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8 Votes

fobindianman's Guide to Slark (6.87c)

May 12, 2016 by fobindianman
Comments: 11    |    Views: 125834    |   

Build 1
Build 2

Safe Lane

DotA2 Hero: Slark

Hero Skills

Dark Pact

3 5 7 8


1 4 9 10

Essence Shift

2 12 13 14

Shadow Dance

6 11 16


15 17 18


Welcome to my guide on Slark, the Nightcrawler! This guide began in 6.86(f), but will be updated as IceFrog hits us with new patches. It is currently updated for 6.87b

One of Slark's rarer in game lines is "I wish I had a plan B", which is something you should take to heart as a potential Slark player. Always have a plan B, a line of escape, and try to anticipate your opponent's movements and actions. If your opponent has a stun heavy lineup, have your Dark Pact queued up to purge and be ready to pounce out of the situation. Slark isn't easy, he requires finesse and knowledge about your things like what abilities can be disjointed, where you can hide in fog, what HP can the enemies burst you down from, can they target you inside Shadow Dance, and more.

People consider Slark a "semicarry", but in my opinion, his most potential is as a true hard carry. Maybe not on the tier of Spectre, but among other carrys like Phantom Assassin, Luna, and Lycan. They fit a certain niche. I believe with the correct itemization he can actually stand up to hard carrys like Medusa and Spectre and stomp games.

Replay analysis
Coming soon

In game guide
Coming soon

Get ready to channel your inner fish person and read on for a full coverage and guide on Slark.

About Me

While I'm not a professional by any means, I do love DotA and want to share my knowledge of Slark. I am a 4k MMR player, and am ranked top 800 on Slark. Slark is my favorite hero, I enjoy just how slippery he can be if played properly and how he has a high skill cap yet is friendly to newer players. Not to mention he's an absolute pub stomper in the right hands.

I calibrated at 1.5k MMR 6 months ago, dropped to 1.1k MMR, and rose quickly to above 4k in a short 4-5 months. If you're looking to escape the trench, feel free to ask for help as I have done so myself. I enjoy helping players, whether through coaching or forums like /r/LearnDota2.

Dotabuff -
Dotacoach -
Twitch -

Feel free to message with any critiques of the guide or if you would like to discuss an aspect of Slark! I welcome any and all input. If the guide helped you, please let me know! If there are questions on anything I may not have explained properly please ask and I will get back to you and update the guide.

Lastly before the guide, if you want to be coached by me please visit ! I offer replay analysis, specific hero help, 1v1 mid, or in game coaching. Your pick! Thanks for reading, enjoy the guide.

Abilities Rundown

Q. Dark Pact - A low cooldown self-damaging AoE nuke and dispel. The main purpose of this skill should be used to purge off stuns, silences, and slows. A lot of low skilled Slark players misuse this ability as only a 300 damage nuke, which is the wrong way of thinking of it. Try to anticipate when your enemy is going to stun using their animations or prior experiences. For example, against Lina, when she raises her hands for LSA you should already have your Dark pact set up as it dispels in 10 consecutive instances.

W. Pounce - Slark jumps forward a certain distance and latches on to any heroes he jumps into. Use this ability to dodge projectiles, jump onto enemies, and avoid enemies by jumping over cliffs and obstacles. This gives Slark insane mobility and he's impossible to get away from if his abilities are used properly. You can get extra levels early for a hard lane, allowing you to escape if needed, but this will lower your farming speed with Dark Pact.

E. Essence Shift - Basically a right click steroid. Click enemies and steal their stats, convert it into Agility for you. More right clicks = more attack speed, more armor, and your enemies lose more and more stats. This is what makes Slark so potent late game. In a single fight, 40 right clicks is not unheard of, and that is a total of 120 agility for you.

R. Shadow Dance - This skill has 2 components, an active and a passive. The active makes you completely untargetable for 4 seconds, allowing you to get in 5+ hits depending on your attack speed. The passive gives you Heart of Tarrasque-like regen while out of sight of your opponents and almost max move speed. This is what gives you insane team fight ability, you can get a few hits in, dodge out of sight for 4 seconds, and come back with full hp. You can also use the active to get out of sight of your opponent, thereby using the passive of getting more movement speed and regen. Use this to catch up to fleeing opponents and then get away quick, or get out of a bad fight.


Safe Lane
Safe Lane Slark is more of a static build. Stay unskilled until the laning begins, just in case you end up in an engagement at the runes. If all goes well, you want Pounce level 1. After that, you can either get Essence Shift level 2, or if you're against a lane with a lot of slows or debuffs, such as Dazzle's Poison Touch or Disruptor's Thunder Strike you can get Dark Pact. Get another level of Pounce at 4 or 5 for more laning strength, and then max Dark Pact for jungle and lane farming. Max Pounce next then Essence Shift last, getting Shadow Dance whenever possible. Ez Pz.

Mid Lane
This skillbuild is a little more situational. Usually in mid you want to go for a kill by nighttime at 4 minutes. Slark has 1800 night vision and no common mids have the same vision. You can sneak around and kill your enemy and have the appropriate skills to do so.

Against a low range/melee mid, you can get Essence Shift first to harass and take control of a lane. Good against Ember Spirit, Templar Assassin.

Against a long range or spammy mid, get more in Pounce to lock onto them from a distance. Good against Zeus, Lina.

Against a squishy mid, get more in Dark Pact for more damage. Good against Tiny, Queen of Pain (also can purge off Shadow Strike).

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are a couple of things Slark excels at.

- Excels in extended fights
- Escaping ganks or bad fights
- Ambushing and ganking
- Farming very fast
- Low cost farming tool in Dark Pact which allows him to be extremely hard to kill
- Doesn't often need to go back to base as Shadow Dance keeps him healthy
- Great late game potential

- Very squishy, likely to have around 1.2k hp until you buy SnY or Skadi
- Low stat growth
- Takes a lot of skill to master
- Weak laner

Itemization and Situational Items

Shadow Blade
This vs Blink can be debated for days, but I find Shadow Blade works great in this patch due to the buildup to Silver Edge. Shadow Blade allows you to begin picking off and teamfighting around 15 minutes, allowing you to build into an easy Echo Sabre or upgrade into Silver Edge.

Echo Sabre
This can be built before Shadow Blade or after. People are currently arguing over this pickup on a lot of AGI carries, with the main point of debate being the second attack. I find that, while the second attack being great, the slow and the stats are superior. This item allows you to skirmish often due to giving some mana regen and INT, and the 100% slow on first strike allows you to latch on for a Pounce even easier.

Silver Edge
As of 6.87, this item is far cheaper, and offers more stats. It also can be disassembled into a Linken's Sphere or Eye of Skadi. Basically, it upgrades you into a stronger Slark and allows for easy buildups into your next item. Preferable pickup timing: 22-25 min.

Eye of Skadi
The quintessential Slark item. Strong stats, strong attack speed and movement speed slow, and makes you a tough fish to deal with. You can get this before Silver Edge, depending on the game.

- Linken's Sphere
- Black King Bar
- Monkey King Bar
- Moon Shard

Linken's Sphere
Linken's Sphere is a great item on Slark, but not one you should buy on more than 50% of his games. There are certain spells or items that lock you down for too long and will result in your death. If you are against the following items/skills, you should consider buying a Linken's Sphere.

- Rupture - Bloodseeker
- Assassinate - Sniper
- Nether Swap - Vengeful Spirit
- Fiend's Grip - Bane
- Duel - Legion Commander
- X Marks the Spot - Kunkka
- Dismember - Pudge
- Reaper's Scythe - Necrophos
- Doom
- Scythe of Vyse
- Abyssal Blade

Often you won't be the target of these abilities and items or you may have your Dark Pact already set up. If you feel confident you won't be locked down, you may not need Linken's against Fiend's Grip, Dismember, or Hex/Abysall. However, I do recommend buying Linken's against Duel, Reaper's Scythe, and Rupture as these cannot be purged by Dark Pact and may result in the loss of a game.

Black King Bar

While Black King Bar isn't a must buy every game like it is on other carries such as Sven or PA, you should absolutely get one on Slark if needed. The situation calls for a BKB if you're against a lot of lock down, blademails, a ton of burst such as Lina, Lion, or Morphling, or magic damage that can't be purged such as Venomancer or Sand King. Consider one against Tidehunter, Crystal Maiden, and Zeus.

Monkey King Bar

That pesky Windranger keep getting away from you? Just buy an MKB. This one is self explanatory, buy against Phantom Assassin, Spectre if she builds evasion. Windranger, Brewmaster, etc.

Moon Shard

This is an item I almost always buy. Attack speed equates to damage on Slark, as the more attack speed you have the more agility you can steal and the stronger you become. You don't always have to get it as a 7 slot item to consume, I like to get it as the 4th or 5th item and hold onto it before my next item. Some games I also get it immediately after Eye of Skadi, if I don't need a Skull Basher.


Safe Lane

Slark is a weak laner, so you definitely don't want to be laning against the following:

Spirit Breaker

If you find yourself laning against them, be sure to pull the hard camp at :23 and :53 toward the lane to pull creeps back to your tower, and stack and pull the small camp at :16 and :46. Depending on the lane, play carefully and you don't need to go for every last hit. Slark can come back very easily farming jungle with Dark Pact.

With a trilane that has stuns and slows, you can go for a kill at level 1 or 2 with Pounce and Essence Shift.

Good allies in lane
Venomancer - One Venomous Gale and Pounce and the offlaner is done for.
Vengeful Spirit - Strong stun and armor debuff leads to an easy kill.
Bane - Nightmare is a 4-7 second disable and is easy set up for a kill.

Mid Lane

Slark isn't the strongest mid laner, so against the strong 6.87 mids like Windranger and Invoker, you're done for in lane. You're more on your own in mid unless you have an active roaming support duo, but you can dominate the weaker mids. I would avoid Slark in mid in 95% of games.

Post Laning Phase

The biggest mistake people make as Slark in the "post laning phase" or about 15 minutes onwards, is they are constantly roaming and searching for an enemy hero to gank. While Slark excels at ganking, he is extremely farm dependent. By the end of the laning phase, you should have Power Treads, Ring of Aquila, Magic Wand, and Drums of Endurance if you went for it. At level 8 when Dark Pact is maxed, you can start jungling very efficiently.

Mid game items

After the laning phase items, you can decide on what item to go for next. You generally want mobility and then tank items. This generally means Blink or Shadow Blade, and then Skadi.

Blink vs Shadow Blade has been discussed and debated endlessly.

Shadow Blade


- Can use to escape bad situations
- Can use while being damaged
- Can abuse in low level pubs when nobody buys true sight
- Does give some stats, 22 damage and 30 attack speed which make you farm faster and fight better
- Can be upgraded into Silver Edge which is extremely strong as of 6.87

Blink Dagger


- More mobility, able to jungle quicker by blinking between camps
- No mana cost
- With proper vision, can be more effective during ganks
- Cheaper than Shadow Blade

Personally, I prefer a shadow blade. The only time I buy a blink is when I need to ambush a Sniper while we are sieging high ground, as it's impossible to get close to him with a shadow blade.

After your mobility item, you will want for stats. I buy Eye of Skadi in 95% of games, as it slows enemies and allows for an easy pounce latch, and gives you a ton of armor and HP and solves your mana problems! You can opt for a Sange and Yasha before Skadi, because it is easier to build up and gives movement speed. I buy a SnY before Skadi in maybe 50% of my games because it is a great item on him. If you are having trouble in the mid game and can't fight effectively, opt for one just for the cheap stats.

After Skadi or Sange and Yasha, look to a situational item. If you're getting locked down by the Duel, farm up a Linken's Sphere, etc. If you don't need any of that, look toward a Butterfly or a Skull Basher to further increase your strength. Nobody likes getting perma bashed by a Slark with 40 stacks of essence shift.


Prioritizing kills

The key to teamfighting as Slark is to understand the threats and strengths of your opponents and utilize your Shadow Dance's passive regen. For example, if you're at full hp, try to bait out that Laguna Blade, pounce onto somebody, and Shadow Dance your hp back or to dodge the incoming Wraith blast or similar stun.

Against strong initiators like Magnus or Warlock, never be in your enemy's sight without Dark Pact already queued up and don't be grouped up. Allowing yourself to get stunned is what will get you killed.

Lastly, don't hold on to Shadow Dance until you're 200 hp like some Slarks. Use it to dodge targeted projectiles or not allow your opponents to target you with a stun or auto attack. You can and should use it immediately after your pact pops if you need to dodge something.


Getting Ganked

Let's say you're just farming bottom lane at 17 minutes with not a care in the world. You have a your basic items, and are working on your Shadow Blade. Then, all of a sudden, a wild Torrent throws you into the air and a boat smacks you in the face. Oh no!

On a serious note, Slark relies on map awareness and dodging incoming ganks to build up any power in the mid game. You need to realize when the enemies are missing and which combination of enemies could kill you, slippery little fish though you are.

When farming, be careful of your Dark Pact use. When the enemies see you use it to nuke a wave, they know it's on cooldown and could come in to destroy you. You never want to be caught out in a lane with Dark Pact on cooldown, so what I like to do is nuke the wave, back off for my cooldown, and come back to finish the wave with another Pact. If you're on your side of the map with no ememies missing and wards all around, feel free to nuke and stay at the wave to hit the creeps. Just be aware, and be safe.

Getting out of a bad teamfight

While you should be focusing the squishy supports down, maybe you get caught out of position with Dark Pact on cooldown. What do you do? Shadow Dance and run the hell away! Be sure to Pounce over cliffs and over terrain, and queue up Dark Pact to dodge the incoming stuns like Fissure and Burrowstrike.

When to Pick Slark

Pick Slark against the following heroes:

Alchemist - Easy stun to Pact off, very squishy and susceptible to ganks. Easy stat steal.

Crystal Maiden - 1 Pounce, 1 Dark Pact, 2 autoattacks, goodbye Rylai.

Drow Ranger - Absolutely food for Slark. Shadow blade and just jump on her with Dark Pact queue'd up for her Silence, after Dark Pact be ready to Shadow Dance and just wail on her.

Gyrocopter - While Gyro offers a lot of spread out damage among multiple targets, he hates being focused down. If he can't hit you with Satanic, he's done for.

Juggernaut - You have 2 forms of getting out of Omnislash, 3 if you get a Linken's Sphere. Eye of Skadi will slow through Blade Fury, so you can keep him near you to Pounce on after spin.

Keeper of the Light - Purge off his Mana Leak and Blinding Light, very squishy.

Luna - Believe it or not, Slark destroys squishy carries. Luna is pretty much the definition.

Medusa - Essence shift allows you to steal 1 point of intelligence per hit, effectively taking away 13 mana and doing the damage you do from right clicks. As tanky as she is, you can just attack her and steal all her mana. Avoid going ultra late against her though, as she is still a Medusa.

Nature's Prophet - Slark is generally great against split pushers as you can sneak up on them, same with NP. Just catch him while he's pushing your towers or jungling and burst him down.

Templar Assassin - Your Dark Pact does 10 instances of damage, easily deleting her Refraction, she can try to burst you down but you can always Shadow Dance.

Tusk - Can purge off stun from Snowball and easy to kill

Sniper - Very squishy and easy to kill if you get on top of him, thanks Shadow Blade!

Winter Wyvern - Kind of a strange one, you can steal stats off of whoever is Cold Embrace'd and even off your own teammates if they are the target of Winter's Curse.

Witch Doctor - Easy to purge stun, and can Shadow Dance during Death Ward

Wraith King - Slow stun animation so it's easy to Dark Pact, and allows you to steal a ton of stacks through Reincarnation

Situational -

Abaddon - Strong laner, but you can get a lot of stats off of him when Borrowed Time is activated.

Beastmaster - Yes, Roar has a long cast time and you can try to purge it, but if he went necrobook you'll likely burn all your mana and be stuck without an escape.

Kunkka - X Marks the Spot can take you out of position, and though you can purge boat easily, it makes the enemy very tanky until the duration wears off.

Huskar - Silver Edge break's Berserker's Blood and if he can't target you during Shadow Dance he's done for. However, he is a very strong laner and can shut you down for 10 extra minutes if you can't last hit in lane due to the harass from Burning Spear.

Mirana - While her Leap doesn't disjoint Pounce, she can save her allies with Moonlight Shadow and starfall hurts a hell of a lot when you're the only unit next to her. Also a strong laner with a high autoattack range.

Pudge - Very squishy, if you get hooked you can queue up Dark Pact for the incoming Dismember. Dark pact has a .1 cast time and dismember has a .3 so you should always get your skill off first. Only problem against Pudge is if he gets a Blink Dagger and just Blink - Dismembers you.

Tinker - Similar to Nature's Prophet, try to predict what tree he blinks into and bash him down. However beware of his nukes and remember you can purge off Laser

Avoid Slark against:

Very hard lockdown - Chronosphere, Duel, Berserker's Call, Echo Slam, Doom, Reaper's Scythe.

Ground targeted abilities that hit during Shadow Dance - Chakram, Timber Chain, Light Strike Array, Echo Slam, Fissure, Mystic Flare

And strong laners that can bully you out of lane.

Coming back into a bad game

I've said it before, but Slark is a notoriously bad laner without strong friends. It's not that rare that the Huskar (or similar) shuts you down and you finish a lane at 10 minutes with 20 last hits. What do you do? Is all hope lost? Nah, you're Slark. You're fine.

Focus on getting your mobility/ganking item. In a good game you can have everything you need by 14-15 minutes, but when you're shut down you want to have a Shadow Blade or Blink Dagger by 20 minutes. At this time, build HP and stats, like Sange, or Ultimate Orb for your skadi. Once you have enough HP to survive and gank efficiently, set up a smoke with your team to kill their most farmed hero or carry. Comeback mechanics since 6.85 have been crazy and you can get back into the game with just 1 kill.

Your enemies are deathballing at 15 minutes after dominating your lanes? That sucks, but you're not done for just yet. Being 1 rax down 20 minutes into the game isn't a loss just yet, you can hold off super creeps with Pact and farm where you can to get back into the game.

Other Slark tips

Shadow Dance allows you to regen and move faster when out of sight of the enemies. This doesn't just mean enemy heroes, this means observer wards. When you're walking through your jungle and suddenly you're at 355 movement speed, you're walking through a ward or an enemy invisible hero. Place a sentry down and deward, it's always always always worth buying your own vision if your teammates don't. With practice you can pinpoint exactly what cliff the ward is in by walking around a little to check the ward's line of sight. Don't get too caught up doing this though, ping it out and get back to farming.

Tread switching is almost necessary to play Slark properly. Get Power Treads by the end of the laning phase, and get used to tapping them twice from Agility to Intelligence, using Dark Pact to farm, and then switching back to Agility. This conserves a ton of mana over time and saves trips back to base. You can use this in fights too if you can handle it, if not you just have to hope your teammates have Arcane Boots.

Lastly, Slark's not the best Aegis of the Immortal carrier. You lose all Essence Shifts upon respawn, and you may have Shadow Dance on cooldown. If this is the case, you're probably screwed. Consider giving that Aegis to your mid hero or offlaner if they scale well.


Alright guys this has been a fun write up but I am (almost) done with things to say. The more intracate insights are reserved for my coaching sessions, see for details! /plug

But seriously, I hope everyone learned a bit about Slark and I hope my experience can help you get out of that trench!

PM me for questions or suggestions, thanks for taking the time to read!

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