How to play Slark: Dota 2’s slipperiest tank-killing carry

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Slark has been out of the Dota 2 meta for a while, but patch 7.30 has brought the maritime mugger back in style.

Slark the Nightcrawler is a safe lane carry hero uniquely designed to outlast his foes by stealing their stats and healing mid-fight. Recent buffs to Slark’s farming ability Dark Pact and preferred ganking tool Silver Edge have catapulted him into Dota 2’s top tier. Players looking for a new carry to spam in patch 7.30, don’t need to look further than Slark. 

How to build Slark in Dota 2

Slark’s laning stage is a race to level six. The hero becomes immensely more powerful once he can heal from Shadow Dance’s passive ability. Essence Shift is usually taken at level one because it allows Slark to trade effectively against opponents with high starting stats. At level three, Slark wants a point in each of his basic abilities. Slark players usually max Dark Pact, then Pounce, then Essence Shift while upgrading Shadow Dance whenever possible. 

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While most carries prefer to skip Magic Wand, it’s a very valuable pickup on Slark. He has the third-worst total stat gain in the game, so Magic Wand and a Wraith Band are worth delaying core items to give the hero a stronger foundation. Echo Sabre is the perfect complement for Slark. It jumpstarts his Essence Shift stacks and keeps him topped up on mana. 

Silver Edge is the number one item for Slark in patch 7.30. In addition to the very useful break debuff it applies on enemies, Silver Edge now has a guaranteed crit when attacking out of invisibility. Late game options include Eye of Skadi for its massive stat boosts and Black King Bar to help maneuver around fights.

Is Slark a hard carry?

Slark is almost exclusively played as a hard carry in the safe lane. He’s not necessarily the hardest carry in Dota 2, but he has a unique niche against certain hyper-carries like Medusa and Spectre.

Slark excels at focusing on a single target and stealing their stats over a prolonged team fight. Once the enemy team responds, Slark can use Dark Pact and Shadow Dance to heal himself and stick to his target. 

Instead of carrying past 50 minutes, Slark is best at jumping on the opponent’s backline and picking off supports one by one. He relies on snowballing with Essence Shift to take enemy towers as he lacks damage without stealing stats. Once Slark gets ahead, it’s very difficult to stop him.

What is a good Slark game?

If you want to draft Slark, keep an eye out for heroes with long-range silences. Dark Pact is great for dealing with stuns, but heroes like Skywrath Mage, Death Prophet, and Silencer can prevent him from ever purging himself in the first place. Area-of-effect spells like Hoof Stomp and Slithereen Crush can hit Slark through Shadow Dance.

A good Slark game will have multiple enemy supports that Slark can pick off quickly. Crystal Maiden, Ogre Magi, Warlock, and Witch Doctor can end up as food for a well-farmed Slark. As for cores, Slark likes playing against foes that he can easily disengage from if things start to go south. Troll Warlord, Arc Warden, Brewmaster, and Bristleback all struggle against a carry Slark.

How does Pounce work?

Pounce is one of the stranger control abilities in Dota 2. It applies the Leash effect, which limits a hero’s movement to a small radius around where they were hit. The target can move freely with no movement speed reduction. Certain items and abilities like Force Staff can break the leash effect, but it won’t stun like Puck’s Dream Coil. 

Manta Style can also be used to dispel Pounce if you know a special trick. Manta won’t dispel Pounce unless the Manta user is right on the very edge of their leash radius. The character should be teleported just outside of the range, canceling the Pounce. If all else fails, Black King Bar and other sources of spell immunity will immediately dispel Pounce.

How to counter Slark

Slark can be countered by sustained AOE magic damage, lengthy stuns, and massive burst damage. While Slark is extremely strong after he’s gotten a few dozen Essence Shift stacks, he has a few key weaknesses for the enemy team to exploit.

Slark’s health pool is small and the healing from Shadow Dance can be easily negated by heroes like Leshrac, Disruptor, and Outworld Destroyer. Dark Pact’s delay also makes him susceptible to burst damage. Tiny, Riki, Mars, and Techies are the best heroes for ambushing Slark.

The best support to counter Slark in patch 7.30 is Disruptor. Glimpse cannot be purged, making his escape much more treacherous. It also allows him to survive Slark’s initial attack out of Silver Edge. Static Storm deals a ton of damage and prevents Slark from using any of his escape tools. The best off lane hero for dealing with Slark is probably Necrophos. Necro can passively harass Slark in the laning stage and steal his jungle camps. Reaper’s Scythe forces Slark to play much more conservatively with Shadow Dance and Ghost Shroud is the perfect response to Pounce.

Bloodseeker is also a classic counter to Slark in the early game. Because Shadow Dance’s passive relies on enemies not having vision on Slark, Bloodseeker’s Thirst offering global true sight on low-health enemies prevents him from just dropping into the treeline and recovering all his health.