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22 Votes

Slark, Shiv em all (6.84!)

July 7, 2015 by Master of buttons
Comments: 22    |    Views: 232062    |   

Solo mid/off

DotA2 Hero: Slark

Hero Skills

Dark Pact

2 3 5 8


1 7 9 10

Essence Shift

4 12 13 14

Shadow Dance

6 11 16


15 17 18

Back-story (Why Slark is a bad-ass)

Little known to the inhabitants of the dry world, Dark Reef is a sunken prison where the worst of the sea-breed are sent for crimes against their fellows. It is a razor barbed warren full of murderous slithereen, treacherous Deep Ones, sociopathic meranths. In this dim labyrinth, patrolled by eels and guarded by enormous anemones, only the vicious survive. Pitched into Dark Reef for crimes unknown, Slark spent half a lifetime without kin or kindness, trusting no one, surviving through a combination of stealth and ruthlessness, keeping his thoughts and his plans to himself. When the infamous Dark Reef Dozen plotted their ill-fated breakout, they kept their plans a perfect secret, murdering anyone who could have put the pieces together--but somehow Slark discovered their scheme and made a place for himself in it. Ten of the Dozen died in the escape attempt, and two were captured, hauled back to Dark Reef, then executed for the entertainment of their fellow inmates. But Slark, the unsung thirteenth, used the commotion as cover and slipped away, never to be caught. Now a furtive resident of the carnivorous mangrove scrub that grips the southern reach of Shadeshore, Slark remains the only successful escapee from Dark Reef.

Introduction to Slark and this guide

For use in game click right here and hit subscribe.

At this point in DotA 2 Slark has become my favorite hero to play (not my favorite to look at but that's another story). I've played him for hundreds of hours and I'm sure I will play hundreds more seeing as I don't see my life going anywhere anytime soon. This guide, like my sanity, will be ever-changing as I go. So far this is the best build I've found and has allowed me to pounce and stab my way through many games. He's not as versatile as many heroes and he has note-able counters namely Bloodseeker , but in many situations he dominates the competition.

Your role as Slark:
Gank, Escape, and Snowball
If done right you can rack up the kills and become more terrifying than grizzly bears that know how to open doors.



  • Unmatched Ganking and diving skills.
  • Eats squishy right clickers.
  • Incredible escapes.
  • Great snowball potential.
  • Good attack animation.

  • Squishy early game.
  • Countered with lots of AOE magic.
  • Destroyed by Bloodseeker.
  • A little mana starved early game.

  • Basically any hero with a good stun or slow helps any ganker.
  • Crystal Maiden is friends with all heros that use mana.



Slark has a unique set of abilities that make him the excellent escapist he is.

Dark Pact {Q}

After a short delay, Slark sacrifices some of his life blood, purging most negative debuffs and dealing damage to enemy units around him and to himself. Slark only takes 50% of the damage.

Radius: 325
Delay: 1.5
Total Damage: 75/150/225/300
Cooldown: 9/8/7/6
Mana: 55/50/45/40

Notes on Dark Pact:
How to use Dark Pact:
  • Use this move whenever you are near an enemy, but make sure it doesn't drop your health too low or cause you to have no mana to use Shadow Dance.
  • I like to use this right before pouncing an enemy, as the leash will hold them down.
  • Also very good for taking out creep waves and jungle camps quickly.

Pounce {E} or {W}

Slark leaps forward, grabbing the first hero he connects with. That unit takes damage and is leashed to Slark, and can only move a limited distance away from Slark's landing position.

Range: 700
Leash Radius: 325
Leash Duration: 3.5
Damage: 50/100/150/200 (Dumb nerfs)
Cooldown: 20/16/12/8
Mana: 75

Notes on Pounce:
  • Magic immune targets will not be hit, you will just jump over them.
  • This only hits heroes, enabling you to use it to find the real hero when they have illusions.
  • It hits invisible heroes!
  • Can be used to disjoint many projectiles such as Assassinate if timed right.
  • Leash can break if target blinks.

How to use Pounce:

Pounce has many uses so I'll break this into the three most common, Ganking, rune control, and Escaping. This ability takes getting used to and through playing you will learn how to use it properly.

  • Make sure to compensate for the enemy's movement.
  • Use Dark Pact first.
  • Does a good deal of magic damage and can be used solely for the damage if needed.
  • If you can get behind the enemy without them seeing you hold off on the pounce until they try to make an escape.
  • If you're after two heroes on low health and you're faster than both, pounce one, but kill the other, then go back and kill the delayed hero.

  • Pounce is an amazing escape if used right.
  • Keep your cool when running don't jump strait to using pounce unless you're going to die to the next right click, wait until you reach a cliff or other unpassable terrain you can jump over this will secure your survival.
  • Jumping in and out of the river is probably the most common escape with pounce, just be careful if your pursuer ranged or has ranged nukes, not to jump into trees you can't get out of.

Rune control:
Use Pounce whenever needed to get the rune ahead of your opponent, you can grab the rune mid pounce so you can grab it right out from under the nose of that support waiting for their carry.

Essence Shift {Passive}

Slark steals the life essence of enemy heroes with his attacks, draining each of their attributes and converting them to bonus Agility.

Duration: 15/30/60/120
Strength, Agility, and Intelligence Lost: 1
Agility Gained: 3
Cooldown 0.4/0.35/0.3/0.25

Notes on Essence Shift:
  • The stat return for Slark and for the affected hero are separate, so if you die the enemy retains the stat drain for the duration, and if they die you retain their stats.

How to use Essence Shift:
  • Not much to say here but this ability can rack up huge amounts of agility, if you find yourself ganking a lot you can alternate leveling this with Dark Pact

Shadow Dance {F} or {R}

When used, Slark hides himself in a cloud of shadows, becoming immune to detection. Attacking, casting spells, and using items will not reveal Slark. Passively, when not visible to the enemy team, Slark gains bonus movement speed and health regeneration.

Duration: 4
Bonus Movement Speed: 30%/35%/40%
Health Gained per Second: 3%/5%/7%
Cooldown 60
Mana 120

Notes on Shadow Dance:
  • An awesome passive giving almost max movement speed and massive regeneration when out of sight
  • Has a 0.5 second delay on activation and deactivation
  • If they pick Bloodseeker, Thirst disables regeneration and movement speed passive bonus, this is one of the biggest reasons why Bloodseeker counters him so hard.
  • While Shadow Dance is active enemy players can still see his location by the cloud of smoke, but cannot target him.
  • Slark is not revealed by Truesight during the duration!
  • If Slark is damaged by a neutral unit, the passive effect is removed for 2 seconds.

How to use Shadow Dance:

As this ability works as an active and a passive I will separate this into two sections on how to use both

  • First off, Shadow Dance should almost never be used as initiation.
  • Use Shadow Dance when you are on very low health or really need the speed to secure a kill.
  • This is an amazing escape, Pounce in, pick off a support, Shadow Dance out, or heal up and take down another.
  • Again, the biggest mistake I see Slark players do, is use this to initiate. Save this to escape, if you use it going in at full health you will get nothing out of the regeneration of this ability.

  • The best use of this passive is to jump into combat than quickly jump out when you are low, heal quickly and get back in.
  • This allows Slark to put constant pressure on lanes, not having to duck out to heal from harass
  • This is also what makes him such a good mid/solo lane, He is un-harassable, every time you're hit you can just go up the stairs and in seconds you are back to full health.
  • The unsung great power of this ability is ward detection, as the passive is a buff above your ability bar you can see where enemies have wards when it disappears, with a bit of team work your support can counter ward like a pro and you can gank without worry of detection.

Items (The opionated bit)

Now we get into the nitty-gritty building of Slark, the part that people have the most opinions on. In the words of David Thorne "Opinions are like nipples, everybody has at least one. Some have firm points, others are barely discernible through layers, and some are displayed at every opportunity regardless of whether the audience has stated "I am interested in your nipples"" eventually, after hundreds of hours of Slarky fun you should come up with your own item build, or just modify mine, or use mine, what ever fits your play-style. Regardless I like my nipples, I mean, opinions, and this seems to be the best item build, at least for me, at this moment. Sooo....

Starting items

Tango: I don't think this needs explaining, Slark isn't un-harassable untill level 6 so you need some healing until then.

Stout Shield: Again you don't get the insane healing until 6 so you need somthing to block that harass, especially if you're up against a ranged hero. (Though ideally you're not)

Quelling Blade: If you haven't played mid before you won't know this, but I'm sure those of you that have know that mid is a ruthless competition, you have pretty much no one to help you, it's 1 on 1, any edge you can get in last hitting and denying could meaning winning or losing the game.

Early Game-Ganking

Poor Man's Shield: Bonus agility, cheep, not much more to say.

Bottle: Gives mana when you're stared, saves your life, don't underestimate it is very helpful for rune control with the new update!

Boots of Speed: Around this point you should start ganking and if you don't have these you can get outran very easily and miss many opportunities.

Spoils of Ganking

At this point in the game you should get the money for these items from ganking, unless your team leaves you no openings, then just farm it all in lane, but that takes longer.

Power Treads: I have found these to be the best boots for Slark. They give extra agility and you can switch them over to intelligence between ganks to help with mana problems. Early game you should keep Power Treads on strength, at least until your health is higher than 1000 the treads on strength.

Yasha: Movement speed for ganks, agility, attack, what's not to like?

Shadow Amulet: I love it, more will be explained in the Shadow amulet section.

You may find the enemys start Tping away from your ganks frequently then a Skull Basher might be a good idea if you have the extra cash.

Blink Dagger is a good alternative to Shadow Amulet and Shadow Blade if you find yourself initiating more than escaping (though it helps for that too). It takes some getting used to and I recommend it once you have some experience playing Slark

Build up to murder

Now you should head over to the secret shop and sell your Quelling Blade and Poor Man's Shield and buy Orb of Venom and the Point Booster set eye to quick buy and order your Ultimate Orbs. If you need after buying one Ultimate, you can swap it with the Orb of Venom in your inventory. Once you get your Eye of Skadi it's time to kill them all.

At this point upgrading your Shadow Amulet to Shadow Blade is a good idea unless the enemy is disorganized enough to not by wards or dust which frequently happens in pub matches. I often prefer to not upgrade as I play a good deal of solo play with Slark and usually get put against other solo players who frequently don't by invis detection. Be cautious though.

Spoils of Murder(Optional)

Butterfly: This is one of your best options after eye all around great stats for Slark evasion lets you take on the tankiest of right clickers.

Manta Style:A great upgrade to Yasha best if you need more carry, they have a number of target abilities or if you're good with illusions.

Sange and Yasha: I actually don't really recommend this unless you have a ton of farm and need somthing. (This may be removed)

Black King Bar: If they have a good deal of magic damage this is always a good pickup, if they have a ton of casters you might want to buy Black King Bar before Eye of Skadi.

Blink Dagger: Slark+ Blink Dagger=Extreme mobility, if they're catching you and able to keep up with your escapes, this ensures your escape. It can also be used as an initiation on a gank if you want to save the Pounce.

Boots of Travel: A great upgrade to boots late game, get's you to your team and the enemy quickly, can also get you out of some sticky places. You can pounce into the woods and TP out if cornered.

Abyssal Blade: Scull basher is also an option, Eye of Skadi and Pounce should provide enough slow to pin down your pray, but if they still get away Abyssal Blade just slams them down and picks their coffin out for them.



In DotA it's all about the kicks. Everyone has their favorites and their nipples about them. The eternal question with a new hero is "What boots do I buy?" I prefer Power Treads for reasons I've explained above, but what about the rest of the boots, well...

Phase Boots are an option, they give you a little extra speed here and there and damage to go with it, personally I find the speed unnecessary and prefer the stats given by Power Treads. I don't commend Tranquil Boots as they are just like Shadow Dance but worse. I suppose if you're really into them they're okay. I've already talked about Boots of Travel for late game, not really worth rushing. Arcane Boots; No. Slippers of Agility; Only as a fashion statement.

How your (mid) game should go

Early game
Start on the square in front of the T3 and preform your victory as usual, then creep block as well as you can (yeah, yeah, you meant to let that ranged creep past). Once in mid evaluate the skill of your opposing mid (AKA your prey).

Questions you should ask yourself:
First: Is the opposing mid ranged or melee?
If the enemy is melee then you should get in there, get all the last hits and denies you can and when your not hitting the creeps hit the enemy if he's close enough, to stack up some essence shift and harass, you'd be surprised how much some melee mids let you beet on them.

If the enemy is ranged you should get prepared for a tougher fight, stay away from the creeps coming in only to last hit and deny if they're not harassing much, see if you can keep the creeps on or just below the stairs, this is ideal because you can just duck back a little and be out of there sight range. Make sure to stay within XP range! all you have to do is avoid harass until you hit 6 and get your Shadow Dance passive.

What does the enemy have for ranged abilities?
If the enemy has a lot of ranged nukes or a very low cool-down nuke, you should treat them almost like they are ranged, stay back and don't take to much harass until Sadow dance, then you can get your self right in there and take the harass.

Can I shank their faces off?
If they are squishy, taking a lot of damage from your little harass and seem to be coming quite close to your T1 there is a very good chance you can kill them, but don't dive for the kill unless Shadow Dance is up and you know you can get them.

Can I shank their faces of now?
Watch their health, look at your stacks of Essence Shift, one of the reason Slark is a great mid is he has unexpectedly good early kill potential. So, wait for them to be close or below half health, you have a couple stacks of Essence Shift, and they are more than half way across the river, that is when you strike, use the Dark Pact- Pounce combination and start shiving their face off, if you are very close to killing them and they have no escape spells but they just manage to get back you can dive on them, though early on playing Slark I would not recommend this, though you'll learn the hard way when a good time for this is.

Once you have your early game items, or at least the boots you should gank any lane that is pushed towards your towers. Regardless of whether or not you've killed the enemy mid. Unless your gank is an udder failure and you, two of your team and a small family of puppies are annihilated, you should continue ganking everywhere.

Enemies pushed is top?

Gank em.

One or more enemies pushing mid??

Get on that.

Enemy team has a jungler and an inattentive safe lane???

What are you doing here? Go kill that low health piece of fish food!

Mid game
Continue your ganking you should be buying your spoils. Between each gank you can return mid to harass their mid and you may get a kill. Always watch for areas being pushed and be there to help pick off a enemy or two. As you leave the laning phase make sure to stick with your team, but stay out of sight, unless there is a lone hero you know (again "knowing" is a talent you will gain through practice and lots of death) you can get.

Late game
At this point you should have Eye of Skadi, if not your either getting crushed or prioritized other items in a very specific situation. Either way this phase of the game you are either King, reliable back up, or getting your face beaten in by that Faceless Void you should have ganked more often (Well that's what your team says, but really that lane fed a lot).

Rune control
Rune control is extremely important with the addition of the Bounty Rune and two rune spawning. Make sure to get at least one rune at each two minute mark, Pounce can be used to snatch the runes first. Bounty Rune allows you to get ahead of the opposing mid.

But really win with dignity, Slark is more than capable of farming the enemy spawn as fountain can't hit you with Shadow Dance on. But no one likes that, don't murder them too much. Remember to be a devious but kind fish.

Ganking tips (and Shadow amulet)

Now I will divulge some of my great tips on ganking and show some ways Shadow Amulet can be used to it's full potential.


Ganking basics!

Now, Ganking is the most important aspect of Slarks so getting it right is important. for starters look for a lane like this...

These lanes are the best and easiest to gank just be careful to avoid wards, note the Shadow Dance passive buff to know where their wards are. Then just slither over like...

Get in a good possition like below where the enemy can't see you, and wait for the perfect moment to run around the corner or pounce if needed, I prefer running behind them and saving the pounce for when they try to run.

Note: You will find there are clumps of trees that you can easily use your quelling blade to cut through, this is idea if the enemy is close to the spot, also leaves good space for jukes if somthing goes wrong, If there are techies in this game they may have mined the path as well.

Don't forget to use Dark Pact it goes a long way!

Off lane you can travel through the enemy jungle to gank, just watch out for wards or junglers.(May add images for this later)

Now for Shadow Amulet

Note: if you have a strong invisibility hero on your team you may want to skip the Shadow Amulet and go for somthing else as the enemy will probably buy a Gem of True Sight

Shadow Amulet can be used in a variety of ways first being....

Healing in lane
If the enemy has a lot of observer wards around where you need to be, but you need to/could heal more, you can use this to invis and heal up.

The Slark mine/gank set up
Invis in a commonly walked path or even the enemy secret shop if you know the enemy is building somthing that needs it, and wait for someone to come close, and attack!

Set up

If the enemy is pushing, use it in the middle of the lane when they can't see you, wait for the power hero/es to pass and take out the support/s!

Other crazy tricks and jukes
With Shadow Amulet you can do crazy things like this....

hide and plot...
Take out support (note the Dark Pact)
Prepare to run...
Shadow Amulet so the Templar Assassin can't find you...
Heal and plot...
Double kill :D
Remember to Dark Pact
The point is with a little practice and precision you can score multiple amazing assassin like kills.


Slark is great for ganking, escaping, and if played right becoming a fishy snowball with a really sharp knife. He makes a great mid and a good off-lane(I'll see about making a section for off-lane at some point)

Anyway, Thanks for reading my first guide, I play Slark a lot, kill a lot and haven't seen any build like I play him, so I made this guide. If you have nipples(opinions) or suggestions you want to share either post them in the comments or shoot me a message. I'm happy to hear your ideas/advice provided you know how to use the English language. If you have a question, want me to explain somthing further, or want me to go deeper into strategy I'm always looking to expand this guide and will answer promptly.

I would love to hear any additions you may recommend with update 6.82, a lot has changed and there's a good deal of things I could have missed.

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