Content of the article: "The Ultimate Storm Guide (In-depth)"
A lot of fights in dota are determined by whoever initiates first. It usually comes down to vision and team coordination. But what if always were one step ahead of the enemy?
Hello there everyone, and welcome to the most in-depth text guide on Storm Spirit currently available. If you’re completely new to Storm Spirit, I would highly recommend checking out my beginner basic guide to Storm here. If you’re reading this guide, you should have played Storm for at least a game or two. My goal is to add things to this guide in the coming month depending on new discoveries or whatever people feel is missing. Anyway, let’s get into the in-depth advanced Storm guide.
What to expect
So, to start with, let’s talk about what Storm is. I’m serious. What makes Storm special and unique compared to someone like his blazing brother Ember Spirit? To get to the bottom of the origins of Storm, we have to go back. All the way back to the ancient times of 2016 AD. I’m gonna instead categorize the many Storm playstyles into 2 categories. 2016 to 2020, “the old Storm”, and the modern Storm. The old Storm is still the most common build/playstyle even today, both in pubs and in pro games, and usually goes something like Kaya -> Treads -> Orchid. But I genuinely think you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage if you go with this build instead of the modern one. What is the modern Storm then? Orchid. You just rush orchid. I won’t talk about the old Storm build until we get into the pro-scene section, but to summarize, orchid is good at any level below the professional level. While you might argue it preys on low-level opponents, around a quarter of high-level Storm players main the “orchid-Storm”.
Pros / Cons
- Has the ability to be greedyEspecially at lower ranks, you'll almost always have some part of the map (a lane or parts of your jungle) that isn't occupied. Storm is able to convert farm to power fairly efficiently for being a mid hero.
- Space-creatorYou might be wondering how storm, a fairly farm dependent hero is able to create space. One word: Orchid. The most modern storm builds today are centered around orchid, which gives you the ability to focus more on ganks and pushing back the enemy, giving your team at least a net positive amount of space.
- Able to play aloneFairly self-explanatory, since storm can move across the map so quickly, he usually doesn't need to hug his team all the time like other mids.
- Invincible with perfect playAlso pretty self-explanatory, his ult literally makes him invincible for a certain duration. Of course, 0 deaths is really hard to achieve, but it should always be your goal since storm can snowball really hard if he's given the opportunity.
- High skill ceiling
- Huge kill potential
- Comes online somewhat earlyWhen you mention storm, most people think of one of two storms. The first group of people view storm as this hero who will kill anyone and everyone in every lane as soon as he hits level 6. The second group views storm as this mid who just farms for 25 minutes to get his bloodstone before coming online. The truth is somewhere in-between, and it's mostly dependent on your ability to farm.
- Fairly versatileAs mentioned previously, you CAN start fighting and ganking at 6 if it's needed, but you can also farm straight for 20 minutes if the game calls for it. He might not be the most versatile hero, but he's alright compared to most other mids.
- High skill floor
- Very susceptible to debuffsA silencer or bane can make your life a lot harder, which will also force you to switch your item build-up to be able to survive.
- Gets countered by team coordination
The arguably best way to start learning Storm is to start with the draft. At pretty much all levels of dota, you will usually get the last pick as mid. So, what should you look for when picking Storm? Let’s start by looking at what Storm counters, and gets countered by. At a quick glance, anyone would be able to tell that Storm counters heroes without survivability and gets countered by heroes with survivability.But, remember, most people play the old Storm which skews the stats quite a bit. In reality, the main 2 points of interest when considering drafting Storm is, spell dependence and disable. Let’s start with spell dependence. What does spell dependence even mean? Well, I just made up the term, but what I’m referring to are heroes who can’t survive without their spells. Some heroes can survive bad situations by just being tanky, like DK and medusa for example. But then there are the heroes who REQUIRE their spells to be able to escape and survive a bad situation. Why does this matter for Storm with just one short disable? Well, the modern Storm revolves around a single item, orchid malevolence. If you didn’t already know, this item silences the enemy. Do You see where I’m going with this? Clinkz is a counter to the old Storm. But for the modern Storm, what is he going to do when his life-saving spells are taken from him? Slowly accept his inevitable death.
You might also notice a pattern if you play a couple of Storm games. Usually, the offlaner has pretty much no spell dependency. The supports and mid can vary a lot from hero to hero, but surprisingly, punishing the enemy safelaner can be something to strive to achieve. Okay, I’m not saying that you should focus more on the enemy safelaner than the enemy mid, but it can be good to know only 4 out of the 25 most common hard carries can survive a good orchid timing.
That isn’t a lot. And I hear you say: But can’t AM just use a spell shield, or Clinkz just go invisible. I tested it out with a level 12 zap, and assuming the Clinkz doesn’t see you on the minimap, he has exactly 410 milliseconds to react. Not an impossible reaction time by any means, but remember, that is the best-case scenario.
Let’s say the enemies are full of free food according to our last segment: Troll, Meepo, Doom, Silencer, and Bane.
Pretty free Storm game? Everyone gets somewhat countered by silence? While that is somewhat true, if you pick Storm into this draft, you really shouldn’t expect to win. Let’s have a look at why, by talking about disables. Storm is a really fun hero in the fact that literally every disable counters you. Let’s have a look at how and why this enemy draft destroys Storm.
Stuns: Pretty self-explanatory, Storms base health and defense is shit. There is a reason he has an ability that makes him invincible without a cooldown. If the enemy can damage him, he will die. And if he can’t use his ult, or even move for that matter, he’s dead. Look at bane for example: He can stun you for days, or at least that’s what it feels like. A bane on the enemy team can be devastating if he plays his cards right.
Slow is probably the best disability you can get as a Storm, it’s the only one he doesn’t need to really care about. Still, slow is kinda in this weird grey area between a disable and a debuff, so I won’t count it.
Silence is a bad omen for a hero that is dependent on his ult to pretty much accomplice anything. See Silencer on the enemy team.
Break isn’t that bad, but a lot of Storm damage comes from his passive overload, so while it’s not horrible, it still affects him quite a lot.
Root is probably the worst debuff the enemy team can have since it’s so easily obtainable. Just one rod of atos for 2750 gold and as always, your ultimate is gone. You might have been screaming at me this whole time: “Why don’t you just buy a bkb or linkens sphere”. Well, you can and you should, but there are a lot of heroes and items that can disable you THROUGH your items (see troll warlord with his physical roots)
I could go through every single disable, but that’d be somewhat meaningless at this point. So, when picking Storm, you gotta balance these two factors: Is the team leaning towards being spell dependent or disable heavy? The ratio when you pick Storm is up to you, but here’s a fun fact: You don’t have to not pick Storm. You can pick Storm into anything. Of course, he has bad and good matchups, but you can practically play above your rank against any draft, presuming you have the skills. To show this, I thought we would discuss and learn from the arguably hardest matchup Storm can face: Skywrath mage.
An example from the field
I would use one of my own replays as an example, but honestly, I feel it’s a way better idea to instead have a look at someone who knows their shit. Let’s have a look at Aleksandr Levin, a professional mid currently playing for hellraisers.
In terms of starting items, you pretty much always get a null, a bottle and boots. The order of these can vary a lot from game to game though. A lot of people go bottle first, then the null recipe, then boots. This is the “greedy” build. It’s not that greedy, but it requires that you get a lot of the early last hits. Then there is the safe build, which Nix is gonna play right here. Why? He is going against one of the hardest matchups in the game for Storm. Going the greedy build would be foolish. That being said, I strongly recommend anyone reading this wanting to pick up Storm to start off with the safe build for 5-15 games, then switching to the greedy one for every game. He also instantly skills Q when the game starts. Why, isn’t it pretty much always better to save the skill point for when you need an ability? Well with Storm, the first two levels are ALWAYS the same. Q, then E. Anything else is a waste of a skill point, and we’ll talk more about it in a second. As with most other mids, securing the ranged creep is a priority, since it swings both the gold and exp in your favor. Q is the only ability that can consistently get the ranged creep at level one, just like Nix does here. I’m not gonna go too in-depth on the laning stage right here since the video would be literally an hour long, but I highly recommend you check out Captain Iceblock or road to immortal if you want to learn specific matchups. That being said, you make your first decision as Storm the second you hit level 3. Either, if you believe you have a good chance of finding a kill on the enemy, skill your Vortex, or just level up your overload.
Abilities and talents
In this lane, Nix has a lot of potential to kill the skywrath, so he goes vortex. We’re gonna get back to the laning stage in a second, but let’s just get the skill build over with. Max Q and E and get ult or talent at every possible level. Talent wise, you usually want to take the overload damage at level 10, since you want to snowball instead of afk’ing 20 minutes in the jungle. At level 15, get the remnant. You’ll usually have more impact with the extra damage over a couple of extra seconds of life. At level 20, you usually want to go the attack speed; Remember, it’s purpose isn’t just adding more right clicks, but also making your hero faster to control. If you already have a lot of damage and you need lockdown, going vortex duration is fine. Level 25, ALWAYS go 600 auto remnant, this talent is honestly just an all-round great damage source. Anyway, let’s get back to the lane.
What is happening here? Well, this is Storm’s strongest combo, the Q+W combo. It consists of:
- Walk into close range to the enemy
- Pull them closer with W
- Spawn a remnant in their face
- Right-click them to death
Walk into close range to the enemyPull them closer with WSpawn a remnant in their faceRight-click them to death9 times out of 10, you’ll either get a kill or damage them so severely they’ll be too scared to get close to you ever again. Sadly, that’s also the main issue with the combo. You need to get close to the enemy to pull it off. Man, if only Storm had some ability that allowed him to get closer to the enemy…
That’s right, let’s talk about Storms ult: Zap. This is Storms bread and butter. When you think of Storm, this is probably what you think of. That being said, let’s dive into the depths of this seemingly simple ability. Ball lightning, as it’s officially called, not “ball of lightning”, but just ball lightning. Anyways, generally this ability has 1 purpose. Positioning. And I hear you say: “but what about the scaling damage?”. Well, it can be summarized in one sentence: “More zaaap = more damage”. Okay so let’s talk about the fun part. It moves you around. Offensively it allows you to engage and disengage in a matter of seconds, and defensively, it allows you to be practically invincible assuming you have the mana to zap. So, the most important thing when zapping is a combination of risk calculation and knowing how far you can zap while still having enough mana to disengage. So, I ran some tests.
The red line is how far you can zap at level 1, about from mid to the river bounty. At level 2, you can zap from mid to the dire small camp. At level 3, you can zap to the dire t1 tower. Why does this matter? Well, if you run out of mana, you don’t have any way to escape. Usually you need to keep at least 300 mana to be able to zap out of most of the enemies attack ranges. If you’ve already started playing Storm and feel like you’re always dying and feeding, it’s most likely because you’re not managing your mana well enough.
Speaking of mana management, I want to emphasize the importance of this seemingly simple task. The main improvement I’ve made between my first and my hundredth Storm game was mana management. So, what do I mean by this? Well, you are always gonna zap into a fight or a pickoff. And more often than not, you’re gonna zap away from the engagements as well. Unlike basically every hero in the game, you should look at your mana while fighting instead of your health. This also means that you almost always want next to full mana before jumping into a fight, or at least enough to get a pickoff. One of Storms greatest weaknesses that a lot of people don’t realize is that while his ult technically doesn’t have a cooldown, it pretty much has a couple of charges before you run out of mana. Next to max mana, the most important stat for Storm Spirit is his mana regen, because it both let’s him farm a lot faster, but also be more online and rotate a lot more. Clarities aid a bit with this, but generally, you should be farming jungle camps and lanes with MORE than half your mana pool full, so that you’ll be able to react to any situation that arises (assuming you sense a fight arising). The reason you die can be split into two categories:
- You got disabled
- You ran out of mana.
Getting disabled can come down to farm and bad item choices, but running out of mana is no one's fault except your own. Just be aware of it, and don’t be afraid to consciously experiment every once in a while to test your limits.
The game plan
Generally, you either want to shove the wave by spamming Q and E in the wave, maybe mix in a little vortex combo if you get the opportunity, or stay back and let the enemy shove the wave into you. The one thing you should avoid is doing something in between, staying within the effective range of the enemy while still not nuking the wave. Of course, you should pretty much always grab creep aggro over to your range creep if possible. One mistake I’ve personally done way too often is being scared of simply nuking out the wave. Even though you might lose a lot of mana, it is usually worth it if you ship out a couple mangoes and a clarity.
Speaking of regen, one of the items every Storm has in common is a bottle. Bottle's main purpose is simply giving you that last chunk of regen you so desperately need. Generally, you want to drag out your intelligence and mana items into your backpack while using the bottle to squeeze the most possible regen you can, but this becomes less important the later the game goes. Bottle is also really good for jungling, which is something Storm excels at. You usually don’t wanna use your zap while farming camps, but if you’re certain you won’t be needed in fights for the coming minute, feel free to zap around to your heart's content.
Anyways, one thing that almost every Storm player can agree on, is that Storm is a snowballing hero. Generally, if you’re below legend, you can almost always secure a kill or two between level 6 and 12. I usually grab 2 or 3 mangoes before diving in for the kill, just to make sure I have a backup. Generally, your dream game and game plan looks like this:
- Stay even in the lane until level 6
- Get a kill or two and farm until level 12
- Get orchid, kill mid more, or go gank the sidelanes if they’re struggling.
- Get bloodstone and a defensive item, terrorize the enemy via pickoffs and teamfights
Once you reach level 12 and get your orchid, you’ll need to be a lot more conscious of your decisions. Generally, the only thing that should cross your mind when you have orchid is: “Who can I kill?” Storm with orchid is arguably the strongest hero in the game at that level and farm, so what you need to focus on is wherever you have enough mana to commit to a dive, and if the enemy is out of position. Lucky for you, as long as your target doesn’t have teammates who can save them, they’re out of position. If only there was a lane where people usually stay alone… That’s right, the most consistent source of kills and impact is actually the midlane. But, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. Either the enemy mid get’s ahead and you can’t kill them, or the enemy safelaner is getting fed by your offlane. Do not worry, because if you don’t feel confident enough to dive mid, simply use a teleport scroll or walk to the side lanes, stay out of vision until the enemy goes out of position. Once again, the whole concept with an orchid rush relies on you utilizing the advantage you get when you finally reach your orchid. So, how should your though process look like before committing to a pickoff? Well, it usually goes something like this:
- Is your mana pool sufficient?
- Are the other enemies showing on the map (so no one can save your target)?
- Where will the enemy move to?
Zaps are somewhat similar to that of Ancient apparition's ult, except your radius is 10 times smaller. Landing the actual zap adds a lot to your damage, so trying to attack afk farming enemies or trying to predict their movement goes a long way.
I would argue that the hardest part of Storm is nailing the first 15 minutes before your orchid and level 12. Starting out, you might get orchid at around 16 minutes, slowly working your way down to 12-13 minutes, which is where you’ll most likely stay. If you’re committed enough and experienced enough, you can get it down to 9-10 minutes, like the players I mentioned before. Anyways, I won’t go into too much depth on the laning stage, since the guys I’ve linked already cover most lane matchup to a depth I can’t compete with.
Any reasonable team will at this point start grouping up. This is by far the biggest way to shut down a Storm, but luckily it’s rare to find a pub this coordinated, especially at lower ranks. Whether you like it or not, a teamfight will eventually break out. Now you have two options: Either you get lucky and a support or otherwise squishy hero has walked out of position, and you can simply zap in and out for a quick kill. Usually, this won’t be the case, and you’ll have to actually enter a real fight. My biggest tip for teamfights is to not be the first person to engage. Unless you are insanely farmed or have the aegis, it’s usually better to wait for the enemies to get focused before diving the backline. Also, since you have the ability to basically remove an optional support at your will, you should almost always try to shut down that one support with a huge teamfight ult who is just waiting to drop it.
You’ve now won a teamfight and feel like pushing. Your right clicks don’t deal nearly enough damage to take down towers, so I usually just try to cut the waves or just stay near my team to have a menacing presence for the enemy. You can also channel the outpost while zapping, so that’s something.
Finally, let’s talk about the late-game storm. Some are scared of this stage, some are waiting the entire game to get to the late-game. Personally, I love the lategame, mainly due to the fact you have a high amount of bloodstone charges. Bloodstone charges are gained when you’re near an enemy dying, and lost when you die. The more charges you get, the more mana per second you gain. Basically, if you’re winning late game, you should be able to dash in and out every 20 seconds or so, due to your mana regaining so incredibly fast. If you’re losing, you basically gain a radius around your ancient where you’ll be able to dash in and out of your fountain, constantly dealing free damage to the enemy. In the end though, late game storm is really quite similar to mid game storm, just a bit more safe and easier.
To end this quite massive guide, I just wanted to mention that you really don’t need to conform to this one Storm playstyle. Looking at the high immortal players, they usually go a similar build each game with small variations, while the builds between players can vary a lot. Experiment around with what works for you, customize your experience to something you enjoy. Anyways, if you have any feedback or things you’d like me to add/correct, please let me know. I plan on updating this guide every once in a while to keep it as useful as possible, so don’t be afraid to give suggestions (or harsh critique if that’s your style). If you for whatever reason enjoyed this little project of mine, feel free to check out my channel (it’s not the best content, but everyones gotta start somewhere), but just the fact that you took the time to reach the end means a lot to me 🙂
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