We bring four more unconventional Support picks to give Support players a more diverse time.
Playing Support in Dota 2 can often feel like a chore, but it’s really not so bad if you change things up from time to time. If you’ve read our previous article about unconventional Supports, you’ll know that we’re pretty fond of the idea. You can use any of these picks not just to have an off-beat Support game, but even to earn some good MMR in the process. Without delay, then, let’s get to those Heroes.
One of the most powerful Core Heroes in the game can also be an extremely potent Support. Over the years, many pros have played Support roles with Alchemist, and this often yielded successful results. With a potent stun, AoE armor reduction, fast farming, and the unique ability to supply Aghanim’s Scepters to others, the Alch definitely has a niche in the Support spot.
When to Pick
While the Hero can scale extremely well, it is awfully weak in the beginning. It’s very important to put him in a lane with a Hero who can otherwise dominate a lane with little or no help. Support Alchemists also generally have to rotate a lot in order to stack and take advantage of empty lanes while Cores are busy farming, so make sure you have excellent map awareness before you pick him.
It’s important to pick Alch alongside self-sufficient laners such as Viper, Weaver, Bristleback or Slardar, as you simply won’t be doing much in the lane. Moreover, although all Heroes are now benefited by the Aghanim’s Scepter, not all of them have strong Scepter effects. Lastly, make sure you prioritize the right Heroes first when you have multiple important Scepter carriers on your team.
When not to Pick
First and foremost, Alchemist will definitely need to farm and scale as he is absolutely useless when playing from behind. As a result, you’ll have to make sure your lineup isn’t too greedy and doesn’t have too many farmers. Moreover, don’t go for this Hero if you’re going to lane with someone like a Sniper or Drow against powerful early-game Heroes like Bristleback, Tusk, or Viper.
Skill-wise, you need to start with Unstable Concoction and add Acid Spray on the side, but make sure you don’t inadvertently cause the wave to be pushed too far by using the Spray on top of creeps. After Level 3, though, make sure you put one point in Greevil’s Greed, as it’ll bring a welcome stream of additional gold from even the small Neutral Camps. Max out the stun and the armor reduction before you add any more Greevil’s Greed, and make sure you take your Ultimates on time.
In terms of items, you absolutely must have a Soul Ring early on and can add a Magic Wand and perhaps turn your boots into Tranquil Boots or even go Arcane Boots if the team needs it. Once you get to this point, you could either start supplying Scepters or focus on getting a Spirit Vessel before that if it’s needed. If your team has a hard-hitting Core, you could even Shard up early on and pump that Hero full of Berserk Potion.
This short guy isn’t exactly an ideal Support — lacking heals, disables, and nukes that don’t take forever to cast. However, in the right lanes and under the right circumstances, he can turn into a right little bugger who can not only dominate the lane, but stay relevant throughout the game.
When to Pick
Any lane with Heroes that have no ranged slows or disables is great, but to get the full potential of the Sniper is unlocked when teamed up with another Hero that can lock down or slow enemies against Heroes with no escape mechanism. The Sniper can sometimes fall a little bit behind in the mid-game when opponent Heroes initially get BKBs, but things get much better later in the game.
The old man does wonders when teamed up with the likes of Venomancer, Drow Ranger, Viper, and Slardar in lane, and is good against the likes of literally any melee Hero without a ranged stun plus a few ranged ones such as Dazzle, Oracle, and Lich.
When not to Pick
Picking Sniper into Heroes that can close the gap easily, such as Phantom Assassin or Slardar, have ranged stuns like Sven or Vengeful Spirit, or have ranged slows like Drow Ranger or Visage is just asking for trouble. One thing to remember about playing Sniper is positioning; if you struggle with it, it’s just better not to pick Sniper at all.
The skill build depends heavily on your lane mate and enemies, but a general rule of thumb would be to prioritize Headshot for harassment because you don’t want to push the lane with Shrapnel. Start with Tranquil Boots to keep yourself out of the reach of enemies, with a Ring of Basilius to make sure you have the mana to spam Shrapnel. Make your way to a Scepter if you get lots of assists, but precede that with a Force Staff if you’re getting killed off quickly. After these, you can either go for a Gleipnir or get an Aghanim’s Shard for the Concussive Grenade.
As a Sniper, you might want someone else to place wards in the riskier locations. It is advisable to buy and donate some wards unless your team is dominating the map or you’re pushing into enemy territory with others.
With incredible harassment abilities, Viper is a Hero who exists to make his enemies’ lives miserable. Although he is much like Venomancer in some ways, Viper’s abilities are perhaps even more annoying for Supports and Cores alike. If you’re up against this green menace, prepare to be slowed, Broken, Disarmed, and of course, ticked down to death from his poisonous spells and attacks.
When to Pick
There’s really no bad time to pick a Viper except when you really need a disabler or are up against opponents who can chain-stun you or your Core to death. Also, remember that your spells — both active and passive — have a tendency to eat away at enemy creeps and push waves. To that effect, try not to use Nethertoxin on or near creeps, just as you’d doing similar things with Sniper and Alchemist.
Viper shines the best when paired with a fellow disabler or at least a Hero that can slow enemies down considerably, such as the aforementioned Venomancer, Sniper, Ogre Magi, or even a Battle Hunger-based Axe. The best possible Viper matchup is when you’re up against dual melee Heroes. Enjoy chewing into their HP as they helplessly try to kite you.
When not to Pick
If the Heroes laning against you can burst you down and your teammate can’t do anything to stop them, don’t pick Viper. Additionally, Undying is a rare example of a melee Hero who can both heal his way out and take you down if you get enough stacks of Decay on you. Lastly, make sure you’re not laning with a weak farmer because they might have trouble last-hitting while creeps are either under the effect of Nethertoxin or Corrosive Skin.
Support Viper’s skill builds can vary depending on who you’re laning against. However, as a rule of thumb, you should go for Poison Attack and Corrosive Skin against ranged Heroes, and replace the latter with Nethertoxin against melee ones. Remember that the second skill build will cost a lot of mana, so prepare your items accordingly.
Being as self-sufficient as he is, Viper is a Hero with countless possible item builds. The most common Support build should start with Wind Lace or even Boots of Speed into either Arcane Boots and a Mekansm or Rod of Atos — unless you need a Spirit Vessel first. Later, you can opt for a Scepter, Black King Bar, Aeon Disk, and even a Pipe of Insight or Hex if needed. An alternate niche build we suggest involves getting a Vladimir’s Offering to boost a teammate with high DPS.
As sneaky and annoying as he is dangerous, the Weaver is a menace to play against and can ruin just about anyone’s lane. With insane scaling, this Hero can be relevant and even game-changing literally from start to finish. The only real problem with playing Support roles with this Hero is that it is absolutely paper if caught. As long as your positioning during fights is solid, you can cause absolute mayhem with this little guy.
When to Pick
He might not have stuns or slows, but he can do plenty of damage, especially if you have a disabler or when the lane is pushed towards your own tower. You're good to go if your enemies can’t chain-stun you down or heal up. Just remember not to tower dive unless absolutely sure; as tempting as it might sometimes be, towers will eat through your low HP pool and you’ll be visible and vulnerable even if you’re using Shukuchi. Also, be careful when using Shukuchi or use The Swarm around enemy creeps as this will push the wave.
Heroes that aren’t themselves paper are outstanding in lane with the Weaver. Sven, Ember Spirit, Chaos Knight, and Tidehunter immediately come to mind as good laning partners. In fact, even Heroes like Bristleback, Necrophos, Undying, or Viper are good because you can easily bully the enemy Heroes out of the lane.
When not to Pick
While he can dish out plenty of damage, protecting teammates isn’t Weaver’s strong suit. Make sure you don’t pick him when you’re babysitting a weak Carry, especially one without early killing abilities like Anti-Mage, Sniper, or Phantom Assassin. Also, remember that the Hero’s greatest attribute is its near-constant invisibility, so don’t pick him into Bounty Hunter or Slardar.
Germinate Attack is all but unnecessary until and unless you’re making something proc-based like a Gleipnir. Focus on Shukuchi and The Swarm and take stats to buff up the ant a bit. Remember to take ults on time, though, as you’ll need the low cooldown to save both yourself and your allies once you itemize accordingly.
One of the best things about Weaver is that you basically don’t need Boots. That being said, you can go for a Tranquil if you’re constantly struggling with HP regen. Otherwise, having a Wand, Raindrops, and perhaps a Basilius should be good enough as you focus on getting that all-important Scepter. Once you have that, you can itemize according to the situation in the game, with Gleipnir, BKB, Aeon Disk, and even a supportive Linkens, Vlads, or Lotus Orb are all great options.
Feel free to try out these four interesting picks for your pub games or scrims, and join us again when we talk about 4 unconventional Mid Heroes.