Phoenix is a fun core or support hero who excels in the mid game. He provides substantial damage and healing for his team, is very flexible, has a good talent tree and has excellent mobility. His main weaknesses are lack of a disable or movement slow and his dependence on experience gain. He is also a little complex to learn initially but once you have the hang of his abilities he is a pleasure to play.
He can be run as both core and support Phoenix:
- Support Phoenix is much more common in the professional scene. Some notable professional players include OG.Fly, EG.Cr1t-, ODD.Saksa, Newbee.Kaka. OG.Fly particularly used Phoenix to good effect at the Manila Major in June 2016. You can watch a series of highlights of this here.
- Core Phoenix is usually run in public matches in the offlane. Some notable core Phoenix players include MaritimeTR who has quite a few highlight videos you can watch here, and Burd who has published a 20 minute video guide to core Phoenix here. Liquid.Miracle- also has a highlight video which can be viewed here.
There are two main ability builds to Phoenix:
- Fire Spirits focused, a more offensive type build which can be used by both core and support Phoenix. From a support perspective its pretty good if you are offlane and harassing the enemy melee carry and stopping the carry from last hitting. EG.Cr1t- has used this approach (Source: Dotabuff)
- Sun Ray focused, a both offensive and defensive build really only suitable for support Phoenix. I know of at least three professional players use it when they play support (Reference 1: OG.Fly, Reference 2: Liquid.Miracle, Reference 3: CDEC.Sep).
From a 4k MMR average game on SEA.
- Icarus Dive provides amazing mobility without items and costs no mana
- Fire Spirits provides excellent magical nuke damage and attack speed slow over 4 seconds
- Sun Ray is a very strong scaling %HP based magical nuke and heal
- Supernova restores all health and mana, and refreshing all abilities except ultimate, provides further AOE damage and magical immunity piercing stun if allowed to run to completion
- not particularly item dependent at all
- essentially countered by magical immunity (ie Black King Bar)
- no reliable disable or slow
- abilities drain health
- pretty average basic attack damage, even as core
- reasonably long cooldown on abilities
- possible mana problems early game
There is generally no problem first picking as a support but you do want to have another support player who can provide stuns and/or slows, as you do not have any.
You can suggest heroes which Phoenix works well with which include:
- strength based initiators ( Bristleback, Axe, Centaur Warrunner ),
- area of effect disables ( Tidehunter, Treant Protector, Faceless Void, Magnus, Dark Seer, Enigma)
- area of effect magical damage ( Zeus, Radiance Spectre).
Consider difficult heroes to you when drafting. Expect to be countered if you pick early. Here are a few, and a few comments why they are difficult for you:
Essentially this guy is a huge pain with Spiked Carapace mostly which interrupts Sun Ray and Icarus Dive if you don't have Black King Bar.
Global Silence is a bit of a pain but can be managed with items ( Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Lotus Orb, Black King Bar). If he casts Last Word on you, you can't escape with Icarus Dive as you return back to your previous location.
Can spin while attacking your ultimate ( Supernova) or while being Sun Ray 'ed. Natural Manta Style carrier which can debuff Fire Spirits.
Can pretty much ignore Fire Spirits with Overpower and Enrage to kill your ultimate.
Ultimate gives whole team attack speed bonus to kill your ultimate
Sniper / Lina
Can attack your ultimate with minimal risk. Lina has inbuilt attack speed bonus and can nuke you down before casting abilities.
Mostly bothersome if he can interrupt and steal Sun Ray
In general skill your abilities in this order of priority. This is with the exception of getting Icarus Dive at level 1 or 2.
Fire Spirits Focused (Core or Support):
> > >
Sun Ray Focused (Support):
> > >
Makes Phoenix move in an arc, up to 1400 units, then return to his previous location dealing damage over time to every hero he hits over 500 units diameter. You can interrupt your dive by using the Stop Icarus Dive command, which is the same button (default is to 'q'). Costs health only.
Extra levels increase your damage but don't provide anything else. I normally just put one level in this, but an offlane Phoenix could level this for the damage if Sun Ray is not being used much.
This is a long range nuke and attack speed slow that costs life and mana to activate. You get four charges each cast, each charge used when applied to an enemy will last for 4 seconds. The damage is pretty pitiful at level 1 (10 DPS over 4 seconds) and probably deals more damage to yourself than you deal to the enemy, but level 2 onwards it is extremely good. The attack speed slow is particularly good in disrupting enemy last hits, and preventing the enemy from killing your Supernova.
This excellent ability provides channeled long range damage / heal at the cost of your health over time and 100 mana. It scales well into the late game and is very good against high health heroes or cast on high health allies. Level 1 Sun Ray is pretty weak but subsequent levels are reasonable. Because it is channeled it can be interrupted by spells such as Spiked Carapace, Global Silence.
This ability turns you into a vulnerable sun (popularly although incorrectly called a 'egg') which does excellent large aoe magical damage over time and if allowed to run to completion provides a massive aoe stun (think Ravage) and returns you to full health and mana with all your abilities active again (except Supernova).
You want to cast this when low on health, and you want to position this in such a way it doesn't get destroyed but it also does damage / stun to the enemy. I will discuss this further in the gameplay section.
+ health vs + 20% experience gain
The experience gain I would almost always get because the talents later on in the talent tree are just extremely good. Getting them 20% faster is fantastic.
+150/gold per min vs +65 dps fire spirits
The gold is super tempting but the fire spirits DPS in I think is better. +65 X 4 seconds is additional 260 damage per fire spirit cast, and you can cast it 4 times (up to additional 1040 damage over 16 seconds if you cast it correctly). You farm faster and push out lanes faster with the DPS buff (and get faster experience gain), so I prefer it.
+8% spell amp vs +10 armor
Both are good. If you are dying a lot to physical before you can cast your spells you want armor, otherwise get the spell amp.
+1s supernova stun vs +2 supernova hit count
Both are good. Get the second if you die a lot casting your ultimate otherwise get the first ability, it basically turns your stun into a huge AOE magic immunity piercing stun (black hole - 4 seconds, with this skill you stun for 3.5 seconds), it's super powerful.
If you are feeling super greedy don't buy a few of the support items and buy instead:
Enchanted Mango is an option if you are thinking about Soul Ring.
Null Talisman will build into Veil of Discord.
Mid players will want Bottle for regeneration purposes.
Once you have these you have a few choices.
Hand of Midas or not
This item is super tempting and you can certainly buy this for the experience gain and gold bonus. You could get this before or after Urn of Shadows, if you are the designated Urn carrier.
Urn of Shadows is highly recommended if your team doesn't have an Urn carrier already (ie Spectre). It provides nuke damage, stats and healing after fights. Just spam this on your cores, keep them alive, keep them farming.
Veil of Discord is VERY highly recommended. Increases your damage by 25% in a large area of effect, cast range 1000, lasts for 16 seconds and provides armor, health regeneration and stats, particularly mana. Helps you deal damage later on if enemy get a Pipe of Insight.
I think you should get Shiva's Guard every game on Phoenix. The active helps you cast Supernova without dying, and stops the enemy from running away. The extra armor and mana are great for you to help you survive and cast your spells.
Refresher Orb is very highly recommended. You can cast all your non-ultimate spells up to three times, and your ultimate and use all your items twice in teamfights. This is a huge boost to your damage and healing in fights.
These items provide more damage for you:
Orchid Malevolence is pretty interesting. Gives you +30% damage to a single target and silences them for 5 seconds. Works very well with Sun Ray and gives mana regeneration. Burd recommends this on core (offlane Phoenix) even before Shiva's Guard. You could get this if you have problem with mobile heroes such as Storm Spirit or Queen of Pain.
These items are more defensive:
Eul's Scepter of Divinity is good to disable tps, remove silences, chase fleeing enemies, disjoint abilities (such as Kunkka's X-Marks the Spot). The mana, mana regeneration and movement speed is very helpful.
Black King Bar may be needed against Nyx Assassin to enable you to use your abilities.
These items are more for the team:
If you need right click damage or defending mega creeps.
Force Staff / Blink Dagger
This is useful for positioning / mobility, if you need more, but I've never needed it. Force staff can build into Hurricane Pike.
Desolator / Necronomicon
I'd only get these if team needs help hitting buildings
Support (Position 4 or 5)
Your initial priorities are:
- Get to level 3 ASAP
- Get Tranquil Boots ASAP
- Get Infused Raindrops and Magic Stick
- Get Urn of Shadows
- Get Level 6.
Courier Kill, mid lane
With level 1 Icarus Dive there is nothing stopping you from trying to kill the courier at the start of the game and using that ability to escape or chase down the courier. +175 gold for all teammates is a huge deal and will cripple middle lane.
4k MMR average game, SEA server
This works best in my opinion. Have a solid support such as Ogre Magi, Lion, Shadow Shaman or Crystal Maiden initiate on the enemy then cast Sun Ray on the enemy offlaner / support until they leave the lane. If you position the Sun Ray properly you can heal your ally and damage the enemy which works pretty well.
You will want to pull camps. While large camp pulls are useful, I find it best to stack and pull the small camp so you can also farm it while denying offlaner. Stack at x.53-x.55. Pull around x.13-15 or x.43-45. You kinda get a feel for it without using the timer with enough practice.
The enemy offlaner will either try to interrupt the large camp pull, which your other support can stop / setup gank, or try to interrupt your small camp pull which is even more risky in a trilane situation and risks even more exposure to ganks.
This is can be very vulnerable in my opinion. You want to stack and pull but the offlane can contest this without the additional support from a trilane and even take your farm from the pull. If you have a strong laning core it could work, but if you have a really weak laning core like Spectre or morphing dual lane with Phoenix against a reasonable dual offlane is usually an instant lane loss.
You probably want to do this once you get Tranquil Boots and level 3, as Level 2 Fire Spirits or Sun Ray is pretty strong.
Disrupting enemy carry farm
Level 2 Fire Spirits onwards are very strong. It takes a bit of skill to predict where the enemy will be and land them. The closer you are the easier.
Try to cast them just as the enemy moves in to last hit. They will need to either:
- dodge (and lose the last hit) or
- tank the fire spirit (30 dps over 4 seconds is no joke, it's pretty much a whole tango) the attack slow may lead them to not getting the last hit anyway (-100 to -140 attack speed is HUGE early on)
Phoenix can cast this up to 4 times in 20 seconds This is super annoying as this could be like a whole creep wave the enemy won't be able to last hit unless they deal with you. Certain heroes this isnt quite as effect against, such as Ursa or ranged heroes.
Level 2 fire spirits also mean you can trade damage with enemy heroes very favourably. They will take plenty of damage, and will have a -100 to -140 attack speed debuff on them.
This is actually pretty fun but takes a bit of practice. Get another teammate to initiate with a stun or slow, then cast this. Aim to hit them in the middle of the length of your Sun Ray. Your sun ray is up to 1250 units, so start at ranged attack range. It deals more damage / healing the longer it is active. If they start running away, Phoenix can move forward with the Toggle Movement ability which by default is set to 'd'. Turn toggle movement off if you need to turn your ray more, as your turn rate is faster if you are not moving. It is actually easier to keep the Sun Ray active on them the farther away they are, so this ability is very good for chasing fleeing enemies without escapes.
Newbee.kaka lasering LFY.Super Dragon Knight.
OG.Cr1t- lasering NP.Pieliedie
Defending core allied heroes
You can hide in shadows and use Sun Ray to help your cores survive ganks or even turn them around to get kills.
Your escape with Icarus Dive is very valuable to avoid you dying. Use 'Stop Icarus Dive' to move up to 1400 units away.
Your second escape is Sun Ray. You can ignore pathing, and cast Town Portal Scroll whilst moving over trees, cliffs, or even the edge of the map.
The worst thing you can do is to start a fight with this ability. It dies in 5-8-11 hits. Let others start the fight, use Sun Ray. Use it closer to the end.
Level 1 Supernova is very vulnerable. You only want at most one hero in range capable of attacking it, with Fire Spirits active on them and teammates able to disable the rest. 5 attacks is not a lot to destroy you.
If you can position your 'egg' on impassable terrain, on high ground, on cliffs or the back lines of your team. Your aim is to force the enemy to retreat from injured teammates. It takes a lot of practice to get this right and sometimes it is best to be conservative, not die, and be able to cast Sun Ray and Fire Spirits again. That's being able to cast your spells twice in the one fight.
Level 2 and 3 you can be slightly more aggressive but this is partially offset by the enemy getting items such as Black King Bar and items with increased attack speed.
ODD.Saksa casting Supernova then OD.Moon's casting Chronosphere on top of him to kill IG.Burning's Anti-Mage at Epicenter: Moscow Season 2
CDEC.Sep gets a triple kill against EHOME after casting Supernova then Sun Ray at The Summit 5
Source: Dotabuff Clips
Once you hit level 6-7 you will want to be at every team fight.
My usual order is:
- Team's initiator to start fight - this is probably not you as support Phoenix.
- Sit at the back, use Sun Ray for as long as possible ie Laser them to death. Use Veil of Discord / Orchid Malevolence / Urn of Shadows now
- If this is not enough cast Fire Spirits on them 1-2 times, wait up to four seconds depending on how close you are to dying. Trade right clicks only if safe.
- Use Shiva's Guard if you have it then Icarus Dive in to cast the remaining 2-3 Fire Spirits on the enemy, cast Dust of Appearance if appropriate then cast Supernova at an appropriate location.
Phoenix does fall off to a degree in the late game. Late game his strongest ability is easily Sun Ray which deals percentage based health damage or healing in a straight line area of effect. Fire Spirits is still relevant to push out lanes and farm jungle camps especially if you got the DPS talent.
Fun, mobile hero. Can support or core. Does quite a bit of damage. Very flexible in terms of roles. Peaks in the mid game but still relevant late game. Lack a stun or slow.