In this guide, we will understand how to behave and succeed in the lane phase against Spirit Breaker, and the best items and heroes to counter his gameplay.
Spirit Breaker is a popular hero at low ranks, but even at 4k MMR he maintains a more than respectable 54% win rate and 10% pick rate. His triumph is based on the poor gameplay choices and positioning mistakes executed by most players.
In the 1-3k MMR range, there is a widespread lack of knowledge on the behaviour required during the lane phase.
People tend to auto-attack creeps, or push the lanes using their skills, ending in dangerous positions.
Wards are lacking or totally missing. Even when the map is properly warded, no miss are called, and the minimap is usually ignored.
Friendly teleports are a rare occurrence, and almost everyone forgets about the other lanes for the first 15 minutes or more.
Fortunately, it is quite easy to comeback against Spirit Breaker, even after losing hard the early game.
After the lane phase ends, he can’t just charge any solo opponent on the map without a plan. Most pub players do not understand when they are fighting too much, and the excessive initiation attempts often lead to their own death, so all the gold advantage gained earlier is lost in the mid game.
Dota 2 is such an awesome game because the destiny of the match can always change. Do not give up if you lose the lane: keep playing at your best and wait for the enemy mistakes.
Teleports to counter ganks
All members of the team - the supports in particular - must always be ready to teleport and help a lane in trouble. This basic rule is even more crucial when fighting against Spirit Breaker, a hero that can appear from nowhere and gank at unpredictable times.
Keep a Town Portal Scroll in your inventory since the very early game and do not be afraid to consume it to prevent a gank. Even if you can’t get a kill, saving a life is already a great accomplishment, and without successful ganks Spirit Breaker will turn into a weak mid gamer.
Offensive wards and map awareness
Vision is mandatory because Spirit Breaker players, especially at lower ranks, tend to charge without pause.
Avoid defensive Observer Wards on your side of the map and in your jungle. They are inefficient because you will detect the charge too late for a quick reaction. Midders and hard-laners without escape tools won’t have the time to reach a safe position before the gank occurs, and often the opponents will bait them in an over-extended position.
As a support, you have also the burdensome duty to help your greedy cores. During all the game, keep studying the map, the enemy’s placements, and the areas controlled by both teams.
With enough practice, you will be able to predict Spirit Breaker’s charges, and when a core farming in a risky position might need protection. Do not wait for the gank to happen, but be there to prevent a disaster and potentially turn it into a favourable action for your own team.
Interrupt Charge of Darkness
The most direct way to counter Spirit Breaker’s initiation is to block his charge.
- The Rod of Atos and the Eul’s Scepter of Divinity are my preferred tools because they are cheap, effective, and helpful versus a myriad of opponents.
- The Scythe of Vyse if exceptional, but is an expensive item that usually only some cores can buy.
- The Force Staff and the Hurricane Pike also interrupt Charge of Darkness, but they aren’t as useful as the previous choices because Spirit Breaker will still be free to attack or jump on you with Nether Strike.
- The Linken’s Sphere can be considered a hard counter because the passive completely prevents the charge. When the Linken’s activates, you will also be aware that the enemies know your position and they might have planned a gank.
Still, with a 5,050 gold cost it isn’t a cheap item. You won’t buy it often as a support, and it isn’t your priority. As a split-pusher you can consider it after your core items, in order to do your job with more safety.
More useful items
- If your hero has already a disable, I love the Blink Dagger as you can stun SB and blink away.
- The Ghost Scepter is particularly good if SB has a high attack speed because he won’t be able to hit you (and thus proc any Greater Bash) for the duration.
During the lane phase, you simply need a hero able to trade hits, or harass him from long range. Spirit Breaker is quite tanky, but in the end he is just a melee hero, and won’t be able to do much alone without help.
In the early game, he can fight head on against Spirit Breaker thanks to his big health pool, 87-95 damage at level 1, and annoying Root via Nature's Guise.
Later in the game, he can save lives from any place of the map with Living Armor. The spell grants health regeneration and a certain number of damage block instances, so can reduce the damage of Charge of Darkness and Nether Strike, plus some auto-attacks.
With 650HP, 8.24 armor at level 1, and 4.5 base health regeneration, he is one of the tankiest supports in the game. Spirit Breaker can’t output enough damage to kill him during the lane, and even afterwards he will remain a nasty target.
Ogre also possesses a stun via Fireblast, and potentially a second one if he gets the Aghanim’s Scepter.
You can block Spirit Breaker’s Charge of Darkness using almost any hero with a ranged stun. Many examples below:
Lion and Shadow Shaman
I will always welcome them in my games due to their two disables and the strong ultimates. They both have access to one of the best single-target disables in the game: Hex.
Spirit Breaker can’t charge him or any ally in range as Glimpse will teleport him back to his previous position.
Usually, veteran Spirit Breaker players don’t gank alone, but in a duo or more. Paralyzing Cask is perfect in this situation because you can easily stun multiple units.
Spirit Breaker relies on his health pool to survive, but you can counter it with the massive magic damage from Maledict.
Depending on the situation you might even kill the gankers. If all your abilities are off cooldown, you can stun and maledict them, position yourself in a safe location using the Blink Dagger, and destroy them with Death Ward. The Glimmer Cape also works if they have no detection.
The hero possesses some of the best tools in the game to disable a limited number of attackers.
He can just put Spirit Breaker to sleep for 7 seconds with Nightmare, long enough to teleport away or prepare a counter-offensive. Fiend’s Grip is likewise very strong against a single target, and you can assassinate him with the help of a teammate.
Mid heroes who can survive against his ganks
Mobility and escapes. Queen of Pain and Puck are the best examples in this category: the former has a long range Blink, while the latter is almost unkillable in the right hands
Disables. A Quas-Wex Invoker has 0 issues with Cold Snap and Tornado, and Spirit Breaker will regret an aggressive dive. Outworld Devourer can use Astral Imprisonment on SB to stop the charge, or on himself to negate the stun.
More viable picks
- Razor is another potential mid laner. When charged, he can just steal all Spirit Breaker’s damage with Static Link, potentially fight back, and even score a kill.
- Clockwerk and Enigma are very annoying because Spirit Breaker has a long attack animation, so he can’t literally fight while during the effect of Battery Assault or Malefice, neither use his spells.
- Underlord is a perfect offensive and defensive counter. With Pit of Malice he can stop Charge of Darkness in any situation, and give his team the opportunity to destroy the assaulter. Dark Rift can teleport himself and his teammates to safety when they are overwhelmed by a surprise attack.
Header image: Elemental Realms loading screen for Spirit Breaker - 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.