Hi! Chaos Knight is easily my favorite hero in the game, definitely my favorite Strength hero. This guy has so much going for him, it's insane that he's not considered the most OP hero out there. Now, many people will say that he's too easily countered, his Ult has too long of a cooldown, he's got **** manapool, atrocious attack speed, farms slow, etc. While those things are true, they're also not as bad as they'd have you believe: you don't need Ult to fight (if you do, you're playing CK wrong), Manapool is easily remedied with his +8 Intelligence talent, and you can farm heroes quite effectively instead of creeps.
See, this is what makes Chaos Knight so interesting to me, he only requires two items to really come online: Power Treads and Armlet of Mordiggian. After that, any solo hero has to fear you. Once you reach level 12, you can use your Ult to do whatever you wish: look for pick-offs, force fights, push towers etc. The world is your oyster. The most fun thing at this point to me is thinking about what itemization is best.
Not everything is rosy of course and there are things that can throw a wrench in your plans. So let's talk about counters first.
As far as I'm concerned, there is only one actual counter: Timbersaw
. His natural tankiness with Reactive Armor
means that he's difficult to burst down during your Chaos Bolt
stun, while Whirling Death
pretty much make your Phantasm
If this **********er gets picked, don't even think about picking CK. If you've already picked, you kinda have to avoid him at all costs. Sure, you can **** him up a bit in the early game, but later on you'll need to count on your teammates to deal with Timbersaw.
- Earthshaker: It's a gigantic myth that Earthshaker counters Chaos Knight. The difficulty that CK has against ES is one that every hero has: getting stun-locked.
- Echo Slam is good against illusions, but CK's are usually more tanky than regular illusions as is the main hero and outside of that ES does little.
- Fissure, other than the stun, poses no real issues for us, as you can use Reality Rift to get past that obstruction.
- Outworld Devourer:
- Arcane Orb deals a ****load of pure damage and does bonus damage to illusions.
- Astral Imprisonment can save either OD himself or the hero you wanted to kill.
- Sanity's Eclipse devastates CK and his illusions, as OD will certainly have way higher intelligence. The main hero may survive the Ult, but it will do a lot of damage. But this spell has a longer cooldown than Phantasm, so it's easy to play around.
- Phoenix: The attack speed slow from Fire Spirits absolutely wrecks CK and his illusions, which can make it difficult to burst down the fire bird before he can get off his Ultimate Supernova, which cannot be killed by illusions.
- Medusa: It seems that Medusa is very strong against CK, but she takes quite a while to get online and CK becomes strong very quickly. Playing against Medusa, it's imperative to limit her farming space and close out the game early.
- Stone Gaze, Medusa's Ultimate turns units that look at her to stone and deals bonus physical damage to them. It also instantly destroys illusions. And since Medusa naturally builds into a Linken's Sphere, it can be difficult to stop her from getting her Ultimate off.
- Mystic Snake: Can deal a lot of damage, especially if there are a bunch of units next to each other. Once Medusa builds an Aghanim's Scepter, it can turn units it hits to stone, thus destroying illusions instantly.
- However, Medusa is very reliant on her Mana Shield to survive, buying a Diffusal Blade can remove her mana very quickly when using illusions effectively.
- Jakiro: The twin-headed dragon is 100% AoE damage and he has two spells that slow attack speed: Dual Breath and Liquid Fire. His Ultimate Macropyre can be hard to push into, as it does a lot of AoE damage.
- Sven: Sven's Great Cleave allows him to deal large amounts of physical AoE damage, especially if he has a Daedalus. His Warcry makes him and his allies more survivable against physical damage.
- Brewmaster: Outside his Ultimate Primal Split, Brewmaster does next to nothing to CK, however CK himself cannot really kill Brewmaster without Phantasm. Primal Split's Storm Panda can deal heavy damage to CK's illusions with Dispel Magic.
- Tinker: honestly, **** this hero. Tinker is pure and absolute ********, but he can be countered by killing him early and often. Delaying his Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger is essential. The most ******** thing about this hero has to be that he gets two Aghanim's Scepter upgrades, both of which mess up Chaos Knight:
- Laser: pure damage that also blinds the target. Once upgraded, it can refract to visible heroes, including illusions, making all your little CKs miss their attacks.
- Heat Seeking Missile: he doesn't even have to target this spell, he literally just presses a button and two heroes just get nuked. When upgraded, the ******** gets doubled and four heroes get hit.
- Finally, March of the Machines makes pushing high-ground impossible.
- In case I haven't mentioned it yet: **** Tinker!
The overarching theme of these other heroes is that they either require some items to be able to deal with Chaos Knight or that they're very susceptible to being caught out by him. I think this is CK's main strength that he can easily mess up their item timings by applying pressure early, especially when trying to deal with other hard carries. On the other hand, most AoE spell casters, such as Lina
or Queen of Pain
, can easily be killed if you initiate on them.
- Ghost Scepter: CK does mostly physical damage with auto-attacks from him and his illusions. Ghost Scepter lets the user survive against CK for a short time.
- Eul's Scepter of Divinity: Similar concept to Ghost Scepter, it allows the user to buy himself some time to escape CK's onslaught.
- Hurricane Pike and Force Staff: Can be quite effective at kiting CK if he's used Reality Rift already.
- Mjollnir and Maelstrom: purchasable AoE damage for any right-clicker. You can also use Mjollnir's Static Charge, which can destroy CK's illusions quite effectively, if he's going on the hero with Phantasm illusions.
- Veil of Discord: Great for amplifying magic damage, making it easier to deal with a mass of illusions. Adds some survivability for otherwise squishy heroes, thanks to its bonus armor.
Let's first take a look at CK's skills:
- The damage and stun duration correlate inversely, i.e. the longer the stun the lower the damage and vice versa.
- The stun duration is not a discreet number. I.e. at level one it can stun anywhere between 1 and 2 seconds, e.g. 1.34 s.
- Stuns for an average of 1.5/2.0/2.5/3.0 seconds and deals an average of 137.5/162.5/187.5/212.5 damage.
Great spell at level 1, but the damage scales pretty badly. Because of this, I get an early point, but max it last. It also costs a lot of mana and you need to use it sparingly. However at max level it can stun for up to 4 seconds
- Note: the tooltip on dotafire doesn't mention that the armor reduction lasts for 8 seconds on all levels.
This spell has been reworked and buffed numerous times in the last few patches and has become extremely strong. I max this spell, since at level one the cooldown is forbiddingly long, but also because the minus armor is devastating for a lot of heroes in the early game. Since it does not cost so much mana, you can use it quite effectively and often to harass and zone your enemy in lane or even to kill tanky jungle creeps quicker.
- Increases Chaos Knight's average damage by 3/9/15/21%.
This spell also got buffed over and over again for a few patches. However, it's got one of the worst proc chances for critical strikes and at level one it's so bad. thankfully it scales really well, level two literally tripling the average damage increase. That's why you max this one second. Together with Armlet of Mordiggian
, this spell allows CK to sustain in jungle at higher levels.
- Has a 0.5 second split time, during which CK is hidden and immune.
- Disjoints projectiles upon cast.
- The illusions and CK appear in a cross shape around CK's original position. The original hero's location in the cross is random.
This right here is what makes CK overpowered. See, normally illusion heroes are Agility heroes and need to build Heart of Tarrasque
and Eye of Skadi
to make their illusions tanky. Together with CK's natural tankiness and the low 260%
illusion penalty, Phantasm
can be extremely hard to deal with for heroes without much waveclear. Furthermore, they deal 100%
Chaos Knight's damage (minus raw bonus damage), which means that CK can almost instantly delete any enemy using his Ultimate.
So, with that out of the way, let's talk about the order in which to skill your abilities. As mentioned above, we max Reality Rift
first, because it provides CK with a lot of damage early on, be it in lane or in teamfights. In lane, with its lower cooldown and massive armor reduction, you can use Reality Rift to harass the enemy laner very effectively. In teamfights, it helps to keep up with fleeing enemies or to quickly switch targets. Next, you should really max Chaos Strike
, as it's awful at level 1 and amazing at level 4.
Traditionally, Chaos Bolt
was the skill to max first. I urge you, however, to only keep a value point in it until the other two spells are maxed. Mostly, because I feel that the scaling of this skill is kinda bad. At max level, you might still only get one second of stun more than at level 1, in the worst case. The damage does not scale too badly but it's not reliable. Later in the game, if you do get a four second stun on an enemy it can be devastating, earlier in the game it's likely overkill.
Finally, we need to talk about when to skill your Ultimate, Phantasm
. At first level, you get one illusion and a 50%
chance to get another. One illusion is not terribly scary and is likely not very tanky yet. This is why I usually skip the Ultimate and try to get two levels in it at levels 11 and 12. However, there are some circumstances to skill and use your Ult before level 12. The 0.5s
split time can be used to disjoint projectiles and help you escape certain spells. Furthermore, if it isn't safe to farm in lane and you are somewhat comfortable with micro, you can use the illusion to farm the lane, while your main hero farms the jungle.
I'm not Purge and I don't have the inclination to talk about the various advantages and win percentages of talent choices. I can however talk about what I think is better and in what circumstances you might deviate in talent choices.
In the following list, the recommended talent choice is bolded:
- 15 Attack Speed vs. +8 Intelligence
- 15 Attack Speed is kinda underwhelming and CK's base Intelligence and Intelligence gain is so abominable that +8 cannot be underestimated.
- +8 Intelligence gives 88 more mana and 0.3 mana per second. This can potentially mean you can cast an extra Chaos Bolt or Reality Rift in a fight.
- If you're paired with heroes that can give you mana, mainly Keeper of the Light and Crystal Maiden, you could opt for the Attack Speed instead.
- +20 Movement Speed vs. +10 Strength
- This one is a no-brainer, really. 10 Strength gives CK and his illusion 200HP and 10 damage each. On the other hand, 20 Movement Speed helps a bit with chasing enemies down, but in general is skipped in favor of the strength talent.
- +120 Gold per minute vs. +12 All Stats
- Once again, the +12 to all stats benefits CK's illusion and is therefore the preferable choice.
- However, 120GPM can buy items that increase CK's stats. Should you find yourself behind in farm, this might be a tempting choice. But keep in mind, if the game is about to end, you are not going to get any value out of 120GPM.
- If you expect the game to go a lot longer, +120GPM is definitely a viable choice. But an immediate +12 to all stats might help to close out the game sooner in your favor.
- Reality Rift pierces Spell Immunity vs. 20% Cooldown reduction
- This is likely the most situational talent choice.
- 20% CDR not only reduces CK's ability cooldowns, the big one being a 26s cooldown reduction on Phantasm, but also his item cooldowns. That means you your Manta Style and Black King Bar come off cooldown sooner and you might get more use out of those items.
- On the other hand, being able to use Reality Rift on a spell immune target could mean that you are able to kill off an important enemy hero and close out the game instantly.
- This is especially useful against heroes with natural spell immunity, Juggernaut and Lifestealer, but also against an Omniknight-lineup.
Let's talk about items! I love items and the more creative you can get with your item build the more interesting the hero is to me. CK is not the most flexible, of course, but he's got enough leeway to influence the game in different ways. But first things first...
This is fairly straight forward. Get some Tango
es and a Healing Salve
for regen, a Clarity
to top up your mana for more Chaos Bolt
s and Reality Rift
s. Finish it off with a Stout Shield
to block some harass and two Iron Branches to increase your pitiful mana pool (it still not enough to increase your mana pool to cast two Chaos Bolt
s) or to eat to increase your Tango
If you don't think that you need the Healing Salve
, you can instead swap it out for an Enchanted Mango
. If you expect a lot of harass from auto-attacks or that you may have to tank creeps under tower, take two Slippers of Agility
to lane with you instead of the Branches and Stout Shield
and instantly upgrade it to a Poor Man's Shield
when you get the gold. However, you'll have to sacrifice the branches for his.
To summarize, here's what your starting items may look like:
Early Game Core Items
Again, this part is fairly straight forward and the only question is in what order you get the items. Are you chewing through your regen very quickly, then you should save up for the Helm of Iron Will
for some easy HP regen and Armor. Are you basically free to last hit as you want (the dream!), get a fast Quelling Blade
to ensure no CS LULs. Is your enemy spamming his spells, then quickly get a Magic Stick
. Is there a lot of fighting going on in your lane, you may want to get an early Mantle of Intelligence
, which can later be upgraded to Power Treads
, to increase your mana pool. In this case you may also need more mana regen ( Clarity
or Enchanted Mango
). If there are slow heroes on your lane without natural escape mechanism, an Orb of Venom
can help get a lot of kills on them.
In general, you want Power Treads
as fast as possible but in certain cases, getting Armlet of Mordiggian
first is preferable. Power Treads
improve CK's stats, so that he can cast more Chaos Bolt
and Reality Rift
by switching to Intelligence or just improve his damage and HP by switching to Strength. Do not forget to switch your Treads to Agility when you want to use your Magic Stick
/ Magic Wand
. If you are spamming Reality Rift
to harass then getting Infused Raindrops
as soon as they become available is also very good.
The last thing to remember is to have a Town Portal Scroll
ready in case your enemy decides to dive the tower on another lane. Getting some turn-around kills will do wonders for you and your team.
In any case, after the laning phase your inventory may look something like this:
Now is when your game finally starts becoming really interesting and the world of possibilities that is the Dota 2 shop opens up to you. It all depends on how the game is going and what your idea is of how to best win this game.
Let's first go through the more common pickups mentioned above:
- Manta Style: Since your Ultimate has a huge cooldown, you can buy a Manta Style to get a discount version: worse illusions, but massively lower cooldown, so you don't need to be so careful with its usage. However, the mana cost on Manta is quite restrictive.
- Heart of Tarrasque: I've seen Heart rushes after Armlet from pro players a lot. I think this is good, if you do not require anything else until it's finished, since it's buildup is quite long. The reward is massive, though, since your illusions become incredibly tanky and scary and you can leave Armlet of Mordiggian on permanently (has no real benefit, but looks boss as ****).
- Black King Bar: Buying an early BKB is not just for losing games, sometimes that BKB can turn a huge fight in your team's favor and help finish a game very early.
- Heaven's Halberd: The active lets you effectively remove the enemy hard carry's influence in the team fight for 3-5 seconds. Passively, it gives CK and his illusions evasion and a chance to slow enemies' movement and attack speed for the main hero.
- Assault Cuirass: AC goes in the same category as Heart of Tarrasque, it has a very long buildup, but it's stats give CK and his illusions a lot of tankiness and attack speed. On top of that it has an armor reduction armor aura against enemies.
- Diffusal Blade: This used to be an illusion hero's bread and butter. However, after multiple nerfs to this item, melee illusions only burn 16 mana from enemies and deal as much physical damage to them. The attack speed from Agility, the +10/15 Intelligence cannot be underestimated, and the powerful slow and purge from the active cannot be underestimated.