Carry Axe is the newest Dota 2 nightmare in pub matches

Kenneth Williams • June 15, 00:14

Off lane Axe rushing Manta Style was the build of the month before a massive nerf made it untenable. That doesn’t mean the strategy doesn’t work for carries, though.

PSG.LGD’s championship run in the WePlay AniMajor was a total display of dominance. Their 3-0 grand finals win over Evil Geniuses included some innovative picks, but flex Axe was the scariest of them all. Wang “Ame” Chunyu’s carry Axe build helped cement his team’s first victory over the North American titans.

Though Manta Style is the most eye-catching item in the new Axe build, but it’s actually centred around Aghanim’s Shard. Aghanim’s Shard allows Counter Helix to trigger off Axe’s physical attacks in addition to his opponent’s. Since the passive extends to illusions, Axe can dish out tons of pure damage during a Berserker’s Call, with Axe and the two spinning illusions being enough to melt almost any hero.

The Aghanim’s Shard build took a huge nerf in 7.29d. The bonus Counter Helix proc rate was halved from 10% to 5%, but it still grants 35 bonus attack speed. It quickly fell out of favor with off lane Axes, but the increased farm priority from the safe lane grants an incredibly explosive timing that scales into the late game.

If PSG.LGD’s superstar carry can achieve 783 GPM and 11 kills at the AniMajor with carry Axe, it can definitely earn you some MMR in ranked matchmaking. 

How to play Manta Style carry Axe

Since Axe is usually played as an offlaner, it’s not a bad idea to pick him early in the draft. The enemy team might strategize against off lane Axe only to be counter-picked by your actual off laner in the second phase. 

Axe is pretty independent, but a synergistic support like Dazzle or Witch Doctor can score early kills on most lane opponents. Any Axe lane needs to pull creeps a lot, so make sure your small camp isn’t blocked by a Sentry Ward. Politely ask your soft support to stack the ancient camp in the early game. Taking a triple ancient stack at 12 minutes will get you much closer to an early Manta Style.

The build for Manta Style Axe is very rigid. Brown boots into Vanguard is the ideal start, followed by a Yasha. Phase Boots are a solid choice, but only after Vanguard. Next up is Manta Style followed by a Blink Dagger. Don’t worry too much about getting Blink quickly. If you have to pick between Blink and Shard at 20 minutes, get the Shard first.

The 20-minute mark is when Manta Axe really shines. Play as a standard Axe, but pop Manta Style right as you taunt enemy heroes. 3.2 seconds of constant spins can dish out up to 1,000 pure damage. If that’s not quite enough damage, finish them off with Culling Blade. It’s important to preserve mana with this build, so only dunk if you absolutely need to.

In addition to having the biggest pure damage output of any hero in Dota 2, Manta Axe is extremely good at pushing lanes. Send one Manta illusion to the nearest enemy creep wave and the other to the enemy jungle. Counter Helix’s damage isn’t reduced on illusions, so they can clear out camps in a matter of seconds. 

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