Tusk is a tanky and aggressive roamer. In January, he became one of the most picked heroes in pro games. Let’s learn the utility he can bring to the team and some handy gameplay tips.
In January, Tusk turned into a popular pick with 224 games played in competitive gaming so far. He is in the top 5 among the most played heroes both at Galaxy Battles II and ESL One Genting 2018
Starting the match with 660 health points and 3.83 armor, he is particularly tanky and can withstand many physical attacks.
The recent 7.07c patch increased his strength gain to 3, giving him a boost in survivability in the mid and late game. Do not forget that he is a STR-based hero, and thanks to 7.07 this statistic now provides 0.15% status resistance per point.
Tusk is also the only roamer with a +90 Gold/Min talent at level 10 - Ogre Magi has 60. Even if he spends most of his time wandering around the map in order to help the team, thanks to this talent he can still get mid game items at a reasonable time. The Blink Dagger should be your first goal in most matches.
Ice Shards is a key spell that demands practice
In Dota 2, the number of heroes with skills able to manipulate the battlefield and forcefully alter the path of heroes and creeps is limited. Imagine the chaos in a battle if each team could deploy multiple heroes with such abilities.
Using them, you force the opponents to adjust their gameplay and purchase items to avoid getting stuck, a common example is the Force Staff.
Ice Shards can block entire creep waves, similarly to Earthshaker’s Fissure and Clockwerk’s Power Cogs. For a perfect block with Ice Shards, just aim your spell in front of the creeps, when they are about to pass one of the towers.
An useful trick that pub players rarely use is the ability to jump up and down from cliffs:
Place yourself very close to the cliff you want to be pushed up to - face the opposite direction.
Target Ice Shards as close as possible to the center of Tusk’s model. The spell should be directed towards the opposite direction of where you want to get pushed.
The trick is rather easy to use, you just need to practice it extensively in a lobby before trying it in a real game.
Frozen Sigil - An underrated utility tool
Many players do not understand the true usefulness of Frozen Sigil.
- Great against auto-attackers. It is obviously a nice addition in any gank and teamfight because it reduces the attack and movement speed of all enemies affected. Particularly strong when facing many DPS heroes.
- Map vision. In competitive play, an adequate map control represents the difference between life and death. Frozen Sigil can scout the map and figure out the position of the enemies. You can prevent ganks and Roshan attempts, and likewise help your team to accomplish them.
- Interaction with Snowball. You can put the sigil into the snowball, increasing the damage of the spell - as it depends on the number of allies gathered inside - and moving the sigil directly to the area of the battle.
Protect your team with Snowball
Beside from the obvious ganking and initiation uses, Snowball is amazing to save your allies from nasty situations. If they are risking to die, just blink in and place them inside it. For a safer escape, don’t forget you can get the vision of jungle creeps with Ice Shards or Frozen Sigil.
It is great against strong and long single target disables, such as Bane’s ultimate. Note that this hero is also the second most drafted support in January.
Can deny a lot of damage when used to protect your team from heroes such as Sand King, Gyrocopter, or Juggernaut. All their ultimates inflict lots of AoE damage, and will be wasted while your team is safe inside the snowball.
Finally, Snowball charges for three seconds, exactly as long as it is necessary for the Blink Dagger to reset its damage cooldown. If there is no escape route possible, you or your teammates can just blink away as soon as the spell ends.
High skill cap - Not really a pub hero
Similarly to Earth Spirit, not everyone can play Tusk properly. His pick rate is below average in all skill brackets prior 5k+ rank: only among the best pub players we find an adequate amount of expertise and team coordination to exploit his skill set.
In the wrong hands, Tusk won’t just be ineffective, but could even lead to the defeat of the team with misplaced Ice Shards and suicidal Snowballs.
Shards positioning is the key for winning a battle:
If placed properly, your will disturb the enemy’s plans and grant some easy kills to your team.
If not well placed, you will prevent your own team and cores from getting into position and do their job. For example, your melee auto attacker could remain stuck and not join the battle at all.
Snowball is also very hard to utilize correctly: you need to understand when it is better to use or save it, and which heroes you should pull in and when.
Your own skills aren’t the only issue. If the team doesn’t know how to play with a Tusk in the lineup, you will end up losing the entire early game wandering for ganks with a passive team that never helps.
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.