The top 10 most popular Dota 2 heroes in the safe lane during 7.17. We will have a look at some of the best picks in the meta, and learn how to play or counter them.
More from this series:
The heroes are arranged by pick rate, and the data considers all games played in any region in the 5k+ (Divine) bracket. Note that we can’t filter data for 7.17 only, so the past 30 days are examined. Statistics from Dotabuff.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
Spectre wins because pub players are addicted to farming
Spectre has always been a solid but very situational pick in the matchmaking, so finding her in the top 10 is a surprise. There are two main reasons behind her rise in popularity: the buffs in the past patches, and the “pub” gameplay.
Many players underestimate passive abilities because they don't know how to take advantage of them. Desolate adds 50 pure damage to all your attacks if the target is alone (no enemies in a 325 radius) and works also on your illusions with no reduction.
7.07c: Desolate now pierces spell immunity.
This skill is the reason you needed the Black King Bar when fighting against Spectre, but now spell immunity no longer blocks her passive. A Spectre with the Manta Style is a formidable adversary who can rapidly kill any low HP support or carry.
With Haunt, Manta Style, and your own hero, you have potentially 4 units (often 3 as you will jump on the opponent with Reality) attacking a single target for a total of 200 added pure damage, which stacks up quickly once you have enough attack speed.
Spectral Dagger has been buffed three times in the past months:
7.12: increased the damage from 50/100/150/200 to 90/140/190/240.
7.14: reduced the mana cost from 130/140/150/160 to 100/120/140/160.
7:17: increased the cooldown reduction (via the level 15 talent) from 8 to 10.
This ability is normally utilized as an escape/gank tool because it slows the players affected, and grants you a movement speed bonus plus unobstructed pathing. The changes in 7.12 and 7.14 increased its versatility in the early game.
A 40 magic damage increase at all levels is more than respectable, while before 50 damage at level 1 was laughable. Of course, it isn’t a big nuke, but the skill already provides other benefits.
The mana cost reduction is very well-welcomed as Spectre usually has huge mana issues, and must be very conservative with her only active skill. She could use it only twice before depleting the poor 267 mana pool at level 1, while now you can pull out a third use.
Still, some Clarity potions may be crucial to have your slow/escape available during all the early game. If you are a support, spare a potion for her if necessary, as often physical carries ignore this item.
Finally, the illusions generated by Haunt inflict a lot more damage. 7.14 increased the illusion damage dealt from 40% on each level to 40%/50%/60%, and 7.10 boosted the extra damage provided by the level 25 talent from 20% to 40%. At level 25, Haunt’s illusions deal as much damage as your own hero!
Note: I only talked about the skills patched recently. For example, the level 25 talent +8% Dispersion is twice as popular according to Dotabuff (considering all brackets).
Gameplay and common mistakes
Spectre’s gameplay, most bought items, and counters never varied in the past years.
An indispensable item to counter Spectre is the Silver Edge because the active ability Shadow Walk disables her passives (Desolation and Dispersion) for 4 seconds, making her an easier target for the team. Still, even without her abilities, Spectre remains one of the best late game carries.
Deal with Spectre in the early game
Spectre enjoys big power spikes every time she completes one of her big items: Radiance, Manta Style, and Heart of Tarrasque. As the opposite team, your must delay these moments as long as possible, and finish the game before she becomes an unkillable late game monster.
Harassing and denying completely farm and experience is a real challenge, so the easy lane core has normally a better time than in the past, even without a proper support. Moreover, the buffs to Spectral Dagger helped Spectre’s lane phase
Even if you are able to crush all Spectre’s hopes in the lane, you might have focused too many resources against her, so the cores in other positions had the space to farm and become dangerous.
She is great at coming back
A veteran Spectre player knows how to “steal” kills. During the game, the hero can continue farming, and join the successful ganks provoked by her companions who are ahead in net worth.
In teamfight, Spectre is strong against squishy supports: she must use Haunt, and then Reality on a support to kill him, then jump on the second support, and only afterward engage the enemy carry.
This is a very frequent problem at all ranks. Teams lack coordination and do not press the early game while they are in advantage, thus the team with the better late game is usually favoured, and Spectre has the upper hand against most agility carries.
Overall, she is an excellent hero to exploit the usual mistakes committed in pubs. I know that we are talking about the 5k+ MMR area, but even there you can find several uncoordinated teams with greedy players thinking only to their own builds.
|Hero||Name||Pick %||Win %|
Morphling and Disruptor dropped from the top 10, and have been replaced by Spectre and Monkey King.
Beside Spectre, Juggernaut and Disruptor are the only heroes in this and the old list who have been affected by changes in 7.17.
Juggernaut: base armor increased by 1.
It is a small buff to the laning stage. In June, Juggernaut has been picked only three times in pro games so far, so Valve is probably trying to bring him back in the game.
I believe the hero isn’t popular in a competitive environment because he is weak against duo lanes, which are becoming the standard in the off lane.
Healing Ward is the only ability with which he can really contribute to the lane phase. Of course, Juggernaut has Blade Fury, but it has two big cons:
The huge cooldown, so you can mostly use it only when it is time to get a kill.
Often requires a disable from your support to affect the target long enough, and the Phase Boots are basically mandatory for movement speed.
When facing two opponents, you need to compensate his weaknesses with a trilane, stealing resources and time which could have been employed elsewhere. Juggernaut lacks the capacity to contest the lane, so the extra armor will assist him against physical harasser.
In pubs, the issue doesn’t arise at all as in most games we still have a solo offlaner.
Disruptor: Thunder Strike cooldown increased from 15/13/11/9 to 18/15/12/9.
IceFrog increased the cooldown of this ability twice in a row, in 7.16 and 7.17. Considering both nerfs, the change is noticeable because this skill is not your priority: often you just get a level, and max Glimpse and Kinetic Field first. In 7.15, the cooldown was 12/11/10/9, so there was only a 3s difference between level 1 and 4.
Previous: 7.16 safe laners.
Next: 7.18 safe laners.
Header image: Flowing Entropy loading screen for Spectre - 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.