Leshrac’s popularity increased both in competitive and pub games due to several buffs that affected him in the past patches. Currently, he enjoys a 52% win rate and 12% pick rate at Divine, but is less successful at lower ranks.
Leshrac has been a dead hero in the meta for a long time, but Valve continued adjusting his numbers, and over time the buffs summed up.
Considering all the patches released in the previous two years, his movement speed went from 315 to 330 - the last increase took place in 7.12.
After the 7.00 talent system, he received almost only positive changes.
Recently, IceFrog reduced the cost of his skills and increased Lightning Storm damage at low levels, which eased his early game.
Leshrac has a versatile and strong kit, but he required extra survivability, granted by the strength buff in April.
Lack of popularity at low ranks
Even after the strength buff in 7.13b (base strength and gain from 16 + 1.8 to 18 + 2.1) Leshrac remains a rather squishy hero with low range spells.
He can’t fight safely from a distance, but needs to commit in the action to exploit all his arsenal - particularly the AoE spells as they hit only targets in a small area around him (450-500 radius).
If we look at the pro meta, Leshrac can be played in various positions, both as a core or a roamer. Instead, in low ranked pubs, he is mainly confined to the poor support position. Without items or teammates who know how to work together, he becomes food for the killers infesting that area of the matchmaking, such as Riki and Phantom Assassin.
The hero has several tools as his disposal (stun, slow, huge AoE damage, pushing power), is strong during the laning stage, can deathball, and scales well into the late game, but he won’t survive on his own without help, items, and escape abilities.
The Magic Wand is mandatory
Buy a Magic Stick and upgrade it as soon as possible. Leshrac possesses many spammable spells so you will gain charges quickly. Nowadays, taking the control of the runes with the Bottle isn’t even indispensable for mana as players use more Clarity Potions than in the past.
Regardless of his role, Leshrac will have mana at his disposal to harass you regularly, and the slow from Lightning Storm is a real nuisance because it gives him time for an extra attack.
When fighting him in the lane phase, utilizing the Wand charges at the right time may make the difference between success and failure.
Cheap damage items help in the lane
Leshrac has a reasonable damage and animation, which combined with Lighting Storm give him a decent harassing and last hitting power.
I suggest you get some cheap items for extra damage and stats depending on your hero. For example, the Null Talisman if you are INT-based, in order to last hit and deny reliably.
Smoke of Deceit
Leshrac is susceptible to ganks due to the lack of escapes and the low health pool. Smoke ganks are very effective both in the lane phase and in the mid game.
He can rush either mana regeneration items to boost his damage (being able to spam all his spells and keep Pulse Nova active for a longer time) or his tankiness and survivability, but not both.
Leshrac can’t stop Diabolic Edict once activated, and even turning off Pulse Nova requires reflexes and some time, so using the Blade Mail at the right moment might annihilate him.
Magic resistance and immunity
The Black King Bar is mandatory after your first big item on any core when facing Leshrac - you won’t survive easily in a teamfight without magic immunity.
Moreover, once the duration decreases to 5 seconds, you must always focus and kill him as soon as possible in any teamfight - otherwise, he will just slaughter your cores once the magic immunity effect ends.
Magic resistance helps at well, but the Pipe of Insight’s 400 HP Barrier won’t last for long due to Leshrac’s absurd AoE magic damage.
Heroes with magic resistance abilities
The best carry you can pick. Spell Shield grants 50% magic resistance bonus (75% with the level 25 talent) which greatly boosts his survivability against any caster.
Mana break is also an amazing tool because Leshrac requires huge quantities of mana to use his spells and keep Pulse Nova active. With sufficient attack speed, AM and his illusions can quickly burn all his reserves, making him useless.
Another optimal choice thanks to his built-in magic immunity via Rage. The level 25 talent increases its duration to 8 seconds, and I highly suggest to take it when fighting against Leshrac or similarly powerful casters.
The lifesteal via Feast and Open Wounds is also of great help to regenerate your HP while Rage is on cooldown as Leshrac will try to disintegrate you with all his spells.
Berserker’s Blood provides magic resistance and attack speed based on your missing health, which will drastically lower Leshrac’s overall damage. Unfortunately, the bonus isn’t as strong as in the past because now it caps to 50%. Huskar isn't immortal anymore versus casters, but he can still snowball and have the upper hand during the early and mid game.
Inner Vitality is also very valuable for extra regeneration and will make the difference in many fights.
Exploit Leshrac’s strengths - Burn his mana
In Dota 2, there are heroes able to exploit anything, even someone’s else mana pool and casting abilities.
Nyx is a perfect example because Mana Burn destroys the target’s mana and deals damage based on their intelligence. Leshrac has a 3 INT gain per level and will typically build items to expand his mana pool, so you will be able to inflicts considerable damage every 4 seconds.
Additionally, Spiked Carapace is flawless versus AoE spells, so you have also a guaranteed stun at your disposal.
Nether Ward will drive Leshrac and any quick caster to madness. It deals damage based on the mana used for the spell and also applies a mana loss debuff to the target.
This ward can change the fate of a teamfight if correctly positioned, and if the opponents keep casting spells while ignoring it.
Tough heroes do not fear him
Tanky heroes with lots of health points can survive for a longer time, and they naturally purchase the Blade Mail or the Hood of Defiance, or both.
A prime choice thanks to his astonishing 4.3 strength gain. The items above are often included in his core build, and Stampede is also advantageous versus Leshrac.
I push this ability in many guides, but I really believe it is one of the most beneficial in a pub environment. Imagine all the positioning mistakes committed in your games: you can save your teammates pressing a button from any place of the map.
Another Blade Mail user who can also exploit his passive to further reduce Leshrac’s damage. Showing the back to the opponent, you will mitigate the damage and simultaneously spam Quill Spray on his own team.
Silence his abilities
Leshrac (and any caster) is hard countered by heroes and items able to silence the target or prevent the use of skills. Here are some examples:
The Orchid Malevolence with a 5 seconds silence is a desirable item on many gankers, and later on can be upgraded into the Bloodthorn.
Doom’s ultimate is of course the counter for excellence, and when affected by it, Leshrac won’t be able to contribute to the fight at all.
AoE disables such as Silencer’s Global Silence, Riki’s Smoke Screen, Disruptor’s Static Storm, and Death Prophet’s Silence.
I love Night Stalker’s Crippling Fear because it has a 8 seconds duration at night and the hero has lots of health points. Legion Commander’s Duel is also a viable option as in 5.5 seconds he will have all the time to kill Leshrac 1 vs. 1.
Disables are always helpful, just be aware that any Leshrac eventually will build the Black King Bar, resisting to most of them.
Header image: Lord of Chronoptic Synthesis loading screen for Leshrac - Valve