The latest Dota 2 patch contained a significant nerf to comeback mechanics that the previous meta was infamous for. As a result we have seen a return of pushing teams. Teams that are designed to play aggressively early game,gain a small advantage then siege as 5, usually prioritising kills over towers., as once they have a couple of kills the tower will fall easily. They will use strong early/midgame heroes that teamfight well and aim to end the game quickly. We are going to talk about what heroes are good against this strategy and other things you can do to play against what has been dubbed “The Deathball”!

What heroes are strong against Deathball teams?

These are just some heroes that are good at stopping pushes. Generally they are either strong teamfighters or good at clearing creep waves.

Undying

Undying is a hero that punishes teams for diving deeply. For the first 15-20 minutes then teamfighting around a Tombstone is a frightening prospect. If you choose undying then you can look to defend your towers anytime Tombstone is off cooldown. The enemy team either has to commit to a difficult fight under the tower or back away. Either one of these outcomes is favourable, the key to beating Deathball Dota is buying time for your carry/carries to get the items they need and Undying can delay a game long enough to allow this.

Keeper of the Light

One of the best anti-push heroes in the game due to his ability to wipe out creep waves. Be sure to stay far behind your tower and behind your allies to ensure you do not get dived. Remember that you can teleport your allies to you. If you know a big push is coming then bring some help in. Just be sure to tell them you are teleporting them to you.

Tinker

While Tinker needs a little bit of farm (requiring Boots of Travel to be effective) once he gets them then he can be all over the map using March of the Machines to stop pushes. Be wary of getting dived as you are very squishy. The enemy team may try to bait you by smoking near a creep wave and waiting for you to teleport in. If you cannot see the enemy team then be wary of this and play carefully. Do not be afraid to give up some outer towers as you are best at defending tier 3 towers where it is hard for you to be dived.

Treant Protector

While offensively he might not be great. Treant brings several very useful moves to his team. His Living Amror can heal towers meaning the the enemy team has to fully commit to taking a tower or risk it getting healed back up before they can re-group and push again. More importantly, however, he Living Armor allies who are being ganked. This is often enough to save your ally and prevent the enemy team from gaining a gold advantage. Treant’s ultimate is also good at stopping tower dives or as initiation when required.

Pugna (oh yes)

While Pugna s often overlooked he can be devestating against certain heroes. If the enemy team choose Skywrath mage for example then Pugna can render him useless with his Nether Ward. Combine this with Pugna’s high damage aoe nuke and he can defend towers for a long time.

Pugna’s ultimate is also interesting. A lot of heroes the enemy team will choose for this strategy do not have stuns. Razor, Undying, Chen (although he has creeps), Viper all lack the stuns needed to stop his ultimate from channelling.

Build cheaper items

Do not save for expensive items. Against the Dealthball then you need a Mekansm, Ring of Basilius, Drums, possibly a Pipe if they have strong magic damage. You also need early stats so items like Vanguard are very useful. Remember, your goal is to survive the first few teamfights with minimal losses. After that then your team should start pulling ahead as they have put a lot of resources into several ineffective pushes.

Play a 4v5 game

I don’t mean have 1 less player than them. Rather, choose a good ricer/split pusher such as Juggernaut. He is hard to gank and is great at pushing and fighting 1v1. Then choose 4 heroes to defend towers with. If you choose strong defensive heroes then Juggernaut should have a lot of free time to do his own pushing/farming and can choose to teleport into any teamfight that breaks out. This strategy will force the enemy team to either split up or commit to a teamfight quickly before Juggernaut pushes their towers down.

Juggernaut is just an example but Lycan, Phantom Lancer and other similar heroes also work well.

Force the enemy to waste their ultimates

If you know that the enemy will want to start pushing soon then call for a gank on their hero that has the longest ultimate cooldown. Even if you do not kill them then they will most likely have to wait for the ultimate to come back up before pushing. This can be very effective against Shadow Shaman, Tidehunter and Death Prophet as their ultimates are the main reason they are chosen for a pushing/deathball line-up.

Comment below

When more is known about the current patch then this guide will be updated. Until then feel free to comment and add your own thoughts.