By: Charles Harrison
It’s no secret that Zeus, Pudge, and Warlock are pretty strong these days. Zeus’ Nimbus is like a second better ultimate, Warlock’s Shadow Word is invaluable in the laning phase while Chaotic Offering is one of the strongest counter-initiation spells in the game, and even pros have trouble getting used to Pudge’s new level 1 hook range. As strong as each of these heroes are, it is important to remember that every hero has limitations. No one hero is good at everything, and being able to exploit those limitations with picks, item builds, and strategy is what separates average players from good players. That is why I shall attempt to explain the limitations of these three pub dominators and how to exploit them so your games are easier.
To better understand how to defeat each of these heroes, you must first understand what they can and cannot do. Zeus has some of the strongest nukes in the game which lets him effectively clear creep waves and farm quickly. Zeus is limited by his mana pool and lack of escapes, which is why many Zeus players buy Blink Dagger or Force Staff to get themselves out of harm’s way. By rolling their face across the keyboard, Zeus players can dish out a disgusting amount of magic damage, but if you are able to split the damage between two or more heroes you can hope to survive. The things that threaten Zeus the most are what threaten any other spellcaster: a high damage gap closer, magic immunity, or having so much survivability that his damage isn’t enough to drop his target. Zeus relies on his allies for protection, so if you can get on top of him or disable him, he’ll quickly fall.
Dealing with Pudge is arguably the same as it always has been, “just don’t get hooked”. A better solution is to treat him like a ranged Bounty Hunter. If you always have vision on Pudge or know where he is, then your chance to get hooked drops dramatically. In fights, a farmed Pudge that has racked up Flesh Heap stacks wants you to hit him, and unless your team is well-equipped to quickly drop him with minimal effort, you’re doing him a favor by targeting him over other targets. The most important thing when dealing with Pudge isn’t necessarily dodging his hooks–it goes without saying that getting hooked is bad–it is positioning yourself and your team to react quickly if and when someone does get hooked. With positioning and the right items, you can essentially neutralize Pudge’s threat entirely.
Warlock is a bit trickier than Zeus and Pudge. By himself, Warlock doesn’t really do much. Yes, his spells are effective on their own, but what makes Warlock so potent is how his spells amplify the spells of his allies, and empower them throughout the game. Shadow Word provides a ton of additional healing in a meta where regen items are king, giving Warlock’s laning partner a sizable advantage. Fatal Bonds only amplifies damage and can be dispelled by anything, so either remove it from yourself and allies or try to mitigate the incoming damage by avoiding it or soaking it with appropriate items. Upheaval is only really dangerous if you can’t cancel it, and Chaotic Offering can only be cast once every 3 minutes.
In the laning phase, Warlock excels at 2 vs 1 situations, so simply having a buddy of your own reduces his impact. After the laning phase is over, keep track of when Chaotic Offering has been used and fight around it; like any long cooldown ultimate. Warlock wants a slow game with few big fights, so if you fight very frequently or feign a fight to force his ultimate and then disengage, you’ll be that much stronger for the next 3 minutes. Above all just stay calm and remember that by himself he does very little, it’s his allies that are empowered by his abilities that you have to watch out for.
Dota games are almost always won by the team that makes the least mistakes, rather than the team that makes the best plays. Each of these heroes excel at causing panic and chaos, forcing mistakes from their enemies. If you keep your head, stick to your gameplan, and remember that no hero can do everything, you’ll be fine.