Here in our reverse Lycan Dota 2 guide, we will discuss what has made Banehellow one of the more low-key OP heroes in Dota 2 for the past few months and what has led to this to happen, as well as what you can do when matched up against this particularly annoying hero in your next ranked game.
Disclaimer: We are not liable for any flames and reports you may receive for following the advice given in our guide. Feel free to direct all of your anger towards the author on Twitter @RrrayDota.
Is Lycan OP? – By The Numbers
When 7.00 was released late in 2016, Lycan became the subject of numerous buffs, which effectively improved his attributes and regen. With each incoming patch, Lycan became stronger, but the incremental improvements very rarely made him very popular save among those who specialized on the hero, such as Team Liquid’s Lasse Aukusti ‘MATUMBAMAN‘ Urpalainen and Evil Geniuses’ Artour ‘Arteezy‘ Babaev, just to name a few.
At The International 7 back in August, Lycan became a prime pick because of his ability to counter Nightstalker when used effectively. Professional players used his wolves to scout ahead, while his Howl, whose effect doubles at nighttime, made teams think twice before insta-picking Nightstalker for his added vision and ability to change day into night every so often.
Since then, however, Lycan has become less situational, and more or less OP. Case in point, his win-rate at TI7 was a healthy 53.26% in 92 games. Meanwhile, since 7.07 was introduced, his win-rate has jumped by nearly 4% to 57.06% in 177 games, as per datdota. That’s a huge uptick, especially when you consider that he is the only hero in the >5K bracket that enjoys a win-rate higher than 60% at 62.47% (the closest is Elder Titan at 58.61%).
So yeah, numbers don’t lie. Lycan is OP.
What Makes Lycan So OP Right Now?
Lycan has only gone through a single change in 7.07, but it was pretty huge. He got slight bumps in base health regen (0 to 1.5) and base mana regen (0.01 to 0.09) and saw his talents reworked. At Level 10, players could now choose from +20 attack damage or +5 armor, instead of the old +200 health or 15 attack damage. In addition to this, the old 15% cooldown reduction at level 20 was also introduced at level 15, albeit decreased, going from 15% to 12%. Finally, new talents were introduced at both levels 20 and 25, with the lone one that remained getting buffed (from +2 Wolves summoned to +3 Wolves summoned).
Paired with a Helmet of the Dominator, which is pretty much the first major pick-up for Lycan, the hero now enjoys a healthy 22.4 HP regen at Level 7 with a maxed out Feral Impulse. However, that’s not exactly what makes Lycan OP. Instead, most people just get level 2 of Feral Impulse, put 1 point in Howl, and get 3 levels on Summon Wolves, with a point in Shapeshift at level 7.
This leaves the hero with a still respectable 16.7 HP regen, but more importantly, it gives players 2 Wolves at their disposal, and a dominated creep, preferably the enemy’s Siege Creep that spawns every tenth wave or five minutes into the game. In a lightly contested lane, this pretty much spells an early Tier 1 tower, and the hero can pretty much snowball from there.
The fact that the Archer minion on his other go-to item Necromonicon now has Purge only makes the hero stronger as he can now purge Ghost Scepter and Eul’s Scepter of Divinity for virtually no added cost.
The Anti Lycan Dota 2 Guide
Not a single sensible Lycan Dota 2 guide will dissuade you from getting Helm of the Dominator and a maxed-out Necronomicon guide on the hero first. Both items are just too good for the hero. However, we’re not exactly here to talk about how to teach you how to use this low-risk, high-reward hero to win pubs. It’s pretty easy, after all: you build the said two items, secure the outer towers for your team and either call for a five-man push, or you push high-ground, by yourself effectively ending the game while your whole team keeps the enemy team busy. It’s that simple. Yeah, that pretty much works for every other Dota 2 hero. But with Lycan, it works more often than not because he can melt down towers pretty fast on his own.
Having said that, instead of teaching you how to play the hero, we’ll teach you how to play against it.
So, let’s break it down: Lycan is a strength-core that generally prefers to avoid having to fight other cores late in the game. He lacks any sort of aoe damage and his main strength lies in pushing towers on the backs of his summons, or by killing enemy heroes as fast as he can during the duration of his Black King Bar and/or ultimate. Speaking of ultimate, Shapeshift allows him to mow down structures fast, quickly jump into engagements and runaway from fights whenever necessary.
This pretty much makes him weak to:
Enchantress is a boring hero to play. The hero doesn’t do anything flashy, and if you’ve got zero micro skills, then good luck trying to use her properly. But, she is one of the hardest counters to Lycan, for a lot of valid reasons. For one, Lycan can’t hit her because of Untouchable and she can steal his minions or slow him down considerably with Enchant. He can also heal herself in case of danger and running away from her is a bad idea as it only makes her ultimate Impetus hit even harder.
She’s pretty much THE Anti Lycan hero of Dota 2.
The forever underrated offlaner who’s slowly making a comeback in the competitive scene, Brewmaster is a nightmare to deal with for Lycan players. His ultimate gives him all the necessary tools to deal with the notorious pusher, namely a purge for the summons and Cyclone, which pretty much negates Lycan’s ultimate and forces him to get a Black King Bar much earlier than he would have to.
Summons and Illusion-Based Heroes
Because Lycan is a straight-up pusher who has no form of wave clear, he’s weak against heroes with illusions (Phantom Lancer) or have the ability to summon minions (Broodmother and Nature’s Prophet). And because the Jungle has been nerfed to being close to useless early on, Lycan simply just can’t retreat and farm neutral camps to catch up if he’s matched up against such heroes.
Counter Push and Wave Clear
Broodmother and Nature’s Prophet are both great at pushing Lycan back by using their minions. However, there are other heroes that can consistently push Lycan back, such as Bloodseeker and Keeper of the Light, as well as Legion Commander and Tinker.
To some extent, this is also what makes Sven somewhat strong against Lycan, especially when he’s ahead as he can just blink in and clear out his minions, often in one fell swoop.
Other Notable Counters
Even though Lycan can easily purge Ghost Scepter and Eul’s Scepter of Divinity, both items are still worth getting. Especially because they at least force him to use the purge, keeping it on cooldown and preventing it to be used on another hero. Rod of Atos is another good cheap item against Lycan as it keeps him rooted.
It should already go without saying that disables, both items and skills, are generally great against the hero.
Lycan takes full advantage of the snowball pacing of the game right now. However, he is not impossible to deal with; using the proper heroes against him negates his pushing capabilities, effectively keeping his farm and potential to impact the game in control and preventing him from hitting his timings early on. Once that happens, he’ll eventually fall off as the game goes late as he’s an extremely mediocre late-game carry, even when six-slotted.
Of course, actually countering Lycan is much harder than just teaching you how to do it. Even pros find it difficult having to deal with a last-phase Lycan pick, especially when played by someone who specializes on the hero. However, that’s also why they ban the hero outright, or at least pick in advance heroes that negates Lycan’s strengths, and why you should too.
What do you think of our Anti Lycan Dota 2 guide? Do you think we covered the most important parts of how to counter the hero in the current meta? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.