DotA 2 Dark Willow Guide
Image via Dota 2 Wiki.

Meta Breaking Dark Willow – Guide and Gameplay tips

Jul 15, 2020
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Image via Dota 2 Wiki.

DotA 2 Dark Willow Guide

With all the meta changes lately, there are more opportunities for high-tier supports.

Dark Willow is not a very popular hero, and as a result many people don’t know how to play it correctly. We’ll do our best to change this and walk you through what to do when playing on this hero. 

Dark Willow has a win rate of 52%. This is quite reasonable, the hero is very good at gathering farm and experience, so a slow meta of the new patch (7.27 a) makes this hero stronger. Moreover, her strong AoE control always comes in handy. If you buy Eul and reach level 18, the potential for solo kills is guaranteed. Moreover, with the new meta out there, getting to this phase of the game is much easier.

Advantages 

1. The biggest advantage of the hero is that she has a lot of control (Stun, Fear, Roots)

2. Explosive magical damage.

3. Fast attack speed on the first level, which helps in harassment.

4. Built-in escape.

5. Useful talents.

6. Good improvement from Aghanim’s Scepter.

7. Does not lose relevance into the late game.

Disadvantages

1. Unreliable control. Most of the skills require high precision. Most of them can be dispelled

2. There is targeted damage, all damage can be absorbed by creeps or illusions.

3. Low rate of armor and health.

4. Totally useless against BKB.

Abilities build

In most cases, the priority is on Shadow Realm, this is a good harass of the enemy carry on the line and a good safe skill. This skill should be maxed to level 7 as it deals great damage for most supports and thin carry. If you need control in the lane, or there is an opportunity to gank other lanes, you can take Bramble Maze in 2 on level 3, or even max it to the level 7.

Gameplay

Early game

At level one, Dark Willow has 150 base attack speed, which is quite a lot and allows you to harass enemy support, inflicting 1-2 hits more than he does to you. The game on the lane is simple, you should carefully harass enemy carry/support using the Shadow Realm. If the opportunity arises, catch them with Bramble Maze and kill by hitting and running. At 18 or 48 seconds, pool a large camp of creeps, it would be better to stack it before, so that the neutrals would kill the pack before a Carry approaches it.

If you have a ward, it would be nice to block a small spawn of creeps to prevent the enemy pools. In lane, Mars would be a good ally; it’s easy to dominate the lane with his Spear. The same applies to Wraith King and Sand Kind, you need to be as aggressive as possible with them. 

There are heroes with safe abilities (for example Windranger or Enchantress) which can play solo. If you do not kill anyone, it is better to go to the triple lane and crush the easy lane or help in mid. 

When playing against heroes who are farming in woods (Alchemist, Naga, Meepo), you can buy a pair of sentries and block neutral creep spawns. Wards should be placed carefully so that enemy can’t destroy two of your wards with his single one. Periodically you can (and in this meta you even need to) stack neutrals. Triangle is the best spot; attack the middle camp at 53 second, then attack the big camp at 55-56 seconds.

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Midgame

In the mid-game, try to move around with the team, if possible, push/farm free lines, stack camps, or farm with Bedlam. Do not get too far with farming. Although it`s advisable to have some items, you should not steal farm from your carry.

 If it is possible to make a kill, but the enemy has a safe ability (Lifestealer, Ember, Weaver, Slark), you need to start with Terrorize to get an instant disable. With Blink you can disable enemies with a combination of Cursed Crown -> Eul -> Bramble Maze (If the enemy has an instant safe like Dark Pact, it is better to Eul them right after the Blink, because Cursed Crown has cast animation and the enemy may have time to use his ability). In late, the combo will look like this: Blink into Scythe + Bedlam + Shadow Realm.

Counter Pick

Dark Willow has a lot of control, so it’s good against heroes who are vulnerable to it. 

Here are some heroes that can be countered by Dark Willow. 

DotA 2 Dark Willow Guide - Shadow Realm
Shadow Realm is a great move for controlling the lane. Image via DotA 2 Wiki.

Timbersaw. Shadow Realm with great magical damage on early-stage gives hell to any Timbersaw. It can dramatically slow down his snowball and even move him away from the lane.

Void can be feared from his own Chronosphere.

Ursa needs space and very vulnerable to control. Can be juked by Shadow Realm.

Slark has little HP + vulnerable to control over the area. Countered by Terrorize in the ultimate.

Storm Spirit and Ember are countered by the combo of Blink, Cursed Crown, and Eul.

Dark Willow is very good against PL. Until he has Manta Style, can be easily countered by the Crown+Blink+Eul. In the late game, he’s very weak against Terrorize and Scythe of Vise. 

Other enemy heroes that are good for Dark Willow: Weaver, Windranger, PA, Necrophos, Enchantress, Terrorblade. 

Conclusion

Dark Willow has a lot of control over the area, and great magical damage. She can easily turn off enemy supports and bring trouble to weak enemy cores. On the heels of the new patch and the end of the zoo meta, she has become one of the greatest supports to play. This fairly versatile hero can cause a lot of problems at any stage of the game and counter a lot of meta cores in the new patch. Have fun mastering the hero! 

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Eugene Torubalko
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Eugene has a major in Germanic languages and literature. Being an avid gamer and esports enthusiast, he found himself writing and covering the competitive Dota 2 and Hearthstone scenes. He is always ready to deliver reviews, game predictions, tournament analysis, and anything else related to the world of esports.
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