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TheSofa's Guide to Status Effects

October 4, 2017 by TheSofa
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Hello everyone, Sofa here.

Although they are part of every dota game, status effects (also known as crowd control or disables) are often misunderstood since not much light has been shed on the topic.

Much of the information in this guide you will already know - but hopefully there is something to learn or to relearn for everyone.

I've tried my best to include not only information about the status effect, but also information on how and when to use them.



Stuns are the most basic form of status effects. While stunned, the affected unit not be able to do anything - no attacking, no casting, no moving, and no using items (there are a few exceptions). Stuns also interrupt (and stop) channelling abilities and items, like Fiend's Grip and Town Portal Scroll. Because of this, stuns generally do not last for more than a few seconds

Stuns do not, however, disable passives. These passives can either be from abilities (like Frost of Avernus or Degen Aura) or from items (like Radiance or Drum of Endurance)

Examples: Wraithfire Blast and Slithereen Crush.

Stuns can be used in a variety of fashions, including, but not limited to:
  • Interrupting Town Portal Scrolls and dangerous channelling abilities
  • Stopping enemies from running away
  • Stopping enemies from chasing you
  • Stopping enemies from attacking you


Mini-stuns are a sub-category of stuns. Like the name suggests, mini stuns generally last no longer than 0.1 seconds. Therefore, mini-stuns are usually used to interrupt channeling abilities.

Examples: Lightning Bolt and Assassinate


Shackles are a sub-category of stuns. The difference between shackles and normal stuns is that they disable the caster in some way. Usually, they require the caster to channel while the target is stunned.

Examples: Shackles (wow!) and Dismember

Aside from these categories, stuns in dota also have two soft archetypes: those with a projectile (and therefore can be dodged/avoided) and those that are instant.

Abilities like Nightmare and Dragon Tail (in human form) are instant and are impossible to dodge. These are generally weaker stuns but are more potent in the right hands since it allows the caster to react instantly to a threat.

Abilities like Sacred Arrow and Boulder Smash take time to reach their targets and therefore can be avoided. However, when there is "setup", or another stun preventing the target from avoiding the stun, they can be extremely powerful.


Slows are one of the most common status effects in dota. There are two types of slows: Movement Speed Slows and Attack Speed Slows

Movement Speed Slows

Movement Speed Slows reduce a unit's movement speed by a percentage. This means that slows are more effective on high movement speed targets than low movement speed targets. Multiple movement speed slows stack, but cannot reduce a unit movement below 100.

Movement Speed formula

Movement Speed slows are mainly used for two purposes: Slowing a fleeing enemy or slowing a pursuing enemy. Movement speed slows also prevent enemies from manoeuvring correctly to set up their spells and avoid projectiles. Furthermore, they can hinder enemy heroes from leaving certain dangerous areas (like Mystic Flare).

Attack Speed Slows

Attack Speed Slows reduce a unit's movement speed by a flat amount. This means that slows are just as effective on high attack speed targets as they are on low attack speed targets. Multiple Attack Speed Slows stack, but cannot reduce a hero's attack speed below 20.

Attack Speed Formula

Attack Speed Slows are one of the best (and only) ways to prevent a target from dealing massive dps by attacking. That's it. You slow them, they don't attack as fast, so they deal less damage.

Attack Moving

Attack moving is an advanced technique in dota that involves attacking, turning, moving, and repeating the cycle to put distance between you and an enemy while still dealing damage.

As you can tell by its name, it involves both moving and attacking, which means that it is incredibly difficult to pull off while under the effects of a movement speed or attack speed slow.

For League of Legends players

Mute and Silence

Mute is a type status effect in dota that is quite rare. However, it is worth mentioning since it is useful and may show up in future heroes and items. Mutes essentially prevents the casting of active items.

Mutes do not:

  • Affect abilities in any way
  • Stop items effects that have already been casted (like Ghost Scepter)
  • Stop item passives

Mutes do, however:
  • Stop Town Portal Scrolls
  • Stop a unit from toggling items (like Radiance)

All mutes in game right now are paired with silences.


Silence is a powerful status effect in dota that can break or make a game. A silence prevents the target from casting any spells. That's it.

Silences do not:

Silences do, however:
  • Stop toggled abilities from being toggled on/off
  • Stop channelling abilities (like Black Hole)

Silences are crucial against targets who rely on their abilities to either deal damage or escape. For example, silencing a Storm Spirit will greatly reduce his mobility and remove a vast amount of his damage. On the contrary, silencing a Sniper would be quite ineffective.

Silences are most effective when they are used patiently. For example, it is often the incorrect play to silence a Queen of Pain who just blinked into your team right away. Since her Blink is on cooldown, you could wait 3-5 seconds before silencing her to prevent her escape.

Silences are also effective to stop initiations or chains of abilities. Global Silence, widely regarded as the best silence in the game, is a great example of this. Preventing enemies from following up a good Reverse Polarity or Hoof Stomp with abilities can be game changing and turn the fight around in your favour.


Disarms are few and far between in dota. In fact, most disarms in the game disarm the original caster of the spell (like Chakram and Burrow). However, they do exist and do have a major influence on dota games.

Disarms prevent a unit from attacking. Simple, but effective.

Disarms stop a target from attacking, but do not slow attack speed. If an attack command is issued while disarmed, the unit attempting to attack will move into attack range of the target.

Disarms get more and more effective the later the game goes on. This is because attack reliant heroes/carries tend to require items to scale and therefore require time to obtain gold to buy said items.

Disarms are especially important in fights where carries need to attack to survive. Disarming a carry greatly reduces a team's damage potential and can single handedly win a fight. However, be careful! Most disarms can be purged and waiting for said purges to be used is paramount to getting a game-breaking disarm off in a fight.


A hex is an especially powerful tool in dota. In essence, it combines four of the five status effects we have covered so far: it is a 100% slow, a disarm, a mute and a silence.

As such, it is quite literally a stun that allows you to move (remember that you can't slow an enemy past 100 movement speed).

However, there is a slight difference between hexes and stuns. There are abilities in the game that can be casted while stunned but not while hexed. This is because hexes include a silence on the target, preventing them from casting spells like Enrage (with Aghanim's Scepter), Morph agility gain, and Borrowed Time.

Hexes are extremely useful in the same ways everything else above are.


A root, also known as a snare or an entangle is a common status effect in dota.

Roots prevent heroes from moving (and casting some mobility spells). However, this can be severely misunderstood, so let's get some things clear:

Roots do not:

  • Set a unit's movement speed to 0
  • Interrupt a movement command
  • Affect casting or attacking in any way**
  • Prevent the target from being moved by another unit (i.e. via Force Staff

Roots sometimes (it's inconsistent):
  • Interact with invisibility
  • Stop channelling spells

Roots do:
  • Prevent a unit from using mobility spells like Time Walk or Blink
  • Prevent a unit from moving

Root interaction with casting and attacking

The value of roots is almost identical to the value of movement slows. They prevent enemies from chasing or running away and also prevent enemies from manoeuvring and positioning to a better place.

The value of root, though, lies in the fact that it is effective against heroes with haste (i.e. Lycan's Shapeshift) and prevents movement abilities (i.e. Blink).

Roots are usually good tools to initiate small skirmishes and ganks, since they tend to have decent range to set up for other forms of status effects. In fights, use roots to kite enemy melee heroes or heroes with short ranges.

Forced Movement

Forced movement is exactly what is sounds like. A unit is forced to move to a destination, regardless of their movement speed or status. Some forced movements disable the unit completely while moving (like Flaming Lasso) while some forced movements allow the unit to act while moving (like Force Staff).

Forced movements that are actually useful are quite rare, since they are extremely strong. Most forced movements are applied to the caster while using movement abilities like Leap, Pounce, and Time Walk.

There are two types of forced movements: those that disable and those that don't.

For example

Note that many forced movements are abilities that send heroes upwards, like Earth Spike, Impale, and Telekinesis.

Moving enemy heroes is an extremely powerful tool. It can create 5v1 situations where an important member of a team is blown up before the fight even begins. It can be used to send enemy heroes far, far away to save a teammate. But it can also send an enemy Magnus into the allied team for a perfect Reverse Polarity.

Used forced movement to initiate small fights. As said before, abilities like Meat Hook, Flamming Lasso, and Skewer are exceptional for finding 'pick-offs', or separating 1 hero from the group to kill.

Heroes with these abilities work well with a Blink Dagger or other mobility items that allow them to get into position to kidnap enemy heroes.


Taunt is a status effect in dota that forces a unit to attack another unit. There are currently three sources of taunt (four if you include Savage Roar but why is that even a taunt aiya) in the game: Duel, Berserker's Call, and Winter's Curse.

Taunts (kind of) fully disable a unit, they are forced to attack a unit, meaning they can do nothing else. However, some heroes can activate abilities while stunned, and this applies to taunts too (abilities like morph agility gain and Borrowed Time).

Taunts work well with items like Blademail, which reflects damage on the attacker, and [[vanguard], which helps mitigate the damage that the caster is taking.

Taunts are usually used as flat out stuns (with a little bit of a downside).

Since there are so few taunts in the game, let's talk about how to use each one.

Berserker's Call is a magic-immunity piercing AOE disable that works well with Axe's other ability, Counter Helix. This ability is paired well with Blink Dagger and is used as an AOE stun. It is usually used to initiate or counter-initiate fights and is extremely powerful when combined with mobility items (like Force Staff and Eul's Scepter of Divinity) and armor/damage block items (like Crimson Guard and Shiva's Guard.

Duel is a powerful single-target taunt that benefits the winner. But do not be fooled by the name - Duel is not meant to be used as a 1 versus 1! Grab your friends and together destroy the target with a 5 second long pseudo-stun.

Winter's Curse is an incredibly difficult ability to use, since if used incorrectly will actually benefit your enemies. Use on a squishy support to turn his carries against him. Alternatively, you can disable multiple heroes to buy time for your team to manoeuvre or retreat. Note that the primary target is stunned while the secondary targets are taunted.


Blind is also a rare status effect in dota. Units that are affected by blind miss a percentage of their attacks (different for each source of blind) as if their target had evasion.

When the target affected by blind misses their attack, nothing happens. On-hit effects (like cleave) do not apply and neither do attack modifiers (like Mana Break).

Blinds stack multiplicatively. For example, if a unit has two 50% blinds on it, it would have a 75% chance of hitting a target.

Hit Chance formula

Blinds are used in similar fashion to disarms. Click on me to go to the disarm chapter!

Remember to not blind enemies with true strike, it doesn't work!


The rarest status effect of all (currently patch 7.06), break is a powerful tool against very specific heroes.

Simply put, break disables ability passives.

Breaks essentially removes the passive from a hero. However, any effects of the passive will still continue. For example, units affected by Corrosive Skin will still taking minor damage over time, but heroes who attack Viper after the break will not receive the debuff.

Break does not affect item passives. You will not lose your +10 all stats from your Ultimate Orb nor the passive movement speed from Drum of Endurance.

Break is an powerful status effect to have in your arsenal when playing against passive-reliant heroes like Huskar, Phantom Assassin, and Bristleback. Since the only form of break that is regularly used is the one provided by Silver Edge, let's briefly discuss how to use it.

Silver Edge's coming-out-of-invis attack also reduces the target's damage. Usually this means that you want to fight the target while it has it's passives disabled and its damage reduced, then back off when the effect expires. Heroes with powerful defensive passives like Bristleback and Enchantress will regain their former strength once the effect wears off and will become hard to kill once again.

{And so concludes our segment on offensive status effects.}

Ethereal Form

Ethereal form , or "ghost form", is a double-edged status effect. It grants the target immunity to physical damage while disarming them and lowering their magic resistance so they take more magic damage.

Ethereal targets cannot be attacked. All ranged attacks flying toward a target that becomes ethereal will be nullified (even on-hit effects and attack modifiers).

At its core, ethereal makes enemies strong against physical and weak against magical.

Offensively using Ethereal Form

Heroes with high magic burst, like Morphling and Pugna make good use of Ethereal Form since their magic burst is amplified and their target cannot attack back. Generally speaking, you use ethereal form offensively only when you are going to do 80%+ of their health in a combo, since after the combo you cannot attack the target to

If you find yourself against an enemy hero with the Ethereal you and blow you up, items like Hood of Defiance and Glimmer Cape work well to counter the magic burst.

Defensively using Ethereal Form

Ghost Scepter, a common pickup for supports in the late game, is a fantastic tool for heroes who do not rely on attacks to survive in the late game. When carries are dealing 300+ damage a hit, it is effective to have a ethereal form as a defensive tool to prevent a squishy caster from dying.

Ethereal form is also not dispelled by Town Portal Scroll, meaning that Ethereal Form + TP is an effective escape against attackreliant heroes.

Hide, Cyclone, and Sleep

These three are grouped together since they are all variants of invulnerability. Again, these three can be used both defensively or offensively.


Hide, also known as banish, is a status effect that is given to heroes who have temporarily been removed from the game. A good example of this is Riki's Tricks of the Trade: it temporarily removes Riki from the game, leaving only a ring that deals minor damage.

Hidden units cannot interact at all with the real world. They are essentially disabled and removed from the game. For example, Pudge's Meat Hook would fly through hidden units and perhaps hit something behind it.

Hidden units are invulnerable.


Similar to Hide, Cyclones render a hero invulnerable and completely disabled. Cycloned heroes are unable to interact with the real world and the spells going around in it.

Two out of the three cyclones in the game dispel enemy units, removing positive buffs ( Tornado and Eul's Scepter of Divinity).

And perhaps the part most unlike hide, Cycloned targets can be targeted. Therefore, the effect can be dispelled by dispels like Diffusal Blade's active and Fortunes' End

Here's a memorable moment of that


Sleep is a status effect that completely disables the afflicted target. However, they can be woken up if they are attacked and damaged (if the attack misses the target will not wake up).

Some sleeps, however, give afflicted units invulnerability, which prevents the from waking up.

Offensively using hides, cyclones, and sleeps

Hides, cyclones, and sleeps are very effective for setting up plays. Think about it this way: since they are a disable that grants the target invulnerability, the best thing to do while the target is afflicted is to catch up to them and/or set up spells with delays.

A hero to demonstrate this is Lina. Since Light Strike Array has a 0.5 second delay, Lina players will often purchase Eul's Scepter of Divinity to remedy this. They cast the active on their target, placing them under cyclone for 2.5 seconds. This allows them to cast Light Strike Array 2 seconds in and guarantee that they land their ability.

Another use of cyclones is to remove an enemy hero from the fight completely. Brewmaster's Storm Brewling has an ability that cyclones an enemy for 6 seconds (!!) - this is extremely powerful to remove an important hero, Oracle, per se, from the fight to prevent him from saving his carries.

Using hides, cyclones, and sleeps defensively

Since these effects grant invulnerability, they are often used to avoid damage and buy time for important cooldowns and/or the team to rotate and help.

A very clear example of this is with the hero Puck. Puck's Phase Shift allows it to hide itself to prevent damage. It is most often used along with Eul's Scepter of Divinity to dodge abilities like Storm Hammer and wait for the cooldown of Blink Dagger and Illusory Orb.

Additionally, these effects can be used to reset a teamfight. There is no clearer example than Naga Siren's Song of the Siren. By putting the entire enemy team to sleep, Naga Siren allows herself and/or her teammates to escape via Town Portal Scroll or walking.

Dispel and Purge

"Maaaan Sofa," you say, "is there any way to get rid of all these nasty status effects?"

yes. yes there is.

Dispels are a direct removal of status effects. The affected status effects are immediately and completely removed.

There are a few things that are important to note about dispels. For one, dispels can be cast on enemies. Doing so will remove some positive buffs (like double damage). Remember: casting on allies removes negative effects while casting on enemies removes positive effects (both good for you!). Secondly, dispels do not interact with auras. Simple.

There are three types of dispels:
  • Basic
  • Strong
  • Death (I'm serious)

Basic dispels are uncommon (but not rare) and they remove most basic status effects. However, what specific spells they dispel are kinda random and not at all consistent. So instead of trying to categorize everything, I've included the link to the list at the end of this chapter.

Strong dispels remove strong status effects, including stuns! Most negative status effects can be removed. Currently (patch 7.06) there are no strong dispels that can be cast on enemies so we don't know what kind of positive effects strong dispels can remove.

Death well, it removes basically everything. Upon death, including deaths affected by Aegis of the Immortal and Reincarnation, *most* buffs and debuffs are removed.

Debuffs that are not removed by death

I can't really teach you how to use dispels besides saying "if there's a status effect that's going to get you/your ally killed and you have a dispel, use it!"

The best thing you can do to ensure you use dispels properly is to know each hero's abilities and familiarize yourself with most/all of the spells in the game. For example, if you are Legion Commander and your ally is Flamming Lasso'd, you need three pieces of knowledge to save him:
  1. Flamming Lasso is a forced movement and will likely lead to the death of your ally
  2. Press the Attack is a strong dispel
  3. Flaming Lasso will removed if you cast Press the Attack on an ally afflicted by it

And so you save your teammate and he witholds his report he was going to give you for jungling as Legion Commander


Purges are basic dispels that slow. If you like plain and simple, that's it.

But you didn't come to this guide for plain and simple, so here we go.

Purges apply a basic dispel once (on cast). It then slows the target's movement speed by 100 (and attack speed by 100, if the purge slows attack speed). But unlike normal slows, the ammount that purges slow by decreases over time.

Each purge has a different "get better" rate. In fancy dota terms, it's called the "update frequency". We'll call it "get better" rate for now.

For reference, here are a list of all the dispels:
**Note that fortune's end is technically a purge but behaves as a dispel.

On Update Frequencies

Each of these has a different update frequency (the number I put next to it).

Invisibility, True Sight, and Shared Vision

Perhaps the status effect that you are most familiar with, invisibility is quite common in a dota 2 game. As it name suggests, it makes the affected unit invisible to enemies. It seems simple at first, however, this powerful and sometimes annoying status effect does have some quirks worth going over.

Invisibility makes a unit:
  • Not appear on their enemies' screen
  • Not appear on their enemies' mini-map
  • Unable to be directly targeted

Invisibility does not in any way, shape, or form:
  • Make you invincible
  • Make you immune to damage
  • Make you immune to crowd control

Invisibility is removed when you do stuff besides moving, like:
  • Casting spells!
  • Casting items!
  • Attacking!

As for the inner workings of invisibility, it's kinda hard. Like I've played dota for 4+ years and I still have no clue what these are for. However, this is my best guess as to what they are (take it with multiple grains of salt):

Fade Time and Fade Delay

Let's say you activate Shadow Blade. There is a brief window where your model turns transparent, but you are still visible to everyone. During this time, you can still do stuff without breaking the invisibility. This means you can attack and cast both items and spells during this time. However, you will not automatically do any of those things, even if you have auto-attack turned on.

The fade delay is just something that happens before that and after you activate your invisibility. Cool information, but you won't ever use it in an actual dota game.

Counters to invisibility

Riki is annoying. I get it. So it Clinkz, Bounty Hunter, and Slark. But what can you do to counter this amazing status effect that allows them to sneak past vision and enemy lines to kill poor #5 supports? (not salty at all. harumph.)

There are two counters to invisibility:
  • True Sight; and
  • Shared Vision

Let's talk about True Sight first. True Sight is a status effect that allows a unit to see invisible units without dispelling it. For example, possessing a Gem of True Sight allows a hero to reveal units around them in a 900 unit AOE without dispelling it. The not-dispelling thing is important because it does not remove the movement speed and phase that may come with invisibility.

Some abilities grant immunity to true sight, namely Shadow Dance, Minefield Sign, and Dust of Appearance.

However, do not mistaken: Corrosive Haze, Track, and Charge of Darkness do not *technically* give true sight. They give shared vision

The difference between True Sight and Shared Vision is that True Sight is centered around an allied hero (i.e. the hero who has the Gem of True Sight) while Shared Vision is centered around an enemy hero (i.e. the hero who is Tracked). Shared vision also only reveals the primary target

Invisibility can be used in many different ways. Common uses include manoeuvring around wards (think Smoke of Deceit), setting up plays (think Shadow Blade on Magnus), or stalking enemies in the jungle (think Riki). Be creative with your invisibility!

Countering invisibility is much harder, though. Very often one will get caught out by an invisible Shadow Fiend with Requiem of Souls, for example. There are many steps to countering invisible units. It all comes down to what the enemies use their invisibility for.

If the enemies use invisibility to escape:
If the enemies use invisibility to initiate:
  • When looking for a fight, place Sentry Wards in flanking paths
  • Ensure you have good vision around where you are fighting
  • Be ready to counter initiate

Spell Immunity

One Status Effect to rule them all...

Last, but certainly not least, we have Spell Immunity (formerly Magic Immunity). Spell Immunity is like the trump card of all status effects. Once spell immune, a unit will be untargettable by most spells.

On top of that, Spell Immunity also:

  • Applies a dispel on cast
  • Grants the unit 100% Magic Resistance

That's it. Spell Immunity does not affect attacks at all. However, they do block some attack modifiers.

Most spells do not pierce spell immunity, but some of them do. It's very inconsistent, as with most things in dota. Here's a list of which spells do and do not pierce Spell Immunity.

Use Spell Immunity to avoid magic damage and crowd control in fights. That doesn't mean anything to you. Okay hmmm...

1. Don't be afraid to use your spell immunity preemptively

It's better to be safe than to save a few split seconds on your spell immunity. For example, Enigma players will activate Black King Bar before they use Blink Dagger and Black Hole to initiate a fight.

2. However, when you can, save your spell immunity until the last moment

If you turn Spell Immune while a dangerous projectile (that is blocked by spell immunity) is in the air, the projectile will be negated completely. Therefore, you should wait until enemies have casted the spell (if possible), before you activate your spell immunity. This is especially helpful in games where the enemies have no instant disables (like Hex or Cyclone) so you can elongate your Spell Immunity time.

3. Leave time for you to get out

Too often I see heroes go in with their Spell Immunity, but only leave when their Spell Immunity is over (and so they die). Spell Immunity should have a buff display on your toolbar. Remember that you need time to escape.


Invulnerability, or invincibility, is a status effect that makes you immune to everything (with exceptions cus it's dota what did you expect).

"Wait Sofa that's overpowered!" you say.


Aaaaand that is all. Every single one out there. Well, I hope you guys learned something. I sure did!

Be sure to leave constructive comments! I love comments! Never hesitate to PM me or comment or just ask questions. Either the dotafire staff here or myself will be more than happy to help.

Future plans include a short invincibility section, a toolbar and a FAQ section.

I'd like to thank Hades4u and the admin team here for managing this site and making everything run smoothly. ]

And thank YOU for joining me on this journey. Love you guys!


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