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70 Votes

The Guardian of the Flame, by Peppo_o'Paccio

June 21, 2014 by Peppo_oPaccio
Comments: 37    |    Views: 537220    |   

Build 1
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Build 4

Cookie-cutter (mid)

DotA2 Hero: Ember Spirit

Hero Skills

Searing Chains

4 5 13 14

Sleight of Fist

2 9 10 12

Flame Guard

1 3 7 8

Fire Remnant

6 11 16


15 17 18


I'm Peppo_o'Paccio, author of many successful guides on DotaFire including all the "Analyzing competitive plays with [Hero]" series like the Bounty Hunter or the Zeus one.

Xyn is one the most versatile mid melee Heroes, at the same level of Magnus or even Timbersaw; his best feature is the Fire Remnant, one of the best escape mechanisms that, much like Morphling's Replicate, can be used as a free Town Portal Scroll when returning to base and vice versa. Thanks to it, the Ember Spirit can also chase as if he had a Blink ability without cooldown but with three charges instead.

Analysis after his nerf

As of 6.80, Ember Spirit was one of the most picked Heroes in the scene: his skill build allowed him to join fights and get kills much earlier than the "standard" mids like Invoker and Shadow Fiend. Most of his games ended at the 25-30 minute mark, taking advantage of his ability of snowballing and building a mid-game oriented team to support or carry him; when the team had problems getting into late game, ES players would pick up a double Battle Fury and try to drag the game until they got some extra DPS: it didin't always work, but the tries weren't bad at all.

With the nerf to the Searing Chains, now he can't be used as a mid lane dominator with max Flame Guard anymore (or at least, not always) because low level Chains hurt his mid game pretty bad. Still, he can be either a valid mid-game carry with good ganking power or a means to cripple a melee mid laner (like the popular Brewmaster), and he excels in both. He just can't do that at the same time now, but after level 14 he's exactly the same Hero (except for the minimal nerf to Sleight of Fist, but that's not even noticeable).

Pros and Cons

  • Good initiator
  • Good in teamfights
  • Great chaser
  • Has got a hard disable
  • Has got a free TP Scroll
  • Able to push
  • Can put orb effects on the whole enemy team
  • Low mana pool
  • Silence destroys him
  • Not tanky
  • Not very good 1v1 versus carries


Searing Chains is one of the best combinations between hard disable and damage: much like Crystal Maiden's Frostbite, it prevents the enemy from moving and deals a good amount of damage. You can think of it as an Entangle made by Lone Druid's Spirit Bear too.

Always remember that it chooses two random targets around you, so you have to be close to the enemy and they have to be alone or distant from the creepwave. This shouldn't be that big of a problem though, as your ultimate is one of the best gap closers in the game.

If you're quick enough, you can also use Sleight of Fist and cast Searing Chains in the 0.2 seconds of the slash, thus blocking the target while being at a safe distance.

As you put levels in it, the cooldown time decreases but the mana cost is always the same: that's why you sometimes want to max it out first. Still, as you don't get any improvements in its duration past level 3, it's always recommended to put the last point at 14.

This skill is usually referred to as a mini- Omnislash because, like Juggernaut's ultimate, it hits the enemies while being "invisible"/intangible: the main difference is that it hits all the enemies in the area once and you can use skills while slashing.

This skill puts orb effects on the enemies you hit, that's why the Desolator is recommended on this Hero and the Maelstrom, which can proc when slashing, is a good core item too. An early Orb of Venom is a situational item that can easily make up for its price in a few kills.

It deals half damage to the creepwave but bonus damage to Heroes: you can potentially use it to harass a squishy enemy out of the lane while not messing much with the lane equilibrium.

After using Sleight of Fist, it sets you back to the point where you cast the spell: that's useful for harassing in the laning phase, too.

Past level 11, when teamfights start, always be ready to get that extra slash before the teamfight actually begins: as it has a huge AoE and short cooldown when you max it out, you can hit all the enemies from a safe distance before the clash itself.

What's better than an AoE spell that pushes the lane and follows you? An AoE spell that pushes the lane and follows you while granting magic immunity, obviously. This skill made Ember Spirit the target of many nerfs in the first DotA game, as being an AGI Hero (which means being naturally resistant to physical damage thanks to armor) with a spell that blocks magical damage needs good balance between the defenses.

Use this to keep the lane pushed while going for the rune and to harass the enemy mid if he's melee.

The immunity to magical damage is up for all the duration, but if you take more than 500 magical damage before the full duration of the ability its effects expire prematurely.

This skill can save you in so many situations, don't use it only for offensive purposes! Cast Flame Guard while returning to base, escaping from an enemy and starting a teamfight.

Much like Pudge's Rot, you can turn this on and follow the enemy without hitting them and still do a moderate amount of damage, even in the early game.

This skill is a hybrid between Replicate and Ball Lightning: that means it includes the benefits of both the former and the latter with little disadvantages.

You can place up to three Fire Remnants at once: if you then click on one of them, Ember Spirit will jump to all the three locations getting to the one you clicked at last.

You can use this skill as many times as you want since it has no cooldown, but remember that as soon as you finish the three charges shown on your HUD right above the skills (in the buffs section) you have to wait. It also consumes a good amount of mana (150!), which is why some players like getting Arcane Boots on ES.

Obviously, you can leave a Fire Remnant where you are and teleport to base, so that you can jump back to your previous location while regaining all your mana and HP.

You can also use this skill to chase an enemy through high ground and impassable terrain as if you were using Storm Spirit's ultimate or, as said in the introduction, a Blink ability with no cooldown. It deals damage to enemies and works wonders when initiating too, since you can then use Sleight of Fist and also deal AoE damage with Flame Guard.

Items Explanation: Mid Build

While many players suggest getting a Battle Fury on him, Ember Spirit's abilities make him a good mid-game Hero and most of the time a mid laner: getting a mid-game focused build with Phase Boots and Drum of Endurance is recommended, but you can still go to the safe lane and try to farm your BF if there's no carry in your team.

Starting items

This is the common starting set for melee Heroes: supports can't share full Tangos anymore, but you can still consider going three Iron Branches and then letting the supports give you a Tango charge each, so that you're only ~200 gold away from a fast Bottle.
If you're sure the enemy mid is going to be an easy Hero to lane against, always go for this starting set: a fast Bottle gives you an edge versus passive laners that don't need one like Invoker, as you can recover from the harassment damage and try to deal some damage yourself.

Choice 2

When you're up against a very strong mid like Queen of Pain or Puck, a Stout Shield is 100% required. You're going to have a really bad time without it.
Two Iron Branches aren't much but are still enough as you have a good amount of regen in your pocket.
A set of Tangos and a Healing Salve ensure that you'll get your 650 gold without being outlaned, never get too little regen.

Early game items

Bottle first is required, no mid can lane without one. Well, unless you're Invoker or Bloodseeker.
You can choose between two types of boots, according to the situation: Phase Boots are generally preferred as they improve the damage of Sleight of Fist and make chasing easier; Arcane Boots are better if your team benefits from the extra mana and, generically, if there's only one guy that picks Arcanes.
Another very common item is the Magic Wand, I believe that at least 8/10 of players pick one in an average competitive game. Some players also like getting it before completing their Boots, but it's generally better to skip it until you complete them.
A Drum of Endurance is still one of the best items in term of cost-efficiency: extra movement speed, a teamfight-focused active ability, almost as many stats as an Ultimate Orb and almost as much mana as a Force Staff.
Lastly, never forget Town Portal Scrolls after you get Boots and Wand! Let the courier send you one with the Wand and always buy one after teleporting anywhere.

Core extensions

If you're getting fed or want to end the game in less than 30-35 minutes, this is the right choice: with a good Sleight of Fist you can put the -7 armor mark on the whole enemy team.

It also gives you a lot more solo kill potential! A three-seconds disable coupled with negative armor and extra damage is usually enough to get a quick kill on supports. Plus, it also helps in pushing: not only it gives you a big edge in teamfights, but also lets you get those towers much more quickly.

It has an easy buildup and doesn't require the access to the secret shop: you should be abel to afford it by getting kills and pushing towers.

The Battle Fury is the other core choice: why is it so popular? Because, after getting two of them, your Sleight of Fist damage will become much higher, even versus creeps: the cleave damage stacks, which means that you can deal 70% extra damage to anyone for every extra creep you hit. Considering that two BFs also give 130 damage, it's a huge improvement.

The extra HP and mana regen come in handy: it's basically a Linken's Sphere that adds damage instead of survivability.

Many players like getting a Daedalus after it because the crits get amplified. As you don't need extra attack speed because of Sleight of Fist, a Daedalus after two Battle Furies is the best choice most of the time.

Items Explanation: Hard Carry Build

In some circumstances you'll have to play a hard carry Ember Spirit: while he doesn't benefit very much from the Battle Fury farming capabilities, being able to deal cleave damage with Sleight of Fist is very useful. Many pub players like stacking Battle Furies to get bigger cleave damage: in fact, by getting two or more BFs you should be able to kill all the five enemy Heroes if you catch them all with your ability.
Being in the safe lane is very convenient as Ember Spirit has a good attack animation and can push if needed.

Starting items

This is probably the most cost-efficient starting set for melee Heroes: enough Tangos and Healing Salves to stay alive until you get that Ring of Health, some stats and a damage block item.
Other than blocking damage, the Stout Shield can be crafted into a Poor Man's Shield that also gives more agility. As said before, the Iron Branches are there for the stats.

Early game items

Get that 300 gold and finish the Poor Man's Shield as soon as possible, so that you can last-hit better and your damage block gets improved.
Next, buy a Ring of Health: it's important to get it before the boots because the regen it gives is huge, slightly less than an activated Tango.
Now, get your Boots of Speed and think about your next decision: get Phase Boots if you want to be active in the mid game right after finishing your Battle Fury; get Power Treads if you have a completely free lane and have more time to farm. Tread switching is also useful when farming in the jungle.

Core items and extensions

This is your key item. Competitive players get this item at 16:30 on average, sometimes even 17:00 (it used to be 15:00 but by that time people wouldn't buy Treads/Phase before finishing the whole BF).

As soon as you finish the first Battle Fury, it's recommended to buy a Quelling Blade and start farming in the jungle: the extra regen combined with the cleave damage should be enough to farm at least three jungle camps before they respawn; if you add your Flame Guard you'll be getting money in the blink of an eye.

After getting two of them, your Sleight of Fist damage will become much higher, even versus creeps: the cleave damage stacks, which means that you can deal 70% extra damage to anyone for any extra creep you hit. Considering that two BFs also give 130 damage, it's a huge improvement.

This is the third big item I get most of the time: other than the huge damage, it also gives you the ability to deal critical hits which get amplified by the two BFs. Thinking about it, this is the most cost-efficient combination (excluding Rapiers) you can get for DPS.

If there's a Hero with evasion in the enemy team, you might consider dropping this and get an MKB instead, which gives more or less the same amount of damage without counting crits. You can still get a casual Crystalis first if you really want those critical hits.

Items Explanation: Safe Lane Initiator Build

I've been testing this build for many Heroes: it all started with a Vanguard- Eul's Scepter of Divinity combination I tried on Kunkka and Timbersaw: since the 6.79 patch you can't go Tranquil Boots- Soul Ring anymore, so I had the idea to combine these two builds. This build has a good and cheap early game and combines well with many Heroes - including Chaos Knight, Dragon Knight and Juggernaut - that need mana and health regen early on. While the Drum of Endurance might seem a cheaper option, it doesn't give nearly as much HP regen and damage block as this build does: unless you have a Bottle or built-in regen (or you're ranged of course), this is better if you have time to spend in the safe lane and want to focus on early fights.

Starting items

Again, the most common starting set for this Hero and for many other melees, too: read the previous chapter for further explanation.
The Stout Shield will be turned into a Vanguard, so don't use it to craft a Poor Man's Shield!

Early game items

Buy the Soul Ring as soon as possible: its HP regen is decent in the early game and the active ability will be very useful for harassing with Sleight of Fist and pushing with Flame Guard every now and then.
Pick up your Boots of Speed, but don't finish them: go for a Ring of Health first, because the HP regen it gives is way more than the one of the Soul Ring. You'll probably be able to jungle between a creep wave and the other at this point.
Finish your Phase Boots, they're the best choice for an initiator build because of the damage they give; Treads may be considered too but you don't have neither mana nor health problems thanks to your early-game items, so you don't need to Tread switch.
Town Portal Scrolls are always useful, remember to keep one in your inventory at all times: sometimes you might want to put a Fire Remnant and teleport back to base, so that you can come back without going through all the lane on foot. You can also buy them from the side shop.

Core items and extensions

If you're in need of some more teamfight presence, this is the right choice: with a good Sleight of Fist you can put the -7 armor mark on the whole enemy team.

It also gives you a lot more solo kill potential! A three-seconds disable coupled with negative armor and extra damage is usually enough to get a quick kill on supports.

As you start building it from the Mithril Hammer, you can always swap to the Maelstrom if you aren't able to farm it all.

The Maelstrom is kind of a "secondary choice": if you need to come into fights earlier, getting this is definitely recommended over the Desolator. The extra farming capability given by the Chain Lightning procs and the cheap damage and attack speed are always good.

When teamfighting, provided you hit at least 5 targets with Sleight of Fist your chance of getting at least a Chain Lighting proc is 75%! This may not seem much, but it's certainly scary and very annoying for the enemy supports.

As for the Desolator, if you wanted to buy the Maelstrom starting from the Mithril Hammer but you've been doing really well lately, you can choose to go for the former.

This looks like a very good item, but I really think it's situational. The extra damage from the mana burn is always welcome and couples well with Sleight of Fist, but the mana burn itself doesn't do much as you usually don't stand in the middle of a fight like a carry but focus on initiating and chasing.

On the other hand, the Diffusal Blade is perfect for solo killing Heroes that focus on their escape mechanisms like Queen of Pain, Dark Seer, Phantom Lancer and many others: not only the mana burn might block the usage of their spells, but the Purge ability prevents them from escaping! Couple this with your Searing Chains and you'll get a kill.

This item can remove many abilites the enemies might cast on you, including Track and Amplify Damage. It also completely removes Guardian Angel from an enemy and destroys Warlock's Golems in one activation!

Sometimes you'll have to get this item after your Vanguard: while you have enough sustainability to fight with your team without being killed, stuns and silences really crush you. Buying a Black King Bar makes you able to fight through crowd control abilities so that you can make the most out of your chasing potential.

Remember that as you activate it the duration decreases: use it wisely for the first three times, at least.

Late Game Items

This is simply one of the best items in the game: the Avatar ability is essential for most of the games you'll be playing, and being able to hit like a truck for 10 seconds on the first activation is huge.

Always get a BKB against competent players: as you have a Battle Fury and one orb (or kind of) effect, they will try to shut you down. Throw your Fire Remnant, activate your skills and pop BKB for a good teamfight.

Remember that as you activate it the duration decreases: use it wisely for the first three times, at least.

As Ember Spirit is usually a semi-carry, getting auras is pretty convenient for your team; plus, since most of the time you'll initiate fights, it's even better.

Guess what? The -5 armor benefits the damage from Sleight of Fist. The extra attack speed is also nice to hit trapped enemies when you use your first skill.

Since the Hero is not very tanky, some armor might do the job: your allies will be very happy to have the Assault Aura, too.

I don't recommend it when going for a Battle Fury since, as I said, it's better for semi-carries and slows down the item progession of the carry Ember Spirit build.

This item is a bit "selfish", but pays for itself if you got fed. Spending 6000 gold for agility and attack speed is usually not so useful on initiators, but since you'll be standing in the middle of fights for a lot of time the evasion will help you a lot.

The extra damage, even though is not much in terms of cost-efficiency, benefits again your solo kill potential and makes chases more profitable. The extra armor given by all that agility is also appealing.

Daedalus: crits and damage. I usually don't get this item on any Hero, Troll Warlord included, but I think it works really well on Ember Spirit; even more than the Monkey King Bar.

As always, the crits do proc with Sleight of Fist and the huge damage improvement makes this ability even scarier.

Another damage item that comes with a Mini-Bash ability which has a 35% chance to proc (roughly 1/3 of your hits). As for the Maelstrom, hit at least 4 enemies with your ability and one of them gets ministunned for sure.

If the enemies have a Butterfly-holder or simply a Phantom Assassin, prioritize this over anything elase because of its True Strike passive ability.

This item gives you an orb effect: don't buy it in conjunction with a Desolator or a Diffusal Blade!

If you haven't already bought a Desolator, the Eye of Skadi can be a very good choice: if you feel like dying a lot and you (or one of your teammates) already have an Assault Cuirass, getting this can be better than going for a Satanic.

With this item you want to focus on initiation, since you will turn its orb effect into an AoE slow that hits everyone: the stats it gives also make this item very appealing for initiating purposes.

I don't think the Eye of Skadi is a good choice when going for the carry build because the Satanic gives more benefits for a Hero that dishes out a lot of damage.

So, the plan for this item is that every time you use Sleight of Fist you'll stun enemies; the main problem is that you can stun only one target every two seconds, so this doesn't work as expected.

Still, the Skull Basher couples very well with a Maelstrom or any other attack speed-increasing item; add a Sacred Relic and you'll get a ton of damage with an overwhelming - literally - ability. The active from the Abyssal Blade, called Overwhelm, stuns a target for 2 whole seconds and goes through BKB! With Searing Chains and this item you can potentially disable three enemies at once.

Not good, not bad. The stats it gives are decent and the attack speed is also nice, but there are many other items that give you more damage so that you can make the most out of your Sleight of Fist.

On the other side, it couples very well with the Diffusal Blade: create illusions, hit the enemies, get their mana depleted, kill. It's also very powerful for pushing purposes, but by the time you get a Manta you should've already destroyed the Tier 2 towers.

On a side note, take this if the enemies have silencers like Drow Ranger, Death Prophet, Skywrath Mage or Night Stalker: by activating Mirror Image the silence gets cancelled.

Believe it or not, even though the Maelstrom is a good item the Mjollnir is almost bad for you. I mean, it's still good because of the damage increase and extra attack speed, but most of the time you want to focus on pure damage. If you need attack speed you can get an Assault Cuirass anyway.

Still, the Static Charge could scare your enemies and pairing this item with an orb effect is definitely a good idea: stacking negative armor at light speed with the Desolator or eating all the mana with a Diffusal Blade is pretty fun.

This is a very good carry item because the attack speed is always welcome when playing the "1" role. As it procs with your Sleight of Fist too, this combination of attack speed and damage is even more suitable for this playing style.

I'd say this is a good item for a semi-carry, but if you are your team's main initiator and main source of damage after the hard carry you shouldn't go for it unless you actively want to fight Roshan.

As said before auras are always good for a semi-carry, so you are fine with this item. But again, if you don't have any other good teamfight spells you might lose the game for not having a good initiator.

You can also use the lifesteal to heal yourself from a distance, since it works with Sleight of Fist.

I don't recommend it when going for a Battle Fury since, as I said, it's better for semi-carries and slows down the item progession of the carry Ember Spirit build.

This item gives you an orb effect: don't buy it in conjunction with a Desolator or a Diffusal Blade!

And lastly, not because it sucks, there's the Satanic: it's a very good item for Ember Spirit, but you have to buy it when you're already six-slotted. Getting it before is a waste of gold unless you're really fed or you always die. You also need to sell your Desolator, because two orbs don't stack.

Remember that you can life steal even when using Sleight of Fist, so you can heal yourself from a distance.

If you need better defenses, though, there are other items that are usually better: the Assault Cuirass is the first item the comes in my mind, but Butterfly and maybe Manta Style are decent too.

Skill Builds

Mainly, Ember Spirit players max out Flame Guard first so that they're able to do lots of harass damage to the enemy mid and win the lane with little effort: you can do as much damage as possible to the enemy mid and, at the same time, push the lane when going to bottle a rune. Two points in Searing Chains, though, are needed before level 6 in order to unlock the 2 second disable and gank as effectively as possible. Sleight of Fist is then second because, as you reach level 11, teamfights should start and you don't want a 30 second cooldown spell with a tiny AoE; Fire Remnant should be picked at the usual 6, 11 and 16.

Flame Guard
Sleight of Fist
Flame Guard
Searing Chains
Searing Chains
Fire Remnant
Flame Guard
Flame Guard
Sleight of Fist
Sleight of Fist
Fire Remnant
Sleight of Fist
Searing Chains
Searing Chains
Fire Remnant

Alternatively, if the enemy mid is difficult to zone out with Flame Guard, you can prioritize Searing Chains: this way, you sacrifice laning presence presence and some magic resistance for extra disables and damage over time. Always get Searing Chains and Sleight of Fist in the first two levels so you can disable while jumping on an enemy and get a level 2 kill if you're quick enough.

Sleight of Fist
Searing Chains
Searing Chains
Sleight of Fist
Searing Chains
Fire Remnant
Searing Chains
Sleight of Fist
Sleight of Fist
Flame Guard
Fire Remnant
Flame Guard
Flame Guard
Flame Guard
Fire Remnant

Friends and Foes

While Ember Spirit can win a match by himself if he gets fed, most of the time you will have some troubles using him, especially because of his small mana pool early on.


His best friends are all those Heroes that can combine with him in teamfights, especially the ones that group up enemies or stun for a long duration:

Particularly, Crystal Maiden also has an aura that improves the mana regen of all her allies, globally. This is very useful for a Hero like Ember Spirit.


As said before, pay attention to all the silencers and, of course, chain stunners. As chained stuns counter almost every Hero, I'll just list the most dangerous silencers:

Keeper and BS also counter you a lot, since when you are Mana Leaked or Ruptured you can't move at all so your mobility, which is one of the best features of this Hero, is nullified. Rupture is also HP removal, so you can't protect yourself from it with the Flame Guard. Plus Bloodseeker can silence you too! He's probably one of the best counters to Ember Spirit.
Riki's and Silencer's silences cannot be dispelled with a Manta Style, the others can be.

Update History

6-21-2014: Changed the skill build and swapped the common one with the alternative one again.
5-30-2014: Made some improvements for the item build.
Swapped the "common" skill build with the "alternative" one.
Added some comments for the post-6.81 Ember Spirit.
3-13-2014: Slightly changed the skill build, not that much of a difference.
11-26-2013: Added the Eye of Skadi between the late game items.
11-23-2013: Improved the introduction adding a stylish image (made by me) and making it easier to read.
11-18-2013: Added the Soul Ring- Vanguard build.
11-17-2013: Wrote the first part of the guide.

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