Slark the Nightcrawler is a melee agility hero that utilises his abilities to spring onto enemy heroes and slip out unhindered. He is a very mobile ganker, but remains attribute-wise below most other carries unless he is able to steal away attributes with his abilities. Once he does, though, only a few heroes can hope to be as fearsome as the Nightcrawler - extremely mobile to the point of ever-presence; his strikes only hitting harder and faster.
Slark can quickly leap forward onto enemies with Pounce to leash them and bind them from escaping. His Dark Pact releases a delayed purge that breaks even the most powerful disables. This gives him one of the most flexible abilities to start and end fights in the game. He is also capable of stealing attributes on auto-attacks to boost his own damage temporarily with Essence Shift which can rapidly shift engagements in his favor, even when merely performing hit-and-run maneuvers. Slark's ultimate, Shadow Dance, allows him to remain unseen even while attacking for a short duration and allows him to move quicker when not under the watch of enemy eyes to strike in and out of enemy ranks unhindered.
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- Shadow Blade is an often picked item for Slark, as it gives you another escape and immediately activates Shadow Dance's passive, assuming the other team has no detection.
- Slark is most often played as a Mid hero, as Midlane maximizes his Ganking potential early, assuring he will become dominant by late game. However, Slark is fairly unique in that he can excel in every lane, if up against the right heroes, and can even be played as a solo offlaner thanks to Pounce.
- Pounce is good for both chasing and escaping enemies. It can be used like a blink dagger to jump into, from, or through otherwise impassable terrain to great effect.
- Dark Pact is a wonderful tool for purging the negative debuffs placed on him. When used at the right time, during the delay, the waves emitted from Slark will also remove the incoming debuffs about to be placed on him, allowing you to "dodge" or shorten their duration.
- Unlike most purges, Dark Pact can purge stuns from Slark - bear this in mind if you have been targeted by a slow moving projectile stun (such as Sven's Storm Hammer or Alchemist's Unstable Concoction) and time your activation of Dark Pact to remove it as it strikes. With enough practice you can time it to almost completely nullify their usage.
- Dark Pact also offers Slark a very interesting kind of advantage against certain defenses. The burst from Dark Pact is calculated as 10 attacks very quickly after another, meaning that Slark can use it against buffs like Living Armor, which offer protection but only defend against a set number of damage instances before disappearing.
- Dark Pact is a great way to finish off an invisible unit that has been leashed, as the AOE damage affects invisible prey.
- When being chased, try to get out of sight from the enemy, be it around trees, up hills, et cetera. The passive from Slark's ultimate will activate when out of enemy sight and give you a boost to move speed and HP regen for a short moment before sight is regained. This can be the difference between life and death.
- If timed right, Pounce can be used to dodge some projectile spells such as Sniper's ultimate, as Slark is invulnerable during his jump (note that some disables can catch Slark mid-air, though no damage will be dealt).
- A helpful side effect of Shadow Dance's passive is that Slark gains a weak form of detection. If you find that you've suddenly lost your movement speed and health regeneration bonuses while seemingly alone, it means one of three things. First, it can mean enemies are lurking around in the area that you can't see and you should be extra cautious- a gank may be incoming. Otherwise, if your enemies are all accounted for, it means the enemy has wards in the area, and you should let your team know this so they can react accordingly, or deward. Lastly, if Bloodseeker has leveled his Thirst, Slarks ultimate will be disabled while he is below half health, while revealing Slark's location to his foes. This makes Bloodseeker one of the most effective counters to Slark in the game. But building an Urn of Shadows can remedy this, as you can get a steady +400 health from each active in early levels, which assures you the ability to get "off the grid" and continue your ganks after level 6.
- Slark functions a bit differently from most carries - while a standard carry capitalizes on sustained damage, Slark can take on more of a hit-and-run approach. You can maximize his Essence Shift's duration by continually harassing and retreating. Go for the kill once you think you have enough damage and attack speed to take down enemy heroes. Slark's base attributes are average at best, although with enough stolen Agility and damage items he can keep up with hard carries such as Phantom Assassin and Sniper.
- Maximize Essence Shift's efficiency by taking objectives using his stolen attributes. After a large teamfight, it is not uncommon to find that Slark has stolen upwards of 50 agility, making quick work of untended towers or Roshan.
- Vladmir's Offering is a great item on Slark for multiple reasons. First, it gives you much needed armour and mana regen. Second it gives you lifesteal and a small amount of HP regen, which is great for the survivability of a squishy ganking hero like Slark. Most importantly, however, is the 15% boost to your base damage which, due to Essence Shift, is constantly increasing with each attack that Slark makes on an opponent. This drastically increases the effectiveness of Essence Shift over time.
- Soul Ring provides a cheap source of instant mana, as Shadow Dance can easily regenerate the health cost when out of battle
- If played as a midlane hero however, a Bottle can be a much better choice, healing you in combat situations and giving you mana when needed. Slark's passive speed boost from Shadow Dance also means he can out rune control most midlane heroes easily.
- Orchid Malevolence offers all the mana regeneration you will ever need, bonus attack damage and speed, as well as the damage amplifying Silence ability. Together with Pounce, it will lock down any target almost completely. Note, however, that this item choice does not supplement your naturally low health at all. Orchid Malevolence is most useful against intelligence heroes that can easily burst-damage you down, such as Lina, and heroes that can escape from Pounce's leash, such as Anti-Mage and Queen of Pain.
- Against Physical Damage dealers, such as Phantom Assassin for example, a Ghost Scepter works extremely well on Slark. Ghost Scepter gives you an added escape mechanism early along with much needed attributes, and builds into Ethereal Blade.
- Ethereal Blade gives Slark a huge damage and attack speed boost, Some HP, Armour and Mana, and yet another nuke and slow that synergizes well with Slarks skill set. This is due to Ethereal Blade's nuke damage coming from how much agility Slark has, and thanks to Essence Shift this can be an absolutely devastating amount of damage, especially if followed up by a Pounce and Dark Pact. Note that Ethereal debuffed units take 40% additional magic damage, boosting the damage output from both of your other nukes. One might think this is counter intuitive, as Dark Pact deals self damage, However Dark Pact will purge the ethereal debuff from Slark before taking approximately 95% of the self damage. If used correctly, Slark can use Ethereal Blade, time his Pounce and Dark Pact so that Slark can do full extra magic damage to the ethereal unit, Purge the ethereal debuff from Slark, and then be able to physically attack the leashed unit for an almost guaranteed kill. Ethereal Blade's Active can also be used to catch up to and/or finish off fleeing foes that are out of Slark's reach, as the nuke has a very long cast range.
- Skull Basher Serves as a dual purpose item for Slark, Giving him a passive bash and a huge damage boost, while also providing some HP. Late game Skull Basher can be upgraded into an Abyssal Blade for even more damage and HP and a guaranteed stun that goes through magic immunity.
- A good alternative for a Unique Attack Modifier (albeit a less defensive one) would be the Diffusal Blade. While it may not provide him the same survivability as the Eye of Skadi, it grants excellent Agility attribute boosts, 8/16 (Lv1/Lv2) total uses of the Purge active, and the signature manaburn attack modifier, which is a good countermeasure against spell-dependent foes.
- Slark's murloc heritage was completely removed in transition to Dota 2 to avoid copyright issues, since the murloc are an existing race in the Warcraft universe.
- Slark's response, "Play Met you once, cut you twice." is a reference to the carpentry phrase, "Measure twice, cut once."
- Slark's respawn line, "Play Griefer madness..." is a reference to the propaganda film, Reefer Madness. As well, a griefer is a role a player assumes while in a multiplayer game to deliberately irritate other players.
- Fixed Pounce's Leash getting dispelled.
- Fixed Shadow Dance passive buff icon updating on hero proximity while dead.
- Fixed Pounce sometimes causing an allied Flaming Lasso to end early.
- Fixed Dark Pact:
- Enabled Bristleback, Skywrath Mage, and Slark in Captain's Mode (Tournament Version)
- Enabled Bristleback, Slark and Skywrath Mage in Captain's Mode (Latest Version).
- Shadow Dance:
- Fixed ability giving Slark flying vision.
- Fixed ability granting passive bonuses to Slark illusions.
- Fixed an issue causing the ability's passive modifier to not update in the UI, despite being active.
- Dark Pact:
- Fixed the ability continuing while Slark is dead.
- Fixed a number of incorrect spell interactions with the ability.
- Essence Shift counters on both Slark and enemy heroes will show the total duration ( i.e. the time that the most recent stack will expire.)
- Fixed a number of horizontal movement ability interactions with Pounce.
- Fixed Pounce not initiating an attack order on the leashed target.
- Fixed Dark Pact and Kraken Shell not removing Sticky Napalm, Shadow Strike, Venomous Gale, Poison Nova and Viper Strike.
- Fixed Impale based stuns not getting removed by Dark Pact.
- Fixed some bugs with Pounce movement restriction.
- Pounce damage reduced from 70/140/210/280 to 60/120/180/240.
- Shadow Dance cooldown reduced from 65 to 60.
- Added to Captain's Mode.
- Shadow Dance:
- Duration reduced from 5.5 to 4.
- Cooldown increased from 25 to 65.
- Can no longer be revealed by Truesight.
- Removed from Captain's Mode.
- Base agility increased by 6.
- Dark Pact cooldown decreased from 10/9/8/7 to 9/8/7/6.
- Shadow Dance HP regen increased from 3/4/5% to 3/5/7%.
- Damage increased from 40/80/120/160 to 70/140/210/280.
- Cooldown rescaled from 12 to 20/16/12/8.
- Cast range increased from 400/500/600/700 to 700.
- Shadow Dance
- Regen increased from 2/3/4% to 3/4/5%.
- Passive bonuses activation delay decreased from 0.7 to 0.5.
- Undid melee hero collision change from 6.72c
- Melee hero collision size now reduced from 24 to 12.
- Essence Shift no longer permanently steals attributes.
- Strength growth increased from 1.0 to 1.8.
- Agility growth reduced from 2.0 to 1.5.
- Intelligence growth increased from 1.6 to 1.9.
- No longer hits non-hero units.
- AoE increased from 85 to 95.
- Speed fixed to be the same at all levels.
- Essence Shift
- Now reduces each stat by 1 on attacks (no longer reduces the primary by 2).
- Agility bonus reduced from 4 to 3 per attack.
- Duration increased from 15/30/45/60 to 15/30/60/120 .
- Permanently reduces each stat of a hero Slark kills by 1 and he gains 3 Agi permanently.
- Pounce cooldown reduced from 16 to 12.
- Dark Pact
- Adjusted the timing. Instead of starting after 2 seconds and pulsing (damage and buff removal) over 0.5 seconds, it now starts after 1.5 seconds and pulses over 1 second. Same overall damage but now has a longer duration for the buff removal period.
- Self damage is now dealt to himself as he deals it to the area around him instead of at cast time.
- Base Agility decreased from 21 to 15 and increased starting damage by the same amount.
- Dark Pact cooldown reduced from 10 to 10/9/8/7.
- Pounce damage rescaled from 50/75/100/125 to 40/80/120/160.
- Added to Captain's Mode.
- Pounce leash now gets removed if the target blinks or teleports away.
- Shadow Dance passive no longer works if Slark is Doomed.