Io is a carry hero again, and these pro players show you why

By Steven Rondina


Apr 1, 2021

Reading time: 2 min

Anathan “ana” Pham isn’t playing Dota 2 these days, but his legacy lives on through core Io.

ana debuted the core Io build at The International 2019, stunning opponents with his unorthodox approach to what is normally a hard support hero. Though Valve went through painstaking efforts to nerf carry Io out of the game in the weeks that followed, that permutation of the hero is back and possibly better than ever via the ONE Esports Singapore Major.

Alliance, Team Aster, OB Esports x Neon, and Team Liquid have all used the hero to strong effect. How did they do it? And is this a viable option for casual players? Here’s what we know.

How to play carry Io

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There are two important notes when it comes to discussing carry Io at the Singapore Major. First is that the hero has been used as a safe lane carry, not as a mid laner. Second is that this build only seems to work for the dire team, as just one team has attempted core Io on the radiant side and that resulted in a loss.

The general approach to core Io is similar to the one utilized by ana at The International 2019. Players pick up an early Soul Ring followed by a Helm of the Dominator while ignoring boots entirely. In terms of leveling, they max Spirits by level seven and follow that with Overcharge. For talents, Spirits and right-click attacks are prioritized over other abilities.

The build revolves around a mid-game power spike for Io through the Spirits upgrades found in its Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade and level 15 and 20 talents. In the late game, Io remains a threat through attack damage and by amplifying other cores with Overcharge. Io also has an edge over other cores given its lack of reliance on boots for movement speed.

The approach is straightforward, albeit tricky for less-skilled players. Io rushing Soul Ring and Helm of the Dominator helps to rapidly farm the lane and jungle using Spirits. After purchasing Aghanim’s Scepter, Io becomes a potent damage dealer.

At this point, a Heart of Tarrasque gives Io some much-needed survivability. Kaya and Sange can also add another big boost to the hero, but most builds break towards attack damage items such as Daedalus and Bloodthorn instead.

What is the best Dota 2 carry?

Io, Monkey King, and Troll Warlord can all stake a claim as the best carry hero in Dota 2 today. Io and Monkey King have both been among the most hotly contested heroes of the Singapore Major to this point, but have proven to be viable in multiple roles with Monkey King being a mid and safe lane carry and Io being both a support and carry.

Troll Warlord has been a go-to for Chinese teams and is quite successful. Wang “Ame” Chunyu in particular has shown just how strong Troll Warlord can be in skilled hands.