Dota 2 continues to develop in new ways we haven’t seen before; and these are five Dota 2 carry heroes you should be playing in your pubs right now.

Dota 2 has already been changing dramatically in the latter of 2019 and beginning of 2020 with the huge introduction of 7.23 and the Outlanders update. With the addition of 7.23, there has been a new map rework, neutral items, balance adjustments, and many hero changes. We are now currently on patch 7.24 as of February and the game continues to develop in new ways that we haven’t seen before.

New heroes are coming into fruition and seeing more popularity than recent years. It has been quite interesting to see the meta develop after the amount of changes Dota 2 has seen in only two and a half months.

As the storm has calmed, and after many of IceFrog’s changes, we are now able to see some of the strongest heroes to play in all levels of Dota 2. We’re going to dive right into the five Dota 2 carry heroes that you should be playing in your pubs right now, starting with three heroes that are just solid picks.

Solid Pick #1 – Phantom Lancer

Phantom Lancer is the agility, illusion-based hero that pops in and out of metas every now and then. Prior to patch 7.24 he was getting picked regularly in the top level as well as in competitive matches. So what makes Phantom Lancer so good and why should you play him?

  • 62 base damage at level 1. That’s extremely high for an agility carry which makes it very easy to last hit. Buy a Quelling Blade at the beginning of the match and it’s like you have 82 damage instead. You should have no problem trading with your enemies or last hitting the creeps.
  • His ‘Phantom Rush’ ability in the early game is extremely powerful because it gives you a temporary 11/22/33/44 agility boost. You can use this to harass an enemy hero or to secure last hits since those values also add on to your attack damage. Additionally, it adds a second ability that can be used to escape, considering his Doppleganger ability allows you to dodge projectiles, right clicks, and more.
  • His ultimate Juxtapose has to be one of the most obnoxious and annoying ultimates in the game. When he attacks creeps or heroes he spawns illusions of himself. This can sometimes be very difficult to track the actual hero itself and not an illusion because they all look the same and there is no visual indicator as to which is the real Phantom Lancer. However, when PL is on your team it is much better since you don’t have to deal with that! Use his illusions to confuse the enemy, bait out spells, or purchase that Diffusal Blade and have his illusions drain mana.

These are three topics that make Phantom Lancer strong to play: he is hard to kill, he scales very well into the late game, and his abilities just grant you the opportunity to farm fast and overwhelm enemy heroes. Make Diffusal Blade a core item so you can slow and drain the mana of your enemies, and go from there. Couple that with a Manta Style for even more illusions and he becomes that much more difficult.

Solid Pick #2 – Lifestealer

Naix, or better known as Lifestealer, has always been up and down in popularity as well. He is a strength hero that isn’t afraid to run at your face, which means the enemies always need to time their spells and combos at the perfect moments. Why is Lifestealer so good in 7.24 though? The most recent balance updates have changed much of his kit, including Rage giving movement speed instead of attack speed, and Feast giving him +15/30/45/60 attack speed per level. So let’s go ahead and highlight some of the top points for why you should play him right now.

  • The Feast change. The fact that he gets 60 additional attack speed once the ability hits Level 4 is very strong. It seems as though you no longer need to purchase as many attack speed items because of this, meaning you can go ahead and purchase a damage item instead.
  • RAGE! Who doesn’t love a built-in BKB? It’s not even an ultimate ability either! Rage is simply one of the best non-ultimate spells in Dota 2, and easily one of the most useful as a carry. I could go on and on about why this ability is great but let me try to cover the biggest points. First, you can negate all magic abilities and become magic immune for 3/4/5/6 seconds, with the ability having an 18 second cooldown. Magic immunity will always be one of the most important concepts in Dota 2, which means Lifestealer will often have his time to shine. To expand upon the magic immunity, you can almost always get out of trouble if you just hit Rage and instantly teleport out. Always keep this in the back of your head and play safe if needed.
  • RAGE V2! Rage was also changed in 7.23 to give movement speed. This is very valuable on a melee hero because it allows them to chase the enemy easier. Give him Phase Boots, a Sange and Yasha, and his strong talents to make him very hard to catch. His level 15 talent allows you to choose either +25 movement speed or +30 damage. To make him even harder to kill and chase down, I’d go with movement speed. You’ll also have an easier time running after those pesky support heroes before your Rage duration runs out.

Lifestealer is overall just a great pick at this point in Dota 2. He’s a great carry that offers good matchups against many heroes that are popular already or increasing in popularity such as Sven, Spectre, Phantom Lancer, and Bloodseeker.

All of his abilities are strong and can contribute very positively to his kit if built right. You can use him to save your teammates by increasing their health when you Infest inside of them, or save yourself and increase your HP while you are Infested in a non-hero unit.

Solid Pick #3 – Slark

Slark is one of those Dota 2 heroes that is just a pest to play against. He can weave in and out of fights, steal your stats, become untargetable, and dispel enemy items and abilities. It seems that one of the top ways to play agility-based carries is to build a Diffusal Blade on them to drain the enemy heroes mana. Slark is one of the best at using a Diffusal Blade because of all the stats the item gives. So why should you play Slark in 7.24?

  • Slark’s Essence Shift ability. Slark can steal the agility from his enemies by just right-clicking them. This is great against other carry heroes because it can slightly lower than attack and movement speed. With the introduction of neutral items, more heroes have become even tankier. Support heroes finally can acquire some items without having to directly farm.  What does this tankiness mean? Well, it means that fights will have a higher chance of lasting longer than before. So heroes that temporarily steal stats like Outworld Devourer and Slark because even deadlier the longer a fight goes on. On top of that, if Slark kills an affected enemy hero, he permanently gains +1 agility.
  • His early game. The most popular skill build to start the match is by leveling his Essence Shift. When you play Slark in the safelane and you’re a melee offlane hero like Axe, Magnus, or Earthshaker it can become a nightmare to lane against him because you just can’t trade right-clicks with him. Top that off with a support alongside Slark in the safelane and it doesn’t look too favorable for the offlaner.
  • His level 10/15/20/25 talent tree choices. Slark has very strong choices in his talent tree.  You have the options to tank up with +10 Strength, 20% Lifesteal, or become an even stronger early game killer with +6 Agility and +25 Attack Speed. Decide which you want to go for based on the heroes you are playing against and the pace of the game. Additionally, going for +1 second Pounce Leash gives you 4.25 seconds of attacking an enemy hero which is pretty damn good! The biggest and most important talent choice in my opinion is at Level 25 when you should absolutely pick +80 Essence Shift Duration. That means you get to keep the stolen agility for 180 seconds, or THREE MINUTES. Make sure you remember that if you hit Level 30 you get all talents unlocked.

In conclusion, Slark is just strong right now because all of his abilities fit in the meta and with team fights seeming to last longer now than ever before, Slark accels with his short cooldowns and stats stealing. I’d recommend basing your item choices on how the match develops, but a typical build is going Power Treads, Diffusal Blade, and then I would pick two of the following: Silver Edge, BKB, Skull Basher.

Rising – Troll Warlord

Troll Warlord is a very unique hero in Dota 2 as well. He is one of the only heroes that can change between melee and range attacks. This makes him very versatile and useful in many situations where other heroes would not be. He is very in-your-face and not afraid to run at the enemy carry because he thrives in 1v1 situations. 

If the enemy has a long range carry like Drow Ranger or Sniper, or even a melee carry like Sven or Antimage, Troll Warlord will thrive because he loves being in your face. Troll also hasn’t really been used frequently in the past year, so IceFrog has been rather generous with his buffs. It appears now is his time to rise up and take over as one of the better carry choices.

  • Troll Warlord’s Fervor ability. If you continuously attack one hero you will gain 15/20/25/30 attack speed for up to 12 stacks. This means you can gain up to 360 attack speed if you don’t switch targets. Similar to Slark’s Essence Shift ability, Ferver is extremely useful now because of those increased duration in team fights due to having tankier heroes that survive for a longer period of time.
  • Whirling Axe’s is Troll’s ability when he is in melee form. It deals up to 200 damage and provides a 60% miss chance on heroes right-clicking him. Not only that, but it only costs 50 mana at all levels. He excels at jungling and I would recommend waiting until the seven minute mark and heading to the jungle to help your team grab some neutral items. Save your Whirling Axe’s for when you’re about to go into battle with a right-clicker and more often than times you will win that exchange if you have about equal farm with the enemy carry.
  • Battle Trance is Troll Warlord’s ultimate and it is mainly used when you are on low health and are about to die. While he uses his ult, Troll cannot die and has 40% / 60% / 80% lifesteal. This is a crazy amount of lifesteal and it means that he can quickly go from no health to almost full health if he’s farmed enough. If the game lasts long enough and you get to Level 25, you should without a doubt pick his talent “Battle Trance Strong Dispels” because if you get stunned you can hit your ultimate and immediately get unstunned.

Troll has been getting picked more and more often as of late due to his buffs and adjustments to his abilities. He’s not afraid to run at you and will more often than not kill the enemy carry if he finds them in a one versus one situation. He also has a wide variety of items you can build that make him effective.

Give him many stats and go a build like Phase Boots, Diffusal Blade, Sange and Yasha, BKB, Skadi. Or, some players are going Phase Boots into Battle Fury which increases his farm by a heavy amount and gives him no trouble against illusion-based heroes like Naga Siren, Phantom Lancer, and Chaos Knight.

Worth Checking Out – Juggernaut

Juggernaut hasn’t been too favored lately, but as of recently he has also been receiving slight buffs from IceFrog. Since 7.24 was released his win rate has went up over 2%, eclipsing 50%, and his pick rate went from 12% to 17% according to Dotabuff. So why is Juggernaut now being favored a bit more than he was prior to the release of 7.24?

dota 2 carry heroes

He has been basically the same hero for many years now with not very many changes coming like how we’ve seen complete reworks for others. He still has his Blade Fury, Healing Ward, Blade Strike, and ultimate Omnislash.

Juggernaut appears to be coming into favor because of slight buffs to him over the course of time and his versatility. Most recently he received +4 base damage and +5 movement speed, meaning that his early game is slightly stronger. The movement speed is very important on Juggernaut because when you are chasing down a hero with his spinning Blade Fury, if you are just as fast or even faster than the opponent you’re likely to get a first blood or early kill in general.  Early boots is always beneficial for this exact reason.

Jugg is also very useful with his Blade Fury because, similar to Lifestealer, you can become magic immune for five seconds and instantly teleport out of trouble. His Healing Ward remains a solid ability as well in case you get harassed early and need to heal up quick without going back to the fountain. His critical strike and ultimate are great abilities that give you solid damage output too.

He is another very versatile hero because with his critical strike, Battlefury is always a viable option to farm the jungle or creep waves fast, while also posing a threat to illusion-based heroes.  If you don’t want to go the Battlefury route, he is another agility-based hero that diffusal works extremely well on.

Phase Boots, Drums, Diffusal Blade, Manta Style are also good items to pick up on him which make him a good teamfighter in the mid to early game. Overall I could see even more buffs coming to Juggernaut because he doesn’t seem like an overpowered hero by any means, but a solid pick that will come into favor as we move along in time.

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