Valve fires production company for Shanghai Major

by
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore eSports / Valve

Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell said in a Reddit post Friday that the company plans to replace KeyTV, the production company responsible for The Shanghai Major, in time for the main event on March 2.

Newell also gave some insight into the reasons behind removing James "2GD" Harding as host. The full text of his post, which came from a verified Reddit account, reads:

Two things:

1) James. We've had issues with James at previous events. Some Valve people lobbied to bring him back for Shanghai, feeling that he deserved another chance. That was a mistake. James is an ass, and we won't be working with him again.

2) As long as we're firing people, we are also firing the production company that we've been working with on the Shanghai Major. They will be replaced, and we hope to get this turned around before the main event.

As always, I can be reached at gaben@valvesoftware.com.

Gabe

So far The Shanghai Major Group Stage has faced severe technical difficulties, including major delays, audio problems and stream stoppages. On Friday, the Group B Loser's Match featuring Team Spirit against Vici Gaming was delayed by more than two hours.

Toby Dawson, one of the analysts invited to the event, stated in a tweet that there was no longer a production crew for the English stream, and that as a result there would be no panel for Saturday's Group C games.

The beginning of the day for Group C did not have a panel, but the panel returned part way through the day.

2GD has released a statement with his version of events. It gives a significant amount of background information on his hiring, his brief time hosting in Shanghai and past experiences with Valve. In it, he says that Bruno Carlucci told him that his "bottom bitch joke" and being "disrespectful towards players" were the catalyst to his firing.

"I was told to be myself," 2GD said in his statement. "Then maybe someone said ‘nope’ that's not what I want. Which is fine I guess, But handled very unprofessionally. This sucks because the community seemed to be enjoying it."

Jeff Fraser is a supervising editor for theScore eSports.

A guide to Anti-Mage

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Anti-Mage has always been a staple of pub Dota, much like a Pudge in the mid lane and un-bought couriers and wards. Conversely his priority in competitive has never been high, at least recently, but he continues to be drafted by an intrepid (or stubborn) few, such as Team Faceless' Black^ and EHOME's Cty.

Patch 7.00 introduced a number of sweeping changes that have disrupted Anti-Mage's way of life, but they've also opened up some new possibilities, such as building Mjollnir instead of a Battle Fury.

Here's a quick guide on hating magic and playing a classic Dota hero, Magina, the Anti-Mage.

Playstyle

Anti-Mage's short cooldown Blink gives him a lot of mobility, and when it's combined with an early Battle Fury he becomes one of the fastest farmers in the game. However, patch 7.00 introduced a number of sweeping changes that have disrupted Anti-Mage's way of life and may encourage a more "fighting Anti-Mage" style, but the classic style of flash farming is still heavily favored.

One of the 7.00 changes that affects Anti-Mage is the jungle respawn timer and now creeps respawn every even minute instead of every minute. This means an efficient route through the jungle for Anti-Mage often involves him delving into enemy territory or farming a lane, both not particularly safe options.

He is a carry hero by definition, but he may struggle going toe-to-toe with harder carries in the late game, such as Phantom Assassin or Spectre. Anti-Mage's strength comes from his ability to farm quickly, effectively getting six-slotted faster than any other hero and keeping that momentum going.

Anti-Mage stays relevant in games by keeping a comfortable net worth lead over the enemy carries and does so by soaking up the jungle, split pushing lanes and hit-and-run ganks. You stay elusive in fights, going in when you can to blow someone up and pulling back when you get focused.

Skill Build

Another way that Anti-Mage has been affected by 7.00 is the inclusion of the talent tree system and by effect the removal of the stat leveling system. He was one of many heroes that benefited from taking early levels in stats depending on the situation and so his early game is hampered a little. But even without this, Anti-Mage's skill priority is still pretty situational.

Leveling your ultimate ability Mana Void at Level 6 is solely dependent on whether you intend to be aggressive early on, which you should in this current meta, but AM thrives on being greedy and your ult does nothing for your early game farm. It's also does pretty low damage at Level 1.

Maxing Blink and Mana Break is what allows you to farm quickly. Generally the best path is maxing Mana Break first, but if your lane opponent opts for aggression in the lane the lower cooldown from higher levels of Blink could save your life.

Generally speaking, though, you're pretty safe with taking an early value point in Spell Shield and maxing it last. Some players get two early levels, but the skill scales terribly as you gain 24% bonus magic resistance at level one, then an additional 8% magic res for subsequent levels. One early level is the most efficient path.

Itemization

The itemization for Anti-Mage has largely been static throughout the multiple changes in the Dota 2 meta, but that could be changing in 7.00. The standard Battle Fury build up is still very much the go-to method, but with the changes to illusions and Maelstrom and Mjollnir, a new build is surfacing.

The long-short of these changes is that illusions are now affected by raw attack speed buffs, while the Mael/Mjoll procs are no longer Unique Attack Modifiers (which means Mana Break still procs when Chain Lightning procs).

Because of Anti-Mage's 1.45s Base Attack Time, he benefits more from attack speed than heroes with lower BATs (default is 1.7s). Only Juggernaut, Oracle and Alchemist with Chemical Rage have faster BATs. But now that illusions benefit from attack speed, it's worth exploring a Mjollnir route for Anti-Mage.

Starting and Early Game

A standard start is two Tangos, Stout Shield, Healing Salve and an Iron Branch, which is the same opener Black^ and Team Liquid's Miracle- use. Cty often rushes his Poor Man's Shield and picks up a single Tango, which is far greedier, especially against early magic damage, but if you can get away with it, all the better.

From here you'll eventually pick up a Quelling Blade and a PMS, if you didn't open with one, and this is where your build will split.

If you intend to go Battlefury, this is where you pick up a Ring of Health for the lane sustain, grab Boots of Speed and complete a Perseverance. However if you're building towards a Mjollnir, get a Ring of Regen, then Boots of Speed, then a Headdress for an eventual Helm of the Dominator. Regardless of your path, complete your Power Treads afterwards.

Sustain is your main tool to stay in the lane and find last hits. Battlefury has built-in sustain, making the stat a natural build-up, whereas a Maelstrom doesn't offer the same thing, forcing you to find sustain elsewhere, which is where an HotD comes in.

Battle Fury buildup Mjollnir buildup
Perseverance Helm of the Dominator
6 HP/s 8 HP/s
125% Mana regen N/A
10 ATK DMG N/A
N/A +4 All Stats
N/A 20 ATK SPD
N/A HotD active
1700g 1800g

The biggest drawback of HotD instead of Perseverance is the lack of mana regen, which is important for sustained usage of Blink, but there are two options to alleviate this.

The first is Infused Raindrops, which provides a solid 0.85 mana per second and is the same or more as the Perseverance bonus (depends on how much intelligence you have). Or if you're lucky, Dominate a Hill Troll Priest for a cool three mana per second, assuming it keeps in aura range of you, or you can also just use any creep to stack jungle camps for you.

The Mjollnir buildup has the added benefit of turning your QB into an Iron Talon, if you really really need to jungle early on. Also consider a Magic Wand, regardless of your build, but it's completely optional.

It's also worth noting that Black^ has adapted his build to include an HotD first, then Treads, then Perseverance into Battle Fury.

Mid Game

For the traditional build, this is when you'll want to complete your Battle Fury, while Maelstrom is your next goal in the experimental 7.00 build.

Battle Fury buildup Mjollnir buildup
Battle Fury Helm of the Dominator + Maelstrom
6 HP/s 8 HP/s
150% Mana regen N/A
55 ATK DMG 24 ATK DMG
N/A +4 All Stats
N/A 45 ATK SPD
Cleave HotD active & Chain Lightning
4500g 4600g

After your core item your farming speed should get a major boost. Now, admittedly Battle Fury is the faster and more reliable way for farming neutral creeps, however, the Maelstrom provides much higher damage potential in teamfights and even against single targets, making it a better optional overall in the current, fight-heavy meta.

This is where both build paths converge as you build a Yasha for an eventual Manta Style. You may get there faster with a Battle Fury, but due to the aforementioned changes to illusions, the Maelstrom+HotD gives your illusions an additional 45 attack speed, which a huge amount considering your primary source of damage is Mana Break, not your raw damage. Additionally, the +55 attack damage from Battle Fury doesn't apply to your illusions anyways.

Being able to apply more Mana Breaks on your target, thanks to all your attack speed also means that the eventual Mana Void will be that much more destructive.

Late Game

Your Manta is what enables a lot of your damage burst potential and now you should consider your survivability. Heart of Tarrasque has been the standard approach at this stage of the game as it makes up for Anti-Mage's garbage strength (STR) growth and the passive is perfect for his hit-and-run style. However, another change in 7.00 has introduced a new option for Anti-Mage, Eye of Skadi.

Heart of Tarrasque Eye of Skadi
+45 STR +25 All Stats
+250 HP +225 HP
N/A +250 Mana
7% HP/s Cold Attack
5500g 5675g

The Cold Attack passive from Skadi is no longer a Unique Attack Modifier which means it can work with Mana Break (and Mael/Mjoll procs for that matter) and it all but guarantees you stick to your target. Its stat distribution is a lot more balanced as well, but this also means you're getting 425 less HP overall, which is a big chunk. Skadi remains a more offensive option nonetheless.

Further defensive options include Anti-Mage's new Aghanim's Scepter upgrade to Spell Shield. It's a passive buff that functions exactly like Linken's Sphere's spell block buff, but also reflects the spell effect as well, similar to how the Lotus Orb buff functions.

While the Agh's Scepter upgrade functions similarly to a Linken's Sphere and Lotus Orb combined, they all give very different stat bonuses and all three items should be taken into consideration during your games.

Aghanim's Scepter Linken's Sphere Lotus Orb
+10 All Stats +15 All Stats N/A
+175 HP N/A N/A
+175 Mana N/A +250 Mana
N/A 6 HP/s 6 HP/s
N/A 150% Mana Regen 125% Mana Regen
N/A +15 ATK DMG +10 ATK DMG
N/A N/A +10 Armor
Spell Shield Spell Block Echo Shell
4200g 4800g 4000g

Each item has its own distinct benefits, though Lotus Orb is likely the least favored as its ability requires you to cast Echo Shell on yourself, meanwhile the Agh's Scepter upgrade and Linken's spell block are on passively all the time, if they are off cooldown. And never forget, Black King Bar is also good against crowd-control heavy compositions.

Another quasi-defensive choice is a Butterfly, which is good against a right-click lineup that hasn't built a Monkey King Bar yet. The massive +35 agility boost helps you and your illusions, and now its hefty 30 attack speed bonus buffs them too.

After your defensive option, for the experimental 7.00 build you can finish your Mjollnir for a boost in attack speed as well as the powerful Static Charge active. A Moon Shard gives an even bigger boost to your damage output and the extra night vision could be useful during night time jungling. You can even build both. It cannot be understated that raw attack speed transfers over to illusions.

Last, but certainly not least, is an Abyssal Blade. The Blink-stun-Manta-right click-Mana Void combo is often enough to blow up most unsuspecting heroes even without any passive bashes in between. And because of the decent survivability from its 10 STR and 250 HP bonuses, it can even be rushed relatively safely right after Manta to really emphasize your ganking potential. However, picking up just the Skull Basher component is also a solid option in between other late game items.

Skill Tree

Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
+20 DMG -1s Blink CD +10 Stats -50s Mana Void CD
+150 HP +20 ATK SPD +15% Evasion +25 AGI

Most of the time when you're considering talents, you have to weigh the offensive and defensive options and consider your role, but as Anti-Mage you're generally more focused and the reasoning comes down to a simple question, how much does it help your farm?

At Level 10, the +150 HP option could be good for a fighting Anti-Mage and somewhat makes up for your poor STR growth, but at this stage you're probably still looking to pick up a core item. +20 Attack Damage will get you there faster and you'll want to eke out as much farm as possible early on.

A 1-second reduction to Blink's CD at Level 15 is not great. Maybe it will save your life and maybe it will let you jungle that much faster, however there are no maybes about the +20 attack speed. It's always useful in farming and fighting situations, and the bonus extends to illusions now.

Level 20 is pretty clear cut, +10 stats is so good and gives you a bit of everything, meanwhile the 15% evasion is purely situational. Even in situations where you definitely know the enemy cores won't be building an MKB, the stats still have a pretty strong case going for them.

The Level 25 talents look pretty clear cut as well, considering +25 AGI is the same as an Eaglesong, which costs 3,200 gold. The 50 second Mana Void CD reduction does bring its CD down to an absurd 20 seconds, which pretty much guarantees at least two casts of your ult in a drawn out teamfight. But that's assuming you have the mana pool to pay its 275 mana cost multiple times, on top of your Blinks and other active item mana costs. The AGI gain is a much more reliable choice.

Laning

Your laning as Anti-Mage is pretty standard fare for a safe lane carry: farm and don't die. You're pretty good at both thanks to your mobility and great attack animation, but you're also deceptively strong in early game engagements, particularly against heroes with low armor.

Since Mana Break causes physical damage, it's particularly good at cutting down INT heroes and certain STR heroes early on. So don't be afraid to get aggressive against a solo offlaner or that overly aggressive support, especially if you've got back up.

The biggest factor in your early game ganks is your own positioning and usage of Blink. Often an aggressive Blink can spell your own demise early on, given its long cooldown, but it could also net you a kill. Keep in mind that you do have a pretty good base movement speed at 315, which gives you decent chasing potential by itself.

Once you get a decent number of levels in Mana Break, you can jungle certain camps early and quickly if they have armor. All satyr and golem camps are your best choices since every single creep has mana. Medium centaur, large troll, Wildwing and Hellbear camps are doable early since the biggest creep has mana. However, avoid wolf camps since none of them have mana and they hit like trucks early on.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah.You can follow him on Twitter.

A guide to Dota 2's hero talent trees

by 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Dota 2 is a complex game that takes years of practice to fully master. In the recent 7.00 update, Valve dramatically changed many aspects of the game, including the map and HUD among others.

But one of the biggest changes was the addition of hero talent trees that will affect the way that you'll go about building your hero.

RELATED: A Brief Guide to 7.00's Map

At Levels 10, 15, 20 and 25, players can choose one of two talents that offer special bonuses to either the hero's stats or abilities. These talents can be as simple as providing a health or damage increase or something a bit more complex, like applying a slow on every attack or increasing the potency of certain abilities.

What's important to note is that choosing one talent will lock you out of the other talent for the rest of the game. While there are multiple instances where one talent will outclasses the other, for most heroes, choosing talents is a calculated process that should be determined by your role, the enemy's composition and your build among others.

Your Role and Talents

While talents vary from hero to hero, the first thing to consider when choosing talents is identifying your role on the team. While there are a number of different roles in Dota 2, they can broadly be categorized as either core or support heroes.

Core heroes usually have talents that emphasize their damage output or survivability, forgoing talents that increase their utility. Beyond attack speed, which is extremely useful for all core heroes, talents should be chosen depending on the team's needs. If you need to sit in the mid lane and tank damage, focusing on evasion and health talents is the way to go. If you are playing a hero capable of high burst damage, focusing on attack power and improving starting stats is a must.

Talents are more varied for supports, as ones that increase farm, movement speed and survivability are quite common. Due to the variety of talents in support hero talent trees, there are usually multiple different build routes depending on your role. Supports who are nukers will benefit more from damage increasing talents, while Position 5 supports will benefit greatly from gold increases as they can afford more wards without the assistance of a carry. And regardless of what role you play on the team, survivability talents can always help bolster a hero with low health and mobility to ensure that they are not knocked down quickly in a fight.

Your Item Build and Talents

Choosing a talent also goes hand in hand with buying items, as many talents synergize well or are rendered useless if certain items are picked up. Talents can be built around items or vice-versa, creating combinations that push heroes to new heights.

Maximizing the effect of your talents and items is integral to the game, which is why items should be carefully managed to prevent too much overlap. For instance, movement speed talents will be wasted if chosen alongside an item that grants bonus movement speed, like Eul's Scepter, and the two effects do not combine well.

Conversely, picking up a Dragon Lance for a hero who has a talent that increases attack range allows for the two bonuses to stack on top of each other, creating a hero who has far greater range than is normally possible. As Lone Druid illustrates, the combination of attack range talents and Dragon Lance can turn a hero into a deadly sniper that is tough to put down.

The Length of the Game

Another consideration that will help you determine which talents to pick will depend on just how long you think your game will last. As much as that +10 Intelligence talent will benefit you in the short term, a longer match will turn it into a small bonus that does not translate well into late game capabilities.

Likewise, if you're team is snowballing its way to a quick victory, then picking a talent that increases your gold per minute over a damage talent is a complete waste. On the other hand, if your team is built around the late game and wants to spend the first half of the game farming, then that gold talent is much more useful, allowing you to secure key items earlier than previously possible.

In general, pick talents that allow for a power boost if you expect to finish a match quickly, while focusing on talents that improve your utility and offer long-term rewards for matches that are going to last more than 40 minutes.

The Enemy's Composition

While there are plenty of talents that help enhance a hero's survivability, those talents can go to waste depending on what heroes the enemy team is fielding.

As an example, let's consider magic resistance. Magic resistance is a good talent to pick when faced with a team composed of spell casters, as there are only a few items that provide passive resistance. But when faced with a team that is composed of the likes of Sven or Juggernaut, magic resistance is useless, resulting in a wasted slot if that talent is chosen.

Beyond survivability, Templar Assassin provides a good example of two talents that are best picked against two different compositions. Her Level 25 talents offer either +3 Refraction instances or a -30s Respawn Time reduction. While the additional Refraction is a useful tool for survivability, it is rendered moot if the enemy team is able to engage in fights for a sustained period of time or is able to lock down Templar Assassin easily. In these cases, it is best to pick the Respawn Time Reduction, allowing Templar Assassin to get back into the fight that much quicker.

Keeping all of these factors in mind, let's take a look at the Talent Trees for three different heroes to see what their talents can bring to the field.

Lich

Hero Talents
Attacks Apply 30% MS and AS Slow 25 +35 Ice Armor Structure Armor
+120 Gold/Min 20 +150 Damage
-3s Frost Blast Cooldown 15 +125 Cast Range
+15 Movement Speed 10 +125 Health

As a hero who is great in the early game, Lich's talents provide small bonuses at lower levels before transitioning into bonuses that allow the hero to remain more viable as the game drags on.

Lich has no escape capabilities and has little health and armor to back him up, making the Level 10 talent choices equally viable depending on your personal preference. The Level 15 talents are similarly difficult to choose between, as the reduced cooldown on Frost Blast emphasizes Lich's role as a nuker, while the increased cast range allows him to better position himself in fights so that he does not die quickly.

The gold increase will allow Lich to still regain a sizable amount of gold heading into the late game, as he will be unable to farm as effectively at this stage. 150 extra damage, however, is a talent that is extremely tempting to not pass up, as Lich excels precisely because he is capable of nuking down enemies quickly.

If a Lich somehow reaches Level 25, the 30% movement speed and attack speed outclasses talent the additional Ice Armor talent by a wide margin. It is not a unique attack modifier, stacks on top of all of Lich's spells, and pierces spell immunity. Considering the lengths a Lich has to go through to get to Level 25, the 30% slow is a fitting reward for reaching it.

Earth Spirit

Hero Talents
+300 Rolling Boulder Damage 25 -45s Respawn Time
+300 Health 20 +15% Spell Amplification
+90 Gold/Min 15 +15% Magic Resistance
+4 Armor 10 +10 Intelligence

The popular support hero doesn't have the flashiest talents, and only one of them affects his abilities. What they do provide, however, is flexibility as they allow Earth Spirit players to build a hero that best suits their style. Most of that flexibility is present in the Level 10, 15 and 20 talents, and it is unlikely that an Earth Spirit player will gain enough farm to utilize either of his Level 25 talents.

Starting at Level 10, players may opt for bonus armor to increase Earth Spirit's survivability, a talent which syncs well with his +300 Health talent at Level 20. Considering Earth Spirit is frequently targeted in fights, being able to stay alive a a little bit longer is a must for players who expect to be in the thick of things.

On the other hand, the +10 Intelligence talent will allow him deal more damage right out of the gate and let him use his abilities without running out of mana. In conjunction with the Level 20 Spell Amplification talent, and Earth Spirit will not only be able to disable heroes, but hit them hard as well.

Earth Spirit's Level 15 talents are interesting because Earth Spirit is a hero that does not rely on items or magic resistance in most games. Picking up the gold increase will allow Earth Spirit to splurge on items beyond an Urn of Shadows and Magic Wand, while increased magic resistance is always a solid choice no matter what hero you play as.

Earth Spirit's talents may not dramatically change the hero, but they are interesting choices with no clear winner in each tier.

Lone Druid

Hero Talents
-10s Savage Roar Cooldown 25 +1.5s Entangling Claws Duration
-40s Respawn Time 20 +12 Spirit Bear Armor
+30 Spirit Bear Damage 15  +55 Damage
+175 Attack Range 10 +250 Health

Lone Druid's talents dramatically change what was a hero that previously relied on his Spirit Bear to do damage into one that turns the druid into a viable hero by himself.

A common build for Lone Druid involves picking the attack range increase at Level 10, the damage increase at Level 15, and the Respawn Time reduction at Level 20. The attack range bonus coupled with a Dragon Lance grants Lone Druid great range for fights, with the increased damage becoming a must have talent choice as a result. Reducing the Respawn Time at Level 20 is an incredibly strong talent that should not be passed up, as there are few other heroes who have a talent with that large of a reduction that are not Level 25.

While it is still possible to run a build that focuses on the Spirit Bear, it is barely relevant, as players like OG's N0tail have greatly popularized the druid-centric build. Choosing these talents provides a great advantage, and it is unlikely that a bear focused build will be used as widely as before barring a nerf.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

Kiev Major Qualifiers to feature region locking

by 5d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

FACEIT's Milos Nedeljkovic has revealed several rule changes that are being implemented for the upcoming Kiev Major Open Qualifiers, including one that prevents teams from playing outside of their home regions.

During The Boston Major American Qualifier, two European teams, Prodota Gaming and Elements Pro Gaming, advanced through the two Open Qualifiers despite not playing or being based out of NA. Though both teams failed to advance through to The Boston Major, the new rule prevents this situation from happening again.

Milos later clarified to theScore esports that the 3/5 rule will not prevent teams who are physically based in a region but have a majority of foreign players from competing in that region's qualifiers.

"Rule for the open qualifiers is that if a team is physically located in a region, they are allowed to play there," Nedeljkovic told theScore esports.

For the South American Qualifier, eight teams (four per qualifier) will advance through the Open Qualifiers to compete at the main event as opposed to the two teams which advance through other regions.

The Kiev Major Open Qualifiers are set to begin on March 6, with details on the qualifiers, including invites for the Closed Qualifiers, yet to be announced.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

A guide to Oracle

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Oracle was considered one of the stronger support picks towards the end of the 6.8x patch cycle and had similar draft priority in the competitive scene as the likes of Rubick or Ogre Magi.

This was despite numerous nerfs from the 6.88x hotfixes. It was only with the advent of 7.00 that his priority has fallen off, even though he's received a few of indirect buffs.

Oracle's no longer in vogue in the competitive scene, but he should still be a staple for any support player. Here's a quick guide on Nerif, the Oracle.

Playstyle

Every single one of your non-ultimate abilities is able to be cast on both allies and enemies with each serving a different purpose, some with potentially detrimental effects if used improperly. This makes Oracle one of the hardest heroes to grasp, but also one of the most versatile if played effectively.

Healing is a core mechanic to Oracle's playstyle, but he also has deceptively high burst potential, which has led to him being played in the mid lane every so often. Oracle's lack of hard crowd control and his mana costs are his biggest downfall, something you'll have to make up for with smart positioning, smarter usage of your skills and proper coordination with your team.

Skill Build

Purifying Flames (E) is your bread and butter and should be maxed first. When cast on a target it does a large burst of damage and will also place a stackable Heal-over-Time (HoT) which lasts nine seconds and heals for slightly more than the damage dealt. The effect is exactly the same on allies and enemies. Used by itself, it's your main form of burst damage thanks to it's 2.25 second cooldown, but its key usage is how it interacts with Oracle's other skills.

Fortune's End (Q) is your other damaging spell and should be maxed second. The spell fires a fast-travelling projectile from Oracle which explodes into a small area-of-effect (AoE), causing all damage and secondary effects. The first of which is a quasi-root effect that lasts longer the more the spell is channeled up to 2.5 seconds, while the other effect is a basic dispel.

Fortune's End is not a root even though it functions like one. It simply sets your target's movement speed to 0 for its duration. So Oracle does not benefit from the slew of root buffs in 7.00, sadly.

Fortune's End can be used defensively, too. The spell's damage and move reduction do not trigger on allies, nor does it dispel beneficial buffs. If any enemies happen to be in the AoE, they take the spell's full effects. Used offensively, the damage and move reduction are self-explanatory, while the dispel effect can also cancel the HoT from Purifying Flames, meaning you can take chunks out of heroes with an E-E-Q combo.

Fate's Edict (W) will be maxed last, but a value point early on is always recommended, if not mandatory. The spell disarms the target for its duration and simultaneously sets their magic resistance to 100%, which means they can still be targeted by spells, but they simply take no damage.

This is easily one of the riskiest spells to use in hairy fights. You might think you're helping your carry by making him immune to magic damage, but you also completely negate his ability to right-click.

The opposite can also be true. You might think you're helping the team by disabling the enemy carry, but he could also be your team's primary target and they just wasted Finger of Death, Laguna Blade or whatever else in what should have been a clean pick. Communication is key when using Fate's Edict properly.

It's pretty safe to use on enemy heroes when you have a team that deals mostly physical damage, such as Dazzle and Bristleback. And it's generally safe to use on your allies when they mainly rely on spells, such as Death Prophet or Tinker.

If nothing else: never cast it during hectic teamfights and only use it to eat the burst damage from Purifying Flames to turn it purely into a heal. At Level 1 you can only sneak in one Purifying Flames, but at Level 2 and up you can get in two casts. Purifying Flames' healing-per-mana efficiency goes up the more it's leveled. When paired with Fate's Edict, it's one of the best single-target heals in the game.

On the topic of healing, Purifying Flames never causes fatal damage on allies, meaning if your target is nearly dead anyways, or at 1HP thanks to Dazzle's Shallow Grave, you can spam a few Purifying Flames on the target to top them up. Though this is understandably risky.

Last but not least is your ultimate, False Promise. When cast on an ally it applies a strong dispel and locks the target's health at its current value, while delaying any and all incoming damage and healing effects. At the end of the buff's duration, all damage and healing is calculated on the target simultaneously.

While being able to delay a hero's death for 7-9 seconds is powerful by itself, especially if you save a core who can kill a hero or two within that time, the buff also doubles all forms of healing the target receives. Not only can you temporarily save an ally from certain death, but you have the potential to bring them back up to full health to wreak more havoc.

Itemization

Oracle is almost always utilized as a hard support in competitive play, so you'll be concerned less with your items and more concerned with how you ward and how you coordinate with your team. You'll maybe get your upgraded boots and upgrade your Magic Stick to a Magic Wand. It's nothing sexy, but you'll win games.

In theory, if you had the farm of a position 4 or could scrounge up a Hand of Midas, Oracle has quite a few options he could build towards. But even with farm, between wards, Smoke and TPs, you're scarce for inventory space as well. Core-acles will naturally have more options, but the viable items between both roles are similar enough.

Because you have abilities that synergize so well with healing, you should think about building some healing items, pair with a team that will or have a composition that has built-in healing already.

Against competent teams, Oracle will likely be the highest priority target in fights and you'll want to build items that help you not die, or at least die less.

Starting and Early Game

Your starting items will be the standard fare for a support: a mix of Wards and a Courier between your other support, Tangos and a few Clarities.

Throughout the laning phase, you will eventually pick up a Magic Stick and your Boots of Speed while maintaining proper map vision and making rotations with Smoke of Deceits. Wind Lace is also a solid pick up for your roaming and can build into an eventual Eul's Scepter.

Mid Game

In the mid game, you'll still be doing your support thing with Wards and Smokes, but eventually you'll find the farm for your boots upgrade. Typically this will be an Arcane Boots, but some pros prefer Tranquil Boots for the extra movement speed and the extra armor. Arcanes also have the added benefit of being able to be disassembled for an Aether Lens.

Consider upgrading your Magic Stick into a Magic Wand as it's a cheap way to add a bit more stats and stock more charges. Another way of adding some much needed health is to build an Urn of Shadows. Its active is particularly more effective for Oracle in 7.00.

In previous versions of Dota, an Urn HoT would be canceled by an auto-attack even if the target was affected by False Promise. However, this interaction has now been fixed in 7.00 and the Urn HoT persists throughout the False Promise duration. This is also true for Healing Salves and it may be worth to keep a cheeky one in your inventory. A full duration Urn charge under False Promise heals 800 HP, on top of any other heals that would be on your ally, so definitely consider an Urn if no one on your team is building one already.

As mentioned earlier, Aether Lens is a natural progression for the Arcane Boots built earlier and the extra 220 cast range will help you keep your distance during fights.

Because Oracle has almost no farming mechanics, a core Oracle may want to pick up a Hand of Midas along the way.

A Mekansm is an obvious choice as it synergizes so well with False Promise. Additionally, if you decide to forgo an Aether Lens, your Arcane Boots and Mekansm can later be built into an even stronger Guardian Greaves.

Eul's Scepter is a solid pick up if you can afford it, and if you bought a Wind Lace earlier, you've already incurred some of the cost. The mana regeneration alone is a boost to your mana-heavy kit, while the extra movement speed will help pad your average moment speed. Moreover, the active Cyclone ability is a defensive and offensive tool since it can dispel the Purifying Flame HoT, and you can channel Fortune's End on a Cycloned hero.

Previous versions of Oracle's False Promise ultimate also made your target ally invisible, which forced the enemy team to invest in detection. This component of False Promise was removed a long while ago, but you can give your enemies a sense of nostalgia with a Glimmer Cape. This helps ensure your False Promise target takes less damage, but it's also useful outside of your False Promise timings.

Medallion of Courage is always a good pickup for all support heroes, as the active gives you a lot of options. Buff an ally, debuff an enemy or debuff Roshan to kill quicker. The extra mana regeneration is also key.

When you absolutely have to not take any damage from anything, a casual Ghost Scepter coupled with Fate's Edict makes you immune to all damage for a cool four seconds. But also consider one if you simply get focused by the physical carries.

Late Game

At some point investing in mobility will be a good option. If you're a support Oracle, you'll probably want a Force Staff as you can use it to save allies and pop it if you come under fire, which you will.

If you're running a core Oracle consider a Blink Dagger instead of a Force since you'll be casting False Promise on yourself, whereas as a support you'd want to save it for your cores. Because False Promise delays damage taken, your Blink doesn't go on cooldown when you take damage. This is, of course, also true when you use False Promise on allies with Blink Daggers.

If you build a Medallion and have some spare gold, a solid choice is a Solar Crest, which makes every aspect of Medallion that much better. Guardian Greaves are also a natural progression, if you have a Mekansm and hold on to your Arcane Boots. The 1,700 gold recipe is a hefty price tag, but it's well worth the extra aura and item slot.

Aghanim's Scepter is an absolutely greedy choice, but what it gives you outside of your stats is a one second cooldown on Purifying Flames, down from 2.25 seconds, as well as a faster cast point 0.1 seconds down from 0.3. This is a pretty significant increase in burst, if you can cast fast enough and if you have mana to spare, but you will have to be mindful of how many HoTs you stack on the enemy before you dispell.

Ethereal Blade is a decent choice if you really want to blow someone up, especially if you already have an Agh's Scepter, but the Ether Blast is also useful as a defensive tool, moreso when combined with Fate's Edict.

If you're thinking Mjollnir, think again. Because Oracle has one of the best Base Attack Times in the game, he benefits much more from Attack Speed bonuses. If you happen to have a lot of gold lying around and are stomping, Mjoll is a fun and clownly pick up for Oracle that works surprisingly well.

Skill Tree

LVL 10 LVL 15 LVL 20 LVL 25
XP +20% GPM +60 INT +20 False Promise duration +2
Respawn Time -20s HP +200 Move Speed +25 Cast Range +250

In competitive play, there's a clear preference towards the reduced respawn time at Level 10. This is despite the fact that the 20 percent XP gain bonus is one of the best at the level bracket, but that option is likely better geared towards core players.

Like the Level 10 branch, there's a clear preference in the Level 15 branch in competitive play. Almost all supports choose the GPM +60 bonus as you'll likely melt anyways if you're initiated, but core players will want the extra 200 health.

Level 20 is where there's some variation, as the extra 25 movement speed seems more geared towards supports, but more pros tend to take the 20 extra intelligence (INT). This is likely to support Oracle's hefty mana costs and to make up for his average stat growth.

Level 25 is where there's the least data on competitive Oracle choices. Most games end before supports can get to this point. The extra 250 cast range is likely the best overall choice and it stacks with an Aether Lens. The extra two-second False Promise duration is about a 22 percent buff, up to 11 seconds from nine seconds and may not have a big impact in most games.

Laning

As a support, you'll be pulling, stacking, warding, zoning and dying. Your ganking potential is likely at it's highest when you're Level 7 and have Purifying Flames maxed, dealing about 810 magical damage for 300 mana in the span of about three seconds. About the same damage as a Laguna Blade for less than half the mana, though over a much longer period of time.

Before that though, with Level 2 Purifying Flames, if you use it on your own ranged creep you can out damage the HoT with your right-click and simply deny the creep, ala Lich. This is a powerful tool to control the creep wave equilibrium and it's not used enough.

Generally speaking, try not to leave any Purifying Flames HoTs unpurged on an enemy hero, as you'll end up healing them for more damage than you did, while simply wasting your own mana.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oraclea P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

A guide to Slardar

by
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Slardar is currently one of the highest priority heroes in the competitive meta, both in terms of his pick rate and ban rate. He's one of the strongest roaming, hit-and-run initiators in the game with a kit full of crowd control and mobility, and paired with low cooldowns he also excels in extended and constant skirmishes.

While Slardar has largely been transitioned from his traditional role in the offlane into a position 4 support, we do still see offlane Slardar from the likes of Natus Vincere's GeneRaL, Team Empire's Ghostik and Digital Chaos' MoonMeander

Regardless of your region and regardless of whether you're an offlaner or support player, Slardar should be added to your stable of heroes. Here's a quick guide on the Slithereen Guard.

Related: 8 Quick Tips for Slardar

Playstyle

As one of the most mobile and stun-heavy heroes in the game, Slardar is one of the kings of initiation. With a Blink Dagger coupled with a Force Staff, or just smart usage of Guardian Sprint, you can peel from the fight just as quickly as you entered, only to re-initiate seconds later thanks to your low cooldowns.

Your ult, Corrosive Haze, functions a lot like Bounty Hunter's Track. In a lot of ways, how you play BH is how you should play Slardar. Dancing around the edge of fights, debuffing with your ult and striking at the best opportunities.

You also have the option of being a tanky front line fighter depending on how you itemize, and what your farm priority is. And this is whether you start in the offlane or transition from a support into a core. However, your bread-and-butter is how you control the tempo of the game with your map presence and how you control the tempo within those fights with your stuns, regardless of how much farm you get.

The impact of your kit is largely farm independent (other than a Blink Dagger) placing your timing window in the early and mid game, so fight early and often.

Skill Build

Whether you're position 4 or offlane, your skill build is usually static. Max Slithereen Crush first, Guardian Sprint second, getting your ultimate Corrosive Haze when you can and ignoring early levels in Bash of the Deep.

A value point in Bash early on may be useful if you can land free shots on the opposing hero, but since just about everything scales on the ability, it's generally not a great value pickup early on.

Speaking of bash, you will live and die by your Slithereen Crushes. Learn the casting animation, learn the Area-of-Effect range and learn how often you can use it. With a 2.25 stun time at max level and a fixed eight-second cooldown your potential stun uptime is absurd. On top of all that, it cannot be stated enough that both your bash abilities pierce spell immunity.

Guardian Sprint gives you one of the fastest movement speeds in the early game, allowing you to traverse the map faster than most heroes. Coupled with your two bash abilities, you're one of the scariest heroes when you're missing on the enemy's map. Chances are you're rotating for a gank or taking a fast Roshan thanks to your Corrosive Haze.

In 7.00, Roshan had the single largest buff to his base armor ever in Dota 2 history, going from 5 armor to 15 and making him that much harder to kill early on. And since Slardar has the single highest minus armor ability in the game with Corrosive Haze, he's crucial for taking fast Roshan kills.

Minus armor is also most effective against targets that already have low armor to begin with, meaning Corrosive Haze has a very strong early game window, before armor items are built. Corrosive Haze also gives vision of the target for the entire duration of the debuff.

Itemization

Your life in the early game with be a bit of a slog, since you're a melee core with no built-in regeneration, but if you can weather the storm and muster a Blink you're already halfway to victory.

Your path to a Blink is generally the same if you're a support or an offlaner, but the latter simply gets there faster. At that point the builds branch off depending on your role and farm priority — more utility if you're a support — while offlaners can favor offense-oriented items, though utility is still a solid option.

It's worth noting that, while Slardar has relatively cheap spells including one that doesn't cost mana and a passive, he also has one of the worst intelligence (INT) bases and growths for a strength (STR) hero. Some sort of mana item will be useful.

Keep in mind that you are not a late-game carry. If you build with the intention of going late against the likes of Spectre or Phantom Assassin, you will likely lose.

Starting and Early Game

For supports, stick with a Tango and Healing Salve and a fair combination of wards and a courier. Maintain wards throughout the early game, picking up Town Portal Scrolls and Smokes of Deceit wherever necessary.

As an offlaner, a good start is a Stout Shield and a Tango. From there you can either pick up a Healing Salve and bank the rest of your gold, or rush a Poor Man's Shield.

Slardar has one of the highest armor stats at Level 1, which synergizes well with the damage block from Stout and PMS. But only pick it up if you know you'll take a lot of right-click harass.

You can consider a Quelling Blade if you need help last hitting or need the active, but it's not mandatory. However, if you're really being pressured in the lane, you can build into a Iron Talon and stay in the game with some jungling.

For both roles, pick up a casual Magic Stick if you can get value from it, ignore it otherwise or even upgrade to a Magic Wand if you're getting a lot of charges. After that pick up Boots of Speed.

From here, you can either complete your Tranquil Boots, or simply save up for your eventual Blink. Na`Vi's GeneRaL prefers Power Treads for his core Slardar, but Tranquils are a much more versatile pickup and you'll want to lean more towards utility anyways.

Mid Game

For both roles, after securing your few early game items, you'll need to focus on your Blink Dagger. Once acquired, your game should open up and you should be looking for more picks on the map, building according to the enemy composition. The mid-game pickups will be fairly similar, though offlaners have more options should they choose a more offensive route.

  • Force Staff is almost always a good pickup and offers you another avenue for escape and initiation.
  • Medallion of Courage or Solar Crest are versatile picks and their minus armor debuff also stacks with your Corrosive Haze, making Roshan or the enemy carry melt that much faster.
  • Eul's Scepter gives a lot of benefits, the mana regen will keep you topped up since your spells are generally cheap. The extra movement speed will push you to the movement speed cap while Sprinting and will be useful when you're not. And finally the active makes chasing that much easier and adds even more CC to your kit.
  • Hand of Midas is sometimes picked up because of Slardar's poor ability to farm creeps, which is generally why you'd want to be farming heroes, however sometimes your hands are tied and a Midas is the most optimal choice.
  • Shadow Blade or Glimmer Cape introduce another avenue of initiation or escape. While Shadow Blade is clearly more geared towards offlaners and Glimmer Capes are better for supports, it's often been the case in pro play that the items have been interchangeable between the roles. Choose what works best.
  • Vladamir's Offering or Helm of the Dominator is a solid pickup if pushes are the name of the game and it's decent in teamfights as well. The active from HotD is less useful since there's no way the dominated creep will be able to keep up with you.
  • Black King Bar is always situational, sometimes you won't even need it, but against certain magic or CC-heavy lineups, it's what you'll want right after your Blink.
  • Lotus Orb is in an even more situational than a BKB, but good way to hard counter certain single-target heroes.

For offlaners, Armlet of Mordiggian has long been the standard pickup, however it now shares a spotlight with Echo Sabre. Armlet is a solid choice for STR cores that want to manfight, but sometimes that's not really what you want to do as a Slardar.

The passive from Sabre also means you'll often have two chances to bash instead of one, every five seconds, which you can abuse fairly well with your ability to dance around fights. Consider one after a Blink if you're greedy as it also provides solid stats.

It's not uncommon for both Armlet and Sabre to be paired to further boost Slardar's mid-game damage potential, but that's a bit too greedy for my blood. On that same now, it may be best to avoid a Desolator since you have more than enough minus armor from your ult. If you really want more minus armor, build a Medallion.

Late Game

Offlaners typically have more options in the late game, since they will have the farm to support big late game purchases, meanwhile supports will likely only have the option of picking up a variety of mid-game items into the late game. An exception is sometimes made for the Assault Cuirass, which is a solid choice for supports and offlaners alike. It's equal parts offense and defense thanks to its aura and should definitely be built if no one on the team is building one.

Boots of Travel is always a good pickup for the late game as it frees up a slot that would have been taken up by a TP and you'll always be travelling at max movement speed when Sprinting.

If you happened to build a Shadow Blade in the mid game, a natural progression is to build a Silver Edge. The extra stats alone make it a solid pickup, but you get an added option to apply a break debuff.

Heart of Tarrasque can be a solid pick up if nothing else seems particularly necessary. You gain a massive amount of health, the extra STR gives a bit more damage and the passive works well with Slardar's skirmishing playstyle. It's common pickup for Na`Vi's GeneRaL when he plays offlane Slardar.

Heaven's Halberd is a solid choice if there's a lot of right-click damage on the enemy team. The active also may force the enemy cores to build into a BKB, which you partially counter with your magic immunity piercing stuns.

And finally, if you're really insistent on making Slardar a right clicker, Moon Shard is probably your best bet as the huge boost to attack speed pairs well with your Bash of the Deep. Although, if you also need some added wave clear, Mjollnir also works.

Skill Tree

LVL 10 LVL 15 LVL 20 LVL 25
HP Regen +6 Attack Speed +25 Armor +7 Bash of the Deep +10% bash chance
Mana +175 HP +225 Damage +35 STR +20

Looking at several pro players across different regions, in both offlane and Position 4 games, there's a lot of variability for which talent branches are chosen and that's generally a sign of a balanced skill tree.

For the Level 10 skill branch, the 6 HP regeneration bonus is slightly more popular among pros, but compLexity Gaming's Zfreek and B)ears' YapzOr lean slightly towards the 175 bonus mana.

Your choice may be related to what items you plan on building, definitely pick the mana branch if you don't plan on building items that give mana, like Force Staff or even Echo Sabre. It's also worth noting that Slardar and Terrorblade are the only heroes with an HP regeneration bonus talent at Level 10.

It's another tossup for the Level 15 skill branch, with many pros switching between the two branches. The bonus 225 HP is probably the best all-round choice, while those trying to eke out as much DPS or BPS (bashes per second) can take the Attack Speed.

The Level 20 skill branch is probably where there's the most consensus among pros as they often choose the extra +7 Armor, which is a decent boost to your effective HP, especially since you're a beefier STR hero.

Furthermore, the 35 bonus damage branch is the lowest damage bonus out of all Level 20 talents and many hero's Level 15 damage bonus branch are better. Further still, one of Necrophos' Level 10 branches gives him 40 bonus damage... take the armor.

Finally, Slardar's Level 25 branch introduces another tossup with both choices being solid. The 20 bonus STR is likely your go-to as it gives you a lot of what you need, more health and a bit more damage. However, the 10 percent additional bash chance on your passive is a higher risk, but also potentially higher reward depending on how fights play out.

Laning

Whether you're running Slardar as an offlaner or as a support, you should have a pretty standard laning phase for a melee hero. You have fantastic Level 1 armor, however your HP regen is the standard 0.25 HP per second, so don't get careless.

You're in your element when you're on the offensive. Your stuns are incredibly disruptive during skirmishes and your Guardian Sprint ensures your target doesn't get a away if they choose to turn tail. You'll also be able to roam faster thanks to your Sprint, but be careful when it's used as the 15 percent damage amp debuff can hurt.

Once you get your Corrosive Haze, you should almost always keep the debuff on nearby enemy heroes. At a 25 mana cost, 25 second duration and five second cooldown, uptime should not be an issue. Sometimes the debuff alone is enough to make the enemy pull back in the lane.

Corrosive Haze is also one of the best tools in the game for taking Roshan, thanks to his buffed 15 base armor. Keep this in mind.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oraclea P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

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