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Steel Wins Battles, Gold Wins Wars (7.07d)

January 4, 2018 by Alien Righteousness
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Hero Build

DotA2 Hero: Dragon Knight

Purchase Order



Mid Game Options

Late Game Options

Hero Skills

Breathe Fire

1 3 7 8

Dragon Tail

5 13 14 16

Dragon Blood

2 4 9 11

Elder Dragon Form

6 12


10 15

Hero Talents

+40 Strength
+1.75s Dragon Tail Stun Duration
2x Dragon Blood HP Regen/Armor
+150 Gold/Min
+300 Health
+35 Damage
+2 Mana Regen
+30 Attack Speed

Steel Wins Battles, Gold Wins Wars (7.07d)

Alien Righteousness
January 4, 2018


Davion, the Dragon Knight is a semi-carry, best suited for the mid lane, who excels at pushing and team fighting against teams that rely on physical damage. Avoid picking him against teams with lots of magic damage, pure damage, and BKB-piercing spells.

Although he has decent late game potential, your ideal gameplan is to aggressively take objectives and force team fights before the enemy hard carry can come online. Accomplishing this requires a strong laning phase, including stacking ancients that you can farm yourself once you hit level 12 and have Armlet of Mordiggian.

Farming ancients will let you quickly obtain level 15 and Black King Bar. If you can accomplish all of this before 25:00, you will almost certainly be the most powerful hero on the map. Ask your team to join you in walking down lanes and taking objectives, possibly even high ground. Back off when your ult is down and push again when it is up.

This guide is based on my 500 Davion games (58% win rate) plus countless hours watching pros and talking to 6k+ mid players about Davion. I am confident that this guide will help you understand Davion on a new level and, most importantly, help you to win games.


  • Durability. Due to his passive, Dragon Blood, his above-average agility growth for a strength hero (4th highest), and the damage reduction caused by Breathe Fire. This makes him hard to push out of lane and let's him tank physical damage in team fights and pushes for long periods of time.
  • AOE Damage. Breathe Fire is a strong AOE nuke and Elder Dragon Form level 2+ adds splash damage to his auto-attack, making him very strong against illusion heroes. The latter also lets him clear large jungle camps very quickly.
  • Pushing. Davion is a great pusher, for three reasons. 1) Elder Dragon Form level 1+ adds 100 magic damage over 5s to his auto-attack. 2) His AOE damage lets him clear creep waves quickly. 3) His durability allows him to tank creep waves and towers so that his allies can push longer.
  • Disabler. Although never picked primarily for this reason, Davion has one of the best stuns in the game, Dragon Tail, which has a low mana cost, short cooldown, very long duration, and fast projectile speed. The downside is its range is melee while in knight form.


  • Small mana pool. Davion is very spell-dependent at all stages of the game and this weakness must be addressed quickly with items like Soul Ring, Magic Wand, Infused Raindrops, and Power Treads. He also has a mana regen talent at level 10 that you will take situationally.
  • Low attack damage. Although Elder Dragon Form adds 20 magic DPS for 5s to his attack and his splash damage amplifies it in a certain, his base damage is lackluster and he needs a fast Armlet of Mordiggian to pack a punch. He also has three talents that increase his DPS at levels 10, 15, and 25.
  • Poor mobility. Davion has no innate skill for initiating, escaping, or repositioning. His movement speed is also lackluster, although in Elder Dragon Form you go from 290 MS to 315 MS. Depending on the game, you may need a Blink Dagger, Silver Edge, Hurricane Pike, Drum of Endurance, and/or Sange and Yasha.
  • Magic and pure damage. Davion is usually in the middle of team fights and pushes, yet his armor does nothing versus magic and pure damage. Against magic damage, we get items like Infused Raindrops until we can finish a Black King Bar or occasionally a Hood of Defiance. Against both magic and pure damage, we will prioritize strength-gain items that increase our HP.

Hero Matchups

See Dotabuff's matchups for Davion for a full list of friends and foes.


  • Drow Ranger. My favorite teammate as Davion. Her aura boosts your damage while in dragon form, her ice arrows keep the enemy close, and she appreciates your tanking.
  • Magnus. If you can't imagine why Magnus is a great teammate, watch this immediately.
  • Enigma. Another pusher whose ult also rivals Magnus' in terms of keeping enemy grouped.



Carries include Shadow Fiend, Viper, Slark, Lifestealer, Outworld Devourer, Venomancer, and Huskar. Non-carries include Necrophos, Ancient Apparition, Enigma, Timbersaw, Venomancer, Undying, and Lich. Each of these heroes counters strength heroes like Davion, deals heavy pure or magic damage, and/or makes you kitable. Note that every hero that counters Davion can be countered with Heaven's Halberd, Black King Bar, Force Staff, Shadow Blade, or a simple TP.

Skills Analysis


The majority of the time you will max Breathe Fire first, because it aids fighting, harassing, pushing, and farming. The debuff it causes to enemy attack damage is very significant in lane, as you can use this early on to mess up the enemy's last hits and neutralize ganks. In lane, you'll also use it to harass and secure last hits. In team fights, prioritize hitting carries early on the in the team fight, unless you're try to kill off a support immediately.


Dragon Tail is one of the longest stuns in the game and the longest guaranteed stun at level 1. Since it costs a lot of mana and does little damage, its only purpose in lane is to secure a kill or shut down a gank. The stun duration and damage also scale poorly, so an early value point (usually level 4, 5, or 7) is appropriate and then you don't need to skill it again until you have nothing else to skill.


Dragon Blood lets you easily tank physical damage and wield Armlet of Mordiggian and Soul Ring. It is usually maxed second, with 1-4 points skilled in lane depending on how much harass you're taking. The HP regen is constant and therefore will restore you to full health more quickly if your total HP is low, which is why if you're not fighting or farming you should turn your Power Treads off of STR and put high STR items in your backpack while you regen.


Typically you should skill Elder Dragon Form when you can. Use your dragon form when a team fight breaks out, you want to push quickly, or you need to farm ancient stacks. On occasion you will use it to escape, since it provides +25 MS. In the late game, reserve it for team fights only, because you will be severely handicapped if you're forced to fight in knight form.

Some comments on the attack modifiers provided by Elder Dragon Form:

  • Corrosive Breath. Applies a debuff to the target that deals 20 magic damage per second for 5 seconds. Successive attacks refresh the duration. Since it is magical, it is not reduced by armor, which is why Davion destroys buildings so quickly. You can also buy yourself a few seconds by walking away from the tower when it is low and letting the poison destroy it. Before you have Splash Attack, you can push faster by switching targets on every attack so that the debuff is applied to more enemies.
  • Splash Attack. Corrosive Breath is applied to all targets within the 300 splash radius. Splash only affects enemy units, not structures. The damage is reduced by 25% and 75% starting at 150 and 225 radius, respectively.
  • Frost Breath. Pierces spell immunity, which allows Davion to kite heroes like Sven really well in team fights. The attack slow does not affect towers.

Talents Analysis

The talent selections listed at the top are situational, but ideal. View the win rates of each talent here.

Level 10. Default to the attack speed talent unless you need to carry detection or Heaven's Halberd. In the former case, you won't have room for Magic Wand. In the latter case, you'll need the extra mana to fuel Halberd.

Level 15. Only get the HP talent if you're main purpose is to tank and your other cores provide sufficient right-click damage. Getting the damage talent is one of Davion's biggest power spikes and a great opportunity to push or fight.

Level 20. The Dragon Blood talent is usually vastly superior to the GPM talent, with a few notable exceptions: 1) the game is certain to go very late, 2) you're not tanking, 3) your passive will get broken every team fight (e.g., Silver Edge, Nethertoxin), 4) your main concern is magic damage (in which case you will need to buy anti-magic items).

Level 25. The strength talent is going to boost your damage, HP, and status resistance by a significant amount all at once. I would only recommend the stun duration talent if your team is in desperate need to locking down a nimble core like Weaver, Puck, or Anti-Mage.



The starting items provided are typical but against Zeus, Phantom Assassin, Timbersaw, Batrider, Brewmaster, or Bristleback, you may want to start with a Magic Stick instead of a Stout Shield, or at least ferry one out soon. Even if your supports provide you with shared tangoes, in most games I would recommend ferrying out a Healing Salve or additional pack of Tango very early to ensure you have sufficient regen for farming into Soul Ring.


I recommend getting Soul Ring first, followed by some combination of Boots of Speed, Infused Raindrops, and Magic Wand. Finish Power Treads afterward. A good timing for all of these items is 8:00. Although these items have lots of uses, the common thread between them is solving Davion's mana problems so he can spam Breathe Fire.


By 15 minutes, you want to have Armlet of Mordiggian. I agree with Purge that Armlet is "the most Dragon Knight item ever". A level 12 Davion with the attack speed talent, Treads, Wand, and Soul Ring will have 124 DPS. Add in an activated Armlet and he has 224 DPS. That 80% increase in DPS on top of the additional armor will give you a huge edge over other cores in the early game. Dragon Blood largely mitigates the HP drain and once you get the 2x Dragon Blood talent, your HP regen will actually exceed the HP drain and you can leave Armlet activated by default.

The usefulness of Armlet increases even more once you become effective at "Armlet toggling". I strongly recommend that you practice this in a lobby until you feel comfortable with it. Skillful Armlet toggling can make a hero like Davion incredibly difficult to skill and result in some stellar outplays.


In the deathball strategy that I prefer, the most important item you can have is Black King Bar. It's not essential in every game, but rarely is it non-ideal, therefore I consider it core just to keep things simple. "Why not get a mobility item before BKB?" Because you don't need a mobility item to push. When you hit your main power spike (level 15 damage talent + BKB) at around 20:00-25:00 you want to simply push with your team and force team fights. When the enemy initiates, you pop BKB and crush them.

If you get a really late Armlet (18:00) then at least you if not your entire team is behind and I would hesitate to build BKB at that time. As a general principle, avoid building items with expensive components when behind, because the individual components are so much weaker than the full item and will not serve you nearly as well as a "full item" of equivalent cost. For example, compare Drum of Endurance, Sange, or Hood of Defiance to Mithril Hammer. Buying high-impact, low-cost items also lets you reserve buyback more easily.

In a normal game, I typically get a mobility item after BKB: Blink Dagger, Shadow Blade, or Force Staff. Blink is your go-to initiation item, but Shadow Blade is also acceptable if you need to build a Silver Edge to counter passives. If you need the option of escaping, I recommend Force Staff / Hurricane Pike.

LATE GAME (30:00+)

In only a third of my Davion games do I complete a 5000+ gold item, simply because the game is usually over before the such items are necessary. In most games, you don't want to give the enemy any breathing room. You simply want to take high ground and end, which means building cost-effective, high-impact items like Sange and Yasha, Heaven's Halberd, Hurricane Pike, or Drum of Endurance. Why give the enemy Medusa, Anti-Mage, or Spectre breathing room so you can farm into an Assault Cuirass?

When the game does go long or you are simply filthy rich, here are some items to consider:

  • Assault Cuirass. Obvious choice if you're the main tank against physical damage. Let's you push much harder as well.
  • Heart of Tarrasque. Buy this if you're the main tank against huge amounts of magic damage. This also synergizes well with Armlet since the HP drain becomes negligible and you can leave Armlet turned on.
  • Eye of Skadi. This is a great all-purpose late game item when you need to tank a mixture of physical and magic damage and also want to kite spell immune enemies even harder.
  • Mjollnir. Strong against illusion heroes and Assault Cuirass. Let's you farm faster and push harder. Good for defending against mega creeps. The shield makes you an even more dangerous tank.
  • Monkey King Bar. Counters evasion in all forms. Keep in mind, however, that many forms of evasion are countered by Silver Edge (e.g., Phantom Assassin's Blur) and Black King Bar (e.g., Riki's Smoke Screen, Radiance).
  • Linken's Sphere. An underrated pickup on Davion. This solves your mana problems and indirectly makes you tankier by shutting down point target disables that might cripple you late game.

If the game goes late, I would recommend you dedicate slots accordingly: Boots, Mobility Item (i.e., Blink Dagger, Shadow Blade, Force Staff), Armlet, BKB, Durability Item (AC, Heart, Satanic, Skadi), Damage Item (Daedalus, MKB).




A note on Aegis. If you die in dragon form while carrying Aegis, you won't reincarnate in dragon form. Consider activating your BKB and dragon form AFTER you respawn. That way you can initiate, soak up a large number of spells, die, reincarnate, pop BKB and ult, and go ham on your foes.

The Laning Phase


Knowing how to play mid well with Davion is really critical to your success with the hero. While Davion is versatile enough to be played in other lanes, mid is definitely his preferred lane. This is almost exclusively how pros lane him and his average win rate, GPM, and XPM are higher in the mid lane.

When you playing Davion mid, you balance five objectives: last hitting, rune control, pushing, harassing, and stacking ancients. Generally you want to prioritize farming and getting XP, but stacking ancients is a close second because a key part of your success will be farming said stacks at level 12 for a burst of a gold and XP.


  • Don't gank other lanes unless an obvious opportunity presents itself. A power-up rune on Davion isn't a guaranteed kill like on some mid heroes, so staying mid is usually the most reliable option.
  • Draw creep aggro constantly, for four reasons: First, it brings the enemy creeps in a safer position for last hitting. Second, the creeps you draw will likely aggro your ranged creep, which will give you an opportunity to deny it more easily. Third, it will cause the enemy creeps to die faster than your creeps, meaning you will gain experience faster than the enemy mid. Fourth, since the enemy creeps will die faster, the lane will push, which will give you space to get runes and stack ancients.
  • I usually skill Breathe Fire first to make last hitting harder for the enemy. Ideally you want to get a last hit when you use it as well. You can use it 3x before a Soul Ring is necessary to replenish mana. Sometimes its better to save Breathe Fire for stacking ancients rather than harassing.
  • Level 2, 3 and 4 Breathe Fire will put a ranged creep under 50% health, meaning the enemy can deny it.
  • Always skill Dragon Tail early if the enemy has a Pudge or Spirit Breaker, because if you are caught out of position then you're certainly dead unless you can TP out.
  • Your supports will rarely ward for you, so I recommend buying your own observer ward and placing it close enough to the top rune to give vision of that rune and any incoming roamers. Against Riki, Bounter Hunter, Nyx Assassin, and Mirana, a sentry ward is also worth the investment.
  • At level 6 you should start pushing the mid tower with Elder Dragon Form, if possible. Otherwise, use your dragon form if it will help you last hit more safely.
  • It's not uncommon to take the mid tower at anywhere between 8-10 minutes on your own. If you take it really fast and you're way ahead of the enemy then pressuring the T2 is possible. Otherwise, you can keep farming mid into your Armlet or rotate and try to take another T1. If your safe lane carry is free farming, do not push that lane because you'll mess up his or her farm.


Video coming soon. Until then, just keep in mind that you can stack most camps using Breathe Fire. The exception is the Ancient Thunderhide camp, which requires you to aggro some other creep and not it directly. Consequently, an AT camp generally has to be stacked by aggroing with a right-click. But there is another caveat: Prowler Shamans can usually root melee heroes that try to stack by right-clicking, so if you find yourself starting off with an AT camp, you should try clear it and hope you don't get another, or just focus on stacking the other ancient camp.


Safe Lane. The second best option for Davion but this might result in you being position 1, which is dangerous if you don't push hard and end. Encourage your support to get XP from stacking and pulling if you don't need him to protect you, otherwise the XP leeching will really put you at a disadvantage going into the mid game.

Off Lane. Some people envision Davion as a good solo offlaner because he's tanky. This is only true if the enemy laners have little magic damage, otherwise you're not going to get any farm. You also have no escape, so warding is critical to hinder ganks.

Jungle. Under no normal circumstance should you jungle, but nevertheless it is possible. Get the normal starting items and buy a Soul Ring ASAP. Skill Dragon Blood at levels 1 and 3, otherwise maxing Breathe Fire.

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