Sniper is among the most picked heroes at low ranks due to his attack range. He is a nuisance if you don’t know the heroes and tactics necessary to counter him.
Sniper is a very squishy hero with a skill-set that lacks mobility and escapes, which works the best when safely shooting at people from the back-line.
Thanks to Take Aim, his total attack range extends to 950 (1,075 with the level 25 talents). The Hurricane Pike is also a must-pick on him, as it grants an extra 140 attack range bonus in virtually all games.
He isn’t just a popular pick in the lower brackets, but stands in the top 10 below 4k MMR while maintaining a respectable win rate above 50%.
The best way to counter Sniper is by choosing a hero that can close the distance and break into his comfort zone.
- Initiators with stuns: Sand King, Earthshaker, Puck, Tusk, or Clockwerk can easily jump on him, forcing Sniper to retreat from the fight, or blocking him long enough for their teammates to deal with him.
- Carry initiators: Faceless Void, Slark, or Storm Spirit can assassinate Sniper on their own as they have an adequate dps and skills to hold Sniper in place.
- Global initiators: Nature’s Prophet and Spirit Breaker can engage Sniper at any moment, and depending on the item build they can also destroy him without further help.
The list goes on as Dota 2 doesn’t lack heroes with skills able to close the gap: Batrider, Anti-Mage, Earth Spirit, IO, Pudge, Queen of Pain, Centaur Warrunner. All of them, in their own way, can help their team to catch Sniper and ruin his positioning advantage.
I also love Phantom Assassin because she can Phantom Strike on Sniper and often burst him down with a few critical hits.
Honorable mention to one of my favorite ladies: Spectre.
She isn’t exactly a popular meta pick right now, but is a niche hero with a great success at lower ranks. Below 2k MMR she has a 56% win rate, and remains with a solid 52.5% up to 5k. Only in the highest ranks it falls below 50%.
Sniper has no chances against Spectre, especially a tanky one. With Haunt she has a perfect tool to appear right behind him during any teamfight, and even her illusions alone are a big deal for such a squishy hero.
If Sniper tries to fight back, Dispersion will reflect a lot of damage against him and his own teammates.
Countering Sniper doesn’t require expensive items, but just some common sense.
The Dust of Appearance is the best counter for Sniper. Particularly at low ranks, his team won’t react fast enough to help him, and he will rely on the Shadow Blade to escape when engaged. Be sure to always carry a Dust with you when dealing with him - you can’t just rely on your slow Crystal Maiden to reach the place in time.
I love the Scythe of Vyse on Furion and Storm Spirit. Most Sniper players just build damage items, relying on their team and attack range for protection. The 3.5 seconds disable is often more than enough to kill those with a Glass Cannon build.
The Heaven's Halberd is cheaper and has a similar purpose, preventing all his attacks for 5 seconds.
Blink Dagger or Force Staff. Even without initiators, you can jump on Sniper utilizing these handy tools. They can be employed by casters with burst damage, or by carries such as Dragon Knight, Legion Commander, or Alchemist who can just reach, stun, and kill him.
Observer Wards are your best friends if your team is lacking heroes with gap-closer skills or Blink Daggers. With proper vision, you can find out when and where Sniper is farming and his placement during a teamfight.
If you are using a tanky hero, don’t forget to buy a Blade Mail. Sniper’s damage output can be troublesome, but with this item he could even end up killing himself.
As a support, the Solar Crest can be of great help to either protect your cores granting armor and evasion, or to reduce Sniper’s own damage resistance.
One of the weakest heroes in the lane phase
Spirit Breaker is probably one of his nightmares when played in the mid lane as he can just charge on him at any moment, and easily score a kill when he overextends in the river area thinking to be safe.
His team could provide some wards for protection, but in that case you can just smoke-gank him using heroes with a stun such as Vengeful Spirit or Ogre Magi. In most cases, he won’t survive, or at least he will have to play so carefully that his early farm will be completely ruined.
Do not ignore him as a Sniper with a good early game can turn into a real nuisance. Once Shrapnel is maxed out, he can gank any lane, and easily score kills thanks to the AoE damage and slow. Squishy heroes are particularly in danger once Assassinate is unlocked.
Mid lane counters
Tinker, Viper, and Broodmother are among his best counters 1vs1 in the mid lane, and will transform his early game in a disaster.
- Tinker and Viper can just out-harass him, and Sniper can’t deal with Broodmother’s Spiderlings. Of course, he has Shrapnel to slow and damage them, but the skill inflicts damage over time: Broodmother can just bait it, move her spiders to safety, and destroy him once he is out of charges.
- Dragon Knight is a fine hero as he can just tank any harass via Dragon Blood and focus on farming and denying. Once the ultimate is unlocked, he can kill Sniper or push down his tower.
- Queen of Pain and Windranger are also good options, but require a more experienced player. You need perfect positioning skills to avoid harass via Shrapnell, maintain the control of the runes, last hit, and harass whenever possible.
- Arc Warden is also one of his best counters, but I do not recommend him as the hero is quite complex to play. If you are able to use him properly, he can annihilate Sniper’s early game as you can zone him out with your skill-set
Overall, the mid laner isn’t the real answer on how to counter Sniper. Your supports and initiators are those who have to deal with him in the early game and during teamfights.
Header image: Valve
Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on @SkulzDota.