Riki Counter Guide: How To Deal With The Pesky Stealth Assassin

Here in our Riki Counter guide, we will discuss what exactly led to the Stealth Assassin being suddenly a top-tier pick in pubs over the past month and what players can do when they inevitably find themselves matched up against this pesky hero in the coming days ahead.

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.

What Happened to Riki?

Riki was considered as an off-meta hero, both in pubs and in pro player, for the better part of the past two years. Both pro and casual players believed that Riki just wasn’t good enough as a roamer. At the same time, the hero really didn’t have the necessary skillset to succeed as a core either. He also has very little lane presence early in the game. To make matters worse, Riki got much of his levels from bounty runes and killing heroes.  Now that they no longer gave exp, Riki’s only source of experience and levels was from hitting creeps, which he is not good at, and picking off heroes. With squishy, slow-moving supports like Crystal Maiden out of the meta, Riki just had a hard time finding his place in the current meta.

That is until patch 7.12 came. The patch, which hit servers on March 29, changed how Riki’s ultimate, Tricks of the Trade, worked. Now, instead of just hitting a hero per second for the duration of the skill, Tricks of the Trade hits a random hero every 0.5/0.45/0.4 seconds. The duration was buffed as well, going from 3/4/5 seconds to 4/5/6 seconds. Add the fact that the skill also now hits non-hero units and Riki’s inability to flash farm was suddenly no longer that big of a problem.

When you take all of that into consideration, it explains why the number of people looking for a Riki counter went up over the past month.

Understanding Riki’s Strength

Riki Counter

If left to play to his strengths, a skilled Riki player can make opponents feel cramped and powerless. (Biggreenpepper)

Riki is a hero that relies mainly on the psychological impact that his permanent invisibility has on the enemy team. He only pops out if you have detection or if he hits anything and a good Riki player will not make himself appear unless otherwise necessary.

You’ll never know when Riki is there unless you’re carrying vision around all of the time. Sentry Wards work to some extent against him, but they’re costly in the long run and they expire. Riki can also plant wards of his own if he suspects that a lane is warded. Plus, even if you do decide to buy Gem of True Sight to negate his invisibility, this decision can put your team at a disadvantage. Because this forces you to play around the carrier or else risk getting picked off, you grouping up will give Riki’s teammates the necessary space to farm all over the map.

Everything Riki has and can do makes him a hero whose specialty is picking off wandering heroes. His victim can be anyone, from a carry farming waves too deep, or supports who are either too far behind from their teams or wandering too far into the enemy’s jungle while trying to plant wards.

In theory, Riki should make a great anti-meta roamer. Sure, he can’t exactly kill Sand King and Slardar, two heroes that are commonly run as greedy position 4 supports these days, without help. But, he can annoy them and delay their just farm enough. Furthermore, Riki can do it while scouting ahead and gaining valuable information. This allows his team to read what the rest of the enemy team are going to do next.

Riki Counter Tips – What To Do

  • Riki is a statistically weak hero. He starts off the game with low HP (506 HP), low base damage (34-38 dmg) and terrible movespeed (275 ms). He doesn’t have much lane presence either, and he can’t exactly farm jungles or clear creep waves until a bit later on when his ultimate can take out entire stacks or waves. Even then, Riki players would very much prefer to use their ultimates to pick off solo heroes. Riki’s impact is pretty much predicated on making sure that he gets as many bounty runes and kills as possible and make them feel too scared to farm to deep into the lanes or jungle.
  • Dust of Appearance is a more effective Riki counter than Sentry Wards. Using Dust of Appearance pretty much assures a kill on Riki because it reveals him for a period of time and slows him down considerably. Since he’s a naturally squishy hero, picking him off is easy once he’s revealed. Sentry Wards will only come in handy later once Riki gets enough farm or levels to become a kill threat by roaming your jungle and picking off squishy supports and farming carry heroes. Even then, you’ll only want to buy Sentry Wards more as a means of protection and not detection. That’s what the Dust of Appearance is for.
  • For supports, securing bounty runes is extremely important. This isn’t just so you can also secure your own farm, but it’s also because that’s where Riki gets most of his money from. A farm-starved Riki is pretty much a useless Riki. 
  • Multiple Force Staff pickups are mandatory against melee cores, especially when up against Riki. It’s essentially a Riki counter because it pushes you out of the AOE of Smoke Screen (Q) and Tricks of the Trade (R).

Riki Counter Tips – Which Heroes To Pick

  • Don’t pick squishy, roaming supports like Crystal Maiden, Skywrath Mage, Windranger, Earth Spirit, Vengeful Spirit, and Pudge. Even Bounty Hunter is situational against Riki despite his ultimate Track (R) countering Riki’s invisibility. If you want to roam, play Slardar, Sand King, Barathrum, Treant Protector, and Nightstalker, just to name a few. These heroes are not as squishy and are less prone to getting picked off on their own. Especially with the 7.13 update buffing strength heroes.
  • Don’t pick heroes that need to dive into enemy heroes. Riki’s Smoke Screen (Q) + Tricks of the Trade (R) combo pretty much negates the strength of heroes like Phantom Assassin, Slark, Monkey King, Storm Spirit, and Anti-Mage.
  • Pick cores that naturally build into Hurricane Pike so you don’t end up wasting a Force Staff slot. Sniper is situational because he’s fairly squishy and needs to play in the far back to make an impact, which makes him an easy target for Riki to single out. Instead, go for fairly tanky cores like Luna, Terrorblade, Gyrocopter, and Obsidian Destroyer.
  • Riki also has difficulty dealing with heroes with summons, like Enchantress, Chen, Brood, and Lycan. They are a very effective Riki counter because they make Riki less viable as a pick when they are in the game.
  • Bristleback, Timbersaw, Magnus, Abaddon, and Underlord are all excellent choices in the offlane against Riki. Not only are these heroes fairly tanky, but they also take advantage of 1v1 matchups, forcing Riki to rotate to them or else risk his team losing a lane.
  • If you do buy Gem of True Sight, try to group up and take objectives. Go Roshan and take Aegis of the Immortal if you can. Better yet, take a tower or two. Riki can’t do much if you’re all grouped together.

Final Thoughts

Riki Counter

There are just too many win-conditions for Riki to not become a useless hero mid-game in pro games (Biggreenpepper)

Riki is an excellent late-game DPS core, but for that to happen, he needs to have a significant impact early by picking off heroes and taking bounty runes. And though Riki does indeed force teams to group up, that’s essentially what pro teams do nowadays; they play fast and coordinated, group up, take objectives, and push high-ground. Because of this, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see Riki picked in pro games more often anytime soon.

Besides, other heroes are just much better at what Riki does. Bounty Hunter is still superior at roaming, even if he lacks any team fight presence. The information and potential gold given by Track (R) is just too much to pass up in pro games where efficiency matters. The same goes for Nyx Assassin, who has a better teamfight presence and can scale pretty well late into the game as a high-ground defender.

It’s only in uncoordinated public games where Riki shines the most. But he isn’t OP. Far from it actually. Remember, Riki is a greedy support that generally doesn’t offer much until the later stages of the game. You only need to neutralize Riki early by using Dust of Appearance and Sentry Ward so he can’t get the levels or farm he needs to make an impact.

What do you think is the best Riki counter? Does Riki deserve a place in the pro scene? If so, which teams do you think will pick him first? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below. 

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