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26 Votes

Cuttleboss’ Guide to Ruling the Sands [7.26]

June 20, 2020 by Cuttleboss
Comments: 17    |    Views: 179504    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4
Build 5
Build 6

Core: One True King (Tanky Disruptive DPS)

DotA2 Hero: Sand King


I am Cuttleboss. I've always been a public player and have not played on the professional level, and was my first guide I had ever written and it launched my guide series.

The hero I'm introducing here is Sand King, the biggest, baddest, strength hero to ever hit the ring.

No, Crixalis is not The Rock Axe, but instead, he is something else. Sand King is a relatively flexible nuker initiator hero who can take many roles the team requires. He is not that item dependent, but still has a definite need for certain items due to how his skills can put him in danger which lets him play as a greedy support. Because of his annoying ability to lane and scale with some items he is better suited to the offlane where depending on the enemy he can put pressure on that hero. His strong laning and ability to flash farm creep camps easily means that he is a possibly useful situational solo mid that is suited as a counter pick towards enemy melee mids.

Sand King is reasonably flexible and can be played with a focus on one of these core functions:
Tanking + Sustained AOE Damage (Build 1 and 6)
Nuking Initiator (Builds 2-3)
Mobile Utility (Build 4)
Aura Man (Build 5)

However, remember that no matter how you play Sand King, your job is to participate in teamfights, often as a initiator or a counter initiator, though you can still easily be a frontline hero with enough items. For you people who use the farm priority system, he is best as a 3. He is decent as a 4. If you're feeling risky he can be a 2. He doesn't scale well enough with farm to be 1 and is too item dependent to be a 5.

Oh, and by the way this guide is not concise, if you randomed Sand King and are looking at this for help, I hope you can skim fast.


June 15-16, 2020: Updated for 7.26. I'm back baby. Guide partially rewritten again.

Older Updates:

Spoiler: Click to view


Low Skill Floor and Intermediate Skill Ceiling

By letshuggrenades
"It's not easy being the King"

Sand King takes a lot of practice to play well. Due to how straightforward his skills are, he can be played reasonably well with no practice, but to do well with him, it requires some good decision making skills and an eye for positioning.

You have to know where to be at all times. You need to find safe places out of enemy sight to epicenter. You need to line up your burrowstrikes to hit more than one person as often as possible in order to win teamfights especially as the game gets late. Burrowstrike can often put you right in danger and get you killed very quickly if misused, so it requires exercising more judgment than a lot of other AOE stuns.
Epicenter as an initiation tool is less straightforward than most because it requires you to guess where the enemies will be in two seconds. It requires a little bit of planning and often Sand King has no option to use it at all if he gets jumped on.

Sand King is also melee with low armor and movespeed. Even if you are winning a lane, you can easily die if you overextend or have a bad matchup. Things like Sentry Wards in the lane can mess a lot of players up and getting the wrong skillbuild often means you'll lose the game. This can happen like if you get a max Caustic build against most ranged carries or if you get a max Burrowstrike build but can't kill the enemy lane at all, it means you don't activate for another few levels.

Item builds on this hero are very open, so you need to have a good understanding of hero interaction in order to decide what is best to buy, as opposed to heroes who will almost always buy the same items like Anti-Mage.

Strengths and Weakneses

So, let's look at a list of Sand King's strengths and weaknesses:

Pros: What the Kingdom loves about Crixalis
+ Very well rounded, able to be played in 1 of 4 major ways (Nuking, Tanking, Auras, Utility)
+ Very high AOE magic damage throughout the game until very late.
+ Two soft escape mechanisms, forces an abnormal amount of commitment from enemies to catch or kill SK and just makes the hero really annoying to deal with
+ Good built in mobility, potentially very high depending on itemization
+ No cast delay on spells not named Epicenter, very quick to the draw and thus good at catching heroes
+ Excellent farming speed. Also means SK gets more gold than is standard for whatever role he's playing (except Mid)
+ Strong potential map control with items that increase range and to get around the map.
+ Potentially a very good lane bully with his skills, especially against melee heroes and with the right partner.
+ Hard to fully force out of lane, requires a lot of money and commitment from the enemy and he can still recover better than other cores that are shut down
+ Voice that resembles Clancy Brown

Cons: Why people want to overthrow Crixalis
- Melee, low movespeed, low Base Damage, poor attack animation and low Armor. These all make you very easy to harass and can be very bad in certain passive laning.
- Is actually very item dependent as a support, he needs blink, and he's very fragile as his play style involves diving right into the enemies and staying next to them. If he does not get items he will end up chain-feeding.
- Mana issues, the hero uses a lot of it, especially early game.
- Damage and Stuns/Slows fall off late game compared to most other position 3 heroes if you do not have farm or momentum
- Ultimate must be channeled, making it hard to use, especially on short notice
- Level dependent, his skills need several levels to be useful, but he is also not a good solo hero except in certain matchups.
- Hard countered by many things: Silence, True Sight, Spell Immunity, and Roots
- Lacks building damage, which means it can be hard to close out games, very noticeable with nuking builds
- Abnormally big penalty for death compared to other position 3's; Very momentum dependent.
- Makes worse puns about sand than Mr. Freeze about ice.

When to Pick?

So, with all these in mind, this is a list of when to and when not to pick Sand King:

    Pick him if:
  • The enemies have a bunch of illusions or summons (or Meepos) and your AOE stuns and nukes will see a lot of use
  • Your team needs a high damage offlaner and you have a strong laning partner to go with you.
  • The enemies don't have a huge amount of disables, so you can use Sand King's mobility to stay alive. SK does not like to be in a position where he has to buy BKB and there are tanky cores that play much better against disablers in general like Doom and Tidehunter
  • The enemies have escape based core heroes. Sand King is abnormally good, especially among offlaners at catching them.
  • You think the enemies are going to fight early and you need someone who can fight them early.
  • Your team has at least 1 hero that is able to deal significant tower damage.
  • You think Scorpions are just a cool animal.
    Do not pick him when:
  • Foes have easy access to True sight, roots, or long silences.
  • Your team needs you to pick a carry or a hard support.
  • Enemies have very tanky cores that you will not be able to outdamage. In those circumstances, you are often better off picking either a stronger disabler or more of a tank.
  • The enemies have high damage long ranged cores. They can easily disable blink (if you have that) and are generally hard to catch with your spells.
  • You thought that Scorpion was your friend until it stung you.

Skill Build and Abilities

Most of the time, skill builds are fluid and you should think about what skillpoint you should spend next. Below are a few general skillbuilds that you can default to.

With Sand King, you prioritize your skills based on your goals. If your goal is to get kills, max out Burrowstrike. If your goal is to farm the lane safely, max Sand Storm first. If your goal is to harass melee heroes, get a few points in Caustic (but do not max it first, there's virtually no circumstance where you would).
For Epicenter, if you don't have the mana to support it or if it's just not needed (like if you don't have Blink yet), you don't necessarily have to have it. If you can make a play and get a kill with it, go for it!

Below are a few general skillbuilds that you can default to.

Passive Farming and No Epicenter (Use in Build 1, 5 and 6)
1 Caustic Finale
2 Burrowstrike
3-5 Sand Storm
6 Burrowstrike
7 Sand Storm
8-9 Burrowstrike
10 Talent 1
11-13 Caustic Finale
14 Epicenter
15 Talent 2
16 Epicenter
18 Epicenter

This skill build prioritizes farming and getting levels and dealing damage with Sand Storm, which has the highest consistent damage output of your skills. When you max it first you can be a huge threat without Epicenter. This skill build normally corresponds to a build that does not use Blink Dagger or does not get it early.

Aggressive Kill Lane (Use in Builds 2-4)
1 Burrowstrike
2 Caustic Finale
3 Sand Storm
4-5 Burrowstrike
6 Epicenter
7 Burrowstrike
8-9 Sand Storm
10 Talent 1
11 Sand Storm
12 Epicenter
13-14 Caustic Finale
15 Talent 2
16 Caustic Finale
18 Epicenter

This build is simple, you use Caustic to deal damage and slow your enemies in lane when they go on you or when you go on them and use it to chase them down after it expires. You max Burrowstrike for max stun and damage. This build requires high mana, so be sure to have mangos or clarities. Be sure you can actually kill your foes with this build or you will start to fall behind. If you can't kill the lane you're against, look for another hero on the map to kill. This build is on a timer, so be sure to keep moving.

Extra Caustic; Passive Into Kill Potential (Against Melee Laners)
1 Caustic Finale
2 Burrowstrike
3 Caustic Finale
4 Burrowstrike/Sand Storm
5 Burrowstrike
6 Epicenter
7 Burrowstrike
8 Sand Storm/Burrowstrike
9 Sand Storm
10 Talent 1
11 Sand Storm
12 Epicenter
13 Sand Storm
14 Caustic Finale
15 Talent 2
16 Caustic Finale
18 Epicenter

This build is one that is extra good at bullying melee heroes. Two points in Caustic is extra powerful for melee harass, and combined with Burrowstrike on multiple low health creeps it can do a ton of damage. After the first two points in Caustic you can get an optional point in Sand Storm if you think the enemy lane can kill you, otherwise you can go with more Burrowstrike levels to increase your kill potential.

Let's briefly look at his abilities. If you want numbers, go view his wiki page.

Usage: Nuke damage, Escape danger, Initiate ganks or teamfights, Chase enemies, Disable (preferably multiple) key enemies in a fight, stop channeling, set off multiple Caustic infected creeps to deal chain reaction damage
[With Aghs]: To slow all enemies.
Notes: Very short range on low levels, be very mindful of how far you can go. Missing early game can spell certain death.
Stun at level 1 is quite long compared to other similar stuns such as Fissure or Earth Spike.
Rather long cooldown especially compared to pure mobility spells like Blink.
Combo this in lane with Caustic, poke all the creeps, and then explode them in a chain reaction with burrowstrike.
This ability is an instant stun, which makes it rather good for catching heroes with fast escapes like Ember Spirit, Storm Spirit, and Anti-Mage, but it has a travel time, so you have to blink close to them before you can get that instant stun, and keep in mind it does not work if they have Linken's or any spell block at the time.
With Aghs, the spell effectively adds a slow shortly after the stun duration once Caustic expires.

Sand Storm:
Usage: AOE DPS in fights, Farming jungle stacks or pushing lane creeps, Harassing melee heroes, Dodging spell projectiles, Area denial (like during pushing or laning)
With Talent: Reduce damage of right clickers, slow all enemies
Notes: The damage is very low in early levels. In low levels, this spell is more for escaping than any real use harassing
Has zero fade time on cast, so it can be used to dodge stuff. The 0.7 delay when in the Sand Storm means it is much better of the enemy is a slow attacker as its harder for them to counter you when you attack out of sand storm.
Does a deceivingly high amount of damage once leveled to 3+
In many games, this will be your spell that deals the most damage.

Caustic Finale:
Usage: Harassing melee or short ranged enemies, farming creep waves, slowing enemies while burrowstrike cools down, setting up kills by marking several enemies at once, creating a slowing barrier against enemies trying to harass or kill you
Notes: Pushes the lane, which might not be good in laning phase, but does wonders in terms of harass against multi melee lanes, or against a melee solo. This skill shines in solo mid as you can use it to effortlessly shove the wave and then go farm or stack some camps.
Be sure to poke the creep wave if you suspect an enemy (usually ranged) will run at you to hit or kill you, as it often puts them in range of the explosions, which will slow them and reduce their ability to chase you. Always try to keep their wave between you and them if you are not trying to kill them.
You can poke the enemy hero with this and they will take some significant damage in some time
The slow is useful for catching enemies and just annoying them, comboing well with a ranged hero with right click damage in lane. Stack it with Orb of Venom for a heavy slow.
This skill massively speeds up jungle farming, especially stacks, after poking multiple foes adds up to a lot of damage.
Excellent at clearing waves later in the game

Usage: Early Ganks, Defending towers, initiating in positioning favored fights (better if you can see everyone), counter-initiating in positioning unfavorable fights (when you can't see the enemies)
With Talents: Anti-Right Clicker attack slow
Notes: This spell rewards great positioning. Before you cast it, be sure you either are or can easily be in a great position.
If you do not have Dagger or Aghs, feel free to mostly neglect this spell. You will mostly be using it when all possible ways to interrupt it have been used (so keep notes on those spells and items and pay attention)
You can use this spell to bait out certain spells from the enemies because if they see it being channeled most people will instinctively try to stop it. Like for example a silence that you'd rather have hit you than your carry.
With spell lifesteal, this skill can be saved until later in the fight and be used to heal Sand King a huge amount of health.

Talents Discussion:

Level 10: Health vs Epicenter Attack Speed Slow. As Sand King is a bit low health for a hero that is in the heart of combat, most of the time the health will be more useful. Against multiple right clickers (or summons or Illusions) however, the attack slow can be teamfight winning with its potential to cut enemy DPS.

Level 15: More Epicenter Pulses vs Sand Storm damage. Nuking vs Sustained DPS / Farming. Basically you notice how much in the game you are devoted to nuking. The extra pulses can add up with some items that favor nuking. Otherwise, the Sand Storm talent offers a lot of damage over time and farming speed.

Level 20: Stronger Epicenter Pulses vs Armor. Continuations of the last talents. It does not make sense to go halfway with the nuking, so if you went more pulses, go for stronger pulses too. Otherwise armor is useful and can keep you alive longer to cast more burrowstrikes and keep up sand storms.

level 25: Slowing Blinding Sand Storm vs Health Regen. This Health Regeneration talent is extremely powerful and can make Sand King extremely hard to kill, especially if he gets Heart of Tarrasque to amplify it. For the most part is the safer talent, as Sand King disengaging and re-engaging after healing up happens pretty often and works even if enemies are Spell Immune. However, the Slowing Blinding Sand Storm is very annoying if the enemies have multiple right clickers that don't have BKBs (which seems pretty unlikely if you as a Sand King are a threat). This goes back to illusions and summons. If you are against illusions and summons or just no BKBs, then feel free to go for that Super Sand Storm talent. The Sand Storm talent also is very synergistic with a Radiance and/or Shiva's Guard build, as the miss chance and slows stack nicely.

The Stages of the Game

Early Game:


By Karzahnii
"My potential is not yet reached"

Before you decide how you play, you first have to decide your goal.
Choose one: A. Farm/Survive or B. Kill/Disrupt or much more rare C. Follow and Protect

A. Farm and Survive
By default, this is what you do as an offlane core. Sand King is often there to farm his first major item and maybe go for a kill if the enemies overextend or if they just have a weak lane. The priority is to get last hits and keep up your regeneration. The priority is to stay safe because Sand King's laning is not as dominant as many other offlaners and he's mostly there to get some items. With his Sand Storm he is very good at contesting enemy stacks and with his Caustic he will be pushing the lane heavily so it will be tough for the enemies to pull anyway.

B. Kill and Disrupt
As a support, you do not have a focus on farm, so this path is your only early option as a support, which is look for kills on enemies and even roam if you must. You contest pulls and engage in close combat with the enemies, using Caustic as a slow on enemy heroes instead of on creeps and your stun to set up kills. Do not prioritize harassing. As a core you can do this too, but just be sure to farm as well as pressure the enemies. You can do this if the enemies are fragile and/or if you have a powerful lane partner to help you crush the enemies like Ogre Magi or Undying. Sand King's early game can be quite strong with the right partner. Just be careful of dangerous laners like Juggernaut and Ursa.

C. Follow and Protect

The rarest of your three goals. This happens only when the enemies have some kind of cheese pick that you are there to stop and often you face them solo. Usually the hero will be some kind of summon based snowball hero like Broodmother, Nature's Prophet or Beastmaster. Essentially your job for much of the game will be to protect towers from these heroes by using your low cost spells. You go where they go and just stop them from snowballing.

After you have a goal, then we have to decide where you go:

Offlane: By default where Sand King goes. He almost always goes as a duo lane with a partner that can either protect him, apply pressure, or both. As a core with Caustic and Sand Storm, Sand King naturally pushes the lane very hard and often will push the enemy carry under tower and will often try to kill them if a good opportunity comes up. Due to this push, its harder for enemy supports to pull against him. Most of the time, enemies will attempt to kill you as a core SK. Be mindful of Sentry spots and make sure you have constant health and mana sustain as you are easy to harass and burrowstrike costs a lot of mana.

As a support, your job is simpler, which is mostly to hide in the shadows and burrowstrike in where there is a good kill opportunity. You contest pulls and secure the runes that you can get. Remember that if he can't kill that lane, don't be afraid to try to kill another lane. As a support your main job is to pressure the enemies.

Safelane: As a support, Sand King plays mostly the same except he's there to fight the enemies and proiritize multi man burrowstrikes. He is not a harasser, he is a killer, so keep that in mind. He is by default much better suited to the offlane as he can do more there.

As a core, Safelane Sand King will almost always be looking for a good matchup as in many cases his matchup is better against the offlaner than the carry since most offlaners are melee or have summons.

Solo Mid lane: This plays a bit different from the other lanes. First you don't do it unless you can find a relatively even matchup, so it favors melee heroes. Don't even try this against most ranged heroes. Sand King just shoves the wave and harasses the enemy and uses the mid lane's access to jungle camps to stack and farm them when he shoves the lane using Caustic. It's very similar to offlane build except its simpler because less heroes and there is a lot more potential farm.

Sentry Wards: If the enemy laners becomes sufficiently annoyed with your Sand Storm in lane, they will put down Sentries and try to force you out or kill you. In previous patches you'd get your own sentry and tango the wards but that interaction has been removed. This means that you can try one of several approaches.
A. Get a sentry to deward it with your attacks (which is a gamble and can be a waste of effort if you are unsure of where it is and you still may not get there in time as you are melee. If this is not an easy option consider option B).
B. Get more regen and just tank the harass (usually a smart move unless its a strong kill lane, but if the enemies' harass is really bad, perhaps try option C)
C. Play more aggressively and push the wave away from where the current ward is forcing them to buy more until one side gives up. Alternatively don't rely on Sand Storm as much, still push the lane and try to kill. (If this doesn't work, try the last option, D)
D. Allow yourself to be forced somewhere else (either another lane or the jungle if you have some levels) and find farm.


by Bananamannen
"Now they will drown in sand"

After early game and general laning has ended, now you have to decide a new goal:
A. Gank B. Clash C. Farm

A. Gank
Usually this happens after you get a major offensive item that you need to use, often Blink Dagger but sometimes Eul's Scepter of Divinity or Veil of Discord. Either way, you're looking for some kills to get some money and take over the map because the enemies need to farm some more. If you are in gank mode, you are going to be looking for kills in areas you think the enemy may be farming.

B. Clash
This is how you counter ganking and pushing. if you have your items ready you can just group up with your team and start looking for some teamfights. The goal is to look for easy kills and pickoffs and secure objectives, or alternatively, defend your own objectives and try to get your enemies as they misposition.

C. Farm
If you're not ready for ganks or teamfights, then you have no choice but to farm. Thankfully Sand King farms very quickly so you probably don't need to do this for too long and it's actually a real option for you unlike some offlaners. Basically you need to analyze the enemy team and if you need more items then make it a priority to get them over fighting, usually farm in the enemy territory if you can. Keep in mind that even in the other goals as a core, don't stop farming, it's just this hero can farm pretty fast and it is something you should take advantage of.

Late Game:

Now we are in late game. Late game starts whenever you max out your skills and either team has lost most of its towers.

Once again, we need to make a new goal.
Late Game has one goal which is to: Secure the map and take objectives as a team. And since it should be stated multiple times, Prioritize hitting multiple target burrowstrikes late game.
There are several ways to do this with Sand King:
A. Pick off (usually splitpushers) B. Initiate on key heroes in fight C. Push directly

A. Pick Off
Sand King is abnormally good against slippery splitpush heroes. He has a potentially very long ranged nearly instant stun, he can clear waves and get Boots of Travel pretty easily to control the map. He is the type of hero that hunts splitpushers with allies. Given how splitpushers normally work, killing them usually leaves the enemy team vulnerable. Picking off works in general too and Sand King is often well suited for that, but Splitpushers are the highest impact pickoffs.

B. Initiate on key heroes
This is an easy way to win teamfights. Essentially you are going after high priority targets, usually supports or certain cores. This is much easier with better vision. The idea here is just to think hard about who you jump on and if you as Sand King will be able to eliminate them quickly from the fight.

C. Push directly
Roshan is a big factor in late game, and is the main way you push directly in most games. Keep in mind, due to being melee and hitting very weak, Sand King is never a frontline tower hitter, so his job during the push is to stay back and counter initiate. In the same vein, with Roshan, Sand King has no reason to be in the pit unless all enemies are dead. His job is to stand watch at the entry points to the river and be annoying to draw the enemies away from Roshan. Usually the best time to jump in is after the Aegis carrier revives.

Just remember, end the game. You do not want to be playing the game too late on this hero, things get less predictable as the game goes later, and you don't scale fantastically that far into the game.

Item Discussion


Ring of Regen, Quelling Blade, Tango, Healing Salve
575 Gold. Build 1.
This build invests immediately in health regeneration and last hit damage. You need last him damage to reliably use Caustic and Sand King is weak to harass so he needs regen. This is well rounded but not the most amount of regen early game as possible. This is a build to minimize consumables by getting a RoR early.

2 Iron Branches, 2 Tango, Healing Salve, 3 Enchanted Mango
600 Gold. Builds 2 and 3.
This build offers a lot of health regen and burst mana and easily builds into Magic Wand. This build is useful for aggressive Sand Kings due to mangos being very useful to summon a burrowstrike or two early game.

Wind Lace, Tango, 4 Iron Branches
540 Gold. Build 4.
This starting build is higher speed and allows easy building into Tranquil Boots. The one tango set is counteracted with being able to eat up to two of the branches you bought.

Ring of Regen, 2 Iron Branches, 3 Tango
595 Gold. Build 5.
This is a very high regen build and is very good at resisting harassment. It builds easily into Magic Wand and many aura items that use RoR.

Quelling Blade, 2 Tango, 2 Enchanted Mango
470 gold. Build 6.
This build is a decent amount of regeneration and gives a boost to last hitting. This build has some money left over an is often used to buy Ring of Tarrasque to sustain afterwards.

Early Game:
Tranquil Boots or Arcane Boots
Ring of Health or Ring of Tarrasque
Magic Wand
Crown or Bracer
Void Stone or Clarity
Wind Lace
Orb of Venom
Sand King is not a brown boots type of hero, so pick Tranquils if you prefer the movespeed and regeneration or Arcane if you need the mana for yourself or your teammates. Arcane is also nice because it can be disassembled later to build many of Sand King's items. Other boots should not be considered early on, as mana and health regeneration are much bigger priorities for SK early on than armor or attack speed.
If you want regeneration and did not get Tranquil Boots, you can look at Ring of Health vs Tarrasque. You get RoHealth if you are looking one of its upgrades, like Vanguard or Hood of Defiance or Perseverance. If you don't have interest in building those soon, then the RoTarrasque will be just as useful to give you a bit of an edge in the early game.
Magic Wand is a great buy is most teams as the burst health and mana can be a lifesaver. It may not be necessary in all builds and can be skipped.
If you need bonus stats, Crown vs Bracer may come up. Crown is good if you are building it into Veil (or maybe Rod of Atos?). Bracer is superior if you need cheap magic resistance but are not planning on building a Pipe for your team.
As for mana, if you don't have Arcane Boots, or sometimes even if you do, you will run into mana issues as Sand King. You can choose to either get a Void Stone or keep a stack of clarities. The Void Stone is a big cost in this stage of the game, but can easily be worth it if you are planning on making an item with it quickly, like Eul's. Clarities do the job if you are looking towards other itemization priorities like tankiness and auras.
Wind Lace can still be bought even if not a starting item. If you want the speed it's very useful for setting up a burrowstrike against faster opponents.
Orb of Venom is also potentially useful on a support Sand King because of how well it stacks with your Caustic Finale slow, but the cost is too high for a starting item.

Potential Core/First Items
Blink Dagger: This item is still potentially good if rushed on Sand King, but it is not the super powerful item it once was, as enemies are tankier than when it was popular. Still, it is the cheapest item if you need to properly use Epicenter. The mobility offered by it gives you a lot of catch and potential escape if the enemies don't have consistent damage output. This item is essential on nuker based Sand King builds, as they are built around Epicenter. Be wary of heroes that can easily cancel it and how fragile you are if you get it first.
Veil of Discord: This item is a very strong and teamfight oriented item. It is the cheapest way to increase the amount of damage you deal in a teamfight. This item is significantly better if you have other high spell damage heroes on your team.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity: The preferred utility item on Sand King. The mana pool, regeneration and movespeed are all useful on it. It gives him a second way to stop channeling and gives him a way to purge himself (or more rarely enemies) which makes it good against dusts and silences. It can also be used while ganking to set up a single-man epicenter or a stun since it prevents the enemy from running. The final use is to counter blademails or other forms of damage reflection by becoming invulnerable. By a wide margin the most generally useful item on this hero.
Vanguard: It boosts Sand King's early game health pool and lets him trade very well with most enemy carries. He becomes very tanky with this item.
Hood of Defiance: As is usual for all frontline heroes, if the enemies have a lot of magic damage this item will do a lot. Hood is useful for that and naturally becomes Pipe. Sand King is not quite as good with Hood as more pure tanks like Centaur Warrunner due to being able to avoid damage, so only get it if your team really needs that Pipe.
Sange: This item is very powerful for survival as it offers health regen amplification and status resistance. It is a cheap survival item that upgrades into the less team protective but still very powerful Halberd or the massively damage boosting KnS.
Mekansm: If you are playing an aura Sand King this item is potentially a very good pickup. The heal can be teamfight winning. However, the mana cost is very high for a hero like Sand King, so you will need Arcanes and to be very mindful of your mana pool.

Mid Game Options:
Aghanim's Scepter: A very useful item, as it gives Sand King even more mobility, and gives burrowstrike the range of an actual blink. The effect of putting caustic is a large increase to crowd control, as it applies a slow shortly after the stun and adds and small amount of bonus damage. These are good stats too.
Force Staff: Extra mobility can be useful against certain heroes like Clockwerk or Natures Prophet, but if your team severely lacks mobility, this is a good pickup as it can easily save an ally or two. Also works with epicenter decently if your dagger is on cooldown.
Blade Mail: Potentially good against dpsers and nukers. It dissuades people from wanting to kill you immediately. Get this if you're losing really badly.
Pipe of Insight: Extremely good for pushing and mid-game teamfights where a lot of magic damage is being thrown around. It is very nice because it greatly increases Sand King's survival, especially against nuke based teams. Get just it if your team needs it.
Crimson Guard: Very strong midgame teamfight item that is effective against many instances of right clicks teams ( Phantom Lancer, Beastmaster and Troll Warlord come to mind). Be sure to get this early, and beware of its cooldown. It does make you quite tanky for its price, but the item can fall off really hard.
Aether Lens: A decent situational item as the huge mana pool and regen can prove useful. The cast range increase on burrowstrike is not that big, since it doesn't affect other spells (but it does affect blink and other items). Be careful as the item grants no survivability.
Rod of Atos: This item is a great increase to your ganking power because it is a powerful long ranged disable. As a disable to set up kills, it is inferior to Eul's (because the enemies can still act and cast spells at you) but it is good for kiting key enemies (usually melee carries), due to it's cast range.
Necronomicon: In this patch (7.26), this item (at level 1) is very popular and often got on many cores because it offers health pool and mana regen and can be used to farm very fast. Sand King does not have a strong need for it since he already farms very fast. However, as an item, it is actually still very strong on SK, because he has enough crowd control to let the summons get many hits in, the warrior offers a large nuke with it's death, and purges are useful because they can remove buffs. Additionally this item solves SK's big issue which is lack of tower damage. A pretty decent item to consider, but usually not necessary.
Ghost Scepter: Once in a while, it can be hard to deal with a fat carry and Blademail will not cut it. The upgrade is also an excellent item on SK.
Glimmer Cape: It's a nice cheap source of magic resistance, and is pretty much a middle finger towards heroes like Venomancer and Necrophos. Since you have Sand Storm, usually Pipe is better on you, as having more invis makes you and your team more easily countered by detection.
Radiance: This item is stupid strong if you have momentum. It essentially is a mini-Sand Storm that is mobile and lets you be a threat when your skills are on cooldown. It can also be used to deal 155-185 damage per second with Sand Storm. With the Sand Storm talent, the stacking miss chances make you a huge threat to right clickers due to ~50% miss rate. Be sure to get it only if you don't need other items more, and this item is only good if you get it early, though it can still be useful late game as an aura to disable blink daggers.
Lotus Orb: Good way of surviving your own initiation. Most player's first instinct on seeing the SK with quakes coming out of him is to kill it, so many spells may be thrown at you which you can reflect back. Also, the active is fantastic for removing silences from yourself, or Hexes from your allies. Also, in Sand King's book, any item that gives armor is valuable to him.
Orchid Malevolence: This silence is useful against heroes like Queen of Pain or Storm Spirit, although this item loses a lot of effectiveness as the game goes on and more purges are available, so try to get it early after blink if you need it. The damage amp with epicenter has a lot of potential for killing.
Heaven's Halberd: A great pickup on Sand King. This item gives massive amounts of survivability against attacks and the disarm is very good against ranged right clickers.
Solar Crest: This item is useful if you need to tank up an ally and make them very strong. The item also adds a fair amount of survivability on Sand King. The active on enemies is also nice if you are going for maximum attack slow, as 80 from Crest and 60 (with talent) from Epicenter is a huge amount of attack slow.
Spirit Vessel: Generally a very good item. Against key heroes that rely on regeneration this is often a good pickup. The item is not naturally good on Sand King due to him usually having other priorities most of the time.
Kaya and Sange: A great item on Sand King, it boosts all his damage and makes him very tanky. This item is very strong because it offers a huge expansion to what Sand King does naturally, which is dealing damage and surviving. This can come at the cost of other utility.
Boots of Travel: Excellent choice in mid and late game. The amount of movespeed it adds is great, and the teleport can be quite effective in late game if you need to be somewhere immediately,. Also, it is good to be able to provide instant backup across the map, with your massive mobility, you can turn ganks around. Sand King can get this much earlier than most other heroes.
Guardian Greaves: Very strong item, pretty much keeps everyone healed and counters limited burst damage and can be good for pushing. Sand King is a decent carrier and can get it due to his great farm rate. It also comes with a dispel for those nasty silences.

Late Game Options:
Octarine Core: A well rounded late game choice for SK. This item gives a lot of mana, a good amount of health, and the Spell Lifesteal can keep Sand King alive. The big benefit is the cooldown reduction, as your burrowstrike cooldown will go from 11 to 8.25 and your Sand Storm cooldown from 22 to 16.5. This makes it a very strong teamfighting item by making his spells cast faster and lets him farm faster.
Black King Bar: Sometimes, the enemies have way too many nukes or disables and you need this item to use your ult or even just to survive. This item also gives you the option to epicenter even if you get initiated on. An important pick up against key opponents (mainly Timbersaw, Zeus, or Disruptor)
Heart of Tarrasque: As a hero who moves in and out of combat a lot, this item's regen is great, and the health pool boost is great. This item is very useful because it lets Sand King tank towers without any worries. It also synergizes with his level 25 health regeneration talent as it amplifies it which can make Sand King's regeneration huge.
Yasha and Kaya: A decent late game option, as it grants speed and spell damage. Usually not as good as Sange and Kaya, but if you are already tanky the item is still pretty useful. Remember that KYS item bonuses do not stack.
Ethereal Blade: Good against physical dps based teams for defensive usage. On the aggressive side, Epicenter can really hurt them with this. Pairs well with getting a Dagon; you can max out your burst damage to over 2000 damage. On that note:
Dagon 5: If you need more burst damage this is the item to buy. With an E-blade and Epicenter, your combo deals a massive amount. Keep in mind that if enemies tank up enough they can survive your combo.
Shiva's Guard: Greatly improves your crowd control by applying another AOE slow. This item provides a large amount of armor and slows attack speed which stacks well with Epicenter. Do not get if allies already got one.
Linken's Sphere: Situational, but potentially useful if there are key spells you can avoid from the enemy. One less stun hitting you in a teamfight can do wonders, and the stats are really quite fancy. Due to the instant escapes SK has, the sphere can save you from being destroyed by deadly initiation spells and can make SK very hard to kill.
Assault Cuirass: A powerful, balanced item that increases the power of physical strikes and weakens the defense of the enemy team. You are not the best carrier of this aura, but if your team needs it or you just need extra armor, do not hesitate. Do not get if allies already got one.
Abyssal Blade: This item is Sand King's only viable item to be disruptive through Spell Immunity using the passive (though SK lacks the attack speed to get many procs) and the active. The active is also a useful additional mobility skill, which allows him to stay attached to certain targets.
Eye of Skadi: A potentially useful item, this item tanks you up and makes your attacks slow and reduce health regeneration and the slow stacks well with Caustic. A pretty rare pickup, but useful in the right matchups (like against lifesteal carries or high regen heroes).
Scythe of Vyse: Great late game item against rich cores or if you just need more disables in general. You will have no more mana problems for the rest of the game. Good on SK because with his mobility he can easily use it as a safe long ranged disable or a followup to his burrowstrike. Compared to Abyssal it is more for fragile or support-y Sand Kings, though you can get both.
Silver Edge: Very rare buy, but if your team needs Break and there's no better carrier of it for some reason, this item can win you the game against heroes like Anti-Mage, Spectre or Bristleback.
Nullifier: Another very rare buy. This item is to dispel Aeon Disks or other buffs that would prevent Sand King from nuking a target down in nuking based builds. You probably should have someone else buy this because the stats are awkward on you.
Bloodthorn: Since Orchid was on the suggested items list, you can eventually upgrade to Bloodthorn, though it gives little benefit for Sand King since he's not really a right clicker, but still can be useful against enemy carries with how powerful the active is. Upgrading to this item would be considered very low priority unless your allied right clicker will destroy key enemies with it.
Hurricane Pike: Since Force Staff was also on the suggested items list, you can go ahead and upgrade to this when you are out of other things to buy, the extra stats are nice for tanking up.
Moon Shard: When you are out of slots and have eaten a Scepter, this item is where you go. If you have a lot of money, you can start gifting these things to your allies.
Boots of Travel 2: Pretty good on this hero, Sand King being able to provide instant backup is already one of his very useful quirks and late game being able to target heroes is just an upgrade of that.

Do Not Buy:
Desolator, Satanic, Daedalus, Armlet of Mordiggian, Mjollnir and other right click damage items: Sand King is not a right clicker, even as a semi carry. His right clicking is a tool to disrupt or control enemies and not his primary source of damage.
Refresher Orb: This seems like a great item to get for a hero with such a strong ultimate, which is why it is bought on Enigma, Tidehunter, Warlock, and Earthshaker. The problem is that epicenter takes two seconds to cast, meaning using it twice in succession is impractical, because unless you are utterly owning, you will not be able to do so. Perhaps for being able to epicenter 2 fights in a row, but Epicenter's cooldown is far from prohibitive, and epicenter is not that strong in fights anyway late game. There will always be something better to buy.
Hand of Midas: Despite being a past advocate for this item, Midas is not the best farming item right now and Sand King in his current form needs other items early.
Meteor Hammer: Though the stats themselves are quite nice, Sand King does not have a great use for this item. The heroes who buy this item tend to be slow farming heroes that have a strong AOE spell to set up the active. Sand King farms fast so it is not particularly useful as a farming item. Sand King's Burrowstrike does not stun for as long as many other disables that are commonly paired with Hammer, but additionally the other issue is that he needs to turn to face the direction and when he burrowstrikes he is often right on the other side of his opponent. This means he has to take a crucial moment to turn before he starts channeling and this can easily lose him kills. The channeling is also an issue because Sand King is constantly moving to maintain a safe position, more than most heroes. As a tower damaging item, it is decent as it always is, but Sand King is also good with Necronomicon and that one may be better suited for him.
Sange and Yasha: Kaya upgrades are simply more valuable for Sand King. He has little use for a tanking right clicking item like SnY and does a lot more with Spell Amplification.
Bloodstone: Among Kaya items, this one is the weakest for Sand King, as he does not need that massive amount of mana (the cooldowns of his skills prevent him from even using the amount Bloodstone provides) and by default it gives less Spell Amplification than Kaya and Yasha/Sange pairings. Essentially there are better ways to snowball your Sand King.

Neutral Items:
Tier 1: Arcane Ring, Faded Broach, Ironwood Tree, Keen Optic*, Ocean Heart, Poor Man's Shield, Trusty Shovel
Of these early options, generally you prioritize mana items. Keen Optic is the most useful because it also extends the burrowstrike cast range. The shovel is also nice to have constant runes.
Tier 2: Clumsy Net, Dragon Scale, Essence Ring*, Grove Bow, Nether Shawl*, Vambrace, Vampire Fangs
In this batch, items that boost tankiness and mana regen are useful, and there are some that boost spell damage and they are the most powerful. Sand King can use Grove Bow due to how much magical damage he does but its usually better on a ranged right clicker. Clumsy Net can be risky if you root yourself, so be careful.
Tier 3: Craggy Coat, Enchanted Quiver, Mind Breaker, Quickening Charm, Spider Legs, Telescope
There is no big power spike item in this batch. They are generally useful items for survival or spell casting or in some cases, stuff to make use of Sand King's ability to easily land attacks. In many cases it will be better to hold onto your Tier 2 items.
Tier 4: Havoc Hammer, Magic Lamp*, Minotaur Horn, Prince's Knife, Spell Prism*, Timeless Relic*, Witless Shako
Items in this batch offer good survival or good spell boosting either through bonus damage or cooldown reduction. Minotaur Horn also has almost the perfect duration for casting Epicenter. Prince's Knife makes your attack a nice followup to burrowstrike.
Tier 5: Book of the Dead, Ex Machina, Fallen Sky*, Mirror Shield*, Seer Stone, Trident, Woodland Striders
Caster, protective and mobility items shine in this final batch, especially Mirror Shield and Fallen Sky. Just see what fits you. High farm Sand Kings that have KYS items can easily make it into a Trident if need be, though he may not be the best carrier of it on the team.
*Denotes an extra good neutral item

Major Extension Builds

Here are some item paths to consider.

then pick one of these

after get further tanky mobility items

and if you still have not won
Core: One True King (Tanky Disruptive DPS)
This build is my current build for 7.26. The idea is to be a tanky Sand King that relies on a large health pool and status resistance to stay alive, and then becomes more mobile and a better teamfighter later on with a huge health pool. Between Halberd and KnS you get Halberd if it's high impact against the enemies (usually ranged right clickers) otherwise get Kaya and Sange for its high damage output. Afterwards, Scepter is good to allow Sand King to use Epicenter and Abyssal offers chainstunning potential and both items continue to tank up SK. Octarine Core is good afterwards because Sange items amplify the spell lifesteal. Heart is good after that if the game's still going because it goes well with the health regen talent.

Talents: 10 Health, 15 Sand Storm, 20 Armor, 25 Regen

+Very hard to kill which means a bigger threat in fights
+Consistently high damage
+Scales well into late game
+Decent against Spell Immune enemies

-Slower to activate than other builds, especially using Epicenter
-Selfish, every item in the build benefits SK more than his allies
-Build does not naturally get armor, so can be countered by high physical damage
-Build does not naturally get dispels, instead relying on health pool and status resistance, so long silences/disables or aura silence/disables can be a problem


then get both of these in any order

after that
Core/Support: The Earthquake Emperor (Teamfight Burst Damage)
This is the traditional build of Sand King, where your main purpose is to be a burst damage hero. This build gives boosts to your team's damage to outdamage your enemies in teamfights mid to early-late game. You can choose to go Veil or Blink first depending more on what you're comfortable with and if your team needs you to be able to jump people earlier. Veil is easier and safer because it can be built in parts but a blink rush is still potentially strong.

Talents: 10 Either, 15 Epicenter, 20 Epicenter, 25 Either

+High burst damage for you and your team
+Activates very quickly with mobility and burst
+Well rounded, improves Sand King's abilities very directly

-Very killable, lacks strong survivability or dispels
-Falls off pretty hard, after your initial burst you do very little and are easy to kill or are at most just a nuisance
-Very fighting reliant, not suited for farming based games

and if the game's not over choose between
Core: The Dust Assassin (Single Target Burst)
This is a variation of the traditional Sand King. In this build you are focusing your nuking on one hero to eliminate them from the fight as quickly as possible and look for kills on the map if you are not fighting. This is the type of build that keeps epicenter on cooldown. It is extremely straightforward and the item to get the most nuke value on a single target is Eblade, which makes your epicenter combo deal around 2000 damage depending on your talents, and with a max Dagon, the damage gets to around the 2.5-3k range. After that, you can get whatever. Heart adds Eblade damage. YnK is good spell amp and the speed is good for moving around the map faster because this is not a good tank build anyway. Nullifier prevents items or buffs that counter being bursted down. Scythe or Aghs are generally useful.

If you want, you can consider replacing Ethereal Blade with Orchid Malevolence as also amplifies the damage done, but it's at the end so it is not as fast and can be countered with dispel items more easily, but Silence is usually stronger against certain escape heroes, as Eblade is just a slow.

Talents: 10 Either, 15 Epicenter, 20 Epicenter, 25 Either

+Extreme burst damage for you; very good solo killing potential
+Pub friendly independent playstyle
+Abnormally good attack speed compared to other builds due to agility

-Very counterable, noticeably weak against BKB or high magic resist heroes or anyone who gets Aeon Disk.
-Selfish, this Sand King has limited ability help allies or even tank damage for them
-Poor on defense, fragile and easy to kill

then get both of these in any order

then pick whatever you feel fits
Core/Support: The Elusive Arachnid (Fast Moving Utility)
This build is well suited for ganking and pickoff and lots of general item usefulness. It uses Euls as its major core item (along with Blink) because of its ability to catch enemies, set up Sand King's skills or to purge him and the speed from it and Tranquil Boots allow him to stay very active on the map. Afterwards anything else you want can come up. This general build offers much use to your team is is overall fun to play, though can leave some weaknesses or just not have as much damage.

Talents: Either for all. Total Freedom and preferences here.

+Generally very useful and adaptable build
+High movespeed and mobility, good map impact and great ganking/pickoff potential
+Fun, lots of outplay potential and can annoy the enemies greatly with how elusively disruptive you can be

-Relatively fragile; Liable to be chainstunned or nuked to death compared to other builds
-Low damage output compared to other builds
-Slot inefficient due to relying on dead-end 2-4k cost items, does not scale great into late game

then choose one or more of these

then after choose between
Core: Banner Carrier Lord (Aura Tank)
This build plays Sand King in a way that is common with offlaners, which is to build tanking aura teamfight items. As Sand King farms quick and can potentially stay alive with his escape skills, he can be a decent carrier. This build is big on teamfights as well, but unlike the Veil build, it is focused on the defensive side and keeping allies alive with your auras and not trying to blow up enemies with your ult, but rather using Burrowstrike and Sand Storm to deal damage and stay alive, though you can still get blink later to do that stuff. You get Pipe if enemies have strong nuker cores, Crimson if strong physical cores, and Greaves if you would like the dispel in the game to need the heal to push. After you've got enough of the big three that you are comfortable with, you can move into other potential aura items, or general mobility items.

Talents: 10 Health, 15 Sand Storm, 20 Armor, 25 Regen

+Very tanky through midgame and helps allies' survivability
+Powerful pushing and usually good sustain for team
+Due to the hero's farm speed, can farm multiple aura items faster than other aura-carrying offlaners

-Low farm and low damage build, can fall off
-Not as tanky as many other aura based offlaners
-Low mobility and limited initiating ability

then into the core items

then pick between these for tanking/survival

or these for some damage
Core: The Sun Scorpion (DPS Tank Carry; High Farm)
This build is the most carry oriented of the Sand King builds and as such it would probably only be played in the midlane with an emphasis on stacking camps. It looks to get Radiance and KnS to deal huge amounts of AOE DPS and Travels to farm or push anywhere needed. Don't focus just on farming to get Radiance, go looks for kills still with your Sange, which should grant you enough survivability to not easily be killed. From there you can go pure tanking with Heart and Octarine. You can make yourself very slippery against single target disables with Linken's and Lotus together. You can also go Shiva's or Agh's for more slow and control (and an escape in Aghs case) If need be, BKB is solid on this high farm Sand King. There are also options for attacking, with Abyssal to fight BKB carries, Assault for armor and to be a threat to towers, Skadi to counter regen cores and kite low mobility heroes or E-Blade just to deal more magic damage. Choose wisely. Either way, the goal is to push as much pressure as you can whenever you are winning and output as much damage to all enemies as possible.

Talents: 10 Health, 15 Sand Storm, 20 Armor, 25 Sand Storm

+Massive damage, farming, and snowball potential
+Strong survivability due to tank items and miss chances
+Huge damage that is not dependent on Sand Storm's positioning

-Risky gameplay, requires high position and momentum can be stopped with a few deaths, especially before Radiance
-Low mobility
-Weakness to BKB is very noticeable in such a high farm position

Hero Interaction

Sand King's Court: A King can only do so much on his own.

(With Scepter)

Gatherers: These heroes let your spells hit multiple foes and work to their full effectiveness, especially Epicenter.

Mana Batteries: These lovely heroes greatly remedy your mana problems throughout the early and mid game. They are also good gank and teamfight partners.

Strong Lane Partners: Usually sustain based heroes, but sometimes flat out aggression is good, but Sand King benefits from an ally that will either keep him well or allow him to easily get kills. When his early game is secured, he can easily take over the midgame. Sand King is the type of hero that gets paired in the offlane and is a huge threat from that.

Trappers: Sand King's damage is usually localized to a limited short ranged area and is not mobile. Any hero that keeps multiple enemies close by so that Sand King's spells, especially epicenter, do the most damage.

Nuke Boosters: These heroes boost the damage of Sand King's spells in some form of another, usually reducing magic resistance and in Warlock's case, AOE damage amp. These boosts amplify Sand King's naturally high damage and allow him to tear apart enemy teams.

Sand King's Peasants: Here are the opponents you will oppress with your superior power.

Illusion Heroes: Your epicenter-burrowstrike combo is almost guaranteed to dispose of any illusions even late game that have a heart. Burrowstrike's stun is almost always going to hit all the illusions in a teamfight. Even without epicenter, Burrowstrike is very powerful because it stops most/all of the illusions from dealing damage, while Sand Storm chips away at their health (or makes them miss). A lot of illusion heroes default to splitpushing, which Sand King is also able to deal with due to his speed.

Summon Heroes: Sand King has massive AOE damage and Caustic is his tool to deal with summons. Like illusions he can blow up summons with epicenter and can stop them with burrowstrike. As such summon heroes have a hard time dealing their full damage against a Sand King, and usually if they are trying to push alone, Sand King can just go where they go to stop them.

Escapists: These heroes easily dodge many a stun due to their very quick escapes, however, SK has stun with no cast point that cannot be disjointed, so if he blinks next to them, he can stun them before they can use their escape spells, making it much easier to chain stun and kill these heroes. These heroes can become very troublesome late game, especially since SK wants to prioritize multi-man burrowstrikes later, so try to kill them a lot earlier in the game.

Heroes Weak to Targeted Stuns: This is an understated but very big weakness of these heroes. They rely on becoming unclickable to protect themselves from targeted stuns or nukes. All of Sand King's spells work on them when they are in a supposed untouchable state, especially Burrowstrike, and thus ruins the gameplay of these heroes very hard.

Armor/Evasion/Attack Resistance/Physical Protection Heroes: As with many nukers, heroes that have their skillset set to deal with attacking and physical damage struggle against Sand King as they have no natural protection from his skills and he can cut through their health pool for much of the game. A lot of them are also agile mobility heroes that he counters as well.

Those Two Smurf Heroes: Oddly enough, Sand King is really good against common smurf heroes. All Meepos can be stopped in their tracks with Burrowstrike (though do not approach him alone, Roots are a big issue for you) and it can cripple his ability to teamfight. With Aghs, Meepo can be eating an additional ~300ish points of damage from the Caustic explosions. TA's are very reliant on Refraction and Sand King can get rid of all charges immediately with Sand Storm due to its high damage instance count. Other Smurf heroes vary with the meta, but these two often pop their head in and being able to stop someone who is secretly higher skill than you can be a big deal in your pubs.

Sand King's Conspirators: Some heroes make Sand King into Sad King (You can kill me for that pun)

True Sight: Sand Storm is valuable; losing its vision advantage is not good, especially in the lane. Tracking naturally is good against Sand King's elusive nature as well. In general be mindful of enemy tracking debuffs and get a dispel (Euls, Lotus) if you have to.

Silencers: You are very spell reliant, you cannot fight well without them and can actually be very easy to kill, so these heroes are potentially awful. Most silences can be dispelled with Euls or Lotus. Force Staff away against Riki and Night Stalker. Silencer is very annoying too because he can stop Epicenter globally through magic immunity. Grimstroke's silence is among the most annoying due to Sand King's poor right click. Disruptor's combo can be hard to escape from and Glimpse can basically cancel epicenter by sending you far away so he is a hero you get BKB against.

Long Ranged Damage Dealers: These heroes can deal huge amounts of damage to Sand King from long range. This not only disables blink daggers, but also means that Sand King has a hard time dealing damage to them, as the general range of his spells is not that far. Zeus is probably the worst of them due to his ability to globally disable daggers and easily mini-stun. You need to be smart and try to jump on them.

Really Tanky Heroes: Sand King is a burst damage hero and does not last long with most builds against tanky damage dealers. If he can't blow them up relatively early in the fight, these heroes can run wild and tear him apart. Very high regeneration heroes can survive his combo because it takes around 5-7 seconds to deal most of his damage, so with many of these heroes, it may be best to buy a Spirit Vessel even though its not great on you, or Eye of Skadi if you're rich. Spectre is extra annoying because she can jump on you.

Roots: Sand King is actually weak to roots as it prevents him from escaping or even going on the offense with Burrowstrike and leaves him a sitting duck. A lot of short ranged or projectile based roots should not be a big issue for you, as they are easy to dodge. Dispels will usually save you here.

Magic Resistance and Immunity: Sand King's damage is almost all magical. These heroes have tools to counter him by avoiding his damage and killing him and just shrug off most of the damage he does. Juggernaut is one of Sand King's worst matchups due to his ability to dodge SK's nukes and spin him to death. AM is annoying because of his mana burn and magic resistance and also his ability to reflect burrowstrike. Pipes in general slash Sand King's ability to threaten enemy teams. Many times the best option here is to not prioritize damage and instead get survival or utility so you are a threat even without dealing huge damage.

Sand King Through the Skill Brackets

By Halmtier
Here we see the King in his natural environment

Sand King is consistent. His winrate and pickrate are generally similar in all skill brackets. His spells are generally better against low level opponents that are more prone to standing close to each other or their creepwave. Sand King is a simple character at his core, but to play him optimally requires a lot of practice and decisionmaking and skills like stacking and map awareness to farm safely, so there is much to learn and improve while playing him.

Big issue for Sand King is that his laning is very important and as brackets go up it gets harder to lane him as his weaknesses shine (he is weak to Sentry wards in lane and aggressive lanes due to him being relatively fragile). In lower brackets, he has an easier time overrunning the enemies with a strong laning partner because everyone plays more recklessly. In higher he needs strong partners and to be more careful and his gameplay thus gets much harder than just trying to overrun the enemy with his damage.

How good Sand King is at the current moment is dependent on how many illusion/summon heroes are in the meta if his counters (long silences and long ranged damage dealers) are in the meta. As of writing (7.26), there is a lot of summon heroes and not a lot of big disables so Sand King will find a place in this patch.

The Battle of the Mid-Lane: A Visual Story

This is an example of a particularly exciting late game fight with Sand King, told through screenshots. This particular scene was from in the 6.7x era, so things have changed like Sand Storm not being channeling but it still shows generally a Sand King teamfight.

Over 50 minutes in, our farmed hero runs with all 4 of his allies, Bounty Hunter, Rubick, Slardar, and Lich. They run into the mid lane in order to have a battle against the enemy team. Whoever wins now will likely take a rax.

Slardar initiates for Sand King on Tusk and Abaddon, saving the King the trouble.

Capitalizing on Slardar's bravery, Crixalis charges his epicenter towards his opponents, who are gathering chaotic, giving a perfect setup.

Sand King teleports in releasing a massive quake and burrowstriking Abaddon. Also, a meteor falls from the sky and no one really notices, as Bounty Hunter takes down Invoker.

Sand King is hexed by Lion and moves backwards, allowing the Scepter wielding Lion to release a 4-man finger of death, taking down Rubick.

Lich finishes off the cowardly Lion, and Sand King lines up a three man Burrowstrike after the three strength heroes brutally beat Bounty Hunter to death.

Sand King is cornered by the three heroes who are striking him, but he managed to get down one of Wraith King's lives. Will our hero make it!?

No!! Despite killing Abaddon, the King is dead!! What chance is left!? Long live the-

Sand King's not done yet! Slardar goes to engage the two remaining foes will all his bravery.

Using his Boots of Travel, Sand King starts teleporting. Meanwhile, Slardar and Tusk reached a stalemate, leaving only the malevolent Wraith King alone with the clever Lich.

Sand King arrives in time, Burrowstriking Wraith King and activating his Blade Mail. Wraith King refreshes himself to reincarnate again. Who will win in this Clash of the Kings!?

Crixalis takes a beating, while Wraith King still has one more life left! Sand King uses a moment to try to recover some health in his Sand Storm with his Heart that he stole from a tin man.

Finally, after weaving away from Wraith King, Crixalis gains the upper hand over the rival king, thanks to the help of his Lich.

As Wraith King retreats, Sand King finishes him off. The battle is won, and now the two remaining heroes will take the enemy barracks!


Sand King is very powerful and versatile. He offers much to his team in the form of AOE damage and a powerful stun. His talents lie in his ability to burst, farm, take whatever form he needs, and just annoy the enemies.
Sand King is a powerful pick in many lineups and is simply a force to be reckoned with.

If you enjoyed reading this guide, you may also enjoy my other guides:

or follow me on Twitter if you' like to talk

Thanks List:
My fans on youtube
Zotmaster and CrimsonQueso inspiring me to write a DotA guide
All the artists whose art I used for this guide
and David Scully for voicing him.

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