Get Good: How to play against Riki

Posted by Michael Lim on

Riki went through a significant rework late last year with the release of patch 6.86 but while the pesky little purple assassin is now sometimes played as a support, he can still make your pub games a living hell if allowed to gank unchecked. Luckily, there’s one simple key to countering Riki, and that’s making sure you can see him.

Riki’s popularity has remained almost unchanged over time. He’s the eight most played hero of all time, and the eighth most played this month, picked in 20.45% of games. In pub games, buying detection sometimes just doesn’t happen, and a Riki player can easily take advantage of that, making him a popular pub-stomping pick.

Hero counters:

Bounty Hunter, Night Stalker, Zeus, Slardar

Item counters:

Gem of True Sight, Sentry Ward, Dust of Appearance, Necronomicon, Force Staff

Always remember, even if you aren’t playing a support hero, that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of buying detection. Your support(s) are likely Riki’s primary gank target early game, and keeping up constant Sentry vision, plus carrying Dust means they’ll be slower to buy a Wind Lace or Boots that could help them live through those ganks in the first place. For the good of the whole team, pitch in and help to buy detection. Even if you don’t have enough slots in your inventory to be carrying around Dust, help your support upgrade their boots a little faster by dropping them some presents (detection) in your fountain!

There are a few heroes that are especially well suited to keeping track of Riki. Slardar’s Amplify Damage can be cast on Riki to keep him visible for the spell’s duration. Amplify Damage lasts 25 seconds and has a 5 second cooldown at all levels, so once Riki shows himself either via attacking something or walking near your strategically placed Sentry Wards, it’s easy to keep vision on him with this hero. Slardar traditionally builds Blink Dagger, which means that once he’s revealed Riki he’s also an ideal hero to initiate with.

While Zeus is relatively squishy and spell reliant, he’s also a good hero to have around against a Riki. If you’re careful enough not to get caught off guard, his Lightning Bolt can be ground targeted to reveal any invisible units or wards in an AOE (but getting trapped in Riki’s Smoke Screen is a disaster for Zeus as it silences, slows and persists for 6 seconds at all levels). The true sight from Lightning Bolt lasts 4.5 seconds, but does not follow the target, so if Riki walks out of the area, he’ll be invisible again. Thundergod’s Wrath also provides True Sight, but it’s best to reveal Riki with another method before ulting because the spell only deals damage to already visible heroes.

If you need a support that has the tools to keep tabs on Riki, Bounty Hunter is your guy. Track behaves similarly to Slardar’s Amplify Damage, in that it can be cast from range, grants true sight of the target and lasts quite some time (30 seconds at all levels) on a short cooldown (four seconds, albeit with a steeper mana cost of 65 to Amp Damage’s 25).

Both Amp Damage and Track can be dispelled with any kind of dispel. While Riki commonly builds Diffusal Blade with the intent of using it offensively, these spells can force him to “waste” his limited Diffusal charges in an attempt to save his skin.

Night Stalker isn’t a natural Riki counter, as he requires a bit of build-up before he can do that job, but his Aghanim’s Scepter makes him an ideal Gem of True Sight carrier, and a mobile anti-Riki protection bubble. Night Stalker’s ultimate ability Darkness grants the hero several bonuses at night, as well as allowing him to turn day into night on a 160/120/80 second cooldown for a 50 second duration. His Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade grants unobstructed vision (also known as flying vision) in an 1800 radius around himself. Paired with a Gem of True Sight, Night Stalker can spot Riki even if he’s hiding in trees or on higher ground. An important note to keep in mind is that Gem’s true sight radius is just 900, half of Darkness vision.

Item counters for Riki follow the same theme as hero counters: vision, vision and more vision. Buy plenty of Sentry Wards, Dusts of Appearance and grab a Gem of True Sight on someone that won’t immediately get picked off and give it away to the enemy. Necronomicon, once upgraded to Level 3, also provides true sight in an AOE, but with a 95 second cooldown and 40 second uptime, this should only be considered as a secondary option, in addition to wards and dust. One item that breaks the vision theme is Force Staff. It’s always handy to have one of these against Riki as it allows you to quickly move yourself or one of your teammates out of Riki’s Smoke Cloud or Tricks of the Trade.


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