There are always going to heroes that are difficult to play against. Who are those heroes? It will often depend on your particular play style: you might be a skilled melee player, but have a hard time going up against ranged heroes.
Regardless of your play style, there are a few heroes you’ll see a lot in pubs during the current patch that you should be prepared to defend yourself from. Whether you learn how they work in order to improve your game play, or master counterpicking, there’s always a way to deal with difficult heroes.
Tinker just got his base movement speed nerfed to 295 (from 305). He also has pretty lackluster stat gains per level. You’ll need some help, but make it a priority to gank him whenever you can. Tinker will force you to keep your distance with his Laser Beam and Heat Seeking Missiles, but he’s slow, and his spells cost quite a bit of mana. When you gank him you will have a way to deal with the blink dagger he’ll likely build. An Anti-Mage is the natural enemy of Tinker and his large mana pool. Depending on your skill bracket, picking up blademail on your hero can be a way to deal with March of the Machines. A BKB can also help you out against March of the Machines and Heat Seeking Missiles, and prevent Tinker’s laser from targeting you.
The Ever-present Pub Pudge
Patches come and go, but Pub Pudge is forever. You’re never going to not see Pudge unless Valve takes him out of the game, so you might as well come up with a counter for him. Playing against Pudge is playing the game of “don’t get hooked.” Pick heroes with decent movement speed and remember your positioning on the map: don’t give the enemy Pudge an easy opening for a hook. His Flesh Heap ability basically powers him up every time he participates or is near a gank, so try to avoid dying to Pudge, or dying while he’s in the vicinity as much as possible. This means you’ll need wards. Buy them. Place them. Profit.
Invoker? More like “In-Vogue-er!” Am I right? Invoker is consistently a top pick in pubs. He has a high skill ceiling, his abilities have cool visuals, and some unscrupulous players like to use scripts with him. Scripting Invokers aside, there are a few ways to deal with this popular hero. Invoker doesn’t do well against BKBs, as lot of his spells are blocked by it. This limits him to right-click damage. He also requires a lot of resources, so delay his Hand of Midas purchase by ganking him while he’s at a low-level. Finding engagements while he’s AFK on the map can help your team take objectives without his spells in the equation.
Invoker is tricky to counter. Your counter would depend on whether he is going Quas Exort, Quas Wex, or something else entirely. In general, Anti-Mage is your friend against Invoker due to the latter’s large mana pool and high mana cost abilities. You could try Doom against Invoker, but Doom’s largely fallen out of favor in the meta. It might work in some skill brackets. Doom’s Doom ability renders Invoker pretty useless for its duration. Silencer can also be a strong pick against Invoker for similar reasons: you will be able to prevent Invoker from casting spells.
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Shadow Shaman is consistently a popular support. He has also had a high win rate in the past week, according to Dotabuff.
He got nerfed in 7.08 with an increased cooldown on Ether Shock. His Shackles damage was also halved (!) when the ability is first skilled. Shadow Shaman is most often played as a support, so when countering him keep in mind that he’s likely to be a lower-level than the enemy cores and squishy heroes Like Invoker, Shadow Shaman is fairly dependent on casting spells, so silencing him will help your team. Shackles is a channeled ability, so stunning him during the channel can free your teammate from his grasp.
Every hero has a counter, even the supposedly OP flavor-of-the-meta heroes. If you keep losing to a particular hero in pubs, spend some time reading up on both their hero and item counters, or try playing the hero yourself in some games. Once you know what they are capable of, it will be easier to fight them if and when you face off.