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5 Votes

Slark Wars: The shivving begins (6.86)

February 16, 2016 by Razor1339
Comments: 12    |    Views: 29450    |   

Build 1
Build 2

Fighting Slark

DotA2 Hero: Slark

Hero Skills

Dark Pact

3 8 9 10


1 4 5 7

Essence Shift

2 12 13 14

Shadow Dance

6 11 16



Slark Wars: The shivving begins (6.86)

February 16, 2016

About me

Hello folks, my name is Razor1339 and this is my first guide on dotabuff.
I am currently at 2800 mmr and looking to improve. I have played around 900 games sitting at a 55% winrate.
I am writing this guide on Slark because he is my best and favorite hero. I currently have around 110 games on Slark, a 75% win rate, and a 3.93 KDA (about average for pro carry players).
Sorry if this is a text wall, I like being thorough.
Hope you enjoy and if you have any ideas/disagreements please leave them in the comments.

To be updated: anything in comments, anything interesting I find

Pros and Cons

  • Highly mobile
  • Hard to lock down
  • High single-target DPS
  • Essentially auto-wins long fights
  • Good laner if he can not get bursted
  • Great ganking with Shadow Dance
  • High regen and move speed with Shadow Dance
  • Relies on regen
  • If you lose the vision game you lose the match
  • Garbage stat growth
  • Can be zoned from last hitting by a good lane or with a weak support
Pick a Slark when
  • They have few stuns
  • They have too many stuns especially of the bkb piercing assortment
  • There are lots of squishy heroes who you can burst
  • You have heroes who provide lots of vision (ex: Night Stalker)
  • You need a highly mobile hero
  • You have lots of tanks so the fight can last a long time
  • You have a strong defensive support like Dazzle or Abaddon
Don't pick a Slark when
  • They have an Ancient Apparition
  • They have lots of AOE stuns
  • They have lots of burst
  • You need an ultra late carry or a very early carry
  • You need spread damage
Overall, it's fairly difficult to go wrong with Slark. His abilities make him good against almost any lineup the enemy might be sporting.

Playstyle (fighting)

First off, Slark has abilities which fairly clearly map out a playstyle for him. Pounce and Dark Pact both give Slark high mobility on low cooldowns. Combine this with Shadow Dance and your goal is clear: kite the enemy, get large stacks of Essence Shift and then go for the killing blow. Obviously, longer fights benefit Slark because he can get large stacks of Essence Shift and regen in between initiations with Shadow Dance. Slark is also a dangerous 1v1 hero. Essence Shift and Shadow Dance makes him very difficult unless they can eat four free seconds of attacks. Also, they should essentially never kill you with all your escapes; the worse case scenario is a wash and you waste mana. If they stay, regen and go again.


In my opinion, Slark can play nearly any lane. In safe lane, the goal is fairly clear-just farm. However, Slark is also a potent killer with what is basically a 3.5 second stun on a fleeing enemy from Pounce and a bonus 22 damage per consecutive attack from Essence Shift. His problem is being a little squishy which is why I get the fairy fire. Be careful fighting into heroes who might be able to burst but know that you win most right click only engagements.
Off/hard/suicide lane-Slark is an under appreciated offlane. Pounce is a highly potent escape ability and Dark Pact should basically nullify any stun they have. Only strong dual or tri lanes should be able to kill you. After level 6, you can regen from Shadow Dance. If you are solo, grab last hits under the tower and don't die. Replace the fairy fire with tangos for more regen because you won't be looking for kills. If you have a strong defensive support like a Dazzle you can look for kills against weaker lanes. Pounce them under your tower so they have to tank it. Also, if you happen to be versus Antimage waste you mana poking him and his attacks will deal little damage.
Mid- Slark is in my opinion really only a viable mid against weaker melee heroes like a Pudge or Magnus. Lane bullies like Viper, Outworld devourer, or Queen of Pain will destroy you. Make sure to get a bottle and spam pounce as a nuke. You are also an excellent ganker. If you get Rune of Haste, Rune of Double Damage, or Rune of Invisibility try to make a play on the side lanes.

Mid game

Here your goal is to snowball or catch up. If you are ahead, keep up the pressure. Play aggressive, get stacks of essence shift, push towers. If you need to catch up, alternate between the jungle and lane, the extra move speed from Shadow Dance should allow you to do so. If you are horribly behind, resort to ratting (unless they have shadow blade doom). Slark's variety of escapes, low cooldown wave clear, regen in between waves, and awareness from Shadow Dance allow him to rat highly effectively. If the enemy team has no AOE stuns, you can simply final and TP and there is nothing they can do. Just pounce over trees and you will be fine.


First off, where and when do you want to fight? Slark benefits from a lack of vision from the enemies. As such, places with lots of cliffs and trees are ideal. This way you can move in and out of the fight and regen lots. Also, Slark has the full 1800 night vision. Fighting while it is night is preferable.
In fights, I generally like to go for the squishy heroes who have lots of damage or control (ex: the popular Zeus of the current meta). I try to jump and burst these heroes before their abilities can do real damage to the fight. Hopefully you can force out a poorly timed ultimates. Because you are hard to control, you can pretty much run into three or four of the enemy heroes and deal damage so you to run at the backliners while your team controls their carry/ies. After all their supports and squishy casters have been cleaned out, turn your attention to the carry. You should spam Pounce and Dark Pact to deal damage so long as you have mana and won't be needing them soon.
You should Shadow Dance at an appropriate time based upon how many stuns they have. If they have an Enigma, you'll be forced to final sooner. Just don't final at full health (if they have so many stuns you get bursted from full, you need a BKB). Beyond that it's judgement which you'll pick up from playing Slark. I generally try to disengage at around 40% health so I have plenty to escape on. Hopefully your target will be dead by then. Then you repeatedly run at them, go and heal, run at them... until you have so many stacks of Essence Shift that you can't be fought.

When you aren't fighting

Because you stat gain is trash, you are fairly dependent on levels and farm. You should be split pushing if you can clearing waves with Dark Pact. Other than that, just farm. Look for pickoffs on lone heroes. Its about the same as other carries except you have more freedom to do what you like because you are hard to kill.

Spotting wards

Shadow Dance gives you an excellent way to spot wards. Whenever your final deactivates in only certain areas, look for where a ward would provide vision of these areas. For instance take the image below.If you find Shadow Dance deactivates in only the spots provided by the wards vision, you should have a pretty good idea of where the ward is. This can be used to feed an opponent false information (if you have an illusion rune or something) or it can simply be dewarded. Also, just keep in mind when you are being watched while farming-getting caught of guard by a stun is a surefire way to lose as Slark.

Pickoff differences

Much of the fighting section will stay the same. The only difference is what you do when you aren't fighting. Of course, you'll still be farming some, but it generally should be in their safelane and jungle. This way, when someone shows up to farm you kill them.
The main point is play more aggressive at night. You can see them before they see you which is a massive advantage. Shadow Dance's passive will start 200 units after a pounce making escape fairly easy. During nighttime, you can split push aggressively and either take a tier 2 tower, force a rotation, or get a single rotation and kill the person who comes. During daytime, make sure to scout out the area before jumping somebody so you don't run into a five man. You should: initiate, punch them a couple of times until they realize they are being attacked, then Pounce. Dark Pact to dodge their stun or deal bonus damage. Shadow Dance if your health drops low. Just don't chase too far-their support is not worth your death.


Here, you won't really be fighting the opposition; it's more a question of can they get a safe distance away before you kill them. Therefore, we go for pure offense because there shouldn't be much lashback if you find a lone target.
Initiation: You need a way to get close to your opponent. I favor Shadow Blade for its burst and bonus damage. Blink Dagger also works if that is what you prefer/if the opponent has truesight.
Damage dealing: both Mask of Madness and Medallion of Courage work here because they are both cheap, large bonuses to your damage output. Solar Crest can be purchased if their carry can fight you.
Control: A well timed Pounce should be all you need against most heroes. Against an antimage, Queen of Pain, or Morphling an Orchid Malevolence, Skull Basher, or Scythe of Vyse can be purchased. I prefer orchid and basher for the most part because they also provide damage.


Slark's defensive abilities and wave clear make him one of the best rats in the game. Ratting is an excellent idea if the opponent has major teamfight ultimates or you simply can't fight into them at the current time. As previously discussed, play more aggressive at night time where you have the vision advantage but be more careful in daytime. If the entire enemy team is missing, take a hint and go back. You may want a Linken's Sphere or a Shadow Blade so escaping is easier. If your team needs you, go back and help. Beyond that, it's really just getting used to your abilities and how they can be timed best.


So I assume you can read so I'll only talk about interesting/lesser known parts of abilities and how to use them.

Dark Pact

This is Slark's bread and butter. Well every ability is but good timings on Dark Pact can make the difference between a good Slark and a great Slark. It is also your farming mechanism. Quick reflexes are key as you can potentially dodge slow travelling stuns such as Wraithfire Blast or Magic Missile as well as predictable stuns like Dismember. As far as farming goes, we are getting Power Treads so we can swap them. While Slark has only one level in Shadow Dance and doesn't regen as quickly, you should swap like: intel->cast->strength->activation->agi. After level two Shadow Dance, you will regen plenty, so just swap to intel before cast and then to agi. One interesting thing to note is that the damage and purges come in 10 waves, one every .1 seconds. This means that if you cast Dark Pact, you basically no matter what will have time to cast Shadow Dance unless you are bursted in the 1.5 second activation time.


Pouncing is key for a successful Slark. You will need to need to hit your pounces of course but that comes with practice. Instead, I will talk about using Pounce as an escape. First off, even if you are slightly behind an opposing hero and facing away from them, you pounce will still latch if you are too close (within 95 range). For instance, you can't pounce from Clockwerk's Power Cogs. Also, Pounce over trees if you can. When running, you always want to go into fog. This is even more so for Slark when shadow dance passive can be triggered giving you move speed and hp regen to escape. You are also invincible while pouncing and so you can use it to dodge abilities like Assassinate.

Essence Shift

This ability is fairly simple. Hit people, get damage. This has several major effects. The first is that Slark wins long fights because he gets huge stacks of agi. It also makes him an excellent pusher because you will often have ~60 agi after a good fight. It also makes him one of the most potentially abusive laners if the opponent is melee. Essence Shift deals 22 extra damage per hit (19 for -1 strength and 3 for +3 agi) which means trading hits can be highly effective. This is even more so after you have the passive regen of Shadow Dance. It also means Slark can get aggressive in lane if he has a strong defensive support to keep him healthy.

Shadow Dance

There are two components to this: the active and the passive. The passive makes you an excellent ganker because you move faster so movements take less time and therefore are less costly if they fail. It also means you can regen between ganks and farming. Lastly, you know when you are spotted and therefore when it is safe to continue the gank. Another big effect is map vision. You can use it to deward by checking when you are spotted, you can tell if there is an invis hero, and you can tell if there is a smoke coming your way. The active allows for tower dives early on because the tower can't target you. You can use the extra move speed to chase as well. In fights, it is a free 4 seconds to attack. You can disjoint initiations like Eul's Scepter of Divinity into Light Strike Array or Omnislash. If they have no AOE disables, it is a free TP if you are caught out. Just please don't be the Slark that finals during his initiation.

Ability leveling

I level like Shadow Dance > Pounce > Dark Pact > Essence Shift. Shadow dance is critical for Slark so I don't think that needs explaining. Pounce cooldown is critical and scales very well (20 down to 8) and the damage is good too. Slark relies on mobility so lower cooldowns are very important. Dark Pact, on the other hand, only gives additional damage which Slark can't afford to take early on. As such, I get one level in it early on for the utility. If you plan to farm more, get more levels in dark pact so as to farm faster but otherwise level pounce first. Essence Shift really kicks in more late game when you have higher attack speed and so it can largely be ignored. I get one level to make trading hits more efficient.


Starting Items

As a Slark, I find I get harassed a lot. As such, I pick up a Stout Shield to build into PMS and prevent some damage. I also get both tangos and salve to keep on high hp. The Fairy fire I believe is the only uncommon item to start with. I like this because Slark has extremely high kill potential with Essence Shift if opponents aren't careful but he also often runs low on hp. Hopefully fairy fire could give you that slight edge to get the kill and walk away alive. If you need a quelling blade to last hit, drop the salve and hope your support comes packing.

Laning Items

Slark's biggest problem is an overall lack of stats. As such, fighting requires a number of stat boosting items. I start with a Poor Man's Shield to allow for more aggression and limit the effectiveness of harass. Next, I get some cheap chasing potential with an Orb of Venom if there is a chance for aggression because it would have to go into stash shortly. Magic Wand is almost always good especially on a mana starved hero. Burst heal also is incredibly useful on Slark. Boots of Speed add more to the speed differential between you and your target. Ring of Aquila gives more stats, lots of damage, armor to tank, and mana to help Slark's mana problems. I have gone into how Power Treads swapping active are great on Slark. Attack speed also works well with Essence Shift. The damage of phase boots isn't necessary and the move speed isn't worth it. Bracer can be okay if you plan on upgrading to drums in the mid game. Town Portal Scroll should always be carried. Always.
If you are doing well enough, Hand of Midas is a good pickup to give Slark more levels and therefore stats and farm to deal with his bad stat growth. Of course, if its going to be later than 8 minutes, don't bother.

Mid Game Items

This build is attempting to fight a lot. As such, we need some big time stats. Depending on the timeframe you want to push, I would start with either Drums of Endurance or Sange and Yasha and put the Orb of Venom in the stash for a later skadi. Drums is for earlier IF nobody else on your team will get it. We get this item for the aura and stats. Sange and Yasha is core on this build and I would only skip it if there is a good very reason to do so. Everything SnY provides is good for Slark-melee carries like movespeed, Slark needs the strength to tank up and not get popped as well as regen more, the attack speed gives more essence shift, agi gives damage and attack speed, and damage is well... damage. I would shoot to have this around the 20 minute mark. Replace the poor man's shield if you got the drums.
I added the Blink Dagger in case your team is desperately short on initiation or you are missing pounces. Also, as Slark is a hero who benefits from mobility, more mobility simply compounds your escape skills.

Overall items

These are the items that are extensions and just buff the hero overall both defensively and offensively. Slark benefits from basically every stat. These are in no particular order.
Assault Cuirass-gives attack speed and armor as well as a good aura. I would only recommend this is the enemy has heavy physical damage and the armor will really kick in. Also, if you already have your skadi but die from physical damage, armor would be a better investment than raw HP. The attack speed means more Essence Shift.
Butterfly-the classic agi carry item. It gives lots of damage and attack speed to get more damage and attack speed from Essence Shift. It also gives evasion in case you are up against a carry who you can't manfight like a Troll Warlord or Phantom Assassin.
Eye of Skadi-The Slark classic. The crippling slow effect means escaping is almost impossible. It aids his terribly low strength gain. It means he can spam his abilities. Almost always a solid pickup as long as you don't want a deso.
Manta Style-I really only like this item if they have a silence. You can dispel this silence and it builds from the yasha which you already have. The illusions, without any attack modifiers, are essentially useless.
Silver Edge-an upgrade to the Sange you bought earlier. I like this item against a hero like Phantom Assassin who is highly dependent on her passives. The burst is also useful. The invis means free movement, lots of regen, and massive move speed.
Scythe of Vyse-the item you get when you really, really need to shut someone down. Let's say the enemy has a Phantom Lancer-just turn him into a pig and whack on him. The mana is also very useful.
Solar Crest-the armor is useful and so is the evasion. Slark likes all of the components (armor and mana regen are of course both valuable) and it can be disassembled to be built into a Butterfly later on.

Defensive Extensions

Things to keep you alive late in the game. If you don't need them, don't get them.
Black King Bar-if the enemy has a crippling amount of stuns especially AOE ones. This would be like a Meepo or Earthshaker game where you simply can't play without one. If it's more limited or predictable, try to take the stun with Dark Pact instead of having a teammate take it.
Linken's Sphere-when the enemy picks up a Doom or a Scythe of Vyse. Basically anything which if used at good timing you just die. Also good for hardcore ratting.
Satanic-the ultimate carry lifesteal. The active combos with your right click to instantly regen your hp pool. Also buffs your HP pool.

Offensive Extensions

Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade-the favorite of melee carries with low attack speeds. Buffs damage as well as very disruptive bashes to aid in manfighting and stopping TPs. Use the active on critical targets-that 5 second BKB Sven is much more valuable than the little Shadow Demon sitting at the back.
Daedalus-If you have high DPS, daedelus makes it higher. It is a 66% damage amp with the crit alone-much less with the added damage. I would go either this or MKB, not both. This is a pure offensive item.
Diffusal Blade-Acceptable if the active is necessary. I would go for it versus an Omniknight to purge his final and spell immune. Also fine if an important back-liner picks up a Ghost Scepter. Agi means more damage and so does the mana drain.
Monkey King Bar-the bashes are good and so is the damage. Stops enemies from using TPs to escape you. I would prefer crit or abyssal to this unless the opponent has evasion.
Moon Shard-more attack speed = more Essence Shift. Simple as that. Get it if you need massive stacks of attack speed or as a seventh slot to consume. In general something like Assault Cuirass is better unless someone on your team already has it.
Orchid Malevolence-I would recommend this if you are looking to burst a back line hero with escapes. Something like a Puck, Zeus, or Queen of Pain might warrant one.

Rejected items

These are items which I see on Slark which I don't think I should see on Slark.
Desolator-only good if you are running a minus armor strat. This seems to me to be a worse Solar Crest. Also removes any chance for lifesteal or skadi which you may want in the future. It could be okay if you are ratting.
Heart of Tarrasque-This is in every way inferior to Satanic. You don't need the passive regen because of Shadow Dance and it gives no damage.
Mjollnir-A common item on Slark especially versus illusion heroes. However, you don't really need the Maelstrom for farming because the wave clear from Dark Pact should be plenty. Other sources give better attack speed. Against illusion carries a Scythe of Vyse or Abyssal Blade would be better to try to catch them out and burst them because you will never be able to actually manfight a farmed Phantom Lancer. Moon Shard and Assault Cuirass are better alternatives in my opinion.
Mask of Madness-You are teamfighting, not looking for pickoffs. If you want to go for pickoffs, check out the section and build for pickoffs.

Friends and enemies

Friends-pick Slark with

  • Dazzle-Heals you in lane and lets you get aggressive, Pounce into Shadow Wave deals lots of damage with creeps nearby, he also has a strong slow to pick up more stacks of Essence Shift. Shallow Grave allows Slark to move in and out of a fight easier. weave helps Slark tank or deal more damage.
  • Abaddon-Another strong laning hero to combo with Slark. Also, the purge from Aphotic Shield means Slark should essentially never be stunned. Also, Curse of Avernus gives a greater move speed differential.
  • Silencer-with his final there is nothing to stop you from going ham in a fight. Also means you shouldn't get chain stunned.
  • Treant Protector-heals in lane and block for aggression, massive vision from his aghs, and an AOE lockdown so Slark can attack.
  • Crystal Maiden- Arcane Aura means Slark has plenty of mana to work with and her other abilities help Slark with his lack of control abilities.
  • Invoker- Pounce to hold somebody in place followed by voker's combo = dead hero. Alacrity also means Slark his harder and faster.
  • Magnus-of course Reverse Polarity holds people in place and you can hit them. Also, because a great deal of Slark's damage comes from agility, Empower gives him lots of bonus damage.
  • Ogre Magi-his Bloodlust gives you attack and movespeed, his stuns allow for easy pounces, and he is very tanky so you can play aggressive and get kills.
  • Zeus-his Lightning Bolt gives truesight allowing for easy dewarding.
    Really any hero with control, defensive abilities or attack speed amps will combo well with Slark. Heroes who benefit from a single hero being held in place for a long time are also good (ex: Cold Feet).

Foes-don't pick Slark against
  • Ancient Apparition-his Ice Blast will totally ruin you as you lose your healing powers making your playstyle stop working. His Ice Vortex is also a slow which you can't purge.
  • Legion Commander-you hit hard and so does her blademail. She can burst you within the duration of Duel and so all your abilities are pointless. Get a Linken's Sphere if you do have to play against her.
  • Templar Assassin-this can go either way. On one hand, your Dark Pact removes all her Refraction charges. On the other hand, she has heavy burst making your Shadow Dance timings more difficult.
  • Phantom Assassin-her final means big burst and means you have to Shadow Dance sooner. In addition, the evasion is annoying, and she can blink from your Pounce.
  • Axe-early on, you are squishy and Axe can kill you. He can also abuse your lane by creep cutting. His call can't be purged by Dark Pact. Before your first stat item, his final is like half your hp.
  • Doom-Of course, his final causes big time issues for a ability reliant hero. Get a Linken's Sphere ASAP and if you get doomed try to juke your way into trees.

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