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Huskar the Sacred Warrior has emerged as one of the most successful heroes in the current Dota 2 metagame, currently listed as the 26th most picked hero in the game while having a 54% win rate by Dotabuff.
But Huskar isn’t just a hero who can stomp in pubs, he has also shaken the professional scene as well.
The hero is one of the most contested heroes in all regions, especially in Western Europe, where OG offlaner Ammar "ATF" Al-Assaf has showcased Huskar's dominance.
If you want to dominate your pubs with Huskar just like how ATF has excelled on the hero in pro games, read on for our guide on how to play Huskar like the OG pro.
Huskar stats overview
Huskar starts out with 600 health, which isn’t very impressive for a strength hero. With that said, his strength gain of 3.3 really helps the hero scale later on. Thanks to his stat growth, Huskar's high health pool becomes one of the hero's greatest strengths later on.
When it comes to movement speed and attack range, Huskar has below average values in those departments, with 295 movement speed as opposed to the average 300. However, the hero does have gap-closing abilities that mitigate his slightly below-average speed and reach.
Only one of Huskar’s spells, Inner Fire, uses mana. That spell is usually left at level one early on, meaning the hero rarely has mana issues. Huskar has a low intelligence gain of 1.5, but the hero doesn’t need more than that to function.
Huskar’s main weakness is physical damage. The hero starts with less than one armor and his agility gain of 1.5 is not enough to protect him against physical damage.
With his stats out of the way, let's dive into Huskar's skillset and how ATF utilises them.
ATF usually invests his starting skill point in Inner Fire, giving him a way to secure ranged creeps while also harassing the opposing laner.
Inner Fire also disarms enemies for 1.75 seconds at level one, more than enough time to allow Huskar to deny his own creeps when needed.
The spell costs 75 mana at level one and that cost increases by 25 per level. Due to Huskar’s low intelligence gain and the high mana cost of later levels, ATF leaves Inner Fire at level one until his other skills are maxed out.
Huskar’s signature ability, Burning Spear, deals bonus magic damage over time at the cost of 3% of the hero's current health.
Burning Spear is what makes Huskar an incredible lane dominator, as a level two Spear adds 80 damage per attack.
It’s easy for Huskar to land multiple attacks on enemy heroes, dealing significant magic damage and forcing them to retreat.
While the Burning Spear debuff cannot be dispelled by the enemy, its damage is magical and can be reduced with additional magic resistance.
Magic immunity completely negates the spell’s damage, though most of your opposition won't have it early on when Burning Spear is at its strongest.
ATF takes his first point of Burning Spear at level three and then upgrades the spell along with Berserker’s Blood. ATF will focus on maxing the spell by level 10, skipping the talent choice in favor of more damage.
Huskar’s only passive ability, and perhaps his most important spell of all, Berserker's Blood provides the hero with extra magic resistance, attack speed, and health regen the lower his health is.
While most heroes want to keep their health as high as possible, Huskar thrives the more damage he takes.
The hero becomes harder to kill and more dangerous the lower his health is, which synergizes with the health cost of using Burning Spear.
ATF always maxes this spell first as the benefits it provides are too much to ignore. Huskar’s playstyle revolves around being ultra-aggressive and diving into enemies, which is easier to do with a maxed-out Berserker's Blood.
Huskar’s ultimate causes him to leap toward an enemy and deal a big percentage of their current health as damage.
Life Break deals the same percentage of damage to Huskar as it does to his opponents, thus synergizing with Berserk's Blood. As a bonus, Life Break also slows enemies by 60% for up to five seconds.
One of the most important aspects of Life Break is that it applies a basic dispel on Huskar, removing negative debuffs.
This makes it important to use Life Break after being targeted by annoying debuffs such as Spirit Vessel or Slardar’s Corrosive Haze.
ATF never skips this ability and neither should anyone who plays Huskar. The spell always deserves its investment.
What talents does ATF take on Huskar?
Huskar is one of those few heroes with an excellent talent tree that enables him to adapt to the game and the enemy lineup. In his pub matches, ATF takes different talent choices depending on the game.
But despite Huskar’s flexible talent tree, ATF does favor certain talents above others.
Level 10:+2s Life Break Slow Duration vs +1s Inner Fire Duration
ATF tends to take his level 10 talent after he’s maxed out his other spells. Of the two choices, ATF almost always takes the extra duration on Inner Fire.
Inner Fire gains 0.75 seconds extra disarm time with every point invested. The spell’s damage also increases by 70 and the cooldown reduces by two seconds per level. Putting more skill points into Inner Fire buffs the spell more than the talent does, which is why ATF delays it until much later in the game.
Disarm is one of the few abilities in Dota 2 that cannot be removed. This makes an extra second incredibly powerful, especially on Huskar.
The hero typically dives into multiple enemies and has a weakness to physical damage. Disarming the enemy lineup for five seconds allows Huskar to go ham during team fights.
The bonus slow duration for Life Break doesn’t really help Huskar in most games. The ultimate already slows enemies long enough for Huskar to kill them in most situations. The slow can also be dispelled, further diminishing its value.
Level 15: 15% Lifesteal vs +4 Burning Spears DPS
As mentioned earlier, Burning Spears' debuff cannot be dispelled. At max level, each spear deals 20 damage a second for eight seconds — a total of 160 damage.
ATF almost always takes the additional damage, as it equals an extra 32 damage per right-click. Huskar is a hero with massive attack speed but modest damage and thus benefits enormously from the offensive talent at level 15.
While ATF generally takes more damage at level 15, that doesn’t mean the Lifesteal talent is bad. In game two of OG's match against Team Secret, ATF took the Lifesteal talent as he was facing multiple disables from enemy lineup and decided to focus on his survivability.
Both level 15 talents are viable for Huskar, but of the two, the extra damage is usually better as it helps Huskar secure kills and maintain his threat level during the midgame.
Level 20: -3s Life Break Cooldown vs +30% Berserker's Blood Regen
Huskar has two good talent options at level 20, but while both are viable, ATF usually goes for the extra regeneration whenever he can.
Berserker’s Blood goes from 80% strength as health regeneration to 110%. That’s an almost 50% increase in how much health the passive ability provides.
At level 20, Huskar’s damage starts to fall off a little and the hero needs more time to kill his enemies, and that’s exactly what the extra health regeneration gives him.
There is one situation, however, where ATF takes the reduced cooldown on Life Break.
That is when facing Ancient Apparition, the best counter to Huskar in the game. Ancient Apparition's Ice Blast ultimate completely nullifies Huskar’s regeneration, rendering the level 20 talent a complete waste.
Level 25: Burning Spears Pure Damage vs +20% Life Break Damage
Huskar doesn’t reach level 25 in most games he plays. The hero tends to dominate the games he is picked on and tries to end it within the first 30 minutes. Huskar’s low armor and reliance on damage over time make him a relatively weak late-game core.
That said, Huskar can make a strong comeback when he reaches level 25 if he takes the pure damage talent, which ATF always does when he picks the hero. Each Burning Spear will deal 160 (192 with the level 15 talent) pure damage per hit.
The 20% extra Life Break damage is quite lackluster in comparison.
Huskar’s ultimate deals substantial damage without requiring the level 25 talent. Life Break's magical damage is naturally reduced by the enemy’s magic resistance and completely negated by magic immunity, further neutering this talent.
ATF always takes the Pure Damage talent and it’s impossible to see a reason why anyone would skip it.
This is just part one of our two-part guide on how to play Huskar like OG's ATF. Part two will look into ATF's item build for Huskar, so keep an eye out for it.
Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.