Only way Slark can win the game is to steal a lot of agility with Essence Shift and essentially outcarry anyone with his +150 AGI. He's very good at picking off isolated heroes but his teamfight presence is essentially zero. Sticking together not only prevents him fropm getting kills, but more importantly it prevents him from stealing stats. Pushing lineups are very good against him.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this guide useful. Any constructive feedback on this guide is much appreciated. I sincerely hope that giving tips on counters could prevent the same heroes from owning pubs again and again, so that we could see more high-skill hero pickups in pub games.

If you would like to have a hero added to this list, don't hesitate to make a suggestion.

Disclaimer : further updates

Since the publishing of the guide I have received a lot of positive feedback and suggestions from readers so first off I would like to thank all of you for your encouragement.

I am often asked questions about updates on the guide so I would like to answer these questions here, especially the main question "are you updating the guide for patch X that just came out?"

The answer is a definite NO. This guide will *not* be updated for new patches.

The reason is very simple : the patches that come up do not change anything about what I said in the guide. The changes from patches bring minor rebalancing to heroes and have nothing to do with the business of countering them. Minor changes to the skills or the numbers are of course bound to happen over time but I hope the readers will have the insight to ignore them and focus on the main points, which have really no reason to change over time.

Examples are the 6.82 changes to Riki and Bloodseeker. Sure their skills got reworked, Riki's 2nd skill is now his ultimate and vice versa and Bloodseeker got new skills, but should you still buy MKB and Necro 3 against Riki? Should you still TP out and 5-man against Bloodseeker? Of course you should. So what did the 6.82 patch change about the guide? Nothing. So the 6.82 update to the guide is that there is no update. Same for futher patches.

So do not bother asking for version updates, there won't be any since there is no need. I will only update the guide to add new heroes.

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