Drafting Your Way To 5k MMR Part 2

This is part 2 of our 5k MMR Drafting guide. You can check out part 1 here.

In part 1 of my drafting guide, I covered the three must-play heroes that everyone should learn (Huskar, Chaos Knight and Broodmother) in order to abuse some drafts.

Today, we shall be exploring the ‘tier 2’ heroes. Tier 1 heroes are virtually unplayable against, if picked in the right situation, however, tier 2 heroes are difficult to play against, but can be beaten more easily.

In my previous article, we concluded that the 3 tier 1 heroes can deal with:

  1. Teams that have high magic damage
  2. Teams that lack AOE in the laning stage
  3. Teams that lack AOE in the mid to late game

Today, we are going to going to explore teams with certain trends (ex. lack of lockdown) that are exploitable with certain picks. We also discuss teams that don’t have weakness and what you should do in that situation.


Here are the list of teams that are vulnerable to counters.

1. High physical DPS teams

You rarely see these kinds of teams when you start versing competent players, but it does happen quite a lot in the 3k bracket. Also you’ll encounter teams with high minus armor especially with a Slardar. How to deal with it?

  1. Pick Sven.
  2. Max Warcry instead of stun.
  3. ???
  4. Profit.

What else is there to say. Warcry gives 20 armor towards your team and lasts 8 seconds with just a 14 second cooldown. It’s a good way to nullify Slardar or juggernaut’s ulti. Make sure to use it on your allies when they need help, not just on yourself. Being able to keep allies alive is one of the most important aspect of Warcry.

Also, Dragon Knight can be a decent option if you have a team that wants to 5 man early.

If you aren’t one of the above heroes, you can itemize accordingly:

  • Get vlads if you expect to team fight a lot, since it gives everyone 5 armor.
  • Poor Man’s shield is always good on agility heroes, but you can also buy it on strength heroes if your hero doesn’t have much armor.
  • Crimson guard is also amazing against negative armor.
  • Finally: Evasion screws up most right clickers (Solar crest, Halberd or Butterfly depending on your hero).

2. Weak Safelanes

If you see your opponent has a weak carry like a Spectre, Slark or Anti-mage or if you see they don’t have a good zoning support pick:

Enchantress, Undying, Doom, Lone Druid and Viper (who absolutely needs a lane partner, but it can be almost anyone). You will absolutely destroy the lane with these heroes.

Enchantress is my favorite one since she’s a nightmare to deal with. Even heroes like juggernaut or gyrocopter who have the highest nuke damage in the laning stage can have a tough time dealing with her.

Brood is always an option here too.

3. High Lockdown Teams

I know many people hateteams that have a lot of stuns/disables, but most of the time, the solution is quite easy: pick Lifestealer and play as the safelaner or mid hero.

Lifestealer is a very underrated hero. The few times that he gets picked is mostly for the support/offlane role where he just infest ancient creeps. I would like to emphasize that he’s amazing as a carry though.

His in-built magic immunity allows him to farm safely and he doesn’t require an early BKB unlike almost all other carries. The item build on Lifestealer is usually: Treads, Armlet into Drums or Sange and Yasha (choose one).

Do NOT build midas on him, since he can get solo kills on supports with just armlet and treads and you want to abuse that fact. It’s not hard to tower dive a support then infest a creep to escape. With just armlet, you can do that. No other hero can do that – only Lifestealer, because he is immune to most stuns and can infest a creep to escape.

Alternatively, if you want to play a position 3 or support role, you can pick omni-knight, though my style is mostly focused around picking cores.

4. Low Lockdown Teams

You run into these teams surprisingly often, even in high level matches. Hell, I’ve seen these types of teams appear frequently in competitive matches.

Pick either Anti-mage or Slark. These heroes are too slippery for a team that lacks disables to deal with. Split push heroes such as Lycan are also great here since their ganking potential will be too low to gank you.

5. Early Push/Teamfight Lineups

It’s great if your team has wave clearing heroes to deal with early 5 man lineups, but if they don’t, then it’s okay, we won’t rely on it.

Pick Medusa. You might think I’m crazy since she’s a late game hero, but trust me here. Her snakes do ALOT of damage so most line-ups won’t have the sustain to deal with it. Even if they do, it’ll slow down their push by a lot.

Medusa’s ultimate is also extremely difficult to teamfight into, especially since they will be fighting against your towers too. Eventually their push lineup will fall off and as a Medusa, you will take over the game.

One final thing to note: the item build is different if you are going for an early teamfight Medusa. Your core item should be Drums of Endurance.

If you think Sange and Yasha is a good item on most heroes, Drums is like a better version on Medusa. It gives HP, mana, attack speed, move speed and only for 1.8k. Assuming you have level 4 mana shield, it will give you around 460 HP.

Wand is also a great item on Medusa since the mana gets converted into HP so item becomes the most cost efficient item in the game for her. Always get magic wand, no matter what. Ring of Aquila is also a great item. Once you have those 3 items, you are extremely strong in team fights.

For skill build, if I plan on teamfighting early, I only get one point in split shot, max snakes first, then max mana shield. I take only 1 level in ultimate since it doesn’t scale that well until late game.

6. Greedy Lineups

There are two ways to deal with greedy lineups: the first way is to look at your team and see if you can end the game early or take control of the map.

If you notice your team as a huge early game advantage (i.e. at least 2 lanes are won or your team has big teamfight heroes) then pick a mek/drums/crimson guard carrier and group up as 5 to push.

Also make sure you pick a hero that will dominate the lanes: heroes like Razor, Chen, Enigma Viper, Undying, Gyrocopter, Huskar, Luna, Enchantress or Outworld Devourer are perfect. Spectre can also be good if you know the offlane is going to be easy.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to rely on your team as much, then pick a greedier team than theirs. You can pick a farming jungler if you know they don’t have a hero that can punish you for it.

Ideally, you should pick a hero that can snowball like Slark, Ursa, Legion Commander or Alchemist (who can get 6 slotted in 20-30 minutes if uncontested). Since they have a greedy lineup, it won’t be hard to get ahead of everybody in these games.

Other Things to Consider When Drafting

Teams That Consist of Clones, Summons or Illusions

The main heroes that make up this group are: Meepo, Phantom Lancer, Chaos Knight and Broodmother. Sven or Ember Spirit should be able to deal with these heroes fairly easily.

Mana Reliant Heroes:

If they have a Medusa or Wraith King as their core, then pick someone with mana drain. There’s plenty of heroes that can do this, but my favorite is OD. Against OD himself, you can pick Pugna or Nyx to counter him.

Teams that Lack Mobility or Escape Mechanisms

Consider picking a roamer like Bounty Hunter, pudge or Spirit Breaker against these teams.

Teams with Evasion Cores:

You might find yourself up against a hero like Phantom Assassin or Windranger where buying a MKB is necessary if your hero is a right clicker. Also you might be up against cores that have butterfly, solar crest or halberd as one of their core items.

In these situations, it’s best that you DO NOT pick a carry that isn’t a good MKB carrier. Heroes like Lone Druid, Slark and Anti-mage who can only get MKB very late in the game should be avoided.

This can be applied in reverse too. If you see a hero like one of the above, you can pick PA and dominate them. Slark does okay against PA since he has two nukes and can kite her quite easily. Against Slark, buying a butterfly or solar crest can be extremely annoying even on strength heroes like Sven.

When buying offensive items, consider the item triangle:

Your New Drafting Toolset

By now, you should have know a way to beat: magic heavy teams (low physical damage), high physical damage teams, low AOE teams in early game, low AOE teams in mid-late game, weak safelane teams, high lockdown teams, low lockdown teams, early push teams and greedy teams.

When drafting, figure out which is the biggest weakness the enemy team has and draft your hero based on that.

Also, you might run into teams with very little weaknesses, which is fine too. In these cases, either pick your best hero or have a pool of heroes that are good in 90% of situations. For me, these heroes are: Lifestealer, Medusa (I’m comfortable against most mana drain hero and I’m not afraid to buy BKB), Viper and Ursa.

You don’t have to all play the heroes I mentioned above if it’s style doesn’t suit you. Instead, take this mindset into games with you, and try to find other heroes that can counter the same type of lineup. This will make you highly effective in more of the games you play.

Furthermore, this only covers the basics of drafting in solo queue. Drafting in teams is a lot different since bans are allowed and you’ll have to put some more focus into hero synergies.

For now, if you’d like to practice your drafting skills, I have compiled some exercises you to test your new skills.

Inside you’ll get a quick-reference checklist on which hero’s you should draft, along with a few drafting exercises where we break down the enemy team comps from my live games, and discuss the best hero choices for that situation.

March 21, 2016