Image by Jigglypuff
It’s no secret that invisible heroes are exceptionally good in the lower skill brackets. The ability to freely roam the map undetected, apply pressure where needed and being pretty much invulnerable on demand makes them tricky to deal with for beginner players.
This doesn’t mean, however, that they lose all of their potency in the higher MMR games. In fact, certain heroes, such as Bounty Hunter, are actually more successful in the upper brackets. It means that the general mantra of “just buy sentries and dusts” doesn’t necessarily always work — at 4k MMR and higher people tend to have at least the basic idea of how to counter invisibility and generally buy wards and detection. So what else could each of us do to prevent invisible heroes from running rampant?
This patch in general really favors strong lanes. Even Viper, who is notoriously known for scaling poorly in the core position, has seen some play, because of his ability to dominate pretty much any mid matchup.
When the enemy is playing Bounty Hunter or Riki — the typical level 1 invisible roaming heroes, carefully consider whether your team truly needs a jungler or a semi-jungling support like Crystal Maiden.
Invisible roaming heroes thrive on weak lanes and junglers — they are one of the most severe forms of punishment against greedy opponents, but without the ability to consistently get kills, they often fall off very hard. There is only one extra source of experience and gold for them on the map, so when facing strong lanes they have no angle of attack on, they quickly become irrelevant.
Strong dual lanes, or a good matchup in the mid and the offlane can break the game for the roaming threat. There are, of course, nuances — tankier targets work better against Riki, while mobility might be enough to get away from Bounty Hunter in the early game.
Controlling lane momentum
Sometimes strong lanes aren’t enough. You might have given up an early kill to the enemy, or he managed to steal a couple of runes from your team and now he’s a level higher and has boots.
Controlling lane momentum in any scenario against an invisible roamer is a good idea: deny aggressively, don’t overdo it with aggro on enemy creeps and stack/pull when needed. Being protected by your own tower will save you from most aggression until 10 minutes into the game and if by this time the enemy roamer hasn’t started snowballing, consider the laning stage won.
This will also let you get away with weaker lanes, not that it would matter, you you have followed the previous advice.
Tame your aggression
Another frequent mistake done by players of pretty much any skill level is unnecessary risky aggression in lane. Getting a kill on the enemy offlaner is great. So is harassing him out of lane, however be wary of the presence of other enemy heroes.
When you gank or simply attack the enemy hero several things generally happen: you lose lane momentum, since creeps are no longer pushing into your wave, and instead focus on the heroes; you get further away from your tower, losing true sight and extra attack power; and you use some of your cooldowns and mana.
If at this point an enemy hero you weren’t expecting intervenes, he will have free reign of what’s happening in lane — he’s not going to be bothered by your creeps, which are a significant source of damage in the early game; he will have high chase potential, since you stepped out of the tower range to chase the enemy and you won’t be able to stop him, since you’ve used your cooldowns. Most importantly, for at least one extra minute, he will have better attack angles on the whole lane.
What often happens, at least in lower skilled games, is supports simply pluck the sentry ward somewhere on the lane right in the beginning of the game and consider their job done. This is an extremely wasteful solution to the problem, since a decent player will simply ignore your lane for four minutes, effectively wasting you 100 gold.
A much better approach would be to control the lane, play it safe and only use sentries right before you are about to initiate a gank on the enemy, to ensure there is no unexpected interference. Another good reason would be if you are a support, leaving his carry to gank or TP-save a different lane.
Always carry a TP, don’t always use it
We’ve recently discussed this concept in our support overview and it is even more important when playing against invisible heroes. TP is extremely powerful, but has a massive cooldown, use it wisely.
Protect Bounty Runes
The topic of how invisible roamers tend to fall off has been touched already and like all supports in general, they have a way of coming back into the game or at least not being completely irrelevant. Bounty Runes aren’t exceptionally strong, providing small XP and Gold bonuses early in the game, but sometimes it is enough to cross the level threshold and get access to an extra ability.
Bounty Hunter with Shadow Walk only isn’t particularly threatening to most heroes. Bounty Hunter with Shadow Walk and Jinada starts packing a punch. Bounty Hunter with Shadow Walk, Jinada and Shuriken Toss suddenly has 150 extra magic damage and a way to interrupt channeling spells.
Protect at least your own runes. Venturing into the enemy forest while there is an invisible hero on the enemy team might be a really bad idea, but your own runes should be picked up immediately, so going for them before the timer reaches an even minute is a good idea. Even using some form of an AoE disable in the general direction of the rune is warranted, if you are not sure where the enemy roamer is and he hasn’t shown in any lane recently. They are that important.
Have several heroes with detection
Inability of carry players to understand the basic concept of needing extra heroes with Dust or Sentries truly baffles. In many scenarios they would rather lose the game, than spend 180 on Dust or 100 on Sentry. And they generally couldn’t care less if their support, who is already starved for money and has no items, dies with a full inventory of detection against a fed Clinkz.
While hyperbolic, the above example isn’t too far from the truth — there is a misconception within the community that it’s solely supports job to get detection, while it really isn’t. Default Storm Spirit even has Dust dangling on his belt.
It is Dota, people die in Dota and sometimes they die before they even get a chance to react. Having a backup detection carrier is a must in any game and often it is better to have it on a somewhat mobile core, rather than static support, since it might be problematic to chase otherwise.
Winning a game of Dota is a team effort, therefore dealing with the invisible heroes is a team effort as well. Support players should generally learn to not waste unnecessary resources, so they have them when they are truly needed.
Core players should accept that sometimes supports simply won’t have money for any detection, if they want to progress through the game and chip in for the victory.
Invisibility is a strong mechanic, which loses tactical benefits and provides more strategic ones, with the higher levels of play. Adapting to it is always possible, however, and it is necessary for anyone who wants to improve.