If you want to get better at Dota 2, our Get Good Series will break down the best ways to play against the heroes you are most likely to see in your pubs.
Phantom Assassin is the second most played hero of all time, and has edged out even Pudge to become the most picked hero over the past six months. Phantom Assassin is one of the many popular carries in pub games that can blow up squishy heroes in an instant, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple ways to deal with her huge physical burst.
Queen of Pain, Timbersaw, Lion, Razor
Ghost Scepter, Silver Edge, Monkey King Bar
If PA is picked early enough that your team has time to counter pick her, you should look at picking up a hero that specializes in magic damage and disables — especially those that go through Black King Bar. Her base health at Level 25 is only 1880 and considering that she has one of the lower strength gains in the game (1.85 per level), she doesn’t get beefy unless she itemizes accordingly (not that PA players want or should build tanky).. Lion is a great all-around support to pick against PA since both Earth Spike and Hex provide valuable disables while Finger of Death is a massive single target magic nuke.
Plenty of strong mid lane heroes are also good PA counter-picks. Magic nukers like Queen of Pain, Tinker or Timbersaw (whose damage is a mix of magic and pure) all cut down PA’s low health pool before she can buy a BKB. Razor is particularly effective because, in addition to being tanky, Unstable Current makes him very difficult to jump and applies a slow every time she targets one of her spells on him. Not to mention that once PA gets close, his Static Link ignores magic immunity and can drain large amounts of her damage.
When it comes to more defensive options, supports should consider buying a Ghost Scepter (1500 gold) for those moments that PA uses Phantom Strike on them. It’s an inexpensive pickup and gives solid all around stats (+5 to each base stat). PA relies entirely on physical damage, and Ghost Scepter blocks all physical damage for four seconds. Basically the item gives you a window of opportunity for your team to intervene, or at least time to use some kind of disable and try to get away.
If you are planning on purchasing a Ghost Scepter, keep a close eye on PA’s inventory to see if she purchased a Diffusal Blade. While the item is not a common pickup for PA, it does allow her to remove the Ghost Form state. Also important to keep in mind is the magic damage potential from PA’s teammates. While it may be valuable to avoid her physical damage, Ghost Form increases incoming magic damage by 40 percent. If multiple heroes on the enemy team have big magic nukes (like Lion), Ghost Scepter may end up being more trouble than it’s worth. In that case, look for a mobility item like Drum of Endurance or Force Staff.
If your team’s main source of damage is physical, your core heroes should aim to build either a Silver Edge or Monkey King Bar. Silver Edge (5100 gold) is better if you don’t already have some form of invisibility on your team, as the enemy team might not be as likely to purchase an abundance of Dust of Appearance and Sentry Wards. When you attack PA with the first attack out of Silver Edge’s invisibility (technical term: Shadow Walk), it disables her passive abilities for five seconds, meaning she has neither Blur to evade physical attacks or Coup de Grace to land those devastating critical hits. On top of all that, it reduces her damage for 50 percent for those five seconds as well.
Monkey King Bar is another good option, but at 5400 gold without a cheaper item to build first (like Shadow Blade into Silver Edge), most of the time it’s only viable for a carry or mid laner to build. For the hero carrying Monkey King Bar, Blur is no more than a bad memory. MKB guarantees that every physical attack from the hero carrying it will not miss, plus it grants +66 Damage and +15 Attack Speed. It also has a 35 percent chance to mini-bash on hit, which deals 160 damage. Since PA relies on being able to dive into fights and take minimal damage thanks to Blur, MKB forces her to play far more carefully, or risk a quick death.