Episode 1: https://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/kto4rr/63k_mmr_position_5_master_guide/
Welcome to episode 2 of Otomo & Gamejitsu's guide to position 5 heroes. This series of guides aims to look at the different ways position 5's can play and which heroes suit these particular play styles. Positions in Dota 2 have become more and more distinct and I believe even among the same position players can find their own style of playing it. There are big differences between an enchantress position 5 and a Disruptor 5.
In the previous article I wrote 3 distinct styles of playing position 5. Here's a short summary.
- Lane Dominators: These are heroes who are very strong in the laning stage but lose a lot of their effectiveness as the game goes on.
- Scaling supports: Almost the exact opposite of Lane Dominators. Heroes here don't provide much during the laning stage but become more and more of a threat as the game progresses. Assuming they have a modicum of farm of course.
- Dual-Purpose Supports: Some heroes can accommodate themselves well in the laning stage while also providing a ton of value late game if they can get some gold along the way.
Looking at the above categories, I couldn't help think noticing how I was viewing the pos 5 in terms of how effective they are with gold. The mentioned styles fail to account for a lot of position 5 heroes who DO benefit from items but provide a ton of value without them as well. Heroes like Lich, Jakiro and Shadow Demon definitely enjoy having a few items but they are also able to perform their job competently without them.
In this article I'll be talking about this type of position 5 style, explaining its playstyle with some examples, and placing community demanded heroes into the playstyles I believe suits them best. A reminder that a lot of Dota 2 is quite subjective and while the info written here is useful up to 6k MMR, it might not be enough to go further than that.
Before going into heroes, I want to talk about a hero's "Threat Level". A hero's threat level determines how important it is to kill this hero early in a fight. Assuming a team breaks a smoke and finds all 5 enemies there, who is the person they want out before they can cast any of their spells?
While oftentimes bursting the cores first is the best option, certain supports like Pheonix and Oracle have extremely high threat levels that make them well worth killing first in fights. While other supports like Abaddon and Ogre Magi have low threat levels due to being difficult to kill and having no insanely strong spells.
4- Thrifty supports
This is perhaps the biggest category of position 5 heroes. Heroes here scale with levels without relying on or needing items to do their job. Heroes in this category maintain the same "threat level" during the entire game. That means they might always be the first target the enemy team focuses on in every fight (Oracle) or they might be ignored till everyone else is dead (Abaddon). Lane Dominators (Enchantress) have a shrinking threat level after the midgame and don't need to be focused as much. On the other hand, Scaling (Warlock) and Dual-Purpose (Disruptor) supports become more crucial to bring down early in team fights before they use their big spells.
Without further ado, let's look at some examples of Thrifty supports.
Hero Stats: Is there a more iconic support than Lich? This guy has been in Dota 2 since it's inception and while 2 of his spells have been reworked, fundamentally Lich is the same hero he's always been. His stats are fairly average in most categories, with the exception of his armor and int gain. Lich starts with 1 armor which makes him very suceptable to physical damage. This weakness isn't a big deal in the laning stage due to Frost Blast spam and Frost Shield. As for his Int growth, he has one of the highest int gains in the game, with 4.1! int gain per level. The only heroes with higher int gain are Pugna (5) Invoker (4.6) and OD (4.2).
Despite being a position 5 and not really needing items to do his job, Lich is deceptively good at farming. A simple Frost Shield + Frost Blast can easily farm creepwaves. A quick tip when pushing dangerous waves will be to simply cast Shield on a melee creep instead of yourself.
Lich is a great laner. His Frost Blast spam makes trading against him very punishing for the opponent. Frost Blast can also secure ranged creeps and does a great job of setting up kills. With a 4 second slow on a 7 second cooldown, it's very hard to escape if Lich commits for a kill. And during FB's downtime, Frost Shield provides ANOTHER slow. Lich is one of the most oppressive laners in the game. A value point in Sinister Gaze prevents enemies from teleporting away to escape their chilly deaths.
After the laning stage, Lich excels in small skirmishes around the map. The mid-game is when 3 heroes (the offlane and both supports) tend to group up and force fights to make space for the other cores. These Love triangles are perfect for Lich's Chain Frost. Enemies are forced to break apart or share a massive nuke while being slowed. Lich is a teamfight behemoth for the first 20 minutes. He remains insanely useful late game thanks to Frost Shield. It heavily reduces incoming physical damage to the target. On buildings it functions as 6 second fortification on a 15 second cooldown.
But Lich is not perfect.
While he ties for the 4th highest int gain, Lich still runs out of mana during teamfights. Frost Blast is 190 mana a pop at max level. Chain Frost starts at 200 mana and goes all the way up to 500 at max level. His other spells ain't exactly free either. Despite huge int gain, Lich usually runs the issue of just having no mana 10 seconds into the fight, something enemy carries can take advantage of. (The last sentence should be a link to this picture https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-cb60c2703c6961f41c879ef0cfb7e580.webp)
Besides mana issues, Lich offers nothing vs magic immune heroes. His damage is also purely magical, which makes items like Glimmer Cape and Pipe extremely valuable against him. Lastly Lich really needs levels. Apart from Frost Blast, all his spells reduce significantly in cooldown as he levels up. He also has fantastic level 20 and 25 talents.
Threat level: High —> Medium
Lich is a big threat early game due to his high damage slowing nukes. Chain Frost in particular makes Lich a gigantic target in all early skirmishes. Later in the game Lich's threat level reduces due to enemies having higher health pools, more mobility and magic immunity/resistance. He's still very useful though thanks to Frost Shield and multiple slows, just not as imposing.
When to pick Lich:
Lich is a great all-rounder who can be useful in almost any matchup, which means he's a great option for firstpicks. Quick combo picks such as Juggernaut, Ursa and Monkey King are all great lane partner because your Frost Shield helps them stay close to their targets and whack their brains off during the laning stage. Heroes like Terrorblade and Spectre are also great lategame partners because they can soak up a ton of damage thanks to your 60% damage reduction Frost Shield. It is advised to pick a greedier position 4 if you have a Lich in your team because Lich, despite being decent in farming compared to some other position 5s, really doesn't need many items to be effective. In high-level games where farming priority is of utmost importance, you can almost never go wrong with a Lich pick.
Grants Ice Spire. Creates an icicle at the target spot for 15 seconds, slowing enemies by 20% within 600 range. Chain Frost can bounce to the Icicle if there are no other enemies in range. Can cast Frost Shield on it. Has 600 health. Cast Range: 750. Cooldown: 25. Manacost: 150
Recently buffed in 7.28b to have more health and radius, Ice Spire is a pretty interesting spell. It provides a 20% slow in the aoe while allowing Chain Frost to bounce to it. 600 health is a decent amount and would survive 3-4 hits, especially with Shield on it.
A 150 mana is pretty expensive on a hero who already spends a lot of mana per fight. It doesn't pierce magic immunity either. Lich already has enough to perma slow enemies in fights without needing Ice Spire. It's an ok shard but Lich has better things to spend his money on.
Hero Stats: Jakiro has some pretty impressive stat numbers. He is one of the tankiest position 5 heroes with 740 starting hp and 3 strength gain. Jakiro also has a respectable 3 starting armor and 57 base damage. His movement speed is nothing to write home about, being an average of 290 ms. His only bad stat is his attack range. Unlike most ranged heroes with 600 attack range, Jakiro only has 400 to work with. This forces Jakiro to be closer to danger during teamfights than most other supports have to be.
Strengths: Jakiro is perhaps one of the most "jack-of-all-trades" position 5 heroes out there. The hero can basically do it all. Dual Breath is one of the best level 1 spells out there. It's 100 damage with a 5 second slow on a 10 second cooldown. It makes contesting the first bounty rune very difficult for the opposing offlane. It also reduces the enemy's attack speed, making trading hits with Jakiro pretty inefficient. Lastly DB is great for farming creeps, ensuring Jakiro won't be too starved for gold.
Besides very solid laning, Jakiro can provide a lot during teamfights. Ice Path can stun multiple enemies or simply create an impassable barrier for the enemies. Players may choose to max Ice Path first, as it's cooldown and duration scale very well.
Jakiro's other two spells are slightly less impressive. Liquid Fire is good for taking towers but it's usually maxed after Jakiro's other two basic spells. It's worth a value point early as it provides 60 damage and 30 attack speed slow for 5 seconds, further discouraging trading vs Jakiro. But after that Liquid Fire will be ignored till the other two spells are maxed. Make no mistake though, Liquid fire is great, it's just Jakiro has two better spells to max out first.
Jakiro is extremely annoying against melee heroes who coincidentally relies on right-clicks as their primary farming / damage-dealing tool in the laning phase. Heroes like Bristleback and Beastmaster will all struggle against Jakiro's Dual Breath and Liquid Fire, especially when they try to last hit or run. Heroes like Timbersaw and Underlord, despite being Melee, have ways to get last hits without rightclicks so they fare slightly better.
Threat level: Medium
Jakiro is rarely the first person enemies will focus on. He is pretty tanky and due how long range Ice Path is, Jakiro usually stays prety far behind in fights. This makes catching him quite tricky. None of his spells pierce magic immunity either, creating no threat to cores at the start of fights. Jakiro is a higher priority early game, when his magic damage actually matters.
When to pick Jakiro:
Jakiro does well both with or without items. He becomes a tanky dragon with scary AoE magical damage with them, but still quite an annoyance without. Ideally you want to show Jakiro without showing your other support so the enemy doesn't know whether you will be a position 5 or a position 4, limiting their carry and offlane options. You generally do not want to pick Jakiro into ranged lanes such as Drow or Windranger if possible, but if forced to pick early, Jakiro can still offer good counterpushing capabilities against Drow drafts. Also, if the enemy offlane duo is stronger than you and your carry, protective options such as Lich or Warlock will be better off protecting your puny Spectre carry instead of a Jakiro.
Grants Liquid Frost. Autocast attack ability. Causes your Ice head to release a frost based attack, slowing enemies by 30% and dealing 20 + 2.5% max health as damage per second for 4 seconds. Cooldown: 12.
A very solid ability in the late game. It's a 30% slow and 10% of the enemies max health as damage. It has a medium cooldown which means it will probably be used 2 times per fight. It's well worth getting after Jakiro farms all the other support items.
Hero Stats: One of the most notable heroes in terms of stats. Ogre Magi is a beast early game. His starting hp is good but not outstanding at 660, although he quickly pulls ahead with his 3.5 str gain. His 7 starting armor and 5.5 hp regen at level 1 make him nearly impossible to trade with in terms of pure auto-attacks.
He does have some issues though. Being melee and having an average 290 movement speed makes it slightly harder for him to start trades vs ranged heroes. Ogre can overcome these issues thanks to Ignite slow and an early Orb of Venom.
Ogre Magi's spells are all great value points, hence going 111 on level 3 and then maxing Ignite will give you the best value for ability points. This is because Fireblast gives a fixed 1.5s stun at a measly 70 mana on level 1, and Bloodlust gives 30 AS which is slightly more than a Power Treads.
Strengths: Ogre Magi performs very well during the laning stage thanks to his great starting stats and how insanely good Ignite it. Ignite allows him to deal significant damage and slow to 2 enemies. Being melee also puts him between his carry and the enemy offlane, the perfect place for a pos 5 during the laning stage. This positioning forces the enemy offlaner to have to deal with Ogre first, before reaching the carry.
Past the laning stage, Ogre Magi starts becoming more of a "Magi" and less of an "Ogre". Due to Ignite's duration stacking with Multicast, Ogre can do a ton of magic damage in team fights. Fireblast also has a relatively low cooldown of 8 seconds, which allows it to be cast 3+ times in teamfights, assuming Ogre lives.
Ogre has a very interesting relationship with items as a pos 5. Multicast (on average) more than doubles the effectiveness of his item usage. However most of the items Ogre uses very well are expensive items that he can't get. On the other hand, Ogre can't multicast items like Glimmer or Force Staff.
Weaknesses: Ogre requires levels as his spells scale very well. Ignite is usually maxed first due to it's high damage, followed by Bloodlust to accelerate cores. Multicast can't be skipped and Fireblast scales very well. Combine that with excellent talents, this makes Ogre a very exp dependant pos 5. However being a melee position 5 means that Ogre will always be the one to break smokes and provide vision for his team. This dangerous role means dying. A lot. It's very easy for Ogre to fall behind as the game goes on and provide little more than Bloodlust. Ogre also doesn't really provide any waveclear, which means he's bad at defending and farming items.
Threat level: Low
Due to being tanky and a position 5 support, enemies can often choose to ignore Ogre and go for jucier targets. He has no natural saves or bkb piercing ability, nor are his spells so threatening that he has to be taken out early. The fact that the hero is regularly starved means that killing him doesn't provide much of a bounty either.
When to pick Ogre Magi:
When you seriously have no idea what to pick and want to just get carried (laughs) When you are planning on giving your carry a comfortable lane while providing sufficient zoning. Ogre excels in greedy drafts because he can not buy anything and still be useful in the game. In fact, thanks to his natural survivability, he requires even fewer items than a Lich to be useful in games. If you find yourself in a party MMR game where you have high MMR friends playing cores and you have no idea how to follow a high MMR game tempo, just pick Ogre, whack the enemy offlaner and buff your carry.
Grants Fire Shield. Creates a shield around the target ally or building, absorbing 70% of the damage from the next 3 attacks. Launches fireballs at the attacker, dealing 125 damage. Lasts 25 seconds. Can be Multicast. Cast Range: 600. Cooldown: 16 Manacost: 75.
Recently buffed with lower manacost and cooldown, Fire Shield is pretty incredible and well worth rushing at 20 minutes. It reduces the damage of the next 3 hits by 70%, providing a ton of value vs heroes like PA and TA. It is less useful against heroes who do many ticks of damage such as Leshrac. However even then Fire Shield provides 375 damage back to attackers. It can also be multicast, affecting multiple allies.
Reminder that the spell's duration is longer than it's cooldown. So when smoking or hunting for kills, think of it like it's Bloodlust and should be pre-cast before fights begin. Refreshing it during fights can make a big difference in the outcome.
Pos 5 type: Lane Dominator
Hero stats: WD doesn't impress much with his starting stats. He has 300 ms which is slightly above average. His right clicks do 56 damage at level 1, which is pretty solid. Especially combined with his fantastic attack animation. His other stats are less impressive. Relatively low starting hp and armor means the hero falls fast if ever out of position.
Despite looking like your friendly neighbourhood uncle, Witch Doctor excels more in aggressive teamfight / deathball lineups than 4 protect 1 drafts. Using Voodoo Restoration to protect your carry instead of deathballing is a joke when heroes like Warlock and Dazzle exists. WD has 3 offensive spells, that says a lot about the hero. Make sure to use everything before channeling Death Ward because sometimes you might die channeling. (Also, the WD this game opted for an Aghs rush because his game is so advantageous his cores don't need his protection at all.)
Strengths: WD's main strength is how incredible he is during the laning stage. Paralyzing Cask is a stun that bounces between enemies. It is perfect to use on 2 heroes during the laning stage or even just the enemy offlaner and a range creep. Maledict forces the enemy heroes to either fully commit for kills and take a lot of damage or back off completely. When Cask is combined with Maledict, WD poses a major threat to the enemy.
WD is also a good hero to have when enemies dive towers. Cask can easily turn the tides on any lane that is being dove on. WD can contribute a ton of damage to early teamfights once he has his Death Ward. The ultimate deals an insane amount of physical damage per second that can melt anyone.
Weaknesses: Witch Doctor's spells remain potent throughout the entire game. The only issue is that using them becomes a ton harder. Cask is fantastic vs 2-3 enemies with low mobility. Once enemy heroes move around as 4, have more mobility and magic immunity, Cask just ceases to do anything. Maledict does a ton of damage but it takes it's time to do its damage and it has really low cast range, which means it's impossible to use in most fights unless you have Glimmer Cape ready to escape right after casting.
Death Ward provides 600 physical DPS at level 2, which is amazing. However, it's a huge "Kick me" sign that one stun can solve. WD doesn't farm very well either (Better than Ogre that's for sure), and all his gold will be towards getting standard support items. It's highly unlikely WD can get a BKB just to ensure his Ulti goes off each fight.
WD's spells just become harder and harder to use effectively as the game goes on. The hero is great for the first 20 minutes but falls off once big teamfights start happening.
When to pick Witch Doctor:
Despite how it looks like, WD sucks in disadvantageous games. He's food for cores like PA, Riki or some snowbally mid heroes such as Zeus and TA. WD will be the opening window for them to snowball out of control. It is better advised to pick WD into aggressive instead of passive lineups, especially if you plan on taking teamfights and sieging towers. Aside that, WD does great against strength offlaners who seems tanky such as Axe, Timbersaw and Underlord. In fact, WD is considered the ultimate lane counter to Underlord because he is tanky but slow. WD doesn't care about you being tanky, but he likes you being slow.
Threat Level: Low.
Witch Doctor is just…. not a threat in teamfights. He is worth bursting if caught alone or out of position but in a 5 v 5 WD can be ignored for jucier targets. The hero offers no burst damage or save. His heal is acceptable but it's AOE is so small that it just ends up bunching everyone for enemy AOE spells. Most players will probably save a stun to interrupt WD’s Death Ward but that's about it.
Grants Voodoo Switcheroo. Turns you into a Death Ward for 2 seconds. Death Ward has -30 Attack Speed. You are hidden/invulnerable during this time. Cooldown: 70. Manacost: 250.
Pretty high manacost and cooldown, this is still a very solid shard upgrade to have. It deals a significant amount of physical damage in its 2 seconds and more importantly, it acts as a self-casted Disruption. WD can use this if enemies jump on him to waste 2 seconds of their time while doing significant damage. It is well worth getting this shard whenever possible.
Pos 5 type: Dual-purpose
Hero stats: Shadow Shaman has some pretty impressive starting stats. 660 hp and 4.7 armor makes him pretty durable for a ranged pos 5. His starting damage is 74! this makes trading against Shaman a nightmare. Shaman's stat gain is reasonable with nothing notable there.
Shaman doesn't have any insanely bad hero stat to worry about. Perhaps the worst would be his attack range of 400. A low attack range forces heroes closer to danger during the laning stage.
Shaman players always have a dilemma. To commit wards or not to commit? Committing wards in a teamfight means you might give up on 1-2 towers even after winning it. However, not committing wards may mean you might not even win the teamfight. Heroes like Mars who forces teamfights in a set area is great in the sense that it maximizes Serpent Wards' damage output in that particular teamfight.
Strengths: Perhaps the best pushing support and one of the best disablers in the game, Shaman has a lot going for him. His laning stage is fantastic. Combining amazing right clicks with a nuke, hex and shackles makes him extremely formidable to fight against. If shaman lanes with lane dominant pos 1's (Ursa, Monkey King, Slark) the lane can be extremely punishing.
After his laning stage, Shaman pushes extremely well. He can solo push dead lanes with a couple of Ether Shocks but his most noteworthy ability is taking buildings fast with Serpent Wards. Shaman can plant Wards near a tower and teleport out. Forcing the enemy team to go back and defend or lose a structure.
Weaknesses: Shadow Shaman doesn't have any weakness that's unique to him. He suffers from the same problems most ranged position 5's have. He is relatively slow and his low attack range makes him susceptible to being killed during the laning stage. Ths problem is exacerbated by the fact that Shaman doesn't have a stun-and-run ability at early levels. Hex is a 1.25 second slow which isn't much in the laning stage. Nor will Hex be levelled up till at least level 8 or more.
Besides being fragile and easy to kill, Shaman tends to focus on getting offensive items. The hero enjoys having Blink, Aether lens and maybe even Aghanims if he can afford it. Shaman isn't the best position 5 to get save items such as a Glimmer Cape on.
Threat Level: High.
Shaman is one of the best position 5's to take out early in a fight. Serpent Wards can do a lot of damage and preventing him from casting them helps a lot. This is even more important when fighting near objectives. Aside from his tower damage, Shaman provides a ton of disable, rivaling Bane in his ability to lock down enemies.
Not only is Shaman a big threat, but he is also relatively easy to bring down if caught. This makes it even more likely that SS will be focused down first every fight.
When to pick Shadow Shaman:
When your team lacks push, Shaman is almost the answer. Shaman is not a great firstpick despite being a support, because the moment you pick Shaman, you need your team to be able to group up and take towers early while fighting aggressively. In this sense, heroes like Beastmaster and Underlord are great teammates, while passive heroes like Spectre and Anti-Mage are a big no. Shaman is item-reliant, and taking towers is the best way to get that gold without stealing farm away from your other cores, which means if you pick Shaman into a draft that doesn't really push or teamfight well, you're better off just picking Lich instead since you will definitely end up with minimal farm.
Shackles create 4 Serpent Wards that attack the target while you channel. Increases Shackle range by 150. Wards last 7 seconds.
Pretty fantastic shard upgrade for Shaman. Shaman gets almost half an ulti every 10 seconds. These snakes can be used to push, kill enemy heroes or just farm creeps. The extra cast range is helpful for staying out of danger during shackles.
This is one of the shards you wanna get as soon as possible after Shaman’s core items. Good news though, Shaman farms decently as a position 5. In fact, you will likely find yourself being the position 4 after the laning stage.
Guide created by our coach Otomo (6.3k MMR SEA) at Gamejitsu. https://gamejitsu.gg
Otomo is also working as a caster who casted for ESL events in Asia. Check him out at:
Our folks at Gamejitsu are looking for Alpha Testers to help test out our system! In exchange for helping us test our system, you can enjoy free coaching from all our coaches. Please DM me (with your email) if you are interested! For info on what Gamejitsu is, see here: https://imgur.com/gallery/S0GJdo5
- Feels like I can only climb MMR with Ogre, don’t know how to feel about this.
- Preparing for Anti-Mage as a Hard Support Player
- How to play Jakiro from an Immortal spammer
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