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How to Counter Invisible Heroes

November 21, 2013 by Sando
Comments: 18    |    Views: 78719    |   


Today we will be looking at some of the best ways of countering Invisible heroes - looking at specific heroes, tips, tricks and in a little more detail than "Buy a gem, n00b!" :).

Invisible heroes are one of the big issues in pub games, as they require a basic level of support play and co-ordination to counter...such things can be in short supply at times.

Generally invisibility heroes are glass cannons - very damaging, but also squishy and vulnerable themselves.

The Basics

Potentially any hero can gain an invisiblity ability by purchasing Shadow Blade (also known as 'Lothars' by old skool players) - however this is a reasonably large investment and not suitable for some heroes. You can also become invisible by picking up a suitable rune, or temporarily using Smoke of Deceit.

Attacking, using an ability or activating most items will cause you to lose your invisibility.

All forms of invisibility can be detected by:

- Towers (and each team's ancient) have permanent true sight and will always show invisible heroes

- Sentry Wards. When placed they will show any invisible unit or item in their radius (including Observer Ward) for 3 minutes, unless destroyed.

- Dust of Appearance. When deployed it sticks to any enemy units in it's radius, making them visible for 12 seconds. Has a cooldown before it can be deployed again.

- Gem of True Sight. Grants permanent true sight on the carrier, detecting any invisible units or items in it's radius. Is dropped on death, and can then be picked up or destroyed by either team.

- Necronomicon. Once upgraded to the level 3, the two summoned minions possess true sight.

- Various hero and minion abilities we will cover later.

- Radiance. Not usually bought as a detection item , it will still produce a noticable heat ripple when they are within it's radius.

Each type has it's strengths and weaknesses, which are covered over the course of the article.

Getting the Right Response

When faced with invisible heroes it's important to get the level of response right for the potential threat. You don't want the whole team carrying inventories full of dust and gems just because the enemy team has a Sand King.

However, against particular heroes or combinations your chances of success will be massively damaged without appropriate counter-measures. Also be aware of heroes who are likely to buy a Shadow Blade.

As a rule of thumb, you want a Gem of True Sight or Necronomicon if the opposition has a Riki, Bounty Hunter, Weaver or Clinkz who can play reasonably well, and you don't have Bounty Hunter or Slardar on your team. Ideally at least 2 heroes should be carrying Sentry Ward or Dust of Appearance from early in the game.

You should also get one of these if the opposition has 2 or more heroes with some form of invisibility, or buys a Shadow Blade.

Be very careful with Gem of True Sight - they're expensive, and can be stolen by the opposition. They're incredibly useful for dewarding too. Generally give them to the hero on your team who is least likely to die - generally a tank or hero with a good escape.

Necronomicon level 3 is expensive, but very worthwhile as it cannot be destroyed like a gem, and provides good extra fighting power. However, it doesn't provide constant detection like a gem due to the lifespan and cooldown of the minions.

Support heroes have primary responsibility for ensuring the team has dust and sentries available at all times, but gankers should also look at carrying them, as well as carries with plenty of spare cash and inventory slots.

Using Dust and Sentries

Dust of Appearance puts out a cloud of dust over a large area, which is useful but also makes the effect rather obvious to the opposition. It also cannot be used again for quite a long time.

Dust is great for ganks, during team fights, and against heroes who can move quickly to escape the area. You gank as normal, with the obvious exception of making sure you throw dust to detect them.

Sentry Wards are more subtle in their use, as the enemy will only know you have them if they see them in your inventory, start to be attacked while invisible, or have their own invisibility detection nearby. They also have no cooldown or restock time, so you can carry lots of them in the late game and bang them down everywhere if you have the money.

Invisible heroes feel safe when they think they're hidden, and will quite often take up risky positions. Try to be subtle about setting up your attack, and pick your moment. Sentries are also useful for preparing an area where you expect to team fight - again this can allow you to catch out invisible heroes.

Bounty Hunter

Bounty Hunter - classic invisible ganker.

+ Can control his invisibility
+ Relatively short cooldown on invisibility
+ Potentially invisible from level 1
+ Can counter other invisible heroes with Track

- Less of a full blown carry than some other assassin-type heroes
- Somewhat squishy

Bounty is difficult to counter as he can acquire invisibility at level 1, and doesn't especially need much farm in the lane phasing, just levels. Good harassment will keep him quiet, but be careful not to feed him.

It is possible to gank Bounty early game if your lane has sufficient burst damage and/or disable, and you're prepared to invest in some detection.

Any form of detection works equally well against Bounty Hunter, although Sentry Wards are probably the best choice as he won't know you've deployed them and you might well be able to catch him out.

Bounty Hunter loves to gank, so try to avoid being on your own with low health. Regularly dewarding enemy Observer Wards will give you some detection on the river, which can help.


Broodmother - gains invisibility within the radius of her webs.

+ Webs offer movement, regeneration and invisiblity bonuses
+ No mana cost to becoming invisible once webs are placed

- Cannot become invisible away from webbed areas
- Relatively long fade time for invisibility

Brood is a great solo and pusher, with potential to carry later on. She tends to set up camp in a lane and provide a constant presence there, rather than actively moving around and ganking. Because of this, you tend to know Brood is in the area, but can't necessarily target her.

The webs are also a great escape mechanism, providing invisibility and increased movement speed. Again, Sentry Wards tend to be the best way of ganking her early game, as they let you keep an eye on her and pick your moment - dust is somewhat all or nothing. Good Broods will likely have their own Sentry Wards to destroy yours.

Later on Gem of True Sight or Necrobook provides a hard counter to her and makes life very difficult.


Clinkz - ranged, invisible assassin.

+ Can control his invisibility
+ Relatively short cooldown on invisibility
+ Potentially invisible from level 1
+ Invisibility adds movement speed

- Squishy without recent use of his ultimate
- Needs farm to be effective

Essentially the ranged version of Bounty Hunter or Riki, Clinkz can become incredibly dangerous once farmed. Most players will try to rush Orchid Malevolence, allowing them to silence and quickly pick off enemy heroes.

As a potential carry, Clinkz will usually divide his time between farming and ganking, depending what is available at the time.

Due to his high movement speed, Dust of Appearance is recommended over Sentry Wards.


Invoker - escape ability.

+ Available relatively early

- May not be readily available

One of his many, many abilities is Ghost Walk which allows him to become invisible for a reasonable amount of time. Although it does have some potential as a ganking ability, it uses one of his two active spell slots and so tends to limit it use for this. Generally it is used as an escape.

Best countered with Dust of Appearance as he'll be actively looking to leave the area when using this spell.


Mirana - team invisibility for a short period.

+ Effects entire team
+ Global Power

- Only available from level 6 onwards
- Very long cooldown
- Can be removed with silence

Although not a true invisible hero, she does have the Moonlight Shadow ability for her ultimate, which makes her entire team invisible for a short period of time.

The cooldown of this limits its use, meaning that its not going to be used every time you gank - however you should try and take precautions by carrying dust. The most dangerous use of this ability is for team fights though - it can allow fantastic initation and surprise attacks.

Aside from having a Gem of True Sight (which is somewhat unnecessary if this is their only invisibility ability) - fighting near towers or Sentry Wards is your best option.

Nyx Assassin

Nyx ***sassin

Nyx Assassin - burst damage ganker.

+ Quite long duration
+ Bonus damage on exit

- Not available until level 6
- Quite long cooldown

Nyx has limited invisibility as he relies on his ultimate Vendetta, meaning he cannot use it before level 6. It also has a relatively long cooldown compared to say Bounty Hunter or Clinkz.

This makes him more dangerous in some ways, as he doesn't rely on invisibility for protection, generally he uses it to go and gank, or escape. As you don't know when he's going to use it, Dust of Appearance is the best choice for detection unless your team invests in a Gem. Sentry Wards can be useful before a team fight.

Phantom Lancer

Phantom Lancer
- evasive illusionist.

+ Can control his invisibility
+ Relatively short cooldown on invisibility
+ Potentially invisible from level 1
+ Illusions cause further confusion

- Relatively short invisibility time

Lancer can be the most difficult of the invisible heroes to fight against, as he also adds illusions to the mix - making it yet more confusing trying to figure out where he's gone or who the right target is.

The good news is that his invisibility has a very short duration, so is almost always used for escape rather than ganking or initiation.

Dust of Appearance and Sentry Wards are both equally effective provided you can identify the right target. Although if you have enough stuns, I prefer Sentry Wards for the surprise element. Usually you want to attack him and force him to go invisible - his illusions cannot do this, so his escape ability actually marks him as the target.

If you do use dust, ensure you do so right AFTER he has gone invisible.


Riki - lethal assassin.

+ Near permanent invisibility
+ No mana cost
+ Passive skill, happens automatically even if you're disabled

- Long fade time until skilled
- Not available until level 6

Riki is probably the most hated hero in the pub scene, combining near permanent invisibility with vicious backstab damage. He is both a ganker and a carry, capable of riping through a team in seconds with enough farm.

He is most vulnerable in the early game and should be targeted with extreme prejudice. He's very squishy throughout the game, and should be focused quickly in team fights to take his damage out of the equation.

Dust of Appearance is most useful for ganking him, as his Blink Strike can quickly get him out of range of Sentry Wards. However, wards are useful for keeping tabs on him in lane after level 6, or setting up before team fights.

Sand King

Sand King - obvious invisibility.

+ Available from level 1
+ Inflicts mild damage

- Requires channelling
- Very obvious where you actually are

Sand Storm is the source of Sand King's "invisibility" - although it is closer to "untargetable" in reality, as you know exactly where he is. It does give him a very brief period of actual invisibilty after use however.

The utility of Sand Storm very much depends on whether enemy heroes have ability that can target ground, or have to be aimed at a specific target unit. Anything that can target the ground will do the trick, as will any kind of invisibility detection. Certainly not worth buying a Gem of True Sight over, but get some cheap invisibility detection if your team lacks the means to get him out of Sand Storm


Slark - temporary invisibility.

+ Immune to truesight for duration
+ Gains movement speed

- Short duration
- Obvious location
- Only available after level 6

Once he hits level 6 and gets Shadow Dance, he can become invisible for short periods of time (approx 5 seconds). This invisibility cannot be revealed in any way, so don't waste time or money trying to use items to reveal him. Invisible is not the same as invincible hower - you can still see the clouds, and AOE abilities will still effect him.

Silence is often the best option here.

Templar Assassin

Templar Assassin - critical decloak.

+ Available from level 1
+ Bonus damage on decloak

- Cannot move or use abilities while invisible

Templar only has a very limited form of invisibility, as she is required to remain inactive while using it. So you generally know where she is if she does it nearby - like Sand King but without all the dirt and debris to mark the spot. You can still hit her with any ability that targets the ground rather than a specific unit, but not attack directly without some kind of detection.

Generally Dust of Appearance will get the job done, but Sentry Wards can be useful if she keeps lying in wait on a particular lane.

Treant Protector

Treant Protector - allied invisibility near trees.

- Available from level 1
- Can use on allies

- Long fade time
- Must be near trees

Treant's Nature's Guise provides a relatively long invisibility for any allied unit, provided they start and stay near trees. This somewhat limits it's utility, but the majority of the map is covered in woods that will allow this.

Dust of Appearance will usually do the job if you're trying to gank and he uses this, while Sentry Wards are useful if you're expecting him to try and initiate a team fight.


Weaver - evasive and elusive.

+ Available from level 1
+ Move speed boost
+ Can debuff
+ Short cooldown

- Short duration

Weaver has a strange mixture of extreme survivability from his skills, and very low survivability from his stats. His main ability is Shukuchi, which gives a temporary burst of invisibility and maximum movement speed.

As he use this so often, and often will during team fights to prevent himself being focused, it's often useful to get some full blown detection in the form of Gem of True Sight or Necronomicon.

Avoid Dust of Appearance after he's hit level 6 as Time Lapse allows him to debuff and remove it's effects. This also allows him to throw off true sight powers like Amplify Damage and Track.

Any kind of Silence is what he truly fears.

Anti-invisibility skills

Any Silence type skill can help against invisibility heroes. With the exception of Moonlight Shadow, it won't actively stop invisibility abilities from working if they are already working, but it will stop them from being used.

Powerful nuking spells can also be very useful, as most invisible heroes are squishy.

The main counters to invisibility are:

- Slardar's Amplify Damage

One of the main reasons he is picked as a counter, this ability is cheap and can be spammed regularly - providing 25 seconds of true sight and armour reduction on the target.

- Bounty Hunter's Track

Another great counter ability, again providing true sight on the target, along with bonus speed, and extra gold for kills or assists on that player.

These powers can also be useful:

- Spirit Breaker's Charge of Darkness

Although it doesn't provide true sight on the target, he will continue to target them and stun on impact. They will also be marked by his charge icon even while invisible. Combine with some other form of detection to get the kill.

- Sniper's Assassinate

Once targeted, this will always still hit regardless of whether the target becomes invisible.

- Bloodseeker's Thirst

Enemies who are below the health threshold and are within the very large radius of this skill are revealed, and gain true sight of them if they are below a further threshold.

Summary Table

This list shows the level of appropriate level of response to each hero alone. If an enemy team has multiple invisible heroes, or Shadow Blades this should push your team more towards the Gem of True Sight and Necronomicon options.

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