Get Good: How to play against Slark

Posted by Michael Lim on

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.

This slippery fish is the bane of many pubs thanks to his ability to both stealthily pick off weaker heroes while also being able to escape situations that other heroes cannot. He’s the fourth most picked hero in the last six months (that’s 25.98 percent of all games), and for good reason. The second most common item to pick up on Slark (besides boots) is Silver Edge, and once Slark has his Shadow Blade he often goes on a ganking spree since any squishy hero becomes an easy pickoff that can help him to snowball even farther.

The most important thing to remember when playing against Slark isn’t to pick a specific hero or build a specific item, but to move around the map with at least one buddy ready to back you up and to always carry detection, or place Sentry Wards in key areas where your team is trying to farm. If Slark can’t jump you, he can’t snowball and if Slark can’t snowball he’s much less scary.

Hero Counters:

Axe, Ancient Apparition, Bloodseeker, Sand King

Item Counters:

Ghost Scepter, Dust of Appearance, Scythe of Vyse, Abyssal Blade

While it is very useful to carry Dust of Appearance against a Slark with Shadow Blade, it is also important to remember that it will not reveal him during Shadow Dance. If Slark uses his ultimate, the best course of action is to use an AOE disable like Earthshaker’s Fissure or Underlord’s Pit of Malice. While the damage will be mostly negated by the health regeneration from being invisible, AOE disables (unlike unit-targeted disables) will stop Slark in his tracks, even during Shadow Dance.

When picking a support against Slark, avoid disables that rely on targeting your opponent. Heroes like Sand King, Lion, and Earthshaker work well in this regard, since their stuns can all be ground targeted. Tusk is great for his ability to save someone that has been Pounced with Snowball, or block Slark in Shadow Dance with Ice Shards (though Slark can simply Pounce over these). Ancient Apparition’s ultimate is also a direct counter to Slark’s health regen. If AA can land an Ice Blast on Slark, it stops healing for 8/9/10 seconds and cannot be dispelled with Dark Pact.

The logic for picking core heroes against Slark is very similar. Ground targeted or AOE disables or nukes are very useful when dealing with Shadow Dance. Axe can use Berseker’s Call to hold Slark in place, but he’ll need to be paired with damage dealers to actually bring Slark down outside the early game. Faceless Void can capture Slark with Chronosphere and while Chrono reveals invisible units inside of it, it does not reveal Slark during Shadow Dance.

Bloodseeker is one of the most direct hard counters to Slark since Thirst reveals any low health enemy unit across the map. Slark relies on hiding outside of vision to allow his health to regenerate, but with a Bloodseeker on the enemy team his health will never regen once it reaches a level that makes him visible via Thirst. Bloodseeker also has an AOE silence and his ultimate forces Slark to stand still and die or keep moving and die, since it is not dispellable via Dark Pact.

Similar to Phantom Assassin, Ghost Scepter is a good support item pickup against Slark. This is a recurring theme, as many pub-stomping carries rely on heavy physical damage, which Ghost Scepter deals with well. Items like Force Staff or Glimmer Cape can help if you notice Slark before he pounces on you, but neither item will break Pounce’s leash. The most important items to counter Slark, as previously mentioned, are vision (Wards, Gem, Dust) to keep him from sneaking up on you and a Teleport Scroll, either to escape a gank early in the game when he can’t kill too quickly, or to help a teammate under attack.

Since the worst thing about fighting Slark is the difficulty of locking him down, ideal items to build against him do just that. Abyssal Blade for a Strength or Agility hero and Scythe of Vyse for an Intelligence hero are both great ways to lock down Slark, giving 2 seconds and 3.5 seconds of lockdown respectively. Abyssal Blade is especially good against Slark with BKB because it pierces spell immunity, though Scythe is easier to use before Slark can react thanks to its cast range of 800. Take care however, as both items can be removed with Dark Pact. Either catch Slark by surprise or wait for him to waste the spell, such as by using it to farm a creep wave (a common thoughtless mistake made by many a Slark).

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