I was really amused to finally see this hero in the competitive environment. Don't get me wrong - I always knew he was strong, but I never realized how strong until I saw Na'Vi Kuroky play him in the StarLadder Season 8 Grand Finals Game 2.
And now I think it is the perfect time for me to go in-depth with my favorite hero.
Dazzle is not a very popular hero. In the lower skill brackets he is not picked, because no one picks supports in the lower skill brackets. In the higher ones, he is rarely played because he was not popular enough in the pro scene.
At the same time he has a decent win rate of almost 53%, qualifying him for a Tier 2 in our Pub Tier List.
Why should I pick him?
The skillset on this hero is truly amazing! He is the ultimate support, who scales well into the late-game.
His skills are also very versatile. Do you want to be aggressive and deal damage early on? Max your first skill, Poison Touch, to deal some damage while slowing and stunning the opponent.
Do you want to save your teammates? Go for Shallow Grave. It gives a single target 5 more seconds to live and possibly kill everything in the meantime (as shown by Na'Vi with both Luna and Invoker in a single game).
Do you want to do a bit of both? Shadow Wave is the answer. While the heal might not be that significant, the damage aspect of it is simply superb:
It is somewhat hard to use it to its maximum potential of 840 damage at level 4, but if you have appropriate team mates and good lane awareness, even the toughest of fights can be turned around.
And just to give you some example of appropriate team mates - a Dazzle + Naga Siren lane is very hard to deal with for opponents without some form of AoE. She can create illusions to serve as a conduit for the Shadow Wave, while reducing the armour of the target with Rip Tide. Top it with a ganking Furion and you can net your team some easy kills.
And the ultimate with its short cooldown, long duration and a truly devastating effect should not be skipped at level 6!
[missing skill: dazzle-weave-5236] can be used just to give that necessary vision to initiate. It can also discourage the enemy from advancing into your high-ground, buying precious time while your teammates are reviving. Or it can be used for its main purpose - creating a drastic advantage in terms of physical damage output for your team.
My usual build is 1-1-3-1 or 0-2-3-1 at level 6, and I find it most fitting for my playstyle and purpose of the hero - saving your teammates, while gradually working an advantage, both on micro and macro levels.
Mekansm is also a very nice pick-up. The item is amazing, as it not only provides a 250 HP AoE heal, but also grants bonus armor - something most people tend to overlook. A general tip is to use it as soon as 3 or more of your teammates have lost 250 HP in a team fight, since the bonus armor will come in handy after the initial magic burst.
Urn of Shadows is another good item to have in a team. Since you'll be in the centre of the action (not literally though - in a fight you want to be in the back-line), it should fill really fast, providing you with some extra heal on demand.
However, the most overpowered and crucial item on this hero is the Town Portal Scroll. Just like how Exort Invokers should have good map awareness to secure some kills, Dazzle players should have know where and when to save your teammates. You should never be without a Town Portal Scroll after 2 minutes into the game! It creates a huge difference - not only can Shallow Grave + Shadow Wave ensure that your teammate will survive, but a sudden presence of an extra hero on the battleground can turn the tide of a battle.
When should I pick him?
To be fair, he is an excellent hero in almost every line up, due to his versatility. But there are better options for an aggressive support than Dazzle. So this leaves us with either a pushing or turtle Dota.
In case you want to push heavily, while not risking late-game potential with Chen, Dazzle is a good pick. The general strategy would be zoning out the enemy with something like Death Prophet's Exorcism or Tinker's [missing skill: tinker-march-of-the-machines-5152]. And if they will decide to initiate, not only will they receive terrible damage from Physical/Composite damage, they will also be unable to focus down a target very fast, because of Shallow Grave.
In a turtle Dota there is simply no counterpart - 5 extra seconds for your carry to live can turn around a lot of battles. And the negative armor scales very well.
Generally all enemy melee carries will make Dazzle a good hero. Especially the Strength ones - they have very little armor and can be melted under Weave. The first ones that come to mind are Lifestealer and Alchemist. Try it out and see for yourselves!
Some Useful Tips
Dealing Damage in a lane. Dazzle can harass very well, both because of his decent damage and nice attack animation. If you're not denying creeps, you should be throwing some punches at your enemies. But most importantly, you want to learn to time your Shadow Wave in such a way to deal some heavy damage to the enemy melee farmer, while preventing his last hit. It will discourage him from further entering the danger zone and can possibly lead to a quick kill.
Saving your teammate in a lane. Always, always be aware of where your creepwave is. It is a free conduit for the Shadow Wave and can easily turn around a small lane skirmish in your favor. If you know it will come in a couple of seconds, it might be better to wait with your heal, since it has a relatively long cooldown at earlier levels.
Running away with a teammate. Dota 2 features a "turn time" stat and Dazzle takes 0.157 s. to turn around, which is pretty average. While not a lot, it can still make a crucial difference. So in a scenario where you and your teammate are running away from an enemy, double tapping the Shadow Wave, instead of casting it on an ally can mean the difference between life and death. Not only will you heal him faster, you will also be able to remain facing the same direction - especially important against Batrider. It does sound somewhat unnecessary and narrow, but from the experience I have with this hero, I think it should be mentioned.
Choosing an area for Weave. You have to think fast about what you need more - dealing more damage or being safe. Sometimes it is possible to achieve both, but at this point it won't have much of an impact - the fight has already started and the +/- armor effect will not be able to kick in. Personally, I use the ultimate to give vision in the fog, catching a couple of enemies, while allowing my team to perform an informed initiation. Dota 2 is all about information and having an upper hand can do wonders. It can also be used to fully cover your own team. I usually do it before we enter the high ground. With a Pipe of Insight it can make the whole team a lot tankier.
Location, location, location. Always be invisible to the enemy team. Trees are you friends, since Dazzle is really easy to focus down. If you watch closely the Na'Vi video I linked in the beginning, you will see Kuroky hiding in the trees and doing work. The enormous 1000 range on Shallow Grave and the chain effect of the Shadow Wave will let you do your job far away from danger.
Dazzle is a truly great hero that is somewhat easy to play. He has a very high impact on the game at all stages and I can not stress too much what his introduction into the competitive meta means.
At the same time it takes practice to squeeze the most from the hero - timing the Shadow Wave to deal the maximum damage or casting Shallow Grave requires some understanding of the game, as well as counting the skill cooldowns of the enemy team.
But if everything is done correctly, your teammates will love you! Dazzle is a hero that wins Dota and looks good and awesome in the process!
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