Phantom Lancer can be one of the most annoying heroes in Dota 2 unless you know how to deal with him.
There are only a few heroes in Dota 2 that are as annoying as Phantom Lancer (PL). Even though he is not the meta carry right now, PL is always one of the go-to options for pubs. Moreover, this is a hero that pro players pick under challenging situations. As a result, people need to know how to deal with it.
Every carry in Dota 2 has its strengths and weaknesses, and this one is not an exception. PL is notorious for being one of the best if not the best late-game monsters. He deals loads of damage throughout the game, but his illusions make him really dangerous. Once he gets some of his core items, such as Eye of Skadi or HoT, he becomes too tanky to kill. As a result, most teams that have to go up against him try to end the game as fast as possible ot pick heroes that work well against him.
PL is an excellent option in many scenarios, but there are several Dota 2 heroes that can make his life a living hell. With that being said, here are some of the best counters that you can pick when you have to face PL in a match.
If there is one hero capable of making Phantom Lancer’s life a living hell, it has to be Earthshaker. Although he is usually played as support, ES is one of the options that makes PL’s life hard. Fìssure and Enchanted Totem are not bad, but what makes this hero a nightmare is his ultimate.
Echo Slam and Aftershock can be devastating for every team fight, especially when there are a bunch of heroes.ES’s ultimate does more damage the more units it hits, which makes it highly effective against heroes with illusions. Since this is Phantom Lancer’s main weapon, it is not hard to see why ES is great.
While it's true that his ultimate is not that effective against a six-slotted PL, it is always enough to kill his illusions. Needless to say, this will give Earthshaker’s teammates enough time to finish the real PL.
Another hero often picked against Phantom Lancer is Legion Commander (LC). She's a hero that is notorious for her ability to keep enemies in one place. Thanks to Duel, LC is an excellent option against elusive heroes. Once LC uses her ultimate, her teammates can help kill the target in no time.
Even though Duel is strong against PL, what makes this hero so dangerous is the first ability called Overwhelming Odds. Similar to Ember Spirit’s ultimate, it does a lot of AoE damage and grants Legion with movement speed. The ability does a lot of damage if it hits multiple units (including illusions), which means it is usually enough to kill PL’s illusions in a matter of seconds.
Ember Spirit (ES) is one of the few carries that can defeat Phantom Lancer during the late game. Although some people prefer to go mid, Ember is also a powerful right-clicking monster that can easily slice through his enemies, especially PL.
Nowadays, most Ember players prefer to get tempo control items and participate in ganks. The hero can do well against PL in this scenario, but he is definitely strongest if he goes for a Battlerfury and Daedalus. Thanks to Sleight of Fist, Ember can easily rip through the illusions, especially if they are grouped. What’s more, he can always escape when PL catches him off guard, which is a huge plus.
The downside of picking Ember Spirit is that the hero requires a lot of farms until it gets to the state where he can deal with PL. In other words, this usually happens during the late game, where everything is possible.
Many people often forget about Sand King (SK) when it comes down to PL’s counters. However, this is actually one of the best heroes you can get versus the pesky carry. Basically, all of SK’s spells deal AoE damage, which means he is awesome at cleaning illusions. This is especially true for his ultimate and Caustic Finale. These two abilities alone can kill all of PL’s illusions and deal at least 1.5k damage if used correctly. Let’s also not forget about SK’s stun and Sand Storm, which are also reliable damage tools.
Similar to ES, Sand King is really good against PL until the carry purchases a couple of items. Once that happens, SK won’t be as effective, which is something that players have to keep in mind.
Another hero that usually does exceptionally well against Phantom Lancer is Timbersaw. This is a well-known counter even in pubs, which is why many people pick him when they have faced PL. Although the agility carry has the upper hand in the ultra-late game, Timbersaw can easily rip through him until PL becomes six-slotted. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise because all of Timber’s spells do pure damage. Moreover, all of them are AoE, making this hero even better.
Unlike other spell casters on this list, such as SK and ES, Timbersaw can easily tank PL’s damage at all stages of the game. In fact, this hero helps him get loads of Reactive armor stacks, which makes him almost immortal early on.
Besides Ember Spirit, one of the few mid laners that usually does well against PL is Leshrac. This used to be one of the most powerful heroes in Dota 2 several years ago due to his overpowered spells. If Leshrac manages to land a stun, he can easily do over 2k damage in a matter of seconds. What’s even more impressive is that the hero specializes in AoE damage, which makes him even more dangerous against PL and other illusion-related heroes, such as Naga Siren.