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    Dota 2 – The Return Of Tinker

    After receiving nothing but buffs for five patches in a row, Tinker is now officially back in the meta. Despite not playing a dominant role in the recent Manila Major, the hero is undeniably viable and is making quite an appearance in higher level pub games, with an impressive ~20% pick rate in 4k+ MMR games. While his average win rate for higher skilled games remains close to the “perfectly balanced” value of 50%, there is no denying that he is an extremely tough opponent to deal with effectively.

    Tinker is an extremely elusive hero who scales exceptionally well with items and levels. His ability to constantly apply pressure on every lane makes pushing lineups almost completely ineffective, especially if they are centered around heroes with early-game power spikes. In the late-game he can go toe-to-toe with any carry, since he can almost permanently disable a single target, while dealing considerable amounts of magic/pure damage.

    The hero also farms exceptionally fast. Despite the nerfs introduced in 6.82, which prevented him from farming ancient neutrals, he is still one of the fastest farmers in the game. It is worth noting, however, that his usual farming patterns leave very little for his team—this information is definitely worth exploiting.

    Dealing with Tinker—Support Heroes

    Bounty Hunter

    One of the biggest problems when dealing with Tinker is an inability to see him when he dishes out damage. Having a 0.75 cooldown on Blink Dagger makes for an extremely elusive hero, while the range on Tinker’s abilities allow him to not only survive in the fights, but also deal impressive amounts of damage.

    Bounty Hunter solves the vision problem with extreme efficiency. Moreover, he can apply decent amounts of pressure on Tinker in the early stages of the game, potentially delaying his BoT’s and, as a result, substantially slowing down his farm.

    The extra gold acquired through Track comes in especially handy for an early Pipe of Insight, which is a decent counter to Tinker not only because of the “Barrier” active, but also due to a very underestimated aura that grants your allies extra magic resistance.

    Of all the support heroes, only Bounty Hunter can somewhat reliably get Pipe Of Insight early on. The “Barrier” active is crucial when pushing highground, as well as an enabling many heroes which rely on Blink Dagger, since it prevents [missing skill: tinker-march-of-the-machines-5152] damage from disabling it.

    Night Stalker

    Primarily played as a support or an offlaner, this hero has been getting less attention lately, mostly because of the rise of the Beastmaster, who can provide similar vision advantage, but can also boast higher utility.

    In a match-up against Tinker, however, [missing skill: beastmaster-call-of-the-wild-hawk-5169] usually becomes free farm to the machines and is a very unreliable scouting tool. Obviously, the Hawk can be placed in places where Tinker won’t be able to get it, but then it doesn’t really contribute much in terms of vision to help dealing with the hero.

    Night Stalker offers great map control as soon as he gets his hands on Aghanim’s Scepter, but is also capable of applying early-game pressure on Tinker with his great speed and strong slow and silence combo. Moreover, having an interrupt on a relatively low cooldown of 8 seconds can ensure that Tinker won’t be able to teleport out.

    Another very important aspect of Night Stalker is his innate tankiness, especially in the early game. Not feeding early game kills to TInker is essential, since he is a very snowbally hero.

    Nyx Assassin

    One of the biggest counters to Tinker for a multitude of reasons. Once again, similar to Night Stalker, this hero can be played in a multitude of roles, and even mid Nyx is not completely out of the question. However, even a support Nyx can offer a lot against him, despite generally lacking in levels.

    Spiked Carapace is one of the best ways of dealing with Tinker. It allows your team to have a reliable lockdown on him regardless of the range. Walking into MotM or even taking a Heat-Seeking Missile to the face will ensure several crucial seconds of stun on the hero and will allow for a follow-up.

    Vendetta is another very important spell in this match-up, since it will frequently allow you to catch Tinker off-guard, when he assumes he is safely farming creeps. After a couple of successful ganks from Vendetta, most Tinker players will start playing more conservatively, preventing them from progressing as fast. And since Spiked Carapace no longer break Vendetta’s invisibility, Nyx can even go for solo kills on Tinker, despite the probable level difference.

    A huge part of successful solo ganks is Mana Burn. A skill that scales exceptionally well against any Intelligence heroes does wonders against Tinker. Since most of Tinker’s mana is not stats based, especially in the early game, it will not necessarily burn him out completely, which might seem as a negative point, but it will also ensure that the ability will also deal full damage in most cases–once again opening up possibilities for solo kills.


    Perhaps one of the most classic support in this lineup, Disruptor has been the most picked hero in the Manila Major and for good reasons. The hero offers decent amount of damage, but it is unconventional control options he offers that take the cake.

    The hero offers several great ways of dealing with Tinker. Thunder Strike does not seem too strong on paper, especially given it is usually not maxed, but the vision it provides is extremely important. The skill also has a very respectable cast range of 800.

    Kinetic Field is another theoretically weak spell, but it provides very crucial vision that’s frequently lacking against Tinker. The blocking effect is theoretically wasted on a hero who rarely conventionally walks, however.

    Both of these spells provide what is frequently lacking for the strongest spell in Disruptors arsenal— Glimpse. Regardless of the speed of the enemy, or how fast he can blink, there is no escaping getting pulled back and most likely killed for Tinker or almost any other hero for that matter. Glimpse offers amazing amounts of utility if timed correctly and more often than not will force Tinker to go for defensive items, such as Manta Style or Black King Bar. While not completely horrible on the hero, they do not offer any DPS, and DPS is what makes Tinker such a dominant force.

    Dealing with Tinker—Core Heroes

    One of the most crucial attributes which a Tinker-countering core hero should have is Blink Dagger-independent mobility, since MotM will generally not allow you to get close enough to him in a timely manner. Having a way to confuse Tinker playing against you is another very important aspect, since otherwise it can be easy for him to focus you down in the late-game with the use of Scythe of Vyse. Some natural tankiness is also welcome—being able to survive through the initial burst of Rockets+Laser+E-Blade+Dagon combo is almost a must.


    The hero does not have any innate mobility, but he can use his teammates as means of transportation to get close and personal with Tinker. With the help of Rage, Tinker then becomes a very easy target to burst down.

    Infest also offers a decent deal of safety, especially when dominating the Ancient Neutrals. Going for a Radiance build is even an option, since Tinker personally has almost no way of dealing with these tanky creeps, while his teammates will generally be slightly underfarmed. It also prevents Tinker from blinking away if he is caught off-guard. It is worth noting, however, that by shift-queuing the blink command during the Rearm animation, he can still blink away as soon as rearm channel time is completed, but only in the direction he was facing during the channel time. It is still an escape, but at least it is predictable and can be followed.

    Later on, Lifestealer can become less of a threat with the help of Ghost Scepter or an E-Blade. Having a way to dispel the ethereal state or having a lockdown for these several seconds is extremely important, hence Diffusal Blade and Abyssal Blade might come in handy.

    Phantom Lancer

    This hero can make Heat Seeking Missiles almost completely useless, since they will be often tanked by illusions, instead of your teammates. But that is not the only thing PL has to offer in this match-up.

    The hero has several ways of chasing Tinker. Phantom Rush allows for a very fast gap-closer, albeit is rendered somewhat useless if you lose vision of the Tinker. Spirit Lance is in the same boat, since it can be easily disjointed and will not spawn an illusion. However, with any teammate which can provide vision, both of these spells become extremely potent.

    Doppelganger however takes the cake when it comes to utility against Tinker. Not only does it spawn extra illusions, which will create some confusion, but will also destroy any trees around the landing area, as well as dispel most debuffs, most notably the Laser.

    Being one of the few heroes who can both effectively split-push the lanes and stay relatively safe against Tinker ganks make Phantom Lancer a great pick in this match-up. Granted, he will definitely need some help with vision, but in the later stages most of his kit will be effective at dealing with Tinker, since his natural item progression includes many things most Tinker players will not be happy to see against themselves.

    In a very similar manner, Naga Siren and most other illusion-based heroes can also be a decent counter to Tinker. Spectre is also an amazing counter to Tinker; however, it is worth noting that she can rarely net a solo kill on him, since her typical buildups do not usually incorporate interrupts. Going for an Abyssal Blade can be a good idea.

    Spirit Breaker

    Spirit Breaker, once again, is a very flexible hero who can be played in several roles, but he is extremely level-dependant in a match-up against Tinker, since he needs his early level 6 to be a threat. He is better suited in the offlane, if circumstances allow him to do so in a particular match-up.

    His strength comes from his ability to provide vision on Tinker regardless of his own position on the map. More often than not, his Charge of Darkness will be used as an assisting mechanism for his teammates, rather than be fully utilized. However, in the small window of opportunity, before Tinker gets his Blink, Spirit Breaker can completely shut him down on his own.

    Tinker is an extremely squishy hero in the earlier stages, and a simple combination of Charge and Nether Strike will usually put him in range for an Urn of Shadows kill. Moreover, Spirit Breaker is one of the few heroes who can chase Tinker with BoTs while having regular boots, so even if he gets Lasered, he will still be able to finish the job, tanking through the damage with ease.

    While charging around the map to grant vision is a nice tactic to help your teammates, in scenarios when you are ganking Tinker by yourself it is important that you do not telegraph your intentions. It is generally better to stay hidden in a particular lane in anticipation of his teleport–to quickly close the distance and perform the combo, rather than try to chase him back and forth through the map.


    Finally, possibly the hardest counter to Tinker in the game. Anti-Mage of all heroes has the highest potential to survive through the Tinker burst, even under lockdown in 1v1 split-pusher vs. split-pusher scenario. Moreover, his innate mobility and buildup, which frequently incorporates Abyssal Blade is extremely punishing against any mistake Tinker can make.

    A very important aspect of Anti-Mage in this matchup is Mana Void. It has a relatively low cooldown and can completely destroy Tinker in one cast. What is even more important, however, is the interrupt it provides. More often than not, it should be even used early on to stop Tinker from Teleporting, rather than a source of damage.

    It is still advised to be cautious of incoming Teleports, since Tinker can often have back-ups and then his lockdown becomes a lot more potent. Using Manta Style preemptively might be a good idea. Like in many cases, the initiator will have an upper hand.

    Final Thoughts

    Tinker in his current form is a far cry from the nuisance he was in 6.81. He farms slower, and there are new cliffs on the map edges that can provide vision of his regular hiding spots. Additionally, Pipe of Insight has gotten stronger in the recent patches, making it an overall better item. Introduction of Lotus Orb and Glimmer Cape have also made supports a lot more relevant against late-game Tinker.

    Despite all that, Tinker in the hands of a good player remains a very notable threat and should not be taken lightly. The hero has the ability to completely snowball out of control to a point where 1v5 fights become easy for him, if the enemy team is economy-starved and has no way of dealing with the hero. It is unlikely he will be able to kill the whole team, but more often than not his reckless jumps can go unpunished.

    Be mindful in the drafting stage and have at least one hero who can provide consistent vision over Tinker. Even currently questionable picks like Zeus and Storm Spirit might work exceptionally well, if coupled with a hero who can quickly close the gap and disable Tinker.

    Headline image by ImKB on deviantart

    As seen on Dotabuff

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