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Shadow Fiend is in an okay place right now. While not necessarily comparable to meta winners like Broodmother, Clinkz and arguably Templar Assassin. Shadow Fiend is decent in the sense that he is versatile, clears waves quickly, can jungle, can gank with runes, can play both physical and magical damage builds etc. His primary downside is that he is squishy and has no natural escape mechanism.
Shadow Fiend is one of the strongest heroes in laning if you understand the hero well. Not only did his raze received an important buff (debuff stacks) a long time ago, his Shadowraze’s manacost was recently buffed. Although most people consider Shadow Fiend one of the squishiest heroes in the early game. where specific matchups can easily burst him to death or any support rotation might send him flying, but his ability to clear the jungle creeps once he reaches level 7 (maximizing skill Shadowraze) allows him to catch up. Even if he loses the laning phase against unfavourable matchups or games where he consistently gets ganked by enemy supports. Also this hero can help alot in Rank callibration
Skill build for SF is rather simple as almost everyone in Immortal bracket is using the same skill build. While in the old meta, most players choose to learn Necromastery first, to gather souls and damage to boost their last hitting capability. However, in the current meta, we are prioritising getting maximum experience and avoid getting denied. If you skill Necromastery over Shadowraze first, chances are you will either get denied to oblivion (Especially since SF’s base damage is a joke) or get dived and zoned out. You’ll have to Salve without getting anything (Against heroes like Lina, Puck, Snapfire and Batrider mids, skilling Necromastery first might potentially lose you the whole laning phase). Hence, we skill Shadowraze to make sure the enemy doesn’t deny our creeps, and hopefully having us getting all the last hits.
Most of you would be thinking, once I used most of my mana to get last hits, wouldn’t I be pressured by the enemy? The answer is yes. To overcome that issue, our starting item will consist of two mangoes (Some would prefer three). And we will buy more mangoes after clearing the first wave before queuing into your next item such as Bottle / Wraith Bands.
But do remember that, once you reach level 2 after the first wave, you would be slowly gathering souls and increasing your damage. After getting souls a few minutes in, you would be able to last hit using normal attack easily and are able to pressure the enemy by denying his creep causing him to be lower level than you in the laning. What’s even better for Shadow Fiend? Reaching level 5 where we will have 3 levels of Shadowraze, which will allow us to start jungling. Your primary objective in laning will be to outfarm and outlevel your opponent, while solo-killing him is secondary.
In high-level games, solo kills rarely happen when both sides are even in terms of gold, XP and matchup. Go for that advantage and run at sidelanes, where arguably everyone will have much lower farm and levels compared to you. At this point, people will be saying, that’s only possible when you win your lane. That is true, but not entirely true.
As I have stated, once you reach level 5 where you have 3 levels of Shadowraze , you are able to hide in jungles if your lane is pressured by counterpicks such as Viper. The ability of SF to clear jungle is so fast that it can even keep your level on pace with those standing in lane or might be even faster than them. This is also why SF is so versatile, due to his ability to quickly recover from a lost lane. Heck, if you managed to gain the upper hand during the laning stage, chances are you will stomp the midgame.
From physical build to magical build, new meta have been coming in after every change of skill and talent in patches. The high output of both physical damage and magical damage allows SF players to be versatile whether to build physical damage or magical damage depending on the need of your team situation. Let us start with the physical build. When is the time to go for the physical build? When you realise that most of your teammate heroes deal magic damage and are unable to push towers, or when your team is lacking a strong right-clicker (Your carry is a Spectre?. You’re playing a dual-sidelane draft where you have no lategame hard carry?) You should consider going for the physical build.
With the recent changes to SF’s 2nd skill (Necromastery) where 20 souls (Each add 4 damage) totalling up to 80 damage. Just by one skill, you’ve obtained 80 damage which is 1.33x of Sacred Relic (3.8k worth of item). The power of physical attack from SF doesn’t just stop there. The third ability from Shadow Fiend which reduces 7 armor of the enemy at max level further enhances your physical damage. Imagine supports having little to no armor and still getting their armor reduced, within a few hits one support gets deleted from the fight before the fight even begins. That is how strong physical build SF can be. It can be scarier if you had a great laning stage, enhancing your snowballing potential. We also provide lp removal services
Drums of Endurance: This item is one of my most recommended items, as it boosts the overall stat for Shadow Fiend which are all pretty low in the early game. As Shadow Fiend is one of the strongest fighting heroes in early game (as long as you have mana), Drums of Endurance boosts the attack speed and movement speed of the hero making him stronger and able to take down enemies in the early game. The more engaged you are with fights and even winning them, the more space you would be able to create for your hard carry to perform in the mid to late game.
Shadow Blade: Extremely aggressive as an item, you should only be buying this when you are snowballing or you need Silver Edge to counter a specific hero on the opposing team. Overall it is generally not recommended, especially since the new Echo Sabre buildup makes no sense for a Shadow Fiend.~~ as a single or two deaths can render your SB a negative investment, and when playing SF you want to build not just for midgame but lategame as well. If you ever decide to get it, make sure you are playing a fast-paced game where you hunt for fights all the time and the enemy could not catch up due to their disadvantage in the laning phase.
Yasha: One of the items that I would choose to buy most of the time, but in different time phase in different game situations. Yasha is a very good item as it provides movement speed and agility to Shadow Fiend and can be upgraded to Manta or S&Y at later points of the game. I would choose to go for either Shadow Blade or Yasha, rarely go for both in a single game. In this sense, I will recommend Yasha for almost every scenario over Shadow Blade except in games where you really want the extra catch.
BKB: Considered a core item for Shadow Fiend as magic burst counters the low HP and magic resist SF. Buying this item at the correct time phase is very crucial. If you purchase it too early, you couldn’t go lategame because BKB only has a 5 seconds duration after using it multiple times. Purchasing it too late however, you might’ve already lost too many teamfights for it to be relevant in saving your game. When the enemy heroes have a lot of magic bursts and lockdowns i.e. Zeus, you are left with no choice but to purchase it at early game to ensure that you are able to win clashes without dying.
Remember, SF is a snowballing core, which means you really want to NOT die regardless of whatever the teamfight result is. Even if your team wins a clash after you are dead, it will lead to your disadvantage as you will slowly lose your EXP advantage in the game. Another situation that is perfect for buying BKB would be when your team have the ability to end the game or push to their high ground after winning clashes early. With your high damage output, BKB would help you to last long enough in fight as early game SF’s physical output would be higher than most of the heroes that have equivalent or lower net worth. With that, you can close up the game before your BKB is downgraded to 5 seconds duration left.
Manta: Suitable item to go for when you have the need to dispel the debuff on you. For example, when you are facing Venomancer or Naga Siren, their debuff and root can kite the hell out of you. It is crucial for SF to have high movement speed to constantly reposition yourself as the hero itself is very soft and is easily killed once people get into his face.
SANGE AND YASHA: This is another situational item. When you feel like your team is unable to tank for you in the front lines, I would prefer grabbing it. SNY provides agility and strength at the same time increasing status resistance. This is a good alternative for BKB as most debuffs and stun duration would be reduced significantly when SNY is paired up with Satanic or Titan Sliver (Tier 3 Neutral Item). This item makes you harder to be instakilled by enemies at the same time providing you with attack speed and damage.
Hurricane Pike: This item is not really a very famous SF item yet sometimes can be a very useful item. I would recommend you to purchase this item when you feel like you are constantly being kited around in clash, or you want to keep your distance while hitting enemies from a range. Sometimes when your team has an initiator hero that can attract attention at the front. we might feel more comfortable attacking from a distance where we could have a safer output environment.
Satanic: With Satanic no longer providing status resistance, it is still a great item, just not core as discussed above. You want Satanic on physical SF because SF has built-in innate damage. which makes the item come online sooner compared to other heroes who might rely on other items to be effective. There are various survivability items for different heroes. for example if you are playing Death Prophet, Bloodstone will generally be better compared to a Heart except in rare cases due to the secondary stats. it provides being relevant to the hero.
If you are playing a slippery carry who relies on consistent but not explosive damage i.e. Phantom Lancer, you want Heart instead of Satanic. If you are playing a Strength hero, you probably want Heart, if you are playing Terrorblade you want Satanic over the others. It all falls down to the key question of “Can I stay alive in teamfights?. Do I need to position myself in the middle of a teamfight?”
Daedalus: One of the best items to increase your damage output, especially for SF which already has high damage itself that will make the critical damage from Daedalus to be huge. If your luck with RNG is good, you might be able to burst enemy supports in just 1-3 right clicks. This item is a good choice when your team is lacking physical burst damage especially when the opponent has a bunch of tanky heroes.
Other suitable items: Butterfly, Skadi, MKB, Divine, Assault are all situational items. Build them whenever you feel you need them. SF’s physical item build is just too versatile to have a fixed item build every game. Try out different item builds based on different situations and you will have a higher chance of winning your ranked games.
My favourite and most played type of build. Why? Having high burst damage in every phase of the game, and having low cooldowns once you have reached level 25 is just way too OP in the game. High mobility, high damage output with low cooldowns, what else can you ask for? When should we go for magic build SF?. This build is extremely powerful when your enemy does not have disables / silences that pierce through BKB. Why is that so?. Without any ability to disable your ultimate during your BKB or teleport channelling time, basically they are unable to kill you and you can approach them to kill them whenever you want after you have purchased your BKB. Think of it as being the only person with an M4A1 in a town with no sheriff. This build is more meta (7.28a) as the current meta, at least in high level games, often require the mid player to carry the midgame tempo and lead fights around the map, creating space for the carry to farm.
The build started by the old-school SF player, YaphetS the legendary shadow fiend in Dota 1, Euls and Blink is a must to play magic build shadow fiend. Euls and blink, The typical Euls -> Blink -> Requiem of Souls instakill combo. In early-to-mid game without BKB and Pipe, most of the heroes will simply evaporate to the combo. For those who don’t, congratulate their survival by offering them 3 extra Shadowrazes. Other basic items that I always buy for the starting item is a bottle, as magic build SF always wants to roam around, clear creep waves using two razes and clear jungles camps.
Other essential items would be :-
Boots of Travel: After euls and blink, the item I recommend would be BoT. This is to maximise your farm and also easily cooperate with your team all around the map. This item also increases your movement speed significantly. I find this item very useful to the point that I want it as soon as possible.
BKB: A very crucial item for magic build SF in order to perfectly cast your Euls + blink ultimate combo. If the enemy heroes don’t have BKB-piercing disables, you’re basically a cheat card to insta-kill anyone in the game. If they do though, it is better to wait until they’ve casted said disable. Let your teammates bait that Silencer ulti or Naga Siren web out, or just aim for them yourself. Although the BKB will become 5 seconds in the end. it will not affect magic build SF much because most of the time we are just using it to cast our ultimate (1.67s). together with 3 razes after that totalling up to around 3 to 3.5s. Once you get your level 25 talent 30% cooldown reduction with Octarine Core and if you’re lucky, Spell Prism (Tier 4 Neutral Item), your BKB cooldown will be only 29.4s.
Ethereal Blade: I would recommend this item when you realise that you do not have enough output to burst your opponent. (When your opponent has pipe or high HP heroes ). This item will be good to save your teammate in some situations such as chrono (void’s ultimate) and have relatively short cooldown when you reach level 25. Good item as it can be used for defensive and offensive itself, but only purchase it when necessary.
Octarine Core: A very good item to combo with Sf level 25 talent (30% cooldown reduction). which enables you to spam your skills in a fight and stack the raze debuff on enemies constantly to deal huge output damage in a clash. Magic sf is all about utilising the skills and items so with lower cooldown of everything, and SF can unleash his full potential.
Scythe of Vyse: Good item to go for when your team are lacking of disable, or when your opponent has BKB. And you still want to burst him down, you can use hex > euls > blink > ultimate under the condition enemy does not have status resist. With perfect timing and reaction, the enemy would not be able to pop his BKB thus giving you a chance to burst enemy carry in ultimate + 3 razes combo. This requires fast hands and some training but once you perfected it, it would be a crucial combo to do in your ranked games.
Shiva’s Guard: Defensive item that is very useful when your opponent relies on attack speed and provides armor to make sure you do not get burst down by enemy physical damage. This item can also provide vision when you are fighting against Tinker that uses bushes and fog as their advantage. Situational item, build only when needed.
Linken’s Sphere: This item has almost the same function as a BKB, where it is needed to cast your eul blink ultimate combo. Some skills like Vengeful Spirit’s Nether Swap, Batrider’s lasso and Abyssal Blade can pass through BKB but will be cancelled through linken. When enemy heroes have both disable that pass through BKB and normal disable, getting both BKB and Linken would still enable you to proceed with your combo. Sometimes against enemies like Rubick that has a long cast range, your linken will be effective as well at crucial times. This item is recommended as well in specific situations.
Upgraded blink dagger ( Arcane Blink ): Do not purchase this item if you are not used to 50% reduced cast time for eul and ulti combo. But then this would be the best item if you tend to be the initiator for your team where you got your agha. You can dive in with your bkb and cast your ulti with 50% reduced cast time. With this, you can initiate the fight for your team with a few seconds of fear which is enough to burst enemy core heroes in crucial team fights.
Other useful items based on situation: When you have maximised your slots, purchasing an Aghanim’s Scepter buff and Refresher orb will be useful for Shadow Fiend. Making sure you purchase the correct item at the correct match line up will help you to gain advantage in the game and have higher chances to win the match. Understanding each and every item will also help you to understand the item build of the game more instead of building all same items every game.
At level 10, the answer is very obvious as the given stat is 20 attack speed and 8% spell amplification respectively. For the physical build, it is recommended to take 20 attack speed while magic build players should obviously go for 8% spell. Common sense works here.
While at level 15, I would recommend 25 movement speed over presence aura affects buildings. Presence aura affects building means enemy tower will have -7 armor reduction when your aura is nearby them. I believe that 25 mspd is more useful for SF as damage output for towers is already sufficient given by Necromastery (SF skill 2) and also by your carries. But under certain situation such as when your teammates have beastmaster / lycan (Heroes that utilise creeps and able to push tower under short duration). And you have big game advantage into the game, at that moment you realise that you have the opportunity to stick and take down enemy towers. potentially going high ground, then the aura affect tower talent might be good for the game. Other than such situations I strongly recommend going for 25 movement speed.
At level 20, again common sense works here. Physical build player will go for +3 damage per soul while magic build damage will take +120 shadow raze damage. Bear this in mind, both of the talents are very strong and useful for each build. Having +3 damage per soul means an increase of 60 damage while +120 Shadowraze helps you burst enemies much more easily, even more so coupled with all the CD reductions you are going to have later.
At level 25, for magic build users, without any doubt will go for 30% cooldown reduction as magical SF depends on skill and item cooldowns a lot. While most of you think that physical SF will go for -4 presence aura armor, I will ask you to rethink twice. Having 30% cooldown reduction is quite essential as it reduces all the cooldown including skills and items. When you feel like you can deal enough damage but you rely heavily on your BKB and other items, you go for 30% cooldown. When you feel that your damage output is not enough and you don’t need cooldown reduction, you can go for -4 armor.
After reading up to this point, I believe you understand that Shadow Fiend is a very strong hero given that you understand the hero well. Winning the lane makes shadow fiend super strong and able to stomp enemies in a fast-paced game. while losing the lane, you can still recover by jungling and clearing creep waves just by two razes. Given the current meta, I believe the stronger build for SF would be the magical build SF right now. If you go for physical build SF, you might take up a lot of farm and have to compete with your hard carry for farms. This might be game-losing at high-level games because the game tempo is simply too quick for two carries to farm up now. In retrospect, when you go for magical build SF, you can walk around the map trying to find kills or create spaces for your hard carry instead of farming in your jungle together with him.
Of course, I’m not denying the power of physical build SF. Physical build SF has been proven real strong in competitive scenes by using the four protect one strategy. Creating spaces and making Shadow Fiend the untouchable one in the game. However, this is because they play SF as the centralized core, which probably is not going to happen in your rank games. Also, some heroes like Arc Warden can potentially do that better, despite having lower flash-farm capabilities.
I am explaining the current gameplay of Shadow Fiend based on current meta (Patch 7.30e). Thank you for reading till the end.
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