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Wanna Play With Fire? Destroying Pubs with Lina Mid (7.01)

January 6, 2017 by Alien Righteousness
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Hero Build

DotA2 Hero: Lina

Purchase Order


Early Game

Core Items

Defensive Options

Offensive Options

Sixth Slot Options

Hero Skills

Dragon Slave

1 3 5 7

Light Strike Array

2 8 11 13

Fiery Soul

4 9 14 16

Laguna Blade

6 12 18


10 15

Hero Talents

+35/3% Fiery Soul Per Stack
-4s Dragon Slave‚Äč Cooldown
+150 Attack Range
+6% Spell Amplification
+40 Movement Speed
+50 Damage
+125 Cast Range
+80 Light Strike Array Damage

Wanna Play With Fire? Destroying Pubs with Lina Mid (7.01)

Alien Righteousness
January 6, 2017


Lina is one of the most iconic heroes in Dota 2. She is a very strong laner, team fighter, and ganker who can burst down targets extremely quickly. Although she can be played as a support, I think this is a sub-optimal role for her. Her skill set, item dependency, need for levels, and ability to scale into the late game surprisingly well for a nuker all point to her lane and role as being mid and semi-carry (position 2). I recommend picking Lina if your team is lacking burst damage and you already have a strong initiator or tank and if the enemy doesn't have Nyx Assassin, which is her only hard counter, IMO.

Lina's mid win rate isn't very impressive at the moment (46%), but I think this is more due to her being played incorrectly than her simply being a weak hero or a bad meta for her. For example, many people would point to Infused Raindrops as the reason for her low win rate. Yet if you look at her win rates by skill tier, you see that her win rate is actually highest in 5k+, where Raindrops are most abundant. Moreover, in 7.01 she has some great talents that fix her mana issues, keep her at a safer distance in team fights, and buff her attack damage and movement speed in the late game.

Rather, I think her low win rate is more due to players making one or both of these mistakes: 1) Playing her too passively in the early and mid game. She is a momentum hero and needs to keep getting towers and kills to stay relevant. Your ult should be on cooldown as much as possible. 2) Trying to initate team fights with her. As tempting as it is to burst down a hero right at the start of a team fight, you'll probably get killed shortly thereafter. She should wait for someone else's initiation and then, ideally, keep her distance while she unleashes her fury.

Strengths and Weaknesses


  • Dominant laner. Lina can harass opponents out of lane very easily if not outright kill them. She can use this to snowball in the early game.
  • High burst damage. Chaining together her three spells can easily deal over 1000 damage when you are at level 12, often-times without any response from the enemy before they die. That's not even including the damage from your right-click.
  • Strong right-click. Many nukers, like Zeus, have a horrible right-click and horrible attack range, which makes them completely reliant on their spells. Not so with Lina. Due to Fiery Soul and her long attack range, her right-click is very formidable at all stages in the game.

  • Plays very poorly from behind. If you had a poor lane or weren't able to secure any kills in the early game, you might not have the momentum to be relevant in the mid game.
  • Very squishy. Unless you get a Bloodstone, which is not a playstyle I cover in this guide, she is very easily killed if she gets ganked or finds herself out of position in a team fight.
  • Above average mechanics and game knowledge. Lina is not a forgiving hero. Her stun does not leave much room for error. Using Eul's at the wrong time or entering a fight too early can result in feeding. Most novice players also don't grasp the strength of Fiery Soul and miss out on important early game kills as a result.

Skills Analysis


Dragon Slave is one of the best AOE nukes in Dota and you will always want to max it out ASAP. In lane you will use it to farm and harass. Later you'll use it for farming and pushing and nuking down enemies in team fights. Has a very reasonable mana cost for the amount of damage it does, nevertheless it is still mana-intensive in lane and you'll want to use it wisely, such as both securing a last hit and harassing the enemy mid at the same time.


Light Strike Array is powerful AOE nuke that can also be used to destroy trees. The big downside is its impact delay of 0.5s, which means that the enemy can potentially dodge it. In lane this makes it tricky to use effectively (usually you will wait for the enemy hero to go in for a last hit). Once we get Eul's Scepter of Divinity, setting up the enemy for a stun will be quite simple. Normally this skill is maxed out after Dragon Slave.


Again, your Fiery Soul passive is what lets you scale into the late game better than most nukers. At level four and with three stacks of Fiery Soul, you'll have an extra 24% move speed and a whopping extra 255 attack speed. This is always maxed last because your nukes are the more potent part of your repertoire in the early and mid game.


Laguna Blade is the largest guaranteed nuke in the game with the Aghanim's Scepter upgrade (since it becomes pure and pierces spell immunity), but comes at a massive mana cost. You will typically use this spell as soon as possible when team fighting or ganking when you're certain you have the mana for it.

First Skill

Do not add your first skill point until the starting rune because Light Strike Array can be used to secure it or even get a kill. Otherwise, put your first point in Dragon Slave so that you can use it to last hit and harass early on in lane.


The talent selections listed at the top are ideal, but some are still situational. Let me describe those situations. Note that you can see the win rates of each talent here.

Level 10: I think the +250 mana is a no-brainer compared to +20 attack damage. Your combo with Eul's is so expensive (1120 mana at level 18) that having the equivalent of an extra Energy Booster (that doesn't take up an inventory slot!) is incredibly useful.

Level 15: Another no-brainer. The additional cast range will let you stay out of harm's way, which means you're less likely to die. And isn't the goal to not die, rather than to die and come back more quickly? Therefore, the -30s respawn time seems like a strange as well as pessimistic option.

Level 20: If you're concerned about getting in harm's way in team fights, go with the attack range so that you can be further from danger. This talent is also great for pushing high ground. Otherwise, the +6% spell amplification is very nice.

Level 25: A cooldown reduction on Dragon Slave might seem powerful, but keep in mind that in the late game (which is when you'll usually get level 25), the impact of your spells has fallen off quite a bit and most of your damage output, as well as your ability to destroy barracks, will come from your right click. Therefore, I think the extra Fiery Soul is usually better. If, however, you find yourself dying extremely easily in team fights and you did not take the attack range talenet at level 20, then the cooldown reduction is safer.

Items Analysis

Let me get this out of the way right now: Even though this guide is for position 2 Lina, never shy away from buying Observer and Sentry Wards if your supports aren't doing their job. Wards are not that expensive the value they provide is critical to your success.


The typical mid starting items for an intelligence hero are Null Talisman, Faerie Fire, and Iron Branch. Lina benefits tremendously from a starting Clarity, however, since it lets her continue to last hit and harass with Dragon Slave as necessary until her Bottle arrives. Since Clarity is cheaper than Faerie Fire, this will allow us to purchase an extra Iron Branch as well.

EARLY GAME: LANING PHASE (0 - 10 minutes)

The main two items you want to get as soon as possible are Bottle and Boots of Speed. I would also recommend bringing out a TP with your Bottle for reasons I'll discuss in the section on The Laning Phase. Against a Zeus, Phantom Assassin, or some other hero that spams spells in lane, you'll also want an early Magic Stick. Infused Raindrops is also a good investment if you want to score a kill on an opposing mid caster, because you'll be able to survive their burst but not vice versa.


It is absolutely critical that you get kills or take towers during this phase, otherwise you could lose your momentum and become irrelevant. In order to push quickly or get kills you'll need lots of mana. For that reason, picking up an Energy Booster followed by a Magic Wand is very important. The Wand isn't critical but it is useful often enough that you should default to buying it if you're uncertain.

After that, your next goal is the very important Eul's Scepter of Divinity. You won't have slots to hold all of the components, so I would recommend keeping the Staff of Wizardry active and the Wind Lace and recipe in your backpack. That way you have the option of completing the Eul's at a side shop (by purchasing Void Stone).

The active of Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Cyclone, is what you will use to set up for your combo. Upon reaching an enemy, you will 1) Cyclone them, 2) drop Light Strike Array on them less than a half second before the Cyclone ends, 3) target them with Laguna Blade, 4) target them with Dragon Slave, 5) right-click them if they aren't already dead.

Timing the Light Strike Array is the trickiest part of the combo and will undoubtedly require practice in a demo game if you've never done it before. You should also move close to the enemy while the Cyclone is active, unless doing so would put you in danger. Otherwise, if the combo doesn't kill them and they begin to run away, you might not be close enough to get off enough right clicks to kill them.

Eul's isn't just about the combo setup. The mana regen is critical to your sustainability. The movement speed lets you gank and escape more easily. But most importantly, you can cyclone yourself to become invulnerable for its duration (therefore dodging the damage and effects of many spells) or purge off debuffs like silence. You can see then how this isn't just an offensive item but a very defensive one that is useful in every situation.

Warning: One of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make as a Lina player is to Cyclone an enemy who is already slowed or disabled. Do NOT get into the habit of mindlessly using Cyclone on an enemy before unleashing your nukes.

MID GAME (15-35 minutes)

Next you should finish Aether Lens, hopefully by 21:00. This has a lot of obvious perks but my favorite is the cast range because it affects your item cast range as well. This is invaluable when ganking because you can often times initiate before the enemy has time to react. In team fights, the cast range will let you stay further from danger.

I would recommend buying the Aether Lens recipe first and storing it in your backpack, then you have the option of buying the remaining Ring of Health at a side shop. You do not need to buy an Energy Booster --- you already have one. Simply disassemble your Arcane Boots when you are ready.

"Wait, so now I'm just stuck with Brown Boots?" Yes, and it's actually not a bad thing. You're already decently fast due to the movement speed increase from Eul's. Nevertheless, I wouldn't fault someone for investing their next 840 gold in Phase Boots to give you that extra edge.

By now you will have three core items (Boots, Lens, Eul's) and three small items (Null, Bottle, Wand). If you don't want your TP scroll in your backpack then you'll need to sell one of the small items. I would recommend starting with the Bottle unless your team is in control of the river and you'll have the chance to store non-bounty runes, in which case, selling the Null first is fine. The Magic Wand brings so much value to team fights that I always sell it last.

I usually get Aghanim's Scepter next, which makes your ult pierce spell immunity and changes the damage to pure. There are few games where this isn't relevant, not to mention that the stats, health, and mana increase is always beneficial. Nevertheless, on rare occasion you might need to first pick up a more defensive item like Linken's Sphere, Force Staff, or Ghost Scepter.

If all is going well then you should have Aghanim's by 30:00. If you don't need to save for buyback at this point, you can start thinking about your late game items or some other filler items to round out your repertoire:

Defensive Items

  • Linken's Sphere. The strongest answer you can have to nasty single target disables like Duel, not to mention that the stats and mana regen are incredible.
  • Force Staff. Unlike a Blink Bagger, this will reliably get you out of sticky situations like Clockwerk's Power Cogs or Riki's Smokescreen. Can be upgraded into the excellent Hurricane Pike, if desired.
  • Ghost Scepter. Great for shutting down heroes like Juggernaut, Phantom Assassin, and Riki that rely mostly on their physical damage. Can be upgraded into Ethereal Blade in the late game.
  • Glimmer Cape. The invisibility is nice, but the main draw is the magic resistance.
  • Black King. Sometimes the aforementioned items aren't enough because your enemy has multiple disables and silences that are wrecking you at the start of team fights.

Offensive Items
  • Blink Dagger. Between Aether Lens and your +125 cast range talent (both of which will increase Blink's range, by the way), positioning yourself for a kill becomes quite easy. Very strong when you're snowballing and also when you need to destroy a support or a Sniper on the back lines after a team fight breaks out.
  • Scythe of Vyse. What Abyssal Blade is to melee carries, Scythe of Vyse is to casters. This is your ultimate disable tool, slowing, silencing, and muting the enemy. Rarely is this a bad pickup, but you should especially prioritize if your team is struggling to lock down certain heroes.
  • Daedalus. The attack speed from your Fiery Soul is so high that you can output a disgusting amount of attack damage with this item. Only get it, however, against low armor heroes that aren't strongly affected by your magic damage (e.g., Anti-Mage, Huskar, Lifestealer).
  • Monkey King Bar. In the early and mid game, your magic damage can wreck Phantom Assassin without much problem. In the late game, however, once PA is tanky or other agility carries have picked up Butterfly, you might need this.
  • Silver Edge. This is usually bought for the Break against Anti-Mage. Nevertheless, if you're really desperate to sneak up on someone for your combo or perhaps get behind the enemy supports during a team fight, this will serve well toward that end.

Sixth Slot Items
  • Octarine Core. Buy this as your sixth slot late game item if you find yourself in more of a utility role than a damage role or if you need to get tankier.
  • Bloodthorn. Buy this as your sixth item if you find yourself in more of a damage dealing role and Daedalus is too one-dimensional.

Other items considered: Click to view

Gameplay and Strategy

Lina is a momentum hero. She is one of the strongest early game heroes and she needs to keep pressing her advantage in the early and mid game so that you can either end early or enter late game with much stronger carries than the enemy.


The laning phase is definitely the most important part of the game for you. If you're not a strong mid player, then you will need to become one before you can have an impact in games with Lina. I recommend these resources for both general mid strategy and mid Lina:

  • ChaQ's Ultimate Guide to Solo Mid, especially the part on creep aggro. Make sure you understand exactly when and how to draw creep aggro, and also how to harass the enemy without drawing creep aggro.
  • Blue Span's Lina Mid Core video on Youtube on how to land Light Strike Array's during laning phase. Some of his other advice, such as how to chain stun, is dated because LSA's cooldown was increased since then.
  • Replays of high MMR players playing Lina mid. Simply look up the matches of top Lina players on Dotabuff.
  • Pvgna.com's video on mid efficiency by Chessie
  • Pvgna.com's videos of 1v1 solo mid Lina by HuntaeLa.

Of course, it's not enough to read and watch these resources. You need to practice in bot games (Unfair difficulty) and then in normal games before you tackle ranked. If you can't consistently get kills in the mid lane versus a bot Pudge or Death Prophet, and you can't get at least 40 CS / 10 min, why do you think you'll be able to do any better in ranked?

Generally, you're going to get solo kills by stunning the enemy with Light Strike Array when they try to last hit a creep, following up with one or two more spells, and then right-clicking them to death. Using all three of your spells at level 6 will require 510 mana, but if your opponent is already low (maybe 60-70%) health then only your stun plus one more spell might be necessary.

Good Lina players know that most other heroes can't trade right-clicks with them if a level one Fiery Soul has even two stacks. A classic novice mistake is to panic when you've unleashed all of your spells but only get the enemy down to 25-30% health. Two Fiery Soul stacks gives an extra 80 attack speed, and three stacks gives 120. All else being equal, you'll definitely come out on top if they try to trade right-clicks with you, so just stand your ground and keep attacking.


The laning stage will end at about 10:00. Always prioritize taking the mid tower if the enemy mid has left the lane to try to gank. Call missing, then destroy the tower. Remember, a T1 tower is a guaranteed 1000 gold. Roaming for a gank not only doesn't guarantee gold but it can actually result in you losing gold if your plans fail.

Ganking will be very hard without vision. If your supports have no vision up around the enemy T1's, for example, then how are you going to gank safely? You're not. You might run into two enemies in the jungle and feed. You should always ask your supports to ward around the next objective. If they won't, then you should. Yes, it is frustrating to have to ward as a position 2 or 3 Lina, but the good news is that you are not as item dependent as most cores, so you can get away with it.

If you had a bad lane, you should probably just jungle into Eul's Scepter of Divinity unless you can be part of a reasonably safe push or gank effort. What's your confidence level in those efforts succeeding? If its not 80% or higher, don't do it. A Lina who is behind cannot afford to get even more behind. A 20 minute Eul's is absolutely brutal and you're basically relying on your team to carry you.

Now, let's say that lane did go well and you have your Eul's and Arcane Boots by 16 minutes. Should you jungle? Absolutely not. That's letting your momentum go to waste. Get busy setting up kills. Ask your allies, other than your hard carry, to gank with you. If there are no opportunities, maybe you need to set up wards first. If that's too dangerous, then push towers. If you do have a successful gank, push towers immediately. Always keep the pressure on.

Friends and Foes

Since Lina has no escape mechanism, she can struggle against heroes who can quickly get in her face and disable her, burn her mana, or silence her. Nyx Assassin is particular nasty. She might also struggle against heroes that are hard to get close to ( Sniper) and heroes that have good escape mechanisms.

On the positive side, other than Nyx Assassin, I wouldn't say she has any hard counters that automatically make me wish I wasn't Lina. (Which is not to say that Nyx himself isn't easily countered.) In the mid lane, the only really annoying matchup is Arc Warden, but the solution is to just play it safe, keep the wave near your tower, and patiently get as much CS and experience as you can.

You can use this lack of hard counters to your benefit during the drafting phase. Whereas most carries ought to be picked last or second to last, it's really not a big deal if Lina is picked first or second. Practically, this means I don't have to lose gold as my teammates try and figure out what they want to do.

As stated in the introduction, what should concern is not so much who is on the enemy team but who is on your team. If you have no one on your team to initiate or tank, then Lina could possibly be a disastrous pick. Granted, they might not have an initiator either, but if they do and you don't, team fight could be a disaster.

Bonus: Support Lina?

Valve labels Lina as a support and a carry. That doesn't mean she can play both equally well. Indeed, Sven, Wraith King, and Viper can play support roles as well. But, like Lina, their support style is either gimmicky or very situational.

A support usually has two traits:

  • Some form of utility spells that aid allies.
  • The ability to impact the game even with minimal items.

Using this criteria, Lina is by no means as reliable a support as many other heroes. Her one utility spell, Light Strike Array, is difficult to land without the assistance of either an ally or an item like Eul's Scepter of Divinity. This is awkward for "support" Lina because it means that she needs support in order to be an effective support! On the other hand, LSA does have a much shorter cooldown than other stuns.

Lina can impact the early game as long as she has levels. The problem is that she is not going to get those levels very quickly if she's in a dual lane. The other problem is that her nukes become less useful as the game progresses. The same can't be said for most utility spells. At 50:00, a hero like Omniknight or Warlock is just as relevant as ever.

If Lina has one indisputable edge over other supports, it is her attack range. It is so long that she can easily harass melee heroes without drawing creep aggro. But her lack of a heal or other useful lane utility makes her a weak lane support. She is probably better adept at ganking and creating space in the early game. Moreover, since supports ought to pick early in the draft, it's somewhat difficult to predict when her exceptionally long range is going to be more useful than the ranged attack of a more common support.

Long story short, "support Lina" is almost non-existent in high-MMR and the pro scene. I don't think this is a coincidence. Personally, I happen to play quite a bit of support, and I much prefer supports with higher utility value like Warlock and Crystal Maiden. I can't ever remember losing a game where I thought, "If I had only supported with Lina instead..."

Lina is designed to kill heroes, not just through her spells but also her fiercesome right-click, which immediately sets her apart from every other support I can think of except Vengeful Spirit. Combine this with her need for levels and certain core items, and I think it is indisputable that mid semi-carry is the best lane/role for her.

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